Diario del proyecto Toowoomba Region Koala Count - November 2022

Archivos de diario de diciembre 2022

05 de diciembre de 2022





Our Toowoomba community organisation, Save Mt Lofty Inc organised the Toowoomba Region Koala Count during November 2022. This followed up on our first Count in 2021.

Our Count methodology is based on personal observations of volunteer members of the public (called citizen scientists) utilizing the iNaturalist mobile app. This app is operated by the National Geographic organisation with observations linked back to the Atlas of Living Australia managed by the CSIRO.
The iNaturalist mobile app takes the date and location metadata from original smart phone photos with species ID then independently confirmed by species experts.
Our Count is held during the month of November to coincide with the expected peak of the local koala mating season. In Toowoomba, Save Mt Lofty liaised with local environmental groups including Darling Downs Environment Council, the various local wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services and many Landcare groups.
In 2022, we expanded our scope by preparing and distributing a Koala Spotters Pack 2-page glossy poster by mail to all primary and secondary schools (>130 schools) in the Toowoomba region.

We also publicised our Count regularly through the various local Facebook community noticeboard pages across the Toowoomba Region.


The purpose of holding our koala count was three-fold

  1. To raise awareness of the koala and the need to protect koala habitat within our Toowoomba Region community and local environment and landcare groups;
  2. To promote with our local, state and federal representatives the need to start a formal audit and assessment of the koala species across our region – so we are better placed to access available State and Federal Government koala related funding;
  3. To foster an awareness of the existence of wild koalas within our Region with local tourism operators and entities that may attract international tourists to our region.

In terms of raw data, during November 2022, our Toowoomba Region Koala Count recorded 188 observations of koalas from 36 individual observers across the Toowoomba Regional Council local government area (LGA).
The koalas sighted were disbursed across the region with 2 significant areas – a north-eastern area between Highfields and Yarraman and a south-west area around Pittsworth.

We had 3 major observers who were particularly successful; each observing multiple koalas:-
48 Deborah Hansen from Koala, Land and Wildlife Support Inc
32 Alastair Silcock (and his team) from Pittsworth Landcare, and
30 Judi Gray from Toowoomba Wildlife Rescue Inc.
Our sincere thanks to Deborah, Alastair and Judi for their support of our Count but more importantly for their tireless work for koalas in our region.
We also need to thank Alastair Silcock from Pittsworth Landcare and Sandra McKay from High Country Koala Action Group for helping us run specific Koala Count Days at Pittsworth and Crows Nest this year.

This year, we had about 18 observers who reported only one sighting. We had about 50 other observers who participated but were unable to enter an observation of a wild koala.
Some of these observers sought assistance to have their sightings recorded on the iNaturalist platform due to general inexperience with computers. Many local landholders conducted extensive searches but reported no sightings. From the successful observers, it became apparent that some people are gifted to sight koalas quickly when others can spend minutes at the same tree without success. Binoculars were not essential to locate koalas but useful to check details such as sex and health of each animal.
The months of October / November 2022 were extremely wet right across the Toowoomba Region. Save Mt Lofty members have had significant success locating koalas during drought times when foliage is sparse and koalas are attracted to moister gullies. During good seasons, we are advised that koalas have their pick of many habitats and so the species distribution was expected to be more widespread. We feel the present wet season led to significant under reporting due to koalas being more widely distributed.
In general terms, koalas sighted appeared in excellent condition with no reported apparent injuries or chlamydia disease.
Our 2022 Count reported a significantly increased number of koalas and observations on the 2021 Count (44 observations from 9 observers). This may well simply reflect the time commitment of volunteers rather than any change in populations etc.
Geographic Spread of Koalas Across the Region
The continuation of a wide geographical spread of koala observations across our region is encouraging.

Anecdotally, experienced observers noted that it was more difficult in 2022 to spot koalas due to a couple of factors. The eucalypt foliage cover in 2022 was significantly denser than in 2021 making it difficult to review both sides of a tree. The wet, / warm conditions across the Region in 2021 & 2022 have made koala habitat available in areas where previously significantly drought affected. As such, koalas have not been observed in tradition moist gullies - for example, where we found koalas at Mt Lofty during the drought.
We reported a higher incidence of mother koalas with joeys in 2022 compared to the 2021 Count. This may reflect the better climatic and habitat conditions this year.


