Strzelecki Koalas are unique. We know what they eat. We can help to protect this genetically diverse population for the future by protecting remnant vegetation and by planting trees that they will be able to eat in future. They don't get much energy from their food, so connecting their habitat trees is really important.
Friends of the Earth has just released a short film stressing the importance of the Strzelecki koala which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl3bj7pw96w
Although they only eat gum tree leaves, Koalas use a variety of tree species for shelter and shade. A healthy ecosystem has a range of canopy and understorey plants. There is a list of trees that have shown evidence of use by koalas here:
A 2015 study found DNA evidence that our local koala population is not as inbred as other koala populations. That is, locally, they survived near- extinction at a time when koalas were relentlessly hunted for their fur. Koalas are now protected in law, but most Victorian polulations are descended from re-located koalas descended from three individual ancestors on French Island or a few more on Phillip Island and Raymond Island.
Because they weren't translocated, Strzelecki Koalas have a more diverse gene pool and are bigger than those found elsewhere. They suffer less from diseases like chlamydia. This makes them a population with a better chance of surviving climate change and other threats.
Locally we can make an effort to protect and enhance their habitat to keep them alive into the future.
Friends of the Strzelecki Koala works on all things koala. They have a Koala map on their website that records data across the Strzelecki Ranges and South Gippsland. You can send in your koala photos and notify them of koala scats. Keep a record of when and where you took the photos and they will assign an [approximate] GPS reading.
(They are also interested in any dead koalas that you find.)
Look on the Australian Koala Foundation's website for ideas for koala friendly fencing and other tips for living where koalas live.
Planting for Koalas
Many people have found that pines and cyprus trees are dying from the outbreak of conifer disease across our region. This may be a good opportunity to include some koala friendly trees in a re-planting program for your windbreaks and shelter belts. The attached list shows which local trees they eat.
South Gippsland Landcare assigned funding for planting a koala corridor between Boolarra South and Morwell National Park. Several members of our group planted koala friendly vegetation in the winter of 2015. The trees that didn't die in the following hot summer are growing and looking forward to being eaten.
Koala food trees are big trees and not suitable for small backyards. Our group is always on the lookout for places where we can plant them....and we also encourage everyone with remnant trees to protect them and look for ways to connect them to others.
In 2018 Latrobe City unveiled a plan for a bio-link for the koalas between the Strzelecki Ranges and the Central Highlands. This link will include our landcare group's area, and we look forward to its development.