The State Government is backing away from an error that mapped the Coomera Town Centre precinct as both pro-development and pristine koala habitat. Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe will today announce the Government will hold off on new koala protection regulations until next year.
The decision follows a furore from the Gold Coast City Council and the development industry over contradictory maps which could have derailed 15 years of state and council planning for the Coomera Town Centre precinct.
The biggest concern was a triangle-shaped patch of zero-development koala protection area that was mapped directly over the central heart of the town centre. Mr.Hinchliffe said uproar from the council and surrounding local governments warranted the extension.
"While protecting koalas is an urgent priority, the State Government is committed to carrying out comprehensive consultation to ensure the regulations are effective" he said.
Coomera councillor Donna Gates said the decision was good news for the council and the Coomera Town Centre. It's very positive that they listened and have allowed additional time to clarify which of their policies will take precedence in Coomera", she said.
Dr Baxter (Senior Lecturer in Natural Systems Management at University of Queensland)says that the 2006 Koala Plan released by former Environment Minister Desley Boyle [ a four-year, $A2.1 million dollar Koala Plan that was implemented in October 2006] does not address the fundamental problems the koala is facing, which is the fragmentation or loss of their habitat.
Koalas need large areas of healthy, safe and connected bushland in order to survive and this is under threat from development, logging and agriculture all over South East Queensland. At the beginning of last century there were millions of koalas in the wild. Now there is only a fraction of that number left in Queensland, estimated (in 2006) to be between 100,000 and 300,000 and rapidly declining. For the koala, more than 80 per cent of their home ranges have been destroyed and this is still increasing - despite our knowledge of their need for essential habitat to survive.
It is not rocket science. Humans also need trees to provide essential ecosystem services for our health and wellbeing of the whole planet. The koalas diet is very specialised and evolved to adapt to the eucalypt tree as a food source - but not every eucalypt tree is acceptable for all koalas. Essential bushland habitat can not be offset by some quickly planted trees.
This letter DIP_UDIA_Letter.pdf 643.39 Kb 15/12/2009, 13:12 assures developers that the new koala State Planning Policy SPP will not create greater costs to development. Unfortunately from a reading of the carefully worded rhetoric of the letter sent to the Urban development institute of Australia, the profits of developers is more important than survival of our iconic species the koala.