The Mill PDA – Protecting the environmental values
The Federal Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) specifically protects matters of national environmental significance, including nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places.
In accordance with the EPBC Act, Council referred the proposed action to the Federal Government who deemed it to be a "controlled action". They completed a full assessment of the proposed action and provided approval, with conditions in September 2017.
As part of the approval conditions, Council was required to develop a Koala Management Plan and is required to undertake revegetation and enhancement of environmental corridors.
Revegetation and enhancement
More than 110 hectares will be conserved across the site for wildlife and environmental corridors. As depicted in the Concept plan(PDF, 5MB), particular focus has been placed on retaining, rehabilitating and enhancing habitat along the North Pine River.
In accordance with the EPBC approval conditions, Council is required to rehabilitate 26 hectares of koala habitat across the old settlement ponds. In addition, a further 74 hectares of koala habitat will be enhanced along the North Pine River to strengthen existing wildlife corridors and facilitate wildlife movement throughout the site.
Weed management has now been carried out across 55 hectares of bushland on the site, with a natural regeneration approach adopted to improve ecological resilience and diminish impacts of previous land use.
Council prepared a Koala management plan(PDF, 5MB) for the Mill at Moreton Bay Redevelopment in liaison with:
- Dr Jon Hanger, Endeavour Veterinary Ecology
- Dr Bill Ellis, Researcher, University of Queensland
- Dr Peter Timms, Professor of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Health, Education & Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast.
Koala monitoring program
Council engaged Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (EVE) to commence a koala monitoring program at The Mill site. This program involved fitting koalas with bio-telemetry collars for monitoring, carrying out regular health assessments and providing veterinary treatment in the case of injury or disease.
As at 31 May 2021, 96 koalas have been fitted with telemetry devices for monitoring purposes and undergo regular health checks. In addition, there are 41 dependent joeys that will join the koala monitoring program as they become independent (at approximately 12 months of age).
Monitoring koalas provides several benefits including:
- ability to locate and protect koalas prior to construction activities
- conducting regular health checks
- early identification of behaviour that could indicate the presence of illness or injury
- allows for data to be collated regarding movement between trees and corridors.
Koala chlamydia vaccine
Council is a foundation funding partner with USC in the research, development and initial field trials of a chlamydia vaccine for koalas. Chlamydia is a serious threat, with 40% of all koalas presented to wildlife hospitals showing chronic symptoms of the disease which can lead to blindness, infertility and death.
Koalas that were previously monitored as part of the Peninsula Rail Line project were included in the koala chlamydia vaccine field trials. Results indicate that the chlamydial disease prevalence of this population decreased from around 28% to less than 1% which is a promising sign.
USC is continuing development of the koala chlamydia vaccine, with Council and EVE working collaboratively with USC to carry out field trials as part of The Mill koala monitoring program.
Wild dog management program
Wild dogs are known to pose a significant threat to koala populations across South East Queensland.
Council continues its extensive wild dog management program in bushland areas around The Mill site, which to date has resulted in the removal of more than 40 wild dogs from the general area. The bushland areas around the site will continue to be monitored for wild dog activity.