Koala Conservation Australia (KCA) marked the start of the build for their new breeding facility with a sod turning ceremony today (September 7).
The celebratory event included a smoking ceremony, plenty of cake and words of thanks to the numerous volunteers and stakeholders involved in the project.
"We did it," said KCA Chairperson Sue Ashton.
"I feel really emotional because it's been a lot of work but a small volunteer run, not-for-profit has created a world first.
It's developing a facility to breed koalas to release to the wild so well done and congratulation to everybody."
The world first breeding facility will be based at the upcoming Guulabaa Tourism Precinct at the Cowarra State Forest and aims to breed and release koalas to strategically important sites along the mid north coast.
The building of the facility is being funded by the almost $8 million that was donated to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital during the Black Summer bushfires.
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said that the facility was an fantastic outcome and acknowledge the involvement of Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Bunyah and Birpai communities, volunteers and other stakeholders.
"What an incredible collaboration and it is when collaborations happen like that that you see absolutely amazing things happen in our community," she said.
"It's actually when we all collaborate that we actually create world class facilities that we see here today so thank you to every single person that's been involved."
The facility has been credited as coming about through the efforts and assistance from members of the community as well as various stakeholders.
Local Kempsey business Lahey Constructions was announced last month as the contractor that would help build the two buildings for the facility.
One building will be created as the administration, staff and volunteer area while a secondary building will showcase the care of the koalas with a clinic and a laboratory.
Lahey Constructions Bid Manager Guy Tristram said that the company was thrilled to be partnering with KCA on this world first.
"The new koala breeding facility is vital to preserving this indigenous species," he said.
"This facility is going to leave a lasting legacy that Lahey is proud to be part of."
Architects from Sydney based company Allen Jack & Cottier also expressed their excitement to be involved in the project.
"We are putting our heat and soul into it," said director John Whittingham.
"We are going above and beyond for these guys to make sure we're giving something that can last in time."
Mr Whittingham said that the public can expect accessible, state of the art buildings that are integrated into the bushland and allows people to get up close to understand the breeding program.
The breeding facility buildings might not be ready yet but work is still underway.
KCA in partnership with its founding partner Taronga Conservation Society Australia has consulted with leaders in koala genetics, disease and ecology to develop the breeding program.
Taronga Conservation Society manager of conservation and recovery programs Andrew Elphinstone said that work was already occurring to find koalas for the breeding program.
"In order to source individuals to bring into the facility for breeding we need to first identify really healthy populations that we might take a couple of individuals from," he said.
"But we're also doing the ground work to make decisions about which populations to reintroduce them back to."
By 2026 the facility hopes to manage up to 90 koalas and aims to produce and release 35 koalas annually.
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