The Hon. Robyn Parker MP, NSW Minister for Environment & Heritage, extended an invitation to everyone to get involved in November’s Great Koala Count, during yesterday’s official launch at Taronga Zoo.
The Great Koala Count is an exciting Citizen Science survey being run by the National Parks Association of New South Wales (NPA) in partnership with the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, from November 7th - 17th.
The aim of the Count is to create a comprehensive picture of Koala numbers and locations across the landscape by engaging the community directly in this once-a-year survey.
BioTag, a GPS-enabled smartphone app linked to the Atlas of Living Australia has been developed especially for the Count. The free app enables participants to easily record the location of each Koala they see, along with the answers to a series of observational questions about the koala and its habitat.
“The Great Koala Count will enable people to contribute to Koala conservation by using smartphone technology to record information about Koalas in their local area over a set period,” says Dr Gráinne Cleary, Wildlife Ecologist with the NPA
“The Count has two surveys – one for Koala sightings and one to record other common species sighted in the area if you don’t find Koalas. Knowing that no Koala sightings have been made in a survey area is as important as surveys that locate Koalas as it helps to build a more complete picture of koala distribution.” Dr Cleary added.
The long-term aim is to repeat the Count annually so that changes in populations and the effectiveness of conservation efforts along with the impact of events such as drought and fire can be monitored over time. The analysis of this monitoring can be used to inform decisions about future conservation effort.
The idea is based on Citizen Science whereby community sourced information contributes to existing data and science to build a more comprehensive picture.
“We are inviting everyone to become a Citizen Scientist and participate in the Count. Everyone has a role to play in the conservation of this iconic Aussie animal,” said Dr Cleary
To join the Count and become an NPA Citizen Scientist, simply visit www.koalacount.org.au and register your details. You can then download BioTag for Android from the Google play store, or for iPhones from the app store. You are then ready to get out into your local landscape between November 7th and 17th to count Koalas!
For more information, visit www.koalacount.org.au