Two thousand eucalyptus seedlings grown at Forestry Corporation of NSW’s Grafton production nursery have been donated to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where they will help to expand a new feed tree plantation established to supply leaves to feed the koalas in care.
Forestry Corporation’s Senior Ecologist Chris Slade said the seedlings were donated from a crop of more than 600,000 seedlings currently being dispatched to re-establish timber plantations in the north of the State.
“It’s currently planting season and we are sending seedlings out to plantations throughout the north of the State, so when the hospital told us they were looking to for assistance, we had some good quality tallowwood, forest red gum, swamp mahogany and grey gum seedlings ready to go,” Mr Slade said.
“Tallowwood in particular is one of the species koalas prefer, so we make sure we have tallowwood dispersed through timber plantations and native State forests to provide continuous corridors of feed trees for koalas moving across the local landscape.
“We have been delivering tree forks and branches from local State forests to the koala hospital for many years to provide furniture and stimulation to the koalas and we were pleased to help out by providing seedlings for their new feed tree plantation.
“Port Macquarie is a koala hotspot but unfortunately when koalas live on the urban fringes they face risks from cars and dogs, as well as from fires and diseases such as chlamydia. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital does great work rehabilitating injured koalas and returning them to the bush and we are pleased to be able to help with the supply of seedlings.”
Cheyne Flanagan, Clinical Director of the Koala Preservation Society of Australia, which runs the koala hospital said that the feed tree plantation would make it easier to find suitable foliage for the rehabilitating koalas.
“At the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital we receive injured and sick koalas from all over northern NSW,” Ms Flanagan said.
“We have collectors who travel around to find suitable foliage, so we will be using these seedlings to develop a plantation on the North Shore of the Hastings River in Port Macquarie for the specific purpose of feeding koalas in care.
“We greatly appreciate the donation of these 2000 seedlings and we are excited to see them grow into an ongoing feed source for the koalas that come into our facility for many years to come.”