Moreton Bay Council Plans Koala Refuge

Moreton Bay councillor Bob Millar points to the location of a proposed koala refuge at Samford Valley.

Moreton Bay Regional Council hopes to establish a koala refuge at Samford Valley.

Council has sent a funding application to the Queensland Government’s Nature Refuges Program to establish the koala refuge over more than 269 hectares of bushland.

The program provides funding for landholders to rehabilitate, revegetate and manage koala habitat.

Moreton Bay Councillor Bob Millar (Division 11) said the proposed House Mountain Range Koala Nature Refuge, incorporating Brian Burke Reserve, was a “significant commitment to koala conservation”.

He envisages the koala refuge would become part of a “much larger body of work” to “help deliver a sustainable future for koalas” around Moreton Bay.

“The reserve covers a substantial area and will play an important role in future wildlife conservation,” Cr Millar said.

“If the funding application is successful, more than 3850 gum trees will be planted, providing an important green link between existing koala and wildlife habitats.”

Gary Bain from the Pine Rivers Koala Association praised Council “for recognising that koalas are in dire straits”, but warned their proposal isn’t a solution for saving dwindling koala populations.

“Nature refuges are established for existing populations and to create connectivity to surrounding koala habitat and should not be seen as a koala sanctuary or zoo, where people think koalas should be moved to because they will be safe from human intervention,” Mr Bain said.

“Research has shown that translocation of koalas is not the answer, with most projects having failed and the majority of koalas that were moved falling victim to disease, road kill and dog attacks navigating their way home.”

Vanda Grabowski from Koala Action Pine Rivers agreed the proposal would be worth pursuing if there was a noted koala population at the site, and if koalas from nearby areas could access the refuge via green corridors.

Ms Grabowski said Council would need to ensure safe passage for koalas travelling to the nature refuge from nearby areas.

“It is against the law for rescuers and rehabilitators to relocate koalas from the perils they face in suburbia,” she said.

“If we cannot help save the koalas in the high density suburban locations by moving them to a safe haven such as this, what is the point of developing it?

“I would like to… learn more about this project’s ability to provide additional food, shelter and dispersal opportunities for our endangered koala population before I give it the thumbs up.”

Council’s application includes a request for a $60,000 grant to revegetate parts of Brian Burke Reserve.

Ms Grabowski said: “I am sure lots of other species including birds, gliders, possums and the array of insects and amphibians that utilise a eucalypt woodland ecosystem will benefit.”

Cr Millar said the koala refuge project would complement upgrades to recreation trails within Brian Burke Reserve, to allow residents “to experience and enjoy our region’s environmental assets”.

The land proposed for the koala refuge is a mix of crown land and freehold council-owned land, originally planned for housing but acquired for preservation.

Story By Lee Oliver, 1 November 2012


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