What is the New South Wales Government doing?


Koalas are recognised around the world as one of Australia’s most iconic animals.

However, koala populations in New South Wales are under pressure. In 2022, the Australian Government listed the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory koala populations as endangered under national environment law.

The New South Wales Government has put in place a range of programs, projects, laws and policies helping to secure the koala in the wild.

Conservation Programs

New South Wales Koala Strategy

The New South Wales Government is committed to doubling the number of koalas in New South Wales by 2050. The  NSW Koala Strategy is the next step towards this long-term goal, backed by $193.3 million over five years.

The Strategy delivers a range of conservation actions to secure habitat, improve koala safety and health, support community conservation, and improve our knowledge of koalas.

Learn More

Cumberland Plain Conservation

The Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan is one of Australia’s largest strategic conservation plans and is the first strategic biodiversity certification to be undertaken under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The Plan will contribute to the Western Parkland City by supporting the delivery of housing, jobs and infrastructure while protecting important biodiversity such as threatened plants and animals.

Learn More

Legislation and Policy

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage important animals, plants, ecological communities and heritage places — defined as matters of national environmental significance. The combined koala populations of New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as endangered under this act in February 2022.

Code of practice for injured, sick and orphaned koalas

The Code of Practice for Injured, Sick and Orphaned Koalas (the Code) is intended for everyone authorised to rescue, rehabilitate and release koalas. The Code contains both standards and guidelines for the care of koalas and is designed to be read in conjunction with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Code of Practice for Injured, Sick and Orphaned Protected Fauna.

Code of Practice
Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016

The Biodiversity Conservation Act is the New South Wales Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a regulatory framework for threatened species conservation and assessing and offsetting impacts on biodiversity.

Biodiversity Conservation Act
Local Land Services Act 2013

The Local Land Services Act, as amended by the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 (LLSA Act), provides a regulatory framework for the management of native vegetation in New South Wales.

Local Land Services Act
EPBC Act referral guidelines for the koala

The EPBC Act referral guidelines provide guidance under the EPBC Act for anyone proposing actions that may harm koalas in relevant states and territories. The guidelines do not provide guidance on requirements under state and local government laws.

EPBC Referral Guidelines
Regional Forest Agreements

Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are 20-year bilateral agreements made between the Commonwealth and state governments. There are three RFAs in New South Wales that cover the Eden, north east and southern regions.

RFAs aim to provide for a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system, the ecologically sustainable management and use of forested areas, and long-term stability for forest-based industries.

RFAs require New South Wales to implement a range of statutory and non-statutory programs and actions for the protection of threatened species and habitats.

In New South Wales this is delivered though recovery plans, threat abatement plans, the Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals and the Private Native Forestry Codes of Practice.

Regional Forest Agreements
Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals

Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) set out rules to protect native animals, native plants, important habitat and ecosystems, soils and water during native forestry operations on state forests and other Crown-timber lands.

They prescribe rules for identifying and managing koala habitat to manage the potential impacts of native forest harvesting on important koala habitat across the landscape.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring compliance with the IFOAs, and undertaking associated enforcement activities.

A comprehensive forest monitoring and improvement framework is currently being established to support the IFOAs and will have a focus on koala management and conservation.

Koala SEPP 2021

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2021 (“Koala SEPP 2021”) aims to reverse the decline of koala populations by ensuring koala habitat is properly considered during the development assessment process and to provide a process for councils to strategically manage koala habitat through the development of koala plans of management.

Changes to the Land Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 were considered by Parliament in November 2020. The NSW Government subsequently replaced Koala SEPP 2019 with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2020 (Koala SEPP 2020) as an interim measure.

On 8 March 2021, the NSW Government announced a new koala habitat policy framework to protect koalas and their habitat and the interests of farmers. The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2021 (Koala SEPP 2021) commenced on 17 March 2021.

