Council says draft State koala mapping needs more work and more time

Redland City Council has called on the State Government to extend the consultation period on the draft Koala Priority Area (KPA) mapping to give the community more time to have their say on the proposed changes.

Mayor Karen Williams said giving the community just two weeks to have their say on the proposed changes, which include a proposal to effectively halve local koala protections, was appalling.

“This is one of the poorest examples of Government engagement I have personally witnessed,” she said.

“To put mapping out just before Christmas and give the community only two weeks to have their say is just not on.

“I think Councillors summed it up in today’s meeting using words such as ‘shocked, appalled, absurd and crazy’ to describe the two week consultation period.”

Cr Williams said that despite feedback from Council, and two years of work effort and a commitment to consult with local government, the draft mapping revealed last week proposed to effectively halve the koala areas protected within Redlands Coast.

“The newly revealed mapping will result in substantially reduced and fragmented habitat,” Cr Williams said.

“Under the current draft of State KPA mapping proposals, 1,935ha of existing Redlands Coast koala habitat and 5,680ha of koala rehabilitation areas would be removed from mapping and planning controls.

“While acknowledging the State’s intention to increase the overall net coverage of areas of koala protection across the region, this appears to have been done at the expense of Redlands Coast’s koala population, with what seems to be a substantial reduction in the area of mapped koala habitat in the city.

“This is a retrograde step and prejudices both the investment in time and resources Council has made into koala protection for many years.

“As an example, the new KPA mapping fails to include substantial areas of North Stradbroke Island despite its genetically unique and healthy koala population.

“KPA mapping should be expanded to include unmapped areas of North Stradbroke Island, including, where appropriate, within townships.

“On 30 August, Council wrote to the State Government and encouraged them to use Council’s mapping, which protects far more vegetation where we know, from the work we have done, that there are koalas.

“Instead, the State has relied on spatial analysis of remnant and high-value regrowth vegetation that, without field verification, will result in reduced koala habitat areas across Redlands Coast.

“The State Government is proposing a State-led review of the proposed KPA mapping over the next two years, but today Councillors have made it clear that we want the original area regulated by our mapping included in the State’s new mapping so it is part of the review.”

In addition to providing a submission to the State Government’s proposed mapping, Council will also consider a submission on the State’s koala strategy in January.