September is Save The Koala Month!
Perfect Potion has been a proud supporter of the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF)
for the past 12 years, raising nearly $15,000 through our Australian Essential Oils Kit
and your generous in-store donations. Koalas are in an incredibly vulnerable position right now, and need our help! To do our part in raising awareness, we’ve had a chat with Deborah Tabart OAM, Chairman of the AKF, about the current situation for koalas and how we as individuals can help save them.
We Need to Save the Koalas
Our beautiful national icon – the koala – is in desperate need of our help.
According to the AKF, there has been an alarming 30% decline in koala populations across Australia in the past three years, and these vulnerable animals are now extinct in 47 electorates around our country.
This alarming decline of our beloved koala population has been exacerbated by the tragic bushfires of 2019-20, as well as the increasingly severe droughts, heatwaves and lack of water for koalas to drink due to climate change.
However, the biggest threat to our koala population is land clearing.
As Deborah Tabart OAM, Chairman of the AKF explains:
“Land clearing is lethal to Koala populations. Over the past few years, we have seen huge land clearance particularly across NSW and South East Queensland, for farming, housing development and mining. We know that offsets don’t work and we also know that displaced koalas die. Urgent action to stop land clearing in prime Koala habitat is required if we are to save our beloved national animal from peril. We need a Koala Protection Act now which can and will do exactly that; why won’t our political leaders just sign that into being?”
Australia has one of the highest land-clearing rates in the world, and approximately 80% of koala habitat has already disappeared.
Without their habitat, koalas are completely vulnerable. Koalas are slow-moving, tree-dwelling creatures, and so when they are forced to crawl along the ground to move between trees - because too many of them have been felled to climb between them - they are completely exposed to threats such as animal attacks and traffic. The AKF estimates that because of this loss of habitat, about 4,000 koalas are killed each year by dogs and cars.
And while koalas as a species are protected by law, around 80% of remaining habitat is on privately owned land – none of which is protected by legislation.
What is the AKF Doing to Help Protect Koalas?
After 30 years of study, the AFK completed a ground-breaking scientific achievement in 2018: creating the Koala Habitat Atlas (KHA)
. The first of its kind, the KHA maps the entire habitat range of a single species, and from this mapping we’re now able to identify where koalas are most vulnerable.
The invaluable insight and knowledge gained from the Koala Habitat Atlas led to a new initiative: The Koala Kiss Project
The Koala Kiss Project identifies what the AKF coins “Kiss Points” – places in the landscape where areas of koala habitat are connected and so koalas can move freely between the different areas. If Australia can create contiguous habitat for the entire range of the koala, all creatures great and small could traverse through the bush unthreatened. This is what the AKF hopes will “redirect the fate of the koala.”
The AFK is campaigning for the government to write koala protection into legislation via a Koala Protection Act so that the most important thing for koala survival – trees – are protected and regenerated after devastating habitat loss.
“We have to protect trees – a Koala Protection Act would make any landholder write the necessary management plans to incorporate koalas and their habitat into their thinking. You would be shocked this does not really happen now under existing legislation,” Deborah explains.
“Each and every federal politician in these electorates should now be on notice to protect not only the koalas in their electorate but the habitat that remains. The good news is that in many cases there is good habitat left. Now is the time to get into action and get them full again. That is what Koala recovery looks like.”
What Can I Do Personally to Help Save the Koalas?
We asked Deborah to tell us what we as individuals can do to help save the koalas. Her response was to raise awareness, and be as thoughtful and compassionate to the earth as you can be:
“Speak for the koalas. Care, and on a personal level, be a good citizen of the planet. Recycle, think about how you live, and protect our resources for the future.”
Some Koala Fun Facts
Koalas are mostly nocturnal, and often sleep for up to 18-20 hours each day! They sleep so much because their diet of eucalyptus leaves takes a lot of energy to digest as the leaves are toxic, fibrous and have few nutritional qualities.
There are more than 700 varieties of eucalypts, and koalas are incredibly fussy eaters with strong preferences for different types of gum leaves – usually consuming only two or three species of eucalypt.
When a joey is born, it’s only about two centimetres long and is blind, furless and earless. It relies on its well-developed senses of smell and touch to journey to the safety of its mother’s pouch.
Not only are they adorable and a national icon, but koalas also bring billions of dollars of tourism to Australia and are vital to the ecosystem.
What's Diffusing in the Australian Koala Foundation Office?
“I go down there to have a sniff when the going gets tough, and Green Goddess
is my choice at home.” – Deborah Tabart OAM, Chairman of AKF.