Friday, 23 March 2012

Brisbane's Koala controversy

Since my previous post on our local koalas I have now found Mount Gravatt is on the edge of a significant area of koala habitat, the 'Koala Coast': "the area South of Brisbane: Redland City, the eastern portion of Logan City and the south-eastern portion of Brisbane City... is regarded nationally as one of the most significant koala populations because of its size and genetic structure" (DERM 2010).

So, how many Koalas live in Brisbane?  Are numbers still declining, or stable?  These questions are at the heart of continuing controversy over the status of koala populations around Brisbane. Due to its iconic status in Australia, koala population declines get more airtime in the press than most of the other species facing serious population declines as Australia rapidly urbanises.  Such airtime inevitably increases close to the forthcoming state election!  However, without independent, up-to-date, scientifically collected data, the article states that conservationists claim they are fighting a loosing battle against figures that are 'fudged'.  The most recent state government report (2010) with a survey of the population in this regions was compiled by DERM (Department of Environment and Resource Management). As Koala numbers are now reported to be low but the margin of error in the government survey remains high, it is increasingly difficult to statistically prove a decline without better survey methods that reduce the uncertainty.  With such uncertainty in the 2010 report it is simply inconclusive about whether the decline continues or not and open to interpretation by politicians, such as state Environment Minister Vicki Darling, claiming that this means they have stabilised without any proof.  Better census methods seem to be urgently required.

Populations on the Koala Coast are now somewhere around 1/3 of the population of 20 years ago - but the sustainability of the population is not mentioned in the DERM report.  The 'Australian Koala Foundation' (AKF) and Australian Research Council are funding scientists at the University of Queensland and DERM to work on this question, and they have been examining the impacts of multiple threats (dog attacks, vehicle collisions and disease) on the koalas in this region and the impact this is likely to be having on the sustainability of the population.  Their conclusion is that the population will continue to decline unless there is intervention that can drastically reduce more than one of these threats.  With such rapid urbanization in Brisbane the threats look set to increase, not decline, a chilling thought.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Liebster award

Many thanks to Martin of The House of Fran_Mart for nominating my blog for a Liebster Blog award! ( This is a German word, which online searches translate as 'Sweetheart".   A better idiomatic translation would seem to be  “favourite". )

Receiving the award involves certain obligations: I had to decide on five blogs, each with fewer than 220 followers, to pass it on to. The idea is to bring attention to these small blogs who deserve more notice.   
In no particular order …
  1. The Blogfolio of Edd Cross - quite literally my 'liebster' blog, a wonderfully imaginative and eclectic mix of illustrations, often inspired by Australian wildlife.
  2. Tony's photo blog - some beautiful photos of Australian nature that inspire my own humble efforts, taken by a fellow ex-pat pom!  (and always some interesting skywatch contributions)
  3. Snail's Eye View - a lovely, personal perspective on the nature of the Atherton Tablelands
  4. Daintree Valley - a blog run by a guesthouse in Daintree village, whose owners clearly have a genuine passion for their beautiful surrounds.  One day I will visit (and it will feel strangely familiar!).  
  5. Bush and Beach - now I have moved to Brisbane we are on the same blog territory and Leanne's blog will be an inspiration for my local adventures.
  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you (thank you, Martin!). 
  2. Reveal the five blogs you have chosen and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. 
  3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog (see above). 
  4. Request the people you have chosen to receive the award pass it on to their favourite bloggers. 
There are many more blogs I would have nominated that I appreciate but I see they either already have an award - Soulsong Art and The Nature of Robertson, or are too popular - Red Nomad and Matteo Grilli, or don't show how many followers they have - Cathy's Canberra! Anyhow, all the Australian nature blogs I appreciate are to be found listed in the side bar of my blog, so browse away!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mount Gravatt Koalas

Such a long absence, I have skipped summer!  Well, it is about time I started nature blogging again, and even though I can't blog about the Australian National Botanic Garden any longer (as I am now located in Brisbane!) I have chosen my new location wisely...

I now live next to a beautiful 'urban' bushland reserve in Brisbane, called Mount Gravatt, which is also the name of the suburb.  The bushland reserve is really fantastic mountain habitat with high biodiversity as well as the best lookout over Brisbane at the summit.  We have made contact with the local Mount Gravatt Environment Group and helped out on Clean Up Australia Day a couple of weeks ago, this pic is from the Environment Group blogpost about it.

So, besides this, my partner Edd and I have had quite a few adventures on the mountain already.  However, it was only recently that we discovered the Koala family.  We had read that there were Koalas seen on the road there at Christmas, so we decided to dedicate a day in January (21st) to track them down... with great success!  My partner Edd blogged about that sighting here, and here are a couple of pictures I took:

Mum and Joey
Today we went back to try and see if we could find the Koala family again, looking in the same spot (below Federation Lookout).  Sure enough, we were very lucky and spotted Mum and Joey again - and it is Mothers' day too (in the UK)!  This time the light was much better and they were lower in the tree, so I got some much better pictures.  We feel so lucky to have Koalas living so close to us, Mt Gravatt is clearly a special place and I look forward to sharing more of my new adventures in Brisbane with you all.