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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 perhaps 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: 

  • Securing and better connecting koala habitat in the Southern Highlands. 
  • Identification of priority areas to secure private land conservation agreements to maximise koala habitat connectivity and security. 
  • Strategic restoration of koala habitat.
  • Data collection and analysis to improve the information available to council for future planning decisions that may affect koala habitat. 
  • Coordination with complementary programs to secure and restore habitat and mitigate critical threats to koalas.
  • Investigating options for mitigation of road kill at identified hotspots on council-managed roads, and on the Hume Highway in partnership.
  • Fire management planning to minimise the impacts of wildfire and planned burns on koalas and their habitat.
  • Community engagement and education to increase public awareness of and participation in koala conservation in the region. 
  • Strengthening partnerships with other conservation programs and community groups to fulfil shared objectives.

A brochure has been printed and can be downloaded via the following link: Koala_Project_Brochure.pdf

Brochure - Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

Please report ALL sightings or evidence of activity:

  • Koala Hotline: Tel 02 4868 0888


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. 


Since the project was established, the project team has undertaken spotlight surveys and habitat assessments at hundreds of sites throughout the Shire, actively engaging the local community, and forming valuable partnerships with a range of research and conservation organisations.

The project team was also been able to monitor the movements of 20 koalas over the course of six months using GPS-tracking technology, much of this funded privately with the support of the
Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

In March 2017, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage confirmed that, based on the data collected by the project, it was estimated that over 3,000 koalas reside in the Southern Highlands, making it the largest koala population in southern NSW and representing around 10% of the total koala population in the State.

Later that year, we were awarded an 'Excellence in the Environment Award' by Local Government NSW in the category of Natural Environment Protection & Enhancement: On-Ground Work


  • The project team is currently using the new Wingecarribee Shire native vegetation map to assist in the mapping of important koala habitat and wildlife corridors. These will be crucial in the development of the Green Web project - a map of high environmental value lands across the Shire that will help define priority investment areas for biodiversity conservation.

  • Council has also recently invested in further survey works to fill data gaps identified by the native vegetation mapping project.

  • We are also taking steps towards the development of a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPoM) for the Shire - an action defined as a high priority by the NSW Department of Planning in the South East & Tablelands Regional Plan 2036.


  • Report all sightings or evidence of activity - call the Koala Hotline on  4868 0888.

  • Consider planting koala’s preferred habitat trees in the Southern Highlands: Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, quadrangulata, punctata, oblonga, globoidea, mannifera, seiberi, radiata or sclerophylla
    (Preferred species will depend on local soils). 

  • Keep dogs secured while you are not at home and preferably indoors at night. Consider owning a small dog.

  • Dogs should be kept on a leash at all times outside the home. Notify Council if you see dogs roaming or un-leashed.

  • Erect koala friendly fences. Open form fencing (wire, post and rail) or pailings are best. Consider a fence bridge and fence capping if you have colorbond.

  • Incorporate trees into the fenceline or place overlapping trees on each side of the fence to form a bridge.

  • Maintain healthy bushland around your home and plant a variety of native feed trees and shrubs.

  • Drive slowly and cautiously in peri-urban areas, particularly at night. 

  • Swimming pools - drape a secured piece of rope, shade cloth or gutter guard into the pool to enable koalas to climb out if they fall in.

More information

facebookFacebook - Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

pdfWSC Koala hotline brochure (PDF, 300kB)

linkLearn more about koalas (NSW Office of Environment & Heritage)

If the koala appears injured call Wildlife Rescue South Coast 0418 427 214 or WIRES 4862 1788.

For further information about this project Conservation Project, please contact Council on 4868 0888 or email citizen.science@wsc.nsw.gov.au


Last Updated: June 26th, 2019
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