The 2019/2020 bushfire season has devastated koala populations throughout NSW.
Our long-term goal is to understand the impact of rehabilitation on the health, fecundity and survivorship of the declining coastal koala population endemic to Port Stephens, to inform the design of conservation management strategies to secure koalas across NSW.
Once considered the most significant Southern-most population of Koalas in NSW, the Port Stephens koala continues a steady decline and faces risk of local extinction.
In Port Stephens, the remaining koalas now exist in low densities and occupy fragmented, isolated high-threat and varying quality habitat, bordering urban areas and human dwellings.
Currently listed as a vulnerable species state-wide, regionally specific and contemporary population monitoring data is needed to understand the extent of the koala decline and plan recovery efforts ahead of next year’s bushfire season.
In 2020, this project aims to:
(1) Deliver a koala conservation public outreach and engagement program to identify potential volunteers in residents and willing stakeholders within the Port Stephens region.
(2) Immerse, train and educate volunteers in the nocturnal spotlighting technique to find koalas and will deliver regionally specific data on koala density, distribution and identify habitat important to koalas for breeding.
(3) Develop a predictive koala health threat exposure map that identifies patches of habitat that koalas utilise and quantifies the risk by considering environmental and anthropogenic predictors.
(4) Build capacity for koala conservation in Port Stephens by uniting researchers, rehabilitators, and the local community.
It is our ambition to crowd-source $50k per year to support the delivery of this conservation project and secure the Port Stephens koala population for future generations.