Is the Redland City Council doing enough to conserve koalas in the Redlands?
The number of koalas in our city has fallen dramatically over the past two decades. It is estimated by the Koala Action Group that there may be as few as 1,000 left.
Rapid and poorly planned housing development in the Redlands has resulted in koalas suffering from:
- Loss of the trees in which they “live work and play” (koala habitat trees)
- Attack by uncontrolled dogs, especially at night time
- Being run over by cars, especially at night time
The Koala Action Group reports that 600 koalas are known to have been killed by dogs in Redland City in the 15 year period between 1997-2012.
What can Council Do?
The Redland City Council can do a number of things to help conserve koalas in the Redlands.
Koala conservation strategy
Redland City needs to develop and implement a koala conservation strategy that will ensure the ongoing survival of koalas in Redland City. This should be initiated immediately and form a key input into the finalisation of City Plan 2015 (see below)
The Council is currently proposing a set of draft local laws to replace the existing laws. The existing laws include specific requirements for dogs to be restrained or enclosed at night if kept on properties larger than 2,000 m2 in declared koala management areas. The draft new law would delete this specific requirement and replace it with less specific requirements in all areas of the city to help koalas escape from dogs. A better approach would be to require all Redland City dog owners to enclose or restrain their animals at night time.
Protecting koala habitat
In preparing the new planning scheme (City Plan 2015) Council should be making koala conservation a high priority. This should include stringent protection of the remaining koala habitat trees in Redland City.
Speed kills koalas just as it results in human fatalities. Yet Council does not seem to have any plans for reducing the number of koalas killed in traffic accidents. A risk management framework should be developed which considers speed limits as well as other traffic management solutions including fences and safe crossings.
What should you do?
Redland City Council is proposing a new set of local laws which cover a range of issues including animal management. The draft local laws are the subject of a consultation process.
If you want the Redland City Council to increase protection for koalas in the new local laws then you can make a submission by the due date which is Wednesday 8 October 2014.
Some words which are suggested for use in submissions by the Koala Action Group are set out below. You can copy and use these words but you might like to also add other reasons why you think it is important to improve protection for koalas in Redland City.
I thank you for the opportunity to make comment on the draft Local Law No.2 Animal Management and request that the following points in my submission are considered:
- Koalas are important to the people of the Redlands which has been proven through many public consultations such as the Redlands Community Plan.
- It is estimated that less than 2000 koalas remain in the Koala Coast area with less than 1000 left in the Redlands.
- More than 600 koalas have been attacked by dogs over the past 15 years in Redland City mainland and on North Stradbroke Island. More than 80% of those koalas died as a result of their injuries including numerous mothers and babies.
- Protection of koalas from domestic dogs is a threat that can be managed by responsible pet ownership.
- The overnight restraint of pet dogs either inside, on a verandah/deck or tethered would prevent the majority of dog attacks on koalas.
- I support the overnight restraint of dogs in a suitable manner including keeping on an enclosed verandah/deck, bringing indoors or tethering with a lead or chain.
- I request that Council retain the current “Koala Management Areas” and extend them to include other ‘Koala Habitat’ areas identified from Koala Hospital records as having a history of dog-related koala mortalities.
Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can make submissions on-line at the Redland City Council website.
In its Frequently Asked Questions the Redland City Council states:
For your submission to be considered, you will need to tell us whether you agree or disagree with a law or section/s of a law and the reasons and facts supporting your position. It will provide greater clarification for both yourself and Council if you can specify the sections of the draft laws that you are referring to.
You could also contact your local Councillor and tell them what you think about the importance of protecting koalas.
Proposed changes to local laws
At present Redland City Council’s Local Law No 2 (Animal Management) 2007 section 24 (2) states that:
If a koala is on land to which a dog has access the keeper of the dog must:-
(a) protect the koala by restraining the dog; and
(b) confine the dog so that the dog can not attack the koala.
Section 22 (2) of the current Local Law No 2 also states that in defined Koala Management Areas dogs kept on properties of more than 2000 square metres must be enclosed or tethered at night time.
DRAFT local Law No 2 (Animal Management) proposed by Council does not specifically address koala protection.
DRAFT Subordinate Local Law No 2 (Animal Management) only mentions koalas in Schedule 3 Item 1 which requires dog owners to “provide and maintain on any part of the premises which is accessible by the dog,structures or facilities which facilitate the escape of koalas from the premises”. There is also a requirement to restrain or confine a dog “if a koala is on land to which the dog has access”.
In the draft local laws put forward for consultation there are no requirements that on properties in Koala Management Areas, dogs be confined at night time.
Federal and State Government protection for koalas
Both Federal and State governments have taken measures to increase protection for koalas.
The Federal Government gave koalas in Queensland increased protection in May 2012 when it listed them as ‘vulnerable” under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Draft Koala referral guidelines were circulated for comment by the Federal Government in January 2014. It is not clear when the Federal Government will finalise these guidelines.
The Queensland Government website provides advice on threats to koalas. It also includes information about various policies, regulatory provisions and programs that are intended to protect koalas and their habitats.
When the draft local laws were released for consultation Redlands2030 published a post titled: Will changes to local laws affect you?
We recently published a submission by a concerned Redland Resident titled Keep Koala Management Areas in new local laws