Bush Property Owners are Key to Koala Survival


Koalas, the beloved icon of the Australia bush, are under attack. Researchers have discovered there has been a 30% reduction in Australia’s wild koala population between 2018 and 2021.

In NSW and the ACT alone it has been a reduction of over 40%. And while bushfires have made a huge contribution to these losses there is an even bigger problem affecting koalas each and every day – habitat destruction. Koala microbiologist Dr Peter Timms from the University of the Sunshine Coast puts it bluntly:

“Habitat [loss] is the number one threat. If they haven’t got a tree, nothing else matters,”

Where bushfires cause devastation when they occur, habitat loss expose koalas to less severe dangers far more frequently. Without enough trees, koalas are more likely to be hit by cars when moving between food sources. There is also a greater chance to encounter dogs and other predators in urban areas. And to top it off the increase in stress makes them more susceptible to disease. Over time all these problems accumulate affecting koalas ability to survive leaving our wild population vulnerable.

So what is driving this situation and what can be done about it?

In many rural areas, destruction of koala habitat comes from land clearing to be used as pasture for livestock. For farmers to let those pastures regenerate into forest would mean a loss in grazing area and in turn, income. In more urbanised areas the threat comes from housing and associated infrastructure like roads. The gum trees that koalas need to live in simply get in the way. But the experts say there are solutions. 

Dr Christine Hosking from University of Queensland recommends placing a monetary value on koala habitats and incentivise according:

“It’s not too late [to re-establish wildlife corridors] but it really does come back to political will. Until governments are willing to say, ‘no you can’t clear there, but we’ll pay you to reforest’ … it’s not going to happen.”

Government intervention offers an effective solution for farmers. But what about other property owners in the bush? How could individuals and families help save the koala population?

One solution is to educate homeowners about striking a balance between bushfire safety and koala habitat. By incorporating modern technology like bushfire sprinkler systems, homeowners can protect their homes while still allowing gum trees on their property for koalas to live in. And if they can automate their systems then there is even the opportunity to help save koalas when bushfires threaten, without the priority of having to stay and protect their own home.

All across Australia, both farmers and bush property owners have a responsibility to help save habitat for koalas. For farmers there needs to be a change of policy but for bush property owners there needs to be a change in mind-set.

While clearing gum trees is a straight-forward option to live safely in the bush it comes at a cost. But by learning how to integrate their lives with the natural environment, bush homeowners can not only provide themselves with a more beautiful place to live but one they can share with an Australian treasure.

Embarr’s intelligent Halo system fully automates your bushfire sprinklers, giving you the freedom to save your pets, livestock, and wildlife under threat from bushfire. For home owners in the bush, Embarr is the responsible choice this bushfire season.

Image credit: Patrick Kavanagh on Flickr. Licence: CC by 2.0.