Category Archives: Tree Planting

You Yangs koala adult male face

Koala population decline in the You Yangs, Victoria

Awful, but hopeful.

In preparation for our first Koalas & Tree Planting community event on November 15, 2018 I felt that a graph would best show the decline in koala population. Little did I know how powerful that would be.

chart showing wild koala population decline over 11 years

This is a terrible graph, charting the premature deaths of many koalas. But it is also a hopeful graph.

Hopeful? What??

Yes, because in the You Yangs we now know we have a problem. And once a problem is known, action can be taken to fix it.


The simple fact is that the same catastrophic declines are happening everywhere.  These findings are in line with WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report, that shows a 60% decline in wild animal* populations worldwide.

But its hard to make decision-makers listen if you don’t have data.  Now we have data.  Now we are taking action.

At our Koalas & Tree Planting Event in Little River on November 15, 2018 we showed and explained these images, and others.  Learn how everyone can do something to save our koalas and turn this graph around.

See the presentation here.

An explanation of the graph

We started koala research in the You Yangs in January 2006 – ten years into the Millenium Drought: the worst drought in Australia’s history. The koalas had been suffering since 1996, and would not get any relief until 2010.

The first year of research gave us a foundation to work on, so by 2007 we had a clear picture of the population. We could already see that there were very few joeys being born.

As you can see, koala numbers fell significantly each year until 2010 when they plummeted. We lost one-third of our koalas over the summer of 2009-2010. Thankfully, the rain came in 2010 and gave us some relief.

chart showing wild koala population decline over 11 years

The next few years saw a return to near-normal rainfall conditions, and small increases to the koala population. But koalas living in poor habitat don’t breed that fast. Most of our females breed from age 2 to 8 years, and some only have a joey every second year. A few of our females don’t ever successfully breed at all.

Importantly, the trees have not recovered. The rains kept them alive, but weren’t enough to make them thrive again.

Here’s two pictures of the same River Red Gum tree, in 2008: 12 years into a drought (when you would think it would be at its worst); and in 2015: after 5 years of ‘normal’ rainfall.

And no, its not just that tree.  Take a walk in the You Yangs – the River Red Gums are in poor condition right across the park. See some other then and now pictures of the forest here.

comparison of River Red Gum tree in You Yangs from 2008 to 2015

Koalas suffer from poor tree condition long before we can see the tree is in poor condition.

The koalas and the trees of the You Yangs haven’t had time to return to pre-drought levels of fitness. And now, in 2018, we’re in another drought.

We have to act decisively to save the koalas of the You Yangs. The current trajectory is a recipe for local extinction.


What can we do?

We can’t make it rain.

But we do have a plan. Plant koala trees downhill in the river valleys and drainage lines of the Western Plains. It was koala habitat in the past, and could be again. Beside the rivers the soil is wetter than in the You Yangs. The correct local indigenous trees will grow fast there.

Read how we plant koala trees in “Koalas Need Farmers”

In addition, on hot days, wind blowing across waterholes and dams is cooler than the surrounding air. Trees along rivers and around waterholes and dams are highly preferred by koalas on hot days.

We can stop the local extinction of koalas in the You Yangs region. Act now.

We will run another Koalas & Tree Planting Event: contact us if you want to be invited.

koala clancy foundation tree planting near You Yangs Victoria

How did we get this data?

A koala research project started by Janine Duffy grew into a comprehensive research project involving 20 people monitoring +/- 43 koalas 310+ days a year. Around 3600 koala observations are taken every year. Funding for the project comes from a social enterprise tourism operation: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours.

Echidna Walkabout’s Wild Koala Research Project is the only research on koalas in the You Yangs, and one of very few projects monitoring a natural (non-abundant) population of koalas in Victoria.

Read about our 2017 summary of Wild Koala Research in the You Yangs here.


*vertebrate animals: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds.

volunteer tree planting near Melbourne

Koalas need farmers

Up to 80% of wild koalas live on private land throughout Australia.

Koalas live on farms

Koalas don’t need just any old trees. They need fertile, waterfront habitat – trees with high moisture content, and cool breezes to keep them alive through hot summers. Climate change is drying them out and overheating them.

Koala suffering from heat climate change

The riverside land koalas need is mostly on farms. Where farms have intact native vegetation along their drainage lines, koalas can live. But many farms around the You Yangs don’t have that.

Around Little River/the You Yangs and the Brisbane Ranges the hills are dry. In the past, there was enough rain to support koala populations in these hills. But now, koalas are disappearing from these places.

See our graph of koala population decline in the You Yangs here. 

Koalas need to move downstream/downhill – out of the dry hills and into the valleys where the farms are. Right now, the streamside habitat they need doesn’t exist.

Farmers have demonstrated that they can be champions of koalas. The most famous is Jack (John) Lemon, Gunnedah farmer, who turned his region into “The Koala Capital of NSW” by planting koala trees on his farm. The movement grew, and in less than 10 years the koala population had increased.

