In response to the recent letter from the general manager, Tweed Shire Council, I fully support his recognition of the importance of the Pottsville Wetlands-Black Rocks koala source population, which Sandy Pimm (ecologist and senior environmental planner, City of Gold Coast and former ecologist with the Tweed Shire Council) states ‘is critical to the survival of the Koala on the Tweed Coast’ (email 5/12/2013).
Dr Steve Phillips (email 30/9/2014) states: ‘Of all the nodes and linkages that were identified by the Habitat Study, the Black Rocks locality is one – if not the most – important as the site supports a resident koala population that is also the southernmost currently known to occur along the Tweed Coast and the locality is ideally placed to accommodate both north-south and east-west movement’.
Since the Black Rocks by the Sea Individual Koala Plan of Management was formulated in 2004, there has been significant natural regeneration of the bushland adjacent to the northern, eastern and southern edges of the Black Rocks sports field with primary koala food trees, where koalas are attracted to their staple food source and from where a substantial number of koalas have been observed and evidenced.
However, there is no buffer between this habitat and the disturbance and threats of human-related koala-impacting activities. On many occasions when these koalas have been observed they appear to be very agitated in the presence of humans, and attempt to move around the tree to make themselves invisible, to climb further up the tree to get away, or climb down the tree in order to abandon the site.
The IKPoM required that 50 primary koala food trees (swamp mahogany) be planted within the north-south koala movement corridor between the residential estate and the sports field, to offset the10 koala food trees which were removed from the sports field site and adjacent residential estate during its construction. It is unclear how the IKPoM has resulted in the protection and restoration of more than 100 hectares of koala habitat, as stated by the General Manager, as the area of habitat contained within the IKPoM is 30.93 hectares.
I welcome the general manager’s assurance that any review and update of the 11 years old IKPoM (which does not reflect current koala usage and quality of habitat) would be consistent with the Tweed Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management. The TCCKPoM presents two styles of development within Koala Activity Precincts, ie ‘koala friendly’ or ‘enclaved’. It is too late for the Black Rocks by the Sea estate to be koala friendly as cat and dogs (including those prohibited by the IKPoM and 88B instrument) now reside there.
Therefore the only option is ‘enclaved’, which means closing the gap in the continuous koala/dog-proof fence by locking the koala protection vehicular access gate both day and night (as recommended by council’s Koala Advisory Committee). This does not mean constructing a continuous koala/dog-proof fence around the edges of the access road and sports field, as this would seriously sever the koala movement corridor.
Negotiations are currently under way for the state government to give approval to the review and update of the IKPoM in order that measures will be implemented which will provide the protection necessary to ensure that this critical koala cell (which has been severely depleted by the recent fire and koala deaths from the stress-related disease Chlamydia) survives the threats which are driving it to extinction.
Lynette Dickinson , Pottsville