Koalas & Bushfires: How You Can Help

by | Dec 16, 2019 | Climate, Conservation Projects, Koala News | 4 comments

Globally, koalas are the face of Australia’s terrible bush fires.  It is estimated that more than 2,000 koalas have been killed by fires over November 2019.

This article explains how you can help koalas affected by bushfires in Australia.

All over the world, people are shocked and saddened. Recent articles in CN Traveler, National Geographic, Time, CNN, Daily Mail have led to an outpouring of grief and millions in donations to koala hospitals. Koalas are the innocent victims of climate change caused by us.

It’s time to act, before we lose more koalas.


A simple plan to save koalas from bush fires:

1. Plant trees.
2. Support organisations that are planting trees.
3. Take action to limit climate change.


1. Plant trees.

Why will planting trees help? Isn’t it too slow?

Planting trees will help because Koalas need as much habitat as they can get if the species is going to survive. And no, its not slow at all.

Note: The next bit will be hard to read, but please do. Koalas need us to put aside illusions and face reality.

We need to think about saving the species now, not just about individual koalas.

The fires will come again.  More koalas will die. Maybe next year, maybe next month. But fires will burn in Australia again. Tragically, there is no doubt of that.

Nothing can stop a climate-change bushfire, except rain. Firefighters will put in a superhuman effort day after day, month after month and it will help, a little bit. Water-bombers will dump millions of litres on the bushfire, and it will help, a little bit. But it will mostly be directed at helping people, not koalas.

No amount of money, or human effort will stop these fires once they are burning through dry forests that have been without rain for 18 months.  The fires have to be prevented, before they start. And the forest has to be healthy, and damp, as it should be. But that requires a healthy climate.

Most of the koalas living in the path of a bad fire will not survive. Fires like these burn at 600 degrees Celsius, through highly-flammable eucalyptus that explode into flame.

But there’s some good news – if we plant trees everywhere some areas will not be burnt. Koalas living there will not die. They will move into the burnt forest after the trees have grown new leaves, and breed.

Koalas are quick to colonise new areas. Studies have shown koalas moving into trees planted from seed only 4 years earlier.

Planting trees is also one of the biggest and best actions we can take to limit climate change.

Stop worrying, start planting.

tree planting help koalas by community groups You Yangs region


2. Support organisations that are planting trees.

This is the best way to help if you are not in Australia, or not able to plant trees for koalas yourself. These organisations need your financial support urgently. We can vouch – personally – that the funds are really going to koala tree planting.

Koala Clancy Foundation, VIC

Our not for profit Koala Clancy Foundation plants thousands of trees in rivers on the Western Plains near Melbourne. To date 8,000 targeted koala trees planted near the You Yangs. Our mission: to plant 600,000 trees in the next 20 years to save the koalas of the You Yangs.

Donate here. 

Bangalow Koalas, NSW

A koala charity in northern New South Wales, Bangalow Koalas are planting an amibitious koala tree corridor from Bangalow to Tenterfield, NSW. They have planted 15,000 trees in the last 18 months!

Donate here


But, it’s too late!

No, its not. Trees planted now, in the right locations, will be large enough to feed a koala in just 4 years.

The koala trees we planted in 2017, 2018 & 2019 are growing well, with 80 – 90% survival rate across the plantings.  They don’t get watered.  They are the right trees, in the right place and they thrive. See them here. 

Now is exactly the right time to plant trees. Worldwide, the movement to plant trees is growing rapidly, helped by articles like this: Planting billions of trees is the best way to tackle climate change. 


3. Take action to limit climate change.

Climate change is known to be one of the biggest killers of koalas.

Bushfires, drought, heat waves and loss of habitat is creating a climate change-fuelled perfect storm for koalas.

There’s many ways to take action on climate change, but we need big actions at government level. Governments around the world are feeling pressure, but they won’t change if we don’t make them. We can’t let them wriggle out of this.

We love the actions and words of Greta Thunberghttps://www.fridaysforfuture.org/   https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/

We support Extinction Rebellionhttps://rebellion.earth/ https://ausrebellion.earth/

But you do whatever you feel right with. Write to a politician, sign petitions, anything.


On behalf of the koalas,


Janine Duffy & Roger Smith

Co-owners Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

President & Treasurer Koala Clancy Foundation.



Conde Nast Traveler article:   https://www.cntraveler.com/story/how-koalas-are-impacted-by-australias-wildfires-and-what-you-can-do-to-help

(1) 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. https://doi.org/10.1071/PC140302 http://www.publish.csiro.au/pc/PC140302

(2) IUCN Species threatened by climate change: https://www.iucn.org/news/climate-change/201703/climate-change-hitting-species-hard-%E2%80%93-we-should-keep-eye-most-vulnerable