A community-driven planting program will aid the long-term survival of the local koala population by creating an indigenous tree corridor linking the You Yangs to Little River.
The project, conceived and led by not-for-profit organisation the Koala Clancy Foundation, will be part-funded by the City of Greater Geelong via a $9000 Environmental Sustainability grant.
With the help of volunteers, the foundation plans to plant more than 3000 grassy woodland trees and shrubs along a corridor of privately owned farmland near Little River.
Koala Clancy Foundation president Janine Duffy said the new woodland would help koalas move into fertile, moisture-rich tree areas along the river in times of heat stress such as drought or bushfire.
“This project is especially critical given the impact of climate change and the likelihood that koala habitat away from waterways will become increasingly dry,” Ms Duffy said.
“We’ve been lucky to find a landowner willing to provide a broad corridor, allowing us to convert a large area of farmland into grassy woodland.”
Planting will take place between June and August 2021.
Windermere Ward councillor Kylie Grzybek said the project would help protect a unique and special part of the Greater Geelong region.
“The You Yangs and surrounds are home to many precious and endangered native plants and animals, and it’s just so important that we do what we can to help them survive and thrive into the future,” Cr Grzybek said.
“The Koala Clancy Foundation is doing great work and the Council is glad to be offering support via this grant.”
Fellow Windermere Ward councillor Anthony Aitken said the initiative would contribute to both the environmental and financial sustainability of Greater Geelong’s north.
“Not only will this project help regenerate a precious ecosystem and buffer wildlife from the impacts of climate change, it will also help enhance the You Yangs and surrounds as a low-impact wildlife tourism destination,” Cr Aitken said.
“This will attract more visitors to the northern part of our region, supporting local employment and helping to increase understanding about the importance of protecting our natural environment.”
The majority of trees for the project will be sourced from a local nursery, with others to be sown from seed by volunteers.
Property owners Michael and Anne Smith said they had no hesitation in providing their farmland for the project.
“We are delighted that Koala Clancy is committed to the region and planting a few thousand trees to help restore this land, and council’s grant enables the project,” Mr Smith said.
“They say the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, so the sooner we take this step the better.”
The Koala Clancy Foundation has already planted around 16,500 trees at 11 sites across Greater Geelong since 2016.