If you love koalas, you might at times feel despair. There is so much bad news. You might think nothing is making a difference.

It is. (Read on.)

You might think no-one is doing anything.

From Queensland to Victoria, small koala groups are doing a lot. (And could do even more with your help).

You might think there’s nothing you can really do.

That’s not right. There is a lot you can do.

Kids happy planting trees

Kids excited about planting trees for koalas in Victoria. Pic by Chloe Smith.

This article is not about sugar-coating the harsh reality that koalas are in trouble. This article is here to bust the doom-scrolling, show where the local action is happening, where you can make a difference, who needs your support and who you can trust.

Koalas have been to the brink before, and they were saved by a few good people. That was back in the 1920s, when millions of koalas were being killed for their fur. The koala population of Victoria was nearly wiped out. Fortunately, a few koalas had been introduced to French and Phillip Islands, where they were thriving – and subsequently excess koalas were translocated back onto the mainland.

Now there are thousands of good people in small and large koala groups working hard to save koalas. Many of these people have decades of experience and knowledge: of rescue and rehabilitation, of revegetation, of research, of policy, of protest & advocacy, of media and mediation.

koala citizen scientists gympie

Community members spotting koalas in Queensland. Pic Koala Action Gympie Region.

Koalas have powerful advocates in their corner like never before. Some are big environmental NGOs with enormous clout, and the reach that changes the attitudes of millions of people. Some are small, grass-roots groups with tremendous local knowledge of the specific threats and solutions, and the trust and support of their community.

Working together, we can save koalas. The challenges are huge, but that just means we must rise to the challenge.

In many places, koalas are surviving thanks to the efforts of small, community conservation koala groups.

A koala group in Victoria have planted 129,697 trees and koalas are using them already | Koala Clancy Foundation

Just west of Melbourne, a tiny foundation named after a charismatic koala, started in 2015 with a big plan: to revegetate the Little River and save the koalas of the You Yangs from climate change.

In 2016 they planted their first 300 trees. By 2022 they planted 30,000 in one year, and in 2023 they did it again. In 2024, the grand total stands at 129,697 trees.

local koala group tree planting little river

Little River, Vic, recent koala planting map 2016 to 2023

valley planted koala trees

An entire valley excluded from livestock and growing koala trees. Pic Koala Clancy Foundation

In 2022 they reached a milestone: one-quarter of the Little River replanted. In just four years, koalas could be using these trees as lifesavers in a hot summer. In fact, on two of their planting sites koalas have already been visiting!

President Janine Duffy said “My proudest moment was the day I saw a koala in one of the trees I planted with my own hands. The years of watching, waiting and nurturing that tree all flew by in a flash, and I couldn’t stop the tears of happiness. And he just looked at me as if I was a silly woman, and kept eating.”


How you can support them:
Donate to help plant 30,000+ koala trees and plants in 2024: https://www.koalaclancyfoundation.org.au/donate/
Join a webinar or an event: https://www.koalaclancyfoundation.org.au/events/


KOALA IN TREE planted by small local group

Male koala eating one of the trees Janine Duffy planted

A conservation group in NSW have found two koalas where they were feared extinct | Eurobodalla Koala Project

In the Eurobodalla Shire, south-eastern NSW, koalas were considered nearly extinct. But that didn’t stop a tiny community group, formed by a handful of volunteers in the Coastwatchers Association, from starting the Eurobodalla Koala Project. This local group aimed to learn about and improve the koala habitat of their region.

drone pic koala eurobodalla nsw

The most exciting drone photo of a koala in south-eastern NSW

Over the years they established a theoretical base, studied local koala history, modelled habitat for its capacity to carry a revived koala population, done lots of plot surveys on private properties, State Forest and National Parks, and constructed a Eurobodalla Koala Recovery Strategy.

Finally, in April 2024, two koalas have been found in the project area. Their first two drone flights found a koala each. This part of the project was funded by the Commonwealth Government, which granted $200,000 for drone surveys, GIS habitat modelling and tree planting.

Keith Joliffe says “We look forward to advancing our vision of the Eurobodalla becoming part of a healthy network of home ranges and connectivity corridors, where the total metapopulation web needed for koala sustainability links up neighbouring Shires all across south-east NSW.”

Update 17 April 2024: They’ve just found a third koala!


