The koala is one of Australia's most loved and iconic animals. In Brisbane, and many other parts of Australia, their numbers have dropped rapidly due to habitat loss, dog attacks, vehicle strike and disease. As koalas are listed as vulnerable under national and state environmental law, Brisbane City Council is committed to seeking ways to conserve and protect Brisbane’s koala population.
What Council is doing
To help protect Brisbane's koalas, Brisbane City Council is:
- carrying out land use planning
- purchasing land with significant koala habitat through the Bushland Acquisition Program
- implementing the Natural Assets Local Law to protect significant vegetation including koala habitat
- establishing a koala fodder plantation at Wacol to provide wildlife carers with a secure food resource for sick and injured koalas in the greater Brisbane area
- planting koala food trees on Council land such as through the Habitat Brisbane program and through the Creek Catchment program
- assisting residents to protect and restore koala habitat through the Wildlife Conservation Partnerships Program
- installing wildlife movement solutions at strategic locations that help koalas to cross roads safely
- providing information and advice to Brisbane residents and visitors to help protect koalas
- managing pest plants and animals that may impact on koalas or their habitat
- managing natural areas such as Brisbane Koala Bushlands where residents and visitors can see koalas
- offering Wildlife Carer Grants and Environmental Grants.
Two of Council's more notable koala projects are as follow:
Koala Detection Dog Surveys
In 2017 and 2018, Council commissioned a city-wide koala survey of 33 Council bushland areas using the unique services of Certified Environmental Practitioners operating with koala detection dogs.
These dogs are purpose-bred and professionally trained to locate koala scats, with an ability to find them up to 18 months after the koala has moved away. Genetic analysis of the scats detected by the dogs provide important information about the presence and distribution of koalas, as well as information on koala health, genetic diversity, population structure, breeding and movement behaviour.
Although this study allowed us to estimate relative koala activity within and between the surveyed bushland areas, it was not designed to provide a census and therefore cannot be used to estimate population numbers of koalas living in Brisbane.
Koala Research Partnerships Program
As part of Council's commitment to conserve and protect Brisbane’s koala population, Council is currently investing in koala research through the Koala Research Partnerships Program.
Additionally, Council is working with universities on research projects that contribute to koala conservation primarily by addressing key threats to koalas.
It is expected that this research will make a significant positive contribution to ensuring the longevity of healthy koala populations in Brisbane, as well as advance the knowledge and understanding of the species and their habitat.
What you can do
If you see an injured koala or for other wildlife medical emergencies, phone the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)
Note: only trained and authorised wildlife carers and permit holders can catch koalas.
If you live in a koala habitat area or movement corridor:
- drive carefully, slow down, look out for koala crossing signs and scan the roadsides for koalas (and other wildlife) crossing roads, especially at dusk and dawn and around gullies and crests
- plant koala food trees (and retain existing ones). Recognised koala food trees in Brisbane include:
- grey gum (Eucalyptus major)
- tallowoood (Eucalyptus microcorys)
- small-fruited grey gum (Eucalyptus propinqua)
- scribbly gum (Eucalyptus racemosa)
- red stringy bark (Eucalyptus resinifera)
- swamp mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta)
- fine-leaved red gum (Eucalyptus seeana)
- blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) (highly desirable)
- provide koala friendly fencing
- make your swimming pool koala safe
- keep koalas safe from your dog
- watch koalas from a distance.
If you have more than 0.5 hectares of land that can be created or protected, you can join the Wildlife Conservation Partnerships Program and receive assistance in re-establishing and protecting koala habitat. You can also volunteer with your local Habitat Brisbane bushcare or catchment group, or you can visit an environment centre in greater Brisbane to learn more about koalas and how you can protect them.
Remember that by protecting koala habitat, you will also be helping protect a range of other species.
For more information about koalas in Brisbane and Council's initiatives, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.