Koala Tree Planting around the You Yangs, Victoria

by | May 6, 2020 | Climate, Koala News, You Yangs Region

The purpose of our community information events and this article is to get trees planted for koalas on private land – urgently.

Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours and Koala Clancy Foundation are working with local community to ensure that wild koalas have a future in the You Yangs region.

These community events were held on 15 November 2018 (Little River) and 28 November 2019 (Balliang).  The presentation is set out below.  The data presented are specific to the You Yangs / Little River / Western Plains region of Victoria, but much of it will be relevant to other regions. See below for a list of other organisations doing koala tree planting.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we live, work and plant koala trees on – the Wathaurong People.

The presentation is in two parts: background information about the local koala population of the You Yangs region; then information about what Koala Clancy Foundation do and how everyone can get involved.


About Koala Clancy Foundation

Koala Clancy Foundation charity

koala tree planting

Koala Clancy Foundation is a not for profit registered charity. Koala Clancy Foundation takes action to ensure wild koalas have a future in our region. Our solutions are based on 20 years of wild koala research conducted & funded by social enterprise Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours.

Wildlife Tour operator supports koala tree planting

Its urgent that we act now to save local koalas.

You Yangs koalas decline graph

Koala numbers halved in the 10 years to 2017.

The Millenium Drought caused a rapid decline of koalas in its 12th, 13th & 14th year. We lost one third of our koala population in the summer of 2009/2010.

The rain returned in 2010, and the population started to recover – but as the graph shows, not enough to return to pre-drought levels. And now they are declining again.

Update 1 December 2018: Another koala has appeared in our research area in the last weeks, so the last column on the graph (2018) is looking a little better now with 11 individuals, not 10.

More detail about the koala decline and millenium drought in the You Yangs. 

koalas need healthy trees planted

But why?

Its climate change. Koalas have already been identified as one of the ten species globally most affected by climate change

The trees are too dry in the You Yangs.

Koalas haven’t got enough food or water because the trees are too dry. So You Yangs koalas will have to move downhill and downstream – out of the Park – to where the trees are healthy and moisture-rich. (3) (4)

The purpose of this blog is to get trees planted for koalas on private land, which is the majority of the land around the You Yangs.  Read why koalas need farmers. 

tree planting plan for koalas Melbourne

Koala Clancy Foundation’s Action Plan is to plant lots of trees downhill in rivers, drainage lines and near permanent water, so that koalas have access to moisture-rich foliage, and the cooling effect of waterbodies on days of extreme heat. (1) (2) (3) (4)

To save You Yangs koalas we need to plant koala trees:
• on river & creek banks
• around permanent waterholes in rivers
• in drainage lines and soaks
• around farm dams
• close to the You Yangs source population. Koalas will move into new planted habitat but the closer it is to the source population the quicker it happens. (5)
• Plant a lot of trees – 5000 trees per koala as an estimate
• Plant the correct local ecosystem. Koalas need more than just food trees, and non-food trees & shrub can improve success for food trees.

We also need to engage with local community about koalas; and harness the power of urban people to plant, promote and donate.


Part 1: Local koala background information

Research based koala population data

Facts about You Yangs Koalas

  • Population size is estimated to be around 127 individuals over the 1500 hectare You Yangs Regional Park. (6)
  • Population trend is decreasing critically. (6) (note: a population decline of 50% over 10 years where the cause has not been rectified would classify koalas as endangered in this park).
  • Preferred trees of You Yangs koalas are River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis; Yellow Gum E. leucoxylon; Ironbark E. tricarpa. But koalas in the park have been recorded roosting in every tree species in the park (particularly Cherry Ballart Exocarpos cupressiformis), and have been seen eating every eucalypt species in the park (including introduced Swamp Yate E. occidentalis, Sugar Gum E. cladocalyx, Brown Mallet E. astringens, Bushy Yate E.lehmannii, Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata and Lemon-scented Gum C. citriodora) (6)
  • Koalas congregate around free-standing water on hot days. (6)
  • Home range sizes average: 49 hectares for males, 24 hectares for females. (6)

[To get an idea of what 49 hectares look like in real terms, an average male koala home range would cover the whole built-up town area of Little River.]

