MORE koala food trees have been cut down at Cleveland – sanctioned by Redland City Council – to make way for units.
Trees were cleared on private property and a public footpath despite the vegetation being critically important to the last handful of koalas surviving in the Cleveland-Toondah Harbour precinct.
Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said clearing by a developer on Shore Street East had severely compromised a significant corridor.
”The developer is only doing what council have given approval for and our group firmly believes that a better outcome could have been achieved if systems were in place to protect known koala habitat through the development assessment process,” Ms Pointing said.
“(Radio tracking shows) Tyler was using trees on the site the evening prior to clearing commencing.
“Data shows that two of our other tracked koalas regularly use some of the trees ... as well as a couple of untracked koalas.”
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Ms Pointing said council had to explain why it gave approval for footpath trees to be removed.
“Why was there not a greater effort by council to retain and protect more of the trees on the border of the development site particularly when it was obvious that they are koala habitat,” she said.
“Why are council refusing to allow the developer to plant replacement eucalyptus trees on the footpath which is plenty wide enough to support larger trees?
“Better planning and design must occur … if koalas have any chance of surviving in this area.”
Acting mayor Wendy Boglary did not respond to questions.
A council spokesman said council was unable to prevent the removal of two koala habitat trees as the site was not protected in the planning scheme.
“The state government, which is responsible for koala protection, mapped the site as the lowest priority, allowing for the removal of trees,” he said. “...There are a number trees to be removed from the road reserve that are a mix of native and exotic species.
“Council’s aboricultural experts concluded ... that these were either subject to structural faults and would have required removal regardless of the adjoining development or were not appropriate in that location.
“This part of Cleveland, including the site, has been identified in council planning documents as an area to accommodate medium density residential development since the early 1990s.
“Approval was originally given in 2009 for a mixed-use development, including an apartment building, on the site, although that approval lapsed with council refusing an extension.
“Approval for the current development was given in March this year. The application was impact assessable and approved by council officers under delegation.
“Following notification, no public submissions were received about the development.”
He said council was committed to protecting local koalas and preventing the removal of trees where possible.
He did not respond to questions about the total number of trees to go nor why there was not a greater effort by council to protect more trees on the development’s edge.
Council also did not say whether it was refusing to allow the developer to plant replacement eucalyptus on the footpath which had already been shown to be wide enough to support larger trees or if there was any prospect of council changing its policy regarding remnant koala trees.
Ms Pointing said data showed that three trees on the corner of Wharf and Shore Street East were frequented by koalas on an almost daily basis and action must be taken now to ensure they were retained when the site was developed.
“Better development design would allow these existing trees to be retained and be incorporated into the landscape/open space area that development sites are required to have,” she said.