Do we want to see the end of Byron’s koala colony? The proposed residential area encompasses an isolated patch of core Koala habitat – an essential stepping stone in a corridor linking, through Sunrise, major colonies around Cumbebin and Tyagarah. Without this link Byron’s Koalas may not survive. The proposal is to clear some Koala habitat and to surround the remaining core Koala habitat with houses. The proponents do admit “It is acknowledged that the suitability of this habitat for koalas is likely to diminish with expanding adjacent urban development”.
A 2010 Koala report prepared for the West Byron Landholders by Biolink showed significant koala habitat on the site. The developers then commissioned new consultants, Austeco whose report was more favourable to the developers. The Austeco Koala report, which claimed to review available information, failed to consider Biolink‘s 2010 findings. The Austeco report denigrates the importance of West Byron for koalas, allowing for core habitat clearing and non-compliance with protective buffer zones. Even the Austeco Koala reports were not included in exhibited documents until complaints were made to the Department.
Byron residents have the privilege of koalas moving through our suburbs. We are the custodians of this iconic Australian animal that is in need of our protection.
The development proposal is to clear 10 hectares of native vegetation, including core Koala habitat. Interestingly, it is identified that koala populations on the site have significantly recovered since the site stopped being used for music festivals (which helps explain the increased sightings of Koalas around Byron Bay in recent years). This would be reversed by this development.
The Department of Planning has displayed contempt for Koalas, planning laws and Koala survival in coastal Byron. The Department doesn‘t seem to have any understanding of Koala ecology and appears to have sided with the developers against the advice of Office for Environment and Heritage and Byron Shire Council. Regrettably they also appear to have contempt for due planning processes as they have taken it upon themselves to ignore the SEPP 44 and Far North Coast Regional Conservation Plan requirements for a Koala POM.
Draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management – Public Exhibition
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