Restoring Koala Habitat - Central and Southern Tablelands Koala Management Area

This fact sheet describes the koala populations scattered across this region in sparse patches and how the cleared and fragmented habitat poses a major threat to these animals.

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

The Central and Southern Tablelands Koala Management Area (Central and Southern Tablelands KMA or KMA 5) lies in the central west and south west of New South Wales. Located between the Sydney metro area and the central western slopes and plains, the region extends from the Mudgee and Bathurst districts west of Sydney, south through Goulburn and Yass to the foothills of the Victorian alps.

Sparse and patchy koala populations live at high elevations, mostly to the east and north-east of Cooma and in the Bathurst–Cowra–Mudgee–Lithgow area. Other records of koalas scattered throughout this region include sightings around Goulburn, in Bungonia State Recreation Area and the Mundoonen Nature Reserve.

Koalas are mostly found in rugged, infertile woodlands and forests in this area, probably a consequence of land clearing and agricultural development in the fertile flats. Koalas in some areas chew the bark of Eucalyptus mannifera trees to access sodium in an otherwise sodium-poor environment.

Map of Central Southern Tablelands Koala Management Area.

Image: Map showing the extent of the Central and Southern Tablelands Koala Management Area (KMA),
with national parks, state forests, major waterways and roads.


Koalas and koala habitat in KMA 5 are threatened by:

  • habitat clearing and fragmentation due to agriculture and rural residential development
  • high-intensity and/or high-frequency fires cause koala mortality and temporarily eliminate food sources
  • vehicle strike and domestic dog attack
  • diseases such as chlamydia and koala retrovirus
  • canopy dieback across a range of species, such as Eucalyptus viminalis near Cooma.

Restoration of habitat

Habitat restoration aims to reduce threats to koalas, increase habitat and help conserve koala populations.

Read our Koala habitat restoration guidelines (the Guidelines) for evidence-based recommendations and best-practice methods for restoring koala habitat.

Choosing an approach

Before you choose a restoration approach, such as natural regeneration, assisted regeneration, reintroductions or a combination of these, carefully assess your site and identify:

  • which plant community you aim to reinstate
  • whether the site has existing native vegetation on it. If native vegetation exists, try to facilitate natural regeneration before planting or direct seeding. The Guidelines have more information.

Plant spacing can vary depending on the vegetation community you aim to establish (e.g. woodland, open forest or tall open forest). Trees should be planted far enough apart to have good tree form or lateral branches and to allow enough light through for native grasses, shrubs and ferns to thrive.

Some tips for planting:

  • plant trees 8–10 metres apart (150 trees/hectare)
  • plant shrubs 3–5 metres apart (400–625 shrubs/hectare), depending on the size of shrubs
  • spacing for groundcover varies and can be anywhere from 1 to 6 plants per square metre
  • density of trees and shrubs can vary from 400 to 1000 per hectare.

Koalas use a broad range of tree species for food, shelter, rest and socialising.

Koalas usually feed within trees of the Eucalyptus genus, but they use many non-eucalypt species for shelter and sometimes feed on trees from genera such as:

  • Acacia – wattle
  • Allocasuarina – she oak
  • Callitris – conifer/cypress
  • Melaleuca – paperbark/tea tree.

We recommend you plant a range of high-, significant- and occasional-use tree species from our recommended tree species list.

Not all species will be relevant for all sites.

When you choose trees to plant, consider whether:

  • species are locally native
  • species are suitable for your site in terms of landscape position, such as near a creek, on a slope or ridge
  • you have chosen a mix of species that koalas will use for food, shelter and social activities
  • you have included shrubs and groundcover species as well as tree species.

Tree species lists

These tree lists contain recommended tree species for koala habitat within KMA 5. The lists align with local government areas located within this KMA:

Central and Southern Tablelands

  • Bathurst Regional
  • Blayney
  • Blue Mountains
  • Cabonne
  • Cowra
  • Goulburn Mulwaree
  • Greater Hume Shire
  • Hilltops
  • Lithgow City
  • Oberon
  • Orange
  • Queanbeyan–Palerang Regional
  • Shoalhaven
  • Snowy Monaro Regional
  • Snowy Valleys
  • Upper Lachlan Shire
  • Wollondilly
  • Yass Valley

