Koalas left homeless

It took just three days to clear this massive plot of known koala habitat in April of this year.

By Donna Jones

This story actually begins in December 2020 when the Gympie Regional Council voted to repeal local planning laws known as Temporary Local Planning Instruments, allowing owners greater freedoms to clear their land as they saw fit.

Prior to this, the TLPIs were in place to ensure certain habitats and environs were protected, due to the fact these areas, particularly with regards to koala conservation, are not currently covered under state jurisdiction.

The snap decision by GRC created great unease among conservation and animal protection groups, who lobbied to have other measures implemented to protect these vulnerable areas.

Sadly, while a committee was formed with members of different conservation groups, no new measures have to date been implemented.

Conservationalist’s worst fears were realised when a sizeable plot of known koala habitat was cleared in April over the space of a weekend.

More clearing has continued around the region with complaints being made to Gympie Today in August by residents in the same area where koalas have been sighted, that land butting up to an established environmental reserve had been cleared.

While these clearings are technically legal, residents, wildlife carers and environmental groups were concerned these clearings will leave isolated pockets of habitat, exposing koalas, which are deemed a vulnerable species, to greater risks of car strikes and domestic dog attacks.

Land clearing continues around the region, largely unabated, with social media posts complaining of large tracts of land being cleared a regular topic on local community sites.