Cowley Street Koala Habitat clearing February 2021

Devastating clearing  to urban koala habitat

Firstly is a link below to a petition calling on the Sate Gov to increase koala habitat protection

https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/petition-details?id=3408

In 2008, the year I was elected, local residents from Ormiston contacted me seeking assistance to save mature gums tree that provided vital habitat for feeding and breeding to urban koalas.  the Koala Action Group President Debbie Ponting and I visited the site and we both agreed upon the value of the habitat.

This same  vegetation is presently being cleared and is located on Lots 141 to 166 Cowley Street, Ormiston , has been sub divided since 1886 and is in private ownership.  Recently the owners  re surveyed the lots  and when  security fencing was recently erected we knew the time had come.

An associate of the owner advised Council staff that tree will most likely be cleared the coming week and sadly over the past week we had witnessed this clearing.

My fury and frustration, with this situation, is due to the known and acknowledged value of the vegetation but there is no protection.  Presently there are koalas in the trees and residents only last week told me they are seeing more koalas lately with one male desperately calling for a mate.   

Over the years, I have had meetings with State members, documented meetings from 2008,  sent letters to Federal and State Ministers and lobbied Redlands City Councillors to have protection on these blocks yet – there remains no protection for blocks  <500m2.

This is the unbelievable situation even though the blocks are covered by the new State Koala Habitat Area Mapping as blocks under even under this mapping <500m2 are exempt.

In regards to the vacant blocks in Cowley Street:-

  1. The State Koala Habitat Area mapping does map the subject vacant lots on Cowley Street as a koala habitat area (locally refined koala habitat area).
  2. The State Koala Regulatory provisions (Planning Regulation 2017) prohibit clearing of native vegetation where mapped as koala habitat area and in a Koala Priority Area (Redlands mainland) unless exempt. Clearing in koala habitat areas of up to 500m2 is exempt.  This means that the State Regulatory provisions will not apply to clearing the habitat on the subject vacant lots on Cowley Street as the habitat on each would be less than 500m2 and would be exempt.

In regards to local protection –  a new City Plan was adopted in 2018 (which I did not vote for) where the media releases state that Council had increased environmental protection  as the Environmental Significance Overlay now covered the entire City,   however all lots under <1000m2  in our urban areas were taken out from the Overlay protection leaving the lots unprotected.    The Koala Habitat Overlay, at the time of the new City Plan, was removed as the majority of Council decided to have vegetation clearing dealt with in the City Plan.

As the lots on Cowley Street are all <1000m2 there is no local protection of vegetation on the lots.

 

The vacant lots have been recognised, based scientifically researched environmental values as a high value Coastal Foreshore Environmental Corridor.  These corridors are a high priority for protection and rehabilitation however the corridors were not placed into the new City Plan.  I have been working since 2014, when I realised not all the City’s corridors were going to given protection in the new Plan.   Recently 6 Councillors did support an amendment to the City Plan for the corridors to be included however the State Government sent the draft Amendment back to council for a clarification on points and the newly formed 2020 Councillors voted against proceeding with this Amendment.  The environmental Corridors remain unprotected.

  • Redland City Council Regional Ecosystems 2015 mapping of the Cowley Street lots ,indicates that a large portion of the land contains endangered regional ecosystems in the western and central lots.
  • Redlands City Council Koala habitat 2015 mapping indicates the site contains significant coverage of koala habitat vegetation.
  • The trees on the site are identified as koala food trees and classified as primary Food Trees or Secondary Food trees for koalas – including blue gums, ironbark’s, bloodwoods and melaleucas with two areas of regrowth vegetation.

 

Levels of Government repeatedly in the media state they are protecting our environment and caring for koala habitat yet in the coming week this land will be totally cleared – all I see is hypocrisy. 

If these trees are to be cleared I don’t want it to be in vain but at least use their destruction to highlight the faults of the existing protection on both State and Local levels for future.

Our environment is Redlands greatest asset both economically and for the liveability of our City.  During COVID our walkways and beautiful green leafy suburbs plus our rural conservation areas became a haven for locals and visitors.  Mental Health is a growing concern so areas within our suburbs to have a “vegetated breaks” are recognised for their importance to humans as well as our wildlife.  Redlands City Council in partnership with Griffith University have been researching the Ormiston Koalas for a number of years and regularly publish updates on the Ormiston Koala Safe Neighbourhood Program” yet there is no protection or support given to save what is a known koala breeding area.

The State Government, though I am grateful for their Koala Habitat mapping, have to recognise there are gaps which allow such areas to be cleared and Redlands City Council have to support greater protection to such areas or both levels of Government should stop with the media releases.

I am devastated that it has come to final hours for these trees and at least I can use this example to highlight the gaps.   Presently two koalas remain in the trees.  while they are there the trees cannot be touched but they will eventually move on by their own accord and then the trees will also be cleared.

We need to have the levels of protection reviewed so recognised koala habitat can be protected for the sustainability of our wildlife including koalas, birds lizards etc.

More information has been in previous Facebook post however please contact me if you would like further information,

 

Update 6th February 2021

This week at Cowley Street the wildlife spotter noticed a tag on one of the koalas ears.
There are three koalas in the trees at present and I believe the tag is from the Sunshine Coast University making the koala one from the Ormiston Safe Koala Neighbourhood Project.
Her name maybe Amber and presently I am waiting for further details.
Amber was previously released further north at Empire Vista and has roamed to this area… a practical example of the importance of safe Wildlife Corridor connecting these core habitat areas across the City.

 

Warm regards

Wendy Boglary.