Friends Of Local Koalas

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The History of FOLKLAW

FOLKLAW, or 'Friends Of Local Koalas, Land And Wildlife', was formed by a local group of volunteers to protect and preserve the existing koala colonies and habitat on the Mornington Peninsula. The group was founded in July / August '95 by Snez Plunkett and a small group of dedicated people - some of whom are still on the managing committee today.

FOLKLAW was formed because of concerns for the survival of not only koalas but also the local environment on which the koala depends.


It was established to:

PROTECT koala habitat, including indigenous flora and fauna of the Mornington Peninsula and Western Port region.

PRESERVE the existing koala colonies

EDUCATE the community regarding the problems facing koalas and other wildlife

PROVIDE input to government planning processes

CO-ORDINATE habitat maintenance and enhancement

CO-OPERATE and undertake joint activities with other organisations with similar purposes

DO whatever else is necessary to promote the aims of FOLKLAW,

Tracy Penington - ex-Conservation Officer of Hastings Shire - said -  in the Draft & prelude to Koala Management strategy :

"Sufficient areas of habitat need to be set aside to ensure koalas can feed and move about in relative safety, both now and in the future.......The DCNR (now DSE)  do not believe the koalas in the Shire of Hastings will survive in the long term unless this critical element of koala conservation is assured"

  • In 1993 it was apparent that a Conservation Strategy and Management Strategy, aimed specifically at koalas, was needed to ensure that the local koalas and their habitat survived. 

FOLKLAW's involvement  with the conservation of the local koalas began before the group was officially formed when the local primary schools of Somers and Balnarring celebrated "Save Koala Day" in 1995. This was the day the Mornington Peninsula Shire's Conservation Manager publicised the MPSC's commitment towards implementing the Conservation Strategy.

Thirteen years later the pressure on the koalas' habitat has greatly increased with rapid redevelopment and building in the coastal villages - and the clearing and suburbanising of road side vegetation  - and the increasing suburban tidiness of private gardens and farms that has lead to the exclusion of koalas from many areas of former habitat. 

Any MPSC Conservation Policy for the preservation of local koalas seems to have fallen by the wayside.

  • For some years FOLKLAW held annual koala counts to establish the number of Koalas surviving on the Mornington Peninsula. The counts have not been continued in recent years.

The Mornington Peninsula has less than five per cent of its indigenous vegetation surviving. Much of what remains is threatened by reduction in biodiversity that makes the areas unsustainable as the natural balance has been destroyed.

There were 3 main koala colonies in Western Port Region, on French Island, Phillip Island and in small pockets of bushland on the Mornington Peninsula itself. The most populated area on the Mornington Peninsula was at the Cerberus naval base at Sandy Point. 

Since September 11 2001  access to the Naval base has been difficult to obtain but observations from the outside would suggest that the bushland on the navel base may be in crisis, as Pine trees are becoming more prevalent and there may be areas suffering from some form of die-back. In 2007 a fire at the Naval base destroyed a large part of the koala's habitat.   The number and condition of the Koalas on the base is unknown.

DSE conduct a koala catch each year in the coastal villages of the Mornington Peninsula. Information about the number of koalas taken and the numbers left behind and health of the koalas left in each area is not readily available.

Perhaps a koala feed tree count and a survey of the health of the trees within the villages and surrounding areas might be a more practical  method of protecting the koala and promoting the planting of suitable habitat vegetation on private and public land.

  • In 1998 and until the present time FOLKLAW became the Committee of Management of the Koala Reserve, Somers.

FOLKLAW manages the Reserve on the behalf of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. The Shire funds the Reserve's management.

The original document identified four areas to be considered in managing and developing the Reserve.  Refer to link below.


Map of Koala Reserve


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