Combining citizen observations with technical information to monitor koala populations in Victoria’s Moorabool region

The National Koala Monitoring Program supports a partnership between Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group, Wadawarrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (WTOAC), and CSIRO to share and gain knowledge of the status of koalas in the Wadawarrung area in Victoria. This partnership has brought together Aboriginal, community and science collaborators to share and build knowledge about koala population status and trends in the region.

A co-design workshop has been conducted to plan monitoring surveys using potential koala habitat maps prepared by CSIRO. Participants have shared local knowledge of koala presence and absence to produce a collaborative map of potential koala populations in the Moorabool area.

A group of seven people walk on a path through a forested region

The NKMP team have trained interested community groups and Wadawarrung rangers to use transect monitoring approaches, observe koalas in trees and identify scratch marks in trees and scats on the ground at the base of trees.

The Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group and the WTOAC are now involved in choosing accessible survey points that are important to estimate and monitor local and national population of koalas.

A group of twelve people pose for the camera on a hilltop

Filling in the knowledge gaps about koala populations in inland regions: A partnership with Queensland Murray Darling Catchments Limited (QMDCL) Aboriginal Rangers and Millmerran Landcare Group

The National Koala Monitoring Program (NKMP) supports a partnership between the CSIRO, QMDCL Aboriginal rangers and the Millmerran Landcare group to monitor koalas in this inland region of Queensland. Sightings of koalas have dwindled in their area over the past few decades and the local community is keen to learn more about remaining koala populations in this region.

Two men look upwards through binoculars in front of a gate

QMDCL Aboriginal rangers have talked to Elders about where koalas have been seen in the past to guide monitoring efforts. QMDCL Aboriginal rangers have also worked with the CSIRO team to learn how to do transect surveys and find signs of koalas including scat and scratching marks on trees. Our partnership with Millmerran Landcare group encourages local landholder participation and the local community support the CSIRO team to monitor accessible survey points that are important to monitor local and national population of koalas.

Most co-partnering sessions include exchanging knowledge about where koalas might be found. Maps created by the CSIRO team combined with knowledge shared by local landholders and QMDCL rangers has identified potential koala habitats in the region. Potential koala habitat areas that are feasible and safe have been surveyed as part of QMDCL ranger’s everyday work activities.

As part of this partnership CSIRO has trained QMDCL Aboriginal rangers to conduct scientific transect surveys, to use the Koala spotter NKMP app to collect data, and to help create digital maps showing results of koala surveys. Future co-partnership sessions will further advance technical skills desired by the QMDCL rangers.