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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Men’s shed and koalas don’t mix

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Our Pottsville Wetlands koalas may have lost a unique opportunity to survive the relentless stressors which have put them on the brink of extinction.

At the recent Tweed Shire Council meeting, councillors voted in favour of supporting the construction and operation of a men’s shed on the Black Rocks sports field, which is surrounded by primary koala habitat, at the junction of three koala/wildlife corridors, is a recognised koala breeding hub, and is one of three koala hotspots on the Tweed Coast.

I commend the invaluable service that men’s sheds provide to the community, but believe that it is not appropriate to have a mini-workshop in the middle of such an environmentally sensitive area. One of the activities proposed is metalwork. This requires the use and storage of such flammable materials as oxy-acetylene and LP gas.

The Black Rocks sports field and infrastructure has an established history of vandalism, break and enter, and fire-lighting.

As the sports field is situated 300 metres inside bushland in an isolated location, the men’s shed would be an easy target for vandals, with a high risk of fire, explosion and subsequent harm to people, the bushland and the koalas.

I believe that a men’s shed belongs within a community hub similar to Tweed Heads, where a men’s shed is currently under construction in close proximity to the PCYC, a child care centre and a bridge club, with a shared security regime in place to protect all facilities.

Let’s hope that commonsense prevails and the Pottsville Men’s Shed pursue a more suitable site in the best interests of their members and the koalas (I have identified four possible alternative locations).

Such a decision could pave the way for revegetation of the Black Rocks sports field with koala habitat trees, as recommended by four renowned ecologists.

David Norris, Pottsville

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