Koalas on Eyre Peninsula
The introduction of six koalas to Eyre Peninsula (EP) in 1969 and their subsequent spread has provided for a range of opportunities that benefit the local tourism industry, however these benefits may be offset by a series of significant threats to local threatened woodland communities.
Since introduction the population has expanded dramatically, both in population numbers and their distribution across the region. Whilst the exact number of Koalas is currently unknown, their distribution has been recorded across an area of approximately 1500 km2 on southern EP in habitats that include red gum, sugar gum and the nationally Endangered Eyre Peninsula blue gum woodland communities.
With the rapid growth in koala populations previously observed at Cape Otway in Victoria, on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills and their observed propensity to severely impact favoured forage species, it is prudent to consider their potential ongoing impact on highly fragmented and threatened plant communities on Eyre Peninsula.
The Government of South Australia has recently released ‘The South Australian Koala Conservation and Management Strategy’. Effective implementation of this strategy will have financial costs and benefits for government, industry, business and the community on Eyre Peninsula and for the South Australian and Australian Governments. This document emphasises the lower costs over time of implementing timely and community based conservation and management actions and the consequent benefits that arise for co-occurring species and ecosystems, sustainable land use practices and increased opportunities for ecotourism.