Council snubs state govt on koala plan. Mayoral candidate says Redlands can do better

REDLANDS mayor Karen Williams says a state government plan to protect koalas ignores expert advice and removes thousands of hectares of habitat from new mapping.

KOALA WARS: Mayoral candidates says 4500 hectares of koala habitat will be cut and that council should do better in saving koalas.

KOALA WARS: Mayoral candidates says 4500 hectares of koala habitat will be cut and that council should do better in saving koalas.

Cr Williams said the draft koala conservation strategy was little more than an expression of good intentions that failed to address funding, legislation, research, mapping and collaboration.

"Additionally, while stating the intention to prohibit clearing within 300,000 hectares of mapped (Koala Priority Area) habitat, the strategy fails to detail how current exemptions or state planning legislation, codes, or offset policy would achieve this.

"Council wants to know how the state intends to recognise and respond to crucial local government programs like those in place the Redlands Coast or fund new initiatives where the burden inevitably falls on local government."

She said the KPA mapping would remove nearly half of the "essential" Redlands koala habitat.

"It seems the state is giving up on the urban koala."

She said the strategy ignored the Koala Expert Panel recommendation to ensure that locally significant koala habitat could still be protected through local government planning.

Mayoral candidate Claire Richardson said the plan would shrink the amount of protected Redland koala habitat by 4500 hectares.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Environment Department had worked with council to identify local koala habitat but some of the council mapping supplied had been out of date and contained areas of developed land.

"As an example, the large residential development situated along Heinemann Road ... were mapped by the Redland City Council as koala habitat," she said.

"Obviously, koalas do not live in houses and swimming pools.

"Redland City Council's mapping even included a sand mining lease on Minjerribah."

North Stradbroke Island was a sore point for council, with Cr Williams saying state Koala Priority Area mapping would remove almost half the Redlands' koala habitat including the entire North Stradbroke population area.

An Environment Department spokesperson said the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation had advised that a Quandamooka strategy was being developed for managing koalas.

"It should also be noted that approximately 80 per cent of Minjerribah is to become protected area following land handbacks."

Cr Williams said the timing of the state consultation over the holiday period and its lack of detail meant the community was being asked to take the strategy on trust.

Ms Enoch said councils had been consulted while the draft strategy was being prepared and public consultation on the draft strategy had been open for eight weeks, to allow ample opportunity for comment.

PROTECTION: Ms Richardson says council could do better to protect koalas.

PROTECTION: Ms Richardson says council could do better to protect koalas.

Ms Richardson said council had done the right thing in criticising the plan but questioned the authority's efforts in saving koalas.

"With the exception of a few persistent councillors, the past eight years have seen very few wins as development often takes priority over the creature featured in council's own logo," Ms Richardson said.

"As council tries to reposition itself in the tourist market, koalas should have a major role to play."

Cr Williams said council's koala strategy had supported and funded koala conservation for more than a decade.