18 Sep 2017, noon
WHAT an appalling situation. Prime remnant koala trees have been knocked down.
This handful of trees at Cleveland were no ordinary trees.
They, and others nearby along footpaths, in yards, beside units and in GJ Walter Park, were the last hold-out of koalas, which tourists come to see. Scientists have proved these trees are vital to the last koala colony in the built-up area.
Notwithstanding a complicated and historic approvals process, it is pathetic that Redland City councillors have approved their removal.
How feeble that council does not do more locally and at state level to educate legislators about the most important trees. It is feeble also that the broader fight to protect habitat is not taken up more strongly.
This case is worse than usual because the use of these trees by koalas is widely known. As well, these trees were on the margins of the development and seemingly ripe for someone to design a way around them.
It is not good enough for councillors to continually blame the state government, nor old development decisions.
More than a decade ago, Douglas Shire mayor Mike Berwick went into battle to save remnant far north Queensland Daintree rainforest from clearing for development.
It did not worry him that old development approvals were in place, nor that he had to take on aggressive federal and state governments and even more aggressive developers and landowners. He saw the greater good and had the ticker to take on what otherwise appeared a fait accompli.
Berwick won, and today many people travel a long way to see the Daintree’s lowland rainforest. It is hard to imagine tourists would go to see Daintree low set brick and tile houses.
Even at officer level in the Redlands, it seems that development clearing approvals have become something of an article of faith.
Councillors must become more proactive and start educating the state government on where the most valuable remaining trees are. They also should apply more pressure on the writing of planning documents like the South East Queensland Regional Plan as well as changing the culture within council.
Many councillors make fine noises about the need to protect koalas but when it comes down to it, they always have a reason why trees here and there must go.
This simply is not good enough.