National Koala Audit to Boost Animal Recovery Plans

National Koala Audit to Boost Animal Recovery Plans
An as yet unnamed seven month-old Northern Koala joey clings to his mother Tara after emerging from her pouch at Sydney Wildlife World July 31, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Koala populations will be checked across the country as part of an $18 million plan to help protect the troubled native animal.

Koalas could be extinct in NSW by 2050 unless urgent action is taken, and last summer's deadly bushfires razed key habitat areas.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the national audit would help to decide where to best direct funding and support.

"For all our focus on koalas, scientists are telling us that there is a serious lack of data about where populations actually are, how they are faring and the best ways to help them recover after the devastating bushfires," she said.

The national audit will cost $2 million while the rest of the package will go towards health research, medical support and habitat restoration.

Ley is optimistic the plan will be enough to help the koala thrive.

Annual reporting of koala populations and conservation strategies will become a mandatory part of Australian environment ministerial meetings.

A range of methods will be used for the audit, including scat monitoring, drone and acoustic surveillance, detector dogs and citizen science surveys.

Threatened Species Commissioner Sally Box said the support package would help conservationists aid koalas after the bushfires.

"By understanding where koalas are persisting, how they are using the remaining habitat and how they are responding to the fire-impacted landscape, we can tailor on-ground efforts to ensure that action is focused where it is needed most," Box said.

"This package will really boost efforts to better understand the koala and support us in protecting this remarkable species into the future."

Rebecca Gredley in Canberra