Wollondilly Koala Conservation Project

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Wollondilly Koala Hotline - Call 4677 1100 to report koala sightings in the Wollondilly.

Report injured koalas and other wildlife to Wollondilly WIRES - 4684 1656. 

Wollondilly Shire Council’s ‘Koala Conservation Project’ has grown over the last two years with recent surveys proving that there is a healthy colony of breeding koalas in the region. This population is continuous with the Campbelltown koalas linking through a habitat corridor that runs through Appin to Wilton and down to Avon Dam and Bargo. The koalas north of Picton rd to Campbelltown are part of the only population in the State that is disease free.

Koala’s are an iconic part of Wollondilly’s natural history with the first recorded European sighting of a koala occurring near Bargo in 1798 by John Price, who wrote

“there is another animal that the natives call Cullawine, which much resembles the Sloths in America.” 

Wollondilly Shire Council is partnering with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), neighbouring Council’s, Wingecaribee and Campbelltown, other organisations such as the Univeriosty of Sydney koala health hub, Conservation Volunteers Australia and community groups such as Wollondilly WIRES to undertake valuable work that will help to protect koala’s and their habitat and to inform future development planning and conservation management decisions.

Wollondilly WIRES: a volunteer run organisation and they provide an excellent service in looking after injured wildlife. One of the key threats to koalas in the Wollondilly is road strike along our major roads of Appin and Picton Roads and the Hume Hwy. Injured wildlife should be reported to Wollondilly WIRES on 4684 1656.

Wollondilly Koala Hotline: The community are our eyes and ears across the shire and without the community reporting sightings we would have gained as much understanding as we have of where koalas live, what they eat and where their linking habitat corridors are. Please report koala sightings to the Wollondilly Koala Hotline 4677 1100

Environmental Trust Grant: Community education and participation are an important element of the project as it was originally borne from community interest. Conservation Volunteers Australia, with Council’s support, were successful in receiving an Environmental Trust Grant to coordinate volunteer projects for koala tracking and habitat restoration. The Bargo River was identified as an important corridor linking the Southern Highlands and Appin koalas where Council have been coordinating monthly activity days.

If you are interested in volunteering visit the Conservation Volunteers Australia website or phone 02 4228 9246.

The Department of Planning has identified Wilton and Appin as major growth areas for residential development and Council are working to ensure that future planning decisions incorporate the Sustainability Principles of Equity, Precaution, Regeneration, Engagement and Sharing as identified in Council’s Community Strategic Plan (CSP).

This project also achieves outcomes for the following Environment strategies identified in the CSP; EN1 Biodiversity Resilience, EN2 Growth Management, EN3 Development Assessment, EN4 Environmental Responsibility, EN7 Sustainable Living.

All confirmed sightings of koalas received through the Wollondilly Koala Hotline and found through field excursion/surveys with The Office of Environment and Heritage are entered into BioNet, the 'atlas' of NSW Wildlife.

wollondilly koala sightings

  • 60 reported koala sightings across the Shire through the Wollondilly Koala Hotline since February 2015. 
  • 8 koalas sighted during the pilot study in April 2016. 
  • 12 koalas sighted during GPS collar deployment with 8 collars fitted and 8 koalas now being tracked in Appin, Wilton and Avon Dam, in April 2017.
  • 100 fine scale 20m x 20m vegetation plots surveyed across the Shire to map koala habitat.
  • Over 500 hours of volunteer time delivered in 2017 to restore koala habitat and undertake koala surveys including planting of 1500 local native plants.
  • Regular meetings held with the South Western Sydney Koala Management Group which includes: Wollondilly, Wingecarribee and Campbelltown Council’s, The Office of Environment and Heritage, Conservation Volunteers Australia, WIRES, University of Sydney Koala Hub, Greening Australia.

Throughout 2013 and 2014 Wollondilly Shire Council were receiving numerous reports from the community of koala sightings in urban areas and on road sides, particularly around Appin. Council consequently set up the Wollondilly Koala Hotline in early 2015 and since then there have been over 40 sightings of koalas reported across the Shire.

As a result of these reports and the guidance of OEH, Council commissioned wildlife ecologists to undertake a pilot spotlighting survey to gather more information to increase our knowledge and understanding of local koala’s home range, what food trees they eat and what habitat they prefer. It will also enable us to identify hot spots for koala road crossings, particularly around Picton and Appin Roads, plan safer road crossings and protect koala habitat corridors.

The significance of the pilot study results was integral for Council successfully receiving a grant from the ‘Saving Our Species Fund’ (SOS), in partnership with OEH. This project was one of the largest funded koala projects in the State for 2017 and was launched by the NSW Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton in February 2017

Systematic Pilot Spotlighting Survey: A significant number of koala sightings were reported by the community which triggered Council and OEH, to engage Wildlife Ecologists to undertake a Systematic Pilot Spotlighting Survey, costing $5,000.
We targeted the areas where the highest concentration of reported sightings occurred, linking habitat corridors. In April 2016 surveys were undertaken around Appin, Douglas Park and Wilton. The ecologists detected the presence of koalas on 22% of the 58 sites surveyed which indicated that we had a healthy breeding colony in the region. Estimates are that there could be upwards of 2,500 koalas in appropriate habitat across the Shire.
‘Saving our Species’ Grant - value $90,000: The results of the survey identified Wollondilly Shire as a location for a healthy, high density population of breeding koalas and consequently in early 2017 our partnership with OEH was successful in receiving a grant of $90,000 from the Saving Our Species fund to expand on the survey work. The project was the second highest funded koala project in the State and in April 2017 eight koala’s in Appin, Wilton and Avon Dam were fitted with GPS tracking collars and will be tracked for the next 12 months.
The team actually found 12 koalas over the 5 day period; 7 in Appin, 3 in Wilton and 2 at Avon dam. In Appin there was a mother with a suckling joey and a juvenile female and male that couldn't be collared for ethics reasons. Fine scale koala habitat mapping has also been undertaken so we can better protect their corridors.

  • Implement a system for recording and responding to community reports and concerns about the presence of koalas in urban areas and on road sides. The community demand was increasing and we needed a solution to manage it.
  • Build working relationships with other government and non-government bodies and organisations to better understand and manage koalas and their habitat within the Wollondilly Shire. It was identified that Council staff lacked skills and knowledge about koala’s so we linked to the organisation and projects that did.
  • Map koala locations, preferred habitat, food sources and corridors. As the project evolved it was clear that there was a distinct lack of data about koala’s in the region.
  • Educate and engage the community about the Wollondilly Koala Conservation Project and provide volunteer opportunities to participate in koala surveys and habitat restoration. The community expressed a genuine interest and concern about protecting koalas within the Shire and so we are providing practical ways for them to be involved.

Through this project we hope to:

  1. Expand Koala surveys and GPS collaring across the shire.
  2. Expand fine scale vegetation mapping of koala habitat across the shire.
  3. Koala road crossing hot spots installed with wildlife protective fencing and Koala friendly, culvert crossings established.
  4. Develop a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for the Wollondilly Shire.

As a response to community concern and reports about koalas, Council set up the Wollondilly Koala Hotline in February 2015. All sightings are confirmed by Council staff and the data is entered into ‘BioNet’, the website for the Atlas of NSW Wildlife. As of May 2017 we have had 60 reported koala sightings across the Shire in a variety of locations including Appin, Bargo, Silverdale/Bents Basin, Thirlmere and Oakdale.

Koala hotline Flyer