Koala Conservation Summary 2019!

12 Feb 2020

The City continues to work on protecting the Gold Coast koalas, and while we face challenges we remain optimistic and committed. With community involvement in activities such as reporting koala sightings, becoming a Koala Friend, attending koala community events, planting koala food trees and simply spreading the word, our conservation efforts are strengthened.

Below you will find a summary of the 2019 koala conservation achievements. These achievements could not have happened if it wasn't for the help of community members, wildlife organisations, research organisations and other City departments.


Image: The habitat growth from a tree planting day at Schuster Park, Tallebudgera, 2017

Habitat loss is recognised as the top threatening process to koala populations nationwide. This threat has been exacerbated due to the recent bushfires.

The Vulnerable Species Management Team continues to collaborate with all parties involved in bushfire management operations.

2019 conservation achievements to help mitigate the threat of habitat loss:

  • Council resolved to move forward with the purchase of a significant area of land in the Coomera-Pimpama region.
  • 12,620 koala food and habitat trees planted on council land through community plantings and bushcare. Learn more about the City's Beaches to Bushland Landcare Program here.


Image: Joey and Mum undergoing care at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. A. Sheers, 2017

Disease such as Chlamydia remains a key factor contributing to population declines across South East Queensland.

Management of this threat includes the rescue, rehabilitation and release of koalas affected by disease, as well as the ongoing research into vaccines and treatment.

2019 conservation achievements to help mitigate threats against disease, including Chlamydia:

  • Partnering with Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and Queensland University of Technology to deliver a chlamydia vaccine for wild koalas, including contributing $50,000 per year for 5 years to the project. This project aims to improve options for administering a vaccine to wild koalas.
  • Collaborated with University of Queensland to analyse the genetic differentiation of Gold Coast koalas and identify metapopulations across the city to identify areas of low genetic diversity and better inform options for conservation management.
  • Collaborated with University of Sunshine Coast to complete a study into the effects of antibiotic treatment and chlamydia vaccine on the recovery of diseased koalas to improve future treatment options.
  • Collaborated with University of Queensland and Dreamworld to deliver The Living Koala Genome Bank research project which aims to enhance the genetic diversity of local koala populations by producing disease-free koalas for release into the wild.


Image: Koala road treatment and signage.

Addressing the threats caused by vehicles, roads and rail lines require knowledge of high-frequency vehicle strike and koala crossing areas.

Help improve this knowledge by reporting any koalas you see and note in your sighting submission that the koala was on, near or crossing a road. Submit here.

2019 conservation achievements to help mitigate threats against traffic:

  • Collaborated with Griffith University to complete a project analysing the effectiveness of koala speed awareness device (SAD) signs: Gold Coast Smart Signs & Smart Messages: A Driver Change Behaviour project. View report here.
  • Collaborated with the State Government Department of Transport and Main Roads regarding the Tugun M1 upgrade. This resulted in the proposed M1 plans to include koala protection measures such as roadside fencing and a dedicated crossing under the motorway connecting the Burleigh to Springbrook Biodiversity Corridor.


Image: Koala awareness/dogs prohibited sign.

Injury to koalas caused by domestic dogs is a major threat to the survival of koalas in urban and semi-urban areas.

Together we can reduce the number of koalas that are caught by dogs through the creation of koala friendly backyards and by exercising responsible dog ownership behaviours! Learn how you can play your part here.

2019 conservation achievements to help mitigate threats against dogs and pests:

  • Designed and installed new koala awareness signs in dog parks across the city, including Schuster Park (Tallebudgera), Eddie Kornhauser Recreational Reserve (Elanora) and Discovery Park (Helensvale), promoting responsible dog ownership in koala areas. Read more here.
  • Collaborated with the City’s Pest Management Unit to continue identifying and managing fox dens.


Image: City officers conducting koala field surveys.

Monitoring koala populations involves the collection of data for analysis of population density, habitat use and population health. Ongoing monitoring allows the City to stay informed of changes and trends in koala populations, and is also used to measure the success of the Koala Conservation Plan.

2019 conservation achievements to help monitor local koala populations:

  • Completion of the City-Wide Koala Habitat Mapping & Monitoring Program Report. View here.
  • Undertook the biennial koala surveys at Burleigh Heads which commenced in 2013.
  • Completed koala surveys at Schuster Park, Tallebudgera.


Image: Student at St. Andrews Lutheran College reading the Koala Conservation School Education book.

Community participation is essential to ensure the long-term survival of koalas on the Gold Coast.

We would like to encourage everyone who hasn't come to an event to come and say hello at our 2020 events!

2019 conservation achievements to help promote community engagement:

  • 196 new Koala Friends joined the Program.
  • The 360 degree virtual reality koala video series was released to create a fun way to educate community members. Read more here.
  • The City of Gold Coast won the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Core Values Award! Learn more here.
  • Hosted three community Koala Conservation Forums where we discussed koala conservation and ecology with koala experts.
  • Guided three koala educational walks through koala habitat in Coombabah, Coomera and Burleigh Heads.
  • Hosted the Land for Wildlife Koala Habitat & Training Workshop.
  • Held a koala display at the Mudgeeraba Show, Botanical Bazaar, Naturally Gold Coast Festival and the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Open Day.
  • Attended BioBlitz, a citizen science intensive 24 hour field study in Austinville.
  • Delivered the Koala School Educational Program to six schools within koala priority areas, reaching 950 students!


Image: Male koala in Coombabah, Ray Sweeney, 2018.

Community reporting of sightings provides an additional source of information when analysing the distribution of koalas throughout the city and can assist in identification of major threats that require action, such as an emerging high-risk vehicle strike locations.

In 2019 we received 1,211 koala sighting reports!

The suburbs with the highest number of reported koala sightings in 2019:

188 Clagiraba

142 Tallebudgera

133 Helensvale

131 Elanora

122 Burleigh Heads

46 Coombabah

Report your koala sightings online here.

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