NSW Koala Strategy

The NSW Koala Strategy - the biggest commitment by any government to secure koalas in the wild - is supporting a range of conservation actions that will provide more habitat for koalas, support local community action, improve koala safety and health, and build our knowledge to improve koala conservation.

Towards doubling koalas by 2050

Koalas in New South Wales face a range of threats, including habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, climate change, disease, declining genetic diversity, vehicle strike, bushfire, and dog attack. These mounting pressures, exacerbated by the impacts of the Black Summer bushfires, and combined with historic declines, mean that without intervention, koalas could be extinct in New South Wales by 2050.

Taking urgent action, the NSW Government has set an ambitious goal to double koala numbers in New South Wales by 2050. The work to achieve this goal will be guided by a series of 5-year plans and investments. This strategy is the first in that series.

An investment of more than $190 million

The NSW Government has committed more than $190 million to deliver the targeted conservation actions that the strategy sets out. These actions work towards the long-term goal of doubling koala numbers in New South Wales by 2050. This funding is to 2026.

The strategy builds on the groundwork and achievements of the previous NSW Koala Strategy 2018–21, which comprised a $44.7-million investment over 3 years to stabilise koala populations.

Delivering targeted action and investment

The strategy delivers targeted investment and action under 4 pillars. These actions work together to secure habitat, support local conservation, reduce threats, and improve our knowledge. Investment and key targets under each pillar are listed below.

Pillars 1 infoKey targets
  • 22,000 ha of koala habitat protected
  • 25,000 ha of koala habitat restored
  • One area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value and 20 Assets of Intergenerational Significance for koalas secured

 

Pillars 2 infoKey targets
  • Up to 8 regional partnerships with local councils and conservation groups
  • 10 koala stronghold areas better secured
  • At least 10 councils supported to develop koala habitat maps

 

Pillars 3 infoKey targets
  • At least 10 vehicle strike hotspots addressed
  • Up to 8 translocation projects implemented
  • More than 500 vets and vet nurses to receive wildlife care training

 

Pillars 4 infoKey targets
  • Baseline surveys in up to 50 populations
  • Ongoing monitoring at a minimum of 20 sites
  • Koala genetic diversity mapping
  • Priority research continued
Volunteers planting in Tomaree National Park

Pillar 1: Koala habitat conservation

Pillar 1 iconUnder the NSW Koala Strategy, $107.1 million is being invested over 5 years to fund the protection, restoration, and improved management of more than 47,000 hectares of koala habitat.

Habitat loss and climate change are the most serious threats to koalas. Significant increases in koala habitat area and condition are needed to double koala numbers.

Pillar 1 investments and 2026 targets

 
$50.3m To add up to 15,000 hectares of koala habitat to the national park estate by purchasing high-quality koala habitat on private land.
$20.3m To permanently protect 7000 hectares of koala habitat on private land through the Biodiversity Conservation Trust’s Conservation Partners Program and in-perpetuity conservation agreements with payments to private landholders.
$15.5m To coordinate the restoration of 20,000 hectares of koala habitat including seed purchases, natural regeneration, direct planting, and working with private sector partners to deliver groundbreaking premium carbon market projects.
$16m To deliver 5000 hectares of landscape-scale restoration in partnership with Taronga Conservation Society Australia, establishing the largest box-gum woodland restoration and rewilding project ever attempted, creating climate change-resilient habitat for koalas and other threatened species.
$5m To leverage a fivefold private sector investment in koala conservation.

Pillar 1 actions

The NSW Government will permanently conserve areas of high-quality koala habitat in strategic locations by adding them to the national park estate. Land that can help establish and secure stronghold areas will be prioritised.

Private landholders with high-quality koala habitat in populations for immediate investment will be supported to permanently conserve their koala habitat. Support will be targeted towards stronghold areas and will occur via 2 programs administered by the Biodiversity Conservation Trust: Conservation Partners Program, and in-perpetuity conservation agreements with annual payments.

The NSW Government will purchase and retire 1500 koala credits from the biodiversity credit market, securing in-perpetuity protection for koala habitat.

The NSW Government will restore 20,000 hectares of koala habitat across different tenures, including natural regeneration and direct planting, supporting local restoration initiatives through regional restoration summits and training for local groups.

The NSW Government will use partnerships to leverage private sector investment in koala conservation.

The NSW Government will develop a statewide platform for capturing koala habitat restoration information to prioritise and coordinate koala habitat restoration needs, including bushfire-affected regions.

