Koalas in Victoria

Koalas are widespread throughout eucalypt woodlands and forests in lowland Victoria. Compared to northern Australian states where koala numbers are declining, Victoria has a large and thriving koala population.  In some areas of the state, koalas can occur at very high densities and can over-browse the habitat and cause widespread defoliation of preferred food trees.

Management of koalas in Victoria has been an active and evolving process for more than 95 years. The 2004 Koala Management Strategy sets out a range of priority actions to ensure Victoria’s koala population is healthy and sustainable over the long term.

Have your say on the new draft Victorian Koala Management Strategy

Over the past three years, DELWP has been working in collaboration with a group of diverse partners and stakeholders including Traditional Owners, scientists, vets, animal welfare organisations, wildlife carers, the plantation timber industry, Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks and other government agencies to develop a new draft Victorian Koala Management Strategy.

Once finalised, the Victorian Koala Management Strategy will replace the 2004 Koala Management Strategy. It will be a state-wide strategy that will inform long-term approaches to koala management with the objective of ensuring that Victoria’s koala populations and habitat are secure, healthy and sustainable. The strategy will outline the vision, goals, issues and actions for the conservation and management of Victoria’s koalas into the future.

We are now seeking feedback from the Victorian community on the draft  Victorian Koala Management Strategy via Engage Victoria. The feedback received during the public consultation period will help inform the final strategy and will shape how koalas are protected and managed in Victoria. The public consultation period will run from 21 February 2022 until 3 April 2022.

To download a copy of the draft strategy and provide your feedback please visit the consultation page at: http://engage.vic.gov.au/VKMS.

2004 Victorian Koala Management Strategy

The current Victorian Koala Management Strategy was released in 2004 and was prepared after consultation with community groups and relevant state government agencies.

The aim of the strategy is to ensure that viable wild populations of koalas persist throughout their natural range wherever suitable habitat occurs in Victoria. A copy of the 2004 Victorian Koala Management Strategy can be downloaded here:

Victorian Koala Management Strategy (PDF, 1.7 MB)
Victorian Koala Management Strategy (DOCX, 706.5 KB)

The strategy addresses key issues affecting koala populations in Victoria, including monitoring populations, managing genetic diversity, managing captive, sick and injured koalas and managing over-browsing.

Koala abundance model for Victoria

Scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) have developed the first state-wide koala abundance model for Victoria.

The model produces state-wide and regional estimates of koala abundance for Victoria. The model estimated a state-wide koala population of 459,865, with an estimated 412,948 koalas in native forest and woodland and a further 46,917 in eucalypt plantations.

The estimates produced by the model will be used to inform actions under the new Victorian Koala Management Strategy, which is currently being developed (see above for more information).

The full report on the koala abundance model is available below, along with a fact sheet that summarises the findings.

Modelling Koala abundance across Victoria (PDF, 2.6 MB)

Modelling Koala abundance across Victoria (DOCX, 13.1 MB)

Modelling Koala abundance across Victoria - fact sheet (PDF, 208.4 KB)

Modelling Koala abundance across Victoria - fact sheet (DOCX, 384.9 KB)

You can help

You can help koalas by improving the habitat on your property. Koalas need many healthy mature trees for food and shelter.

Be aware of road signs indicating koalas are in the area and slow down. Koalas may be moving along the road. Be especially careful at dawn and dusk when visibility is poor and koalas are likely to be moving between trees.

If you do see koalas or other wildlife when you are driving, be careful and give them plenty of time to move off the road.

Take care with your dog. Unrestrained dogs can harass and injure wildlife.

Please report sick or injured koalas to the nearest wildlife shelter.

You can call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for contact details of wildlife rehabilitation organisations in your area or use the Help for Injured Wildlife tool to find a wildlife rehabilitator in your local area.

Koalas in Cape Otway

Koalas in Framlingham

Koalas and blue-gum plantations

Koala facts

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are Australia’s largest arboreal (tree-dwelling) marsupials. They are also one of Australia’s most iconic animals.

Koalas are found in inland and coastal areas of eastern Australia, from north-east Queensland to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Victorian koalas have longer and thicker fur than koalas living in Queensland, which is an adaptation to Victoria’s colder climate.

Koalas living in Victoria are also generally larger than those living in Queensland. In Victoria, male koalas can weigh up to 15 kg and females are slightly smaller, weighing up to 11 kg. Koalas live for up to 20 years in the wild.

Koalas feed almost exclusively on leaves of eucalyptus trees, which provide a diet that is low in energy. Eucalyptus species preferred by koalas in Victoria include Manna Gum (Eucalyptusviminalis), Swamp Gum (E. ovata), Blue Gum (E. globulus) and River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis).

Because of their low energy diet, koalas are sedentary for most of the day and are only active for around four hours, usually after dark.  Koalas usually move between trees by walking along the ground, however, they can also jump between trees.

Koalas are generally solitary, only interacting during breeding season. Although they are not territorial, koalas have relatively well defined home ranges ranging from 1.2 to 1.7 hectares in ideal habitat. Home ranges of individual koalas often overlap, however koalas do not normally share trees at the same time.

Koalas breed from September to March with a single young being born after a 33 – 35 day pregnancy. The baby koala, called a 'joey', remains in the mother's pouch for approximately six months.  After leaving the pouch, the joey will ride on its mother’s back until it is weaned. Weaning occurs at around one year of age.

The conservation status of koalas varies by state and despite being listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, koalas are widespread in Victoria and South Australia and are overabundant in some areas and can cause defoliation of preferred tree species in those areas.

While Victoria’s koala population is currently secure, it faces threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, bushfire, drought and disease.

Koalas may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as they are prone to heat-related stress and dehydration and are poorly adapted to cope with increased temperatures and severe heat events.

Fragmentation of habitat is also a serious issue for koalas because they have a specialised low-energy, low-nutrient diet of eucalyptus leaves. This means that koalas have a limited amount of energy available to use travelling between patches of food trees.

Other threats to koalas include attack by domestic dogs and vehicle collisions.

Page last updated: 21/02/22