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Wollongong City Council

Koala Food Forest

We’re working to look after a much-loved and endangered Australian marsupial – the koala.

Together with Symbio Wildlife Park, we're developing a Koala Food Forest in the Wollongong Local Government Area that will help feed the growing population of koalas at Symbio and beyond.

This conservation project involved planting up to 700 specially selected eucalyptus tree species in a vineyard style plantation in October 2023. In 18-24 months, once the trees are established, the leaves will be sustainably harvested in sections to help feed the growing family of koalas in protection at Symbio.

You can read more about the exciting planting day in our media release, Be-leaf us, everyone will love the city's first Koala Food Forest.

In the event of large-scale natural disasters, such as the 2019-20 bushfires, this site will potentially be utilised as an emergency food source supply for koalas in emergency care.

The extra trees in this open space area will provide more shade, help cool the area, restore local biodiversity and absorb harmful emissions. It is estimated that each mature tree planted on this site will offset 21 kgs of CO2 per year.

This site will also provide an educational opportunity for local students.

Learn more about this exciting project below.

Koala Food Forest is a vineyard-style planting consisting of carefully selected eucalyptus tree species.

Koalas need a range of eucalyptus leaf species to eat from that reflect seasonal changes. Ten species were chosen for the Koala Food Forest to appeal to the koala preferences at Symbio:

Primary Tree SpeciesSecondary Tree Species
  • Swamp Mahogany Eucalyptus robusta
  • Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis
  • Cabbage Gum Eucalyptus amplifolia
  • Grey Gum Eucalyptus punctata
  • Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys
  • Pink Flowering Ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon
  • River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Lemon-scented gum Corymbia citriodora
  • Rose Gum Eucalyptus grandis
  • Sydney peppermint Eucalyptus piperita

In 18-24 months, the trees are expected to reach up to 3 metres high and 2 metres wide, with the mature trees managed up to 4 metres high by 3 metres wide.

When the trees reach maturity, Symbio will sustainably harvest the leaves to feed the koalas in their care and wild koala populations when affected by natural disasters.

As koalas are fussy eaters and only eat the fresh shoots of the branches, the remainder of the branches are fed out to other animals at Symbio including the Possums, Kangaroos, Wombats and farm animals.

Once the trees have been established in the first 18-24 months, Symbio will sustainably harvest 25 to 100 small branches (around a Ute-load) every 1 to 2 weeks (subject to growth rate).

Gardening secateurs and pole cutters will be used to trim the leaves from the branches, no power tools will be used.

Symbio will install temporary signage to indicate times they will be harvesting branches.

The periodic, sectional harvests will be done on rotation to ensure an ongoing supply of leaves for the koalas throughout the year while also maintaing the forest's aesthetics.

Following the devasting bushfires of 2019-2020, Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) were left classified as endangered. Many locations are now geographically extinct.

Koalas eat about half kilo of leaves a day. To feed one koala sustainably for a year it takes upwards of 1,000 trees.

Research shows koalas like eating young healthy trees making young stands of trees an important food source. Koalas change their preferences seasonally throughout the year. It is therefore important that koalas have a range of tree species to choose from that reflect seasonal changes. As listed above, there is currently ten eucalyptus tree species at the Koala Food Forest in Koonawarra.

This Koala Food Forest will help provide a valuable food source for this much-loved Aussie animal.

For more information on the Koala Conservation Program visit Symbio’s website.

The Koala Food Forest is located in a designated area within Eleebana Reserve, off Eleebana Crescent, Koonawarra consisting of up to 700 tube stock plants.

This Koala Food Forest occupies part of this reserve. There is a large space in front of the forest for community recreation and dog walking areas around the perimeter.

This area was selected as it is a low-canopy area and these plantings, although will be periodically trimmed in stages, it will provide additional canopy cover in this community.

In October 2023, community members and students from Koonawarra Primary School joined Wollongong City Council and Symbio in a community planting day to create this food forest!

You can read more in our media release, Be-leaf us, everyone will love the city's first Koala Food Forest.


This project is part of Council's Urban Greening Strategy. To learn more, visit the Greening Your Suburb page.

Top image courtesy of Symbio Wildlife Park