Koala habitat and feed trees

Koalas feed primarily on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. One of the most important factors influencing the distribution and numbers of koalas in any area is the presence and density of their food tree species.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)Koalas feed almost exclusively on a few preferred tree species which are of primary and secondary importance. If primary tree food species are not present or occur in low density, koalas must rely on secondary food tree species, but the number of animals per hectare is lower. The occurrence of both primary and secondary tree species varies widely on a regional, local and even a seasonal basis, meaning that koalas are unevenly distributed across their range.

Although primary and secondary food trees provide most of a koala's diet, other tree species, including non-eucalypts, also provide seasonal or supplementary food.

Koalas also require a range of other trees across their habitat for resting and shelter, particularly in extreme weather conditions. Examples of shelter trees include turpentine, cypress pine and brush box.

Koala management areas

The NSW koala recovery plan (2008) identified 7 koala management areas (KMAs). These areas enable the status and recovery of koalas to be monitored regionally.

The KMAs are based on:

  • landscape characteristics, particularly the geographic distribution of primary or secondary food tree species
  • administrative boundaries for ease of natural resource management.

The recovery plan provided a list of koala food trees categorised as primary, secondary and supplementary for each KMA.

Within each KMA:

  • habitat characteristics and threats are relatively consistent, although there are a number of local variations
  • koala populations can be monitored to assess and manage short-term management issues critical for conserving koalas throughout New South Wales.

The main koala food trees in the 7 management areas

Local Land Services: Central West, Lachlan

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species 
Ribbon gum E. viminalis River red gum E. camaldulensis
Secondary food tree species
Candlebark E. rubida  White box E. albens 
Eurabbie E. bicostata  Yellow box E. melliodora 
Broad-leaved sally E. camphora  Western grey box E. microcarpa
Argyle apple E. cinerea Red box E. polyanthemos 
Maiden’s gum E. maidenii Large-flowered bundy E. nortonii 
Swamp gum E. ovata  Snow gum E. pauciflora 
Bundy E. goniocalyx  Tumbledown gum E. dealbata 
Blakely’s red gum E. blakelyi  Brittle gum E. mannifera 
Apple-topped box E. bridgesiana  Mountain gum E. dalrympleana 
Stringybarks/supplementary species
Red stringybark E. macrorhyncha   Yellow stringybark E. muelleriana

Local Land Services: Hawkesbury–Nepean, Sydney Metropolitan, Southern Rivers

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species
Parramatta red gum E. parramattensis Swamp mahogany E. robusta
Forest red gum E. tereticornis Tallowwood E. microcorys
Ribbon gum E. viminalis Cabbage gum E. amplifolia
Secondary food tree species
Broad-leaved sally E. camphora Swamp gum E. ovata
Fuzzy box E. conica Brittle gum E. praecox
Yertchuk E. consideniana White-topped box E. quadrangulata
Dwyer’s red gum E. dwyeri Red mahogany E. resinifera
Slaty red gum E. glaucina Rudder’s box E. rudderi
Bundy E. goniocalyx Large-fruited red mahogany E. scias
Craven grey box E. largeana Grey gum E. punctata
Maiden’s gum E. maidenii Monkey gum E. cypellocarpa
Brittle gum E. michaeliana Woollybutt E. longifolia
Western grey box E. microcarpa  Blue box E. baueriana
Grey box E. moluccana Coast grey box E. bosistoana
E. notabilis  
Stringybarks/supplementary species
Blue-leaved stringybark E. agglomerate E. oblonga
Thin-leaved stringybark E. eugenioides E. ralla
White stringybark E. globoidea E. tenella
Yellow stringybark E. muelleriana Privet-leaved stringybark E. ligustrina 
Red stringybark E. cannonii Brown stringybark E. capitellata 
E. prominula Heart-leaved stringybark E. camfieldii
Narrow-leaved stringybark E. sparsifolia E. bensonii
E. imitans E. blaxlandii

Local Land Services: Murray, Murrumbidgee, Lower Murray–Darling, Western

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species 
River red gum E. camaldulensis  Coolabah E. coolabah 
Secondary food tree species 
Bimble box E. populnea  Tumbledown gum E. dealbata 
Western grey box E. microcarpa  Blakeley’s red gum E. blakelyi 
Yellow box E. melliodora  Black box E. largiflorens 
Stringybarks/supplementary species
Red stringybark E. macrorhyncha    

