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Australian Koala Foundation

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Australian Koala Foundation
Founded17 January 1986
FounderSteve Brown
Barry Scott
FocusLong-term conservation of the wild koala
  • Brisbane, Australia
MethodResearch, education, legislation, mopping and planning
Key people
Deborah Tabart, OAM

The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) is an international non-profit scientific organisation that aims to diminish the threats to the survival of koalas and in doing so raise the awareness of the global community to help save endangered fauna and flora.[1] It is the principal non-profit, non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation and effective management of the wild koala and its habitat.

The koala lives predominantly on a diet of eucalyptus plants. Many of these trees are being cleared each year. The primary focus of the AKF is getting new legislation in place to protect Koala trees.[2] The organisation receives no form of government funding by choice, because this leaves the AKF to speak freely for Koalas without the constraints of government. Therefore, the AKF relies on donations, sponsorship, and fundraising to finance its ongoing work. AKF research indicates that somewhere between 47,860 and 85,695 koalas remain in the wild.[3] Local extinctions are occurring regularly, and AKF believes that the only way to protect and regenerate populations into the future is with a Koala Protection Act.[2]


Protecting habitat and managing koala populations are the goals of the foundation.

During the mid-1980s, Steve Brown, a veterinary graduate who had developed a special interest in koalas, was pursuing Ph.D studies at the University of Queensland, focusing on a not uncommon pathological condition in koalas, cystic ovaries. This condition was associated with low reproductive rates. He provided evidence to suggest that chlamydial disease may be affecting population dynamics of wild koala colonies. As a result of his studies he became convinced that chlamydial disease was a major threat to the species, given the widespread occurrence of the organism. This conviction led him to seek support for the establishment of a body which could fund research into the koala and its problems.

In 1985, when Barry Scott was asked to manage the Oasis Tourist Gardens, he met Steve Brown who was acting as the honorary veterinary consultant to a colony of disease free koalas that lived there. brown was a passionate advocate for the koala and he inspired Scott who suggested that a Foundation for the koala be formed. Together they began to gather friends and supporters around them to form an organisation to help cure koala diseases and save their declining numbers.

A constitution was drawn up and on 17 January 1986 a Certificate of Incorporation (no. 1262) was issued in the name of the Australian Koala Association Inc. This name was changed on 3 October 1986 to the Australian Koala Foundation Inc. Later the word Inc. was dropped. On 14 May 1986 all these Trustees signed a Trust Deed, where the Australian Koala Fund was established.

Initially the focus of the Australian Koala Foundation was to 'raise $5 million to save the koala'. At the beginning the general consensus was that the disease commonly known as chlamydia was the major threat to koalas and that it needed to be cured so the population could be saved. It didn't take long, however, to realise that habitat destruction was and is the main cause of the koala's problems. The direction of the AKF moved towards addressing the loss of habitat and reversing it.

Deborah Tabart OAM has been leading the Australian Koala Foundation as CEO since 1988.

Today, the AKF uses science, politics, and a global support base to rally for change at the legislative, developmental, and personal level.

Slogan campaign[edit]

"No Tree No Me" is the slogan for the AKF. It was coined by the AKF's creative supporter, Dick Marks, in 1994 and has become an appropriate slogan for the foundation as they focus on the fight for habitat conservation of the koala. This slogan is known in households all around Australia, and has been printed on apparel and stickers on the popular worldwide online retailer Redbubble.

Conservation and research[edit]

The AKF has mapped over four million hectares of land for their Koala Habitat Atlas (see below). The AKF believes that captive breeding programs for koalas are not a solution for the conservation of wild koala populations. Instead, conservation relies on the integrity of wild populations, their genetic diversity, and retention of habitat. As a result, many of the AKF projects focus on conservation of the koala habitat as described below.


The AKF has several ongoing projects dedicated to saving the wild koala through conserving its habitat and raising funds to enable the AKF to continue running despite its non-profit status. These include:

