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Byron Shire
April 20, 2021

Why is Cr Longland ignoring endangered koalas?

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Northern Rivers communities are nothing if not resilient and The Channon community is preparing to take a proactive stance when it comes to disasters in the area.

With the recent fire over Xmas devastating Pottsville wetlands killing some of the remaining koalas in one of the three small colonies of koalas on the coast (ie near Black Rocks), our coastal koalas have probably now changed status from endangered to critically endangered.

With the ongoing problem of vandals and off-leash dogs at Black Rocks sports oval, koalas are dying of stress-induced Chlamydia. The local koala population was already living on the edge before the fire, how much more so now?

The proposal for a Mens’ Shed development on the Black Rocks sports oval, which would contain flammable chemicals at risk of vandals attack, means it’s probably only a matter of time before there is another fire which wipes out one the last remaining koalas habitats on our coast.

The wildlife corridor there is important for our regional ecology. The Men’s Shed has other location options which are more convenient and less environmentally damaging.

What is Council doing to protect koala habitat? I applaud the recent draft Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management in which council announced a plan to build more corridors and plant more trees.

The important core population of koalas at Black Rocks was already covered by its own management plan:  A koala protection fence  with special gate was installed some time ago to separate koala habitat from dogs.

Now it seems that the gate is to be removed or left open as a convenience. There is rarely any need to open the 300-metre access track to cars as walkers have another smaller gate next to it.

Council needs to get serious about the Black Rocks koala population and keep the gate closed except when an event is scheduled there.

Three ecologists have recommended the sports field be planted out with koala food trees.

Perhaps the public needs to contact Cr Barry Longland as the one councillor who often holds the balance of power.

He sometimes votes with the pro-environment councillors, and sometimes votes with the pro-development councillors.

His record to date indicates he may not vote to protect koalas at Black Rocks.

For those who care about koalas and wildlife corridors it’s now time to write to him [email protected] asking him to please put up a motion to protect  koalas at Black Rocks and revegetate the sports oval.

If Cr Longland fails to do this then the people of Tweed Shire may lose the coastal koalas.

The koala habitat ( and wildlife corridors) should not be sacrificed for future developments: people have already altered most of the land along the coast and can leave a little for other animals. When the koalas are gone we will be sorry.

Scott Sledge, Northern Rivers Guardians

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