THE final contracts are being prepared for the purchase of a 93 hectare parcel of fertile bushland at Maria River to provide food security for the Hastings' koala population.
The land acquisition by the Port Macquarie Koala Preservation Society is the result of years of planning and fund raising and will see an investment of more than $500,000 in the future of koala care as well as a significant long term project to enhance the local environment.
Society president Bob Sharpham, who along with his dedicated team of volunteers, has been searching for many years for a suitable property to plant koala food trees in an attempt to alleviate the pressures and environmental impacts of harvesting leaf from eucalypt clusters in Port Macquarie's residential area.
The Maria River property is owned by local surveyor Graham Sayer who will work collaboratively with the society to map the land and plan future plantings on the site.
Society president Bob Sharpham said the sale has been a long time coming but the end result will bring with it many benefits.
"There are two good reasons to buy this land. The first is it will not be developed in any way. If anything we will be enhancing the environment by planting more trees in the area," Mr Sharpham said.
"We will also be able to use the existing trees to harvest food leaf for the Koala Hospital."
The society was looking at the former Fantasy Glades site as an ideal central location for a food forest but financial constraints forced them to broaden their search.
Currently, society volunteers fill a truck every day with eucalypt leaf harvested from trees dotting Port Macquarie's residential streets to feed sick, injured and rehabilitating animals at the Koala Hospital.
Mr Sharpham said it is proving increasingly difficult to gather enough leaf to meet daily food requirements without having an impact on the environment.
"We are harvesting from Port Macquarie dam and from along local streets and there is just not enough.
"We don't want to be damaging trees in this environment because there are healthy koalas that also need to feed from them," Mr Sharpham said.
"With the purchase of this property we will be able to source and prepare what we need to meet those daily requirements."
While there are clutches of existing eucalypts on the site to source food leaf, Mr Sharpham said the long term plan is to plant several thousand more trees across 20 hectares of the site.
"We have great cooperation from the existing owner who plans to deepen the dam on the site. We are also looking for sponsors to help us finance this next stage," Mr Sharpham said.
The Port Macquarie Koala Preservation Society is calling on local organisations, individuals and businesses to become acreage sponsors.
For $2000, a sponsor will fund the planting of one acre of koala food trees and be recognised for their generous donation.
Anyone wanting to be a part of the koala food tree sponsorship program can contact Bob Sharpham on 0411 757 879.