I want you to join with me to make sure that the Council hears us loud and clear that they must do more for our Koalas.
This is the single biggest environmental issue and shame for our region.
Councils current proposed policy is woefully inadequate and unless you and I speak up now it won’t be changed.
Whilst our Councillors might not be proposing to make any changes to the policy the residents of our region have to let them know that this simply isn’t good enough.
If elected I will insist that Council adopt a Koala Conservation Strategy and Action Plan.
Please find below the details of my proposed policy.
DEAN’S KOALA POLICY STATEMENT
This policy states the Council’s position on the conservation and protection of koalas in the Moreton Bay Region.
The Koala Conservation Policy focuses on eight key areas:
- Habitat protection.
a. Where legislative and planning instruments allow, further habitat loss within known core koala habitat areas is prevented.
b. Measures to protect koala habitat are consistent with other plans, policies and programs for biodiversity protection.
Examples include the Plan Biodiversity Overlay and Riparian Protection Areas and the Environment Levy Program.
c. Where possible, measures to conserve and enhance Strategic Biodiversity Corridors and/or Strategic Offset Investment Corridors, are focused on areas that assist koala populations.
d. Land conservation practices are encouraged in known koala habitat areas. This may include support for Voluntary Conservation Agreements and/or encouragement to include koala food trees on both private and public land in known koala habitat areas.
e. Measures to conserve and protect koalas are prioritised in koala habitat areas where it can be demonstrated that there are long-term viable populations of koalas. This will ensure that resources and efforts are allocated effectively.
f. State government-controlled land with known koala habitat, that currently does not have conservation protection, is to be investigated for potential inclusion in the conservation estate.
- Improved understanding of Koala needs and behaviours.
a. Research partnerships between Council, State Government, research organisations and koala interest groups are encouraged and aimed at:
i. identifying and eliminating information gaps about koala behaviour within the Moreton Bay Region.
ii. identifying habitat and range requirements for local koalas.
iii. assessing the health of koala populations.
iv. assessing the importance of regrowth and isolated trees to koalas, outside remnant vegetation areas.
v. prioritising conservation and protection actions.
b. Processes and systems are to be investigated, potentially with koala interest groups and experts, to further collate information about koala sightings, injuries, and mortality in the Moreton Bay Region.
c. Key experts are to be identified and consulted on koala needs and behaviour. Such experts may include State Government Departments, University staff and students, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, wildlife carers and koala advocates.
- Mapping and Monitoring Local Koala Populations.
a. In partnership with research agencies, the distribution and health of koalas across the Moreton Bay Region are to be assessed and monitored.
b. Building on current mapping resources, koala records, and regional ecosystem mapping, koala habitat mapping is to be updated. The updated koala habitat mapping will be considered in future amendments to the Plan.
c. Regrowth, urban trees and rural ‘stepping stone’ corridors are to be considered in koala mapping.
d. Records and data of koala injuries and fatalities are to be used to support the mapping of critical hot spots to inform development assessment and Council capital and operational works projects. These critical hot spots may relate to vehicle strikes, dog attacks or infected koalas.
e. Up-to-date methods for verifying the occurrence and health of koalas in the Moreton Bay Region is to be investigated and applied where possible. This may include grid point surveys, koala detection dogs and heat-seeking monitoring devices attached to drones.
- Planning & Development Decision-making
a. Potential gaps in National and State legislation and policy on koalas are to be investigated and measures considered for further protection through the Plan.
This may include, for example, the identification of Matters of Local Significance (MLES) and tree protection provisions other than the Plan mapped biodiversity overlay.
b. Government organisations, research organisations and koala interest groups are to be consulted on the preparation of comprehensive region-wide koala habitat mapping.
The mapping may consider for inclusion in the planning scheme for development assessment purposes and can also inform Council developments that may be exempt from planning scheme provisions.
c. State Government has developed the Qld Environmental Offsets Policy 2014 to guide developments that may impact on matters of environmental significance. As directed by the State Government, the Environment Offsets Policy 2014 is to be integrated into the new planning scheme.
d. Offset receiving sites are to be identified on public or private land that could potentially be used for re-instating koala habitat.
e. Consistent with the State Qld Offset Policy 2014, environmental offsets provisions are applied for clearing of koala habitat in mapped koala habitat areas, provided the relevant development applicant has demonstrated that the clearing is unavoidable and efforts have gone towards mitigating potential risks to koalas.
f. Council Environmental staff are to consider, on an as-needs basis:
i. potential land suitable for purchase as environmental offsets, and/or
ii. Council-owned or controlled land suitable for environmental offsets, and/or
iii. land parcels in or near koala habitat areas that are suitable for revegetating with koala food trees.
- Infrastructure Decisions
a. The impacts on koalas and habitat from Council planned capital and operational works are to be assessed through the following process:
i. In the first instance, investigate measures to avoid any impacts on koalas and habitat from planned works;
ii. Mitigate unavoidable impacts from works;
iii. Offset unavoidable impacts as close as possible to the impact site.
An example of mitigating impacts: reducing tree clearing by shifting the majority of the impact site to an area already cleared of vegetation. Any remaining trees that are unavoidably cleared (residual impact) are offset.
b. Where appropriate, the best practice design and construction of infrastructure in known koala habitat areas are to be considered, including:
i. koala-friendly fencing in koala movement corridors;
ii. koala exclusion fencing at known car strike hotspots;
iii. koala crossing’ warning road signs where koalas regularly crossroads;
iv. subject to traffic regulations and standards, potential speed limit reductions at points where koalas regularly crossroads;
v. improved street lighting where koalas regularly crossroads to ensure the animals are visible to drivers;
vi. where it can be demonstrated that it will be of benefit to koalas, wildlife underpasses and/or land bridges, when constructing roads and bridges;
c. State government authorities (e.g. Department of Transport and Main Roads) are to be consulted and encouraged to mitigate threats to koalas on state-controlled roads.
d. Where possible, vegetation on road reserves is to be retained because it provides valuable movement corridors for koalas and other fauna.
- Pest Control
a. Targeted control of wild dogs in known koala habitat areas is to be undertaken, consistent with a Pest Management Plan and subject to Council pest management priorities.
- A Cautious Approach to Supporting Koala Translocation.
a. Translocation of koalas within the Region is only be supported where it adheres to State guidelines, considers existing koala populations at the site, and involves identification of suitable animals for translocation.
- Increased Community Awareness and Participation.
a. Community education concerning koala conservation is provided. Such information may include habitat requirements, threats and measures to conserve and protect koalas.
Mechanisms for educating the community and visitors may include:
i. engaging with Tourism and tourism operators to foster koala conservation and educate visitors to the region;
ii. providing koala education at public events
b. The adequacy of wildlife care in relation to koalas is to be reviewed for:
i. Current wildlife rescue contact signage and information that is available to the public.
ii. The process of the public responding to sick or injured wildlife and referral to care and veterinary services.
c. Community involvement in koala monitoring or research projects is encouraged.
d. The capacity for Council and the community to protect and manage koala populations and habitat are enhanced by partnering with organisations such as local environmental groups, local koala advocacy groups, natural resource conservation groups etc.
e. Through existing mechanisms, such as Council’s Responsible Dog Ownership program, encourage dog owners in known koala habitat areas to:
i. take active measures to reduce dog attacks on koalas by keeping dogs constrained at night;
ii. encourage dog-owners to be koala-aware when dogs are exercised on public land.
Candidate For Division 7