'Devastating blow': Residents, activists reeling after clearing of koala trees on Ormiston's Cowley Street

REDLANDS residents and wildlife activists are outraged after huge gum trees were cleared from an Ormiston koala corridor.

DESTINED FOR THE CHIPPER: Big gum trees were removed at Ormiston on Wednesday morning.

DESTINED FOR THE CHIPPER: Big gum trees were removed at Ormiston on Wednesday morning.

Tree felling began on Wednesday morning at 3-53 Cowley Street. There were two koalas reportedly spotted on the block at the time.

Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said the clearing was a devastating blow for Ormiston's urban koalas.

"It's a vitally important site for the very reason that koalas have lost a lot of habitat in all our urban areas, so it acts as a refuge for them," she said.

"It forms a corridor between Ormiston State School and the foreshore area.

"Historically, that site was a vitally important site, and obviously it still is when we've got koalas returning back."

A local resident said the land had been one of the few pristine lots left in Ormiston.

Cr Wendy Boglary, who visited the site on Wednesday morning, said residents were devastated.

"They're horrified that we're losing these trees," she said.

"In this breeding season there's been more koalas here than usual.

"(The koalas) must be terrified up there today."

A council spokesperson said since the block was subdivided in the 1890s, no application was needed for clearing vegetation.

Cr Boglary said the clearing highlighted loopholes in state koala mapping and council's City Plan.

"There is no protection for lots under 500 square metres," she said.

"When you have a series of lots like this with such valuable koala habitat getting cleared, it just shows the loopholes.

"We have to get serious (about koala protection) if we want to sustain our urban koalas."

Ms Pointing said the Cowley Street clearing was a tragic example of what was wrong with koala protections in the Redlands.

"Changes have to be made now," she said.

"That's why we called for a moratorium on tree removal until they can sort out the (state) planning framework.

"The Redland City Plan has less protection than any plan since I've been with the Koala Action Group.

"Our decision-makers do not put any priority with the urban koala population. They've written them off.

"We're heading in a really dangerous direction."

Responding to a Koala Action Group petition this month, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said changes to koala conservation planning framework had resulting in the strongest koala habitat protections Queensland had ever seen.

KOALA HABITAT: Workers cut branches off a big gum tree on Wednesday morning.

KOALA HABITAT: Workers cut branches off a big gum tree on Wednesday morning.

In response to calls for stronger protections for urban koalas, the council spokesperson said the Redlands Koala Conservation Strategy and Koala Conservation Action Plan had been adopted in 2016.

The plan resulted in the Koala Safe Neighbourhood project, road signs, and school and extension programs.

The spokesperson said council planted koala food trees along roads and in conservation areas and worked with the Main Roads Department and Queensland Rail to enhance koala safe movement.

"Council continues to use its environment levy to benefit environmentally significant land, resulting in large areas of koala habitat being permanently protected," the spokesperson said.

In 2019, Ormiston resident Stephanie Gaunt told the Redland City Bulletin about her fears for the land, calling for overlays to be reinstated.