Alex Treacy, Quest Newspapers February 22, 2020 8:00am
THE president of a Redlands-based group advocating for koalas says she supports Redland City Council’s decision to act unilaterally to protect koala habitat following the release of the State Government’s controversial new koala habitat mapping.
Last week, Redlands Community News reported that Mayor Karen Williams directed council officers to investigate ways to protect what she says is 7,675 hectares of land previously protected but now excluded by the new maps.
“We will look at all and any options to protect areas critical to our local koala populations, including planning scheme amendments and Temporary Local Planning Instruments to give us the time to investigate longer-term options,” she said.
Koala Action Group Qld Inc president Debbie Pointing said this is the right move.
She said her group was “quite floored” by the new maps, which remove “thousands” of hectares of habitat.
She said the new mapping does not include areas of fragmented habitat, so excluding local habitats such as Toondah Harbour, Wellington Point and Ormiston.
This runs contrary, Ms Pointing said, to the advice of the koala expert panel which helped inform the new scheme.
While the group is happy with council’s move, she expressed “surprise” at how Cr Williams picked up and ran with the issue: she claimed Cr Williams previously has been supportive of developments which encroach on koala habitat.
Multiple councils have spoken out against the controversial mapping, which was released on February 7, including Redlands, Moreton Bay, Noosa and Logan.
Environment Minister Leanne Enoch today hit back at the criticism, asking why southeast Queensland councils did not raise concerns about the State Government’s new koala strategy and mapping with her before now.
Ms Pointing issued a sharp rebuke to the minister, saying she is getting “very poor advice”.
“I’m not sure what she’s talking about because I know Redland City Council made a very good submission (on the changes),” she said.
Council snubs state govt on koala plan. Mayoral candidate says Redlands can do better – RCB
FEBRUARY 3, 2020 – 1:30PM
REDLANDS mayor Karen Williams says a state government plan to protect koalas ignores expert advice and removes thousands of hectares of habitat from new mapping.
KOALA WARS: Mayoral candidates says 4500 hectares of koala habitat will be cut and that council should do better in saving koalas.
Cr Williams said the draft koala conservation strategy was little more than an expression of good intentions that failed to address funding, legislation, research, mapping and collaboration.
“Additionally, while stating the intention to prohibit clearing within 300,000 hectares of mapped (Koala Priority Area) habitat, the strategy fails to detail how current exemptions or state planning legislation, codes, or offset policy would achieve this.
“Council wants to know how the state intends to recognise and respond to crucial local government programs like those in place the Redlands Coast or fund new initiatives where the burden inevitably falls on local government.”
She said the KPA mapping would remove nearly half of the “essential” Redlands koala habitat.
“It seems the state is giving up on the urban koala.”
She said the strategy ignored the Koala Expert Panel recommendation to ensure that locally significant koala habitat could still be protected through local government planning.
Mayoral candidate Claire Richardson said the plan would shrink the amount of protected Redland koala habitat by 4500 hectares.
- Read more: Redland City Council installs first Koala Conservation Safe Neighbourhood signs at Ormiston
- Read more: Koala Action Group calls for action as four koalas killed on train track near Ormiston this month
- Read more: Koala rescued by police officer inside Cleveland coffee shop
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Environment Department had worked with council to identify local koala habitat but some of the council mapping supplied had been out of date and contained areas of developed land.
“As an example, the large residential development situated along Heinemann Road … were mapped by the Redland City Council as koala habitat,” she said.
“Obviously, koalas do not live in houses and swimming pools.
“Redland City Council’s mapping even included a sand mining lease on Minjerribah.”
North Stradbroke Island was a sore point for council, with Cr Williams saying state Koala Priority Area mapping would remove almost half the Redlands’ koala habitat including the entire North Stradbroke population area.
An Environment Department spokesperson said the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation had advised that a Quandamooka strategy was being developed for managing koalas.
“It should also be noted that approximately 80 per cent of Minjerribah is to become protected area following land handbacks.”
Cr Williams said the timing of the state consultation over the holiday period and its lack of detail meant the community was being asked to take the strategy on trust.
Ms Enoch said councils had been consulted while the draft strategy was being prepared and public consultation on the draft strategy had been open for eight weeks, to allow ample opportunity for comment.
PROTECTION: Ms Richardson says council could do better to protect koalas.
Ms Richardson said council had done the right thing in criticising the plan but questioned the authority’s efforts in saving koalas.
“With the exception of a few persistent councillors, the past eight years have seen very few wins as development often takes priority over the creature featured in council’s own logo,” Ms Richardson said.
“As council tries to reposition itself in the tourist market, koalas should have a major role to play.”
Cr Williams said council’s koala strategy had supported and funded koala conservation for more than a decade.
World Wetlands Day celebrated at Toondah Harbour in the Redlands
FEBRUARY 3 2020 – 5:00PM
HUNDREDS of people from all over south-east Queensland met at the waterfront GJ Walter Park, Cleveland to celebrate World Wetland Day on the weekend.
- They sent a message to all levels of government that they wanted to stop the proposed $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour development.
- Birdlife campaigners say the Toondah Harbour priority development area boundary should be changed
It includes 3600 units and a marina in a wetland area at Toondah Harbour in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.
A Redlands2020 spokeswoman said visitors saw 13 different species of wader birds feeding on the Toondah wetlands, including the endangered eastern curlew.
Visitors listened to a range of speakers, including The Moreton Bay Foundation’s Andrew Davidson who spoke about wetlands and biodiversity and the need to protect such areas.
“They also used the time to paint bright banners and signs that will be used at future events to oppose the Toondah Harbour development,” the spokeswoman said.
Musicians Troy Robbins and Simon Ball entertained the crowd.