An informative monthly newsletter about successes & important announcements in koala conservation, and the latest scientific publications about koalas.

January 2021

Subscribe here: https://mailchi.mp/808fc4af1ee0/koala-news-science


Koala conservationist honoured with AO 26 January

Lorraine Vass has been awarded an Order of Australia for significant service to wildlife conservation. Lorraine was president of Friends Of The Koala, based in NSW Northern Rivers, for 15 years.

New 3D genetic analysis of koalas 26 January

University of Western Australia & DNA Zoo have completed a chromosome-length assembly of the Koala genome, which will help researchers study the genes in 3D.

First koala joey in Barrington Tops protected area, NSW 29 January

A koala joey had been spotted with its mother in Aussie Ark’s new fenced 7000 ha sanctuary at Barrington Tops, northern NSW

Saving koalas hot environmental topic of the year 25 January

Koalas nominated as one of the crucial environmental battles looming in Australia by The Guardian

Experts warn: LendLease risks losing investors over Mt Gilead NSW 14 January

LendLease has started work on the controversial Figtree Hill development in Macarthur, near Sydney, but experts warn that their hard-earned global reputation for sustainable developments is at risk. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-14/lendlease-sustainability-reputation-figtree-hill-development/13058076

NSW government commits to just 11 of 42 recommendations to protect koalas 11 January

Of the 42 recommendations made by a parliamentary inquiry into koalas after the Black Summer bushfires, the NSW government has committed to 11, supported 17 ‘in principle’, and ‘noted’ another 14 recommendations. Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, chair of the parliamentary committee is extremely disappointed particularly as the 42 recommendations are all “achievable if the government had the will”.

Koala Myths busted 17 January

ABC Science article deals with myths that koalas are stoned, that they are cuddly and friendly, and that they are picky eaters.

Koala detecting dogs on 2GB 9 January

Detection Dogs For Conservation’s Romane Cristecu talks to 2GB about koala-detecting dog Maya and the difficulties of finding koalas in the wild.

Drones count koalas faster 10 January

New technology, drones and AI could build a future dataset of biodiversity, according to University of Newcastle researcher Dr Ryan Witt.

New koala book supports Koala Hospital 5 January

The profits from sales of the new childrens book “Up In The Trees Under The Stars” by Jacqueline Salisbury, a volunteer at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, will go to the hospital. The book stars several of the hospitals koala patients.




Phillips, S., Wallis, K. and Lane, A. (2021), Quantifying the impacts of bushfire on populations of wild koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus): Insights from the 2019/20 fire season. Ecol Manag Restor, 22: 80-88. https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12458


The impact of bushfire events on wild Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations is poorly understood. Following the 2019/2020 bushfire season in eastern Australia, we resurveyed 123 field sites for which contemporaneous (current koala generation) pre‐fire survey data were available. Field sites were distributed across six fire grounds between Foster and Ballina on the north coast of New South Wales. At these sites, pre‐fire naïve occupancy levels by koalas ranged from 25% to 71% of the sampled habitat, while post‐fire naïve occupancy levels ranged from 0% to 47%. The median reduction in the naïve occupancy rate by koalas when considered across all six fire grounds was 71% when standardized against pre‐fire occupancy levels. Field data provided strong corroboration between site‐based, post‐fire foliage canopy cover estimates and modelled Google Earth Engine Burnt Area Map (GEEBAM) fire‐severity categories. In terms of GEEBAM fire‐severity categories, koala survival was five times more likely in areas where forest canopies were modelled as Unburnt or Partially burnt, compared to areas where forest canopies were Fully burnt. The capacity of bushfire‐affected koala populations to recover from the 2019/20 fire season will be conditional upon size of the original population in each fire‐affected area, the enactment and implementation of supportive, recovery‐themed management regimes, future inter‐fire intervals and associated intensities. Management actions necessary to assist recovery actions are discussed.



Fardell, L.L., Bedoya-Pérez, M.A., Dickman, C.R. et al. Are physiological and behavioural responses to stressors displayed concordantly by wild urban rodents?. Sci Nat 108, 5 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-020-01716-8



Dargan, J.R., Moriyama, M., Mella, V.S.A., Lunney, D. and Crowther, M.S. (2019), The challenge for koala conservation on private land: koala habitat use varies with season on a fragmented rural landscape. Anim Conserv, 22: 543-555. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12487


Land clearing for agriculture results in fragmented landscapes with diminished resources for wildlife. Habitat loss and fragmentation are widespread problems; however, their impacts are rarely assessed simultaneously at multiple spatial and temporal scales. We used a focal site, multiscale design to examine how landscape characteristics that affect the probability of koala Phascolarctos cinereus presence varies over multiple spatial and temporal scales in a fragmented rural landscape in north‐western New South Wales, Australia. We modelled the effect of variables representing landscape characteristics at three spatial extents – transect, patch and site – over three seasonal periods (mid‐spring, late‐spring and mid‐summer). Koala activity level (as determined by faecal pellets) varied between surveys, and identifies short‐term seasonal changes in habitat use. Koala presence had the strongest association with patch scale variables (habitat suitability, soil fertility and patch area). Temporal variation in the effect of tree and landscape characteristics on koala presence highlights the limitations of surveys at a single point in time, and emphasizes that further research is needed to advance our understanding of what drives temporal variation in koala habitat use at multiple spatial scales. Our results show that to arrest declining koala populations in rural agricultural landscapes, conservation and management plans must consider landscape scale processes over a variety of time scales, and engage stakeholders across multiple properties and tenures, to conserve both disturbed and suitable habitat on private land.


Previous Koala News & Science here: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/news/koala-news-science-december-2020/

Written by Janine Duffy, President, Koala Clancy Foundation.

with support from Cheryl Egan, Organiser, Wild Koala Day

Please send your positive, important news & publications to president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au before 29th of each month for possible inclusion.