With the continual diminishment of koala habitat in our Gold Coast suburbs the Koalas On The Green project aims to change this trend in habitat loss and galvanise local community support to ensure the long term survival of our urban koalas on the Gold Coast.
Koalas In Golf Courses
As koala habitat continues to be cleared in our suburbs, golf courses are increasingly becoming important.
Golf courses provide habitat, sanctuaries, food sources and safe ‘koala super highways’ where koalas can travel safely from one end of the suburb to the other. They can avoid dog encounters, car strikes or being trapped in not-so-koala-friendly fenced backyards.
We were inspired to start the project after feeling frustrated in our efforts to ťnd suitable habitat to release rehabilitated koalas. Koalas are required by law to be released within 5 kilometres from where they were captured. With the degraded and diminishing habitats in Arundel, Parkwood and Helensvale it has been increasingly difficult to find suitable safe and interconnected habitat. It became critical that we start looking at existing habitat and how we can enhance this to create a greater holding capacity in these areas.
Charles The Koala
Last year my wife and I as volunteer koala rescuers attended to over 100 call outs to rescue koalas on the Gold Coast. One of these we captured was a sick koala from a resident’s lawn, a couple of hundred of metres from Arundel Hills Country Club.
This male koala (named Charles) couldn’t see as he had chlamydial conjunctivitis. If the members of the public hadn’t called the Wildcare hotline and we hadn’t come out, Charles would have most likely starved to death. Or, he could have been struck by a vehicle or attacked by a dog.Charles was taken to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for a full medical work up before being transferred to Australia Zoo where he was kept in care and rehabilitation.
We released him into Arundel Hills Country Club two months later to ensure that he had a safe new home close to his original range.
Releasing Charles in the golf course was the inspiration to begin planting koala food trees. We need to ensure that the resident koalas have enough food sources and habitat to prevent them getting into trouble traversing the increasing dangerous and complex urban matrix.
On The Ground Work
The Koalas On The Green project was started in November 2019 and the last trees were planted in late May 2020. Initially the project was self-funded before receiving a federal government Communities Environment grant through the Hon. Staurt Robert MP for Fadden office.
Planting koala food trees in an operating golf course has its challenges. It means that we’ve had to have small group planting days to limit noise and distractions to members playing golf. Other challenges have included kangaroos (which has meant we have had to install tall ‘kangaroo proof’ tree guards), the scattered nature of plantings, dry weather and the need to hand-water the trees.
With the help of the local community, to date 240 koala food trees have been planted and tree guards installed. The project now is in maintenance mode to ensure that the trees can grow strong and provide food, shelter and safe ways for koalas to travel through golf course and suburb.
The Arundel Hills Country Club is a pilot project. The big goal is to help other golf courses where koalas live to create ‘koala friendly’ golf courses. With continued urban development, every tree counts. Unless we begin to find creative ways to connect existing habitats and provide greater food sources, then our Gold Coast urban koala populations may become a thing of the past. This would really be a great tragedy. We are incredibly lucky – we are the fifth-largest city in Australia and live side-by-side with these beautiful creatures.
The Koalas on the Green Program is an excellent initiative that AHCC are very happy and proud to be a part of. Our initial response from our members was a very positive one as they share the same care for the koalas here as we do. As of this point there has been zero interference with the day to day running of the course. We have an amazing member by the name of Michelle Brown who reports sick and injured wildlife here at the club who has been extremely helpful in showing people involved in the program where the best places are for planting to take place.
Golf Course Superintendent
Arundel Hills Country Club
How You Can Help
From our experiences rescuing koalas, we have found that the community wants to help.
They want to join local causes that have meaning for them. Is this you? Then, ask your local golf course if they would be interested in making their golf course more koala friendly, and refer them to our website. We will take care of the rest.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook to find out when the next koala food tree planting day event is. You can become part of a ‘Koala Crew’ for the afternoon and gain a greater awareness of koalas in your area while helping the koalas long term future.
How Golfing Clubs Can Help
Arundel Hills Country Club has been very supportive of the project. We would like to invite other golf clubs on the Gold Coast, South East Queensland, or Northern New South Wales who have koalas that frequent their golf courses to contact us on 0412 816 855, or get in touch via our contact page. We can make your golf course more koala friendly. We are happy to visit the golf course, and provide some starter koala food trees. We can also provide advice on how you can activate the golfing community and surrounding residents to be involved in the Koalas On The Green program