20.4 C
Byron Shire
March 22, 2023

Park upgrade ‘will destroy bird habitat’

Latest News

Dredging rivers: what are the Ballina candidates’ positions?

A recent Meet the Candidates evening in Ocean Shores saw discussion around how to manage local river systems, which have silted up over generations, and likely contributed to the high flood levels experienced in 2022.

Other News

AJP’s Susie Hearder

Animal Justice Party (AJP) candidate Susie Hearder responds to The Echo’s questions on building on State Significant Farmland (SSF),...

Harmony Week – Global Beats

On Saturday 25 March 2023, Byron Multicultural will celebrate Harmony Week 2023 with Global Beats Byron Bay – World Music Lantern Parade; a stellar lineup of music, dance and rhythms.

Main Arm road works update

Further to last week’s Echo newspaper story Main Arm Road repairs grant unsuccessful, Council’s General Manager, Mark Arnold, told...

Swimmers take plunge for mental health

Swimmers took to Byron Bay pool and swam over 2000 laps to raise money to help improve services to...

Victoria offers solutions for a kinder world

Local author, Victoria Thompson, is so passionate about protecting animals that she spent eight years researching and writing the book Animals Are Us – a guide to a kinder world.

Lismore candidate Alex Rubin

With just a few days until we head to the polls, The Echo asked the candidates for the seat of Lismore one last bunch of questions.

The Knox Park pond island is a roosting site for ibis and other birds. Photo Luis Feliu
The Knox Park pond island is a roosting site for ibis and other birds. Photo Luis Feliu

Luis Feliu

A $1 million plan to upgrade Murwillumbah’s Knox Park over the next few years to make it more user-friendly, including a complete makeover of its popular pond, will destroy a popular bird-watching area, according to some councillors.

The master plan for the park’s upgrade to include an educational wetland and botanical area, picnic shelters and barbecue, new toilets, adventure playground, ‘youth precinct skate plaza’ and a half basketball court will soon go on display for three months.

In his report to Tweed Shire Council last week, engineering director Patrick Knight said Council would receive $500,000 from the Regional Development Australia Fund for the upgrade and match it dollar for dollar.

Mr Knight said the upgrade was expected to encourage greater use of the park ‘particularly by young people and their families, and directly address safety concerns raised by young people and the wider community’.

He said the pond, currently a nesting and roosting site for ibis and other bird species, would be ‘reconfigured to allow for access to the central island and across the pond along with decking and shelters along the edge’.

It would have signage around it ‘informing the public about the ecological design and environmental benefits’.

But Cr Gary Bagnall says the upgrade meant the ‘destruction of a major habitat of birds right in the heart of town’.

‘Local birdwatchers recorded many birds there recently, including some rare ones. It’s going to upset a lot of people around there,’ Cr Bagnall said.

‘It will mean removal of a good part of the rainforest planting to accommodate a children’s playground and the destruction of the bird breeding grounds there.

‘Both will significantly impact on local bird life.

‘The rainforest and the pond should instead be joined to create an urban wildlife sanctuary.

‘Ironically, a national ibis count is to be conducted on 20 October and most important is the count in NSW.

Numbers falling

‘The ibis numbers are dropping. Of interest is the bird itself. Why is it found in urban areas now? Most likely because of the loss of wetlands to development.

‘I believe the areas around the south Murwillumbah industrial estate was a wetland and the local ibis nested there. The area was drained and filled, so where do the ibis go now?

‘The Knox Park pond has about eight varieties of birds that live or feed there. Not just the ibis.

‘Also, I’m told the Tweed River Festival to be held in November has the theme “Birds of the Tweed” and includes a couple of bird-watching tours along the Tweed, yet here we are removing bird habitat,’ Cr Bagnall said.

A longtime local resident who walks his dog around the pond said he was ‘horrified’ at the thought the pond and its island would be rebuilt with a bridge through it.

‘It is the best part about this park. All these birds, not just ibis, but swamp hens, corellas and other migratory species enjoy the safety the island offers them; it’s like a refuge for them,’ the elderly gent told Echonetdaily.

Mr Knight said the new ‘youth space’ will be ‘enhanced by locating it closer to the multipurpose community centre, which was opened in Knox Park in 2012 and includes a dedicated youth centre staffed by two youth-related services’. 
The existing skatepark and play equipment would be replaced by the new integrated youth space which would be designed and managed by young people and other members of the community.

‘After-hours use of the space will be boosted by local youth service providers, who will use it to stage events and activities,’ he said.

A move by Crs Bagnall and Katie Milne to delete the proposed access to the island before putting the draft master plan on public exhibition for three months was lost with the other five councillors rejecting it.

Councillors then voted to place it on exhibition for three months. A Council spokesman said the exhibition period will soon start and the public will be notified beforehand.
The staff report has a timeline that includes dates for public engagement and the adoption of the draft, due later this year, with completion of construction works by October 2015.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. The only thing that is educational about this wetland is that they are educating local citizens that council has no respect whatsoever for wetlands or wildlife! What is with all the excessive cutting down of trees? They just finished Budd Park where a 100 year old tree providing amazing shelter for birds and shade for people was shredded.

    Why is it that humans always come first and there is dwindling space for our wildlife? Do we think we own the planet?

    Any landholders who are sick of escalating rates need to reject this proposal. It appears to me that the staff are bored and deliberately creating work to pass the time. Just leave Knox Park as it is, it doesn’t need any upgrade. Plenty of people use it now and those who do appreciate the birds being there.

    Humans are disconnected from nature. A trip to the park in the middle of town helps to soothe stress and connect us to the natural world. Take away the habitat for the birds and you contribute to our ‘solistalgia’.

  2. Once again the council see fit to remove habitat where the birds have built their nests , it must tell them that the birds are running out of safe areas to roost . Why can’t they build around the pond.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Swimming champs Sydney bound for finals

Congratulations to Wilsons Creek Public School students Ruby, Eddie, Goldie and Ayla, who have made it to the state swimming finals, to be held in Sydney at the end of the term. 

Flood-affected still without assistance

Over a year has passed since the devastating February 2022 floods, but many residents of the Northern Rivers have not received the support to retrofit, raise or buyback their homes, as pledged to them by the federal and state governments.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Vape Culture

Tobacco companies are in your home and in your school. They are quite possibly in your kid’s school bag. They have their sights set on your children; your precious kids are their future. They need to groom your babies into addiction so that their shareholders can continue to suck in their grubby toxic profits. The lips of the tobacco industry are on the soft fleshy cheeks of your babies and they are sucking hard. They are vaping the life out of your kids.

Byron’s chocoholics’ Easter destination

The Love Byron Bay boutique has been specialising in unique cocoa encounters for nearly a decade now. In this time they have sourced an...