Aims and progress

The NKMP aims to:

  • Deliver a robust estimate of koala populations and
  • Build a long-lasting capability to monitor and assess trends in koala populations.

Get involved

NKMP have developed two apps for koala monitoring.

Koala Spotter

This app is ideal for citizen scientists, making it easy for anyone to become a koala spotter!

Koala Counter

Designed for transects, this app allows a systematic approach to monitoring koalas.

Koala estimates

CSIRO’s data-driven population model has been built based on tens of thousands of data points, combining historic data with contemporary data from on-ground monitoring efforts. As at March 2024:

  • The latest data-driven estimate of population size for the listed koala population, without making any additional assumptions, is between 95,000 and 238,000.
  • The adjusted population estimate in 2023, accounting for areas where there is little or no data, generated a listed koala population estimate between 86,000 and 176,000 koalas.
    1. This broadly aligns with the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) estimate of 92,184 koalas in the combined Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory population, based on best available information and expert elicitation in 2021.
    2. The latest data-driven population estimate moves closer to that 2023 adjusted population estimate.
  • The latest population estimate for the unlisted koala population is between 129,000 and 286,000 individuals.

These changes in the population estimates year-on-year do not indicate a change in actual koala populations, but rather a refinement of the modelled estimate. Like any data-driven model, the confidence bounds of this estimate will improve as more data are added into the model. In particular:

  • More data are needed from regional and remote areas in eastern Australia where we strongly suspect there are not koalas. To help address this, 214 koala surveys were completed within regional Queensland since the 2023 estimate, surveying a combined survey transect distance of 1,057km and focusing on areas where there was previously little or no data.
  • The NKMP model does not yet include data from the NSW Government collected as part of efforts to collect baseline data on koalas populations across the state. The next population update is anticipated to include more NSW data to help improve the confidence bounds of the estimate.

The next national koala population estimate is due March 2025. The intention is for this estimate to include regional data where sufficient data is available. Interim updates may also be released where appropriate.

Estimate (date) Method National population range Listed population range (QLD, NSW, ACT) Unlisted population range
TSSC (2021) used for Koala Recovery Plan Expert elicitation Not estimated 92,184
NKMP 1st annual estimate (March 2023)2 Data-driven NKMP model 287,830 – 628,010 117,050 – 244,4401 170,780 – 383,570
NKMP 2nd annual estimate (March 2024)3 Data-driven NKMP model 224,000 – 524,000 95,000 – 238,0001 129,000 – 286,000
Adjusted NKMP estimate (2023) Data-driven NKMP model, adjusted for known data gaps 86,000 and 176,000
  1. Estimates are derived from modelling of data with known gaps. Adjusting the model for where there is little or no data gives an anticipated listed koala population estimate between 86,000 and 176,000 koalas. This will be improved by collecting and ingesting additional data over time.
  2. See here for a more detailed description of the NKMP’s approach to a national koala model. (PDF, 610kb)
  3. See here for more detailed description of the March 2024 population estimate. (PDF, 1.3Mb)

The NKMP progress to date

Strong collaboration

  • All relevant jurisdictions engaged in co-design and capability building.
  • First Nation, Technical Science and Citizen Science Communities of Practice established to help co-design the program.
  • 42 agreements made with states, tertiary institutions and other relevant stakeholders.
  • A broader community of koala modellers established and actively working to refine the National approach.

Innovative statistical modelling

  • NKMP analytical framework developed, including:
    • analytical approach and software package for bringing together disparate sources of data peer-reviewed and published (Foster et al 2023a)
    • new method for designing large-scale monitoring programs developed and published (Foster et al 2023b).
  • The first estimates of koala populations generated using the robust data-driven NKMP model.
  • Data handling procedures refined.

On ground survey effort

  • A Network of NKMP monitoring sites established and priority monitoring sites selected.
  • 214 koala surveys conducted, surveying a combined transect distance of 1,057 km following the National design.
  • Information collected on the location and abundance of 67 non-koala species, including 51 sightings of the Endangered greater glider.

Supporting public resources developed

  • Two koala sighting apps released: Koala Counter (for collecting survey data) and Koala Spotter (for reporting sightings).
  • Guidance on koala survey methods developed, tested with key experts and published.
  • Integrated and collected koala rescue and habitat data to inform better koala rescue release decisions.