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Crash.Net WRC News

Oz had no real impact on koalas etc, etc

11 September 2009

The organisers of Repco Rally Australia have released preliminary information collected by an independent team of environmental scientists from Biolink Pty Ltd, led by respected scientist Dr Stephen Phillips, following the conclusion of the event last Sunday.

"Firstly, in the months prior to the rally we thoroughly inspected the entire competition route and noted all potential habitats for koalas, lyrebirds and any other threatened species. With the organisers we assembled a team of people and a plan to install various measures as outlined in our final reports of July 2009," Dr Phillips explained.

"On the morning of each day of the rally two teams each comprising three ecologists surveyed the entire competition course prior to the running of the first car.

"Accompanied by a team of hard-working volunteer officials we installed a total of more than seven kilometres of temporary animal fencing and placed almost 40 monitors in strategic locations along each stage, while pollution booms and sediment traps were also installed at all key water crossings and streams. Special guardians were also placed where koalas were located in trees alongside the road during our pre-rally survey.

"Following the passage of the last car in the rally, the environmental teams again inspected the stage and recorded any injured or killed animals that had not been present in the pre-event inspection.

"This was one of the most thorough operations that has been undertaken anywhere in the world.

"The most pleasing aspect was the results were far better than anyone would have expected. We only found a small number of killed animals which, quite frankly, is arguably less than you would normally expect to find on these roads. We put this down to the gradual build-up of rally activity over the morning of each day of the event.

"Importantly, there was no evidence of any animal having been killed in the small areas of National Park traversed by the rally.

"All-up for the 344 kms of rally activity we recorded a total of two lizards, four snakes, nine birds and a single mammal, which was much less than expected for this number of competing vehicles.

"Most importantly, no threatened fauna, including koalas, were killed or injured.

"Despite claims made to the contrary in the weeks leading up to the rally, the results validate the conclusions reached in our July reports that the rally would have no significant impact on threatened species."

However, Dr Phillips said it was important to also look at the bigger picture.

"Increased levels of road kill will invariably be associated with any large spectator event where people are travelling to and from particular areas," he said.

"That means there must also be a broader area of engagement by Local and State Government levels with this issue than that which might otherwise be singularly associated with a rally event."

Dr Phillips has started to actively solicit information from interested community groups and individuals with a view to getting further information on road kill over the rally period.

"It will always be difficult to partition such data in terms of what may be directly attributable to increased vehicle movements and what might otherwise have occurred in due course, but we will be working towards a suite of recommendations that will have application to other similar spectator events throughout the region," Dr Phillips said.

Reports on the road kill issue and the efficacy of ameliorative measures that were utilised for the rally will be forwarded to Federal and State Government conservation agencies and the Kyogle and Tweed Shire Councils over the next few weeks.


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