Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers Ltd (ASX:KPT) (KIPT) has convened the first meeting of its koala stakeholder group with participants agreeing to work collaboratively for the best outcome for koala welfare.
This comes as the company prepares to harvest its estate on Kangaroo Island.
The main objectives of KIPT in this initiative are the welfare and humane treatment of koalas during the harvest process.
Managing director Keith Lamb said KIPT would also look at opportunities to coordinate at the landscape level with wildlife authorities involved in the recovery of the Kangaroo Island koala population.
“KIPT had started preparing a koala management plan for harvesting its plantations well before the bushfires of December and January,” he said.
"Now the impact of the bushfires on koala populations makes it even more important to get our harvest planning and management right in the bluegums.”
In recent weeks KIPT staff and wildlife workers have witnessed koalas returning to browse new growth in native and plantation forests.
Lamb said KIPT was fortunate to have the benefit of local and wider industry knowledge and experience as it prepared its harvest plan.
“There are well-established protocols around koalas and harvesting from other regions. We are keen to combine that with local knowledge on the island and innovate where we can.”
The MD said that as well as harvest, issues to consider were the importance of koalas for tourism and issues around relocation and impact on neighbouring land.
The new stakeholder group comprises representatives of KIPT and forestry manager PF Olsen as well as the Department for Water and the Environment, National Parks and Wildlife Service, KI Wildlife Network, KI Wildlife Park, KI Tourism, Food, Wine and Beverage Association and former manager of the island’s koala program Desley Whisson.
Participants at the initial meeting are keen to see the results of a recent koala population census and a report is expected in coming weeks.
The group will meet again in October to provide feedback on KIPT’s harvest plan.