Koala Rescue
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Native Plant Nursery Northern Rivers

Our community native plant nursery in the Northern Rivers producing koala food trees, other native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and grasses for local landholders.

Plant Nursery Northern Rivers

Plant Nursery Northern Rivers

Our community native plant nursery in the Northern Rivers producing koala food trees, other native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and grasses for local landholders.

Our Native Plant Nursery

Welcome to the Friends of the Koala Community Native Plant Nursery Northern Rivers, your go-to nursery for native plant species in the Northern Rivers. We're on a mission to protect and boost the local koala population by promoting the growth of native eucalyptus plants they rely on for survival.

We operate a community native plant nursery and currently have 5 nursery sites in Lismore and surrounding areas. The nursery is 100% run by volunteers. We provide koala food trees to landholders in the Northern Rivers where koalas reside and we also grow a wide range of other native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and grasses. We often have funded projects running where the plants are distributed for free. If they are sold, all profits go back into the organisation to assist with koala rescue and rehabilitation.

Explore the diverse range of koala-friendly native plants at our nursery in East Lismore. Our team is available by appointment to provide advice on plant selection, planting, and care. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or are just starting out, we would love to help you.

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Nursery Northern Rivers

"I've been a member of Friends of the Koala since its incorporation in February 1990. I've managed the native plant nursery pretty much since its inception and undertake much of the propagation and tree maintenance along with managing a small team of volunteers to assist with potting & weeding activities."

Mark Wilson, Nursery Manager
Nursery Northern Rivers

Schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment at the native plant nursery or for more information, please contact Mark Wilson (Nursery Manager) at
or phone 0413 339 554.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Friends of the Koala nursery Northern Rivers.


Friends of the Koala - Adopt a Koala

Our Plant Nursery in Numbers

Koala Food Trees Grown & Distributed
Other Native Plants and Trees Grown & Distributed
Partnerships With Landholders
Active Volunteers

Plant Nursery Articles


National Eucalypt Day 2023

Happy National Eucalypt Day – 23rd March 2023! This year marks ten years of National Eucalypt Day. Find out why we are all nuts about gums (eucalyptus trees)! Multiple species of eucalypt According to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the...
We sell koala food trees for $1 to landholders

Our nursery – food for our koalas

Friends of the Koala operate a native plant nursery which is open to the community by appointment. The nursery is located behind our Koala Hospital and issues koala food trees for $1 each to landholders with land where koalas reside...
FOK Nursery Opening 28-4-2012 16 (1)

Bushfire Recovery Nursery Officially Launched

This week we officially launched our Bushfire Recovery Nursery, made possible by the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (FNPW). The new nursery site extends our current capacity, enabling us to propagate and distribute 240,000 koala food tree seedlings over the...

Plant Nursery FAQ

What does the native plant nursery do?

At our Northern Rivers nursery we propagate and sell a wide range of native plant species. We operate from our main site in East Lismore focusing primarily on those that are beneficial to koalas.

Our native plant nursery is home to an extensive variety of eucalyptus species, known to be a koala's primary food source, along with other native Australian plants.

Through our nursery, we hope to encourage local community members to plant native species on their properties. By doing so, we aim to gradually rebuild koala habitats and provide vital links between isolated koala populations.

Who works at the Friends of the Koala Native Plant Nursery Northern Rivers?

Friends of the Koala community native plant nursery is run by a committed team of volunteers, passionate about making a positive environmental impact in our local community.

We recognise the essential role native vegetation plays in our ecosystem, particularly in sustaining Australia's beloved koalas and other native wildlife.

What is the impact of the community native plant nursery on koala conservation?

Since we started, we've distributed over 812,000 native plants and trees to members of our Northern Rivers community.

This growth in food and shelter availability for koalas is helping to stabilise local koala populations. However, our conservation work continues. We consistently strive to educate the public about the importance of koala conservation and the pivotal role native vegetation plays in maintaining a rich and healthy ecosystem.

What are koala food trees?

Koalas rely exclusively on one or two species of native eucalyptus trees, which are their primary browse trees, in a particular region.

The species of tree they prefer varies throughout their ranges. They do browse opportunistically on other species of eucalypts, as well as some non-eucalypts that are utilised for other behavioural purposes such as shade. The major food trees utilised by koalas in the North Coast region are listed below.

Primary browse trees

  • Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)
  • Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys)
  • Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta)

Secondary browse trees

  • Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis)
  • Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua)
  • Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis)
  • Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna)
  • Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus signata)
  • Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus siderophloia)
  • Forest Oak (Allocasuarina torulosa)
  • Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus)
  • Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
How do you establish or enhance koala food tree habitat?

When planting food trees for koalas it’s important that they’re grown from seed collected locally, and preferably collected from trees known to be eaten by koalas. If plants are not propagated from seeds collected locally, they may not thrive or even survive.

Individual koalas require a minimum number of food trees, depending on their size and quality. As an example, about twenty good large Forest Red Gums will be enough for one koala, but it will need many more if the trees are small, of poor quality, or of other species.

When establishing or increasing habitat for koalas either in a corridor of trees or even a small clump, people usually plant trees in the site selected. However, this isn’t the only method of creating habitat and in some cases may not be very effective if the trees planted haven’t been propagated from seed collected from the local area.

Another method you may wish to consider is via natural regeneration. Most properties contain areas that have never been cleared or have scattered remnants of original tree cover or individual trees of great age. These can often be used as a basis to re-establish trees where they’re required.

What is natural regeneration?

Natural regeneration has several advantages over planting seedlings

Tree species native to the area are retained, and these species are best adapted to local soil and climatic conditions, and most likely to be used by local koalas and other wildlife in the area.

This method is inexpensive, as you don’t have to buy seedlings, and the cost of fencing may be less than providing guards for seedlings, as regenerated seedlings seem to be less attractive to pests such as wallabies and hares/rabbits than planted seedlings.

Finally, regenerated stands of trees have a more natural appearance than trees planted in orderly rows.

Limitations of natural regeneration

Weed control is a major expense, you have little control over the species mix that will subsequently germinate, and the mature trees present on the site must have an abundant supply of viable seed. Finally, weather conditions, particularly rainfall, will significantly affect the success of the site.

Areas suitable for natural regeneration include around existing trees in paddocks, in the corners of paddocks, in rocky or inaccessible areas where planting is difficult, along ridgelines, in erosion prone areas, on creek banks or on abandoned or closed road reserves.

Natural regeneration methods

If you’d like to encourage natural regeneration on your land, fence off an area containing some mature trees and exclude livestock, as animals can destroy newly germinated seedlings by trampling or browsing.

There are two possible sources of regeneration:

  • Lignotubers

These are the woody swellings at the base of the stem of some species of eucalypts from which new shoots develop if the main stem is damaged or broken off.

Lignotubers can survive in the soil for many years and will send up shoots when favourable conditions occur. The shoots growing from lignotubers will develop into healthy trees if they are protected from livestock.

  • Seeds

To help seedlings germinate and establish, get rid of grasses and weeds by cultivating, burning or spraying with a knockdown herbicide.

Fire is probably the best method for establishing eucalypts but you need to take care not to damage the existing trees. Eucalypt seeds usually fall during summer so prepare the ground in late spring. The seeds should germinate in the following autumn or spring. You will need to control grasses and weeds to stop competition with young tree seedlings.

After the seedlings are 1-2m high, a cool fire in autumn-winter will help keep weeds and grasses down but won’t damage most eucalypt species. After this, do not allow fire back into the area until trees are well established.