Fasttrack to extinction

By Sonia Isaacs

Koalas at risk from urban development

SCIENTISTS and conservation groups have highlighted grave concerns that ongoing South East Queensland urban development and systematic eradication of vital bushland will put koalas at further risk of extinction. A new report launched on September 14 has called for more integration of green infrastructure like fauna crossings, conservation reserves and regional trails into the Shaping SEQ regional plan or face a significant and irreversible threat to the region’s unique biodiversity, with koala habitats highlighted as being at significant risk.

Commissioned by Queensland Conservation Council, ‘The Holding the Line report’ shows the new update to the Shaping SEQ regional plan risks taking one of Australia’s fastest growing regions to below the ‘bare minimum’ international benchmark of 30% bushland coverage, with koalas facing a significant existential threat from urban sprawl and greenfield development in South East Queensland.

Queensland Conservation Council director, Dave Copeman, said currently South East Queensland sits at 35% bushland cover, however, the regional plan could see a further reduction. An additional 6% of SEQ bushland could be set to be removed under the proposed plan for new housing.

“South East Queensland is an ecological treasure trove of rainforests, bushland, and internationally-listed wetlands and iconic species like the koala. All of that is at risk, with the new Shaping SEQ regional plan opening up more bushland and native habitat to urban development,” he said.

Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokesperson, Narelle McCarthy, said the report indicated urban sprawl has been fast-tracking the extinction crisis and that this was the critical wake-up call that SEQ can’t continue to develop at any cost.