How you can support them:
Share your koala sightings: https://eurokoalas.com/contact/


A koala was saved from certain death by a tiny hospital on a tropical island | Magnetic Island Koala Hospital

Magnetic Island is at the north of the koala’s range, and is home to a small koala hospital run by Dr Ali Bee, and her daughter Izzy Bee. Izzy is the star of the Netflix series “Izzy’s Koala World”

Koala saved by island hospital in Queensland

(left) Koala Frankie in recovery; (right) Koala Frankie fully recovered

One little koala wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for them. Female koala Frankie was found at the bottom of a power pole in Mackay. She had been electrocuted and had fallen several metres. Her injuries were so severe, everyone expected her to die.

Her injuries included serious burns where the electricity had gone through her. Her nose, face and paws were particularly affected. She needed many weeks of care, with regular applications of Flamazine burn cream on her disfigured nose. The pain she endured is hard to imagine. But her determination to live was strong and she never gave up, and Ali and Izzy couldn’t give up on her.

Electrocuted koala

Koala Frankie when she first came in.  Her injuries were so severe, she was not expected to survive

Not only did Frankie survive, she made a full recovery and has now been living in the wild for over two years.


How you can support them:
Donate to help build the new hospital: https://www.magneticislandkoalahospital.com.au/


An old farm in NSW has been revegetated and is now home to a koala colony | Koala Gardens at Tuckurimba

In northern NSW, Katrina and her husband Chris bought 14 acres at Tuckurimba in 2010 and planted 1000 koala trees. Another 4000 koala trees have self-sown on the land now protected. In this small area, Katrina monitors a koala colony. In 2019 before the Black Summer fires, she would sometimes see up to 10 koalas in one day. The population declined during the fires, and is just starting to build up again.

koala on revegetated farm nsw

Wild koala joey on Katrina’s property, NSW. Pic Koala Gardens

Katrina runs field days for landowners to help educate about the needs of koalas, and how beneficial it is to have native habitat on a property.  She enjoys following up with landowners and seeing more local people providing dots of habitat that can be joined to other dots. There are more each year.

She says “In the past couple of years, my direct southern neighbouring property was sold and I’ve had the privilege to work with the new owners and help them work their way through how to start regenerating and how to find good funding to assist them.  Their property is more than 10 times larger than mine.  This is not only helping to join the dots, but will in the future directly impact the ease of access to more food and larger koala numbers for my own colony.”


How you can support them:
Write a poem for Wild Koala Day: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/whats-on/
Adopt a koala: https://koalagardens.net.au/shop/product-category/adopt/


On Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, residents have connected to grow koala trees | Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation

In less than 4 years, a group that grew out of social media has now planted 65,000 koala trees, and installed signage to protect koalas on the roads. The Koala Activity Signage program, a Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation initiative in conjunction with Mornington Peninsula Shire, aims to reduce koala road fatalities by placing strategic signage across major road networks alerting drivers to be aware of koala movement in the peak season.

President Dirk Jansen said, “The number one reason for the decline in koala numbers on the Peninsula is the reduction in indigenous vegetation. More than 70% of koala and wildlife habitat on the Peninsula is on private property”.


How you can support them:
Donate: https://mpkoalas.org.au/donations/
Join a tree planting day on 3 May: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/koala-food-tree-planting-day-balnarring-tickets-877776953497?aff=odcleoeventsincollection

mornington peninsula wild koala day 2024

A group at Gympie, Queensland, are ensuring that koalas are not ignored | Koala Action Gympie Region

When Koala Action Gympie Region began 8 years ago, the wild koalas of Gympie were unknown and unrecognised. There were very few Gympie koala records in the State Government Database (Wildnet) and little or no recognition, research or conservation focus on koalas outside of the South-East corner of Qld.

The group started a community education campaign to record citizen science koala observations. The Wildwatch Gympie platform now has 1,360 koala records. The records detail koala health, numbers and locations of vehicle strikes, dog attacks and disease.
The data gathered is making a difference. It has been used to advocate to the State Roads Dept. for improved road mitigation (successfully), advocating for koalas in development applications, and where to focus habitat plantings.


