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April 14, 2021

Ballina considers plan to protect koalas

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Darren Coyne

The Ballina shire council will decide this week whether to place its draft koala plan of management on public display.

The decision comes as a lobby group continues its fight to stop a proposal to shift the route of the Pacific Highway between Broadwater and the Ballina bypass.

Greens Ballina councilor Jeff Johnson, who is also the coordinator of Save Ballina’s Koalas campaign, is organising a public meeting for 6.30pm on 28 January at the Ballina RSL to update the community on current developments in the broadened ‘No Highway Deviationcampaign.

He said the impacts on koalas, long-nosed potoroos, eastern ground parrots and a number of Aboriginal culturally significant features would be addressed and the case for an alternative route re-affirmed.

Meanwhile, Ballina councillors will decide on Thursday whether to place the draft koala plan on public display or hold off for more information.

The plan has involved two stages since July 2012 when the council resolved to prepare the plan using funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The first stage involved a habitat study that recognized ‘an important population of koalas occurring in the southern part of the Ballina shire, and the second involved the preparation of the plan of management.

The plans aims to retain and consolidate areas of core koala habitat and create linkages between those habitats.

It would also support community efforts to protect koala populations, enhance community awareness, and to support in the koala population more broadly within the northern rivers region.

The draft plan applies to an area known as the Koala Planning Area (KPA). This area has been defined based on the outcomes of the koala habitat study and focuses on key areas in which koalas are presently found. 
The KPA does not cover the entire local government area.

According to a report to councillors, the plan identifies three key precincts in the KPA.

They are the southern KMP, which covers Wardell, Meerschaum Vale, Bagotville, Blackwall Range, Lynwood and Uralba.

The Plateau KMP adjoins the Southern KMP, and includes the Alstonville Plateau while the East Ballina includes native vegetation in the East Ballina area.

The draft plan seeks to limit clearing of koala habitat in the areas by establishing firm regulatory measures to minimise the clearing of koala habitat.

Meanwhile, Labor leader Luke Foley told Echonetdaily this week that Labor would consider an alternative route for the contentious Wardell section of the Pacific Highway upgrade which doesn’t impact on koala habitat, as part of its pledge to save northern NSW koalas from extinction.

Ballina shire council’s meeting starts at 9am on Thursday.


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