Drones driving koala habitat restoration

22 December 2021

Santa has been flying in ahead of time to deliver a Christmas gift for koalas as part of the Morrison Government’s $18 million koala package.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that a partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia) was using hi-tech drones to seed ‘koala trees’ at Hidden Vale in South East Queensland.

“The project includes drone seeding of 11ha to establish 15,000 koala food and shade trees which will revegetate an endangered ecosystem and is one of the first times that drones have been used to create Koala habitat.

“The project shows how we can undertake large scale ecosystem restoration, and how modern AI monitoring systems can be employed in partnership with Traditional land management and ecological burning.

“Regeneration will include removing lantana and other primary weeds that hamper koala dispersal in adjacent priority areas. 

“South East Queensland is home to a significant Koala population and this project will provide a boost for these iconic marsupials as well as other native species in the area.”

The Morrison Government’s $18 million dedicated Koala package includes $14 million for habitat restoration with projects in South East Queensland and Northern NSW as well as $2 million for the establishment of a national monitoring program, and a further $2 million for Koala health.

Funding provided by the Morrison Government has extended WWF-Australia’s Koalas Forever projects in a collaboration with the Turner Family Foundation and Dendra Systems to target priority bushfire-affected Koala habitat across Hidden Vale near Ipswich and Thornton View in the Lockyer Valley.

Tanya Pritchard, Landscape Restoration Project Manager, WWF-Australia, said drone seeding could be a turning point in koala recovery.  

“WWF aims to double the number of koalas across eastern Australia by 2050. To do that we need to test innovative solutions such as drone seeding. If it’s a success here it can be rolled out in other locations,” Ms Pritchard said.

Further information: https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/bushfire-recovery/funding-support/koala-conservation