Education and Research

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Tours at our Care Centre in East Lismore

Unfortunately, due to COVID 19 pandemic, our tours are cancelled until further notice – apologies for any inconvenience.

If you want to learn a lot about koalas, attending one of our tours at Burribi, our Education Centre at 23 Rifle Range Road, East Lismore is a great way of doing so. Our experienced volunteers give an informative and interesting talk covering many aspects of koalas and how you can help as an individual in our fight to save them.  As well as answering questions you might have, you also get a peek at koalas we have in care at the time, and might be lucky enough to sight one or two in the wild in koala food trees around our Centre.

Our tours are at 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday and Saturday at 10am.  Although you don’t have to book, it’s a good idea to call 6621 4664 in the morning after 8.30 am and let us know you’re coming.

Whilst there is no fee, we do ask people attending to make a donation of $10 for a family or $5 per person as this contributes to the costs of rehabilitating koalas we’ve rescued.

Koalas in the Northern Rivers

Koalas are extremely cute to look at and watch, but nevertheless are wild animals with very sharp teeth and long, sharp claws. They’re a very specialised animal to both care for and rescue. Because of this there are licensing controls and legal requirements concerning their care. Visit the NSW National Parks and Wildlife website to find out more about wildlife licensing in New South Wales.

Click on the following documents to learn more about koalas in the Northern Rivers:

Research on Koalas

NSW North Coast Koala Study

A research team drawn from the University of Queensland, Southern Cross University and the University of Sydney is conducting the “NSW North Coast Koala” study which is focussed on the Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Tweed local government areas. The study is identifying where koalas are located and aims to better understand community attitudes and opinions towards koalas and their management.

The study website and community survey are now ready to go. The survey has two parts. The first involves dragging small icons onto a map of the NSW North Coast Region to mark where you have seen koalas, where you would like to see koalas in the future, and your preferences for future land use that may affect koala conservation. The second part is a simple questionnaire. As a thank you for participating you can choose to enter a prize draw.

This social science component is the project’s most innovative aspect as it will link community attitudes and willingness to engage in conservation activities with ecological understanding in a spatially explicit way, determining perhaps where and how conservation activities can be most effectively undertaken. This in turn will have broader significance for enhancing koala conservation programs elsewhere and for programs for other species of concern.

To complete the survey click here

Local studies on Koalas in the Northern Rivers of NSW


Other koala research

Threats to Koalas

Downloadable file of Threats to Koalas [1.4MB].

Fragmentation/Loss of Habitat

Since European settlement, approximately 80% of koala habitat has been cleared. Of the remaining 20%, little is protected and most occurs on fragmented privately-owned land. Animals need to be able to move safely between different habitats through vegetation corridors and preferably by jumping from tree to tree. When forest is cleared for roads, houses and agriculture, koalas lose vital habitat and must face many dangers in order to find food, shelter and mates.


  • Plant koala food trees to help connect habitats in your back yard, at school, along fences and waterways.
  • Road crossings for animals
  • Drive carefully and pay attention to road signage – slow down!

Predation by Dogs, Cats & Foxes

Hunting is normal behaviour for these animals and a koala’s best chance of surviving when in the vicinity of these predators is to keep them away from it.


  • Keep cats inside or in a cage (especially at night from dusk to dawn).
  • Preferably keep dogs in koala-proof runs or on leads in your yard
  • Check trees around your house for koalas before leaving dogs unattended
  • consider fox baiting programs
  • for more information download our Responsible dog ownership information brochure [1.7MB]


Koalas are badly affected by a disease called Chlamydia. This is a small organism that is worst in koala populations under stress, for example when food is scarce, and causes several diseases in koalas:

  • Conjunctivitis, which can cause blindness
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections and reproductive tract infections that can cause female infertility


  • If you see a Koala, look closely to see if it has sore eyes, a brown stained rump or is behaving unusually and if so, call our Rescue Hotline on 6622 1233.
  • Plant koala food trees to help maintain healthy Koala populations.

Unfriendly Fencing

Fences stop koalas from moving freely between habitats. They will climb most fences and can be caught on barbed wire or get into a yard with a dog and can’t get out.


  • Educate the community on dangers of barbed wire and unfriendly fencing.
  • Plant vegetation hedges instead of fences if you don’t have a dog.
  • Avoid barbed wire fences, leave a gap at the bottom of the fence for Koalas to go underneath, or use friendly fences that have wooden posts or poles every 20m.
  • Put lattices at the top of fences with occasional panels to the ground.
  • Distribute a brochure on the issue and refer to wildlife friendly fencing website


Whenever a bushfilre occus the media focus is naturally on human life and property. However koalas, along with most other wildlife, are at great risk from bushfires. Bushfires destroy the understory and a hot fire will burn the canopy, leaving no food for Koalas, and a forest can take up to 10 years to recover from a major burn. In habitats surrounded by development, a single fire can wipe out an entire Koala population.


  • Councils and National Parks need to ensure that hazard prevention burning occurs in stages i.e sections are burned each year not the whole area at once
  • We all need to observe rules and stay out of National Parks and council reserves when they are closed due to ‘Total Fire Bans’

Links to Koala Fact Sheets

Standardised ultrasonographic protocol
Chlamydial Swab Collection
Koala Retrovirus
Chlamydia in Koalas
Koalas & Genetic Diversity