Brian Williams 20 Oct 2017, 11 a.m.
COUNCIL will review its policies on urban footpath tree plantings after concerns were raised by deputy mayor Wendy Boglary following the felling of footpath gum trees a month ago at Cleveland.
HABITAT CLEARING: These remnant koala food trees at Shore Street East were critically important as they supported the last handful of koalas surviving at Cleveland. Photo: Chris Walker.
Cr Boglary said she also was concerned that eucalypts on Shore Street East, which were cleared with other gum trees to make way for units, were not being replaced with koala food trees.
She said she hoped that a review of policies would make the intent of plantings clear so there were no more misunderstandings.
The clearing caused a public furore given the Shore Street East footpaths and park areas are a hot spot for koalas.
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Cr Boglary said it appeared that council officers believed that there should be no koala food trees on footpaths.
She said a policy needed to be in place to ensure there was clear direction to ensure koala food trees could be planted strategically in thoroughfares where there was appropriate space.
She said that in 2015 council adopted a natural environment policy which included a plan to update strategies and plans to protect koalas, corridors and networks. This work had now been completed and a project officer appointed to co-ordinate implementation.
This work needed to be transferred to the draft city plan as soon as possible.
The plan – which guides development for the next decade – was brought down in February but amendments can be made by council as needed.
“I would like to think this would be the first amendment package,” Cr Boglary said.
Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing has campaigned for more intelligent development and planning given a block of units nearby was designed around a major eucalypt which is heavily used by koalas.
Ms Pointing said KAG was keen for council’s urban tree strategy to be completed as a priority.
Through GPS tracking, KAG had proved that single trees were vitally important for koalas living in urban areas.
“Subdivision of private lots which is a result from in-fill zoning in areas such as Cleveland and Ormiston mean that backyard koala trees are disappearing and koalas are relying more on foreshore corridors, parkland and footpath trees to feed in and use as stepping stones to move around the urban areas,” Ms Pointing said.
“It was also very positive to hear that council will plant koala habitat trees where the site is appropriate, including some of the wider footpaths as our tracking data highlighted just how important many of the well-established trees on footpaths are in the Toondah precinct area.”