In 2006 the City of Gold Coast contracted ecological consultancy Biolink to undertake a koala habitat and population assessment across the Gold Coast local government area, including a detailed study of the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area. The study estimated the koala population for the Coombabah-Hollywell area at the time, was around 159 animals.
Information gathered through council officers, community reported koala sightings and koala admissions to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital indicate koalas continue to inhabit the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area and surrounding suburbs, including Helensvale, Parkwood, Arundel and Molendinar. These suburban areas are of interest as they provide links to the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area through nearby habitat patches, allowing the dispersal of young koalas from the important Coombabah conservation estate and vice versa.
As part of the City’s commitment to continue monitoring Gold Coast koala populations and to reassess the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area, the City’s Vulnerable Species Management Team initiated the Parkwood-Coombabah Koala Population Study, which commenced in mid-May 2017. The study involves undertaking an independent and comprehensive assessment of the koala population in and around the Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area. Surveys are undertaken on private, state and local government properties.
Ecological consultants from Biolink have commenced data collection through koala survey methods such as Spot Assessment Technique (SAT) and strip transects. The SAT is a tree sampling methodology where the researcher concludes the presence/absence of koala faecal pellets around the base of trees to derive a measure of koala activity (low, medium, high) within the survey site. Strip transects involve experienced observers walking along a narrow plot and recording the number of koalas sighted within the transect boundaries to determine the abundance of koalas.
The information derived from the study, including how large the population is, what habitat they are using and how they’re moving through the area, will better inform the Vulnerable Species Management Team of the current status of the local koala population to assist with long-term koala management.