About Friends of the Koala Inc. (FOK)

At Friends of the Koala, we believe in a future for koalas in the NSW Northern Rivers. Operating for over 35 years, we have an established history of working towards positive outcomes for koalas.

Our mission

Friends of the Koala is committed to conserving koalas and preserving and enhancing their habitat, particularly in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. In doing this, we aim to make a key contribution to Australia’s biodiversity.

Our core business

  • Rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing koalas
  • Protecting and enhancing koala habitat
  • Educating the community about koalas and issues that affect them
  • Advocating on behalf of koalas
  • Assisting relevant research

Our Partners

Thanks to our partners we have been able to do what we do, better! Without them our work would be that much more difficult.

Caddies Coffee and Tea, Lismore NSW
GD Studio graphic design and websites Lismore NSW - Graphiti Design Studio - Web Development Lismore NSW
Dodi Tettamenti

Key achievements

In the 35 years since Friends of the Koala was first established, with the aim to enhance and protect koala habitat, we’ve become the lead koala conservation group in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales.

We maintain a 24/7 Rescue Hotline and rehabilitate and release sick and injured koalas. We operate a Koala Hospital (triage, treatment, and pathology clinic) and Burribi - Widjabul word for Koala – (education and administration centre) in East Lismore, NSW.  We also issue koala food trees and other rainforest species, work with all levels of government, and provide advice to landowners on preserving and extending koala habitat. 

We currently rescue approximately 50% of the sick, injured and orphaned koalas rescued in NSW (average of 400 koalas per year).  Since records began in 1990, Friends of the Koala have grown and issued more than 200,000 koala food trees to landholders and habitat restoration groups across the region.  If we were to include rainforest species, the total would be closer to half a million trees.   

We have nearly 150 active volunteers who are engaged in habitat restoration, rescue, rehabilitation, nursery, leaf collection in addition to management and advocacy. 

Some major FOK milestones


  • Formed as an organisation to enhance and protect koala habitat


  • Commenced rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing koalas under the guidance of the Lismore District Office of the National Parks & Wildlife Service


  • Incorporated as Friends of the Koala Inc.


  • Licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release koalas under the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974


  • Entry in the Federal Register of Environmental Organisations


  • Koala Care and Research Centre, East Lismore opened
  • Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor’s Special Award


  • Lismore City Council’s Australia Day Achievement Award (Environment Category)
  • 1st Green Corps Project 2004- Koala Conservation and Corridor Connection and Bundjalung Walking Track


  • Outdoor enclosures established at the Koala Care Centre
  • Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation’s Koala and Wildlife Hospital agreed to treat our koalas
  • WildLife Link donated our Rescue Van and trailer


  • Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia’s Community Wildlife Conservation Award


  • 1st Environmental Trust Lead Environmental Community Groups grant


  • 21-year lease on Koala Care & Research site granted by Lismore Council


  • 1st partnership in an ARC Linkage project – Development of an anti-Chlamydial vaccine for the koala


  • NSW Volunteer of the Year Award, Northern Rivers Region Team of the Year Award


  • Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Outstanding Member Group 2012


  • Lismore City Council’s Australia Day Achievement Award (Sustainable Environment)
  • Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Marie Byles Award for the most outstanding new environmental campaign


  • Byron Shire Council’s 2014 World Environment Day Award (Conservation & Land Management)
  • 3 additional outdoor runs extended Koala Care Centre capacity


  • 1st Environmental Trust Lead Environmental Communication Grant


  • Environmental Trust Restoration & Rehabilitation grant over 3 years – Enhancing Lismore wildlife refuges and corridors for threatened species
  • September – Opened our Burribi Education and Administration Centre and hired our first paid employee


  • 2017 Environmental Trust Environmental Education grant over 3 years – Koala Watch: Community led koala recovery – Northern Rivers.
  • June – WINNER of the Golden Leaf Award of Excellence for a Wildlife Group
  • September – official opening of Burribi Education & Administration Centre


  • October – Opened our Triage, Treatment and Triage Clinic


  • May – Employed our Vet Nurse Marley Christian


  • April – Employed our Vet Jackie Reed
  • July – Approval granted for FOK to operate a specialist Koala Hospital

Our Licensed Coverage Area

Friends of the Koala Inc. is licensed to carry out rescue and rehabilitation of diseased and injured koalas across five of the local government areas in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW, covering an area 10,000+ sq km. 

fok licenced coverage area for koala rescue and rehabilitation
FOK Licenced Coverage Area for Koala Rescue and Rehabilitation