The time has come for governments to stop paying lip service to koala protection measures because, frankly, who believes them anymore?
A block of Commonwealth land at Birkdale offers an example of how maintaining koala habitat does not match the political rhetoric about wildlife preservation.
The land, located on Old Cleveland Road East, is zoned non-urban, but it has turned up on draft planning documents as part of the urbanisation of south-east Queensland (story, page 3).
It contains established and valuable wildlife habitat, including koala food trees. Fears among conservationists are that the land will be developed if it is rezoned.
We already know koala numbers have plummeted in the Redlands over the past 20 years. A scientific report for the state government last year confirmed this and highlighted urbanisation as a key cause.
We also know that it takes seven years for new koala food trees to become viable for the marsupials.
From a layperson’s viewpoint, it would seem logical that established wildlife habitat zoned non-urban should be protected, not put up for possible rezoning to urban.
This is not a comment on the rights or wrongs of land development, but on the discrepancy between what politicians say and what they do when it comes to koalas.
As conservationist Simon Baltais told the Bulletin, all governments have vowed to protect koalas.
Yet in Birkdale a tract of perfectly good habitat has come under potential threat.
Aside from the fact that koalas have as much right to live as humans do, they are a major tourist drawcard for the Redlands and, indeed, the country.
Why would governments not do everything possible to protect them?
The question to ask is, do we really try hard enough to protect our existing koala habitats?
Ask a politician this the next time you see one planting habitat trees, and wait for the answer about laws to protect our remaining koalas.
Then ponder why this block of non-urban land has been made part of the urban footprint in the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan.
There is still time to comment on the draft plan. The period for public comment closes on March 3. Visit shapingseq.com.au/ShapingSEQ.