Category Archives: Tree Planting

healthy koala survived fire

Tree Planting After Bushfire

We’re getting a lot of requests to plant trees for koalas after the bushfires in burnt areas.

That won’t work.

But tree planting for koalas elsewhere in their range will work.

Let me tell you why.


1. Burnt areas regenerate themselves.

Firstly, after a bush fire, burnt areas usually regenerate themselves. Some eucalyptus trees survive the fire and send out epicormic growth within a few weeks of the fire. *epicormic: shoots from buds under the bark

In the intense Anakie-Brisbane Ranges bushfire of 2006, Red Stringybark Eucalyptus macrorhyncha, Messmate E. obliqua and Broad-leaf Peppermint E. dives, some Manna & Swamp Gums survived and produced their first leaves 4-5 weeks after the fire.

tree recovering after bushfire
First epicormic leaves on a Manna Gum, 33 days after the fire

Other eucalyptus trees do not survive above the ground, but their root system lives. They produce lignotuber* growth from the roots that eventually become new trunks of trees. *lignotuber: a woody swelling of the root crown that produces shoots after fire

Some Manna Gum E. viminalis and Swamp Gum E. ovata trunks did not survive the 2006 fire but had new growth from the base within 5 weeks.

swamp gum epicormic growth after fire
epicormic and lignotuber growth on a Swamp Gum, 6 weeks after fire.


Read: What do koalas eat straight after the fire?

After the fire has passed, and rain falls, seed from eucalyptus and wattle trees falls and germinates quickly. The forest becomes very thick, very fast. Within a year of the fire, the forest will be almost too thick to walk through.

Thick regrowth 14 months after the fire


It is possible in a very hot bush-fire, that none of the trees or seed have survived. But I’d be surprised. Eucalypts – especially their roots – can survive the most intense fires.  However, experts are concerned that regeneration may be slower than normal, due to the drought conditions that preceded this fire season.

Tree planting after bushfire in burnt areas is not recommended or practical in most cases.

koala after fire in burnt tree
mature female koala “Ingrid” four months after the fire.  She survived without any human interference.



2. Some of these fires are in National Parks and on public land.

Most bushfire-affected parks and state forests are closed for weeks or months after the fire. You are not allowed to go into them, at all, unless you are licensed to be there. Don’t be tempted – these places are dangerous, and emergency services have enough to deal with.


Why we should plant trees elsewhere.

With these fires we have lost wildlife, wildlife habitat, and most importantly, carbon storage (1). We urgently need to create complete new forests, to offset the carbon emissions from these fires, to provide habitat for wildlife while the burnt forest recovers, and to store more carbon.

Also, a variety of forest types – riverside linear forests, hilltop forests, wet forests, dry forests – spread across the landscape will protect more wildlife from future fires.

A vast network of tree plantings on private land, all over Australia, could keep our koalas alive in the face of climate change and the fires to come.


Planting trees after these bushfires is the best action to take to ensure koalas have a future.

If you are local to Melbourne & Geelong, join one of our Koala Conservation Days for Locals and help us plant trees or remove weeds.  If you are from overseas or interstate, join one of our tours: your contribution ensures that tree planting continues, months after you’ve gone home.


healthy koala survived fire
female koala “Ingrid” still healthy 28 months after the fire



(1) at a conservative calculation of 200 tonnes of carbon stored per hectare of forest, and a burnt area of 10 million hectares, we have lost around 2billion tonnes of carbon storage in these fires.  But I’m no expert on this – hopefully there will be some scientific analysis soon.

The Guardian December 2019:

ABC News December 2019:

wild koala joey needs lots of trees planted

How many trees does a koala need?

It is well known that koalas need eucalyptus (gum) trees. But how many gum trees do koalas need to survive, breed and thrive?

The answer depends on the location, but in most locations, koalas need more trees than you think.

koalas need many trees to survive


In fertile, wet, coastal Queensland and New South Wales koalas might only need 400 trees each. In dry western Victoria koalas might need 20,000 trees each.

In the You Yangs, our research has found that wild koalas need 7,000 to 30,000 trees.

Whichever way you look at it, koalas need a lot more trees planted. They also need the trees to be in fertile soil with high moisture.  Read why koalas need trees in rivers and drainage lines here. 


How to estimate how many trees a koala needs.

Here’s a summary of the home range sizes and tree estimate* for wild koalas in the You Yangs in 2017:

*tree estimate is based on mature eucalyptus trees at a spacing of 5m x 5m (so one tree every 5 m). This gives 400 trees per hectare (ha). In fact there are more trees than that in most koala home ranges. Acacias, Cherry Ballarts, Melaleucas and other important koala roost trees are not counted.


