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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Koalas and Men’s Shed under stress

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David Norris, Pottsville

Why would a group whose aim is to provide help for emotionally challenged men choose to locate their shed in a place which offers social isolation, stress and insecurity? Council expects that men shedders will manage illegal and anti-social behaviour at the Black Rocks sports field and deal with aggressive offenders.

Council has resolved that they be considered for a temporary 5 year lease at Black Rocks. The Office of Environment & Heritage has recommended that men shedders be monitored to see what impact their activities have on wildlife. If any harm is caused to threatened species, OEH has the power to intervene at any time.

The Chairperson of the NSW Scientific Committee, Mark Eldridge stated on 7/5/2016: “Koalas and people are both competing for the same space….. the more people who encroach on koala habitat the more difficult it is for them (koalas)…The (endangered) finding should trigger a more aggressive koala plan”.

Koala specialist Dr Steve Phillips has analysed the Men’s Shed Development Application and concluded: “I am of the opinion that there is strong likelihood of a significant impact on the Pottsville Wetlands – Black Rocks local koala population if the proposed action (men’s shed) was to proceed”.

So what happens to the koalas if the men’s shed move in and then move out? There will be significant risks of stress and disturbance associated with the construction, operation and dismantling of the shed leading to disease in resident koalas. There will also be stress for men shedders who will be watched like a hawk by government agencies, and told to leave if there is evidence of harm to koalas and other threatened species. They will then be faced with relocation and rebuilding costs.

Surely the sensible option would be to choose the permanent site identified by council at the Barry Sheppard sports field, which has far less impact on threatened species and where they can enjoy social interaction with the AFL and pony clubs.

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