The plight of beloved Australian koalas is fairly well known across the world, and many have chosen to step up and help in any way possible over the years. This is the story of Kevin and his wife Ru of GroundGrabba. In 2015 Kevin and Ru moved to Possum Creek, and quickly heard of the circumstances facing the koalas in Northern New South Wales. Koalas were losing their habitat at a disturbing rate. Very quickly, the couple decided they wanted to get involved and assist in expanding the koala environment near their new home.
Trees, Trees, and more Trees (Eucalyptus that is!)
Upon making the decision to build up the koala’s habitat, in the beginning of 2016 Kevin and Ru decided to start a program to attract some koalas that were living nearby. Next door, about 250 meters away there were koalas living, so it was determined that a corridor of eucalyptus trees should be planted to expand their habitat and food sources. The next step was to find the trees! Koalas are actually rather fussy eaters, and of the nearly 600 species of eucalyptus tress, koalas will only eat about 100 of those species. So it was off to the nursery to obtain a eucalyptus tree education!
It All Started With 20 Trees
At the nursery, Kevin and Ru began their koala adventure with 20 trees! The first planting included Tallowwood, Forrest Red Gum, Grey Gum, Swamp Mahogany, and Flooded Gum. Amazingly, the Flooded Gum can grow to be 50 meters tall, and some can grow up to 80 meters! Once the trees were planted, they watched their growth over the next few years. With the rainfall in Northern New South Wales averaging about 1.7 meters annually, the trees would grow about 2-4 meters each year.
Getting Friends Involved For Growth
In order to help the corridor of eucalyptus trees to grow, and knowing how much Aussies love koalas, Kevin and Ru invited friends to choose a tree of their own to plant on the property. They could choose a sapling which could be immediately planted (these are usually about 1.5 meters tall) or they could choose a seedling to be planted at a later date. The seedlings would be put in a bigger pot until they were ready to plant. Each tree got a name plate and its growth was documented and monitored. Friends could visit their trees, and if that was not possible, photographs were sent to show the progress. After just 3 years the koala “stand” of trees were standing about 6-10 meters tall and were healthy and doing well!
If You Grow it, Koalas Will Come
In 2019 Kevin was standing at the kitchen window, when all of a sudden, he did a double take….he ran outside and full of wonder and amazement, looked up in the trees to see their very first koala! It was the beginning of Koalas visiting Kevin and Ru’s corridor. With excitement and a warm feeling in their hearts, Kevin and Ru named their first koala Keith. That’s how it all began.
Stay tuned! In the near future we will be continuing the story of Kevin, Ru, and Keith. Maybe, just maybe, there will be other fuzzy friends as well. We will see you soon for part two of the koala story, and the tree planting mission!