Koala Habitat Project

This long-term project is re-establishing Koala habitat in its original location near the old airstrip, in the Yanakie Isthmus section of Wilsons Prom. The location is behind the wildlife viewing area, a popular stopping point for visitors as they drive to Tidal River. 

Assist us to bring Koalas back to the Prom by planting out Swamp Gums which once grew in numbers on the Yanakie Isthmus.

The original habitat, along with its population of koalas, was lost about 100 years ago when the early settlers cleared the area for farming. Since 2018, Friends of the Prom have been planting eucalypts in this area – so far, we have planted 690 trees around the former airbase, all protected from grazing animals (deer, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and rabbits) by sturdy steel mesh guards.

The tree-seedlings were propagated from local seed at the Friends of the Prom Nursery in Tidal River and the tree-guards constructed by volunteers from materials paid for by Victorian government grants. 

Many of the trees we planted earlier are now big enough to survive without the help of the tree-guards so that their guards can be removed and re-used for planting the next lot of trees. The tree-guards were designed to be removed easily from existing trees.

Keep your eye out for opportunities to volunteer on this project.

Historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries show that the area near the airfield was once well-timbered with Swamp Gum, and that Koalas were frequently seen here. The land was surveyed in the 1800s and crown allotments leased to settlers on the condition that they “improve” the land. This meant lease-holders ring-barked hundreds of acres of trees and sowed the land to pasture grass for farming. For a while, the area remained as grassland because of the pressures of cattle grazing and browsing by native and feral animals. Removal of cattle agistment in 1992 allowed the regeneration of shrubs, particularly Coast Wattle (Acacia Longifolia). Restoring the woodland habitat should discourage the shrubby understorey and encourage Koalas to return in greater numbers. 

FOTP has been planting out Swamp Gums over the last fifteen years with mixed success. These trees take time to mature to the point where they are large enough to withstand browsing by kangaroos, wallabies, deer, wombats and rabbits. Various types of tree-guards have been used in the past, but the only ones to successfully keep browsing animals at bay are made from heavy-duty steel mesh and wire netting.

FOTP successfully applied for a $9,500 grant from the Victorian government to build high quality rigid wire mesh guards. Construction of the guards was completed in 2019. Swamp gums were propagated at FOTP’s plant nursery as the guards were being built. In July 2019, volunteers finished planting the seedlings and installed the 240th tree-guard at the former airfield site.

In late 2019, FOTP was again successful in receiving a grant to extend the project. This $7,750 Landcare grant has allowed us to build another 230 tree-guards. This project was completed in 2021.

In July 2021, we were fortunate to receive a third grant to extend the project yet again. This $8,306 Biodiversity On-ground Action – Community and Volunteer Grant from the Victorian Government will enable us to build 200 more tree-guards and plant the same number of trees.

This project will continue over the coming years with monitoring and trimming any encroaching vegetation. Trees that fail to thrive will need replacing, bracken needs to be removed where it overshadows tee-seedlings and guards need to be removed from mature trees.

Eventually, we want to see the woodland restored and Koalas return. 

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