Koalas in the Clarence

Koala numbers in our area are under threat, largely due to continuing fragmentation of suitable habitat and wildfire.

Koala in a tree - photo by Pat EdwardsA comprehensive Koala Plan of Management was adopted by Council in October 2015, and focuses on the core habitat areas of Ashby, Woombah and Iluka.  Council is implementing actions identified in the plan, including educating community residents in the core habitat areas about how to protect koalas and their habitat.

Why koalas need our help

Koalas are exposed to a number of threats in developed areas, including:

  • Loss of food and shelter trees
  • Vehicle strike
  • Fire
  • Dog attack
  • Impermeable fences
  • Swimming pools

In combination, these threats can cause koala populations to decline.

Land clearing is recognised as the major threat to koalas due to the loss of food trees. When their habitat becomes fragmented, koalas have to move greater distances between trees, making them more vulnerable to vehicle strikes and dog attacks.

Habitat fragmentation or disturbance can also lead to overcrowding and increased competition. Koalas then become stressed, which may lead to health problems. Koalas that are weakened by disease are more vulnerable to dog attack.

Koala Habitat

You can help to preserve and restore habitat

To ensure our koalas have access to safe, suitable bushland refuges we need to improve their habitat:

  • Get to know the trees in your area that our local koalas rely on for food and shelter.
  • Protect forest habitat - it should be retained and enhance to maintain refuge areas and corridor links.
  • Retain and plant koala food trees - you will help to repair key habitat and create corridors that allow koalas to move safely between habitat patches.

Some of the koalas’ favoured food trees include:

Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)

  • A medium to tall tree, growing 20 to 50 m.
  • The bark is smooth with patches of white, grey, pinkish, creamy yellow or blue. The bark is shed over whole trunk in irregular plates or flakes.
  • White flowers from April to October.

Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys)

  • A medium to tall tree, growing 30 to 50 m.
  • The bark is redbrown and rough, and the tree has a dense crown.
  • Creamy white flowers from August to November.

Small-fruited Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua)

  • A medium to tall, erect tree, growing 20 to 30 m.
  • The smooth, mottled bark sheds in large, irregular patches. The new orange bark fades to cream, silver then dark grey.
  • White flowers from January to March.


Koala Food trees

Have a read of the Eucalypt Indentification Guide

On the road

Roads often cut across routes koalas use regularly to move around their home range, putting them at risk of being hit by cars, particularly at night. Please take notice of koala signs and be on the lookout in these areas.


Koalas can potentially escape fire if they have access to unburned habitat, which can also provide a refuge until the burnt areas regenerate.

Controlled burns: Individual koalas can be directly affected during hazard reduction burns as they often remain in the trees or come into contact with burnt lower trunks.

Wildfires: High-intensity wildfires pose a serious threat to koalas, particularly where no unburned habitat is available as a refuge.

You can help by:

  • Consulting the local Rural Fire Service for advice about fire hazard reduction.
  • Maintaining fire breaks to reduce the likelihood of wildfire entering your property.
  • Controlling bushland weeds to reduce fire risk.


Dog attacks from domestic and wild dogs are a major cause of koala injury and death.

You can reduce the risk of dog attacks by:

  • Containing your dog, ideally secured in an enclosure that keeps your dog in and koalas out.  Most dog attacks on koalas take place inside backyards. Koalas are most active between dusk and dawn.  Containing your dog during this time will allow koalas to move about safely.
  • Control – Keep your dog on a lead when you are walking in areas where koalas are known to occur.
  • Wild dog control – Wild dog control may help reduce these risks to koalas.  If you have large groups of wild dogs roaming in your area, contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 for information on control options.

FeKoala friendly fencences

Fences can prevent koalas moving across the landscape accessing food trees.

You can help by:

  • Installing koala-friendly fences they can climb over, under or through
  • Providing a means (such as small trees, shrubs or posts close to fences) to allow koalas to climb over and access through your property

If you have a dog the use of exclusion fencing around your house is the best option to prevent koalas from entering. These fences should be clear of trees and shrubs so that koalas can’t climb over.

Koala-safe pools

In hot, dry wKoala safe poolseather koalas may need to go in search of water and sometimes enter backyard pools.  Although they can swim they can drown if there is no way of exiting the pool.Draping a length of thick rope fitted 

with a float in the pool at all times and securing it to a tree or post will provide a way for them to climb out.  A safer option is a pool fence designed to prevent koalas from accessing the pool.

Registering koala sightings in the Clarence Valley

The Clarence Valley has a few remaining koala populations, including areas around Iluka, Woombah, Waterview Heights, Barretts Creek, Marengo, and Billy’s Creek… but there’s much that we still don’t know.

Knowing where koalas are located in our landscape helps us to conserve the species. Data collection enables us to learn why koalas prefer a particular habitat, why certain habitats contain more individuals than other similar habitats, and why koalas are declining from particular areas. By understanding their distribution, we can determine the conservation value of regional zones and further develop management guidelines for natural resources.

Council is keen to learn about where you've seen koalas. We are collecting data on where our koalas are located to help conserve this iconic species. Our online Koala Register will let you pin-point a koala sighting location on a map. You'll also be able to add more information about the sighting to help us learn more. Follow the steps - it’s easy!

You can also register a koala sighting by contacting the Caragh Heenan, Project Officer (NRM), from the Natural Resource Management team on (02) 6641 7357 or emailing caragh.Heenan@clarence.nsw.gov.au

Koala scat

Image: “Evidence of koala activity includes actual sightings, hearing koala bellows, scats beneath a tree, or scratch marks on the trunk of trees.”

Nominate a release site

Local koala carers are in need of release sites. Do you have koala-friendly habitat and wish to register your property as a release site?

Head to the Koala Register  and select the Nominate a Koala Release Site tab, or contact the Caragh Heenan from the NRM team on (02) 6641 7357.

InjuredInjured Koala, sick or orphaned koalas

If you suspect a koala needs help, please contact:

WIRES on 1300 094 737

Experienced, trained handlers will advise what should be done to help the koala.





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