To achieve a sustainable holistic City environment – social, economic, human, environmental
In a recent discussion regarding impacts from land clearing and increased population density in Redlands I mentioned corridors. I soon realised there is a lack of understanding as to the importance of corridors with the word Environment. There was a limited view of its application only to fauna and flora, whereas what I had meant was that corridors linking core habitat is vital to the sustainability of our holistic City environment.
To maintain the sustainability of earth and human life as a whole,there are four types of sustainability that should be properly observed.
- Human Sustainability.
- Economic Sustainability. …
- Social Sustainability. …
- Environmental Sustainability.
The economic, social, environmental and human futures in Redlands are all interrelated and dependent on each other.
“What points of difference make Redlands unique?”
Our enviable lifestyle and character of Redlands are all centred around our amazing environment – bush and bay.
Consider environmental impacts on your house value. It has been proven a home is worth $40,000 more if it is located near bushland, add a koala and the price again increases.
How many visitors come to Redlands to enjoy our area for a trip to the islands, a walk to King Island, a bike ride through our bush and cycleways, to see a koala or wallaby…watch a sunset over grapevines or Moreton Bay? Tourism and the revenue generated from the local tourism industry into our local economy is dependent on a clean environment.
How many Redlanders enjoy bushwalking, cycling, photography? …having an active lifestyle and enjoying our pathways through our City and conservation area is valuable for our health and wellbeing.
Who has walked along the shaded footpath for a cooler more enjoyable walk?
It is clear therefore that the importance of having bushland, healthy waterways, connecting corridors is more than just a “green” initiative protecting our fauna and flora but is instead vital to our lifestyle and economy.
It is our Bush, Bay and Beaches with all the unique environmental areas therein that makes Redlands Redlands.
This being said, many of Australia’s species are not found anywhere else in the world but sadly Australia has the fourth-highest level of animal extinction in the world (20 July 2018 ABC report)
“Replacing that habitat is enormously expensive. The most cost-effective option is to leave it in place”
“The restoration work done by dedicated people across the country is dwarfed by these losses. The battle is being lost.”
Back to my recent discussion, yes, I am concerned that impacts on our Redlands “environment”, remember this word encompasses social, economic, human and environmental sustainability. This is neither being fully understood or addressed – hence the importance of protecting and planning for open space and corridor linkages.
Redlands has such rich, unique, environmental characteristics yet in my opinion, these assets are not recognised, satisfactorily protected or utilised to their full potential to increase our local sustainability in all of these areas.
In 2018 a new branding was adopted for Redland City –
Redlands Coast…naturally wonderful.
There are no qualms that Redlanders value and are fiercely protective of our natural environment. Whether it is the island beaches, the sparkling waters of Moreton Bay or our bushland, we love our naturally wonderful Redlands and all the fauna and flora Redlands encompasses.
To ensure all our valued local species have a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren there needs to be adequate naturally occurring environmental areas that are linked to ensure wildlife have sufficient food, shelter and genetic diversity to build resilience in our wildlife.
Redland City Council developed a Redlands Wildlife Corridor Strategy to action locating, planning and protecting such corridor links based on research and science.
The Strategy and Action Plan was adopted in 2018 and was approved to be included in the new City Plan with an Amendment. This is currently with the State Gov. and will be available for public consultation shortly.
Executive Summary from the Redlands Wildlife Corridor Strategy
Fragmentation of wildlife habitat in the Redlands has resulted in smaller disconnected patches of wildlife habitat that has reduced wildlife movement and has led to a reduction in biodiversity.
Wildlife habitat, networks and corridors are the areas of connected native vegetation that enable the maintenance of ecological processes, the movement of wildlife and support the continuation of viable populations.
