A CHALLENGE has been issued to plant and raise the best koala food trees in Bongil Bongil National Park to help save the iconic species.
The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) is inviting volunteers to team up and challenge each other to be a part of the Tree Parents project which was launched in 2014 and more than 100 enthusiastic and competitive local volunteers planted 600 trees in a degraded eucalypt plantation in the national park near Boambee East.
NPWS Acting Area Manager Andrew Lugg said planning and site preparation is well underway for phase two of the project with another 600 trees ready for more 'Tree Parents' to plant and nurture them in May.
"The bushland around Coffs Harbour supports one of the most important wild koala populations in the state, but some forest areas have been changed and lack the primary koala food tree species of Tallowwood, Grey Gum, Forest Oak and Swamp Mahogany," Mr Lugg said.
"This project helps create vital koala habitat quite rapidly and provides an opportunity for people to assist local wildlife for centuries into the future, as most eucalypts live in excess of 300 years.
"The teams from 2014 are already seeing koalas and their joeys occupy trees adjacent to their plots, curiously eyeing off the young trees they are nurturing."
Teams of six to 12 individuals are invited to sign-up, plant and carry out Tree Parent responsibilities for 60 young trees within a prepared national park plot for the first two to three years of their life.
Local ranger and project manager Martin Smith said a training and orientation day for all prospective volunteers will be scheduled for late March with the tree planting competition kicking off in May.
"As well as training, NPWS will provide all equipment and on-site support so the local community can do something both fun and practical to protect and conserve our local koalas," Mr Smith said.
To find out more or to sign up to be a Tree Parent, contact Martin Smith at the local NPWS Coffs Jetty office on 66520907.