Noosa koalas could benefit from new conservation zoning laws. Photo: Robert Cicchetti
Noosa koalas could benefit from new conservation zoning laws. Photo: Robert Cicchetti

‘Don’t cut trees’: Wildlife group welcomes new split-zoning

LOCALS wanting to do a little extra for the environment now have the option to rezone their property to help the region’s wildlife and fauna flourish.

The private land conservation policy changes were decided upon at Noosa Council’s Ordinary Meeting and will allow property owners to apply for conservation rezoning by way of amendments to the planning scheme.

Noosa Council Development Assessment Manager Kerri Coyle said this will boost efforts to protect more fauna habitat and expand wildlife corridors across the shire.

“Split-zoning – where you have different parts of the one property zoned separately – is an avenue of protection not previously available to us because the State Government didn’t support it,” Ms Coyle said.

“However, things have changed, and we can now zone part of a rural property for conservation purposes while the land with the house is separately zoned as rural residential, for example.

Wildcare’s Bernard Jean, who works closely around the region with koalas, said he welcomed the news.

“People are so close to wildlife here, they can see it from their back door so we need to make sure we are looking after it,” Mr Jean said.

He said in a time when Australia was facing so much habitat lose due to bushfires, it was important to retain what is already here.

“In these expecting times, we can’t allow deforestation and cutting trees, so that (rezoning) would be great.”

Previously residents has to apply through a costly legal process to have a Voluntary Conservation Agreement attached to property.

“This alternative, rezoning sections of a property, can be done as part of the periodic amendments that Council makes to Noosa’s planning scheme,” Ms Coyle said.

“In many cases this approach will be simpler and cheaper and it will provide equally strong protection.”

Mayor Tony Wellington said Council was keen to pursue all private land conservation avenues available.

“Anything new that we can do to support private land conservation ultimately helps Council’s efforts to protect wildlife corridors,” he said.

“Over the years, Council has used its environment levy to purchase tracts of environmentally significant land. But of course that often comes with an ongoing maintenance burden. If we can help private landowners to protect important regional ecosystems, then that’s a huge win for the environment and the community, and it’s very cost effective.

“Many people come to live in Noosa because they really care about the natural environment.”

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