The Wildlife Connections Plan 2018-2028, aims to geographically identify, at a city-wide scale, and provide priority actions for the management, protection and enhancement of a network of core wildlife habitat and connecting corridors in Redland City. Development of this plan utilised spatial modelling (CircuitScape) to identify areas of key terrestrial wildlife corridor values that occur between core vegetation areas throughout Redland City. The modelling was based on the most up-to-date research, technology and available ecological and anthropogenic data. The modelling outputs and expert local knowledge were used to develop the high priority wildlife habitat networks and corridors detailed within this plan. The priority corridors have been assigned target widths and buffers, based on wildlife corridor ecology literature and principles. The identified priority wildlife habitat corridors are assigned names and values, connectivity, threats and priority management actions have been recorded to increase the understanding of each corridor. The corridors link the critical areas of Core Habitat, based on interior areas of remnant vegetation. Five categories of wildlife habitat corridors have been defined:
- Established Corridors – high ecological value and strong wildlife movement;
- Regional Riparian Corridors – high ecological value and identified as a state significance riparian corridors;
- Coastal Foreshore Corridors – coastal fringe corridor of mainland and islands;
- Enhancement Corridors – sufficient ecological values and linkages with scope for enhancement; and
- Stepping Stone Corridors – isolated patches of functional connected habitat. Priority objectives and outcomes are listed for each individual corridor to:
- Improve Corridor Habitat
o Rehabilitation of gaps and pinch points.
- Prevent Wildlife Deaths
o Safe fauna passage across road (or rail) barriers.
- Reduce Impacts on Corridors
o Management of urban and/or peri-urban and/or rural area impacts; and o Management of storm tide and sea-level rise impacts
- Protect Corridor Habitat
o Review City Plan to determine any necessary consequential amendments.
Strategic corridor locations identifying key values and associated priority outcomes are found in the associated document, Corridor Descriptions and Locations. The implementation of the priority outcomes will be achieved through a variety of methods and will be the responsibility of several areas within Council. It is important to recognise that the identified mapped core habitat and corridors represent only the high-value habitat and corridors. Many of the areas not identified within this plan will still play a vital role in providing habitat and safe movement opportunities for many wildlife species.
The Wildlife Corridors in the strategy have been scientifically proven to be the vital thoroughfares (like transport roads) required throughout Redland City for our wildlife to transverse to link the highly valued core habitat areas required for food and shelter. These Corridor and Core Habitat areas can assist as a mitigation tool to secure the necessary food and shelter for our wildlife and also fauna.
Habitat corridors are critical for wildlife to remain connected across the Redlands to core habitat areas.
Core habitats are the most important areas as they are recognised for their value of the habitat, consisting of higher quality shelter and or higher quality food supply.
Queensland has the third largest population growth in Australia with 90% of this increase occurring in the South East Queensland. 4.4 million people are expected to call SEQ home by 2031. (Queensland Government Statistician’s Office)
Managing this growth and impacts on the environment and existing residents, is a multifaceted concern with several conflicting agendas such as residential demand, transport infrastructure, economic needs etc.
To ensure with these increasing wide-ranging pressures of urban sprawl (the spreading of residential sub divisions) maintaining corridors or “connectivity” for animals between core habitats is established and sustained, challenges have to be overcome with smart planning including urban design and land management practices.
Strategic green corridors, carefully planned throughout the City, would mitigate the obstacles for wildlife to move more easily and safely through the urban environment.
International activity in strengthening corridors.
Perhaps the most widely known example is that of Singapore which arguably has a most difficult challenge in implementing their plan. Despite the small land area and burgeoning population, the government of Singapore has worked collaboratively with its citizens and business interests to push forward to achieve is ambitious objectives. Read more here:
Benefits for wildlife from core green spaces and corridors
Recently I discussed obstacles and impacts as I was horrified when it was reported in just one week in early July on the railway line between Ormiston and Wellington Point, three koalas, one with a baby, were killed on the tracks. Channelling travelling koalas and other wildlife along safe corridors can reduce such tragedies.
More can be read on the impact of urbanisation and land clearing for our koalas at the below site.
There are many articles on the internet regarding studies that highlight the importance of increasing green space in urban areas but also importantly the need to ensure the connection of the often fragmented core habitat areas.
Without the corridors to link the core habitat areas, where the valued food and shelter is found, there is not sufficient movement of species for sustainable food supplies and shelter. It is also vital for resilience in our wildlife that there is movement for diversity within breeding.
