The koala: a political animal

Douglas Kerlin is Chief Ecologist at the Australian Koala Foundation. On Wednesday 25 March he is Gecko’s guest speaker and will discuss the AKF’s work, including the Koala Habitat Atlas project. We asked him a few questions ahead of his visit to the Gold Coast

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What is the biggest threat to Gold Coast and hinterland’s koala populations

The biggest threats to koalas in the Gold Coast region (and indeed across much of Australia) is habitat loss, and the associated threats of cars and dogs. Habitat loss is primarily being driven by urban expansion, but also forestry, mining and infrastructure development. Studies in Redland City and Logan to the north have shown a 68% decline in koala numbers from 1996 to 2010, and the AKF is confident these numbers would be matched by koalas on the Gold Coast.


How will climate change affect koalas in SEQ

Climate Change will have its greatest impact on western koala populations. Increased temperatures and drought are already causing a contraction of the koala’s range towards the coast. Climate change is also likely to effect the leaf chemistry of eucalypts, leading to less palatable food for Koalas, and increase the likelihood of fires, which could have a catastrophic impact on a local scale. The AKF has produced a Koala Tree Planting List, that can be used by the public to try and minimise the impacts of climate change east of the Dividing Range.

The koala is just one species under threat from urban development, mining, forestry and land clearing. What is the koala’s role in bringing attention to the plight of other species? 

The koala is a national icon, a highly charismatic and popular animal, and a significant driver of tourism in Australia. The koala is the only species that has the political clout to bring about real protection for Australia’s environment – and real protection for the range of other species that share koala habitat. Approximately 1000 of Australia’s 1700 threatened species live in koala habitat; if we can protect koalas, we can also protect all those other species.


Why should people attend your presentation? 

The koala has taught the AKF how bad things are in the bush.  Those concerned should hear first hand and hopefully be inspired to bring about change for the environment.The Australian Koala Foundation is determined to see a Koala Protection Act legislated by the Federal Government. To achieve this, we need the support of the Australian public.  If people want better protection for the Koala, and Australia’s unique wildlife, they can hear more information and perhaps join the Koala Army by coming along.


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Douglas Kerlin will speak at Currumbin RSL on Wednesday 25 March from 7.00pm. Contact Gecko to RSVP or for more details.

The Australian Koala Foundation is the principal non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to the conservation and effective management of the wild koala and its habitat.To find out more or to support the AKF, visit



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