Image credit: University of the Sunshine Coast
Our koala safe neighbourhoods are a collaboration between 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 2016-2021 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. When they are travelling is also when they are the most vulnerable. 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 developed in Ormiston in 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 was each area chosen?
Ormiston has a longstanding koala population and research commissioned by Council has confirmed that the Ormiston area met all of the criteria to become our first koala safe neighbourhood. The criteria used to choose a good area for a new koala safe neighbourhood includes:
- 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 Detection Dogs for Conservation (University of the Sunshine Coast). These ambassador koalas provide us with valuable data that improves our knowledge and helps us better protect all of our urban koalas throughout the Redlands Coast. We also focus many of our koala conservation actions within the 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. The dogs also frequently track koalas after natural disasters, such as bushfires, so we can get help to koalas quickly when they need it most.
See 'How are research partnerships helping' below for more information.
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. Also when driving in ‘koala zones’ and you see the flashing koala signs, as these areas have a much higher concentration of koala activity.
- Make sure that your back garden is ‘koala safe’, with an escape 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 at night time for koala safety, particular 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.
- 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 24hr Wildlife Rescue Service on 07 3833 4031 if you think a koala may be ill or injured.
What is Council doing?
Many areas within Council have helped with the koala safe neighbourhoods:
- Our environmental partnerships team have been working to consolidate koala conservation agreement programs within the designated Ormiston koala safe neighbourhood catchment (over 3000 households).
- Our school education team has focussed on working closely with schools in the Ormiston area regarding koala conservation.
- Our bushcare team have held a community koala friendly tree planting that attracted around 160 people.
- Our wildlife team provided support to the program with local knowledge of koalas and their movement patterns, the availability of Redlands 24hr Wildlife Rescue volunteers and transport for sick koalas to wildlife hospitals.
- Our parks & conservation team have been focussing on habitat rehabilitation projects within the Ormiston koala safe neighbourhood catchment.
- Our roads, drainage & marine unit have assisted in a smart sign trial designed to get drivers to be more vigilant & slow down on roads within Ormiston to help reduce koala road kill.
- Our koala conservation team have worked in partnership with research teams, including koala detection dogs, to survey & monitor the koala population, community engagement and driver vigilance.
How can I get updates on the ambassador koalas?
You can follow the adventures of our tagged neighbourhood 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:
- December 2021 [PDF 2.6MB]
- December 2021 [PDF 2.4MB]
- December 2021 [PDF 3.1MB]
How are research partnerships helping?
Research is mapping the lives of our koalas
Redland City Council works closely with researchers from Detection Dogs for Conservation (University of the Sunshine Coast), to tag, track and monitor the health and welfare of the tagged koalas in our neighbourhoods.
View the Ormiston Koala Safe Neighbourhood Catchment table [PDF 639 KB] for statistics about the koalas tracked during this project
For more information about what researchers are doing in the area, read the Ormiston Koala Population Monitoring Report [PDF 10MB] (University of the Sunshine Coast, Detection Dogs for Conservation).
Research reports will be available for the other neighbourhoods once they are up and running.
Partnering with local residents in citizen science
Redlands Coast Koala Watch is a joint partnership between key koala researchers, the community and Redland City Council that allows 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.
Our research teams are amazing, but they can't be everywhere. So, we rely on the community to help keep an eye on their local koalas. We also teach members how to spot an ill or injured koala and where to get help. Getting koalas help quickly gives them a greater chance of making it back home happy and healthy.
Visit Redlands Coast Koala Watch to find out more information or to join today.