A range of local councils have developed Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management under the previous SEPP 44:
Ballina Shire Koala Management Strategy
Bellingen Shire Council Coastal Area Koala Management Strategy
Byron Coast Comprehensive Koalas Plans of Management
Clarence Valley Council
Coffs Harbour Koala Plan of Management
Kempsey Shire Council Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management
Lismore City Council
Port Stephens Council
Tweed Shire Council
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has also produced a Koala Recovery Strategy.

Koala Habitat Protection SEPP
Private native forestry codes of practice

Harvesting timber on private land requires approval through a private native forestry plan (PNF Plan) and compliance with rules set by four private native forestry codes of practice (PNF Codes).

The PNF Codes set out the minimum requirements to ensure that ecologically sustainable forest management is implemented and measures are put in place to mitigate impacts on plants, animals, soil and water. They prohibit PNF occurring within core koala habitat (defined by State Environment Planning Policy No. 44) and prescribe rules for identifying and managing koala habitat to manage the potential impacts of native forest harvesting on important koala habitat.

A PNF Plan is a legally binding agreement between a landholder and Local Land Services (LLS). The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring compliance with the PNF Plan and relevant PNF Codes of Practice, and undertaking associated enforcement activities.

PNF Codes

Project highlights

I Spy Koala app

I Spy Koala sightings and survey app

The I Spy Koala App allows members of the public, tourists, researchers, rangers and conservation groups to record details of koala sightings in the wild, to help improve the information available about where koalas are, nearby risks and how to conserve them.

Download from the Apple App Store

Download from the Google Play Store

Aerial photo of forest with swamps and grassed areas

Local on-ground actions

DPIE is funding local on-ground actions to manage and mitigate threats such as dog attack and wildfire in core koala habitat.

Read the NSW Koala Strategy Annual Report for 2019 for more details.

Koala's face being held by researcher wearing a protective glove while checking for eye disease

Tackling koala health

Development of a state-wide profile of koala disease in New South Wales using existing information and new data from the field.

Koala road sign that reads 'slow point ahead, koala zone'

Fixing vehicle strike hotspots

Picton Road in Wollondilly was the first vehicle strike hotspot to be addressed under the NSW Koala Strategy. New fencing to complement existing structures is helping to prevent koalas getting on to the road. Variable message signage has also been installed to educate drivers of the risks to the koalas in the area.

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is also working with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), local councils and the community to identify additional priority road kill hotspots and effective mitigation responses.

Koala habitat restoration area with newly planted staked feed trees

Creating koala habitat

Habitat restoration (including more than 2000 trees) at two priority sites at the Tweed Coast and Bongil Bongil National Park.

Water station for koalas comprising a blue tank with a black tube connected to a tree drink station

Water supplementation

Collaborative research with the University of Sydney led to the distribution of 30 artificial water sources mounted on trees – providing water to koalas in times of drought.

Koala habitat suitability map colourful graphic - section of NSW

Koala habitat suitability mapping

The Koala Habitat Suitability Map is a useful tool to predict the likelihood of koala habitat occurring across northern New South Wales. The map was originally prepared by DPI Forestry and funded in part by the EPA to assist in the regulation of native forestry on public and private land.

Explore the data on the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) online map viewer.

Colourful koala habitat map of south east NSW

Koala habitat information base

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has developed a state-wide koala habitat information base. The information base uses the best available data on koala distribution, koala preferred trees and koala sightings.

The key layers in the information base are a regionalised list of tree species used by koalas, a map of the likelihood a koala will occur, and a predictive models of koala habitat suitability and koala tree suitability.

View the data sets on the SEED Portal.

Green and grey map showing likelihood of koalas in NSW

Koala likelihood mapping

The Koala Likelihood Map is a useful tool to predict the likelihood of koalas occurring across New South Wales. In 2019 the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) ran a state-wide survey program aimed at updating the data that informs the map, involving:

View of a canopy of a koala forest with blue sky behind

Research on koala response to forestry operations

Under the NSW Koala Strategy, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is undertaking research on how koalas respond to intensive native forestry on North Coast State Forests. Further information can be found at www.nrc.nsw.gov.au/koala-research.

DPI Forest Science also has an ongoing program of scientific research into the impacts of forestry operations on koalas.

