Koalas need protection now dear Minister

One of the koalas under threat from planned development at Toondah Harbour in Redland City

Koala under threat from planned development at Toondah Harbour in Redland City

After acknowledging an 80% decline in the number of koalas in parts of south east Queensland from 1996 to 2014, State Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles announced additional koala protection funding of $12 million over four years with an expert panel “to kick-off discussions on how best to move forward to better protect koalas”.

Redlands resident Margaret Hardy was outraged by this inadequate response to Queensland’s koala crisis. Here’s what she wrote to the Minister.

Letter to Steven Miles about koalas

Dear Minister Miles

It is with both despair and outrage that I write to you today regarding koalas.

After your withholding of a vital scientific report for months, you have now decided that Queensland needs another strategy and yet another panel of experts to save our iconic koala from extinction.

Minister Miles, I have lived in a koala area in Redland City for more than 30 years. I used to have koalas in my street and in my back yard. No more. I live in an established area with no large scale development pressures but bit by bit our local koala corridor has been decimated by poor planning decisions.

You claim that what we have been doing for years has not worked. That habitat protection has not worked. So we must consult further; although the science has been on the table for years? We must consult further to corral our koalas into designated areas to ensure their survival?

Minister Miles – you seem to have missed the point, so I shall clarify for you. Firstly, habitat protection has not failed. It has yet to be implemented. Allowing developers to fell mature food trees and replace them with a cash donation to a council or a handful of seedlings a couple of kilometres away, does in no way protect habitat. Habitat protection is saying NO to the developers. NO – you cannot fell those trees. NO you cannot build there.

Secondly, habitat protection requires preventing the destruction of food and shelter trees in koala habitat areas, as well as the protection of the open spaces through which koalas move between their territorial trees. This includes both urban and rural areas.

Finally, there are two distinct populations of koalas – bushland and urban. They range widely across their territory and necessarily interbreed to maintain strong genetic diversity. If you isolate populations of koalas you will damage this fine genetic balance further threatening the species.

Examples of failed habitat protection are plentiful.

  1. Planning legislation has been ignored for years. Just today Redland City Council is retrospectively adjusting some habitat overlays in the planning scheme. The previous council approved building on sites that should have been protected by the overlay but they did not. So now they are retrofitting the planning scheme to cover this blatant disregard.
  2. The State approval of a Priority Development Area for Toondah Harbour will extinguish the colony of koalas at G.J. Walter Park, Cleveland. This decision was made at the request of council by a former government but you have failed to reverse that decision.
  3. A former Labor government lifted the koala protection from the Barro Superquarry site at Mt Cotton; an area that supports a population of at least 26 koalas. If they don’t die of starvation they will choke to death from the dust.
  4. An area at Redland Bay was chosen for development but had a high value koala habitat rating at State level, that prevented habitat destruction. So council and the developer conspired to have the level of rating lowered and away went the trees.
  5. Just last week I watched footage of mature koala food trees being felled by a bulldozer at Victoria Point, to build a footpath through a conservation area. There was further footage on the major news channels of koalas sitting in a narrow corridor of trees, watching as their adjacent habitat was clear felled by machinery, in the Moreton Regional Council area. Both these actions were approved under planning legislation. That is not habitat protection.

So you see Minister Miles – we have never had any real habitat protection. What we have had is a range of token gestures that have been consistently over-ridden by State, Local government and developers – day by day; year after year.

Now what is needed is your support for the Australian Koala Foundation’s proposed Koala Protection Act and an immediate moratorium across the State on the clearing of any koala habitat as well as the protection of movement corridors.

If you fail to act with urgency then not only will Queensland be seen worldwide as the State that wrecked the Great Barrier Reef but also the State that annihilated koalas. Is this really the best we can be?

Regards

Margaret Hardy

Further reading

Koalas need better government

What do you think the Government should do?

If you think the Government should get serious about koala protection, send them a message.

It could be a long letter like Margaret’s, or just a simple plea to get serious about habitat protection.

Contact details for Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles:

07 3239 0844
environment@ministerial.qld.gov.au

If you email the Environment Minister it would be a good idea to send a copy cc to other key ministers and the three members of state parliament who represent the Redlands. Here are their contact details.

