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First dedicated Koala Conservation Officer for the Southern New England region

Mr Andersen will work with Southern New England Landcare to deliver the Northern Tablelands Koala Partnership Project,  which will draw on recent and historical data to identify koala populations and engage and inform the community to help deliver ‘on-ground’ action.

“I’m keen to work with the community to give our local koala population a helping hand,” said Mr Andersen.

“As an iconic Australian animal, the koala is immediately recognisable around the world, and its survival broadly reflects Australia’s attitude toward looking after our natural environment,” he said.

Recent drought and bushfires coupled with climate change and human activity have significantly impacted Koala habitat.

“I’ll be drawing information and data gathered by local ecologists into an operational plan,” he said.

“A lot of the preliminary data gathering has been done, and it’s helped identify both where koala populations exist and provided a focus for conservation actions”, said Mr Andersen.

The Northern Tablelands region has been identified as an important area for the future of koalas.

It has several koala populations that are not subject to the same population and development pressures as those on the coast.

The region may also be more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.

The project will involve engaging communities around Guyra, Armidale and Uralla to raise awareness of the contributions everyone can make to conserving this iconic species.

“Whether its providing habitat, reducing the role of key threats such as dog attacks and vehicle strikes, providing watering stations in dry times or just knowing who to contact when a sick, injured or threatened koala is sighted, the project will be helping community members understand what to do,” said Mr Andersen.

Southern New England Landcare Executive Officer, Mrs Kàren Zirkler said, “We are pretty excited to host this position, thanks to a project funded by the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species Partnership Program.”

At present, there are corresponding projects being delivered within the Southern Highlands, the Mid North Coast and the Far North Coast of NSW.

Mr Andersen has been involved with Landcare in the New England since 2013 and holds a master’s degree in environmental management.

He has 14 years’ experience as an environmental practitioner with a passion for Koala conservation.

“It’s great to have someone of Des’ calibre on our team, and I’d invite anyone wishing to know more about the project to contact our office,” said Mrs Zirkler.

Community information sessions will commence in early 2021 with invitations to be distributed through Southern New England Landcare’s eNews and the Armidale Express.

The project will run from October 2020 to June 2021 with the possibility of an extension, pending additional funding.

The project is part of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species (SoS) program for threatened species conservation.

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