Koalas face a number of conservation challenges which vary dramatically across their range. In this region, koalas are threatened by habitat declines, particularly in manna gum woodlands and there are very real fears for the welfare of koalas as their food trees die.
Our Wild Vision is woodland effectively managed across private and public land to create a sustainable future habitat for koalas and other wildlife in the Otways and beyond.
The Great Ocean Road’s coastal woodlands are in crisis and urgent action is needed to protect them.
With no time to waste, we have embarked on creating the woodlands of the future by planting over 93,000 tree seedlings over the last few years, across 80Ha of affected woodland areas at Cape Otway.
You can assist our Conservation & Research Team in annual surveys to monitor the koala population and the habitat condition, join in with habitat restoration efforts like the Big Otway Tree Plant and share your ideas through events like The Manna Gum Challenge. Learn more about volunteering.
When possible, land is purchased and kept in trust to secure long term habitat security for koalas. We welcome you to join us in creating this legacy – please contact us for more details on larger projects.
Understanding the koala microbiome: unlocking the secrets of koala health and dietary specialisation, and successful husbandry and translocation (ARC Linkage Project)
Koalas, like most herbivores, don’t dine alone. Inside their guts live microbes that help to digest their food, deal with eucalyptus toxins and affect their ability to respond to disease. We will investigate how microbes differ among koala populations and diets and ask whether mismatches between what koalas eat and their microbes causes problems. These findings will be crucial to long term conservation management of koala populations.
Investigators: Dr B D Moore, Prof WJ Foley, Prof P Hugenholz, Prof T Sicheritz-Ponten, Prof B L Moeller, Dr J Hansen, Dr DH Lunney, Dr JH Pascoe.
Lead organisation: The University of Western Sydney
Partner organisations: Evolva Biotech A/S, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, Conservation Ecology Centre
Manna Gum Recruitment, Germination and Seedling Establishment
We have established experiments to investigate the effectiveness of a range of techniques to encourage the recruitment of manna gums in declining manna gum woodlands on Cape Otway. These experiments will isolate the effect of soil carbon, soil disturbance, browsing, fire and vegetation complexity on the success manna gum germination, seedling establishment and survival. Outcomes will help guide future revegetation efforts.
Project partners: Conservation Ecology Centre, Southern Otway Landcare Network
Manna Gum Leaf Analysis
We are investigating the chemical composition of leaves from manna gums on Cape Otway. Sampling leaves from trees of differing age class and health status assists in understanding their nutritional qualities to koalas and their palatability along the tree decline gradient. This project may provide insight into the browsing ecology of the local koala population.
Project partners: Conservation Ecology Centre, The University of Western Sydney
Monitoring Koalas and Their Habitat
Conserving koalas and their habitat is currently a management priority for Parks Victoria, but very little is known about the local koala population. With thanks to a Healthy Parks, Healthy People grant the CEC is carrying out long term surveys to assess population size and the condition of the habitat. The Otways contains mixed habitat and more than one preferred koala food tree species, so this site provides a novel opportunity to gain insights into why some preferred koala food trees are in decline and to assess the determining factors behind local koala food tree selection.
Project partners: Conservation Ecology Centre, Parks Victoria
Australian Geographic meets our koalas
Learn more about koalas in this video as Sorrel Wilby from Australian Geographic visits the Conservation Ecology Centre.