NOOSA koala campaigner Carolyn Beaton believes there is not enough science behind the proposed Noosa on Weyba development, which excludes only certain dog breeds to help protect the remaining vulnerable marsupials.
Ms Beaton of the Koala Diaries was part of the briefing to Noosa Biosphere Ltd by development director Steve MacRae on the project which would border on Lake Weyba.
Mr MacRae was behind the Koala Beach development on the northern New South Wales coast, which had a total ban on dogs to help protect koalas.
Ms Beaton said Noosa on Weyba would not ban dogs because Mr McRae said it would decrease the marketability of the development and affect its economic viability – a lesson he learnt from Koala Beach.
“Steve MacRae says he knows which dog breeds have a propensity for attacking koalas, based on his experience at Koala Beach,” Ms Beaton said.
“These breeds would be excluded from the Noosa on Weyba development. The decision is not being made on any scientific basis.”
Ms Beaton said if Mr MacRae was “fair dinkum” about building a koala-friendly residential development that would have nature refuge status and be sensitive to all wildlife, then it must be dog- and cat-free.
“I am a dog-lover, however from my experience working at a wildlife hospital, I believe that any dog has the capacity to inflict a fatal injury,” she said.
One bite can kill a koala because they have very little body fat to provide protection around vital organs.
“It would be much more difficult to monitor and enforce any controls on dog breeds, sizes, enclosures, access etc than it is to enforce the entire development being dog-free.”
Ms Beaton said koala expert Dr Jon Hanger maintained there was not enough detail to determine if the proposed koala protection measures would deliver a “net benefit for koalas overall”.
Steve MacRae said the relevant project document was not yet available, as the final touches were still being applied.
He said the Noosa on Weyba project team was finalising reports to be lodged with the council, hopefully before Christmas, for development assessment.
“The koala protection initiatives will be a substantial part of that submission, which will be available for public comment during the public advertising period to be held next year,” he said.
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Plans to ban killer dogs at proposed estate Noosa on Weyba
DESIGNATED koala killing dogs like dobermans, cattle dogs, German shepherds and bull terriers would be banned from a proposed residential development near Lake Weyba that would be home to almost 2000 new people.
Noosa on Weyba which already faces considerable community opposition, is proposing enforceable draft koala protection measures.
“Residents will be restricted to the ownership of dogs as approved,” the draft protection document states.
Rottweiler and pit bull terriers would also not be welcome if development director Steve MacRae, who was also behind the Koala Beach estate at Pottsville which had a total ban on dogs.
These are deemed as among “those types that are proven to instinctively hunt koalas”.
Under the development’s community title scheme, dogs considered not as big a threat would have to be kept in koala-proofed yards with fences or compounds and kept on a leash at all times when out and about in the estate area. The only exception would be specially-built fence dog exercise areas.
Residents would have to follow all the guidelines or face having their canines “ejected” as per binding clauses.
The draft plan also calls for roads to be designed like narrow driveways with speed limitations of 20kph with increased roadside fencing of Walter Hay Drive from the Eumarella Rd roundabout through to development area’s proposed northern boundary.
Noosa on Weyba also was granted a biodiversity offset by the previous Bligh Labor Government with 139ha set aside for inclusion in the Noosa National Park in exchange for allowing urban development on a nearby 54ha parcel.
Mr MacRae said the Noosa on Weyba initiative has the support of “pre-eminent koala expert Dr Frank Carrick, Professor of Zoology at the University of Queensland and head of its Koala Study Program for proposing an environmental outcome which achieves a net benefit to koala habitat”.
“In my six-and-a-half years managing the Koala Beach project, developed through a close 11-year relationship with the Australia Koala Foundation (AKF) as ecological consultants, I learnt that you can successfully interface urban development with koala habitat and other wildlife species,” Mr MacRae said.
“The environmental protection measures created through the development of Koala Beach have given me and my project team a sound understanding of how to blend residential lifestyle with the surrounding koala environment. These somewhat unique skills have allowed us to seriously consider and plan how the Noosa on Weyba project can be developed to produce a net benefit to the koala population and deliver a development that can be independently accredited as triple bottom line sustainable.”
Noosa koala campaigner Carolyn Beaton of Koala Diaries believes the major concern with Noosa on Weyba was “the loss of koala habitat in the first instance”.
“They keep drawing the parallel with Koala Beach in New South Wales, but the significant thing about that development is that they actually invested in two years of koala monitoring before they released their master plan,” Ms Beaton said.
“Whereas I don’t believe that they’ve done that type of assessment here. To my mind they just look like they’re trying to put as many dwellings on this allotment as they can. I think in that respect the wildlife is a secondary consideration.”
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