Koalas need a lot of trees, more than most people think.

koalas need thousands of trees


koala tree planting


Luckily, koala trees can grow fast.

koala tree planting in rivers and drainage lines

It only takes 4-5 years to grow a tree big enough to feed a koala. (5) Especially when the right species of tree for the area is planted in rivers, creeks and drainage lines, where koalas need them most.

Melbourne Water also support native tree plantings along waterways. Find out about their stream frontage grants here. 

koala tree planting volunteers

For many years, landowners have done a lot of effective tree planting themselves – much of it with top notch support and advice from Landcare.  But landowners don’t have to do it all – let’s get urban people to help! Many people with city jobs are keen to spend a day volunteering in nature. Environmental volunteering is one of the fastest growing volunteer sectors in Australia.

Urban people volunteer with Koala Clancy Foundation for wellness, to socialise with and meet like-minded people, to learn about koalas and to give back. So let’s get started – koalas need us now.


Part 2: How everyone can get involved.

If you are a landowner with a big rural property (over 5 hectares)

koala tree planting plan big property


Koala Clancy Foundation will do:
• koala tree species advice & selection. We are experts on the right woodland species for the local area.
• pre-tree planting meetings on site – as many as you need to feel comfortable.
• assistance with grant applications to cover costs of hole-digging, fencing, tree guards and stakes, tree seedlings.

koala tree planting:
• days to suit you from June to August.  We run koala tree planting days on weekdays and weekends.
• 15- 25 motivated volunteer planters. Many are members of KCF with tree planting experience. All groups are supervised by a KCF staff member.
• 500+/- trees, 2-3 hours on site. Its not a long day or a lot of work for the landowners.
• privacy & biosecurity is paramount.  We want you – the landowner – to be there on the day, to ensure we drive only where you want us, to respect biosecurity and privacy, to oversee our time on your land.

Post-tree planting:
• cleanup/adjustment of tree guards & tree check 6 months & 1 year later – if you don’t mind.
• Our success rate is very high! We have already planted over 7,500 koala trees in 3 years and the success rate has been 80-90% survival so far. This is due, we believe, to expert species and site selection and quality planting methods.

If this is you, please contact us. If not, don’t worry everyone can help!

Koala Clancy Foundation tree planting

Small property owners: team up with neighbours so that we can plant 300 to 600 trees in a block on one day.
Volunteer: to help us plant, either on a Koala Conservation day for Locals, or get your own group together on a day that suits you.
Koala Conservation Days: all welcome!  run Sundays all year.  Planting happens on public and private Koala Conservation Days from June to August.
Become a member of Koala Clancy Foundation.
Share our events with family, friends and contacts: Koala Clancy has a big following!

cute baby koala needs trees planted now

Let’s get these trees planted so that Clancy, Lluvia and Cuddles can survive.

If you are excited about getting involved please contact us: info@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

Thankyou so much for reading this blog. If you could share, that would be fantastic.

koala tree planting


Thanks to Geelong City Councillors Ron Nelson & Jim Mason; Lloyd Stanway from Melbourne Water and David Tsardakis from Landcare who attended and gave support to the event. Thanks to all the Koala Clancy Foundation team and members who helped out.

Thanks to Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours for providing funding and koala research. Without the support provided by this social enterprise wildlife tour operator, this koala tree planting could not happen.

Other organisations around Australia planting trees for koalas:


Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation:  Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation facebook group


Friends of the Koala: FriendsoftheKoala.org

Koala Action Group Qld: runs regular tree planting days. 


Bangalow Koalas: Koala Corridor in northern NSW.

