Troubled WaterSHOW us the science – that is what koala conservationists Carolyn Beaton and Mark Powell say to a report supporting a benefit to koalas from the Noosa on Weyba residential development application.

Mr Powell, a noted koala vet, said that a development of this scale “cannot possibly hope to have any net benefit to any balanced ecosystem on the western shore of Lake Weyba”.

“There is a clear lack of science and evidence-based planning behind this submission,” Mr Powell said.

“Using this supposed net benefit to koalas is pure window- dressing and has no basis in science or evidence.”

He said the report’s conclusion that a biodiversity offset would be to keep dogs out of Noosa National Park should be totally discounted in any “net benefit equation” as by law “dogs are not supposed to be in the national parks”.

Ms Beaton of the Koala Diaries website said “a scientific koala survey would be a sensible first step before drawing any conclusions”.

“Regardless of what any paid consultant asserts, common sense says that an additional 2000 people living on the western side of Lake Weyba with the addition of their cars and dogs will be the death knell for any koalas still inhabiting the area,” she said.

“To claim there would be a ‘net benefit’ to koalas, as a result of a development of this scale, is nonsense.

“We need only recall the hard lessons learned from the development which occurred on koala habitat on the eastern side of Lake Weyba – adjacent to National Park – which had a very negative impact on koala survival.”

Ms Beaton said on the Sunshine Coast, and in the Noosa area particularly: “we are clearly losing the battle to conserve our wild koala population”.

“There are several contributing factors, but chief among them have been loss of habitat, vehicle strikes, swimming pool drownings and attacks by domestic dogs – compounded by the absence of a regional koala management plan.

“One of the key messages that came from the Sunshine Coast Koala Summit, held in August 2012, was that it is critically important now to take a whole-of-landscape approach to koala conservation, as opposed to undertaking limited site-based assessments.

“The western side of Lake Weyba, as an environmentally sensitive area, is not only important in itself, but as part of the wider eco-system.”

Ms Beaton said she was not anti-development.

“But we will only be successful in finding a comfortable equilibrium between economic and environmental imperatives when we take a big-picture perspective and a high-level strategic approach to koala management actions,” she said.