There is widespread understanding of the value of native vegetation to farms. Many farmers want trees on parts of their land, and will go to great personal effort to plant trees. Landcare Australia has a huge membership, primarily farmers, and plants millions of trees. Most of the large native plantings around the You Yangs have been organised by farmers through Landcare.

Koalas can’t rely on national parks anymore. Koalas need farms, and farmers.

farmer planting trees for koalas

With this knowledge, and 20 years of research, the Koala Clancy Foundation developed a plan to help koalas and farmers.

koala tree planting on farm

We organise targeted koala tree planting along waterways on farms. We plant locally-indigenous native trees and ecosystem species in the right location, so success rate is very high. Our planters are mature, experienced volunteers who pay a small fee to participate, which ensures their dedication. Many are members of Koala Clancy Foundation and their motivation is helping koalas.

mature experienced volunteer tree planters

Our groups are small – 15 to 25 volunteers, plus two staff leaders – and we plant around 300 trees per group per planting day. That’s not a lot, but it makes the day manageable for all involved, and we have a high volunteer return rate.

On 15 November 2018 Koala Clancy Foundation hosted a public meeting to talk about wild koalas on farms and private land.

The meeting was targeted towards:

  • Local landowners willing to revegetate some of their streamsides and/or drainage lines.
  • Conservation groups planning projects to help koalas.
  • Local community interested in learning about wild koalas.

When:   7.30pm Thursday 15 November 2018

Where:   Little River Mechanics Hall, Little River VICTORIA.

Cost:   Free

The presentation is now available online here:
Contact: Community Engagement Co-ordinator

volunteer tree planting near Melbourne


Links to event & references:

young male koala looking nervous

It’s tough being a young male koala

You have no place to call your own. Everyone hates you.

When I was a baby everything was beautiful. My mother, Pat, loved me unconditionally. For the first six months of my life I was warm and safe in her pouch. I could feel her heartbeat always.


The next phase was lovely too – I came out of the pouch and spent all my time on mum’s tummy. If it was cold, she would wrap her soft arms around me. When I was feeling adventurous I would climb on her back and we’d go travelling.


In time I became curious and started to climb up the tree on my own. Then, at about one year old, I even climbed into a different tree.


Mum smiled and encouraged me to be brave. If only I knew how brave I would have to be.

I was lucky. Mum (and Dad to some degree) let me stay until I was two years old. Most other kids have to leave when they’re only one year old.

Independence is terrifying. Suddenly you are on your own, in unfamiliar territory, and no-one wants you. Every bit of decent habitat is owned by a male scarier than your Dad.

If the owner finds you, he will hurt you.

You learn to be alert, quiet and very sneaky. But we have to change trees every day – read why.  Watch: 

Young male koalas live on the fringes for their first few years, trying to eat well so they can become big and strong. But the good trees are owned by dominant males, so its hard to grow.

I made it through that difficult time, and I’m now one of the dominant males that the young fellas are scared of. I’m one of the lucky ones.

If you humans could plant more trees in good habitat – by that I mean in river valleys, lowlands, and on private farmland – it would make it easier for the young guys!  Read more about that here. 

Koala Clancy Foundation runs tree planting days from June to August every year. If you can put together a group of 10 people you can do it whatever day you wish – or you can come on a public Koala Conservation Day for Locals every second Sunday.  Please come!


Koala Conservation Days for businesses

Public Koala Conservation Days for Locals

A Day in the Bush for Koala Conservation

After moving to Melbourne three years ago from Tasmania, where a day in the bush was a regular occurrence, the busy city lifestyle had become overwhelming. So when the opportunity to spend the day planting trees presented itself, I jumped at the chance to get some fresh air and my hands dirty.

The Koala Clancy Foundation runs conservation days fortnightly in the You Yangs to help protect the wild Koala population that lives there. Through partnerships with local farmers, the foundation aims to grow Eucalyptus trees. This will connect the You Yangs with Little River, one of the only permanent water sources in the area.

Trees planted on our day in the bush
The dark green markings are the trees that the Koala Clancy foundation have planted in 2017! They won’t show up on Google Maps for another 10 years – about the time that Koalas will be able to use the trees.

Due to climate change, gum trees in the You Yangs hills are drying out. Koalas are dying of thirst because they get all their water from the leaves. Planting trees near the river means that those leaves hold more moisture, creating a quality food source for Koalas. Through these conservation days, the Koala Clancy Foundation is ensuring that Koalas can live in the You Yangs for years to come.

The Sunday that I attended the conservation day was bleak and dreary. Whilst the weather wasn’t ideal, it did nothing to dampen my spirits. Being in the bush and away from the blaring sounds of a busy city was a welcome change to my normal routine. Not to mention the fact that I was helping wild Koalas!!

mecompressed and edited


The holes were already dug so planting the trees didn’t require too much manual labour. All that was left to do was place the tree in the hole and create a windbreaker so the little plant could grow into a tall tree, strong enough to hold a Koala.