Juvenile koala sitting on a tree branch looking sideways

Koala monitoring plan

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is developing a state-wide koala monitoring program that will be an essential part of determining the effectiveness of the koala strategy and its actions. The program aims to incorporate existing monitoring projects within an adaptive monitoring framework.

koala researcher analysing koala samples

Koala research plan

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has developed a koala research plan which identifies priority knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. The research plan has been developed through a facilitated expert elicitation workshop, followed by a koala research symposium. The plan will be reviewed at a research symposium held every 2 years.

Grants have been awarded to 10 projects, with a total value of $1.93 million. The projects are listed on the DPE website.

Funding programs in New South Wales for koala conservation

The New South Wales Government provides a range of funding for landholder and community grants and voluntary private land acquisition. The Australian Government also funds conservation in New South Wales.

New South Wales Environmental Trust (ET)
The New South Wales Environmental Trust offers a range of grant programs. These programs fund projects that rehabilitate or regenerate the environment, or promote environmental education and sustainability.
The New South Wales Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT)
Established by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the BCT will invest $240 million over the next 5 years to support working with landholders, farmers and other organisations that wish to participate in private land conservation.
Local Land Services (LLS)
Each year Local Land Services delivers a number of grant and funding programs to support the community to undertake natural resource management and sustainable agriculture activities. Contact your regional Local Land Service for more information about these incentives.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) acquisition program

The New South Wales Government has allocated funding to purchase properties in New South Wales with priority koala habitat for management and conservation within the national parks system.

The National Landcare Program (NLP)
This is a key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to protect and conserve Australia’s water, soil, plants, animals and ecosystems, as well as support the productive and sustainable use of these valuable resources.

Recent stories

Caring for the Clarence: A community tree planting initiative

Creating wildlife corridors and expanding habitat is crucial for the koala’s survival. This project is a great example of how you and your community can get together and make a significant difference to this Aussie icon.


Community members help survey koalas in the Blue Mountains

Koalas are often found in coastal forests on fertile soils. But research by Science for Wildlife has found koalas living on sandy soils and escarpments in the Blue Mountains. At these high altitudes, koalas are often found covered in snow!


How are koalas coping after the fires on the South Coast?

The devastating 2019-20 fires had a significant impact on the small but resilient colonies of koalas on the NSW south coast. There have been some positive koala sightings after the fire and work now begins to protect these survivors with the help of aboriginal knowledge and cultural burning practices.


Weeds threaten koala habitat in Moree

Weeds are nature’s pests, as any keen gardener will tell you. And for koalas, nasty weeds can change a healthy habitat site with trees to climb into a place that threatens their existence.


New school education program helping kids save koalas

The NSW Koala Strategy is working with the Lions Club on a new education program targeting school children to inspire them to create projects to save koalas.


Council and community helping koala recovery

In the wake of the summer bushfires, Clarence Valley Council (near Coffs Harbour) partnered with the NSW Koala Strategy on projects to harness community resources and support habitats and individual koalas.


Identifying koala habitat on the Tweed Coast

Since 2015 Tweed Council has benefitted from state government funding under the NSW Koala Strategy to support projects to identify and establish new koala habitats.


Radio-tracking released koalas after fires

Bushfires have been top-of-mind for koala conservationists and concerned public since last summer’s event devastated valuable habitat and destroyed thousands of precious koalas.


Improving collection of koala disease data

The Koala Health Hub at Sydney University developed standardised protocols for the collection, analysis and reporting of koala disease samples. These new protocols guide the collection of high-quality samples for disease research. The aim is to maximise research benefits from any interaction with koalas.


Transforming degraded land into significant koala habitat

The Bongil Bongil National Park project is a prime example of how an ongoing commitment to remove weeds and plant food trees can help koalas thrive.


A year in the life of a koala

There is still much to learn about the elusive koala. For an animal that is so iconic and beloved, surprisingly little is known about its habits. Popular belief is that they are slow and simple creatures content to drowse up a tree all day – but is there more to their lives?