How you can support them:
Report your koala sightings in Wildwatch Gympie: https://www.kagr.org.au/sightings/
Volunteer – they need writers, tree planters and representatives: https://www.kagr.org.au/volunteering/

koala gympie data wild koala day

Wildwatch Gympie koala citizen science data summary Queensland


500,000 reasons for hope in northern NSW | Bangalow Koalas

A group that started as a handful of concerned neighbours determined to save a 400-metre stretch of 30-year-old koala food trees is now on a mission to plant 500,000 trees by 2025.
Since 2019 they have completed 126 plantings on 95 properties across six shires in the Northern Rivers of NSW. That amounts to 361,000 trees, revegetating 324.8 hectares.

The plantings are already showing evidence of koalas utilising the trees, some as early as 18 months after planting. Trees planted in 2023 are already being chomped on by hungry koalas out in the Lismore Shire!

President Linda said, “When I stand at the top of a hill in Bangalow where it all began, overlooking corridors of our plantings making connections across the landscape, I know we are making a real difference. Koalas don’t have a voice, nor do they have the liberty of time so here at Bangalow Koalas we have a never surrender attitude.”


How you can support them:
Donate to pay for a much-needed Ecologist, or to help them plant 80,000 trees: https://www.bangalowkoalas.com.au/donate-to-bangalow-koalas/
Join a tree planting day: https://www.wildkoaladay.com.au/whats-on/

bangalow koalas tree planting aerial view wild koala day

One of Bangalow Koalas’ huge tree planting projects. Pic Bangalow Koalas


A koala in Ballarat, Victoria, has been rehabilitated, released and is being tracked to show a local conservationists what she needs | Ballarat Wildlife Rehabilitation & Conservation

When Koala Catherine went into care with a group of wildlife carers, she had no idea that she was to become a teacher. Before release at Wookwookarung Regional Park she was fitted with a tracking monitor and her movements were followed by researchers at Federation University. Over six months she moved across an area 3.5km long and 2km wide, first heading east until she encountered farmland, then heading back towards town.

Catherine’s movements are teaching the group what koalas in the region need.  BWRAC are beginning their community tree planting this year, starting with a project east of Wookwookarung, to provide the habitat that koala Catherine was looking for.


How you can support them:
Donate money or goods (list on the page): https://www.bwrac.org.au/donate/
Become a volunteer: https://www.bwrac.org.au/help-for-wildlife/volunteers/

ballarat koala movements wild koala day

Map showing the movements of koala Catherine after release. Pic BWRAC.


An island community in Victoria fund koala rescue and care | Koala Island Foundation

Raymond Island in East Gippsland Victoria has a population of 450 koalas that live harmoniously beside a small community of wildlife-loving humans. But they do have mishaps and challenges, and so the community supports them by resourcing the koala shelter on the island, through grant applications and fundraising.

The group has also revegetated 8 hectares of habitat for the koalas.


How you can support them:
Donate: https://www.koalaislandfoundation.com.au/
Visit and walk the Koala Trail: https://raymondislandkoalatrail.com.au/

raymond island koala tagged wild koala day

A koala rehabilitated and released at Raymond Island, Victoria. Pic Koala Island Foundation


Sales from a Swiss watch are supporting Queensland koalas | Queensland Koala Crusaders

The efforts of a small group of conservationists in southern Queensland came to the attention of a glamourous watch maker, Speake-Marin from Geneva. They proposed a limited edition, hand-made koala watch, the profits donated to koalas.

The watch sold out the first day, generating nearly $40K in donations to koalas in Queensland. The donation is being used for habitat restoration, support for koala care and community education.


How you can support them:
Volunteer – they have a range of positions here: https://www.koalacrusaders.org.au/volunteer_2024
Donate: https://www.koalacrusaders.org.au/carers_appeal_2023

wild koala day watch Queensland Crusaders

The watch, and Queensland Koala Crusaders representatives David & Linda with Speake-Marin at Sydney International Watch Fair


With all this good work going on, you might wonder – why are koalas still in trouble?  The answer is: protecting wildlife is not a quick fix.

It took 100 years for whale* populations to start to recover from the horror of commercial whaling: 50 years of campaigning to get it stopped, and another 50 years for Humpbacks to recover to pre-whaling* numbers.  Southern Right Whales have not recovered yet.  Anti-whaling campaigners are still working hard to stop the last few countries whaling.  Some of the first anti-whaling campaigners would not have seen any of these changes.  But was it worth it?  Oh yes.  We owe them enormous gratitude for the joy of watching wild Humpbacks in Australia.

We hope that generations of humans not yet born will be working to protect koalas many years into the future. That means that koalas will still be here to protect.  They are worth it.  And future will be grateful to you.