A DAY dedicated entirely to discussing koala care and research at Port Macquarie on Thursday, June 6 is attracting statewide attention.
The Hello Koalas Caring for our Koalas and Environment Symposium will feature 17 expert speakers from Sydney, Canberra, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Lismore, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Grafton and Port Macquarie.
Hello Koalas director Margret Meagher said it was a vital opportunity for everyone involved in koala conservation to learn and share information at this critical time.
The event is a part of the regional Hello Koalas Festival running in the Hastings from June 6-9 and will be held at the UNSW Shared Health Research and Education Centre (SHREC) auditorium at Highfields Circuit, Port Macquarie.
"It's a special day of conversation, presentations and debates about how we can best protect and preserve our local koala populations," Ms Meagher said.
"They are under enormous threat from loss of habitat, drought and climate change, road strikes, domestic dog attacks in backyards and diseases such as chlamydia."
Speakers will include principal research scientist, NSW DPI Forest Science Centre Dr Brad Law and Forestry Corporation NSW senior ecologist Chris Slade on koala tracking in NSW Forests to understand the effectiveness of current protections.
This has been underway for six months to gain a better understanding of koala movements and how they use the landscape, including whether they choose different trees for browsing and resting.
Australian Museum's Matthew Lott will also discuss the use of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies to understand how evolutionary processes shaped current koala distributions and how this can predict their responses to accelerating human-mediated environmental challenges such as climate change and loss of habitat to urbanisation.
Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail
Ms Meagher has been raising awareness of the need for koala conservation for five years through the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail at Port Macquarie.
The trail again celebrates all things koala with the Hello Koalas Festival from June 6-9, including the official welcome of three new Hello Koalas sculptures.
The Hello Koalas Treasure Hunt is new to this year's festival, with participants encouraged to photograph 26 Hello Koalas sculptures, including two new koalas and the elusive Mayor of the Koala Republic on a special festival trail in a bid for prizes.
Ms Meagher said the treasure hunt is centred in Port Macquarie, with a special stop at Wauchope train station the new home of Guula, painted by Wauchope TAFE visual art students.
Registration for the Hello Koalas Treasure Hunt is free.
Cars for Koalas Show
Motoring enthusiasts will love the Cars for Koalas Show and Shine and Hello Koalas Display Stand at the Foreshore Markets from 8am-1pm on Saturday, June 8 at Westport Park.
"Vehicle-related koala mortality has the most significant impact on numbers after habitat clearing, so this is a really novel way to draw attention to road safety for koalas and raise funds for Port Macquarie Koala Hospital," Ms Meagher said.
Festival Family Day at Douglas Vale
The annual Festival Family Day at Douglas Vale Historic Homestead and Vineyard from 9.30am-3pm on Sunday, June 9 features a full day of music for all, including folk, modern country, blue grass, live acoustic and classic rock.
Enjoy Devonshire tea and a barbecue prepared by the volunteers at Douglas Vale, homemade craft stalls, face-painting and games for the kids provided by NSW National Parks. Proceeds from the day go to Douglas Vale's restoration fund.
To find out more, go to www.hellokoalas.com/festival.