With Australia’s iconic marsupial under increasing threat, the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) is encouraging everyone to play a role in their conservation by joining the national 2014 Koala Count.
Koala populations are declining at an alarming rate in many areas due to habitat loss, vehicle strikes, dog attacks, disease and climate change.
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.
Anyone can join NPA’s nationwide Koala Count, an innovative citizen science survey running from November 7 to 17.
A unique GPS-enabled smartphone app, BioTag, allows for quick and easy recording of koala sightings. Any data collected is fed into the publically accessible Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), where it complements existing records. ALA, a strong supporter of the survey, provided the mobile apps and infrastructure for the data portal.
“By employing citizen scientists we can cover a greater area and generate significantly more data than would be possible using traditional channels,” says Dr Grainne Cleary, NPA Wildlife Ecologist.
“Everyone can play a part in helping to conserve koalas. With 80% of koalas found on private land, local communities can play a key role in helping to save this unique species,” she says.
“Koalas need our help. Our annual survey aims to identify where koalas are and if their numbers are increasing, in decline or stable. By running the count annually we can determine how our koala populations are doing from year to year and take steps to help,” says Dr Cleary.
This year’s survey builds on the success of the 2013 Great Koala Count pilot survey, which generated over 1,300 records. These records have already been used to help inform several local koala management strategies and to highlight potential areas for connectivity. A report of the 2013 results can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/mxmusrp.
Data collected during the 2014 survey will also be readily available on the Atlas of Living Australia (www.ala.org.au) for any organisation or researcher who needs it.
To join, participants need to register online at www.koalacount.org.au, download BioTag from Google play or iTunes, and then use the app to record any koala sightings made between November 7 to 17. People who do not own a smartphone can enter their sightings directly onto the website.
The Koala Count will be officially launched in koala hotspot, Port Stephens on Friday, 7 November.
Dr Grainne Cleary, NPA’s Koala Count coordinator, National Parks Association of NSW, ph. 0435 547 743
Mr Kevin Evans, CEO National Parks Association of NSW, ph. 0457 797 977