Koalas face serious threats such as habitat loss, diseases, and even attacks from domestic dogs. That’s not all – climate change is also a threat to their survival. But there’s hope. The Great Koala Count 2013 aims to determine koalas distribution in relation to the many threats they face.
This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.
The Great Koala Count will occur for a period of one week during November 2013. At this time of year, koalas and their joeys move lower down in the trees during breeding season. So, it will be possible to record information on the number of young too.
A smartphone app will be available for our citizen scientists to download in order to record the GPS location of the Koala and for easy input of data. People who don’t have smartphones can enter their recordings onto NPA Koala research portal.
The data collected by citizen scientists will inform the government on that state of Koalas across NSW. As the public has collected this data and has surveyed for threats that koalas are facing, it is hoped this will push the government to take action for the sake of this iconic species.
Results from the data collected will provide multi-species benefits via integration with other measures to conserve biological diversity and maintain ecological systems and processes.
Together, we can make a difference to protect this iconic species.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
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
This project was funded by FNPW in 2013.
The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) is the lead organisation for this project.
Further information about our project partner can be found on their website:
The Great Koala Count was a citizen science initiative that took place across six local government areas (LGAs) in New South Wales. The aim of the project was to gather information about koalas, including their distribution, abundance, and the threats they face. The results of the study provided valuable insights into the state of koalas in these areas.
What the Great Koala Count Found
The study found that koala numbers were staying the same or recorded a lack of knowledge regarding trends in koala numbers in most LGAs, except for Port Stephens, where numbers were increasing. Additionally, a significant proportion of koalas were recorded on private land, indicating the importance of retaining vegetation remnants or revegetating cleared landscapes to restore habitat. However, even where habitat remains, its value can be compromised by anthropogenic influences such as vehicle strikes and dog attacks.
The Need for Community Education
Despite the success of the Great Koala Count, there is still a need for further community education about the threats posed by habitat loss and fragmentation to koalas. Citizen scientists did not always rate the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation very highly, which is significant considering a substantial proportion of koalas were recorded on private land. This indicates a need for further education about the direct and indirect threats posed by habitat loss and fragmentation to koalas, and the cumulative effects of clearing on iconic species across the landscape.
The Role of Landowners in Koala Conservation
The availability and quality of habitat will ultimately decide the long-term survival of koala populations. As previously discussed, threats including vehicle strikes, dog attacks, chronic stress, susceptibility to disease, and loss of body condition are all closely linked to one major pressure; habitat loss and fragmentation. Thus, it is clear that landowners retaining vegetation remnants or revegetating cleared landscapes to restore habitat will play a major role in the long-term survival of koalas.
Koalas are a beloved and iconic species facing significant threats due to habitat loss and fragmentation. However, through adaptive citizen science research, we can engage the public to help gather valuable information about their ecology and behaviour. The Great Koala Count demonstrated the importance of public involvement in koala conservation efforts. We must continue to educate the community about the threats posed by habitat loss and fragmentation to koalas and work together to protect this beloved species.