The Redlands forms a large part of the Koala Coast, and is was home to an estimated 1500 koalas in 2008.  Many of them living in suburban yards, local parks, schools and remnant bush land areas

The history of koalas in Australia has not only been littered with natural disasters such as bushfires, but also millions were slaughtered by humans for the fur trade, almost leading to their extinction.  Click on this link to see a letter from 1927, by the Redlands Branch of the Local Producers Association calling “for destruction of native bears to be stopped“.


In 2008, there was 1500 koalas left in the Redlands, down from 4050 in 1996

Previous surveys in 1996 and in 2005-06 estimated koala numbers at 4050 and 3000 respectively.

The greatest threat to koalas is loss of habitat. Fewer trees means extended time is spent on the ground where they are vulnerable to traffic and dogs. Read here about the “Seven Misconceptions About Dogs and Koalas”

Chlamydia, considered to be a stress related disease due to habitat loss, is a major killer of koalas. One of its forms, conjunctivitis, affects the eyes and can lead to blindness. Early treatment has a high success rate. Another form of chlamydia, cystitis, affects the urinary tract and is characterised by a wet bottom or “dirty tail”. This more sinister form is generally fatal unless treated very early.

To view the EPA Survey Report in its entirety click here EPA and click on 2008 Koala Population Koala Coast.

What food do Koalas Eat in the Redlands?

Healthy trees look best and support greater numbers of koalas. A little time spent selecting the most appropriate species for your situation will help achieve these results.

Trees grown from seed collected from local varieties are best because they help preserve the original pattern of vegetation and do not cause detrimental changes in the offspring of bushland trees.

Heights given here are approximate and are only observed from very mature trees in a forest situation.

Trees grown in full sun are often lower. Height can be reduced by choosing for the position and pruning when young.

  • Eucalyptus tereticornis (Queensland blue gum) The classic gum tree with smooth bark, often in interesting patterns and colours. It prefers the deep alluvial soils found on the coast and along creeks and gullies. A koala favourite. (40 metres)
  • Eucalyptus microcorys (Tallowwood) Attractive dense dark green leaves. A good shade tree but does eventually grow tall (40 metres). Highly sought after by koalas as it seems to “balance” a diet of scribbly gum. Found in most parts of the Redlands.
  • Eucalyptus seeana (Narrow-leaved red gum) One of the smaller local food trees (15 metres). Takes well to pruning for a compact well-shaped attractive tree with weeping foliage. Found in most areas of the Redlands – tolerates poorly drained shallow soils.
  • Eucalyptus resinifera (Red stringybark) Highly favoured by koalas and will grow on shallow, stony soils that are well drained (30 metres).
  • Eucalyptus racemosa (Scribbly gum) Often used by koalas in the Redlands, especially in conjunction with the Tallowwood. (25 metres).
  • Eucalyptus propinqua (Small-fruited grey gum) Has attractive orange patches of bark when first shed. Will grow on shallow, stony soils if wet enough (30 metres).
  • Eucalyptus robusta (Swamp mahogany) Ideal for damp sites close to shoreline (30 metres).
  • Eucalyptus nicholii (Willow peppermint) Non-local (native to the New England Tableland) but worth growing in situations suitable for a small tree (7 metres). Koalas enjoy the fragrant leaf but the tree can be short lived.

The koala is a mainly nocturnal, arboreal marsupial which lives almost entirely on eucalypt leaves, one of its favourite being the Queensland Blue Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis). An adult koala may eat up to a kilogram of leaves per day. Sufficient moisture is usually obtained from the leaves but koalas will drink from streams or water containers if thirsty due to drought conditions or illness.

The koala is specially adapted to climbing trees having a powerful grip, sharp claws on its three fingers and two opposable thumbs and a granular palm on each hand. Its feet consist of a clawless thumb like digit and four other clawed digits, the first and second of which are partly fused together to form a comb for grooming.

How Does Development Affect Koalas?

An example of a ‘koala sensitive’ housing development

Location: Ney Road Capalaba, Koala Park Estate

Area: 69 hectare bushland site

25% of the land was developed in a koala sensitive manner (large lots)

25% of the land was kept for conservation (This is better than the average housing estate – only 10% is required to be set aside as public land.)

Koala Research: the koalas were monitored by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) scientists prior to, during and after development.

QPWS Research Revealed…

1995 – Prior To Development
2004 – Post Development
70 koalas on site 15 koalas on site
5% with clinical signs of disease 25% with clinical signs of disease
90% of females with young Less than 30% of females with young

Where did the koalas go?

38% of the koalas left the area in the early stages of clearing.

Around half of these koalas were killed by cars and dogs while on the move.

The small population remaining on site are now faced with a smaller gene pool and the possibility of inbreeding.

This research proves without doubt that development, including ‘koala sensitive’ estates has a devastating impact on koala populations in the short and long term.

“I Used To See Koalas All The Time … …but not as many in recent years”. Research has proven Redland’s urban koalas are in rapid decline, resulting in their listing as a ‘vulnerable’ species in this region.