NSW communities are being asked to share where they have seen wildlife in their local area as a new online Community Wildlife Survey launched yesterday.

The survey, conducted by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), asks local people to record sightings of ten key animals wherever they have been sighted across NSW in the last two years.

The survey is being funded as a part of the $44.7 million NSW Koala Strategy which is helping to secure the future of koalas in the wild.



opulations around the Hunter have been in decline

over recent years in some areas and the NSW Koala Strategy also provides funding to set aside more than 20 000 hectares of state forest in NSW regions including the Hunter.

Port Stephens is the home to the largest population in the Hunter and even their numbers are decreasing dramatically with

reports forecasting the extinction of the NSW koala population by 2050 without intervention.

Science Director of the OEH, Dr. Tom Celebrezze, said the survey is collecting data on the populations of brushtail possums, foxes, platypus, wombats, koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, kangaroos, deer, and dingos.

“One great thing about using citizen scientists and local volunteers is that they’re everywhere so this approach using people’s eye witness accounts means we have millions of eyes looking for ten different common animals and that gives us some baseline information about where those animals are being seen,” Mr Celebrezze said.

“This means that we then get data about these species that informs a whole range of programs and research, knowing where koalas are being seen so we know where the populations are located means that we can add that [information] to the many different programs we are doing looking at koalas,” said Mr Celebrezze.

The OEH says community wildlife sightings are hugely valuable to researchers with the data from the survey helping to gain a better understanding of where wildlife is as well as information on their health and any threats to the animals.

The last survey was conducted by the OEH in 2006 when more than 16 000 people shared their wildlife sightings which helped shape research and conservation priorities for NSW, and this new survey hopes gather data showing how populations have changed in over ten years.

“We just really encourage everyone to get involved, maybe you have been on a family trip and your kids have seen an animal and maybe it’s a good opportunity for them to learn more about science and how they can get involved in conservation,” Mr Celebrezze said.

The Community Wildlife Survey can be accessed



Image: John Spencer/OEH