One of the only examples of an existing development that attempts to address koala habitat is Koala Beach, a 600 dwelling 300 Hectare residential area just north of Pottsville, New South Wales, Australia. Koala Beach was a collaboration between the Australian Koala Foundation and The Ray Group, a Gold Coast based developer.
Promoted as a koala friendly place, the development focused on cleared land, which was an old dairy farm, although a smaller area of forest was also cleared. There was thought to protect large clumps of trees in reserves and backyards, the approach being bigger blocks and keep more trees.
Koala Beach features koala food street-scape planting, which koalas started to use 3-4 years after the development opened (although some say that koala food trees should be 7-10 years old). 25 other vulnerable species are benefiting from Koala Beach.
For example, the Bush Thick Knee (a local bird) was endangered, but has started breeding again in Koala Beach. Parent birds protect their chicks on the ground, and the people were drawn to this.
Volunteers started helping Bush Thick Knees, and this further encouraged a mind set of stewardship of the land – the people of Koala Beach believe in a principal, which has created a stronger and more close knit community, and instilled a pride that forms a strong social identity for the community.
When developments get too large, this kind of identity disappears.
There are also economic benefits for places like Koala Beach – people want to move to this area, and real estate value is higher than in other nearby residential areas. (Emerging Queensland University of Technology research is highlighting that the ability to sight koalas from a home actually increased its value.) We need to build on the ideas developed in Koala Beach and take them further.