Lifeline for Inverleigh Koalas

koala looking sad in manna gum tree

The Habitat Restoration Project Saving Koalas from Extinction

Decades ago, a broad band of eucalyptus woodland extended west of Geelong, through Inverleigh, Teesdale & Shelford, and north to the forests around Ballarat. This vast forest was home to many, many koalas and provided a lifeline link from the coast to the mountains.

grassy woodland koala habitat
Grassy woodland habitat at Inverleigh – perfect for koalas

Native animals had an expanse of habitat and resources and their biggest concern was finding the most suitable mate to reproduce with. That’s no longer the case.

Over time farming cleared some of this forest, and recently, housing developments have cleared more. Wildlife in the area were left struggling to survive in small, isolated areas of habitat.

The Inverleigh koalas are now one of the few remaining populations. Once a healthy and thriving population, we estimate there are now only 2 to 10 koalas left in this population. Just on this map area, 87% of their habitat has been cut down. They’re now isolated in 13% of their original habitat, most of which is the tiny Inverleigh Flora Reserve. In fact, the problem is much bigger. In Victoria, only 1% of the original grassy woodlands remain.

inverleigh koala habitat
Map showing former extent of koala habitat in Inverleigh area, Vic
plains grassy woodland revegetation project for koalas
This map shows the habitat that remains – dark green areas are trees.

It’s just not enough. They’re barely holding on.

The population decline in this area has been observed by locals and experts over the last decade and without action, what lies in their future is undeniable – local extinction.

Koala Clancy Foundation, the grassroots NGO located west of Melbourne, is determined not to let that happen. If there is a koala population suffering in our region, we will do everything in our power to protect them. We don’t have time to wait for government action – it’s too slow and bureaucratic. These koalas need trees now, and we’re planting them.

A corporate group from Moose Toys planting koala trees with us west of Geelong in June 2022

Where will we plant our trees?

The Inverleigh Flora Reserve is surrounded by farmland, and if these koalas want a chance at survival, they’ll need an easily accessible, nutrient dense habitat. Luckily, landowners today are recognising the plight of koalas and are stepping up to play their part in creating a better future.

Over the next three years, we’re collaborating with a local Inverleigh landowner to rehabilitate a whopping 40.9 hectares of land directly beside the Inverleigh Flora Reserve. It will involve planting 32,000 trees, Koala Clancy Foundation’s biggest project to date, and will essentially double the amount of habitat that these koalas have.

This project will give the koalas of Inverleigh a chance of survival, but it comes at a huge cost. The associated expense for a project of this size is at least $320,000, and for a grassroots NGO that’s a lot.

A koala relaxed in the branches of a eucalypt tree

How much does it cost to plant a tree?

It costs Koala Clancy Foundation $10 to plant one tree. That $10 covers the real cost of planting the tree – buying the seeds or seedlings, careful local species choice, preparing the site with hole digging and weed management, purchasing tree guards and stakes, ensuring their long-term survival.

Could we cut some of these costs? Certainly, but if we did our trees would die.

Currently, our trees demonstrate an 80-90% survival rate past their first three years, which is a very high success rate.

This means that every $10 donation to Koala Clancy Foundation goes directly toward highly successful and impactful planting projects which will define the future for koalas.

These trees are less than one year old

Lifeline for Inverleigh Koalas: What’s next?

Koala Clancy Foundation is not willing to wait for someone else to do what needs to be done. We are taking the threat of koala extinction into our own hands and will continue to plant, research, and educate until we know that the Inverleigh koalas are safe.

To do this we’ll need massive, wide scale support from the Australian and international community – from people like you.

Every $10 donation in July and August 2022 goes toward our Lifeline for Koalas fundraiser which is funding this massive planting project for the koalas of Inverleigh this year. Next year we’ll do it again.

No matter how big or small, your donation will make a difference. Every dollar will bring the Inverleigh koalas one step closer to a future without extinction – a future where they can live freely and happily in the outstretched branches of a luscious, healthy River Red Gum.

Donate today to make a difference.

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