I am writing to correct the information provided by the Phillip Island Nature Parks in the article “Koalas under threat” on page 29 in your 28/9/21 edition regarding the Koala Conservation Centre on Phillip Island.

The centre was not created by the Nature Parks in 1996!

Its creation followed a 1989 report by the Phillip Island Koala Working Group and the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands (now DELWP) entitled “A proposal to establish a Koala Enclosure on Phillip Island”.

The site was chosen and work began in 1991 with the first koalas arriving in late 1991 (not from Phillip Island) and the Koala Conservation Centre was officially opened in June 1992.

At that time, it was managed by the Penguin Parade Board. The rest of the Island’s reserves, Churchill Island and coastal assets remained under state government management until the creation of Phillip Island Nature Parks in late 1996.

Friends of the Koalas Inc., a conservation group formed in 1990, was greatly involved with the establishment of the Koala Conservation Centre, including helping to plant the many trees in the plantation used to feed the centre’s koalas.

In the years before the Nature Parks’ creation, the group worked with the Department of Conservation and Environment Rangers to help with the revegetation of the reserves, such as the Oswin Roberts Reserve, and also assisted with annual koala counts on the Island.

So, the Koala Conservation Centre was already well established by 1996 and its early history and success must not be forgotten.

Sadly, the number of free-ranging koalas on the Island has continued to fall to very low numbers mainly due to the continued loss of habitat. The koalas at the Koala Conservation

Reserve are ageing and the earlier breeding success has not continued, meaning the future of koalas on Phillip Island remains bleak.

Patricia Hunt, president, Friends of the Koalas Inc., Phillip Island.

Editor: A spokesperson for the Nature Parks has apologised for the incorrect information provided and acknowledged the error, endorsed Patricia’s comments, and acknowledged the “enormous amount of work undertaken in the creation of the Koala Conservation Centre and the protection of the koalas, well before the Nature Parks was involved”.