Planting Trees to Preserve Australia’s Koala Bears

Two years ago, Lucy was saved from a remote Australian ranch in New South Wales. The illness she had was chlamydia, which is common in koalas. She is now one of the fortunate creatures residing in tree corridors, which are established to save the rapidly declining natural habitat—that is, the home for koalas and other species. The extensive plant systems that make up the corridors were planted by the Bangalow Koalas, a local conservation group. For koalas and other creatures such as the glossy black cockatoo, gliders, possums, and wallabies, they provide an essential source of food. They are all in danger of going extinct or being endangered.

A secure route through the koalas’ increasingly fragmented habitat is offered by the corridors. Increased genetic mixing and defense against human hazards are made possible by this. According to Linda Sparrow, president of Bangalow Koalas, “our corridors are actually trying to get them away from humans, from cars, and from dogs.” “They can safely move across the landscape and not have to put up with us humans.” By 2050, it’s expected that koalas in New South Wales would no longer exist in the wild. The two largest concerns are habitat loss due to land removal for construction and wildfires. Many Australian states have already designated koalas as endangered.

Since its founding in 2019, Bangalow Koalas has improved the local ecosystem and assisted in koala conservation by planting over 336,000 trees on 119 properties. By 2025, the community-based organization hopes to have planted 500,000 trees. As more neighbors become part in the corridor, Sparrow predicted that “the neighbor would want to join and then another neighbor will want to join.” Lindy Stacker, a volunteer who has been planting trees for more than five years, said the community has come together and the activity is beneficial for mental health. According to a recent report by the Australian Koala Foundation, the tourism industry values koalas at an estimated $3.2 billion annually.

But since 2001, koala numbers in two Australian states have declined significantly: by 50% in Queensland and by 62% in New South Wales, according to World Wildlife Fund-Australia. Sparrow is still fully dedicated to the cause. “I can’t imagine a world where there’s no koalas in the wild,” she stated. “We’re going to do everything we can possibly to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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