Unlikely Ally To The Koala Queensland Sporting Shooters Association Make Firing Range Home To Koala
February 25, 2014: In a surprise move, Queensland’s Sporting Shooters Association is turning a huge parcel of gun range property into a refuge for koalas to create the biggest koala habitat restoration project in the state.
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW KOALA REFUGE
The State Government has announced a new refuge for koalas near Ipswich.
In an agreement with the Sporting Shooters Association, 969 hectares of its land near Ripley will become the Stewartdale Nature Refuge.
The project will involve planting 113-thousand koala habitat trees on the property.
So what will the new refuge means in terms of the Koala’s survival here in the South East?
Deborah Tabart, the CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation, joined the program to explain.
Story By Lachlan Mackintosh | 27 February 2014 , 5:36 PM
CHANCE OF KOALA BEING HIT BY BULLET LESS THAN BEING HIT BY METEORITE
There is denial that a rifle range will have an adverse effect on nearby koala populations. Photo: Ian Waldie
Queensland’s Sporting Shooters Association president Geoff Jones has defended the Queensland Government’s decision to pay a private company to plant 113,000 koala food trees near rifle ranges on a new 1000-hectare nature refuge near Ripley.
“The chance of a koala being hit by a stray shot – remembering it is a big area – is not as great as a koala being hit by a meteorite,” Mr Jones said.
“That is the risk level. People overplay the risk level.”
Mr Jones said the risk of a koala being killed by a car near Ripley was far higher than the risk of it being accidentally shot on the land owned by the Sporting Shooters Association.
Queensland’s Sporting Shooters’ Association has for 15 years owned 963 hectares of bushland near Ripley in an area called Stewartdale.
Mr Jones estimated the land was “worth between $10 million and $12 million.”
On Tuesday Environment Minister Andrew Powell announced the Queensland Government had decided to establish the Stewartdale Nature Refuge on the site.
At the 2012 election, the Newman Government allocated $37 million to land revegation programs.
The move was immediately welcomed by the World Wildlife Foundation for Nature.
In a statement, Mr Powell described it as “the largest state-funded koala habitat restoration project in Queensland.”
QSSA president Geoff Jones said it was true there were rifle ranges on the site.
“In fairness there are formal shooting ranges present on that property, but it is a very big property,” Mr Jones said.
He said shooting ranges were not detrimental to native wildlife.
“That’s just a myth and an old wive’s tale,” he said.
“The suggestion is that the noise effects them and quite frankly, that’s wrong.
“Come 4pm in the afternoon, where we have these lovely mown areas, we’ve often got to cease shooting activities to chase the kangaroos and ducks and everything back off the shooting range.
“They will come down to the shooting range because we keep it maintained.”
Mr Jones said planting koala food trees would not increase the risk of accidental shooting of koalas or attract koalas towards the ranges.
He said the government had let a tender to private company, Ecosure, to be responsible for where the koala food trees were planted for the first five years.
“They control the planting of these trees. They take over the responsibility for that for first five years.
“So in the contract the type of vegetation that can be removed or the type of vegetation that can be replaced is very tightly controlled.”
“All with the permission of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
The rifle ranges on the 963 hectare site make up only two to three square kilometres of the total area, he said.
The land is about 40 minutes from Brisbane, near Ripley.
The expanding Ripley township will in the future come right to the border of the Stewartdale Nature Refuge.
Dr Martin Taylor, the Protected Areas manager for WWF Australia, said the move was a positive step.
“It’s not enough simply to protect the fragments that are left,” Dr Taylor said.
“We have to see major efforts to recover lost habitats and corridors like we see at Stewartdale.”
A smaller, but similar koala habitat tree-planting project, was announced in nearby Grandchester in December 2013.
Powerlink and SEQ Catchments are involved in a project called the Grandchester Koala Offset Projects to plant 11,500 habitat trees over 20 hectares near Grandchester.
In late 2012 a specialist committee recommended the status of koalas was downgraded from ‘threatened’ to ‘vulnerable’.
Story By Tony Moore, brisbanetimes.com.au senior reporter | February 26, 2014 – 4:48PM