Koalas at Sunshine Coast Council’s Doonan Creek Environmental Reserve have been given a hand up and hand out with a $970,000 State Government offset payment.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said offset agreements attempted to compensate for the impact of unavoidable development and turn a negative into a positive.
“For every tree cut down during these developments, a new tree or trees must be planted in a suitable location,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“In this instance the Federally-funded Bruce Hwy project, connecting Frizzo Rd with Sippy Creek Rd at Palmview on the Sunshine Coast, required an environmental offset.
“Because that project area was mapped as likely to support koalas, for every tree cut down, five have to be planted in an area which could also support koalas.
“Thanks to the flora and fauna assessments that are carried out at as part of Sunshine Coast Council’s environment levy reserve purchases, we know there is koala activity on this Doonan Creek Environmental Reserve, making it an ideal receiving site for this $970,000 offset.
“Knowing what lives in our extensive environmental reserve network puts council in the best position to benefit from these unavoidable offsets and we are pleased we’ve been able to work with the State and Federal governments to achieve this win for the koalas.”
Mayor Jamieson said the funding would provide koala habitat on 9.3ha of the 252ha environmental reserve and cover costs including planning for the project, planting trees, undertaking maintenance over the next five years and land access.
Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said the council purchased the reserve with environment levy funds in August 2013.
“Doonan Creek Environmental Reserve represents one of the most important wetland areas left on the Sunshine Coast,” Cr McKay said.
“And this site is revealing some very exciting secrets.
“Prior to purchase, council knew the 252ha reserve was home to endangered animals such as the wallum froglet and plants including the endangered Lenwebbia species “Blackall Range” and the Emu Mountain She-oak.
“The Sunshine Coast is the only place in the world you’ll find the Emu Mountian She-oak. It occurs between Beerburrum and Noosa and there are only 11 known populations in the region.
“Since then, we were excited to discover flora and fauna assessments have identified koala activity on the site.”
Division 9 councillor Stephen Robinson said this latest investment in the reserve would see the site become even more environmentally-significant.
“I’m really pleased one of the most significant areas in my division is being looked after for future generations,” Cr Robinson said.
“The next step is to develop a long-term plan for the site which may well include potential educational opportunities.
“It is through education that we can all have a positive impact on the fauna and flora on our doorstep and have a better understanding of how to best preserve and protect what we have.
“In the past year, council has purchased 400ha of environmentally-significant land at a cost of $5.7 million, including sites at Mt Ninderry, Cambroon, Ilkley and the Doonan Creek Environment Reserve at Verrierdale.
“More than 850 hectares of land has now been purchased by Sunshine Coast Council for conservation as part of its strategy to become the most sustainable region in Australia.”
Queensland Senator James McGrath and Member for Noosa Glen Elmes were present at the funding hand-over on site today.