  1. The Toowoomba project enabled the issue of local koalas and their habitat to be publicized throughout the Toowoomba Region. In particular, the social media posts on local community noticeboards. We expect there has been a significant increase in appreciation of the availability of the koala within the Toowoomba Region communities.
  2. Although the Count is not a reliable scientific tool for quantifying total koala numbers, it is apparent from our Toowoomba Count that our koalas have a wide geographic distribution across our LGA.
  3. The Toowoomba project enabled co-ordination between local environmental and landcare organisations. In particular, interaction between city-based groups (Save Mt Lofty and DDEC) with country groups (Pittsworth Landcare & Save our Koala Country) was positive and will lead to on-going cooperation.
  4. The involvement of leading koala advocates Deborah Hansen and Judi Grey in our 2022 Count was pleasing not only in the raw numbers of their observations but in the fact that we can mutually support each other’s activities into the future.
  5. The Toowoomba project has motivated local environmental groups involved in local koala habitat protection campaigns. Both Save Mt Lofty (DHA rifle range land) and Pittsworth Landcare / Save of Our Koala County (ARTC Inland Rail around Pittsworth) are conducting significant koala habitat campaigns needing constant publicity to maintain momentum.


Logan Count
We understand the Logan City Council have not conducted their Koala Count in 2022 having had an underwhelming response to their 2021 Count.
Local Government Involvement
Early in 2022, we approached the TRC to discuss Council’s possible involvement in the 2022 Count. This followed on our approach in 2021 where councillors indicated they did not then have sufficient time to be involved that year.
Again in 2022, TRC indicated they could not be involved in the Koala Count. This year, the reason given for not supporting the Count (on 8 August) was that Council had yet to formally adopt a strategy with respect to the Koala species.
Despite this reluctance, TRC Councillor Tim McMahon is quoted in local media (TC 22/11) saying TRC are chasing Federal funding for mapping of local koala.
We had a disappointing response from local schools to our Koala Spotters Pack mailout.
Teachers preferred to plan ‘koala visits’ as part of their end of year activities rather than incorporate our Count into their environment curriculum as our pack suggested.
Those teachers who had our speakers visit their classrooms reported excellent feedback and enthusiasm from their students.

Count Days
This year we held Count Days in both Pittsworth and Crows Nest to maximize observations in those areas where we knew there were koala populations.
This should be the focus of future Counts – concentrating on getting local communities to organise gatherings in their villages.
Millmerran Landcare CSIRO Day
For our 2022 Count preparation we attended a koala open day at Narraburra Farm, Kooroongarra – south of Millmerran. This Koala Day was conducted by Millmerran Landcare in conjunction with CSIRO to learn about CSIRO’s National Koala Monitoring Program across Australia.
We prepared a social media video of the day that was distributed across the Region. https://youtu.be/EipdZUih2yM
It was therefore disappointing to have only 2 sightings from Millmerran area logged for our 2022 Koala Count. A lot of effort for little return.

Local Government Lethargy
As stated above, TRC has been less than active in the koala / habitat protection space.
At our 8 August 2022 meeting with TRC councillors and staff, we indicated that TRC would need to be at least as active in the koala habitat space over many years as other councils in SE Qld if TRC were to be successful in accessing available government funding.
It is therefore disappointing to see TRC councillors claiming in local media to be now chasing “government funds for koala mapping” without doing the necessary preliminary work.
There are at least 4 issues that need review here.
Firstly, TRC have to build a body of work over a prolonged period to match efforts of Redland and Logan City Councils. These councils have developed koala habitat protection strategies over many years of engagement on these issues in their communities. TRC have done none of this necessary legwork.
Secondly, TRC need to be actively involved in community initiatives such as our Koala Count as local government will always need to rely on community koala champions for data and sightings.
Thirdly, TRC’s current interest in koalas comes too close on community pressure over habitat clearing. This leaves us sceptical that Councillors want to take action for the right reasons – not just to be looking good in the community. That said, initial discussions with TRC staff suggest they appreciate the legwork necessary to seriously address this issue in the medium / long term.

