Working with River Nations Rangers to monitor koalas in the Bundaberg Region

Rangers from the River Nations Indigenous Corporation have been supported by the National Koala Monitoring Program (NKMP) team to build Traditional Owner capacity to undertake koala monitoring in the region. As part of this collaboration River Nations rangers have learned how to identify and record koala tree scratchings, and undertake koala and habitat assessment surveys based on guidelines published by the NKMP and supported by the NKMP KoalaCounter app. River Nations monitoring efforts have been undertaken alongside NKMP monitoring activites to survey at 137 sites and provide cruicial information on koala populations within the region. This information will help the NKMP build better estimates of koala populations regionally and across the country.

Two men and a woman look upwards into gum trees through binoculars
River Nations Rangers out on Country completing koala surveys.

This partnership supports a River Nations Inc project that is funded by the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s Koala Recovery Fund. This Koala Recovery project is focused on fauna monitoring, ecological restoration activities and fauna and weed management planning in the region.

A group of people sit on fold-up chairs and blankets in a cleared area near native vegetation
A community event co-led by River Nations and NKMP team at Meadowvale Nature Park helped ensure koala monitoring and habitat restoration activities were explained and supported by Elders, local Queensland Park rangers and key community partners.

Traditional Owner and Senior Ranger Everett Johnson reflected on the collaboration with the NKMP team "This is a great example of a great cross-cultural partnership. River Nations rangers have learned valuable monitoring skills that we can now apply to support fauna monitoring activities with other partners. This partnership has also helped to ensure Traditional Owners and the community understand and support koala monitoring and habitat restoration activities in the region."

A man checks an iPad in a wooded area at night
River Nations Ranger Everett Johnson completing koala surveys at night.

Connecting koala health and habitat data to improve koala release decisions in Queensland

The NKMP have worked in partnership with Queensland Department of Environment and Science to integrate koala and habitat data sets to improve the evidence base used for koala release.

Wildlife carers, vets and local council staff attended a koala rehabilitation workshop held at the RSPCA SEQ carers centre in July 2023 and offered valuable input to ensure the dashboard offers data insights that wildlife carers, vets and local councils trust and need. Insights offered by the dashboard can also help support best practice guidelines and codes of practice that have been developed for Koala release in Queensland.

Screenshot of the koala release sites dashboard
Andrew Hoskins speaking to an audience in front of large images of koalas
Andrew Hoskins (CSIRO) explains how the koala rehabilitation-release digital dashboard is part of the NKMP commitment to long-term, inclusive monitoring support for koala populations and habitats.

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.