  1. Koala Beach: This housing estate in northern New South Wales was the result of collaboration between The Ray Group of developers and the AKF. It is the first property to be master planned and designed with the protection of the environment as its priority, with the community making conscious compromises to its lifestyle so that it can co-exist with wild koalas. With the focus of the environment in mind, Koala Beach was developed from an old dairy farm where land had already been cleared. In addition to protecting koalas, this beach has also benefited at least 25 other vulnerable species such as the bush thick-knee, a local endangered bird. Fueled by volunteers, Koala Beach has also helped instill a sense of community and stewardship for the land in New South Wales, giving the people a strong close knit community. Koala Beach has brought economic growth to the area as well. More people are moving to the area located near the beach, and Queensland University is engaging in technological growth by developing a system to view koalas from a home.[4]
  2. Koala Habitat Atlas:[5] This project involves the mapping, identifying, and quantifying of koala habitat throughout the koala's geographic range in eastern Australia. It aims to identify which trees are preferentially used by koalas, and to identify and rank koala habitat based on primary and secondary habitat categorization. The growing database has been designed to assist land-use planners by providing information on the occurrence and relative importance of suitable koala habitat so that informed and effective decisions on koala habitat conservation and management can be made. This ongoing project was awarded a Computerworld Smithsonian Award Medal for Innovative Use of Technology in Washington, DC in April 1998.[6]
  3. Koala Protection Act: Presently, the AKF's primary focus is the Koala Protection Act.[2] Current legislation solely focuses on the koalas, not their habitats.[7] It is insufficient in providing the level of protection koalas need.[8][9][10][11] Because it is known that almost all koala problems are caused by the loss of the koala habitat, the Koala Protection Act will thus focus on protecting trees and pushing the Australian government to treat koalas with respect as Australia's national treasures, deserving of protection and long-term survival. The act has been modeled upon America's Bald Eagle Act.
  4. Koala Army: The AKF recruits people from all over the world to join the Koala Army. The Koala Army is essential for the AKF in their campaign for a Koala Protection Act. The Army is asked to spread the word, and is often encouraged to contact their Federal member about Koala issues.
  5. Act or Axe:[12] Act or Axe has been an initiative of the AKF's since 2007 when it was decided that the Australian Federal Government and its elected representatives needed to understand the Koala and its trees should and must be considered as part of their electoral responsibilities. The Federal Government is the 'custodian' of the Koala. Not zoos, not international zoos, not wildlife sanctuaries, not the average Australian, but the Australian Government. There are 128 Federally elected representatives in Koala habitat of Australia, and the AKF is asking these politicians to support a Koala Protection Act. According to CEO Tabart, "The most sickening thing about existing legislation is the fact that industries are given a permit 'to take' which is a nicer word for 'kill'. All of the other species in those trees don't even get that permit and die in silence."[13] Members of the public can visit Act or Axe online, and view their electorate. Here they can see Koala numbers and habitat remaining, plus comments from CEO Deborah Tabart OAM, or 'Koala Woman'. If a federal politician supports a Koala Protection Act, they receive an 'Act' score, and if they fail to respond, or do not support, they receive an 'Axe' score.
  6. Quinlan's:[14] Quinlan's is a 40 hectare property of Australian bush, at Gheerulla near Kenilworth inland from the Queensland Sunshine Coast. The property was named in honour of the couple, Peter and Julanne Quinlan, who bequeathed it to the AKF. Deborah (AKF CEO) took on the ambitious task of establishing Quinlan's as a one-off bushland showplace asset that embodies the AKF values. A spokeswoman said the Quinlans' property would provide "great opportunities as a research station and for regenerating for koala habitat." As a result, the site is to be used for research on climate change, habitat restoration, and in time it is hoped that Koala will come to use the area as a refuge. Due to the nature of the deaths, the will and donation of the estate has been disputed but Tabart is hopeful AKF will be able to keep the property.[15]


The AKF is the world's largest funding body of koala research. Research findings include the contribution made by koalas to Australia's tourism industry and viability studies on koala populations in various bioregions.[16]

More than 40,000 km2 of land has been mapped for the Koala Habitat Atlas, which displays the occurrence of suitable koala habitat (even if there are no koalas there at present). More than 1,000 sites were identified in South East Queensland alone.[17]

The foundation has done extensive research on the way Koala's live along with their ideal habitat conditions. They have formed a program that encourages and makes it easily accessible for people to purchase and plant trees for Koalas. They release the National Kola Tree Planting List which is comprised from the AKF's extensive database (includes over 100,000 trees from 2000 sites), published research, and collaboration from several independent Koala researchers, the list covers everywhere that Koalas live and takes into account 273 local government areas across 4 states. They have identified the best conditions for Koalas to live in and ensure that donated trees are planted in those areas.

The Australian Koala foundation has also created a Koala-friendly housing development with the goal of allowing people in the community to co-exist with wild Koalas in a proper manner. They partnered with The Ray Group to create this sight on the northern New South Wales coast. This site is home to 500 residential homes along with Koala's and other endangered species. Since its beginning in 1994, the Koala Beach Housing Development has seen great success.

The foundation is also very strong with updating the public on Koala's and their habitats as it has countless research projects posted on its website to inform and educate people. The foundation gives people the resources to help in interesting ways such as adopting your own Koala or purchasing Koala merchandise to raise money.

Save the Koala Month[edit]

September is Save the Koala Month.

September is Save the Koala Month. The AKF runs an annual fundraising campaign called Save the Koala Month each September.[18] Save the Koala Day is held on the last Friday of that month. People from all over the world are encouraged to help sell Save the Koala Month merchandise such as temporary tattoos, stickers and badges, whether as individuals, businesses or school groups. Supporters are also encouraged to fundraise with donation boxes or events, returning their funds to the AKF at the end of the month. Incentives are available for different levels of fundraising.

Global presence[edit]

The main AKF office and shop are located in Brisbane. There are also "Friends of the AKF" branches in New York and Washington.

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Australia : ReAmped Energy, Rachel Alonso, List of Australian rules football junior leagues, Jonah Rock, Pro Wrestling Australia, Australian Police Rugby League Association, List of international cricket centuries at Manuka Oval
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  • Conservation in Australia


  1. "About | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Koala Protection Act | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  3. "Bob's Map | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  4. "Koala Beach | Koala Land". Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  5. "Koala Habitat Atlas | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  6. "Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006" (PDF). Queensland Government. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  7. "Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006" (PDF). Queensland Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. "Ballarat koalas under threat despite protection overlay". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  9. "Koala populations at Gunnedah under threat from coal project". Clarence Valley Daily Examiner. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  10. Johnson, Stephen (27 August 2014). "The Australian".
  11. "Noosa koalas on the brink of extinction". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  12. "Act or Axe | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  13. {{}Cite web|title=Australian Koala Foundation calls on the new Prime Minister to protect the Koala. | Australia Koala Foundation|url = https://www.elespectador.com/sites/default/files/pdf-file/fundacion_australiana_del_koala.pdf%7Caccessdate=19 April 2020}}
  14. "About Quinlan's | Australian Koala Foundation". www.savethekoala.com. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  15. "Families contest $1m legacy to koalas | Sunshine Coast Daily". Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  16. "The koala is worth $3.2 billion & 30,000 jobs". Australian Koala Foundation. Retrieved 17 June 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. Steve Austin & Peter Spearritt (29 July 2005). "Australian Koala Foundation's Deborah Tabart". ABC Queensland. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2012. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. "September is Save the Koala month". Central Queensland News. APN News & Media Ltd. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012.

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