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 1992, the New South Wales Government listed the koala as a threatened species.
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.
New South Wales Koala Strategy
The New South Wales Government is committed to ensuring koalas survive in the wild for generations to come. The New South Wales Koala Strategy has been developed to support this vision. The strategy sets out actions to help stabilise and increase koala populations across New South Wales, with $44.7 million committed to supporting a range of conservation actions over three years. Download a copy of the New South Wales Koala Strategy.
Saving our Species
Saving our Species (SoS) is a state-wide program that aims to secure threatened plants and animals in the wild in New South Wales. The Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project is delivering strategic on-ground conservation actions at both a local and state-wide scale, as part of the New South Wales Koala Strategy. Find out more about Saving our Species and the SoS Iconic Koala Project.
I Spy Koala sightings and survey app
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has launched a new app that 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
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.
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.
Tracking koala movements
Release and GPS tracking of five rehabilitated koalas from the Limeburners Creek National Park fires of January 2018. Koala movements, habitat usage and home range were monitored for over three months.
Creating koala habitat
Habitat restoration (including more than 2000 trees) at two priority sites at the Tweed Coast and Bongil Bongil National Park.
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.
Fixing vehicle strike hotspots
A core pillar of the strategy is the safety and health of koala populations. The strategy commits $3.3 million to fix priority road kill hotspots across New South Wales.
Picton Road in Wollondilly is the first hotspot to be addressed under the strategy. New fencing to complement existing structures will help 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, Industry and Environment (DPIE) 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 information base
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is developing a state-wide koala habitat information base. The information base will use 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.
Koala likelihood mapping
The Koala Likelihood Map is a useful tool to predict the likelihood of koalas occurring across New South Wales. The map is already being used to aid in the regulation of native forestry on public land (the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval).
In 2019, DPIE is running a state-wide survey program aimed at updating the data that informs the map, which will allow us to better identify priority sites for action. The program will involve:
- An online community survey for koalas and other wildlife
- A targeted field survey for koalas and their scats
Research on koala response to forestry operations
Under the New South Wales Koala Strategy, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is undertaking research on how koalas respond to intensive native forestry on North Coast State Forests. NRC is appointing experienced researchers to oversee this work and will commence this research in 2019. 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.
Koala monitoring plan
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) 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 will monitor koalas at 3 spatial scales (state, regional and local) and will aim to incorporate existing monitoring projects within an adaptive monitoring framework.
Koala research plan
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) 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. At the workshop koala experts were asked to consider threats to koalas and how gaps in our knowledge are limiting our ability to make clear management and conservation decisions regarding the threats. The results of the workshop formed the basis of the 10-year research plan. 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 DPIE website.
The remaining allocated funds will be spent in future years following the next koala research symposium in 2020.
Koala habitat suitability mapping for the New South Wales North Coast
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.
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 Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT)
Local Land Services (LLS)
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) acquisition program
The National Landcare Program (NLP)
Legislation and Policy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
State Environmental Planning Policy No. 44 – Koala Habitat Protection
State Environment Planning Policy No. 44 (SEPP 44) encourages the proper conservation and management of areas of natural vegetation that provide habitat for koalas. SEPP 44 is under review by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment. Read more about the review of SEPP 44.
A range of local councils have developed Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management under SEPP 44:
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has also produced a Koala Recovery Strategy.
Australian Government: Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
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 nationally and internationally important animals, plants, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.
The combined koala populations of New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as Vulnerable on 2 May 2012.
Australian Government: EPBC Act referral guidelines for the vulnerable koala
The EPBC Act referral guidelines for the vulnerable koala 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.