Support grows to keep Maleny’s stars shining bright

By Jennifer Kent

AN E-Petition addressed to Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland requesting streetlights within the Sunshine Coast Council Division 5 comply with Australian Government National Light Pollution Guidelines is forging ahead, garnering growing support to maintain Maleny’s dark sky.

Officially recognised as the last remaining dark sky in coastal south-east Queensland, maintaining its current status and safeguarding it against the severity of light pollution is a top priority for Australasian Dark Sky Alliance co-founder Dr Ken Wishaw.

The importance of reducing light pollution in the region is not only for the benefit of humans; our nocturnal friends have relied on the night sky as part of their existence for thousands of years.

Dr Wishaw explained there are a number of species adversely affected by light pollution, including the dung beetle, found in Obi Obi, using the moon to orientate itself.

“When there is no moon, they use the milky way, but if they lose that ability…[we may lose them]”.

“The Maleny region has a number of valuable night-pollinators, including the Hummingbird Hawk Moth and the Pink Underwing Moth, which are amazing pollinators,” said Dr Wishaw.

“Light pollution can have damaging effects on not only htier ahbitis, but the habitats of other species that rely on them.”  Night predators such as the Sooty Owls, which Dr Wishaw explained are deep in Obi Obi country, thrive on the advantage of dark.

“The artificial light upsets the predator/prey relations. By impacting on their natural habitat, the balance gets tipped out of whack.”

Member for Glass House Andrew Powell MP sponsored the petition to parliament, sharing that maintaining the current status has been the work of residents, businesses and community groups working hard to ensure the town keeps its natural charm.

“Replacing bright streetlights with ones that comply with the Australian Government National Light Pollution Guidelines and the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance approved criteria will reduce our light pollution even further and cement Maleny’s ‘dark sky’ drawcard,” Mr Powell said.

“I’m certain that the people of Maleny will appreciate this petition and hopefully its intent becoming reality.

Not only is preserving Maleny’s dark sky vital for the preservation of nocturnal species across the hinterland and coastal regions, but maintaining the connection with our heritage by looking to the stars is critical for our future generations. “Star patterns haven’t changed and they connect us back some 20,000 years,” Dr Wishaw said. “We can look up now and see the same patterns that generations before us saw.