Last month our front page covered the Sad and Sorry Saga of the Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens Koalas

The story of Jean Shaw of the Myall Koala and Environmental Support Group whose fight to save the koalas and her speech to a National Koala conference in Canberra in November 2001, illustrated how little, sadly, had changed.

“May God forgive us for what is happening – but the animals of all species were here before us. We should be looking after them, for future generations to see.

Not destroying them.”

Jean Shaw commented that in the thirteen year period (between 1989 – 2001 there were 3180 koala sightings in Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens but by 2001 Jean only recorded 72 sightings.

So what happened?

How is it that the Worimi, the Aboriginal custodians of the Hawks Nest – Tea Gardens area can co- exist with koalas for tens of thousands of years and yet in the space of a few decades the destruction of the Swamp Forests – koala habitat, through development for housing, particularly in Tea Gardens, can be allowed to happen? 

We are now facing another major proposed development in Tea Gardens, – Parrys Cove, now before MidCoast Council for a 935 housing development and associated infrastructure which it is predicted will wipe out whatever koalas remain.

How is it that the Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens Endangered Koala Population – that was gazetted in August 1999, hardly gets a mention in specialist environmental reports for the Parry’s Cove development proposal?

How is it that the Approved NSW Recovery Plan of the Hawks Nest – Tea Gardens Endangered Koala Population (dated July, 2003), by the then Department of Environment and Conservation – has fallen by the wayside?

How is it that ‘Core Koala Habitat’ declared pursuant to SEPP 44 Koala Habitat Protection upon North Hawks Nest landholdings by Environmental Consultants for Great Lakes Council has been removed from these landholdings by Council officers and others?

How is it that Tea Gardens, up to Toonang Drive, as gazetted in 1999 by the New South Wales Scientific Committee – as being an Endangered koala Population  – has never seen a Koala Plan of Management?

How is it that the Hawks Nest Koala Plan of Management (KPoM), dated May 2001, before Great Lakes Council “has disappeared” – a statutory planning instrument that had to be prepared because of findings of ‘Core Koala Habitat’ – pursuant to State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 44 ?

Why is it that MidCoast Council has never enacted a harmonised Tree Preservation Policy?

Has MidCoast Council forgotten that koalas and many other Threatened Species live in trees?

How is it possible for forested lands along Myall Way (approaching Tea Gardens) to be recently denuded of forest trees?

Why does MidCoast Council still have koala signs along Myall Way – asking motorists to be aware of koalas – when the trees that the koalas inhabited are now destroyed?

How has it been possible for developers at ‘Myall River Downs’ and ‘Riverside’ Tea Garden’s, now rebadged as ‘Parry’s Cove’ – through environmental studies (for decades) to declare that koalas do not inhabit these landholdings?

What about the 3180 koala sightings recorded by the Myall Koala and Environmental Support Group between 1989 and 2001?

Are these not historical records for the purposes of ‘Core Koala Habitat’ – pursuant of Koala SEPP’s?

Could readers please inform me of the last time that you sighted a koala in either Hawks Nest or Tea Gardens?

Readers also ask –

What has happened to the Great Lakes Council Local Environmental Plan (LEP) – that provided for Tree Preservation Orders?

What has happened to the ‘Koala Report’ that for decades was a weekly report in the Myall Coast NOTA?

Would not tourists be very interested in knowing where they might sight a live free Koala in the Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens area?

Or is it an inconvenient truth that koalas are now practically extinct in this area?

Is it also disappointing that we are told that the Swamp Forests of Tea Gardens – with favoured koala tree species of Swamp mahogany, Tallowwood and Red Bloodwood – have largely been removed from the Tea Gardens area?

Is it a fact that the next Swamp Forest proposed to be ‘filled in’ at Tea Gardens is the Parry’s Cove Development for some 935 houses etc?

How is it that the Parry Cove proposed development does not have a Vegetation Survey – identifying the trees?

Why haven’t Vegetation Zones been identified and delineated in the Parry’s Cove development footprint in accordance with Section 5.3 of the Biodiversity Assessment Method (2017)?

Where is the Parry’s Cove Site Condition data for the composition, structure and function attributes of vegetation integrity in any of the environmental reports listed in Table 1 – in accordance with Section 5.3 of BAM (2017)?

What logic is there in stating that confining Koalas, Wallum froglets and other threatened species be reduced or constricted to land at Parry’s Cove and Tea Gardens that are reduced and constricted land parcels that is not to the benefit of certain threatened species?

What likelihood is there for the proposed Parry’s Cove Conservation lands (117 hectares), (that are supposed to be administered by MidCoast Council), being compromised by future developments on other lands in the Parry’s Cove Precinct ?

How can the Parry’s Cove proposed Conservation lands remain a wildlife corridor, when MidCoast Council’s ‘Future Urban Area Release Area’ – includes the Viney Creek Road area – uphill from Parry’s Cove?

How can MidCoast Council state :

“Koalas are expected to re-colonise the restored and protected habitats at Parry’s Cove over time”.

Is somebody going to advise the Koalas that they can set up their new home in the salt marshes and mangrove swamp surrounding Parry’s Cove?

How is it possible that a detailed survey of the tree species within the development footprint of the proposed Parry’s Cove development has not been conducted as several of these tree species are dominant or co-dominant on the land?

Who decided the Parry’s Cove landholdings do not constitute ’Core Koala Habitat’ as defined in the Koala SEPP?

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How did Parry’s Cove become a Major Project Concept approved on 27 June 2013 (as Riverside Estate) and then become modified by another Concept Approval by the Department of Planning on 17 May 2019? So we now face a major inappropriate development with little thought or appreciation or comservation given to the iconic koalas

You may wish to provide a Submission during the Public Exhibition of the Parry’s Cove Proposal before MidCoast Council.

Submissions are due by 4.30pm on Tuesday 7 December 2021

Or mail to PO Box 482 Taree, NSW 2430.

Submissions to council@midcoast.nsw.gov.au

DM

I received a heartbroken letter from Jean Shaw who is retired in Queensland…

Jean wrote . . . 

“I still stand behind those words I spoke in Canberra all those years ago.

Unfortunatly the world is governed by money, Money Money in all tiers of Federal, State and Local government . . . not the world of animals, flowers and clean open country.

My heart is now crying about what is happening in Hawks Nest… but I know the fight goes on. My daughter and I stand behind all that is being done in the name of the koalas, animals, wildflowers and trees.

Yours Sincerely,

Jean Shaw.”

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