Koala habitat maps show Noosa loss's grim reality
STANDING at the entrance of the Noosa National Park, Australian Koala Foundation founder Deborah Tabart is mad as hell all because she is not seeing red on her latest habitat maps.
Red is the marker for quality koala habitat.
Back in 1996 when she presented the Noosa Council with the first maps of their kind, there were whole swathes of this "preferred habitat" through south-east Noosa and west beyond Cooroy.
"This map was done in 1996 with a view to (Noosa Council) managing the koala population so that developments like Koala Beach, which is a sustainable development (in northern New South Wales), could occur," Ms Tabart said.
Roll out the latest 2009 koala map for Noosa, also done by foundation landscape ecologist Dave Mitchell, and whole chunks of red have disappeared.
"In that time, what we can largely see is most of that habit has been largely fragmented," Ms Tabart said on Tuesday at the gateway to what used to be a koala stronghold.
Local koala activists believe there could be as few as three koalas clinging on in the Noosa Park.
"Look at the amount of red in the western part of Noosa that is now missing," she said.
"This is so frustrating to me that every single councillor since 1996 had to be regarded as a quasi developer.
"This happened under the existing Noosa watch; there has been lip service here for years."
Ms Tabart is angry that the 1996 maps - sponsored by Albuquerque Zoo - have been all but ignored. She decided bring the old and new maps to Noosa, including a habitat map of the entire Sunshine Coast showing its dwindling pockets of red.
She said Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson should carry these maps every time he sat down and spoke with a developer.
"This could have been absolutely a different situation," she said.
"Tell me that Noosa cares for its koalas, if that's what's happened when they had these maps?"
Ms Tabart said she was stirred into action after reading reports of calls for more koala research to help save the koala on the Coast.
"This is not about research; this is about constraints on development," she said. "My children used to absolutely love and enjoy finding a koala here (in Noosa National park). Not any more. I think the Australian public needs to know this animal is on the way out.
"The AKF is now determined to get new legislation that will force these developers to honour that habitat, otherwise the Australian koala will disappear from this landscape."
Noosa Division 11 Councillor Russell Green said he was not aware of the 1996 Australian Koala Foundation habitat maps.
Cr Green the Noosa Council and the present Coast administration were mindful of koala habitat in making its decisions and was working on further protections. Cr Green said the Noosa Council and the present administration was very aware of koala habitat in making decisions.
"Could Noosa Council have done better - I would say yes we probably could have."
"Could Noosa Council have done better - I would say yes we probably could have," Cr Green said.