The Great Otway National Park and surrounding private land is a region of high biodiversity and tourism value, attracting over 7.5 million people a year. Koalas are a major attraction, occurring at high densities in some areas. However, over-browsing by koalas has contributed to a marked decline in tree condition, particularly Eucalyptus viminalis (manna gum). This project aims to provide information on koala habitat use, tree species selection and koala movements between habitats in the Otways.
This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.
This project aims to provide information on koala habitat use, tree species selection and koala movements between habitats in the Otways. The project will also look at the flow-on impact of koala over-browsing on birds, small mammals, and aboreal mammals in Eucalyptus viminalis woodlands. This information is critical to the development of a long-term ecological management strategy for both koalas and their habitats in the region.
This research will also reveal how koalas may be impacted by climate change which is likely to have significant adverse effects on koala populations. Mortality rates will potentially increase as a result of koalas’ low tolerance for prolonged hot weather and the potential for more extreme and frequent bushfires. Koala food resources may decline due to climate-induced changes in the composition and structure of eucalypt communities, and the nutritional quality and moisture content of leaves. In areas of mainland Victoria and for some islands where koala densities are locally high, increased browsing pressure on preferred trees is an additional factor threatening populations. An understanding of how koalas respond to changes in their habitat is critical to the long term conservation of the species.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.
PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT
The project was completed in 2013.
This project was funded by FNPW in 2012.
Earthwatch Australia is the lead organisation for this project, with the support of Parks Victoria.
Further information about our project partner can be found on their website: