Port Stephen Is Home For Koalas

Port Stephen- located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales (New South Wales land and property information, n.d.) is a large natural harbor of approximately 134 square kilometers (52 sqm)(Government of New South Wales,n.d.). Approximately 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney via the Pacific Highway (M). , Apart from being a tide dominated drowned valley estuary with an open entrance, Port Stephens is also a Quaternary deposits forest and woodland that support species for Koalas to thrive on (Phillips, 2000). The Koala Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss,1817) habitat located withing the area of north of Hunter River, east of Pacific Highway and South of Nelson Bay/Karuah River in the Port Stephens areas.

Koalas are arboreal and obligate folivores on eucalyptus (more than 70 species) leaves, but have a small number of preferred species in any region (Martin and Handasyde 1999; Van Dyck and Strahan 2008; OEH 2013) ). In the Port Stephens area, koalas prefer the Eucalyptus robusta and the E. parramattensis (Phillips et al. 2000). The koala inhabits various woodlands and forests dominated by eucalyptus species. The recent radio-tracking of the koala in Port Stephens also confirmed the high quality swamp hard dominated by Melaleuca quinquenervia and E. robusta (McLean, May 2017). The importance of Ye Lin. Forest red gum (E. tereticornis) growing on the Quaternary alluvial and volcanic soils has also been identified as a source of food for Port Stephens in Port Stephens (Stevens Port Council 2002). Occasionally, other plants, including artichokes, Corymbia, Angophora, Leptospermum and Melaleuca (Martin and Handasyde 1999; Stephens Council 2002; CoA 2011), are also eaten. Being the richest koala sites in the NSW, port Stephen contain one of the state last viable population. Its classified as vulnerable under the Threatened species conservation Act 1995, therefore it important to protect the ecosystem and manage species in the area.

Due to the interaction of natural and human obstacles, the Koala population in the Port Stephens area (north of the Hunter River, east of the Pacific Highway and south of the Nelson Bay/Karu River) is considered to be separate. Although the koala will pass through habitats that are not suitable for occupation (Moon, 1990; Ramsay, 1999), and there are occasional observations of individuals swimming across rivers >100 m wide, rivers >50 m wide are considered to be a barrier to demographic connectivity (NSW Scientific Committee 2005). The Pacific Highway is a four-lane duo ccarriageway that represents the western boundary of the population.

Major road is considered to be an important obstacle to the koala movement, both as a huge habitat gap for resident koalas and as an important mortality factor (Dique et al. 2003a, 2003b; NSW Science Council 2005; Lassau et al. 2008). There is News article by Moore (2016) that a mammal bridge and tunnel build on Kuraby’s Crompton Road between Karawatha Forest and the Kuraby Bushlands build a decade ago. The surprising facts mammals are that “including Koalas, echidna, Wallabies, kangaroos, possums gliders as well as koalas, will seek out and use the bridges and tunnels if they are built into the transport network. “As soon as they figure out how to use them, the had been using those structure constantly. Due to the success of this story, there is seven other successful tunnel and bridges in place. Port Stephen councils are using a similar method to create a tree corridors in-between koala’s habitat (hub) and residential areas along with public roadside

Koala population throughout NSW is facing some ongoing threats, including habitat loss and degradation, due to frequent wildfires, dog attacks and vehicle attacks, and increased mortality from disease (DECC 2008; Phillips et al. 2011). Population growth is associated with extinction risk, habitat loss and degradation (Harte 2007), and in New South Wales, population is expected to grow by 48% between 2007 and 2056 (ABS 2016). Between 2011 and 2036, the Port Stephens local government area is expected to increase by 37.9% (Planning NSW 2016). The development pressure in the Port Stephens area continues. As of January 2016, several developments are being considered, including over 500 hectares of preferred koala habitat and over 700 hectares of assisted habitat (OEH, June 29, 2016). Habitat loss and fragmentation may further impede the dispersion and recruitment of subpopulations and are associated with increased risk of vehicle crashes and dog attacks (McAlpine et al., 2006; Phillips et al., 2011). The bill lists “clearing native vegetation” as a key threat process.

Roadside verge and roadside vegetation had long been known to have great potential to be a bio-cultural values sites (Way 1977p.164). Many studies had been done to show a well manage roadside vegetation is a cost-effective way that benefits the social, economic and environmental state of the areas (Lucey & Barton 2011, Fitzpatrick 2013). However, most of the management tool developed in the past are highly tactic with trees mainly focus on the physical benefits from drainage, storing of carbon, cleaner air to breath and conservation corridors for habitat connectivity across the landscape (Trammell &Sluss, 2012). The spatial extents of roadside green space in New South Wales alone exceed 2.5 million hectares. With the population expanding and areas become more urbanized, green space will increase by 60% from 2010 to 2050 (Lairence et. al 2014). It is ever more important to develop better management strategies

When the edge of the road is seen as an asset value rather than a decorative value, the problem comes. So far, although local government departments have the ability to provide good value on roads, drainage systems, buildings, and to some extent, infrastructure such as parks and protected areas, as a research area, the edge of the road has largely been ignore. One of the main challenges of limiting action is due to the lack of a standard asset methodology and the fact that habitats are highly dynamic and have complex social ecosystems in which multiple actors may compete for different values ​​and interests.

This study focuses on developing an excel-base tool in Port Stephen council to help asset management in tree assist management in the long run. The projects aim to provide an example those ecosystems protections can be done alongside human populations for wildlife to cross due to habitat fragmentation from urbanization. We study Koalas as focus animals for this project, but we aim to set an example for another council to develop the tool to protect habitat. The excel based tool should be flexible and easy to use over an extended period. First, let find out what we already understood.


Port Stephens is home to one of the last remaining Koala populations on the East coast of Australia (nsw.gov.au,2019), but the population are on the decline. Habitat fragmentation is a biggest problem in modern-day society, and the street tree should not be overlooked as just a decoration. Providing trees corridors for Koalas in-between residual areas in Port Stephens is going to keep Koalas safe by providing ecosystems systems services in an un-used areas such as roadside spaces. We aim to provide a tool to help asset and manage tree that benefits both human and wildlife.

Before the study begins, we already know optical tree age for koala’s habitats as well as tree species, risk level, height and how is this going to affect the resident in the community. The gap we don’t know is how to manage trees in a holistic view and we use it potential to sustain healthy ecosystems and biodiversity present and futures ahead. We hope that this excel-based tool is simple enough to use and flexible enough that it can apply to a different setting for a different purpose. Essentially the report we made now is an estimated impact for the futures to come.


  1. Gbif.org. (2019). Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss, 1817). [online] Available at: https://www.gbif.org/species/2440012 [Accessed 6 Nov. 2019].
  2. Port Stephens, Land and Property Management Authority-Spatial information eXchange, New South Wales Land and Property Information,[online],URL, [access 7th November 2019].
  3. “Estuaries of NSW : Port Stephens”, NSW Environment & Heritage, Government of New South Wales, [online],URL, [access 7th November 2019].
  4. NSW.gov.au.,(2019), Koalas in Port Stephens- Port Stephens Council,[online],URL< https://www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/live/environment-and-sustainability/wildlife/koalas-in-port-stephens>, [access 7th November 2019].
07 July 2022
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