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Determining the distribution Koala habitat across a shire as a basis for conservation: a case study from Port Stephens, New South Wales

DANIEL LUNNEY, STEPHEN PHILLIPS, JOHN GALLAGHAN and DIONNE COBURN

 

ABSTRACT

The Australian National Koala Conservation Strategy recognizes the importance of conserving Koalas in their existing habitat, particularly through the integration of Koala conservation into local government planning (ANZECC 1998). The aim of this study was to define, rank and map the distribution of Koala habitat in Port Stephens Shire, New South Wales. The Procedure was to merge the results of two independent survey techniques, each of which was interpreted using a vegetation map specifically prepared for this study. A field survey used a plot-based sampling protocol to determine tree species preferences based on the presence/absence of Koala fecal pellets. Data were obtained on 8,764 trees comprising of 19 eucalypt and 12 non-eucalypt species. A high-profile community survey obtained 2,756 Koala records. Koala habitat maps from both survey methods were examined as overlapping GIS layers. Combined Koala habitat categories were then devised, ranked and mapped across the Shire. This study provides a practical and repeatable means of identifying and conserving Koala habitat in existing remnant vegetation over which local government has planning jurisdiction.