A community-based survey of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus in the Lismore region of North-Eastern New South Wales
JAMIE M. HARRIS AND ROSS L. GOLDINGAY
School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, P.O. Box 157, NSW 2480, Australia.
A community-based survey was undertaken in the Lismore Local Government Area (LGA) of north-eastern New South Wales to provide a basis for the development of a Shire-wide koala management plan. A questionnaire and maps were distributed to identify community attitudes towards P. cinereus conservation and management, as well as to document locations of sightings. There were 1121 surveys returned from 23,751 distributed (4.7% returned) across 18,000 ratepayers (6.2% response). Respondents indicated the frequency with which P. cinereus were seen in different suburbs, whether they had young or were sick, and provided 840 map-based records. Ten percent of respondents saw P. cinereus on at least a weekly basis, highlighting the importance of this LGA for the conservation of this species. More than 80% of respondents considered that roving dogs, land clearing, road traffic and housing development were serious threats to long-term P. cinereus survival. More than 90% of respondents supported restrictions on dogs, tree-planting programs, as well as planning activities to protect P. cinereus habitat while 85% approved of protection zones to control development within P. cinereus habitat. These results if representative of the entire community suggest strong support for the development of conservation options for P. cinereus. The study also confirms the usefulness of conducting such community-wide surveys for conspicuous threatened species.