Fodder plantations at Boral quarries have provided a crucial food source for koalas that have been injured and relocated after the disastrous drought and bushfire season across eastern Australia.
The company’s Petrie Quarry and Narangba Quarry, in the Moreton Bay Region, north of Brisbane, have been long-term suppliers of koala fodder to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which has treated wildlife injured by the crises.
Boral established its first plantation at Petrie in 2002 followed by the Narangba plantation on quarry buffer land in 2008. Together they comprised 3000 food trees.
Later in 2011, a new, larger koala fodder plantation was established at the Petrie site, with more than 2500 trees. This allowed the existing, smaller plantation at Petrie to be phased out and become part of a plan to restore natural koala habitat within the quarry buffer land.
The plantations were the result of Boral’s community consultation with local experts and carers representing groups such as Koala Action Inc, Moreton Bay Koala Rescue and Australia Zoo, whom all expressed the need for additional and suitable food sources during the care of injured or orphaned koalas.
According to Boral, koala food consists almost entirely of the leaves of certain species of eucalypts and related plants, with each koala consuming an average of about 500 grams of fresh leaves a day.
Australia Zoo and koala carers have access to both plantations at Petrie and Narangba, which are part of Boral’s overall rehabilitation strategy for the quarries.
Comprehensive rehab plan
Before Boral acquired Petrie Quarry, a large proportion of the site was cleared many years ago for grazing purposes. The company later developed a comprehensive landscape and rehabilitation plan for the site to enhance existing wooded areas and re-forest cleared areas.
To date approximately 100,000 trees have been planted over the life of the operation, including the two fodder plantations. Narangba Quarry occupies 420ha of buffer land, which has a comprehensive rehabilitation plan where more than 30,000 trees have been planted in recent years. The land is maintained through a weed management plan.
A Boral spokesperson added: “Apart from providing fodder to injured or orphaned koalas housed at the zoo, Boral quarry staff and landscape contractors have noted that since the extensive planting and weed clearing on site, more koala movements were recorded, as it is now easier for them to move around the area.”
In total 90,375 animals have been admitted to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, with 1050 admitted in December. From 2004 to 2017, 8204 koalas were treated.