Mans' best friend turns her nose to helping koalas

The Green Triangle region of Victoria and South Australia is home to large and expanding populations of koalas. In the last few years, koala populations have expanded beyond their traditional native forest habitats to exploit the substantial feeding resources presented by the hundreds of thousands of hectares of blue gum plantations.

During 2013 it became apparent to the industry that, while koalas are far from a threatened species in the region, their rapid populating of the blue gum estate and particular behavioural characteristics presented an increasing problem from the perspective of animal welfare during forestry operations.

The blue gum industry, including PF Olsen Australia, has worked hard in collaboration with local wildlife carers and the Victorian Government to improve practises and measures that target zero harm to koalas during forestry operations. PF Olsen Australia has been an active participant in the Green Triangle Regional Plantation Committee's Koala Stakeholder Engagement Group. This group brings together government agencies, carers and industry and has developed the Guideline for Koala Management in Harvesting Operations. PF Olsen Australia Senior Forester, Stephen Rymer, will chair this group from July 2014.

PF Olsen Australia, on behalf of our client New Forests, has recently engaged Canidae Development to train a koala sniffing dog with the aim of improving our capacity to detect koalas ahead of commencing forestry operations, so that the appropriate measures can be put in place to ensure koala welfare. From March to May 2014, Ngare has been going through intensive training to alert on koalas and koala scat. During June, Ngare is being trialled at undertaking pre-operational koala checks in coppice, young trees and mature plantation.

We are confident that Ngare will prove an important part of the solution for marrying together the objectives of commercial forest management and sound environmental outcomes.

Ngare the koala dog