Koala

Koala team

Updates and announcements

Ballina Koala Plan submitted to the Department of the Environment for consideration and approval

As part of the Conditions of Approval for the project, we are required to demonstrate impact to the Ballina koala population will be acceptable before building can start in the area known as section 10, which starts at Broadwater and finishes at Coolgardie, south of Ballina.

A Population Viability Analysis (PVA), for a 50-year timeframe has been carried out to demonstrate "the long-term viability of the Ballina koala population, taking into account the impacts resulting from the road upgrade in section 10.”

This work is now complete and forms part of a Ballina Koala Plan.

The Koala Expert Advisory Committee (KEAC) chaired by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O’Kane has guided the process of preparing the plan.  Independent members of the Committee have endorsed the Ballina Koala Plan following extensive input and advice from 15 independent scientific experts.

Koala population west of Wardell

Roads and Maritime Services takes environmental conservation and protection seriously and seeks to avoid where possible, minimise, mitigate or compensate for the impact on sensitive ecology in all our highway upgrade projects.

The 155 kilometre Woolgoolga to Ballina project has been approved by the NSW and Australian governments. The approvals come with strict conditions about managing the project’s impact on the environment, including the koala and other threatened species.

We are required to demonstrate the impact to the Ballina koala population will be acceptable before building can start in the area known as Section 10, which starts at Broadwater and finishes at Coolgardie, south of Ballina.

A Population Viability Analysis (PVA), for a 50-year timeframe has been carried out, to demonstrate "the long-term viability of the Ballina koala population, taking into account the impacts resulting from the road upgrade in Section 10.”

This forms part of a Ballina Koala Plan.

While the federal Department of the Environment considers the report, work is progressing on the other 142 kilometres of the upgrade.

Ballina Koala Plan

Roads and Maritime, in line with expert advice has developed a strategy to address conditions of approval relating to management of the koala between Wardell and Coolgardie, near Ballina.

Key features of the strategy include:

  • Establish an expert panel to advise the Minister for Roads and Freight on modelling work and mitigation measures for the Ballina koala population
  • Engage experts to collect more data on the Ballina koala population, carry out the population viability analysis and peer review the analysis
  • Share information with key stakeholders including Ballina Shire Council and its reference group as well as the broader community.

The data collected and subsequent modelling carried out has informed development of the Ballina Koala Plan. This plan has been endorsed by the Koala Expert Advisory Committee established by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay to provide advice on the population viability analysis modelling and mitigation measures.

Project timeline

August 2014

Project Approval

Roads and Maritime Services receives project approval from the NSW government in June 2014 and the Australian Government in August 2014 with strict conditions about managing the project's impact on the environment, including the koala. One condition requires Roads and Maritime to carry out a Population Viability Analysis (PVA), for a 50-year timeframe, to demonstrate 'the long-term, viability of the Ballina Koala population, taking into account the impacts resulting from the road upgrade in Section 10'.

October 2014

Roads and Maritime engages expert Dr Rod Kavanagh (Niche Environment and Heritage) to:

  • Update Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala Management Plan
  • Carry out Population Viability Analysis
  • Prepare the Ballina Koala Plan for Section 10 in accordance with the relevant NSW and Federal Government project approval conditions.

November 2014

Roads and Maritime engages Ecosure and Biolink experts including Dr Steve Phillips, to carry out additional detailed field surveys, providing important data on the Ballina Koala population.

January 2015

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay announces the Koala Expert Advisory Committee.

Koala Expert Advisory Committee will report to the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight and provide advice on the population viability analysis modelling and mitigation measures for the Ballina Koala population.

Professor Mary O’Kane, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, chairs the committee. She is joined by two independent koala experts:

  • Professor Katherine Belov, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Jonathon Rhodes, University of Queensland.

December 2014 to 31 May 2015

Fieldwork and data collection underway.

Professor Les Christidis and Associate Professor Ross Goldingay of Southern Cross University carry out genetic analysis using tissue samples collected during the fieldwork.

Roads and Maritime would like to acknowledge Jali and Friends of the Koala for their assistance during the fieldwork and data collection phases.

March 2015

Roads and Maritime engages Associate Professor Jonathon Rhodes as the independent reviewer for the NSW and Federal conditions relating to the koala. Professor Rhodes is known for his expertise in koala ecology and conservation management.

June – July 2015

Modelling process starts

Dr Kavanagh starts the population viability analysis modelling, based on the data and outcomes of fieldwork.

August – November 2015

Dr Kavanagh prepares the Ballina Koala Plan to report the results of the population viability analysis to the Koala Expert Advisory Committee.

Late January/Early February 2016

Ballina Koala Plan is submitted by Roads and Maritime to the federal Department of the Environment to determine if the impact to the Ballina koala population is demonstrated to be acceptable.

Koala Expert Advisory Committee

The Koala Expert Advisory Committee (KEAC) was established by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay to provide advice on the population viability analysis modelling and mitigation measures.

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane leads a panel of experts, independent to the project team, which has reviewed all ecological information on the Ballina Koala population and made recommendations on the suitability of mitigation measures to protect the koala. She is joined by two independent koala experts:

  • Professor Katherine Belov, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Jonathon Rhodes, University of Queensland.

The panel has reviewed and endorsed the Ballina Koala Plan.

The Chief Scientist and Engineer website provides the Koala Expert Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference.

Population Viability Analysis (PVA) process

Roads and Maritime engaged scientific consultants EcoSure and BioLink, including Dr Steve Phillips, to collect data on the local koala population for the PVA.

Once the data was collected, experienced ecologist Dr Rod Kavanagh of Niche Environment and Heritage analysed it and completed the PVA.

Dr Kavanagh’s report was submitted to the Committee its consideration.

Ballina Koala Plan

Ballina Koala Plan

January 2016

Appendix 1

January 2016

Ecosure/ Biolink report

Appendix 2

January 2016

Southern Cross University genetics report

Appendix 3

January 2016

Australian Museum genetics report

Appendix 4

Januaryn 2-16

Roads and Maritime discussion paper on proposed Koala connectivity structures

Appendix 5

January 2016

Friends of the Koala, Lismore and Roads and Maritime Services map of indicative koala road-kill hotspots

Appendix 6

January 2016

Peer review

Appendix 7

January 2016

Proposed project and additional fauna fencing section 10

Community questions and responses

April 2016

Frequently asked questions

February 2016

Frequently asked questions on the Population Viability Analysis

January 2015

Frequently asked questions about the route options and constraints related to section 10 of the upgrade

July 2014

Letter providing an update on Regional Koala population west of Wardell

July 2014

Map of the preferred route 2C and suggested alternative option

Map showing flooding predictions in Section 10

Map of the soft soil areas in Section 10

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