Koala tree rally calls for land donation

CHANTS of “shame council” and "Made in China Stuffed in Redlands" was how a group of protesters highlighted the plight of some trees at Ormiston.

The group of about 100 rallied outside council chambers this morning calling for intervention to save 27 koala trees from a housing estate development in Wellington Street.

Five speakers addressed the protest, including Ormiston resident Adelia Berridge, who re-iterated a request to council to intervene to save the trees.

Video by Chris McCormack

Ms Berridge called on the council to ask the developer, Fiteni Homes, to donate the land with the trees to the city.

After the meeting she said Fiteni would only have to donate three parcels of land totalling about 3400sq m to save the trees, which are known to house koalas.

Ormiston resident Judy Rose, who organised the protest, told the crowd the council’s Redland Koala Strategy claimed there had been a 60 per cent decline in koala numbers in the past decade.

Another speaker, ABC's Gardening Australia host Jerry Coleby-Williams joked that koalas would soon have to shelter under umbrellas. 

Redland Bay resident Jen Smith was cheered when she asked the crowd, which included members of The Greens Party and former CARP action group, where council had spent a $65 annual environment levy.

Mayor Karen Williams said the protest was “clearly” organised by the Greens party but she appreciated the community’s passion for koalas.

Cr Williams said it was time there was a collaborative approach to finding a solution. 

"Council had no grounds to refuse the development at Wellington Street, but that doesn’t reduce our commitment to koalas," she said.

"If we had refused the application, it would most likely have ended up in a costly court case with ultimately the same outcome.

"Council feels koalas are better served investing the money into their survival rather than spending it on unwinnable court cases."

She reiterated her call for a scientific approach to include all levels of government to find a solution to koala diseases.

Her claim council planted 38,000 koala food trees in the past five years in strategic locations was questioned by the protesters.

Ms Berridge said she wanted to know where the trees had been planted.

The mayor said developers have to make a payment, or plant three trees for every food tree removed.


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