In response to the letter by Ms Lyn Dickinson headed ‘Moratorium needed for koala recovery’ on the Black Rocks Sports field, which is asking people to register their support for a moratorium with the Tweed Shire Council.
Several people and organisations have already written to Tweed Shire Council on the issue during the past week and I have detailed the outcomes of the recent Tweed Coast community meeting on koalas.
I am pleased that the overall outcomes of the meeting support a whole of community response as the key requirement for conservation of the Tweed Coast koala population.
This is consistent with both the key findings of the Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study and the recently adopted Tweed Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPOM).
The multi-disciplinary approach to addressing threats, restoration of koala habitat and engaging with the community has informed the KPOM preparation and the range of recovery actions already underway, including:
• Koala habitat restoration including more than 16,000 trees planted over 11 hectares and a further 20 hectares of habitat under restoration within the Tweed Coast alone.
• Implementation of the ‘Clothiers Creek koala road’ actions including baseline monitoring and pavement treatments already installed. This will be supplemented with variable message signs, community education programs and the recent council resolution to request installation of a speed camera.
• Ongoing collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service that has resulted in improved fire response and bushfire risk planning with regard to koalas and koala habitat.
• Establishment of a network of landholders throughout the Tweed Coast that are managing their land for the benefit of koalas.
• Working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation to plan and implement reassessment of the Tweed Coast koala population in 2015 consistent with contemporary best practice and technologies.
• Continuing to work closely with Team Koala president Jenny Hayes to establish the Tweed Coast koala bushcare group, whose most recent planting included celebration of planting the Tweed Byron Koala Connections 50,000th tree.
• Landscape scale monitoring and control of wild dog activity involving all tenures of land throughout the Tweed Coast.
• Establishment of ongoing remote camera monitoring of key connectivity measures of the Pacific Motorway resulting in the first verifiable record of koalas using fauna overpasses, together with planting of habitat trees to improve crossing function.
• Ongoing collaboration with key stakeholders including Friends of the Koala, Office of Environment and Heritage, Local Land Services, Tweed Landcare, Byron Shire Council, Wetland Care Australia, Friends of Cudgen Nature Reserve and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
With regard to the request for imposition of a moratorium on development, the development controls of the KPOM provide highly specific and thorough provisions to ensure that development on the Tweed Coast does not impact on koalas or their habitat.
The KPOM was adopted as a strategy of council in February and is therefore in immediate effect. Further, council under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 does not have the legal power to implement or enforce any moratorium restricting local development.
If you would like further information regarding the Tweed Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management, it is available at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/koalas.
Troy Green, Tweed Shire Council general manager