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New koala habitat planted in the Lockyer Valley

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By Juliano Oliveira

The Lockyer Valley, South East Queensland, is receiving 1,600 native trees as part of a koala care program developed by Urban Utilities, one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia.

The company foresees the planting of four hectares of blue gum near Urban Utilities’ Helidon Sewage Treatment Plant, with plans for the trees to be irrigated with recycled water.

Urban Utilities spokesperson, Sarah Owens, said the project would provide an important new koala habitat for the region. “We’re planting native species in the right mix to match the local area’s original, natural ecosystem. The trees will be irrigated with recycled water from our treatment plant, so they will grow faster and have a better survival rate than other trees in the environment”.

Ms Owens expects that the animals will move in naturally as the trees mature over the next five to 10 years. “They’ll find these leaves particularly juicy thanks to our irrigation system”.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council Deputy Mayor, Cr Jason Cook, said the project would attract many local flora and fauna species.

“Through our surveys, we’ve identified a koala population nearby which will benefit from the additional habitat. We’re also expecting lots of wallabies, bandicoots and birdlife to move in, as well as native grasses and shrubs to grow”, he said.

Koalas are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in Queensland under the Federal Government Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2012. According to the Australian Koala Foundation, the number of living are in serious decline suffering from the effects of habitat destruction, domestic dog attacks, bushfires and road accidents. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 100,000 Koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.

The trees being planted are blue gums, silver-leaf ironbark and Moreton Bay ash, and existing native grasses on the property will grow naturally over time.

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