NSW Koala Strategy frequently asked questions

The NSW Government has delivered a whole-of-government NSW Koala Strategy.

The NSW Koala Strategy outlines actions for the first 3 years of our longer-term vision to stabilise and then increase koala numbers in New South Wales.

During this first phase we have committed $44.7 million to deliver actions under 4 pillars:

  • koala habitat conservation
  • conservation through community action
  • safety and health of koala populations
  • building our knowledge and education

The Strategy includes actions to help increase our knowledge about koalas, including their habitat, population trends and the threats that are affecting koalas. We will act on this information to manage and mitigate threats.

In 3 years we will evaluate the progress of the statewide and local actions and reassess the priorities for further actions. This will allow us to continuously review and update our knowledge.

Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals, recognisable around the world. However, koala populations are under increasing pressure. Despite a range of regulations, recovery programs, strategies and numerous community initiatives overall koala numbers in NSW are in decline.

Koalas were listed as vulnerable by the NSW Government in 1992 and 3 koala populations have been listed as endangered. The combined koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as vulnerable by the Commonwealth in 2012. A study in 2012 estimated that NSW koala numbers had declined by 26% over the past 3 koala generations (15-21 years) and will probably continue to decline at the same rate over the next 3 generations unless action is taken.

The NSW Government has developed a NSW Koala Strategy to align efforts to protect koala populations. This includes working in partnership with koala rehabilitators, community organisations, land managers, local councils, local Aboriginal groups, communities, business and industry and the research sector.

Community organisations, individuals and government agencies are already working hard to help koalas.

The Strategy includes a number of actions to help coordinate different approaches and allow agencies and communities to work together. This includes bringing together community groups, local councils, landholders, government agencies, Local Aboriginal Land Councils and koala experts to identify and agree on local actions for key koala populations across the State.

The Strategy will support information gathering through delivering an online community portal to allow stakeholders and the community to access information and contacts for koala initiatives in their region.

The NSW Government will work with local councils, koala rehabilitators, Taronga and other zoos and communities to support koala rehabilitators and improve the percentage of koalas successfully rehabilitated and released to the wild.

The Strategy will provide improved information on koala numbers, habitat and how to mitigate threats such vehicle strike and disease.

The Strategy will develop information about genetic diversity to inform future management actions.

The Strategy identifies the actions we will implement over the next 3 years from 2018-21. During the first 3 years of the Strategy, the aim is to stabilise koala numbers in koala populations across the State by delivering actions under 4 pillars:

  • koala habitat conservation
  • conservation through community action
  • safety and health of koala populations
  • building our knowledge and education.

To understand the effect of the actions in the Strategy, the NSW Government will develop a statewide monitoring program across different koala habitats and land tenures. All information we collect about koalas will be publicly available through the NSW Government's Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data (SEED) portal.

In 3 years we will evaluate the progress of statewide and local actions and reassess the priorities for further actions.

The main recommendation of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer's report is that the NSW Government develop a whole-of-government koala strategy with the objective of stabilising and then increasing koala numbers. The report made a further 10 recommendations to inform the development of a NSW Koala Strategy.

The Strategy will deliver many of the recommendations within the first 3 years including:

  • actions to improve data capture
  • information on koala numbers and koala habitat suitability
  • research to fill key knowledge gaps
  • establishing the Australian Museum as a preferred repository for koala genetic samples in New South Wales.

The Strategy also builds the foundations to deliver the longer-term recommendations. The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer chaired the expert panel that guided the development of the Strategy.

To support community engagement in the development of the Strategy, the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) ran 7 community information sessions during February 2017, hosted a virtual community information webinar and invited written submissions. The written submissions closed on 3 March 2017.

OEH also meet with many local councils to discuss koala conservation and to better understand what support they need to address threats to koalas.

Members of the public were also invited to share local koala experiences through the Koalas in NSW social pinpoint platform.

OEH reviewed all the submissions received and summarised the information into a report. This information was used to inform the development of the Strategy.

In 2015, the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) announced a review of its State Environment Planning Policies. The review process is intended to modernise, simplify and improve the effectiveness and usability of these policies.

The review provides an opportunity to improve the conservation outcome for koalas by updating and improving the operation of SEPP 44 – Koala Habitat Protection.

DPE invited submissions on the Explanation of Intended Effect on proposed changes to the policy. This closed on 3 March 2017.

See the DPE SEPP 44 – koala habitat website.

A key action of the NSW Koala Strategy is the delivery of a statewide koala habitat information base with the best available data on koala habitat and koala occurrence throughout New South Wales. When completed, this information base will inform the review of the State Environmental Planning Policy – Koala Habitat (SEPP 44).

Saving our Species forms an important part of the NSW Koala Strategy. The Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project provides a framework for on-ground conservation of koalas in New South Wales, addressing those threats to the koala that can be reasonably addressed by land managers, communities and experts. The NSW Koala Strategy will include the Saving our Species actions as well as broader actions to address policies and practices that impact the koala's long-term viability.

There are many actions we can take, individually and as a community to reduce some of the major threats to koalas and keep them safe.

If you have seen a koala in New South Wales:

report a sighting

You can volunteer at a national park, join a community group or become a wildlife carer:

volunteer

You can also get involved with OEH Citizen Science Saving our Species projects. See the current and growing list of projects at Citizen Science in OEH.

You can register your interest in setting up a new citizen science project:

register