Moreton Bay Regional Council is creating a thriving new major precinct at The Mill at Moreton Bay, creating thousands of local higher education and employment opportunities for the region.
With a full-scale University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) campus at its core, this new destination will offer world-class study opportunities to residents in the Moreton Bay Region while conserving more than 110 hectares of wildlife and environmental corridors.
How will Council protect the environmental values of this site?
Council is committed to deliver on a net gain in environmental values, enhancing bushland areas and protecting the various flora and fauna that call the site home.
During the initial planning for The Mill site it was identified that careful management is required to ensure the protection of the local environmental values and nationally threatened species (koalas) as part of the proposed action.
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’. The Federal Government completed a full assessment of the proposed action and subsequently provided approval, with conditions, on 6 September 2017.
As part of the approval conditions, Council is required to develop a Koala Management Plan. In addition, Council is required to undertake revegetation and enhancement of
Koala Management Plan
Council recently prepared a Koala Management Plan [PDF 4.6MB] for The Mill at Moreton Bay Redevelopment in liaison with Dr Jon Hanger, Endeavour Veterinary Ecology; Dr Bill Ellis, Researcher, University of Queensland, and Dr Peter Timms, Professor of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Health, Education & Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast.
The Koala Management Plan outlines measures being implemented to support the koala population including:
Koala monitoring program
In March 2017 Council engaged Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (EVE) to commence a koala monitoring program at The Mill at Moreton Bay Redevelopment site. This program involves fitting koalas with bio-telemetry collars for monitoring, carrying out regular health assessments, and providing veterinary treatment in the case of injury or disease.
Jon Hanger - Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (transcript)
As at 28 May 2018, 56 koalas have been fitted with telemetry devices for monitoring purposes and undergo regular health checks. In addition, there are 15 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 therefore protect, koalas prior to construction activities.
- Conducting regular health checks, resulting in a reduced prevalence of chlamydial disease and other health conditions.
- Early identification of behaviour that could indicate the presence of illness or injury (for example reduction in koala movement, sitting low in the trees). This allows for early provision of veterinary treatment, so the koalas are back to full health as quickly as possible.
- Allows for data to be collated regarding movement between trees and corridors. This assists Council to identify priority habitat areas and, in some cases, identifies unsafe road crossings which can then be addressed, via installation of fencing or fauna infrastructure..
Koala chlamydia vaccine
Council is a foundation funding partner with the University of the Sunshine Coast (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 Peninsula Rail Line (the Moreton Bay Rail Link project) were included in the koala chlamydia vaccine field trials. Results from the trial 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 at Moreton Bay 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 at Moreton Bay Redevelopment 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.
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.
Rehabilitation work is currently underway in preparation for revegetation. As at November 2017, 29 hectares of weed treatment has been completed with an additional 13 hectares of weed treatment works planned to prepare the rehabilitation areas for planting. Weeds removed include Lantana, Cats claw creeper, Balsam pear, Easter cassia, Camphor laurel and Chinese elm.
The Mill at Moreton Bay Redevelopment site - before commencement of weed management works.
The Mill at Moreton Bay Redevelopment site - after weed management works.