Landholders paid to manage koala habitat in new deal
Tony Rowland is turning his rural NSW property into a conservation haven for koalas after signing a private land conservation agreement.
The Kyogle property owner is the first person to sign the agreement as part of a Collaborative Koala Habitat Protection project in the state's Northern Rivers.
The forest surrounding his home contains the red gum, small-fruited grey gum and tallowwood trees all of which are essential koala food sources.
A partnership between World Wildlife Fund, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and the Biodiversity Conservation Trust will invest funds and encourage permanent conservation agreements for private landholders to protect, restore and manage koala habitat on their land.
The conservation agreement covers about 20 hectares of Mr Rowland's 28 hectare property.
"That will give the wildlife a chance to live," he said.
"There are so many threatened species, it's heartbreaking. I want my property to be a conservation area forever so no one can ruin all my hard work."
Mr Rowland said the conservation agreements are a win for landholders and the environment and encouraged others to sign up.
"My aim is to leave the forest in better shape than it was when I bought it," he said.
For the past five years, he's been removing a serious lantana infestation by hand.
The lantana was so thick it prevented koalas from moving about the property and smothered native grasses and young trees that were the only food source for native animals.
With big areas of lantana removed, native grasses returned providing food for black striped wallabies and glossy black cockatoos.
Signing the conservation agreement locks in further assistance to clear the destructive lantana.
Tanya Pritchard Landscape Restoration Project Manager at WWF Australia said a site action plan is written for each property.
Agreement holders can also apply for grants to control weeds and pest animals, conduct supplementary revegetation with koala food trees, put up fencing to exclude stock and install nest boxes.
Another six property owners are in the finals stages of signing conservation agreements including three others in Kyogle and more in Tweed, Clarence Valley and Lismore.
"WWF is proud to be supporting landholders to protect precious koalas and other species," Ms Pritchard said.
"Every hectare protected is going to help us turn things around for koalas and take a step closer towards their recovery."