Without sufficient habitat connectors, animals ranging from lizards to koalas suffer from stress as they negotiate urban pressures such as loss of habitat, roads, fences, dogs etc. This stress in turn causes an increase in diseases and deaths, the same as unsafe road crossings when there is no safe alternative route.
All fauna need a sufficient continuous food supply, shelter, water and space to survive plus have protection from dangers including predators. To achieve having these needs meet in Redlands for our naturally wonderful flora and fauna to survive there needs to be understanding and planning of our corridors such as documented in the Wildlife Connection Corridor Strategy.
Not only has there been scientific evidence on the benefits of corridors but also the importance of buffer zones between the corridors and other land uses such as urban development.
The Queensland Government web site states that “Increased corridor width has been associated with increased bird species richness, bird density and frequency of area-dependent bird species in several species.”
Benefits for Flora from core green areas and corridor linkages
Recent plantings along the Hilliard’s Creek corridor have widened the corridor and strengthened the benefit to both flora and fauna. The plantings have grown well and an important coastal ecosystem has begun to flourish including some threatened species such as the coastal couch above. Local residents who walk this area regularly are reporting seeing a greater variety and number of birds now enjoying the wetland. More people are walking to the area including bird photographers.
The new planting along the bank of Hilliard’s Creek has also reduced erosion of topsoil into the waterway…another win as previously this soil was washed out into Moreton Bay. The local seagrass beds near the mouth of Hilliard’s Creek is an important feeding ground for dugong. When topsoil is deposited onto the seagrass beds it kills this feeding supply, therefore maintaining corridors along our waterways impacts on both our land and marine wildlife.
This increase in corridor width has allowed local native species of flora to return to an area recognised as an internationally recognised RAMSAR wetland.
Watching this growth over the past 12 months has proven the benefits of rehabilitating our corridors for all aspects – flora, fauna, social and economic.
- Benefits for humans from green space and corridor linkages
Increasing and protecting green corridors is not only for the benefit of our creature neighbours but also for our own benefit.
Increased green space in cities has been proven for many years to provide a cooling effect through shade and increased evapotranspiration. Reducing the heat island effect in cities is a plus for all residents…humans and wildlife.
Studies I read even included the use of green walls, street tree plantings and rooftop gardens to add to linkages as even these so-called stepping stone corridors increase biodiversity and higher environmental quality in urban areas.
There is also a social benefit for humans with an increase in recreational spaces. Many wildlife corridors can accommodate pathways for pedestrians and bicycles without comprising the integrity of the corridor.
Many of our urban house lots have decreased in size so the once common backyard has diminished in play size. This is yet another pressure of urban infill and adds to the importance of public open space for children and adults to exercise and simply relax.
Having a carefully designed network of bushland habitat corridors connecting our parks and foreshore areas, right through to our rural sector of our city, would not only assist in providing sustainable conditions for our flora and fauna but would be a valued asset for the health, both the mental and physical, and well-being of our residents.
- Economic Benefit from green space and corridor linkages
Another benefit to our City of establishing such an ecological network throughout Redlands is the economic benefit.
Redlands has an envious geographical location, being an easy drive to two international airports and neighbouring desirable tourist destinations being the capital city of Brisbane and the Gold Coasts plus not to be forgotten an amazing hinterland with towns like Toowoomba.
Brisbane has approximately 1.3 million international tourists per year and the Gold Coast has 13 million. Redlands needs to tap into this growing tourism industry as stated in the Councils Tourism Strategy.
There is an increase in tourists from China and Asia and also day-trippers from surrounding areas. What attracts visitors to Redlands is our environment. International tourist want to experience a truly unique Australian holiday, which in Redlands can easily include koalas, wallabies, bushland, beach and then add Moreton Bay and the marine life – Redlands has the entire eco-tourism package.
To be able to have guided tours through bushland habitat showing tourists indigenous flora and fauna would have a great financial benefit to our local economy. As stated in Council’s Tourism Strategy, tours are an area of tourism which needs to increase in availability. An increase in corridors would directly assist operators to reach a higher potential in this market.
