News from the Field, Press Release

New agreement to protect critical NSW forest for Endangered Koalas

10 Nov. 2022
Brad Leue/AWC

Almost 4,000 hectares of lush forest habitat in the NSW Hunter region is now protected for conservation after Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) entered a new agreement to preserve an area of regional Koala significance and establish a new sanctuary.

Situated less than three hours north of Sydney, Gorton Forest Sanctuary is part of a conservation agreement with philanthropists and long-time AWC supporters Andrew and Jane Clifford to manage a private estate. Located on the Traditional Lands of the Worimi Nation, AWC is seeking to consult with the Local Aboriginal Land Council on an appropriate name for the sanctuary.

 

 

The sanctuary is a wonder of topographically complex ridges and ranges, shifting from dry sclerophyll forests at the peaks to dense, wet rainforest in the deeper gullies. The sanctuary provides vital habitat for many forest-dwelling species.

Greg Holland, AWC’s South-East Regional Ecologist, said the property provides opportunities to protect and enhance the populations of many species, including the Koala, recently declared an Endangered species in NSW, QLD and ACT.

“The sanctuary contains habitat for many species that do not currently occur within the network of AWC sanctuaries and partnership areas,” Holland said. “It is quite an amazing place with intact native vegetation, so we expect there will be a whole suite of small native mammals that call this place home.”

 

Greg is looking forward to getting boots on the ground at AWC’s exciting new sanctuary that will protect and conserve a wide array of plants and animals. Brad Leue/AWC
AWC’s Greg Holland is looking forward to getting boots on the ground at the exciting new sanctuary that will protect and conserve a wide array of plants and animals.

 

AWC scientists estimate that the sanctuary likely supports more than 100 different vertebrate species of which 12 are listed as threatened. These threatened species include the Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis), Golden-tipped Bat (Phoniscus papuensis), Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) and Green-thighed Frog (Litoria brevipalmata).

Tim Allard, AWC’s Chief Executive Officer, said small mammals across NSW and Australia are facing many threats, particularly predation by feral cats and foxes, and habitat loss and degradation. This new sanctuary will enable us to reduce the impacts on wildlife in this critical landscape, while also expanding Australia’s conservation footprint.

 

The lush, welcoming landscape of AWC's newest sanctuary, home to many forest-dwelling species not currently found within AWC's network of sanctuaries and partnership areas. Brad Leue/AWC
The lush, welcoming landscape of AWC’s newest sanctuary, home to many forest-dwelling species not currently found within AWC’s network of sanctuaries and partnership areas.

 

“This is an extraordinary opportunity gifted by Andrew and Jane Clifford to manage a private estate. The new sanctuary will provide better outcomes for unique and iconic species in NSW and help restore crucial habitat,” said Tim.

The success of this new sanctuary is important not only for the future of native wildlife but for the conservation landscape of Australia. It will demonstrate what can be done with private land to create better outcomes for Australia’s biodiversity and provide hope for threatened native wildlife and habitats.

 

Short-eared Brushtail Possums are common in west forest, including at Gorton's Forest, and can often be found feeding on ground plants. Brad Leue/AWC
Short-eared Brushtail Possums are common in wet forest, including at Gorton Forest, and can often be found feeding on the ground.

 

Following on from the Cliffords’ extraordinary initiative, another AWC supporter, Richard Harding, has pledged up to $500,000 to underpin management of the property in the first year. Richard has set a challenge to AWC’s community of passionate supporters to help reach the goal of raising $1,000,000 for this purpose by Christmas.

 

MAKE TWICE THE IMPACT & HELP US REACH ONE MILLION DOLLARS

Will you help us reach $1,000,000? Your tax-deductible donation this Christmas will be twice as powerful.

Every donation over $350 made in support of AWC’s newest sanctuary will be matched dollar for dollar until we reach our million-dollar goal. That means you can make twice the impact this Christmas to support initial ecological surveys to confirm species like the Endangered Koala and inform conservation management at our new sanctuary.

What will your donation support?

$30 will support the purchase of a camera trap SD card for use in inventory surveys at AWC’s new sanctuary

$100 will purchase a cage trap for catching feral cats

$350 will purchase equipment to support biodiversity inventory surveys

$500 will fund a senior ecologist to carry out inventory surveys on AWC’s new sanctuary for one day

$1,000 will purchase star pickets and materials to set up pit-fall traps to survey small mammals, reptiles and frogs

$3,250 will fund the purchase of five Reconyx camera units which will aid in identifying and confirming animal species present on the new sanctuary and track the range and number of feral predators

$5,000 will fund a senior ecologist to perform preliminary surveys at AWC’s new wildlife sanctuary for two weeks

DONATE NOW. Please help AWC take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

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