Through the great strengths of teamwork, it only took us a couple of hours to plant three hundred trees. By the time we were finished, we were frozen on the outside but warm on the inside; buzzing from the fulfillment of doing something meaningful.

We weren’t cold for long though, warming up in a cosy shearing shed with fresh muffins and hot cups of tea and coffee. The simpleness of the meal in the shed was a refreshing way to unwind after a busy week of work and uni.

Edited group funny

After refuelling, we headed off to see the very animals that we had spent the morning helping. We found Bungaleenee, an older male koala. Bungaleenee won’t live to see our trees grow at Little River but his kids and grandkids will!

Seeing Bungaleenee after helping him impressed on me that animals are not objects. They’re individuals.


Spending a day in the bush and away from the busy traffic and blaring noise of the city was a great way to spend my Sunday morning. Getting home that afternoon I felt refreshed from the crisp air and fulfilled for getting my hands dirty. I was surprised to find that I had developed a personal connection with Bungaleenee and his family.

Olivia Bilson

Spend a day in the bush and get your hands dirty with the Koala Clancy Foundation – find out more here:

Free promotion for koala charity events!

Your own website/s

This is the single most important place for your event. Your website is you, as far as the world is concerned. This is ours

Koala Clancy Foundation web page snapshot

Do not underestimate this. You will benefit from an event on your website long after the event has finished.

If you can’t edit your own website, get a new web designer who will teach you or use one of the free ones.  A website doesn’t have to look gorgeous to do a good job – a website that is regularly updated is more likely to be found on search engines.

Finally, all the other sites mentioned below will eventually expire your event – and anyone clicking on it won’t be able to find you. Your website is the only thing that will last, for as long as you do.

Other online sites

Eventbrite: fantastic site for setting up the event – it takes all the hard work out of ticketing an event. Easy to use, essentially free. Comes up high on search engines. Free options include confirmation and reminder emails. Best thing about this site is that other sites (heyevent, Evensi, Eventbu, repost any event that appears on here without you having to do anything.

Weekend Notes: one of the best ways to get bookings. Free listing for free or charity events under $50. Submit your event in their suggestion box, and a writer will usually write it up – takes about a week so get in early. Huge following.

Koala Conservation Day on weekendnotes

Gumtree: post a listing/ad for free. Comes up high on search engines. Haven’t had bookings from it, but have had good numbers of views.

CharityDOs: free listing for charity and not for profit events.

Eco Shout: are a nice group. They will post your events for free, but if you are doing a lot of them it would be nice to become a supporter for $40.

The Land Down Under: are also a supportive group. They have a directory Wild Wonders that lists all sorts of good organisations. Get in touch with Ros, she’s super helpful and will share your event or organisation.

National Parks sites: if your event is happening in a National Parks property you may be able to list it on their site. Parks Victoria have one. Check out requirements first – events over 100 people need a permit. Comes up high on search engines, and links from government websites give your website huge credibility.

Local government What’s On sites: Melbourne and Geelong have free listings for events in their area. Even if you don’t get a lot from it, having government links to your website helps your search ranking.


Newspapers, radio, TV and magazines are really worthwhile sources of free publicity. The reach they have can be much larger than all the other sites here put together. Also, if they mention your website, it improves your search ranking enormously.

Don’t be frightened of them – they want real stories from local people. Start off with your local newspaper and community radio. Find the journalist/presenter that sounds like they might be interested and send them an email with a bit about your event. Read the article about us published worldwide and in Australia in The Australian, Brisbane Courier Mail, Perth Now and 

Social Media:

Social media is easy and fun (for most people). It can be very useful, but its not everything.


Its free to make an event on facebook and I highly recommend doing it. Link it to your website. Also please create a hashtag for it #koalaconservationday so that people can find it easily.


Facebook ads cost money, but they can be worth it. Weekends seem to work best for us. You can post and ad for two days over a weekend with a lifetime budget of $30 and get great results.

Posting/sharing your event onto facebook groups is free. Search for groups in your state with similar interests. Join them, and then post. Its easy. Even the groups you’re most nervous about promoting you will probably be very positive.

To find groups, type your location in to search bar, eg “Melbourne” click search. Click Groups tab. A list of the groups you’re in will come first, followed by other groups ranked by size of membership or recent postings. Try other search terms too.


Not everyone loves twitter, but the media do, and they are worth it. Write short posts about all aspects of your event, include a link to your website (not the facebook event) and a picture.


You can DM (direct message) people on twitter about your event.

You can also include the @…. of someone or an organisation that is involved or would be interested in your event. Don’t overdo it. 4 tweets a day is enough.


Is very popular, but you can’t include live links which is annoying. Some people love it though, so its worth popping on a few great pics with an explanation about your event.

Instagram uses hashtags that people search on, eg #Koala #wildlifephotography #cuteanimals. Its worth putting a few of these on – just typing #koala and you’ll see a range of # people use.
Other platforms:

There are many – Reddit, Google Plus, Pinterest – play around with them.

If you find any other great sources of free publicity please let me know and I’ll share them here too.

Find my contact details here