Interactive koala-spotting map launched

By AG Staff 1 April 2011
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
A new online map allows users to plot koala sightings and may help protect the species.

THE BATTLE TO SAVE Australia’s cutest national emblem has a new, tactical weapon.

The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), this week, launched a new online koala map, which tracks koala sightings and the quality of potential habitats nationwide.

Developed in a partnership with Esri Australia, whose online maps of Brisbane were used widely during January’s floods, the map has a user-friendly portal that provides an accurate account of koalas’ wild habitats, irrespective of land ownership.

Finding koala habitat

The foundation’s CEO Deborah Tabart says the $8 million map was excited to see more than $8 million worth of research and 25 years of koala information available to the public in such an accessible and readily usable form.

“The online maps are simple to use and the information is displayed with easy to understand images,” says Deborah.

“It will show people ‘yes, I live in koala habitat’ or ‘no I don’t’. This is the first key step for protection of the koala.”

Deborah also said the AKF hoped the mapping application would bolster their efforts to have the koala listed as a vulnerable species by the Federal Government.

A screenshot of the interactive koala map – the green koala icons represent healthy koala sightings. (Credit: AKF)

Protecting koalas

The foundation believes there are as few as 45,000 koalas left – largely due to loss of habitat – but koala scientists and the federal government put much higher figures on population numbers. Deborah told the AAP news agency that governments have good reasons to be “deaf” to the foundation’s figures.

“I do not believe there is one government in this country that is committed to protecting koalas,” she says. “The koala is in so many places around this nation and it’s under greater threat than it ever has been.”

Deborah says the interactive map will be a real community initiative. “Koalas are an important part of our national identity and it’s important that we do whatever we can to ensure they are protected.”

The koala map is available on the AKF website.

© Australian Geographic, unless otherwise indicated. This material may be used, reproduced, published and adapted free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes.