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AKF Releases New Research – Trees that will save the Koala

4 September 2012 –




The Australian Koala Foundation has today released the results of research which has established a list of key tree species crucial to the survival of Australia’s diminishing Koala population. The most comprehensive research to date, the list is a result of 25 years and $8m worth of investment in in-house and university funded research.

Utilising a combination of AKF’s tree database (with 80,000 individual trees from 1800 sites), published research, and collaboration from several independent koala researchers, the list covers everywhere that koalas live and takes into account 273 Local Government Areas (LGA) across 4 States. 

AKF’s CEO Deborah Tabart says : “We are really excited to announce the results of this incredible research. This list is the collaborative result of a great deal of research over many years and is invaluable when it comes to ensuring the future of the koala.” 

The list is comprised of endemic (local) species in each LGA and identifies 91 tree species across NSW, SA, VIC & QLD which are the limiting resource (i.e. food) for koalas in any particular area and are key to ensuring the future survival of this much loved Australian icon.

There are three basic parameters we can use to define where Koalas can live in a sustainable manner.

– Areas where annual rainfall is above 500mm per year (except major watercourses)
– Less than 1000m above sea level
– Areas where the maximum daily temperature does not exceed 40 degrees C for more than a few days (this can result in significant physiological stress which can lead to koala fatalities) 

Research has shown that Koalas change their preferences seasonally throughout the year. It is therefore important that Koalas have a range of tree species to choose from that reflect seasonal changes and prevent them from having to travel to find species elsewhere and exposing them to other dangers (such as roads, dogs etc). With climate change continuing to be a threat to the survival of the koala, non-endemic species from slightly warmer climates could also be considered as a longer-term option for planting.

It is crucial to plant trees in suitable soils with the right amount of drainage. If a tree is growing in a less than ideal location it will suffer moisture and nutrient stress, and produce chemicals (terpenes, phenols) that discourage koalas from eating them. For example, koalas favour E. tereticornis when it grows on flats with heavier alluvial soils and good moisture availability, but won’t enjoy it in on slopes where nutrients aren’t as readily available.

The AKF recommends planting trees next to remnant trees to augment habitat . Where there are remnant trees along watercourses (E.camaldulensis, E. tereticornis), habitat can be augmented by planting box species in slightly drier areas. AKF’s landscape ecologist David Mitchell says “The best advice is to get to know what species are in the area, and pick trees to plant from AKF’s list that already are there, or in similar locations. In particular, look to plant primary food species which we have identified on the list. These species are very attractive to koalas, and if you plant other food tree species next to them koalas will enjoy the trees you plant all the more.”

 A list of primary species identified in the AKF’s list are below.





Scientific Name

Common Name

E. amplifolia ssp. amplifolia

Cabbage gum

E. amplifolia ssp. sessiliflora

Cabbage gum

E. blakelyi

Blakely’s red gum

E. camaldulensis ssp. camaldulensis

River red gum

E. camaldulensis ssp. simulata

River red gum

E. chloroclada

Dirty gum, Baradine red gum

E. cypellocarpa

Mountain grey gum, Mountain gum, Monkey gum, Spotted mountain grey gum, Pyrenees gum

E. dwyeri

Dwyer’s red gum

E. globulus ssp. bicostata

Southern blue gum, Eurabbie, Blue gum, Victorian blue gum

E. globulus ssp. globulus

Tasmanian blue gum, Southern blue gum, Blue gum

E. globulus ssp. pseudoglobulus

Victorian eurabbie

E. microcorys


E. parramattensis ssp. decadens

Earp’s gum, Drooping red gum

E. parramattensis ssp. parramattensis

Parramatta red gum

E. parramattensis var. sphaerocalyx

Parramatta red gum

E. robusta

Swamp mahogany

E. tereticornis ssp. mediana

Gippsland red gum

E. tereticornis ssp. tereticornis

Forest red gum, Blue gum, Red iron gum

E. viminalis ssp. viminalis

Manna gum

For media enquiries or interview opportunities, please contact:

Deborah Tabart OAM

Chief Executive Officer – Australian Koala Foundation

Ph: (07) 32297233



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