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A Community-based Survey of the Koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in the Eden Region of South-eastern New South Wales

Daniel Lunney, Carol Esson, Chris Moon, Murray Ellis and Alison Matthews

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 2220, Australia.

 

Abstract

A community-based postal survey (questionnaire and map) was undertaken in the Eden region of south­eastern New South Wales in 1991-92 to help determine the local distribution of koalas and to obtain information on which to base a regional plan of management for koalas. The 1198 replies from the 11600 households in the region represented all parts of the area surveyed. The survey responses suggest that koalas are rare in the Eden region, and that the number of koalas has been constantly low for the last four decades. The records are scattered both chronologically and geographically. National Parks and Nature Reserves have never been the stronghold of local koala populations, and freehold land, particularly farmland, is not a major reservoir of koalas. Most koalas reported were in, or adjacent to, State Forests, particularly Murrah—Bermagui and Tantawangalo-Glenbog—Yuranunie. These areas appear to contain the core of the surviving koala population of the region. An assessment of the vegetation where koalas were sighted indicated that dry forest is the preferred habitat. The once abundant and widespread local koala population of late last century has been reduced by habitat loss and fragmentation to a few small, isolated populations. This regional survey, which was undertaken by use of a carefully constructed questionnaire, revealed an invaluable source of records and contributed 70% of the records in the database used for this study. This study also laid a basis for assessing koala management options in south-eastern New South Wales.