Scientific sources of information for this article:

1) Davies NA, Gramotnev G, McAlpine C, Seabrook L, Baxter G, Lunney D, Rhodes J, Bradley A (2013) Physiological Stress in Koala Populations near the Arid Edge of Their Distribution PLoS ONE 8(11): e79136.

“Maintaining access to freestanding water, such as farm dams, and planting favoured tree species, particularly those that tend to have higher leaf moisture content, such as E. camadulensis ….), close to dams would also increase the availability of high quality trees, as these trees are likely to have higher leaf moisture levels. Therefore, to ensure the continued survival of western Queensland koala populations in extreme weather, the most important actions for koala conservation within these semi-arid landscapes are the maintenance of the quality and quantity of riparian habitats, expanding the availability and accessibility of freestanding water, such as around farm dams, and providing specific trees as food resources.”

2) Sullivan BJ, Baxter GS, Lisle AT (2003) Low-density koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in the mulgalands of south-west Queensland. III. Broad-scale patterns of habitat use. Wildlife Research 30: 583–591.

“A study in drought and heatwave conditions in the mulgalands.. found that young koalas were more frequently found in sub-optimal habitat surrounding the creek, and thus experienced higher mortality than dominant individuals in habitat surrounding permanent water (Gordon et al. 1988). This suggests that in extremely hot and dry periods koalas in the mulgalands may be dependent on free-standing water, or on leaves from trees with good water supply or water-retention capabilities (sensu Melzer 1995).”

3) Seabrook L, McAlpine C, Baxter G, Rhodes J, Bradley A, et al. (2011) Drought-driven change in wildlife distribution and numbers: a case study of koalas in south west Queensland. Wildlife Research 38: 509–524.

“ In 2009, koalas were found almost exclusively along creek lines where river red gum and coolabah were present. There was little evidence of koalas at high densities in residual landscapes, as found by Sullivan et al. (2004) in the mid 1990s. This demonstrates that riverine habitats are critical refugia in the region and their role as core habitat will become more important as climate change leads to a greater incidence of hot, dry conditions. This finding agrees with other research in semiarid western Queensland. Along Mungallala Creek in the south-east of the SWNRM region, Gordon et al. (1988) found that koalas survived in riparian vegetation and died in more marginal habitats away from the creek during a very hot dry summer. In the Desert Uplands bioregion north of our study area, Munks et al. (1996) found that the greatest densities of koalas were along creeks, with strong relationships with proximity to water and leaf moisture.”

“Although there will continue to be years when numbers will expand and koalas will disperse into less optimal habitat, in south-west Queensland the maintenance of core habitat along creek lines with permanent waterholes will become increasingly critical in the coming decades.”

4) Wu H, McAlpine C, Seabrook L (2012) The dietary preferences of koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus, in southwest Queensland. Australian Zoologist 36: 93-102

“Only leaf moisture was significantly correlated with koala food tree species preference. The presence of surface water appears to be a crucial characteristic of suitable koala habitat while riparian habitats dominant by E. camaldulensis are critical for conserving the koala populations in southwest Queensland.”

5) Rhind Susan G. , Ellis Murray V. , Smith Martin Lunney Daniel (2014) Do Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus use trees planted on farms? A case study from north-west New South Wales, Australia.. Pacific Conservation Biology 20, 302-312.

“We examined an important inland koala population and its use of farm revegetation to determine: (1) if koalas use planted trees; … All sizes and ages of trees were used, including the youngest plantings (six years). …Proximity to potential source populations of koalas was the strongest predictor of a planting being used, but this was further improved by including the age of the planting.”
“This study demonstrates that certain trees rapidly provide koala habitat when planted on farms and that the first priority should be restoring sites in close proximity to known koala populations. Tree species used should include local recognized food trees, as well as … non-eucalyptus species that offer shelter. “

6) Echidna Walkabout’s Wild Koala Research Project, unpublished data.


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