Nature conservation

Native animals

The current situation for koalas: NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's report

Koalas have been listed as vulnerable in NSW since 1992. Three koala populations are listed as endangered: those of the Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens area, the Pittwater Local Government Area and the area between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers, east of the Pacific Highway.

The combined koala populations of Queensland, NSW and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as vulnerable by the Commonwealth in 2012. A study in 2012 estimated that Australia had around 330,000 koalas, with 36,000 in NSW.

The study showed that NSW koalas declined by 26% over the past three koala generations (15-21 years) and will probably continue to decline at the same rate over the next three generations unless action is taken.

In March 2016 the NSW Government asked the Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, to conduct an independent review into the decline of koala populations in key areas of NSW. An advisory committee supported the review, with representatives from:

  • Office of Environment and Heritage
  • Environment Protection Authority
  • Department of Planning and Environment
  • Roads and Maritime Services
  • Department of Primary Industries
  • Department of Industry

and koala experts from:

  • Australian Museum
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Queensland.

What does the Chief Scientist & Engineer's final report recommend?

The report makes eleven recommendations to benefit koala populations in NSW. The main recommendation is for the NSW Government to adopt a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW based on the principles of action, ongoing monitoring and continuous learning.

Read the Chief Scientist & Engineer's eleven recommendations.

A whole of government strategic approach

The NSW Government whole-of-government NSW koala strategy will identify the actions needed to stabilise and increase koala numbers.

The report recommends that an effective strategy for koala management should embody the following principles:

  • Act on evidence: act on the best scientific evidence available, reducing threats based on current understanding while also measuring and monitoring outcomes.
  • Recover: aim to recover the koala by managing and mitigating threats to key koala populations in NSW, managing cumulative impacts in a regional context and improving connectivity across the landscape.
  • Learn: learn by continuously improving knowledge and understanding of how koalas are faring and adapt management approaches.

Find more details on the strategy in the Developing a NSW Koala Strategy factsheet.

Read the Chief Scientist & Engineers' full report and related reports.

Page last updated: 10 March 2017