A community campaign to monitor and support the dwindling population of koalas in the NSW Bega Valley has had a setback.
Following ongoing drought and the summer bushfires, evidence of only a solitary koala remains in an area where up to a dozen were located just last year.
Robert Bertram has been surveying and looking to protect koalas in the Murrah and surrounding forested areas for many years.
In August last year he launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist in funding water stations to be installed at various locations in the Mumbulla section of the Murrah Flora Reserve.
The water stations were installed at 10 different locations along with motion capture cameras to monitor the wildlife.
Of the original 10 locations, three in the western section of the survey area have ongoing evidence of koalas.
However, in the eastern section only one koala has been located at the remaining seven stations.
Mr Bertram said the western area has the necessary habitat quality, including sources of water, to support koalas.
"The western area also includes the most fertile forest area in the region where up to three koalas have been located," he said.
"Unfortunately only one koala has been located in steeper less fertile forests in the eastern section where up to a dozen koalas were located last year.
"While more time may be required, based on the criteria employed in the Koala Habitat protection SEPP, some 42 per cent of the Murrah Area of Regional Koala Significance was burnt and the majority of the rest subject to a reduction in leaf water content.
"In the absence of evidence to prove differently, the seeming reduction in koala numbers could mean functional extinction and a very uncertain future for koalas.
"On a positive note the NSW Environmental Trust has at least acknowledged forest dieback is a concern and is funding research into it.
"Regrettably the funding requires an 'end user' for research outcomes and I understand the NPWS has no interest in the research or adapting their management."
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