Image credit: University of the Sunshine Coast
Our koala safe neighbourhoods are a collaboration between Redland City Council and the local community to reduce the threats to our local urban koala population and provide a safe place for koalas to thrive. They form part of Council's city-wide koala conservation activities. For more conservation information, visit our Koala Conservation Program 2022-2027 page.
When urban koalas travel through our neighbourhoods they use 'stepping stone' trees along streets, in backyards, and in parks and reserves — including both shade trees and food trees — to help them on their way. They are most vulnerable when they are travelling. The main threats to urban koalas are vehicle-strike, dog attack, habitat loss, and disease. By working together we can reduce these threats. To learn more about our urban koalas, visit our koala page.
The first koala safe neighbourhood was established in Ormiston, late 2018. The program has been so successful that we have now introduced three new neighbourhoods in Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton.
Where are the neighbourhoods?
You can check out our online map below to see where each neighbourhood is located. The map also shows the most recent location of each ambassador koala, along with their home range, back story and photos. Each time the research team head out to track our koalas (either fortnightly or monthly) we will update the map.
To download a map of each area, follow the links below:
- Ormiston koala safe neighbourhood map [PDF 6.5MB]
- Birkdale koala safe neighbourhood map [PDF 6.0MB]
- Thornlands koala safe neighbourhood map [PDF 6.3MB]
- Mount Cotton koala safe neighbourhood map [PDF 9.2MB]
How were the neighbourhoods chosen?
Ormiston has a longstanding koala population and research commissioned by Council confirmed the Ormiston area met all of the criteria to become our first koala safe neighbourhood. The additional koala safe neighbourhoods of Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton also met the critera:
- an identified resident koala population
- evidence of koala strike on local roads
- habitat that can support a koala population (including interconnected parks, reserves or wildlife corridors, and where land acquisition and habitat rehabilitation can be prioritised).
How do the neighbourhoods work?
Each neighbourhood has two to six ambassador koalas that are tagged, tracked and monitored by our research partners at the University of the Sunshine Coast Detection Dogs for Conservation. These ambassador koalas provide us with valuable data that improves our knowledge and helps us better protect all of our urban koalas throughout Redlands Coast. We also focus many of our koala conservation actions within these neighbourhoods.
Note: The koala safe neighbourhoods are not related to any planning zones and do not affect the property ratings of any buildings. They are a community partnership project.
What do the researchers do?
The research team from Detection Dogs for Conservation head out every two weeks to track and check on the health of each ambassador koala. They also analyse the movement patterns of the koalas. If they have any concerns about the health of a koala, they work closely with local rescue groups and animal welfare hospitals to get help and treatment for the koala.
The research team use best practice technology and work to high ethical standards for animal care when tagging and tracking the koalas. The welfare of our koalas is always their first priority. They also use highly-trained koala tracking dogs when capturing a new koala for the program. These amazing dogs can scent fresh koala scat and lead researchers directly to koalas.
See 'How are research partnerships helping' below for more information.
You can learn more about what our reserachers are doing by visiting our koala conservation playlist on YouTube. There you will find videos from the Let's talk koala research - Science in Action Community Forum (March 2022) where researchers, the community and Council gathered to talk bout koalas on Redlands Coast.
What can you do?
If you live in one of our koala safe neighbourhoods, or regularly travel through the area, you can:
- Slow down when driving and be koala alert — particularly at dawn and dusk, when koalas often travel and can be difficult to see.
- Make sure that your back garden is ‘koala safe’ with a poolside wildlife escpe ramp in the pool and or a post against the fence so koalas have a safe route from the pool or garden. Having an escape ramp in your pool may also save your family pet from drowning.
- Ensure your dog is both trained and secured inside at night, for koala safety. This is particularly important between the months of June and December when koalas disperse and breed. For more information check out Leave It for dog training tips.
- Plant koala friendly trees in your backyard, if you have enough room. Visit IndigiScapes Native Community Nursery for advice.
- Tell your family and neighbours when you spot a koala in your street or suburb, to help spread awareness in your community. You can also join Redlands Coast Koala Watch so you can submit your sighting and help our research team.
- Contact the Redlands 24-hour Wildlife Rescue Service on 07 3833 4031 if you think a koala may be sick or injured. To help idenifitied signs of a sick or injured koala download our handy fact sheet.
What is Council doing?
Many areas within Council are helping our koala safe neighbourhoods:
- Our environmental partnerships team work with koala conservation agreement properties within koala safe neighbourhood catchments.
- Our school education team offer koala conservation sessions for all schools across the City.
- Our bushcare team hold community koala friendly tree plantings each year.
- Our wildlife team provides local knowledge of koalas and their movement patterns, the availability of Redlands 24-hour Wildlife Rescue volunteers and transport for sick koalas to wildlife hospitals.
- Our parks and conservation team have been focussing on habitat rehabilitation projects within koala safe neighbourhood catchments.
- Our roads, drainage and marine unit assisted the smart sign trials designed to get drivers to be more vigilant and slow down on roads within koala safe neighbourhood catchment, This has proven to help reduce koala road kill.
- Our koala conservation team have worked in partnership with research teams, including the Detection Dogs for Conservation, to survey and monitor the koala population and Griffith University in community engagement and driver vigilance.
How can I get updates on the ambassador koalas?
You can follow the adventures of our tagged ambassador koalas on the Indigiscapes Facebook page. Just search "koala" on the page and scroll through our koala posts.
You can check out our online map above for updates on koala ambassador movements in each neighbourhood.
You can also read the newsletters we have sent out to residents, with updates on what's happening in each neighbourhood:
- March 2023 [PDF 2.38MB]
- December 2021 [PDF 2.5MB]
- November 2020 [PDF 4.4MB]
- December 2019 [PDF 7.8MB]
How are research partnerships helping?
Redland City Council works closely with researchers from the Univeristy of the Sunshine Coast Detection Dogs for Conservation, to map the lives of our koalas by tagging, tracking and monitoring the health and welfare of these ambassador koalas. For more koala safe neighbourhood research download the reports below:
Year 4 - Final report - Ormiston, Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton - 2022 [PDF 15.9MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Year 4 - Progress report - Ormiston, Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton - July to December 2022 [PDF 1.86MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Year 3 - Final report - Ormiston, Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton - 2021 [PDF 8.5MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Year 2 - Progress report - Ormiston, Birkdale, Thornlands and Mount Cotton - July to December 2020 [PDF 5MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Year 2 - Progress report - Ormiston koala population monitoring - 2019 to 2020 [PDF 13MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Year 1 - Progress report - Ormiston koala population monitoring Februrary 2020 [PDF 10MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
Inital Ormiston Koala Population Monitoring Report 2019 [PDF 10MB] University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation
View the Ormiston Koala Safe Neighbourhood Catchment table [PDF 639 KB] for statistics about the koalas tracked during this project.
To hear more about our researchers work watch the videos below.
Partnering with local residents in citizen science
Our research teams are amazing, but they can't be everywhere. So, we need your help to keep an eye on local koalas.
Redlands Coast Koala Watch is a joint partnership between key koala researchers, the community and Redland City Council, allowing all of us to contribute to koala conservation. You can improve the health and wellbeing of our koalas while you're out on a walk, going for a jog or on a ride. Simply join then record what you see online or on your phone at Redlands Coast Koala Watch.