Pacific Highway General Manager Bob Higgins announced the Ballina Koala Plan and Population Viability Analysis (PVA) prepared for the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade has been endorsed by the Koala Expert Advisory Committee and is now available.
Mr Higgins said the plan and PVA had been submitted to the Federal Minister for the Environment and the Federal Department of the Environment for consideration and approval after months of careful research.
“As part of the conditions of approval, Roads and Maritime Services is required to complete the Ballina Koala Plan and PVA before major work can start on the section between Broadwater and Coolgardie,” he said.
“Months of work, including a thorough review by independent experts has led to the preparation and submission of the documents.
“The PVA found extra mitigation measures on existing roads near the project would offset any impact of the upgrade on the local koala population and further proposed mitigation could improve the situation for koalas based on current predictions.
“The study found the Ballina koala population will decline with or without the upgraded highway due to disease, predators and koala deaths on roads other than the highway.
“The upgrade would be fully fenced to prevent animals from entering the road corridor and koala grids would be installed on interchange ramps to stop animal strikes from occurring.
“Additional fencing will also be provided on key sections of Wardell Road near the new highway and the existing Pacific Highway north of Wardell and Coolgardie where the risk of koala strikes is higher.
“About 26 wildlife crossings would also be installed as part of the upgrade, substantially increasing safe crossing points and about 130 hectares of koala feed trees will be planted to provide additional habitat.
“The koala feed trees will be planted early so there can be good growth before the highway opens in 2020.”
Meetings will be held with community groups to discuss the outcomes of the PVA and Ballina Koala Plan.
For more information and to see the plan visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/koala