Pat (older female 13 yo): 18.3 hectares      = minimum 7,320 trees

Ngardang (young female): 30.9ha               = min. 12,360 trees

Misty (mature female): 22.5ha                     = min. 9,000 trees


Winberry (older male): 46.8ha         = min. 18,720 trees

Clancy (mature male): 47.4ha           = min. 18,960 trees

Anzac (older male): 34.9ha                = min. 13,960 trees

Cruiz (older male): 66.9ha                 = min. 26,760 trees

Average koala home range size in You Yangs = 38.2ha

(to calculate an average, add all the home range sizes you have together, then divide by how many home ranges you have)

To find the average home range size of koalas (in hectares) in your area check this information:


1.2 hectare (females) & 1.7 ha (males)  on French Island, coastal east Vic
23.9 ha (females ) & 37.3 ha (males)     in You Yangs, inland west Vic


15 ha (females) & 34 ha (males)           at south-east Qld
8 ha  (females) & 16 ha (males)            at Brisbane, south-east Qld.
101 ha (females) & 135 ha (males)       at Blair Athol, central Qld


11ha (females) & 45 ha (males)           at Pilliga Forest, north-west NSW
10ha (females) & 23 ha (males)           at Coffs Harbour, coastal NSW
44ha (females) & 82 ha (males)           at Lismore, inland north-east NSW

This excellent article gives a table of the known koala home range size in different parts of Australia, and details the different methods used to calculate them:
Goldingay, Ross L, and Barbara Dobner. “Home Range Areas of Koalas In an Urban Area of North-east New South Wales.” Australian mammalogy, v. 36,.1 pp. 74-80

If in doubt, use the closest location, or use our You Yangs figures for anywhere west of the Great Dividing Range, and halve it for wet areas in coastal Queensland and New South Wales.


How many koalas share a territory / home range?

Koalas do share some of their home space with other koalas. This is also dependent on location and soil fertility & moisture. In the You Yangs the degree of overlap is small.

In 2017 Koala Pat shared around 80% of her home range with male Anzac, and around 20% of her home range with female Misty. Misty shared about 20% of her home range with Pat & Anzac, and about 50% with male Cruiz.  This situation is typical in the You Yangs.

So home range overlap equals 2   (ie. 2 koalas are using the same area).

Finding the home range overlap in your area is even harder than estimating home range size. There is very little data.  It could be as high as 4 or 5 in some rich fertile areas, or as low as 1 in dry areas.

If in doubt, assume it is 2.

koala home range size and overlap map


How many koala trees need to be planted?

The simple answer is as many as possible! But it does help to have an idea of how many to aim for.

First consideration is that a koala cannot live alone. Viable populations number in the hundreds or thousands of animals. If you are planning for an entire koala population, you need to be planting hundreds of thousands of trees.

how many trees do koalas need planted

If you are designing for a development that is cutting down koala habitat trees you need to be retaining enough trees for the current koala population, or planting new trees for that entire population. Leaving 100 trees “for the koalas” is not enough for even one koala.

If you are planning to help out an existing koala population, then you should try to plant for at least 10 koalas.

To estimate how many koala trees need to be planted use this calculation:

(average koala home range size in ha) x 400* trees = A / (home range overlap) = number of trees per koala. 

*400 trees per hectare. It is possible that this figure could be higher or lower depending on the fertility of the area and the size of the trees.

Around the You Yangs our calculation looks like this:

38.2 x 400 = 15,280 / 2 = 7,640 trees needed per koala.

7,640 x 10 koalas = 76,400 trees to be helpful.

And to provide for the entire koala population of the You Yangs:

127 koalas x 7640 trees = 970,280 trees.

Please don’t be put off by these numbers – any tree is better than no tree. But aim high. This is urgent.

chart showing wild koala population decline over 11 years

Read more about the koala population decline in the You Yangs here.

Koala Clancy Foundation have very proudly planted nearly 8,000 trees in the last 3 years. It feels like a lot, but it is not nearly enough.  Please help, by sharing this post, by alerting landowners, by attending one of our Koala Conservation Days, by donating.

koala clancy foundation tree planting near You Yangs Victoria


Koala Clancy Foundation are running our second annual Koala Tree Planting Information Event on Thursday 28 November at 7.30pm at Balliang Hall, Balliang VIC. More information here:



Ellis W. A. H. , Melzer A. , Carrick F. N. Hasegawa M. (2002) Tree use, diet and home range of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) at Blair Athol, central Queensland. Wildlife Research 29, 303-311.

Moore Benjamin D. Foley William J. (2000) A review of feeding and diet selection in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Australian Journal of Zoology 48, 317-333.

Koalas Need Farmers & planting in drainage lines:

Koala Population Decline in the You Yangs:

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 are running another Koala Tree Planting Event on 28 November 2019 in Balliang. Please come along.

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.

Read how many trees a koala needs here.

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, and on 28 November 2019 Koala Clancy Foundation hosted a public meeting to talk about wild koalas on farms and private land.

The meetings are 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.

The presentation is now available online here:

Our Koala Tree Planting Information Events will be run annually in November. Watch our website for details.

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 once a month.  Please come!


Koala Conservation Days for businesses & groups

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