The NSW Government will work with private sector partners to deliver groundbreaking premium carbon market projects. Projects will actively regenerate areas of degraded koala habitat. The action will help build business and community confidence in the environmental, social and public co-benefits of premium carbon markets.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia will partner with the NSW Government to lead the largest ever box-gum woodland restoration and rewilding project. This action will deliver a landscape-scale restoration project, creating more than 5000 hectares of climate-change-resilient habitat for koalas and other threatened species. Koalas will be translocated to the site once the woodland is re-established.

The NSW Government will direct and support councils to ensure koala habitat values are included in land-use planning decisions through regional plans, local strategic planning statements and local environmental plans.

These will be informed by best available koala habitat mapping such as the Koala Habitat Information Base and koala plans of management in priority local government areas.

This will mitigate habitat loss and deliver long-term habitat protection for koalas and other species that share their habitats.

The Minister for Environment and Heritage will establish one Area of Outstanding Biodiversity Value for koalas under the Biodiversity Conservation Act. This will help effectively manage an area that makes a significant contribution to the persistence of koalas.

The Minister for Environment and Heritage will establish 20 new Assets of Intergenerational Significance for koalas under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Bundjalung National Park Nature Nomads, volunteers working within a National Park, Bushwalking, Bundjalung Wilderness

Pillar 2: Supporting local communities

Pillar 2 iconUnder the NSW Koala Strategy, $19.6 million is being invested over 5 years to support local communities to conserve koalas and fund partnerships.

Recognising the importance of local and cultural knowledge, the strategy will leverage and build strong partnerships with local councils, community groups, local Aboriginal groups, and conservation organisations.

These partnerships will help deliver coordinated and strategic on-ground conservation actions and prioritise investment.

Pillar 2 investments and 2026 targets

 
$15.7m To deliver up to 8 regional partnerships with local councils, conservation groups and Aboriginal communities to deliver coordinated on-ground actions informed by community expertise.
$3.9m To support 10 local councils to develop koala habitat maps using the Koala Habitat Information Base, so councils can strategically conserve koala habitat in their local area.

Pillar 2 actions

The NSW Government will deliver up to 8 regional koala conservation partnerships with councils, conservation groups, Aboriginal communities and other partners to ensure community expertise and knowledge inform on-ground actions.

The NSW Government will continue to work closely with the NSW community to protect koalas and areas of important koala habitat. Regional partnerships from Action 2.1 will engage communities in local koala actions.

The NSW Government will draw on expertise within Local Land Services and the Environment, Energy and Science Group of the Department of Planning and Environment to assist local councils in carrying out rigorous on-ground ecological assessments and appropriate community consultation to develop koala habitat maps and strategically conserve koala habitat in their local area.

The NSW Government will continue to work collaboratively with state and federal governments to protect koalas throughout Australia. Koala management in other states and work led by the Australian Government can provide useful insights and opportunities for collaboration, such as completing the recovery plan for the listed populations of koalas, and establishing a national monitoring framework for koalas.

The NSW Government will partner with farming organisations to explore new ways to encourage landholders to protect koala habitat on their land while maintaining agricultural production values.

The NSW Government will partner with the Country Women's Association of New South Wales to develop a dedicated communications and engagement campaign to share practical information with Country Women's Association members and regional communities in areas of New South Wales with koala habitat.

The NSW Government will support the involvement of school children and local Lions clubs in koala conservation through the Koala Smart program.

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in the Koala Hospital in Macquarie Nature Reserve, Port Macquarie

Pillar 3: Improving safety and health

Pillar 3 iconUnder the NSW Koala Strategy, $23.2 million is being invested over 5 years to remove threats, improve koala health and rehabilitation, and establish a translocation program.

Koalas face various threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, vehicle strikes, disease, dog attacks, fires, drought, and heatwaves. Improvements to the health and safety of koalas are required to better protect them from the impact of these threats.

Pillar 3 investments and 2026 targets

 
$9.1m To initiate up to 8 translocation programs to re-establish koalas in unoccupied habitat to improve genetic diversity and increase population viability and climate change-resilience.
$10.6m To address at least 10 vehicle strike hotspots including measures to encourage drivers to slow down, and fencing and underpasses to keep koalas and other native wildlife off roads.
$3.5m To provide wildlife care training for more than 500 vets and support the wildlife rehabilitation sector to improve outcomes for sick and injured koalas. This funding will also establish a new program to improve emergency response actions for koalas and other wildlife during emergencies.

Pillar 3 actions

The NSW Government will identify and take action at 10 or more vehicle strike hotspots across the State to reduce koala injury and mortality and improve the viability of koala populations.

The NSW Government will work with wildlife rehabilitators and researchers to monitor rehabilitated koalas released back into the wild.

The NSW Government will reduce attacks on koalas by domestic dogs by working with local councils to engage dog owners in key areas where attacks occur.

