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August 3, 2021

The end of the Koala? Concert in Pottsville

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The Pottsville men’s shed backers have been in a long-running dispute with koala conservationists since they were given a temporary five year lease to place a demountable on the Black Rocks Sports Field site by Tweed Council.

Local conservationists are concerned about how the increased use of the site will effect the already stressed koala population. They want the men’s shed to be provided with an alternative location.

‘We are saying lets put the men’s shed in a better spot,’ said Northern Rivers Guardians (NRG) President, Scott Sledge. ‘It (Black Rock sports field) is not a good location for them. There is no bus transport and you can’t walk there.’

Highlighting the need to look after the local koala population NRG have organised a community event aimed at highlighting the both the plight for an alternative site for the men’s shed and the need to protect koalas. The family friendly event will be held at Ambrose Brown Park, Pottsville, from 10am to 1pm on Saturday 11 March. Speakers will include NSW Greens koala spokesperson, Dawn Walker MLC; Mayor and koala conservationist, Katie Milne; Wildlife consultant and radio broadcaster, Gary Opit. Performances by local artists Melinda Menzies, Michael Manley, Sophia Fletcher are free to enjoy.

State government recognition 

The state government has acknowledged the importance of this koala population to the health of koalas in the northern rivers region. In recognition of this they have supplied funds for planting more feed trees in the area. Some locals have suggested planting out the sports field for koala habitat due to the isolation of the sports field, its low use and the vulnerability of the koala population.

‘The koala population there is very fragile,’ said Sledge. ‘They have suffered a number of fires in recent years and other disturbances by dogs, cars and noise. There is occasional use of the site at the moment and in between uses it give the koalas time to recover. If you put in lots of human activity in the area in another five years time there won’t be a koala population there as the extra activity will cause a collapse.’

Win win solution?

NRG are highlighting two other possible locations for the men’s shed that are closer to town and have better access.

‘We want to create a win win solution,’ said Sledge. ‘We want a better location for the men’s shed and to have koalas protected.’

For more information visit the NRG website.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. I will be attending this concert with my family on Saturday to support the plight of the endangered coastal koala at Black Rocks. I also support the Men’s Shed but not in amongst endangered koala’s, for goodness sake. The Pottsville and district men’s shed have never applied for the other more suitable sites available. There is an agenda being hidden behind the President of the PDMS continual refusal to formally apply for other sites. The hidden agenda can be found if you look for it. Extinction is forever.

  2. Troy Green, general manager, Tweed Shire Council”

    “Replanting sports field not the best koala response
    The Echonetdaily article ‘Row over Tweed koalas extinction claim’ today regarding the listing of the Tweed and Brunswick koala population as endangered demands a response.
    Tweed Shire Council and the Tweed Coast Koala Advisory Group prepared the nomination for this listing and welcome the final determination of the Scientific Committee. This determination recognises the severity of the decline faced by the Tweed and Brunswick koala populations and highlights the need to continue to address threats such as wildfire, vehicle strikes and habitat loss.
    For the Threatened Species Conservation Society to form and state an opinion as to whether council’s management actions have ‘worked’ in the short period between publication of the Tweed Coast Habitat Study in 2011 displays a distinct lack of ecological expertise. Threatened species recovery is a long-term commitment and requires a whole of community response.
    Further, for this society to make such unfounded and premature claims is entirely disrespectful to the hundreds of staff, volunteers, landholders, contractors and members of peak conservation organisations such as Friends of the Koala and Team Koala who have displayed the vision, long term commitment and determination to help save Tweed Coast koalas.
    During this time, council has acted strategically and with purpose to ensure an effective response. This has included the preparation, adoption and implementation of the Tweed Coast Koala Plan of Management and securing more than $2 million dollars in funding for the Tweed Byron Koala Connections project.
    Both of these programs have been successfully implemented resulting in planting more than 70,000 trees on over 100 high priority sites. These programs have been recognised by peers and experts at a national level through awards programs that are independently assessed and evaluated.
    However, perhaps the best independent evaluation has been koalas using planted trees at many sites. This provides a genuine indication that the range of actions underway will contribute positively to the recovery of koalas on the Tweed Coast.
    Contrary to claims made by the Threatened Species Conservation Society, Tweed Shire Council has never claimed that the population was stable. The 2015 habitat study identified the Pottsville – Black Rocks population as having a stable activity level using the same methods applied by Biolink in 2011. This is a positive sign for this area but highlights ongoing declines, and need for action throughout the Tweed Coast. From this perspective, the ongoing, uncritical focus on Black Rocks is very disappointing given that the listing of the Tweed Coast koalas as an endangered population applies to the Tweed Coast as a whole.
    It is also worth noting that the Black Rocks sport field is in its current location to specifically avoid impact on koala habitat. When the Black Rocks by the Sea development was approved 20 years ago, the current location of the sports field was a grazed paddock. By locating the field in its current location, existing koala habitat was protected and an additional 102 hectares of land dedicated for additional habitat. Council now actively manages this area for the benefit of koalas and other wildlife.
    The article also incorrectly states that council staff are investigating the relocation of the sports field to the Dunloe Park urban release area. Council resolved at its April meeting to retain the Black Rocks sports field, to improve the entrance arrangements and to prepare an operational plan to ensure that the sports field is managed to ensure the significant threatened species habitat is protected and valued.
    The provisions of the Tweed Coast Koala Plan of Management require the proposed development at Dunloe Park to include major east-west corridors to link the coastal population with the hinterland. This will provide a highly significant outcome for koalas. The poorly thought-through proposal of the Threatened Species Conservation Society to recommend additional sport fields in this area may actually jeopardise the establishment of extensive koala corridors over the Dunloe Park area, resulting in a far worse outcome than managing the existing situation at Black Rocks.
    The statement that there would be minimal costs associated with this proposal is also grossly incorrect. All land on the Tweed Coast is of high value and the costs associated with securing additional land at an alternative site have been estimated at approaching $10 million. If we had that sort of money my staff assure me that they could do a whole lot more for koalas than rehabilitate four hectares at Black Rocks!
    It appears that The Threatened Species Conservation Society’s most recent position to substitute a much-required corridor in Dunloe Park for revegetation of a sports field is more aligned to the neighbourhood amenity of one of its members than the need to conserve the Tweed Coast koala population.
    Tweed Shire Council has and will continue to work strategically and positively to reverse the decline of the coastal koala population.
    Troy Green, general manager, Tweed Shire Council”

