Blunder as rivers, developed areas designated as koala habit

 

A BUNGLED mapping exercise designed to protect koalas has seen parts of the Brisbane River and grass paddocks identified as habitats for the marsupial.

The errors are contained in plans by the state government to declare more than half a million hectares of southeast Queensland as koala priority areas.

Large tracts of land around Springbrook, Maleny, Dayboro and north of Gatton are covered in the plans, which will include more than 300,000ha where vegetation clearing will be banned.

Koala habitat mapping
Koala habitat mapping

Consultation on the maps, which only opened a fortnight ago, will close on December 22.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has admitted significant errors have been found and the maps have now been updated.

"Koala habitat areas have been identified across southeast Queensland using state-of-the-art modelling, including two decades of koala sighting records, scientific research and existing mapping by local councils," Ms Enoch said.

"During this process, there were some inaccuracies that were found - such as areas that had been mapped as koala habitat but had, in fact, been developed.

"These were rectified during our processes, and the mapping that is now proposed contains remnant and high value regrowth, which is more likely to be koala habitat."

Ms Enoch said the consultation period on the maps would not be extended but the wider koala strategy is still open for submissions until the end of January.

But opposition environment spokesman David Crisafulli said landholders did not have enough time to consult on the maps and warned other errors could be missed.

"After missing every deadline since 2015 and being months overdue with this strategy, the State Government stages a consultation using questionable data which starts as Santa is halfway down the chimney and finishes as school goes back," he said.