Koalas get help from a friend


Take care: Belinda Eden with an example of her role. Picture: Supplied

CONSERVATION has always been of interest to Belinda Eden, but never more so than since moving to Balnarring two years ago.

“We came here from Melbourne because Balnarring is a beautiful coastal town with a certain charm and character,” Ms Eden said.

“It’s a special place and should be protected so that it does not become overdeveloped, or lose the habitat that is home to many species of precious wildlife, including koalas.

“I think when we moved here, I felt a real responsibility to get involved and make it a priority to be informed about environmental issues. My passion has obviously leaned towards issues impacting koalas.”

Her work has not gone unnoticed. Ms Eden was recently awarded by the first Balnarring and District Community Bank for her work with the environment, particularly the protection of koalas.

She says “land fragmentation” is a “real issue for our koalas on the Mornington Peninsula”.

“Much of the land is privately owned so there is a real need for landholders to understand the importance of protecting existing koala habitat, as well as ensuring appropriate tree planting occurs on their properties to support the current and future koala populations.”

Another big issue is the clearing of land for housing. “Many mature trees – gums in particular – are being removed causing further interruptions to koala ‘corridors’, access to their food trees, and shelter,” she said.

“This is further compounded by fences that aren’t koala friendly and block koalas from vital food trees, or which put them in a vulnerable position when trapped in yards with dogs or forced to access roads more frequently to move from tree to tree, increasing the risk of vehicle strikes.”

Ms Eden’s work complements that of her group the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation Group which is establishing a koala corridor at Somers (“Corridor to lead the way for koalas” The News 3/11/20).

While unsure of koala numbers at Balnarring, Ms Eden is sure numbers have declined over the years. “We as a community need to act now by planting trees,” she said. “The more, the better. All these little changes will ultimately make a big difference.

“In the short period that I have been providing free trees to the community, over 300 have been planted by locals and it is wonderful to see some grow from tube stock to decent-sized trees.

“It takes anywhere from 3-5 years for a tree to be of any interest to a koala so it’s really important for people to get on board and plant trees now. I can’t stress that enough – if you can plant a tree on your property, you should. It’s a special thing to be able to sit in your yard and observe a wild koala going about their day, like we did only last night.”

For more information about koalas go to mpkoalas.org.au

First published in the Western Port News – 11 November 2020


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