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Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

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!

Southern Highlands Koala Update 


So far the bushfires in the Southern Highlands have not reached our best quality koala habitat (e.g. the edge of the water catchment lands and Canyonleigh), but these fires are showing no sign of stopping any time soon and we are not out of the woods yet. Both the Green Wattle Creek Fire and the Morton Fire are burning koala habitat, but it is lower quality habitat than other parts of the Southern Highlands.

Fingers crossed for rain.


The drought is enhancing the bushfire danger and also putting stress on Koalas and eucalypts. Koalas that have been recently taken into rescued in the Southern Highlands have been extremely dehydrated. Drought makes it harder to do successful replanting of koala habitat and we are seeing less natural regeneration of eucalypts.

And again, fingers crossed for rain.

What Can You Do To Help?

Injured or Distressed Koalas

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 or 

WIRES on 1300 094 737. 

Please make sure you report all your healthy koala sightings to the Southern Highlands Koala Project via facebook, calling 02 4868 0888 or emailing citizen.science@wsc.nsw.gov.au

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.

Rural Landholder Interest Form

Community Interest Form

About the 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.

Koala at Mt Gibraltar

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
  • Monitoring our koalas

How Can You Help?

There are many ways that you can help koalas in the Southern Highlands

Koala Sightings

Please report ALL sightings or evidence of activity:

  • Koala Hotline: Tel 02 4868 0888

Koala Sighting

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. 

Further Information

facebookFacebook - Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project

pdfWSC Koala hotline brochure 

linkLearn more about koalas 

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

Funding Statement

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.

NSW Planning, Industry and Environment Link

Saving Our Species

Last Updated: January 15th, 2020
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