Martin Smith is a Ranger from the Coffs Coast for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. He is passionate about habitat regeneration, reducing the threats faced by Coffs Harbour’s koalas, and working at nature’s pace.
"This area we have replanted was previously a palm nursery, and grazing land before that.
It was acquired by a developer as part of a larger parcel of land that was subsequently sub-divided for urban housing but because the Council wasn’t keen on it being built on he offered it free of charge to be added to the adjacent national park.
With Bongil Bongil National Park on either side, it was like getting back the missing tooth in a smile.
Reknitting the landscape by revegetating cleared ground is important because it allows koalas to move safely within good habitat without going into suburbia where car and dog threats exist. We need to do a lot more of that in New South Wales.
Before we decided what to plant here we researched previous work done on local koala scats to see what they like eating. We were really surprised to find that a quarter of what they are eating is forest oak, a native casuarina not widely recognised as a primary koala food tree. So, we planted lots of them here.
We’ve also planted tallowood, swamp mahogany and grey gum which are some of the most favoured koala food trees on the NSW North Coast.
We burnt off the rank weedy grassland before planting them in a good ash bed and as you can see in the photos below, these trees are less than a year old and some of them are over 3 metres tall already. They are literally jumping out of the ground. It’s been a perfect revegetation project.
Our replanting work has been hugely successful and it’s hugely rewarding as well.
Sometimes I’ve had koalas watch me while I’m planting trees and I’m sure they know what I’m doing.
It’s very rare that you get a chance in life to do something that will last for over 300 years.”