Tinonee Public School students have long cared for koalas which are regularly seen in the playground, and a new project will now see their stewardship increased to protect the endangered species on the village's roads.
The school received a $5000 Sustainable Schools Grant from the NSW government and is working with MidCoast Council teams to increase safety on Tinonee's roads - for both koalas and humans.
"Our school is actively assisting the local koala population, with dedicated koala food tree plantings supported by Koalas in Care (Taree) and we've installed two koala water stations with the assistance of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital," said principal, Karen Austin.
"Now we want to ensure we improve road safety for koalas across Tinonee village, and for our students at the same time."
The project aims to use signage to increase motorist awareness of high risk koala crossing and habitat sites, and slow traffic down through the village.
"We're aiming to position Tinonee as a safe space for koalas, and also for our human residents," said council's manager of Natural Systems, Gerard Tuckerman.
"We hope to create improved awareness of koala protection and encourage our community to care and provide stewardship for local koalas."
Council is hoping that the project will ultimately encourage people to safely visit and enjoy Tinonee's beautiful surrounds and see an increase in walking and cycling within the village.
The project has kicked off with vehicle speed monitoring at five key locations and an electronic sign for motorists. Plans are being developed for a local signage scheme, and increased street tree planting and koala habitat protection.
Tinonee is located within a significant koala habitat area, identified as the Kiwarrak Area of Koala Significance (ARKS). The village itself supports an important koala population.
The Kiwarrak ARKS is an important priority for active conservation in the MidCoast because of the abundance and density of the population and its function as a source population for koalas for other areas.
However the population itself is at risk, particularly from habitat loss and risks associated with dog attacks and vehicle strikes. The bushfires of late 2019 impacted the population and mean that protecting unburnt refuges, core habitats and corridors is now an even higher priority.
Council has recently produced a video which outlines the measures being taken to help koala population recover in this key site.
To watch the video, head to Council's website at midcoast.nsw.gov.au/bushfirerecoveryvideos.
Residents and visitors to Tinonee and surrounds can immediately report any sightings of sick, distressed or injured koalas to Koalas In Care on their 24-hour rescue hotline number 0439 407 770.
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