 

 Published by Redlands2030 – 9 June 2016

 

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7 thoughts on “Koalas need protection now dear Minister

  1. Further to my letter dated June 8, 2016, am herewith repeating comments in event it went astray. Heard you Mr Miles on radio and saw you earlier this week on TV re plight of near extinctions of our koalas, unique only to Australia in the wild, now with 80% extinct in SEQ, understand help is at hand. What I heard was the $12 million would be earmarked to save remaining koalas from extinction. There is only one way Mr Miles, only one. No more experts needed to tell us how, we have been through that time after time after time Mr Miles, mapping has been done too…time after time after time Mr Miles for various government administrations. Buying land is the only way to save koalas, knowing as you said, koalas and urban development don’t mix, and we, the people, see that every day here in Redlands, as there is no halting urban sprawl. Do what is right for this unique marsupial, and use …ALL OF THE MONEY…ALL TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS ON BUYING HABITAT, HABITAT, HABITAT. NO developer with deep pockets can buy it, no dogs can invade the protected land for koalas, no humans can drive their motorised vehicles through it, as by doing so, our remaining koalas have a fighting chance of survival in the wild. I say this because for past 30 years living in Capalaba, have watched helplessly as protected habitat sites have been systematically and mercilessly destroyed for urban development where they are now extinct in Capalaba. Caller on ABC radio this morning confirmed what I say as he worked on development sites in Redlands and stated only a koala sanctuary can save remaining SEQ koalas.

  2. “If you think the Government should get serious about koala protection, send them a message.”
    What have we been doing over the past so many years??? Writing letters, sending emails, making phone calls, begging for all three Governments to protect our koalas!! And now they are in danger of becoming extinct!
    How sad, and how useless have all our letters, emails, phone calls been because the Government are now saying our koalas need help. Lord help the koalas because these Governments certainly aren’t.

  3. Seriously after years of being told by rescue groups and concerned koala people he comes out with this crap like he had no idea what was going on?? Too little way too late Mr Miles, the extinction of this Australian icon can be placed firmly on your shoulders, But I bet the weight wont bear on you too much with your huge Government Paycheck and perks. Shame on you

  4. Well said Margaret, I totally agree. Only last week was I asked for scans of the Birkdale Bushcare Newsletters I used to write for the Oral History project and there was one dated 26.January 1997 and here is an excerpt :” the spotlighting on the 23.Nov.96 was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended, specially the seven children that took part. In one and a quarter hour we recorded 8 Koalas ( a 9th was spotted near my car as all had left) 7 Brushtailed possums, 3 Ringtail Possums, 1 Tawny Frogmouth. Imagine what else is there that hid from an enthusiastic group !”
    Where have they all gone?
    There has been no protection of Koalas and their habitat only talk and surveys.
    Minister Miles and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk : The time to act is NOW tomorrow will be too late as you will go down in history as the cause of the koalas extinction in SEQ by inaction.

  5. Blatantly true and very well said. The only omission is the impact of feral and domestic animal activity decimating our remaining Koala’s to further highlight the sense of urgency (300,000 cats and dogs born in annual breeding seasons with a percentage of less than 65,000 of each being accounted for by Veterinarians and animal & environmental groups, that could render our Koalas extinct in 18 months or less…….and the empowering of ignorants who persist in planting exclusive Eucalyptus allotments which increase water run off, reduce drought resistance and toxify the land (5-6 different plant species are required to be planted collectively to avoid this).
    Perhaps a dog food campaign and economic assessment on the Impact to our Tourism industry would have greater and more penetrating effect.

  6. more discussions, more surveys, more talk !!! All along everybody knows the only way to prevent the extinction of the koala is prevent the loss of habitat ! It’s a no-brainer, our “leaders” cannot possibly be so ignorant as not to know that or are they simply lacking the will to act ….shame on all who could prevent the loss of koalas in SEQ but do nothing but talk ! History will show you were the cause of the extinction of the iconic Australian Koala, not found anywhere in the world. A draw card for international tourism. Spend the 12 million on rezoning koala habitat to rural -non urban and pay out the landowners for the down zoning or better still get rid of the ‘injurious affection’ laws