Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are one of Australia’s most iconic species. This tree-dwelling marsupial inhabits a range of eucalyptus-dominated environments spanning the length of the Australian continent from the far northern tropical rainforests of Queensland right through to the semi-arid communities of South Australia.
Koalas occur naturally in four states - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia - but the health and status of koala populations differ substantially across the continent. Victoria and South Australia have large and thriving koala populations, unlike Queensland and New South Wales where koala populations are in decline and are listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Koalas have suffered significant declines in Queensland and NSW. In 2012, a panel of experts got together for a workshop and assessed koala population declines over the past ~20 years (and projected ~20 years) as follows: 53% decline in all of Queensland with 73% decline in the Mulgalands and 51% decline in Southeast Queensland; 26 % decline in all of NSW with 50% decline in the NSW North Coast and all other regions declining between 4% - 50%.
The same panel of experts suggested the following estimates (aggregated mean population estimates) for koala populations around Australia: 78,000 koalas in Queensland (range of approximately 35,000–150,000); 36,350 (range approx. 20,000–75,000) in New South Wales/ACT; 182,504 (range approx. 75,000–325,000) in Victoria; and 33,320 (range approx. 19,000–52,000) in South Australia. Two things are clear from these numbers: firstly, there is still a lot of uncertainty around koala population estimates, and secondly, koala populations are under serious threat in Queensland and New South Wales/ACT.
The NPA is campaigning to secure the future of koalas in Northern NSW and SE Queensland by securing Koala habitat. The idea is to develop a Great Koala National Park comprising of 315,000 ha koala refuge by combining 175,000 ha of state forest with 140,000 ha of existing protected area.
While the NPA Koala Count is particularly interested in areas around the Great Koala National Park region, the NPA also want to know what’s happening to Koala populations in the rest of Australia. This includes areas where Koalas are abundant, as well as areas where Koalas are absent. You can check out the locations map to figure out areas that still need to be surveyed.
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Phascolarctos cinereus has been recorded at: