Redland koala strategy is good but vegetation must be saved or the plan will be no use, say conservationists

By January 12, 2017 News

Brian Williams                15 Dec 2016, 8:33 a.m


NO TREES NO ME: Measures to save koalas like this animal at Cleveland are backed by conservationists but they say if trees are not preserved in critical areas it will be a waste of time and money.

REDLANDS has introduced a jazzed up koala action plan but its release has met with a cynical response from conservationists who have watched keystone species numbers crash over the past 20 years.

Redland City Council renewed its five-year action plan which calls for all levels of community and government support to target koala conservation.

It includes measures ranging from expanding, rehabilitating and linking habitat to efforts to provide protection and education to reduce deaths from dog attacks and car strikes.

Thirteen of the 37 actions within the revised plan are business as usual, including $670,000 per year for direct koala conservation actions, about $4 million annually for bushland conservation and $5.2 million for land acquisitions.

Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing backed the strategy but said if council continued its business-as-usual approach to habitat clearing and using off-set planting as a solution then the decline would continue.

“The glaring fact has to be confronted by council that habitat loss is the key threat and addressing only the other threats (cars, dogs, disease) that follow on from habitat loss really is just a band-aid approach, not an effective long term strategy,’’ she said.

“The decision (to approve) the Ausbuild Thornlands development is an example of exactly this.

“Koalas and the natural environment are not given priority and planning documents are ignored to achieve better outcomes for the developer.’’

Deputy Mayor Wendy Boglary told a Redland City Council meeting that Redlands should become the national koala capital as part of a tourism drive.

Redlands should be branded by its koalas and environment and the koala capital title should be won from Gunnedah, NSW.

“When you speak to an international tourist, they don’t come to Australia for architecture they come for the Aussie experience which is our natural assets,’’ she said. “Redlands should be milking this opportunity.’’

Mayor Karen Williams said the revised action plan followed an internal review and refocused efforts to better understand the koala population.

“The review process noted council had made a substantial investment in a wide range of koala conservation measures over the past eight years,’’ she said.

“Without these measures ranging from expanding, rehabilitating and linking habitat to efforts to provide protection and education to reduce tragic and avoidable deaths from dog attacks and car strikes, it is very likely the population decline may have been far worse.’’

Cr Williams said that despite decades of effort, latest analysis suggested a decline of 80 percent in the koala coast population once estimated at 6000.

“We have committed to working with the state government’s expert panel lead by Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes tasked with making further recommendations to arrest the alarming decline,” Cr Williams said.