The koala is one of Australia's most loved and iconic animals, but did you know that their existence is under threat in Queensland?

Ipswich City Council has taken the steps to ensure our koala populations are preserved for future generations through the Koala Conservation Plan, however we still need your help to ensure koalas in Ipswich flourish.

You can discover more information about how you can do your part to help on this page.

Koala conservation

The Koala Conservation and Habitat Management Plan sets an aim to protect, enhance, manage and increase koala habitat across Ipswich. Koala habitat extends across most of Ipswich, giving koalas a significant local profile and allowing them to be used as a flagship species for broader biodiversity outcomes.

Protection of koala habitat in Ipswich

Council has more than 6,500 hectares of eucalypt and other native forest purchased and managed for the purpose of conservation which forms Council’s Natural Area Estate (NAE) network. The NAE can provide a safe haven for koalas and other species, away from the threat of urban development or other land use pressure. In Ipswich there are also a number of private and publically owned protected areas, including:

  • Stewartdale Nature Refuge
  • Old Hiddenvale Nature Refuge
  • Tir Na Crann Nature Refuge
  • Edward Corbould Nature Refuge
  • Gum Tips Nature Refuge
  • Mount Beau Brummell Regional Park
  • Flinders Peak Regional Park
  • White Rock Regional Park
  • Denmark Hill Regional Park
  • Ipswich Pteropus Regional Park

Protecting and managing koala habitat on private land is equally important. Council offers landholders various incentives to achieve this including the Landholder Conservation Partnerships Program.

About koalas in Ipswich

Ipswich koala populations are noted as being significant on a regional scale due to their high population size and genetic uniqueness.

It is believed that the koalas within Ipswich act as a source population for some of the surrounding Local Government Areas. As koalas continue to rapidly decline on the Koala Coast, the conservation of koalas in Ipswich becomes of paramount importance on a regional level.

The koala is an arboreal marsupial that relies almost entirely on trees from the genus Eucalyptus in a variety of dry and wet sclerophyll forests and woodlands. Koalas spend the majority of their time in trees, occasionally coming down to disperse or change trees. Although they prefer to stay in large patches of bushland, koalas can often be found in riparian corridors, in strips of roadside vegetation and even in isolated gum trees in grazing paddocks.

Their versatility means that retaining some degree of connectivity across landscapes is crucial to the successful conservation of the species locally and obvious movement barriers should be avoided or mitigated. It also disproves the popular myth that koalas require large corridors of vegetation to move through a landscape, rather it suggests that koalas can move through open space provided they are supported by suitable shelter trees and can move from patch to patch.

Koalas are also still prevalent in many urban areas, surviving in often small and disconnected remnants of bushland. Suburbs including Collingwood Park and Goodna have recorded koala sightings and present opportunities for long term protection.

Koalas are also abundant in many rural areas of the city, including Thagoona, Ebenezer, Amberley, Mt Forbes and Purga. The koalas in these areas appear to be well adapted to fragmented and patchy landscapes provided there are no major movement barriers.

Current threats

Koala populations also face a range of threats across Ipswich including:

  • Loss of habitat: several areas of the city are ear-marked for urban and industrial development, hence land clearing remains a key threatening process. Retention of linear open space corridors can help to mitigate impacts, especially where they link existing parks, reserves and remnant habitat. There is also plenty you can do to assist in providing koala friendly habitat in your own back yards and protecting koala habitat on rural properties through landholder partnerships.
  • Dog attacks: dog attacks also occur and are most frequently reported in urban areas. This is mostly comprised of domestic dogs in suburban backyards, and whilst domestic dog attacks appear less of a threat than road strikes, it is likely that the true number goes underreported. The influence of wild dog predation in rural and bushland areas of Ipswich is largely unknown.
  • Road strikes: koalas often cross busy roads to access food and shelter. Road fatalities are a major cause of koala deaths each year. Please keep to the speed limit and take extra care from dusk to dawn, particularly near bushland areas.

Making a koala friendly backyard

The Ipswich area is home to a population of koalas. They are seen in our local bushland reserves, large conservation estates, and parks. Residents are also privileged to be able to observe koalas in their own backyards.

There are a few simple actions that can ensure your backyard is a safe place for koalas to visit:

Retain and plant koala food trees

Koalas have a specialised diet and mainly feed on eucalyptus leaves.  You can make your backyard koala friendly by retaining any food trees and also by planting the following trees which are available through Councils Free Plant Program:

  • Eucalyptus tereticornis (Qld Blue Gum)
  • Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata (Spotted Gum)
  • Eucalyptus crebra (Narrow Leaf Ironbark)
  • Eucalyptus grandis (Flooded Gum)
  • Eucalyptus microcorys (Tallowwood)
  • Eucalyptus moluccana (Gummed Topped Box)
  • Eucalyptus propinqua (Grey Gum)
  • Eucalyptus seeana (Narrow Leaf Red Gum)
  • Lophostemon confertus (Qld Brush Box)

Note: Stock subject to availability.

Plant trees close together

Koalas prefer to move in and through trees rather than along the ground.  Plant trees at a distance of 2m from each other so that koalas can move easily and safely from tree to tree across adjoining branches.

Watch from a distance

Koalas are easily disturbed and can become stressed.  It is better to watch any koalas in your backyard from a distance such as your veranda.  Keep a pair of binoculars handy so that you can use them to see the koala "up close".  Remember that if the koala feels safe it is more likely to visit your area again.

Koala-friendly fencing

Koalas living in urban areas often face several obstacles during their nightly movements.  In our suburban areas one of the biggest problems is fencing.  Without too much effort or cost, we can assist koalas to move freely and provide them with a quick escape.

Some tips for koala friendly fencing include:

  • constructing fences around existing trees and vegetation
  • planting of vegetation within close proximity (branches touching) to either side of fence to provide a natural ladder
  • place a pole/plank against fence at a 45 degree angle between two supporting upright poles - allows a quick escape
  • ensure the thickness of panels or planks provides a walkway along the top of the fence
  • leave a small gap between panels/planks to allow koalas to grip and climb
  • ensure chain wire fences are topped by a plank or horizontal pole to allow koalas to use it as a bridge
  • a suitably planted hedge allows animals passageway while also providing an effective barrier

These fences are well suited to koalas but not necessarily to the ground dwellers such as bandicoots and wallabies.  If these animals are in your area, a fence that allows easy access for all fauna is one that has a 30cm gap from the ground to the bottom rail, chain or post of the fence.

Make your swimming pool koala safe

Even though koalas can swim, they cannot get out of pools using steps. Make your pool koala safe by attaching a thick rope to a floating device, for example, an empty plastic drink bottle.  Koalas can use this as a way to climb out if they fall in. Alternatively, place an escape board where a koala can easily reach it and climb out of the pool.

Keep koalas safe from your dog

Dogs will naturally defend their territory from intruders, including a koala.  One of the reasons people keep dogs is to increase their security, especially at night. However this is the time when koalas are most active. Even by playing with a koala dogs can cause serious injury and even death as a koala has soft fragile skin and minimal defence ability.
There are some simple tips to ensure that your home and family are kept safe at night whilst allowing koalas to be safe in your yard.  Tie your dog away from any trees, ensuring they have plenty of shade, shelter and water.  Alternatively, keep them locked inside at night, either inside your house or in an enclosed verandah or even the garage. Your dog will also provide better protection being close to your home as they will still pick up noises and you will easily hear them bark.

Reporting koala sightings

More Information

Want to know more? Read more about protecting koalas in these guides: