High koala-ity Eucalypt leaves ripe and ready to help sick wildlife
A feast fit to feed hundreds of sick and injured koalas is being prepared as Brisbane City Council’s eucalypt plantation reaches maturity.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said 8000 eucalypt stems planted two years ago on Council’s eight-hectare koala fodder plantation in Wacol were now harvest-ready and will help take the pressure off wildlife carers.
“We’re committed to making Brisbane the koala capital of Australia and the koala fodder plantation program was established by Council to support community carers and researchers looking after sick and injured wildlife,” Cr Schrinner said.
“These marsupials can chow down up to 500 grams of leaves per day and it can be hard for koala carers to access a steady stream of food.
“Koala’s only eat certain eucalypt varieties, and in 2018, we planted 8000 stems of 12 different eucalypt varieties at the plantation at Wacol in 2018
“This plantation has the capacity to harvest up to 50 tonnes of eucalypt per year and we’ve already harvested about 100 trees and fed 60 koalas since the first yield in November.”
Environment, Parks and Sustainability Chair Fiona Cunningham said the plantation would routinely be trimmed and hauls delivered to the RSPCA’s Animal Hospital.
“The fodder will then be distributed to the wildlife network as far north as Eumundi, helping to relieve the burden on carers, rescue groups and the RSPCA from finding enough good quality eucalyptus leaves for rescued koalas,” Cr Cunningham said.
“Previously koala carers would need to source their own fodder, but our plantation now means they can have easy and reliable access to fodder for free when it’s available.”
RSPCA Qld’s senior wildlife veterinarian Tim Portas said the RSPCA received the leaves from the first drop of fodder for their sick and injured koalas in November and he was delighted with the quality of the leaf.
“This really is a win-win project – Council delivers the leaf to us and we then pass it on to our carer network and of course use it in our wildlife hospital,” he said.
“We can get up to twenty koalas through the hospital every week during the trauma season, so constant quality feed is a major concern – we’re thrilled.”
Cr Cunningham said the plantation required thorough maintenance to ensure it achieved the desired goal of providing adequate fodder for carers.
“For the past two years, Council has been putting in the work to get the trees to a suitable maturity, managing the weeds, replacing non-performing fodder trees and maintaining the height to get the best yield,” she said.
“With the right management, it is envisaged the plantation could keep operating indefinitely, boosting support for the carer network and Council’s ability to help rehabilitate wildlife.”
With koalas eating only fewer than 50 of around 700 eucalyptus species, Council’s koala fodder plantation includes Blue Gum, Grey Gum, Tallowwood, Spotted Gum, Grey Ironbark, Grey Box, Narrow-Leaved Red Ironbark, Pink Bloodwood and Beerwah Mallee.
Leaf cutters for Queensland Parks & Wildlife will be participating in the ongoing harvesting.
For more info visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au or call Council on 3404 8888.