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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Alternative Men’s Shed sites would impact koalas too

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Lorraine Vass, president, Friends of the Koala, Inc.

I am troubled at reading some of the letters and articles in the Tweed and regional press in regard to the location of the men’s shed at Black Rocks. Whilst I appreciate that the concerns expressed are about the koalas’ wellbeing, my experience is that koalas are relatively stoic animals that are not particularly concerned about the presence of humans. What they are highly vulnerable to is the loss of their food trees, disease, motor vehicle strike, dog attack and wildfire, which is endemic among most koala populations, even those in relatively pristine settings.

 With this in mind I worry that alternative sites are being suggested without, it seems, much thought for the welfare of koalas. The fact is that the area around Lot 3 Centennial Drive has most of the same attributes the opponents of the Black Rocks men’s shed complain of. This includes breeding koalas, core koala habitat, breeding bush stone curlews and an active osprey nest. However there is one crucial difference; the existing cleared area at Lot 3 is small and will almost certainly need to be expanded into core koala habitat to accommodate the men’s shed, sufficient parking and bushfire setbacks. How can this be better for koalas?

 Also, from what I understand there have been at least three other similar suggestions made that would also require clearing of koala habitat or divert precious council resources away from improved koala management.

If readers really want to help koalas on the Tweed coast they need to ensure that prospective councillors commit to Council’s Tweed Coast Koala Plan of Management (which is by far the most comprehensive and rigorous plan of the four in which I have personal involvement) and ensure it is properly resourced. 


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  1. And I am more than very troubled at Lorraine Vass’s response on this issue. Is she not aware that Environmental impact studies were conducted by the preschool at that location which showed that there is NOT the exact suite of threatened species at Lot 3 Centennial Ave as there are at Black Rocks? Firstly there are no koala trees or koalas on that Lot – koalas have been seen on the adjacent lot where there are koala food trees but not at Lot 3. Yes there are bush stone curlews but definitely no osprey or osprey nest. Black Rocks has the only naturally occurring osprey nest in Tweed Shire.

    For her, as President of Friends of the Koalas, to not have even studied eminent koala expert Dr Steve Phillips’ study (available on the CSIRO website) on how noise impacts koalas and publicly claim that koalas are ‘relatively stoic’ is unfathomable. We are talking about a species that has been officially listed as Endangered and has a very high risk of extinction. Is she also not aware that koalas are dying of stress-related chlamydia at Black Rocks three times faster than they are able to breed? Dr Phillips in his report to the EDO states that the construction of a Men’s Shed at Black Rocks (just 20m from koala habitat) will, in his view, create a strong likelihood of a significant impact. Where is the precautionary approach being demonstrated by council? Why does she ignore advice from Dr Phillips?

    To hang the salvation of our coastal koalas on council’s Koala Plan of Management is fraught with danger, especially given that council has not demonstrated a willingness to minimise known threats to this iconic species.

    Suggested sites for the Men’s Shed include the Barry Shephard sports field and the Raiders, neither of which have koala habitat. Which sites is she referring to?

    Does Ms Vass not realise that she is compromising her credibility by not studying scientific reports and questioning the validity of council’s reports when it is well known that Tweed Shire council has a history of corruption?

    • Hahahahaha Menkit you never fail to amuse.

      Firstly you suggested that the Black Rocks oval site be made into a Koala park with viewing areas. Hmmmmmm I guess that human interaction would not be disturbing because these would be koala loving people and just sending off koala love vibes.

      Barry Shephard field is also adjacent to a koala habitat.

      Also Lori……if one were to look at a historical map one would see that the area around the Black Rocks oval has been replanted, it was formerly cleared farmland. Not sure how it was built in critical Koala habitat…….it wasn’t a koala farm. The trees were planted by the developer to comply with government requirements for the Black Rocks development site.

      But hey lets not let any facts get in the way of self righteous anger, despair of the anti everything brigade and all the other emotions that are so seductive to the self righteous.

  2. I couldn’t agree with Menkit Prince’s comments more. Ms. Vaas’s position is uninformed and shocking, especially given her position. I don’t have too much else to add except to ask if she is also unaware that Black Rocks Oval was built in the first place against the express advice of Parks & Wildlife because they knew it was critical koala habitat and an important koala corridor? Certainly no such designation has been given to Lot 3 Centennial Dr! How Ms. Vaas could question that building a Men’s Shed will have guaranteed negative impacts on the koalas, who are already hanging on by a thread, is beyond me. There are few wild animals who wouldn’t prefer to live away from humans – including koalas – let alone cope with the noise, pollution (dust, fumes, etc.), increased human activity, potential for an increase in dog attacks due to the increase in human activity, etc. etc.that a Men’s Shed at Black Rocks will bring. I’m dumbfounded.

  3. Usual ignorance show her by the anti-everything mob.
    If Meerkat Punce was able to read a map she would clearly see the boundaries of Lot 3. Most of it is trees.
    Ironic that one would state “koalas have been seen on the adjacent lot where there are koala food trees but not at Lot 3”. It should read “koalas have been seen on the adjacent land to Black Rocks Oval where there are koala food trees but not on Black Rocks Oval.”


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