The koala has a wide distribution and are difficult to spot in the wild. No single survey technique works best, and the quality of data can vary depending on who is collecting it, what is being measured and why.
To help address these challenges, we are investing $10 million over 4 years to deliver this National Koala Monitoring Program (NKMP) in partnership with the CSIRO. It will provide an understanding of the size, status and trend of the national koala population. It will also build a long-lasting ability to monitor koala populations.
The NKMP supports the implementation of the National Recovery Plan for the listed koala and will help inform future listing re-assessments of all koala populations. It will also inform future recovery efforts.
Progress so far includes:
- First Nation, Technical Science and Citizen Science Communities of Practice established to help co-design the program
- All relevant jurisdictions engaged in co-design, collaboration and capability building.
- 18 data sharing agreements made with states, tertiary institutions and other relevant stakeholders
- Inclusive monitoring approaches and robust modelling framework co-designed
- Network of 50 NKMP monitoring sites established and priority monitoring sites selected
- Surveys completed at 25 NKMP sites
- 2 koala sighting apps released: Koala Counter (for collecting survey data) and Koala Spotter (for reporting sightings)
- Best practice guidelines on koala survey techniques developed
- The first estimate of koala populations generated using the robust data-driven NKMP model
The program is engaging the community, citizen scientists, First Nations people and researchers. Together, we will deliver effective and efficient monitoring outcomes.
For information and latest updates visit: NKMP.
The NKMP is improving the data available on koala populations, and delivering a data-driven population estimate that removes the need to only rely on expert elicitation and qualitative assessments.
The data-driven population model has been built based on over 88,000 individual historic data points, however there are still known limitations in the current data-driven estimate.
- This first data-driven population estimate of koalas in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (the listed koala population), without making any additional assumptions, is between 117,050 and 244,440.
- The current estimate relies on pre-existing data collected across a number of years and from a wide range of sources. Future estimates will be updated with contemporary data from on-ground monitoring efforts.
- More data are also needed from regional and remote areas in eastern Australia where we strongly suspect there are not koalas.
Adjusting the model for areas where there is little or no data, but where we strongly suspect there are no longer koalas present, generates a listed koala population estimate between 86,000 and 176,000 koalas.
- This broadly aligns with the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) estimate of 92,184 koalas in the combined Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory population, based on best available information and expert elicitation in 2021.
Our current best available estimate for the national koala population is between 287,830 and 628,010 individuals. This includes between 170,780 and 383,570 individuals in the unlisted populations of Victoria and South Australia.
Like any data-driven model, the confidence bounds of this estimate will improve as more data are added into the model. Our priority over the next stage of the program is to improve the current amount and quality of the data that underpins the NKMP, and in particular completing surveys in those locations where we have known data gaps and we strongly suspect there are no longer koalas present.