The Southern Highlands is home to 3000 koalas and we are working with the community to make sure they are surviving and thriving into the future!
The sad news is that, state wide, 25% of koala habitat has been burnt by the bushfires this summer. Fortunately the fires did not reached our best quality koala habitat (e.g. the edge of the water catchment lands and Canyonleigh) in the Southern Highlands and this recent rain has almost put them out.
Both the Green Wattle Creek Fire and the Morton Fire did burn koala habitat, but it was lower quality habitat than other parts of the Southern Highlands. However, even though the quality of habitat was low, we have temporarily lost connectivity to koala populations in the Blue Mountains and Morton National Park. Koalas will recolonise these areas from the unburnt fringes as the bush recovers.
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation project is working with the NSW Government Saving Our Species Program to assist and monitor the recovery of koalas and other wildlife in fire affected areas. We will have more news when it is safe to access the ex-fireground.
What Can You Do To Help?
Donate Eucalyptus leaves to rehabilitating koalas in care.
Each koala in care needs the tips of six fresh branches of Eucalyptus leaves per day. We need your help finding trees that are the right species and have accessible leaves for us to prune.
This will save our incredible carers time searching for appropriate trees, so they can focus on rehabilitating koalas.
You can register leaves for donation using the Koala Feed Tree Locator.
Protect the Koala Habitat
You can protect the koala habitat on your property by joining the Land for Wildlife program. This is a free program where you get an ecological assessment of your property, variety of maps (including a koala habitat map) and access to $2,000/year grants from the Biodiversity Conservation Trust. All you need is at least 0.5 hectares of bushland and an enthusiasm for wildlife!
There are many ways that you can contribute to saving our koalas at home, no matter where you live! It could be planting one Eucalyptus tree in your backyard and looking for koalas on a bushwalk or planting 1000 trees and signing a Conservation Agreement on a rural property.
If you are interested in learning how you can participate in the Southern Highlands Koalas Conservation Project, please get in touch using one of the options below.
Report Injured or Distressed Koalas to Wildlife Carers
If you see a koala that is injured or in distress on the ground, then call either:
- Wildlife Rescue South Coast Inc on 0418 427 214
Please make sure you report all your healthy koala sightings to the Southern Highlands Koala Project via Facebook, calling 02 4868 0888 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project was established in 2014 by Wingecarribee Shire Council in partnership with the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage to take what was the least understood koala colony in NSW at the time, and make it amongst the best understood koala colonies in the country.
Since 2014, the project team has undertaken hundreds of spotlight surveys and habitat assessments throughout the Shire, with official estimates now putting the koala population at over 3,000 individuals, making it the largest koala population in southern NSW and representing around 10% of the total koala population in the State.
In 2018, the project team received a further $450,000 over three years from the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program, allowing us to continue our valuable work delivering local koala conservation actions, including:
- Restoring, Securing and connecting koala habitat
- Reducing the impact of bushfires on koala habitat
- Supporting the Southern Highlands Koala caring and rehabilitation community
- Minimising koala roadkill hotpots
How Can You Help?
There are many ways that you can help koalas in the Southern Highlands including:
- Report all koala sightings to the Koala Hotline or Southern Highlands Facebook Page
- Maintain healthy bushland around your home and join a private land conservation program - like Habitat for Wildlife (urban areas), Land for Wildlife, enter into a Conservation Agreement with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust
- Consider planting Eucalyptus tree species on your property
- Always keep your dog on a leash or contained outside, except in dog-off leash parks
- Drive slowly and cautiously in peri-urban areas, particularly at night.
Please report ALL sightings or evidence of activity:
- Koala Hotline: Tel 02 4868 0888
- Message the Southern Highlands Koala Facebook page
If the koala appears injured call Wildlife Rescue South Coast on 0418 427 214 or WIRES 4862 1788.
Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project Background
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project was initiated following a major bush fire in October 2013 that burnt over 15,000 hectares of bushland to the north of the Shire. Within days of the fire, Council began receiving reports of koalas appearing in backyards and being struck by vehicles on the Hume Highway. These reports surprised many local residents, including long-serving Council staff, many of whom were unaware of the local presence of koalas.
Recognising there was very limited available information about the Shire's koala population, Council approached the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage's (OEH) Threatened Species team seeking expert advice on how Council might help manage its koalas. It soon became clear that not only was the Southern Highlands home to a significant koala population, but this population had also been largely overlooked in terms of research and conservation efforts.
Following an initial 5-day survey and pilot study funded by Council's Environment Levy, the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project was formally established with the overarching goals of providing a clear direction for the long-term conservation of koalas in the Southern Highlands and making this the best understood koala colony in NSW.
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project is proudly supported by the NSW Government's Saving Our Species program and the Wingecarribee Shire Council's Environment Levy.