Redlands backs State koala protection initiative

Mayor Karen Williams has pledged Redland City Council’s support to work with the State Government to identify areas within the Redlands that can become safer koala habitats.

Councillor Williams welcomed today’s pre-Budget announcement by the State Government of $12 million in new funding to help protect koalas.

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles today announced funding for a panel of experts headed by Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes to identify and implement new initiatives aimed at arresting the sharp decline in koala numbers.

“I fully support Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles’ call for a new approach to koala protection,” Cr Williams said.

“Minister Miles is being realistic when he says what we have been doing in the past is not working and we need a new approach.

“The data provided by the recent government-commissioned report clearly showed that urban development and koalas don’t mix and Minister Miles and I agree that we need to look at other options.

“I support the Minister’s statement that we need to find and protect new reserves for koalas outside urban areas, and Redland City is ready to work with the Government to identify such areas within the Redlands.”

Cr Williams said North Stradbroke Island, which boasts a healthy koala population, was a logical option.

“The koalas on Straddie are healthy, and their numbers are also healthy. The island provides an ideal environment for koalas and we can work together to enhance it even more,” she said.

“There are other areas within the city boundaries – both State and Council-owned land – that may also provide a safer and less stressful environment for koalas outside urban areas.

“I commit Council to work with the Government and Dr Miles’ expert panel who have been tasked with making further recommendations to arrest the alarming decline in koala numbers.

“I have been saying for quite some time that we need an approach based on science rather than emotion if we are to make a difference, and this is exactly what the experts are now saying.

“There is no simple solution to this major issue. Saving the koala is a shared responsibility of all levels of government and all communities. Together we can make a difference.”

Cr Williams said Council has already adopted a new approach, with funding for a trial of a vaccine for the deadly chlamydia virus, heat mapping of wildlife corridors, enhancing nature corridors, considering expanding koala management areas, plans to plant one million native plants over the next four years and embarking on a major education program for residents.