Clearing of land off Groundwater Road, Gympie. From left, Maureen Lambooy, Coral Graham, Sylvia Kincs, Don Sinclair, Annette Bourke, Nonie Metzler, Robin Breen, Bruce McCulloch, Barbara Yule and Wendy McPherson protesting at the clearing of habitat trees. Photo Greg Miller / Gympie Times
Clearing of land off Groundwater Road, Gympie. From left, Maureen Lambooy, Coral Graham, Sylvia Kincs, Don Sinclair, Annette Bourke, Nonie Metzler, Robin Breen, Bruce McCulloch, Barbara Yule and Wendy McPherson protesting at the clearing of habitat trees. Photo Greg Miller / Gympie Times Greg Miller

Tougher laws needed to stop Koala habitat destruction

THE destruction of "koala habitat" at a Groundwater Rd property has lead Gympie region residents to protest and call for tougher laws.

Members of the Gympie Koala Action Group yesterday met outside the property, to voice their concerns for koalas at the site.

A spokesman for the property owner said he believed the clearing, done with a permit under the forestry act, was now complete.

Trees were cleared by a professional timber cutter last week, to make way for a house, he said.

A fire break was also installed and the spokesman believed there would be no further clearing on the site which would be used to run cattle.

"The owner believes he has done everything within the law," the spokesman said.

He also said the owner had not been approached by anyone in opposition to the tree clearing.

However yesterday, Gympie region resident Wendy McPherson was calling for tighter laws for that kind of tree clearing.

"The laws as they exist do not functionally protect koalas," she said.

"(Landowners) don't realise they're caretakers."

KOALA PROTECTION: Nonie Metzler, on her property off McIntosh Creek Rd, has planted hundreds of trees to create a wildlife habitat.
KOALA PROTECTION: Nonie Metzler, on her property off McIntosh Creek Rd, has planted hundreds of trees to create a wildlife habitat. Greg Miller

Ms McPherson sent a letter to MP Tony Perrett yesterday.

"Our world knows about the protection of Russia's Faberge eggs ... protected by knowledge and law.

"Our world would be appalled by the brutal hit and miss management of our much fondled iconic koala.

"We need to connect the various layers of legislation so that they serve the purpose of ... (protecting) our koalas."

Several residents from the area near the Groundwater Rd property said they had sited koalas at their properties.

So yesterday they aired concerns about koala survival after tree clearing.

One of the concerned residents was Jones Hill local Nonie Metzler.

Despite contacting several authorities, she was not able to find any information about which body enforced any tree clearing laws in relation to koala habitat in the Gympie region.

Knowing of the decrease in koala numbers in her area already, she was angered by the nearby clearing of trees.

"I think it (the clearing) is shameful and heartbreaking; all these beautiful trees chopped down.

"We don't want to get anyone into trouble, we just want to find out (the laws) and stop the clearing."

Nonie creates new wildlife haven

AT HER Jones Hill home, Nonie Metzler is creating a koala paradise.

Since retiring from teaching in 2005, Mrs Metzler has cleared weeds from her 16ha block in an effort to encourage native wildlife to her property.

Mrs Metzler has lived at the home for 40 years and said when she moved in with her young family, the property was fairly clear.

With no plans to run stock on the land, she decided to let the vegetation grow.

But with young children, she had no time to give any thought to what vegetation was actually growing there.

Over the past decade, Mrs Metzler has cleared kilometres of paths to access different sites on her property.

She has planted hundreds of native plants to replenish her land and is one of 250 land owners in the region part of Land for Wildlife.

The landowner said she had plans to plant 200 eucalypts on her property to develop into koala habitat. She began noticing koalas on her property in 2012 and started documenting her sightings.

Several have been viewed and documented since.

Mrs Metzler now has dozens of photographs and information on file about koala movements at her property.

However, she was not aware of any formal survey of the area's koala population having been undertaken.

Gympie Times


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