A SHELTER belt and biolink for the Mornington Peninsula’s koala population was created over the weekend with the planting of 900 trees.
Despite blisteringly cold conditions, volunteers booted up and headed to Newlyn farm, Merricks, where they spent several hours digging, planting, staking and protecting the trees – a range of manna gums and other natives once common in the area.
“We try to work out what was originally there, and we plant a mix,” founder of the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation group, Dirk Jansen, said.
Jansen has worked tirelessly building relationships with volunteers and government and non-government groups to raise the profile of the peninsula’s koalas and finance habitat restoration and protect the remaining koalas.
The group is now a Landcare group, which means it can also apply for more grants to buy trees.
“I wanted to do something for the koalas, seeing native animals disappear so quickly, so I wanted to do something but we never thought it would grow so quickly,” Jansen said.
The group focuses on private land as state-owned parks alone are not big enough to protect native animals.
Landowners are increasingly coming on board, according to Jansen, which means more indigenous trees and plants can be planted throughout the peninsula to try to create a natural environment on private property, similar to before land clearing began.
“Tim Allen and Louise Kirk from Newlyn Farm are very environmentally conscious and they already have seen some wildlife here, such as koalas and kangaroos, and they love the idea of protecting them,” he said.
“They want to plant thousands of trees, and we are seeing more private landowners thinking the same way.”
To volunteer or donate to Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation go to the website at mpkoalas.org.au