Last week the Crumpler team went to the You Yangs, 55kms south-west of Melbourne to volunteer with the Koala Clancy Foundation. The foundation's mission is to help the local koala population in the Melbourne and Geelong area, and protect the koalas habitat from climate change.
The team spent the day working with the foundation team members and pulling out boneseed weeds to improve the koala’s bushland habitat, reducing competition with native species and enabling better mobility for the koalas to move from one tree to another.
We spoke with Janine the President of the Koala Clancy Foundation all about their work.
What lead you to start The Koala Clancy Foundation? I’ve worked with wild koalas my whole adult life. I’ve counted them, watched them grow from babies to old age, rescued them from bushfires, cooled them down in heatwaves. When I realised that they were going extinct in my area, I had to act.
At first, I didn’t know what to do. So I read every scientific paper I could find, talked to scientists, studied maps and photographs. Then I found an answer.
Tell us more about the goals of The Koala Clancy Foundation? In essence, we want to make sure that koalas survive in the wild around Melbourne. That will be a tough job. Climate change is starving them and dehydrating them, and fires are inevitable.
To combat this we need to plant 300,000 koala trees around the You Yangs by 2030. We are well on the way - we will plant 45,000 this year!
When the crumpler team spent the day with you, you told us all about Clancy the Koala’s story, Can you let the reader know? In essence, we want to make sure that koalas survive in the wild around Melbourne. That will be a tough job. Climate change is starving them and dehydrating them, and fires are inevitable.
Clancy was born in 2010, the second son of Pat, my favourite female koala. He stayed with Pat until he was two years old, which makes him a bit of a Mummy's boy! Most male koalas leave their mums at one year old. That also meant that we got to know him really well, and I fell a bit in love with him.
He has always been handsome, blonde, and tall like a Nordic god. He has great charisma and seems to know just when to put on a show.
When he finally left Pat, I was sad, thinking he would move away and I'd never see him again. But he moved about 3km, right into our other research area!
Over the next few years, he settled down there, finally becoming the dominant male in 2017.
He is the first wild male koala I've been able to research from birth to maturity.
What are some of your achievements over the years? With our local volunteers, international travelers, and fantastic Australian companies like Crumpler, we've removed over 2.5 million Boneseed weeds!
We made a home for Koala Clancy, a young male koala who had become independent and moved into the region where the Crumpler team removed weeds. When Clancy was one year old all the habitat was polluted by weeds, but by the time he was three we'd cleared enough for him to live safely.
After we made a home for Clancy we kept going and made a home for his first girlfriend, Ngardang, and then his sons, Wurdi, Burun, and Bunyip, and his daughter Lulu!!!
We’ve already planted 16,500 koala trees, and this year we’ll plant 45,000, near the You Yangs and in East Gippsland.
What does day to day look like at the Foundation? We think about gum trees a lot! From January to April we nurture baby trees, trying to make sure they grow big enough to plant in winter. We plan tree planting days, arrange deliveries - there are so many bits and pieces we need for planting trees!!. From May to August we just run all day, starting at dawn on beautiful Western Plains farms, placing baby trees beside holes ready for volunteers to plant. Then we might get to plant a few ourselves! From September to December we visit properties, meet farmers, draw up maps, and plan our next year's planting. In between all that we remove weeds, and look at koalas!
What can people do to help out? There are a few things you can do at home - sign every petition you see about protecting nature, join a local Friends group at your nearest park, and fight climate change in every way you can. Personal choices matter, but I think more importantly government and big business need to know that we won’t accept the destruction of our natural heritage.
If you’re ever out walking and you see a koala, send a photo and a location to your local koala group. Near Melbourne, that’s us!
We need members and volunteers at all times of the year. June to August for tree planting near Melbourne, September to May for removing weeds - please come!
You can find more information about the work The Koala Clancy Foundation does and how to help on their website, Koala Clancy Foundation.