Protecting the trees in which they live, work and play is the key to koala survival in the Redlands.
How well have we been doing? Well the number of koalas in our city declined by an estimated 65% between 1999 and 2010. By this simple measure, our community has to do a much better job of looking after koalas.
What can we do to improve the prospect of keeping a viable population of koalas in our City? Stop clearing, felling and chopping down trees. And plant some more trees to replace ones that have been removed over the past two decades.
Local laws that are supposed to protect trees
A while ago the Redland City Council asked the community to review 28 draft local laws. These dealt with all manner of things from animal management to car parking. But the Council’s consultation process did not include any changes to the local laws about tree protection:
Local law 6 allows the Council to impose Vegetation Protection Orders on trees situated on freehold property but the subordinate local law 6 allows a landowner to remove protected trees where they are:
- within ten metres of a house “lawfully in existence at the date of commencement of this Local Law”
- within three (3) metres of the site of a proposed building or structure (other than fence) in respect to which a development permit or preliminary approval has been granted… or
within three (3) metres of the boundary between land under separate ownership …
Amending local laws to save koalas
If we want to save koalas by saving their trees then here are some changes that we could make:
- The Council could impose vegetation protection orders on all mature koala habitat trees in those areas where koalas are known to visit.
- The Council could amend the subordinate local law so that new subdivisions do not automatically cancel vegetation protection orders. This would mean that in the first instance, developers would have to try and develop within the constraints of existing vegetation which supports koalas.
- The subordinate local law 6 could be amended to provide for offset provisions where the offsetting vegetation must be a minimum of ten years old. So anyone with plans to subdivide would have to grow new trees in an approved location before removing the trees that are “in the way” of a subdivision.
There may be other and better ways of achieving the objective which is to ensure that more koala trees are retained, particularly when areas are developed for new or infill housing subdivisions.
In particular the draft City Plan 2015 should have a clearly stated koala conservation objective and this should be supported with detailed constraints on development which are supported by stronger local laws on vegetation protection.
Community support for saving koala trees
In the past few weeks there has been strong community concern about a subdivision in Ormiston that could result in 20 koala trees being removed.
Save our Koalas by Saving their Trees Facebook page has attracted more than 800 supporters in its first month.
Saving our Future: Preserving Trees for Redlands Koalas, an electronic petition, has also been supported strongly with more than 500 signatures already.
Redlands2030 would like to find out what the community thinks about saving koalas by making our tree protection local laws more effective. Please complete the poll below and encourage others to do so as well.