Helga and Victor Hill show the devastated wildlife corridor which was their roadside in Happy Jack Creek Road.
Helga and Victor Hill show the devastated wildlife corridor which was their roadside in Happy Jack Creek Road. Craig Warhurst

Valley wildlife corridors cleared

“DEVASTATION!”

That was the word that fell from Victor Hill’s lips yesterday afternoon as he and his wife Helga explained their concerns about needless wildlife corridor destruction along their recently rescued street, Happy Jack Creek Road.

“I phoned every councillor,” Helga said. “None of them came, but (council officer) Greg Ingham came out and was very understanding.”

But, by that time, at least half the damage had already been done.

Having only recently been instrumental in saving their neighbourhood (and plenty of others) from the multiple environmental threats posed by the Traveston Crossing dam, Victor and Helga Hill were dismayed to return from Adelaide yesterday to find that the only real wildlife corridor along one side of their street had been cleared, as part of a council program to improve safety on roads used by school buses.

The Hills do not object to improving safety, but they say a more sensitive program of pruning and lopping would have sufficed.

“They’ve just chopped down whole trees, even where they are nowhere near the road.

“One well-grassed bank is now completely bare and will be eroded,” Mrs Hill said.

Mr Hill said he could understand the need to remove some trees, including one growing in the middle of a drain, but there was no need to take most of the trees that are now gone.

“Look at that butcher bird,” he said, pointing to a bird sitting just at the edge of the cleared area. “He’s saying he now has no home and nowhere to find food.”

“The trees and the creepers that had come back take years to become established and they’ve wiped the lot,” Mrs Hill said.

They point out that the road has been popular with horse riders and walkers because of its pleasant shady verges and the lack of significant traffic.

“And it does harbour a lot of wildlife.”

The Hills have put their own money where their mouths are on the issue of conservation and have set aside parts of their property for wildlife.

The road verges are what linked their own private conservation parkland to the rest of the creek area and the Mary Valley.

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council boundary is only metres away and the Hills say this clearing would be an offence there.

Sunshine Coast council’s tree clearing regulations prevent unnecessary clearing and any private individual would be prosecuted there for what Gympie Regional Council is doing on the Hills’ side of the border.

However, they say, it could have been worse.

“They were going to come back and do the other side of the road as well,” Mr Hill said.

“I do think that by jumping up and down, we’ve alerted them to the sensitivity.”

English-born, Mr Hill said roadside hedges had been widely cleared in Britain and now people were working to replant them, because of their vital conservation role.

Ironically, they say, the paddock across the road from them is subject to a Noosa and District Landcare rehabilitation project.

Gympie Times


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