Local Land Services: Hunter–Central Rivers, Northern Rivers

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species
Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys Parramatta red gum E. parramattensis  
Forest red gum E. tereticornis Orange gum E. bancroftii
Swamp mahogany E. robusta   Cabbage gum E. amplifolia  
Secondary food tree species  
Narrow-leaved red gum E. seeana   Craven grey box E. largeana  
Slaty red gum E. glaucina   Grey gum E. biturbinata  
Small-fruited grey gum E. propinqua   Large-fruited grey gum E. canaliculata  
Red mahogany E. resinifera Steel box E. rummeryi
Mountain mahogany E. notabilis Rudder’s box E. rudderi  
Grey box E. moluccana   White-topped box E. quadrangulata  
Yellow box E. melliodora  
Stringybarks/supplementary species
Stringybark E. tindaliae   Blue-leaved stringybark E. agglomerata  
Thin-leaved stringybark E. eugenioides Diehard stringybark E. cameronii  
White stringybark E. globoidea    

Local Land Services: Hunter-Central Rivers, Namoi

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species
Ribbon gum E. viminalis  Cabbage gum E. amplifolia 
Forest red gum E. tereticornis   
Secondary food tree species 
Forest ribbon gum E. nobilis  Large-flowered bundy E. nortonii
Candlebark E. rubida  Mountain mahogany E. notabilis
Eurabbie E. bicostata  New England peppermint E. nova-anglica 
Yellow box E. melliodora  Snow gum E. pauciflora 
Monkey gum E. cypellocarpa  Broad-leaved sally E. camphora 
Fuzzy box E. conica  Bundy E. goniocalyx 
White box E. albens Apple-topped box E. bridgesiana 
Red box E. polyanthemos  Wattle-leaved peppermint E. acaciiformis 
E. interstans Tenterfield woollybutt E. banksii
Moonbi apple box E. malacoxylon  Dwyer’s red gum E. dwyeri 
Brittle gum E. michaeliana  Blakely’s red gum E. blakelyi 
Brittle gum E. praecox Mountain gum E. dalrympleana
Orange gum E. prava Tumbledown gum E. dealbata
White-topped box E. quadrangulata Brittle gum E. mannifera
Grey box E. moluccana E. retinens
Narrow-leaved black peppermint E. nicholii E. volcanica
Stringybarks/supplementary species
Silver-topped stringybark E. laevopinea  E. subtilior 
Yellow stringybark E. muelleriana  Diehard stringybark E. cameronii 
Red stringybark E. macrorhyncha E. conjuncta
Youman’s stringybark E. youmanii  McKie’s stringybark E. mckieana 
E. stannicola  Privet-leaved stringybark E. ligustrina 
E. williamsiana Broad-leaved stringybark E. caliginosa 

Local Land Services: Southern Rivers

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species
Cabbage gum E. amplifolia Forest red gum E. tereticornis 
Ribbon gum E. viminalis    
Secondary food tree species
Yellow box E. melliodora  Woollybutt E. longifolia
Brittle gum E. mannifera  Maiden’s gum E. maidenii
Yertchuk E. consideniana Snow gum E. pauciflora 
Swamp gum E. ovata  Red box E. polyanthemos 
Large-fruited red mahogany E. scias  Coast grey box E. bosistoana 
Apple-topped box E. bridgesiana  Blue box E. baueriana
Monkey gum E. cypellocarpa  Bastard Eurabbie E. pseudoglobulus 
Stringybarks/supplementary species 
White stringybark E. globoidea  Brown stringybark E. capitellata 
Yellow stringybark E. muelleriana Southern white stringybark E. yangoura 
Blue-leaved stringybark E. agglomerate  E. baxteri

Local Land Services: Border Rivers-Gwydir, Western

Main koala food trees

Primary food tree species
River red gum E. camaldulensis  Coolabah E. coolabah
Secondary food tree species 
Dirty gum E. chloroclada  Blakely’s red gum E. blakelyi 
Bimble box E. populnea Apple-topped box E. bridgesiana 
Pilliga box E. pilligaensis  Black box E. largiflorens 
Fuzzy box E. conica  Mallee red gum E. nandewarica 
Western grey box E. microcarpa  E. vicina 
Yellow box E. melliodora  E. volcanica 
White box E. albens  E. polyanthemos 
Dwyer’s red gum E. dwyeri  Orange gum E. prava 
Tumbledown gum E. dealbata   
Stringybarks/supplementary species 
E. macrorhyncha   Narrow-leaved stringybark E. sparsifolia

Protection of native animals

All native birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, but not including dingoes, are protected in NSW by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.