By Tony Moore
December 19, 2019 — 9.39pm
Almost 20,000 hectares of koala habitat in both Redland and Moreton Bay council areas – some with viable koala populations – have not been included on new state koala habitat maps, according to Redlands mayor Karen Williams.
Known as south-east Queensland’s Koala Coast, the region’s two councils are horrified that so much koala habitat would not be protected under the state government’s draft koala conservation strategy.
Redland City mayor Karen Williams asks why almost 8000 hectares of koala habitat identified by her council, and 12,000 hectares identified by Moreton Bay Council, have been omitted from new state government koala habitat mapping. CREDIT:TONY MOORE
“This is a retrograde step and prejudices both the investment in time and resources that Redlands Council has made into koala protection for many years,” Cr Williams said while visiting Ormiston’s Stevens Place Park, which has a healthy koala population that isn’t included on the draft koala habitat maps.
Only about half of the land Redland City Council identified as koala habitat in its mapping has been included in south-east Queensland’s draft koala conservation strategy.
Cr Williams said Redlands felt “sacrificed”, and it had two messages for the Queensland government.
“One, we need more time for proper consultation; and two, I actually think they need to go back to the drawing board and provide the proper detail,” she said.
Redland Council is concerned about the decision not to include some known koala habitat adjacent to residential estates.CREDIT:TONY MOORE
Land that Redland Council identified as “primarily high- and medium-value koala bushland” in its mapping has been omitted from the state government’s maps, which group koala bushland into Koala Priority Areas.
“Under the current draft of State Koala Priority Area mapping proposals, 1935 hectares of existing Redlands Coast koala habitat and 5680 hectares of koala rehabilitation areas would be removed from mapping and planning controls,” Cr Williams said. “This appears to have been done at the expense of the Redlands Coast koala population.”
Cr Williams said even more koala habitat identified by neighbouring Moreton Bay Regional Council had been removed from the proposed mapping.
“It is even worse there. I understand about 12,000 hectares that had been identified on their mapping is not included,” she said.
Red zones identify high quality koala habitat in Redlands identified by the state government which has been removed from new mapping. Yellow areas are bushland that is being rehabilitated as koala habitat which is also not included in the plan. CREDIT:REDLAND CITY COUNCIL
This could not immediately be corroborated by Moreton Bay Regional Council but local wildlife carers confirmed Moreton Bay’s koala habitat loss to Brisbane Times.
Redland Council’s mapping (above) identifies the areas that have been removed from the government’s maps. These include high-priority koala habitat (in red), and high- and medium-quality bushland (in yellow) that is being rehabilitated as koala habitat.
Cr Williams questioned why North Stradbroke Island was not included in the new maps.
“It is probably one of the only places you can visit in south-east Queensland and actually see a koala moving across villages,” she said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch both declined to comment on Thursday, despite launching the plan on December 8.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science did not deny large areas of koala habitat were not included in the proposed plan.
A spokesman said that at this stage, there was no plan to extend the December 22 date for submissions on the mapping.
The department said the Quandamooka people were now responsible for koalas on North Stradbroke Island.
“The Quandamooka Land and Sea Committee is instigating the development of a Quandamooka Koala Management Strategy to inform koala management on Quandamooka country,” it said.
“This Koala Management Strategy will inform indigenous decision-making around the applicability of Koala Priority Areas and other koala conservation measures.”
About 80 per cent of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is protected as national park after sand mining finished, and the island was formally handed back to the Quandamooka people last week.