Office of Environment and Heritage

Office of Environment and Heritage's David Walker at the field day on Thursday.
Office of Environment and Heritage's David Walker at the field day on Thursday.

Koalas will have a ready supply of water throughout the coming months.

Saving Our Species team leader David Walker said the Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) was funding a contractor to manage and maintain Blinky Drinkers in the Gunnedah area over summer.

Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group installed 24 drinkers of the drinkers, which were designed by Gunnedah farmer Robert Frend and are stationed in gum trees to give koalas continual access to water. 

A further 26 have been installed on two properties near Gunnedah as part of a research project led by Dr Valentina Mella in partnership with Mr Frend. More than 200 koalas have been microchipped as part of the three-year study, which aims to prove the importance of water by recording how many times koalas visit the drinkers and for how long.

Mr Walker said OEH had an “ongoing involvement” with the University of Sydney.

“We're providing some of the funding for their project. We purchased the microchip readers and we’re also funding the maintenance,” he said.

Blinky Drinker designer Robert Frend at the field day.

Blinky Drinker designer Robert Frend at the field day.

"The work that Rob has done in trialling a whole lot of different means of providing water to koalas, and his perseverance and commitment to koala conservation is something that OEH very strong recognises and thinks is really important.

“Rob’s been absolutely integral to koala conservation around Gunnedah.”

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In June, OEH granted funding to Tamworth Regional Landcare to rehabilitate koala habitat in “priority areas” around Gunnedah, which were identified by ecologist Phil Spark in a report commissioned by OEH in 2017.

“We used that report to identify the areas for Tamworth to consider for habitat restoration around Gunnedah,” Mr Walker said.

Planting of trees and vegetation is currently on hold because of the drought but another round of funding under the Saving Our Species program will open up in the coming months.

“Longer term, we’re looking at identifying the most important koala refuge areas around Gunnedah and helping to see them protected,” Mr Walker said.

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