Redlands has a unique koala population and recently a Koala Safe Neighbourhood has been formed in the Ormiston/Wellington Point area along the Hilliard’s Creek corridor. Important data is being collated by university students from these monitored koalas. This research will assist with the future care of koalas and protecting this urban koala population is an important asset for tourism.
“The koala, earning a lucrative $3.2 billion annually for Australia’s tourism industry is equal to other great Australian icons such as the Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House.
Seventy-five per cent of inbound tourists report they hope to see a Koala when making the decision to come to Australia.
But almost none of that $3.2 billion has been reinvested into conserving Koalas and their habitat.
If the Koala becomes extinct, that $3.2 billion per annum and those 30,000 jobs would disappear.” (Australian Koala Foundation web site https://www.savethekoala.com/our-work/koala-worth-32-billion-30000-jobs)
Having sufficient core habitat linked will assist to sustain our Redlands koalas which make makes perfect economic sense. Redlands has the opportunity to grow tourism by tapping into this desire to see a koala and this means an increase injection in local money and jobs, through sustainable koala populations.
In 2010 I drove to Port Macquarie to see their koala hospital. A link to their web site is below. I learnt from the organisers and volunteers that day and was amazed to see the crowd that gathered to a tour. At the end, I asked the group where was everyone from. Only 1 was a local, several from the region, the rest were from other parts of Australia with about a dozen visitors being international. These visitors had come to Port Macquaire specifically to visit the Koala Hospital.
On this same trip, I visited Gunnedah as the town was promoted as the Koala Capital of Australia. It was interesting talking with their tourist officers about the number of people who visited the town due to this promotion.
Again another example of the economic benefit of koalas and other eco-tourism opportunities which all rely on a clean green environment.
For our rural industries, this increase in tourism would be especially beneficial as enjoying the country experience is certainly popular at present. To have an increased demand for accommodation, whether clamping, bed and breakfast, motel due to visitors having the ability to bushwalk including activities such as bird watching, photography etc., would be a welcome economic injection into our local economy.
All areas throughout Redlands would benefit with an increase in environmental diversity attracting visitors to their areas….our islands are an amazing natural experience for visitors.
Corridors within Redlands offer these diverse experiences.
The main north/south spinal wildlife corridor in Redlands – the Hilliard’s Creek Corridor links internationally recognised RAMSAR wetlands at Geoff Skinner Wetlands, Wellington Point through to bushland in Mt Cotton
Visitors can see rare migratory shorebirds in their natural habitat and then take a short stroll and enjoy lunch at local restaurants in Wellington Point Village.
There are many examples where the increase in corridor networks would be an economic benefit to our City.
Challenges for securing corridors and core habitat areas
“Replacing that habitat is enormously expensive. The most cost-effective option is to leave it in place.”
If the land is not secured initially then securing corridor and core habitat can be an expensive financial outlay. As the quote above states, it is far easier to maintain and secure corridors than to not plan and have to purchase or rehabilitate retrospectively.
There are challenges to be identified such as best locations to maximise corridor benefits and impacts on residents if traversing privately owned lands.
The location is vital to ensure the full potential of linkages is reached – that there is sufficient food and shelter along the corridors and that the corridor arrives at core habitat – essential quality food and shelter.
To succeed in having a viable network across the Redlands it will be necessary for some corridors and core habitat encroach on private properties. The larger percentage of the presently planned corridor land are on Council or State ownership as they follow the waterways, existing conservation and foreshore lands. At this stage in Redlands before the Strategic Wildlife Corridor Strategy is amended into the City Plan there will be consultations and conversations required regarding impacts, benefits, and allowable land uses in these areas with all stakeholders.
I now refer back to the intent of writing this note, The Importance of Green Corridors in Redlands, which is in summary: –
- the increase in biodiversity
- the sustaining of valued environmental areas
- increase in economic benefit to our tourism industry
- benefit to our own health and well being
- cooling effect in our urban areas
Green corridors therefore have the potential to improve the health of a City in many and varied ways, with measures in social, ecological and financial benefits.
Sustainable Green corridors are the life veins of any City while also reducing negative liveability impacts…green corridors and protected core habitat are vital to Redlands sustainability.