Wild Koala Breeding Program 

Project Information

Project Objectives

  • This facility will endeavour to reverse the population decline of koalas in the Port Macquarie-Hastings, Kempsey Macleay local government areas. In the future is it hoped that the facility will also include breeding koalas from other locations in NSW to reverse the decline elsewhere.
  • An Ecological Sustainable Development with renewable resources, sustainability and a low carbon footprint.
  • Focus on the visitor experience and maximising the feeling of being within the forest.
  • Ensure continuity of the koala hospital operations during construction – including koala care and a visitor experience.
  • Create a connection with our First Nations people, incorporating the Birpai Nation into the project.
  • NSW Forestry Corporation vision for the Cowarra Tourism Precinct is to create an award-wining forest-based tourism precinct encompassing nature-based visitor experiences; sustainable forest management; showcase local native durable timbers where possible; traditional Aboriginal management practices including forest management and culture; and education including Planet Ark messaging (low carbon footprint). Once the visitors have been immersed in the Cowarra Tourist Precinct experience, they will leave committed to making a contribution to the sustainability of our planet.
  • Incorporate Wild Nets adventures playground in the trees

Breeding Program Partners

There are number of organisations the KCA is working with in Australia to bring the breeding program to life. We value and appreciate our relationships with them. Here are the ones we work most closely with.

Taronga Zoo

Taronga has a number of state and nation-wide strategies aimed at stopping the decline, and to support the recovery of, species under threat. These programs are collaborative efforts that identify the steps that need to be taken to ensure species’ long-term viability, and determine the most appropriate parties to undertake them.

Taronga currently directly contributes to 15 Recovery Programs, undertaking zoo-based breeding, developing husbandry and health protocols, providing staff expertise across a range of disciplines and, for some species, releasing animals back into the wild. Taronga specialises in small population management, wildlife health, translocation science, threatened species recovery and applied conservations science. Over the last 12 months, Taronga has been involved in a dozen translocations, ranging from long term recovery programs to emergency translocations during the bushfires and drought. 

Nick Boyle, Director of Conservation, Taronga Zoo, said, “At Taronga, we believe that we not only have a responsibility but an obligation to protect wildlife and habitats that are increasingly under threat. Taronga is proud to partner with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to establish a breeding program to protect the future of the iconic Australian koala.”

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The Australian MuseumAustralian Centre for Wildlife Genomics (ACWG)

The ACWG specialises in the use of genetics/genomics to inform evidence-based management of Australian wildlife. The sequencing of the koala genome, announced in 2018, is an example of the pioneering collaborative research that the ACWG performs. As part of the Australian Museum’s commitment to conserving biodiversity, the ACWG also routinely provides a range of DNA-based services to government departments and NGOs that are responsible for the management of both captive and wild populations.

The ACWG has a strong relationship with the zoo community, and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zoo and Aquarium Association (the peak body representing the zoo and aquarium community throughout Australasia) for the provision of molecular services.

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University of Sydney

The Australasian Wildlife Genomics Group (AWGG) at the University of Sydney will provide expertise in relation to genetics and understanding how to improve breeding and translocation decisions for the koalas. The AWGG are global leaders in marsupial immunogenetics, understanding the immune system of marsupials and conservation genomics, assisting conservation managers in their decision-making. They are currently working on a project to understand why some koalas respond better to the chlamydia vaccine than others. The AWGG will work closely with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to ensure their breeding recommendations maximise the long-term adaptive potential of the koalas.

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NSW Forestry Corporation

Forestry Corporation of NSW manages over two million hectares of State forests in NSW for conservation, tourism and sustainable timber production and has been managing these forests for more than a century.

Our specialist staff plan and supervise timber harvesting, grow and plant over 40 million trees each year, protect the forest from wildfire, monitor native flora and fauna, maintain visitor areas and improve the health of the forest while providing access for other primary industries such as grazing and beekeeping to ensure our forests sustainably deliver multiple benefits to the community for the long term.

Timber harvesting and koala populations have co-existed for the for the past 100 years and we know from recent research that they continue to do so today. Timber from sustainably managed forests is one important way we can mitigate the impacts of climate change. Our forest management expertise includes planting trees and supporting natural regeneration, two important ways habitat for Koalas can be improved.

We partner with the Koala Conservation Australia in koala research and provide branches for koala furniture. We grow 25,000 koala feed tree seedlings annually that KCA provides to landowners to restore koala habitat in the local area.

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