East Coomera koala population faces further habitat loss as housing developers move in – ABC

By January 18, 2018Archive

AM

By Lucy Murray

Posted about 11 hours ago

PHOTO: The koala is one of Australia’s most well known animals, but in large parts of the country its habitat is being destroyed and numbers have plummeted. (Supplied: WWF Australia/Doug Gimesy)

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MAP: Coomera 4209

As koala numbers plummet around Australia, one of the biggest populations in south-east Queensland is under threat as developers move in.

Key points:

  • Third of the koala population habitat has been destroyed over the past decade
  • Report says population numbers stable, but bushland is nearing limit of koalas it can house
  • Wildlife Sanctuary seen eight-fold increase in numbers admitted to the hospital

 

Known as the East Coomera population, a third of their habitat has been destroyed over the past decade — and now more bushland has been earmarked for housing developments.

“We are seeing huge amounts of koalas moving into other locations, creating higher densities than ever before and densities that are simply unsustainable,” spokesperson for the Coomera Conservation Group Nicole Taylor said.

Ms Taylor took on the role of conservationist after seeing what she believed was evidence of the impact of urban development on her local koala population.

“My family was on its way to the Coomera train station to catch the train to the Ekka, when we came across a deceased koala by the side of the road,” she said.

“It was a deceased male, when I looked up right behind him I saw a bulldozer — that was the moment for me to say this has got to be enough.”

PHOTO: Nicole Taylor took on the role of spokesperson for the Coomera Conservation Group after seeing the impact of urban development on her local koala population. (ABC News: Lucy Murray)

More koalas in less space

The Gold Coast Council has just released a study into the population showing that numbers have remained stable.

But that means there are more koalas in less bushland.

The report also found the land could support about 441 koalas, but with at least 425 koalas already in the area it was nearing its limit.

“The increased average koala activity levels and densities within remaining habitat areas does pose some concerns,” the study stated.

“This will need to be monitored to confirm that the habitat is coping with increased pressures.”

PHOTO: The report found the land could support about 441 koalas, but with at least 425 koalas already in the area it was nearing its limit. (Supplied: WWF)

But Nicole Taylor said she worried whatever was being done now could be too little too late.

“We don’t know what is going to happen to those koalas for some years to come,” she said.

“But what we do know already is koalas are increasingly stressed and the hospital submissions are testament to that.”

Increase in koala hospital admissions

Over the past five years the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary have seen an eight-fold increase in submissions in the number of koalas admitted to the hospital from the area.

Senior vet Michael Pyne said that kind of increase was significant.

“Unfortunately with these stats we haven’t drilled down to see exactly why they’re coming in… Koala’s in this area are under a lot of pressure,” he said.

PHOTO: Gold Coast councillor Cameron Caldwell says there is no documented evidence of koalas over-browsing. (ABC News: Lucy Murray)

Head of the City Planning committee, who conducted the report, Gold Coast councillor Cameron Caldwell said there was no documented evidence of over-browsing — where koalas eat themselves out of house and home.

“The report says quite clearly that there hasn’t been any overt signs of increase in disease in the population,” he said.

The report also found that at least 1,150 hectares of land needed to be set aside for koalas.

Mr Caldwell said they were investigating as to whether there was “suitable land in the area” and the State Government said they would be willing to work with councils.

“The Queensland Government has been approached by the City of Gold Coast to explore opportunities to secure, consolidate and restore increased koala habitat and is willing to work with the council to identify opportunities,” the Environment Department said in a statement.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/east-coomera-koala-population-faces-further-loss-of-habitat/9338228