Koala fencing along Hogbin Drive hoped to protect local koala population

Koala exclusion fencing is set to be installed along busy Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour to protect local koalas from passing traffic. Photo: Emma Darbin.


KOALA exclusion fencing is to be installed along Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour in an effort to protect the local native koala population.

At Coffs Harbour City Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 11 February, councillors endorsed the commencement of a project in the 2020/2021 financial year to install koala exclusion fencing along priority sections of Hogbin Drive, should external funding become available.

The motion was voted for by councillors Denise Knight, Paul Amos, John Arkan, Keith Rhoades, Tegan Swan and Sally Townley, and was opposed by councillors Michael Adendorff and George Cecato.

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The local koala population is currently at threat from disease, bushfires, road death, dog attack and clearing and fragmentation of koala habitat.

Data from WIRES has recorded 21 incidents (13 deaths and eight sightings) of koalas in the Hogbin Drive area from 2006 to September 2020.

While broader actions to improve koala populations will be the focus of a Council review of the current Coffs Harbour Koala Plan of Management 1999, a Council report on the matter stated that “work to date has highlighted that Hogbin Drive continues to be a major blackspot for koalas”.

Following Council collaboration with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Biodiversity and Conservation Division and the analysis of the feasibility of various options to reduce the instance of vehicle strike to koalas along Hogbin Drive, the installation of koala exclusion fencing was found to be the only viable long term solution.

“The stretch of Hogbin Drive from the airport to the university campus has been identified as a blackspot by the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), Council and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, because of the high number of sightings and koala deaths caused by traffic,” Council’s Team Leader Biodiversity Sally Whitelaw said.

“Having looked carefully at the issue, we all agree that the installation of koala exclusion fencing is the only viable long-term solution at that location and we’re looking at ways to fund those works as soon as possible.”

Ms Whitelaw said Council investigated several other options to protect the local koala population along Hogbin Drive.

“The road is already signposted with koala signs, but we know that these become less effective over time for local drivers as they become ‘sign blind’ on roads they use a lot,” Ms Whitelaw said.

“Additional signage – including on-road surface marking or flashing warning signs – as well as speed reduction were also investigated, but were found to be unsuitable due to the high volume of traffic and the road’s importance as a key route.


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