In 2013, a large bush fire in the Southern Highlands of NSW revealed a well-kept secret – the area was home to one of the state’s largest koala populations.
The fire burnt over 15,000 hectares. In the days after the fire, koalas started appearing in people’s back yards and getting hit by cars on the Hume Highway.
In 2014, Wingecarribee Shire Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage established the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project to better understand and conserve koalas in the region.
The project conducted hundreds of surveys and assessments of the Shire’s koala population. We discovered that the area is home to a significant number of koalas, with recent official estimates at over 3,000 – making it the largest koala colony in southern NSW.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Council, the local community and the NSW Government, the koala population in the area is now one of the most studied in the state.
In 2018, the project was funded for a further three years through Saving our Species and Wingecarribee Shire Council. The project now aims to restore habitat by planting koala food trees in strategic corridors, secure more habitat for koalas by engaging with private landholders, better understand koala disease, and register sightings of koalas.
In late 2019, the Biodiversity Conservation Trust announced a Koala Habitat Conservation Tender to protect habitat on private land.
For tips on how you can help koalas thrive and more information visit the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project.
Images from Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project.