Northwest Slopes

  • Mid-Western Regional
High preferred use
White box Eucalyptus albens
Cabbage gum Eucalyptus amplifolia
Blakely’s red gum Eucalyptus blakelyi
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Monkey gum Eucalyptus cypellocarpa
Brittle gum Eucalyptus mannifera
Grey gum Eucalyptus punctata
Forest red gum Eucalyptus tereticornis
Ribbon gum Eucalyptus viminalis
High use
White stringybark Eucalyptus globoidea
Inland scribbly gum Eucalyptus rossii
Hard-leaved scribbly gum Eucalyptus sclerophylla
Significant use
Blue-leaved stringybark Eucalyptus agglomerata
Coast grey box Eucalyptus bosistoana
Apple box Eucalyptus bridgesiana
Fuzzy box Eucalyptus conica
Mountain gum Eucalyptus dalrympleana
Tumbledown red gum Eucalyptus dealbata
Broad-leaved peppermint Eucalyptus dives
River peppermint Eucalyptus elata
Narrow-leaved or Thin-leaved stringybark Eucalyptus eugenioides
Broad-leaved red ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa
Bundy Eucalyptus goniocalyx
Red stringybark Eucalyptus macrorhyncha
Maiden’s blue gum Eucalyptus maidenii
Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora
Western grey box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Large-flowered bundy Eucalyptus nortonii
Messmate Eucalyptus obliqua
Stringybark Eucalyptus oblonga
Grey ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata
White Sally or Snow gum Eucalyptus pauciflora
Sydney peppermint Eucalyptus piperita
Red box Eucalyptus polyanthemos
White-topped box Eucalyptus quadrangulata
Narrow-leaved peppermint Eucalyptus radiata
Candlebark Eucalyptus rubida
Mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon
Silvertop ash Eucalyptus sieberi
Common name Species name
High preferred use
White box Eucalyptus albens
Blakeley’s red gum Eucalyptus blakelyi
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Large-fruited grey gum Eucalyptus canaliculata
Dirty gum Eucalyptus chloroclada
Fuzzy box Eucalyptus conica
Coolibah Eucalyptus coolabah
Tumbledown red gum Eucalyptus dealbata
Dwyer’s red gum Eucalyptus dwyeri
Peppermint Eucalyptus exserta
Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora
Western grey box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Grey box Eucalyptus moluccana
Parramatta red gum Eucalyptus parramattensis
White Sally or Snow gum Eucalyptus pauciflora
Narrow-leaved grey box Eucalyptus pilligaensis
Bimble box or Poplar box Eucalyptus populnea
Grey gum Eucalyptus punctata
High use
Narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra
Black box Eucalyptus largiflorens
Silver-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus melanophloia
Orange gum Eucalyptus prava
Significant use
Rough-barked apple Angophora floribunda
White cypress pine Callitris glaucophylla
Broad-leaved stringybark Eucalyptus caliginosa
Silvertop stringybark Eucalyptus laevopinea
Red stringybark Eucalyptus macrorhyncha
Mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon
Occasional use
Belah Casuarina cristata
Apple box Eucalyptus bridgesiana
Drooping ironbark Eucalyptus caleyi
Mountain gum Eucalyptus dalrympleana
Broad-leaved red ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa
Bundy Eucalyptus goniocalyx
Brittle gum Eucalyptus mannifera
Forest ribbon gum Eucalyptus nobilis
Red box Eucalyptus polyanthemos
White topped box Eucalyptus quadrangulata
Ribbon gum Eucalyptus viminalis

Useful resources

These resources provide further information about koala food trees across New South Wales, management plans and strategies local councils have in place to help conserve koala populations.

  • Allen C 2014, Cooma–Monaro Local Government Area,; Towards a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for North East Monaro, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Merimbula.
  • Allen C 2010, Estimating Koala Numbers & Assessing Population trends in South eastern NSW, report prepared for the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee to assist its assessment on the listing of the koala as a threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water.
  • Au J, Youngentob KN, Clark RG, Phillips R and Foley WJ 2017, Bark chewing reveals a nutrient limitation of leaves for a specialist folivore, Journal of Mammalogy, 98(4), 1185–92.
  • Martin A and Phillips S 2015, Cooma–Monaro Shire Local Government Area Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management 2015 (draft), prepared for Cooma–Monaro Shire Council by Greenloaning BioStudies and Biolink Ecological Services, East Lismore, NSW.