From scouring gumtrees to studying DNA, teams of local researchers are working to safeguard the survival of Brisbane’s precious koala population, with findings set to benefit the nation.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the research is part of a $1.1 million investment over three years into the Koala Research Partnership Program, which supports four Brisbane-based research projects.

“Koala populations were decimated during the 2019 bushfires, with fire and the drought causing significant habitat loss; some koalas are battling diseases such as koala retro virus and chlamydia and I am committed to protecting our treasured species,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Working in the bush and in the lab, researchers will monitor, track and study the genetics of koalas to treat and understand more about the deadly disease Chlamydia.

“This research is critical in tackling the disease, which is not only affecting our local koala populations, but koalas right across Australia.”

Cr Schrinner said four project teams will employ the koala-detection dogs used in previous council studies to help find, study and monitor wild koalas in Belmont Hills Bushland at Carindale, Bulimba Creek at Mansfield and the Brisbane Koala Bushlands at MacKenzie.

“These locations are known to have koalas with viruses and their numbers have declined in the past few years. Research will study how genetics plays a role in rehabilitating these sites and re-establish thriving koala populations,” he said.

“Researchers will capture DNA from wild koala scats and look into koala’s genetic immunity to the disease and how it spreads from population to population.”

UQ Koala Ecology Group Wildlife Researcher Dr Sean FitzGibbon said his group hoped to gain a better understanding of the extent of disease within local koala populations, while investigating ways to help them recover.

“Chlamydia is endemic in koalas in South East Queensland, but our research has shown that in affected populations, a systematic approach to treating diseased animals can turn around the fate of a population,” Dr FitzGibbon said.

“By continuing our research at Belmont Hills Bushland, we hope to introduce more healthy koalas and improve the overall health, viability and reproduction of the population.”

Cr Schrinner said research outcomes will help koalas and researchers right across the nation in the fight to save koalas, while also putting Brisbane on the map as the koala capital of Australia.

“These projects will be delivered over the next three years by the University of Queensland (UQ), Federation University Australia and the University of Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“Research is one way we can care for protect this species, we have a koala fodder plantation to help carers provide food for of sick and injured koalas and we have secured of 780ha of bushland in the last four years through the Bushland Acquisition Program.

“We’re also making Brisbane more koala-friendly by ensuring they can move around our city safely and have installed koala climb outs, habitat poles and koala escape poles.”

Funding under the Koala Research Partnership Program includes:

  • Federation University Australia – $292,313 to continue research aimed at improving the genetic methods of analysing koala scats to determine the health of local koala populations.
  • University of Sunshine Coast – $135,000 towards a new, 12-month study by the University of Sunshine Coast, which will determine the genetic resilience of Brisbane’s koalas to severe Chlamydial disease.
  • University of Queensland – $287,972 towards project aimed at developing probiotics to assist in the treatment of koalas infected with Chlamydia.
  • University of Queensland – $390,000 towards the Koala Ecology Group to continue research into health and recovery of Brisbane’s south koala populations.

For more information on Council’s Koala Research Partnership Program visit or call Council on 3403 8888