The NSW Government will continue to support koala rehabilitators by providing ongoing professional development training for volunteer carers in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, and wildlife rehabilitation group management. The NSW Government will also provide equipment and access to transport for injured koalas and other wildlife.

The NSW Government will work with Taronga Zoo to continue to deliver professional training in wildlife treatment for vets and vet nurses.

The NSW Government will facilitate the policy and regulatory pathways to support scientific developments to improve the health and viability of koala populations, including koala chlamydia vaccine trials, captive breeding of koalas and translocation in New South Wales.

The NSW Government will develop bushfire management approaches to better protect koalas and their habitat while protecting people and property. The government will incorporate traditional ecological knowledge and cultural burning practices into these approaches. Improved understanding of the impacts of hazard reduction burns on koalas will help inform future hazard reduction burns.

The NSW Government will work with volunteer wildlife rehabilitators, vets and other partner organisations to enhance coordination of emergency response for koalas and other wildlife due to bushfires or extreme weather events.

The NSW Government will use the lessons from previous translocation research to undertake koala translocations. Translocations will be accompanied by special consultation with local Aboriginal groups.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Pillar 4: Building our knowledge

Pillar 4 iconUnder the NSW Koala Strategy, $43.4 million is being invested over 5 years to fill knowledge gaps and better understand koala populations.

Establishing a statewide baseline of population, disease, and genetic information for koala populations is critical to achieving the long-term goal of doubling the NSW koala population by 2050.

Identifying the most appropriate surveying and monitoring methods, and filling important knowledge gaps, is vital for informing strategy actions and evaluating their success.

Pillar 4 investments and 2026 targets

 
$20.5m To collect baseline data for up to 50 populations by 2024 assessing koalas’ statewide occurrence, distribution, abundance, health, and genetics to inform koala management, translocations, and potential captive breeding programs.
$14.4m To deliver a monitoring program at a minimum of 20 sites creating a dashboard of koala management actions and trajectories to refine and improve conservation actions.
$3.5m To update spatial layers on the Koala Habitat Information Base ensuring that the data which informs conservation decisions is up to date and maintained.
$5m To fund priority research projects identified in the NSW Koala Research Plan 2018-28, such as climate change and koala disease studies, and ensure these findings inform strategy actions and conservation policy.

Pillar 4 actions

The NSW Government will monitor populations, habitat, disease, genetic diversity and threats at a minimum of 20 sites across New South Wales, enabling future measurement of progress against the 30-year goal. A dashboard will track the effectiveness of actions delivered under this strategy.

The NSW Government will implement innovative and cost-effective methods to deliver a baseline of the current statewide occurrence, distribution and relative abundance of koalas within 3 years. This work will also collect baseline health and genetics status in up to 50 koala populations. The program will use the best available science and encourage private sector input.

The NSW Government will continue to oversee the Koala Research Plan. The NSW Government will incorporate cultural knowledge systems into the plan and coordinate research and data collection on key knowledge gaps. The NSW Government will hold biennial research symposia to review progress and update key knowledge gaps identified in the plan. The research program will seek to leverage significant co-investment from aligned programs such as the Australian Research Council Linkage Program.

The NSW Government will continue refining and improving the Koala Habitat Information Base and supporting spatial and mapping products. This will include further refuge modelling to identify areas that may serve as refuges from fire, heat stress or drought.

The Natural Resources Commission will continue to deliver an independent research project to better understand how koalas respond to intensive harvesting on the NSW North Coast.

The NSW Government will support monitoring on Aboriginal-owned lands and facilitate the integration of traditional ecological knowledge into on-ground actions.

The NSW Government will continue to coordinate the delivery of koala genetic material to the Australian Museum through a new phase of sample collection and storage.

The NSW Government will partner with researchers, communities and other stakeholders to deliver a baseline map of genetic diversity to fill knowledge gaps in the first 3 years. The data will be open source for all researchers and koala rehabilitators to access and build on. This forms part of the baseline survey program.

The NSW Government will explore the links between conservation actions and their relative contribution to increasing koala numbers through effective monitoring and evaluation. This work will inform future prioritisation of investment and action. Research will be undertaken to identify least-cost pathways to protecting, restoring and creating habitat by understanding trends in habitat loss, relevant drivers and the likely viability of koala habitat by region.

The NSW Government will deliver a study to quantify the market and non-market values of koalas to the NSW community, including cultural, reputational, intrinsic and Aboriginal values.

The NSW Government will explore innovative ways to incorporate cutting-edge technology in koala conservation, such as thermal detection of koalas using drone technology and novel habitat restoration techniques.