Revegetating Koala Habitat - Western Slopes and Plains Koala Management Area

This fact sheet gives an overview of koala populations in this region and how revegetating habitat and habitat connectivity can support them.

Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus in tree river red gum

The Western Slopes and Plains Koala Management Area (KMA 6) extends across central New South Wales, between the Queensland and Victorian borders, from Parkes in the east to the Cobar and Bourke districts in the west.

Large koala populations once lived in this KMA, in particular the Pilliga region and around Gunnedah, Walgett and Moree. Recent surveys have found no evidence of koalas in the Pilliga, and the Gunnedah population appears to fluctuate in size over time periods of decades. A small koala population was established in Narrandera in 1972 through translocation of Victorian animals.

Koalas are found in large low-fertility woodland blocks, small remnant patches and paddock trees in agricultural and urban settings. Relatively high densities of koalas are found on flat lands with fertile black clay soils, such as the Liverpool plains, and riparian areas with river red gums, although these areas are less well studied.

Travelling stock routes, other Crown land reserves and roadside reserves provide important habitat connectivity across this KMA.

Map of Western Slopes and Plains Koala Management Area.

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

Threats

Koalas and koala habitat in KMA 6 are threatened by:

  • habitat clearing and fragmentation due to agriculture, increased mining of coal and coal-seam gas, as well as rural residential development
  • climate change, drought, heatwaves; a large proportion of koalas in Gunnedah died in a 2-week period during heatwaves and drought in 2009 due to dehydration, heat stress and disease
  • bushfires, which cause koala mortality and temporarily eliminate food sources
  • vehicle strike
  • disease, mostly chlamydia
  • absence of permanent water in some areas, such as the Pilliga
  • tree die-back and changes in leaf chemistry linked to climate change.

Restoration of habitat

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

Read our Koala habitat revegetation guidelines for evidence-based recommendations and best-practice methods for restoring koala habitat.

Plant spacing can vary depending on the vegetation community you aim to establish (e.g. open woodland, 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 a mixture of trees and shrubs about 6 metres between stems and 7 metres between rows (200 stems/hectare)
  • spacing for groundcover varies and can be anywhere from 1 to 6 plants per square metre
  • plant near waterways if possible.

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
  • Brachychiton
  • Casuarina  
  • Callitris – conifer/cypress.

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 6. The lists align with local government areas located within this KMA:

Far West

  • Bland
  • Bogan
  • Bourke
  • Brewarrina
  • Carrathool
  • Cobar
  • Coolamon
  • Forbes
  • Griffith
  • Junee
  • Lachlan
  • Leeton
  • Narrandera
  • Parkes
  • Temora
  • Wagga Wagga
  • Weddin

Darling Riverine Plains

  • Brewarrina
  • Coonamble

  • Narromine
  • Walgett
  • Warren

Northwest Slopes

  • Coonamble
  • Dubbo Regional
  • Gilgandra
  • Gunnedah
  • Gwydir
  • Moree Plains
  • Narrabri
  • Warrumbungle

Central and Southern Tablelands

  • Cootamundra–Gundagai Regional
  • Junee
  • Wagga Wagga

Riverina

  • Griffith
  • Leeton
Common name Species name
High preferred use
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
High use
White box Eucalyptus albens
Blakely’s red gum Eucalyptus blakelyi
Coolibah Eucalyptus coolabah
Tumbledown red gum Eucalyptus dealbata
Black box Eucalyptus largiflorens
Bimble box Eucalyptus populnea
Significant use
White cypress pine Callitris glaucophylla
Silver-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus melanophloia
Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora
Western grey box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Occasional use
Rough-barked apple Angophora floribunda
Belah Casuarina cristata
Dirty gum Eucalyptus chloroclada
Narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra
Gum coolibah Eucalyptus intertexta
Grey box Eucalyptus moluccana
Narrow-leaved grey box Eucalyptus pilligaensis
Mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon
Wilga Geijera parviflora
Common name Species name
High preferred use
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Coolibah Eucalyptus coolabah
Tumbledown red gum Eucalyptus dealbata
Black box Eucalyptus largiflorens
Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora
Bimble box or Poplar box Eucalyptus populnea
High use
Fuzzy box Eucalyptus conica
Dwyer’s red gum Eucalyptus dwyeri
Silver-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus melanophloia
Western grey box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Significant use
White cypress pine Callitris glaucophylla
White box Eucalyptus albens
Dirty gum Eucalyptus chloroclada
Narrow-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus crebra
Narrow-leaved grey box Eucalyptus pilligaensis
Occasional use
Mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon
Common name Species name
High preferred use
White box Eucalyptus albens
Blakeley’s red gum Eucalyptus blakeyi
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Large-fruited grey gum Eucalyptus canalucilata
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
Occassional 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
High preferred use
White box Eucalyptus albens
Cabbage gum Eucalyptus amplifolia
Blakeley’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
River red gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
High use
Black box Eucalyptus largiflorens
Yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora
Western grey box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Significant use
White cypress pine Callitris glaucophylla
Bimble box Eucalyptus populnea
Occasional use
Belah Casuarina cristata
White box Eucalyptus albens
Gum coolibah Eucalyptus intertexta

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.

  • Greenloaning and Phillips S 2013, Draft Gunnedah LGA (Part) Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management 2013, Unpublished draft document prepared by Greenloaning Biostudies Pty Ltd in conjunction with Dr S Phillips – Biolink Ecological Services Pty Ltd.
  • Lemon J, Martin W, Wilson B, Nadolny C and Lunney D 2012, Habitat reconstruction at Gunnedah Research Centre, Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australasian Plant Conservation, 21(2), 9–10.
  • Lunney D, Lemon J, Crowther MS, Stalenberg E, Ross K and Wheeler R 2012, An ecological approach to koala conservation in a mined landscape, in: Life-of-Mine Conference proceedings, Brisbane, Qld, p 345–354.
  • Lunney D, Predavec M, Sonawane I, Kavanagh R, Barrott–Brown G, Phillips S and Shannon I 2017, The remaining koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) of the Pilliga forests, north-west New South Wales: refugial persistence or a population on the road to extinction? Pacific Conservation Biology, 23(3), 277–294.