A tree that acts as a vital food source for koalas has been poisoned in a “heartbreaking” act.
The tree is one of two Lismore City Council, in NSW’s northeast, is investigating after they were found to be poisoned in the suburb of Goonellabah.
One of them was a mature Tallowwood koala food tree, while the other was a Bloodwood tree – both situated in a park on Fischer Street.
It was discovered the trees were poisoned last December after drill holes were found at the base of the trunks.
“It is hard to fathom why anyone would do this. It is as an unlawful act of vandalism that destroys habitat and a community asset,” Stuart Thomson, the council’s Environmental Health Compliance Officer said in a statement.
Wendy Neilan, Lismore City Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer said the poisoning was “heartbreaking”, especially as the council has confirmed the Tallowwood tree is a “core habitat” for koalas in the area.
“Koalas are very particular about the eucalyptus leaves they eat, with only a few species providing a suitable food resource. Tallowwood is one of their preferred food trees,” Ms Neilan said in a statement.
The trees which have been poisoned are estimated to be between 80 to 100 years old, and the mature trees are vital parts of the area’s ecosystem.
“By virtue of their size, these old trees provide more food and nesting resources than younger trees. These mature trees are vital to maintaining the biodiversity in our urban landscape,” Ms Neilan said.
“Mature habitat trees that are dotted throughout our urban landscape in parks and backyards are essential for koala survival.”
Not only are the trees in the area home to koalas, but also possums, gliders, antechinuses, wood ducks, rosellas, cockatoos, owls and microbats. Many animals will utilise the tree hollows to raise their young.
Mr Thomson said not only did the trees aid Australia’s native animals, they also provided shade for the children at the playground.
In the statement released by the council, it was noted the Lismore area had a “significant” koala population.
“Our local populations are all the more precious given the devastating estimated losses of koalas in southeast Australia due to recent bushfires,” the statement said.
It has been estimated by experts more than one billion animals have perished in the bushfires, however that number only includes birds, reptiles and mammals and does not account for bats, frogs, insects and other invertebrates.
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