Finally, do we really need an expensive mapping exercise to know we have koalas spread across our region? A further expensive mapping exercise would be unlikely to come up with data of any practical assistance to retention of koala habitat across our region.
Between 2017-2019, USQ conducted a koala habitat mapping project with a view to assist management. The project deserves close review as even with such a close habitat review, no identifiable management changes or initiatives ensued. This brings into question the net benefit of such exercises that may well be diverting valuable resources and attention from more productive initiatives.

If TRC properly engaged with the organisers of the Koala Count, they may learn there are better immediate priorities for Council beyond a vague mapping exercise. For example, the local development community need to understand that TRC will have koala habitat protection as a priority in any assessment of a residential development application.
An interim tree protection local law leading to the new 2025 Planning Scheme would be a great start.

Local Habitat Clearing
Our 2022 Koala Count came hot on the heels of a number of recent significant koala habitat bulldozing events across the Region – Watson’s Road, Yarranlea, Longhurst Lane, Brookstead & Reis Road, Highfields. DDEC secured significant local media coverage of these clearings. Research highlighted the inadequacy of local, state and federal laws to protect this loss of koala habitat
Local publicity also resulted from TRC councillors’ decision (7/4 vote) not to support a proposal for an interim tree preservation by law to protect significant trees on private property. Whilst some councillors probably will never support such a bylaw, other councillors indicated that they feared bringing in an interim measure prior to the 2025 Planning Scheme may lead to pre-emptory clearing by developers / farmers. From our experience, this clearing is already well underway and will accelerate whenever the law change.
In another TRC development, Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan called for the Toowoomba community to plant 1,000,000 trees over the next 5 years – without any particular reference to these trees providing valued habitat to locally displaced koalas.


  1. Speak to our local Qld Education & Catholic Education Offices earlier to have Count included in curriculum. Aim to contact schools earlier.
  2. Focus on promoting individual village / area counts.
  3. Try and get greater involvement from local koala & environmental organisations.
  4. Try again for increased TRC support for our 2023 Count.
  5. Try to refocus 2023 Count to align with strategy to limit koala habitat loss across our region.
  6. Engage earlier with local print, radio and TV media
  7. Engage with Toowoomba local government, state and federal representatives
  8. Establish measurable outcomes from the 2022 Count to enable us to assess our performance in future years.
  9. Conduct other koala related events in 2023 to keep up momentum for our 2023 Count. These events could support DDEC’s regular monthly Toowoomba Farmers Market stall.
  10. A focus on koala wildlife photography given the number of experienced capable local photographers. There is also the possibility of a regional koala photographic competition to lead into the November 2023 Count.
  11. Focus on identifying existing and potential koala corridors through more targeted monitoring and observation activities including use of thermal imaging drone technology in conjunction with CSIRO.


Shaen & Pascale Egan, Save Mt Lofty Inc
Alastair Silcock, Pittsworth Landcare
Jean Gundry, Gomaren & Doctors Creek Landcare
Sandra McKay, Koala Land and Wildlife Support, (KLAWS)
Judi Gray, Toowoomba Koala Wildlife Rescue
Deborah Hansen, Koala, Land and Wildlife Support (KLAWS)
Kev Loveday, Save Our Koala Country, Pittsworth
Theresa Tickell, Save Our Koala Country, Pittsworth
Jenny Withnall, Darling Downs Environment Council
Christel Pidcock, Toowoomba Wilderness Society
Kushla Gale, Toowoomba for Climate Action
Debbie Tanzer, Darling Downs Roots and Shoots
Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan, Environment Advisory Committee,
Toowoomba Region Council


Chris Meibusch
Save Mt Lofty Inc
Toowoomba Region Koala Count
E chrismeibusch@gmail.com
M 0419765078

1 December 2022

Publicado el diciembre 5, 2022 12:25 MAÑANA por bushychrismeibusch bushychrismeibusch | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario