SEQ Councils will continue significant investment in land acquisitions and develop local strategies to protect koala habitat as the State Government’s Koala Planning Provisions come into effect.
The Council of Mayors (SEQ) has revealed seven SEQ councils have spent over $130 million on behalf of local communities on environmental land acquisitions in the last five years.
Redland and Logan City Councils’ land acquisition programs alone have exceeded $26 million and acquired over 662 hectares of land, most of it in the key koala coast precinct.
Chair of the Council of Mayors (SEQ) Environment and Sustainability Committee and Redland City Council Mayor Melva Hobson said the revised State Planning Policy would place primary responsibility for conserving local koala populations on councils, their planning schemes and local strategies.
“SEQ Councils have been very active in identifying and conserving koala habitat and the new policy will give us extra tools to do this more effectively,” Cr Hobson said.
“Redland City Council has spent over $11 million on environmental land acquisitions since 2006 to acquire about 580 hectares of land. In addition, further funding has been made available to protect, rehabilitate and manage these lands and create opportunities for joint use by wildlife and residents.
“The new Koala Planning Provisions are a considerable step forward and provide flexibility for councils to provide localised solutions in line with the overall direction of the provisions.
“The Council of Mayors (SEQ) provided detailed submissions to the Queensland Government to improve the effectiveness of the policy and we are happy that some of our suggestions are included in the new policy.
“Councils will now need to demonstrate that koala habitat retention practices are included in their local plan and will have access to offset provisions and other tools to enhance their extensive habitat acquisition programs,” she said.
Logan City Council Mayor Pam Parker said Logan had also made significant investment in environmental land acquisition, obtaining 82 hectares of land in high priority corridors in urban areas.
“Over the last two years, Logan City Council has committed $15 million to environmental land acquisition, with all purchases including koala habitat or corridor,” Cr Parker said.
“We are also working on two additional acquisitions which will take Logan’s investment to $17 million.
“In addition, Logan City Council has reserved 125 hectares of koala habitat as part of Logan West Parklands, the Park Ridge ecological corridor and Berrinba Wetlands, at a cost of $12 million.”
Cr Hobson said the Council of Mayors (SEQ) would now work with the Department of Environment and Resource Management to develop a reporting process for councils under the provisions.
“The revised provisions provided a more outcome focused approach and more accurate koala mapping.”