Assist us bring Koala’s back to the Prom by planting out Swamp Gums which once grew in numbers on the Yanakie Isthmus. Attempts have been made over the past 15 years to restore woodland, but in 2017 we started a project to increase the number of trees significantly.
About the Koala Habitat
This long-term project is reestablishing Koala habitat in its original location near the old airstrip, in the Yanakie Isthmus section of Wilsons Prom. The location is behind the wildlife viewing area, a popular stopping point for visitors as they drive to Tidal River. Historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries show that the area near the airfield was once well-timbered with Swamp Gum, and that Koalas were frequently seen here. The land was surveyed in the 1800s and crown allotments leased to settlers on the condition that they “improve” the land. This meant lease-holders ring-barking hundreds of acres of trees and sowing the land to pasture grass for farming. For a while, the area remained as grassland because of the pressures of cattle grazing and browsing by native and feral animals. Removal of cattle agistment in 1992 allowed the regeneration of shrubs, particularly Coast Wattle (Acicia Longifolia). Restoring the woodland habitat should discourage the shrubby understorey and encourage Koalas to return in greater numbers.
FOTP has been planting out Swamp Gums over the last fifteen years with mixed success. These trees take time to mature to the point where they are large enough to not be in danger of browsing by kangaroos, wallabies, deer, wombats and rabbits. Various types of tree-guards have been used in the passed, but the only ones to successfully keep browsing animals at bay are made from heavy-duty steal mesh and wire netting.
FOTP applied for a $9,500 grant from the Victorian government to build high quality rigid wire mesh guards. Construction of the guards was completed in 2019. Swamp gums were propagated at FOTP’s plant nursery. While the guards were being built. In July 2019, volunteers finished planting the seedlings and installed the 240th tree-guard at the former airfield site.
This project will continue over the coming years with monitoring and trimming over grown vegetation. Trees that fail will need replacing, bracken weeded and guards removed from mature trees. We will apply for more grants so that we can build more tree guards. Eventually, we want to see the woodland restored and, Koalas return.
Keep an eye out for FOTP activities to continue this project
Koalas have almost disappeared from the Prom. A Crown Land Baliffs report from 1920 tells of the remains of Swamp Gums (Eucalyptus Ovata) that had been ringed further back in 1893, and the resulting change in wildlife from numerous Koalas to Wallabies, Dingoes and Hog Deer. The Dingoes have long gone, but Wallabies and Hog Deer remain in large numbers, now joined by Kangaroos and many Emus. The location is behind the fire refuge area and has become a common stopping point for visitors as they drive through to Tidal River.
To regain some of this habitat for Koalas, FOTP has been planting out Swap Gums over the past fifteen years. These are initially slow-growing trees, taking time to establish to the point of surviving over-grazing by the abundance of herbivores now in the area. Tree guards of various designs have been trialled with about 50 mature trees now in the area.
To greatly increase the number of trees FOTP and Parks Vic applied for a grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning to build approximately 200 high-quality rigid wire mesh guards. Construction of the guards was completed in 2018. In 2019 we’ll be planting and using the new guards for these seedlings.
Activity on this will continue over the coming years monitoring and trimming over-growing vegetation. Trees that fail will need replacing, bracken weeded and guards removed from mature trees. Finally, we hope to see a large number of mature Swap Gums back in the area, and our Koalas return.
Join us in 2019 to plant out the additional 200 young trees and keep working on this very special project.