  3. Here is what the Men’s Shed Fauna and Flora Assessment says about the impact of the shed on koalas…
    “…assessments of significance determined that the proposal is unlikely to have a significant impact on the Koala and a Species Impact Statement is not required for this species.
    This was primarily because of the minor nature of the impact to construct the proposal, the minor increase in activity at the fields, and the traffic calming features that are already installed on the access road.”
    So the Shed’s impact is assessed as so low it doesn’t warrant a Species Impact Statement.

  4. “Four related to the Black Rocks Sports Fields and the impact on fauna, with an emphasis on koalas. The submissions state that sports fields in that location have unacceptable impacts on threatened animal species, that the fields are not required and that they should be closed and revegetated as koala habitat. If they are not closed, measures to restrict the impact of its use are requested. The Strategy’s recommendation that the Black Rocks Sports Fields remain part of the sport field network in the southern precinct is supported. Considerations are: o The strategy states the current amount of sports fields in the southern precinct, including the Black Rocks Sports Fields, is consistent with anticipated needs. It is important that where possible sports field locations are identified well in advance of immediate needs as it is not possible to respond to changes in participation in the short term. o Should the Black Rocks Sports Fields not be available for future sporting use an alternative area needs to be identified and funded. The future Dunloe Park release area will generate its own sports field requirements based on the predicted population. Relocating the Black Rocks Sports Field to this area would require purchase and embellishment of land additional to that dedicated by any Dunloe Park development. o It is difficult to identify and develop new land for sports fields. The minimum cost to purchase and develop an alternative four hectare sports field is estimated to be in the order of 10 million dollars. At a previous Council workshop the history of the Black Rocks Sports Fields and the trade off in embellishment of the fields that enabled the original dedication of the surrounding bushland areas was explained. o Many existing sports fields in the southern precinct are single field facilities only. Pottsville Oval in particular is too restricted in size to have a future as a formal sports field. Sports fields are now considered to need a minimum at least two fields, making the Black Rocks Sports Fields one of only three locations in that precinct to meet this criteria. “

  5. Two sites under consideration are private land which would need to be purchased at cost to the community.
    Both of those are considered for “core koala habitat”.
    “Meetings have been held with the State Member for Tweed, Mayor,
    General Manager and Biodiversity Team Leader, Deputy Premier of
    NSW and Minister for Local Government and Environment on 22
    February 2017 looking at two sites for koala habitat. Whilst not directly
    pertinent to the men’s shed, sites considered for acquisition for core
    koala habitat could double as the alternative site for the men’s shed if
    the land is ultimately acquired subject to development application and
    landowner’s consent.”
    So much for the impact of the shed on koalas!

    Lots 3 was also under consideration:
    “During the assessment, the applicant proposed to create a Bush Stone Curlew Habitat
    compensation area on the adjacent Lot 3 without prior endorsement from NSW Crown
    Lands. It is noted that Lot 3 was historically used as a materials storage area consistent
    with the Reserve Purpose of Rubbish Depot and Sanitation Purposes. The site has been
    previously identified as a planting offset opportunity requiring site contamination assessment
    and potential remediation and therefore Council officers considered the Bush Stone Curlew
    Habitat Restoration Area and the remediation of the site a good outcome.

    It is also noted that within Council Report for meeting Thursday 17 November 2016, Lot 3
    has been raised as an alternative site for the Pottsville Men’s Shed, however the report
    considered it unlikely that Crown Lands will grant such tenure for this site given required
    modification to the site’s Reserve Purpose and site contamination and remediation required for future works. Notwithstanding, this matter is considered to be separate from this
    assessment and is continuing.”

    Those for this site would sacrifice remediation and the protection of Bush Stone Curlews at a site where they have been identified.
    Quoted from http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Controls/Meetings/Documents/20170316%20-%2002%20-%20CNL%20-%20Ordinary%20Agenda.pdf

  6. The more people the less animal habitat. One or the other make up your mind .more festivals more drugs. Police cant keep up. Keep going full steam ahead. Thats the spirit.

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