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Look up, look down and report koalas: Linard

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Leanne Linard, Minister for Environment and Science (Qld), Media Release, 17 June 2023

A new app is allowing members of the public to act as citizen scientists by reporting koala sightings and providing accurate location and population data.

Environment Minister Leanne Linard and Member for Springwood Mick de Brenni launched the app during a visit to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre.

The app is based on the highly successful QWildlife Crocodile Sighting App, which helps the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service improve the management of crocodiles.

When members of the public spot a koala while enjoying our national parks, state forests and bushlands, or in our urban areas, they can simply upload the details and a photo to the QWildlife Koala Sighting App.

Koala sightings data from the app will provide a better understanding about where koalas live and how they use their environment, and will help support important koala research, conservation and management actions.

The Minister also announced $520,000 in grants for six projects that support long-term koala conservation in South East Queensland.

The projects include koala population monitoring, the use of artificial intelligence to help build a road safety monitoring network, thermal drone surveys and habitat connectivity.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Environment and Science Leanne Linard:

“The koala is one of Australia’s most iconic and much-loved species however, despite comprehensive protection strategies, koalas are listed as endangered in Queensland.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to protecting and conserving koala populations and their habitat, and the new QWildlife Koala Sighting App is proof of our dedication to the environment and all our magnificent native species.

“The app gives the public an opportunity to work with our Queensland Parks and Wildlife rangers and researchers by providing valuable information on where koalas are living.

“The 2023/24 State Budget also includes $17.3 million to extend and accelerate conservation of koalas in South East Queensland as part of our South East Queensland Koala Strategy 2020-2025.

“The strategy seeks to boost koala populations by increasing the area and level of protection given to koalas in the south-east corner, restoring koala habitat and mitigating threats they face.

“The Palaszczuk Government has also provided vital funding of $3 million this year to the South East Queensland Wildlife Network, which rehabilitates and returns koalas to the wild.

“The network includes the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital and the department’s own Moggill Koala Rehabilitation Centre.

“I encourage Queenslanders to download the QWildlife Koala Sighting App and report sightings of koala populations in your local area.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Springwood Mick de Brenni:

“Our community has always taken the commitment to protecting koala populations seriously, and we have always fought to protect them by expanding their habitat, introducing strong protections, as well as educating Queenslanders at our Daisy Hill Koala Centre.

“The koala is not just the official emblem of our great state, it’s symbolic of the heritage of our local community, and a legacy that I will continue to defend for the benefit of future generations.”

Quotes attributable to Peter Reyne, Consulting Manager, Software developer GP One:

“Our software developers enjoyed working on the rewarding project that would collect information and statistics about koala locations and health.

“The idea is to get better, more centralised reporting and information about koalas.

“The adoption and downloading of the app will increase sightings coming in from the public and wildlife rescue organisations and will contribute to saving the lives of our endangered koalas.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Jun Zhou, Research leader, Griffith University:

“We are developing an AI-based monitoring facility to monitor the koalas’ road crossing behaviours, so we can analyse how many koalas are crossing the road using underground pathways or the above-road crossings.

“This project will extend our innovative AI-powered koala monitoring system to cover wider areas of koala habitat in South East Queensland, and engage 10 local councils and community groups to facilitate the installation and maintenance of the camera network.

“Previously, cameras have been set up to monitor the koala crossings but the captured videos had to be manually checked to see whether the animals filmed using the crossings were koalas or other species.

“Now, with AI, this technology is powerful enough to recognise koalas generally, but identify which individual koalas are using the crossings.”

Further information:

The QWildlife Koala Sighting App is available from the App store for iOS devices and on Google Play for Android devices.

Grant recipients:

Applicant Name
Project TitleProject DescriptionGrant ( ex GST )
The University of QldConservation of koalas in the Brisbane ValleyThis project will evaluate the potential for road surveys to predict koala population size and demographics across an area of mapped koala habitat in southeast Queensland. The outcomes will form a landscape layer over which landholder values will be used to identify areas of actual and potential habitat connectivity for long-term conservation of koalas in the Brisbane Valley.$79,079
Griffith UniversityCommunity facilitated large-scale AI-powered koala road safety monitoring networkThis project aims to use an artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring system to build a community-facilitated large-scale koala road safety monitoring network with 100 remotely connected cameras throughout southeast Queensland. Community groups will help to identify locations of specific interest, deploy and maintain camera units, and improve the interpretation and analysis of captured data. A centrally managed web portal will be developed to allow partner groups to observe captured animal videos and download AI-generated reports.$100,000
Healthy Land and Water LtdInteractive visualization with Bayesian Networks for Koala ConservationThis project aims to improve stakeholder engagement and design and implement effective stakeholder campaigns. It also aims to extend, roll out and promote a well-advanced Koala Bayesian Network Platform to ground truth it and increase confidence in its potential to support conservation and demonstrate impact.$99,436
University of the Sunshine CoastSaving the unseen: drone-enabled community engagement and scientifically targeted conservationThis project will undertake thermal drone koala surveys, fresh scat sampling (with the aid of specially trained detection dogs) and genetic analyses within the Sunshine Coast region to identify knowledge gaps in the size and health of koala populations. This project will also collaborate with the Sunshine Coast Council to engage the community through fieldwork activities (via volunteer participation), social media and press releases (including unique thermal video footage of koala activity at night) to raise awareness and appreciation of current koala distribution and abundance within public reserves and national parks. Any sick or injured koalas that are found during the surveys will be targeted for rescue and specialist veterinary care at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.$80,435
Queensland University of TechnologyAssessment of habitat quality and koala recolonisation Yurol National ParkThis project aims to conduct thermal koala surveys from drones and undertake data capture for vegetation modelling in the Yurol Forest. This project will evaluate change in the use of newly regenerated koala habitat, evaluate and track the growth of recently planted vegetation sites and the progression of improvements in habitat quality.$98,721
Logan-Albert Rivers Catchment Association IncResearching socio-economic factors effecting koala corridors on Agricultural landThis project aims to research and plan ways to improve connectivity across the Logan and Albert Rivers catchment, through the identification of 8 potential whole of valley koala connection transects, the creation of corridor maps and the establishment of land tenure details using working groups with local knowledge and existing research data.$62,772

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