A PLAN has been developed by the conservationist movement to create a connected habitat across the entire range of the koala, which includes giving landholders incentives to landholders to plant koala forests.
Titled the 'Koala Kiss Project', the initiative is the work of the Australian Koala Foundation, which wants to ultimately develop the 'Great Koala Trail' - a 2540km long, uninterrupted corridor with connecting key 'kiss points'.
Kiss points are the locations where intact sections of koala habitat come close to each other, but remain separated by areas of cleared land.
The trail would stretch from a point some west of Melbourne to somewhere near Sarina in Queensland, and is shown on AKF mapping to largely follow range country.
Koalas are recognised as a 'vulnerable' in both Queensland and NSW, one level below 'endangered', under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Koalas are not considered vulnerable in Victoria or South Australia.
AKF chair Deborah Tabart said the first phase of the project would be to plot the 'kiss' points across 1.5 million square kilometres of land already identified in the Koala Habitat Atlas.
That mapping shows koala habitat over much of the eastern halves of both Queensland and NSW as well as much of Victoria.
"Once identified, landholders must be given incentives to plant koala forests that link fragmented habitats," Ms Tabart said.
"These connections could be key to saving the koala.
"If we achieve contiguous habitat, then all creatures great and small could traverse through the bush unthreatened.
"Every kiss we can connect in the near future will help ensure the survival of the koala.
"AKF is all about recovery of the species and with the Federal Government now seven years behind writing a recovery plan for the koala, it is clear we must take matters into our own hands and a project like this is essential."
Comment on the long-awaited federal government National Recovery Plan for the Koala closes on September 24.
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