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Conservation groups in fight for Sunshine Coast wetland

Inundation of disused farmland on Yandina Creek has created a birdlife wetlands, prompting a push to declare it a reserve.
Inundation of disused farmland on Yandina Creek has created a birdlife wetlands, prompting a push to declare it a reserve. Contributed

CONSERVATION groups will go all out to have 200ha of privately owned cane land on Yandina Creek made a migratory shorebird wetland reserve.

Moves are under way to bring the land owners, the State Government, Sunshine Coast Council and three conservation groups together to negotiate an outcome that would protect a remarkable number of threatened species.

The land has been used since the 1920s to grow cane but then fell into disuse 12 years ago and flooded when gates connecting it to the tidal creek failed.

Hundreds of migratory shorebirds, which have been in massive decline globally in the past 30 years, quickly occupied the new wetlands habitat.

The land was drained in July last year then one gate re-opened in September after the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) intervened because of concern about the impact on mangrove and other vegetation.

However the gate was shut and the land again drained before Christmas.

Judith Hoyle of Birdlife Southern Queensland, a division of Birdlife Australia, hoped a solution could be negotiated.

She said migratory shorebird numbers had crashed in the past 30 years with the population of Curlew Sandpiper declining by 81% .

Ms Hoyle said all along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway habitat destruction was compromising the ability for migrating birds to successfully make their annual return journey from the tundra in Siberia and Alaska to wintering grounds along Australia's east coast.

Local species like the Australian Painted Snipe, which is critically endangered, also quickly found their way to the inundated cane land.

"The critical issue is whether the land owners are prepared to sell at a price people are willing to pay," Ms Hoyle said.

"If we can get people to the table, we can look at the alternatives. If everyone walks away, all that will be left is a cane farm with reduced yield because of acid sulphate soil."

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said it would continue to work for a resolution with all interested parties.

A department spokesman said: "Conservation of wildlife habitat is not just the State Government's responsibility. It takes collaboration between different levels of government, the private sector and the conservation sector to work together to deliver outcomes the community is looking for.

"The Minister is aware of the public support for protection of these wetlands and has met with key community members on site. The State Government has not commenced any negotiations in relation to a potential sale.

"Monitoring was undertaken in September to determine the extent of acid sulphate soil disturbance at the wetlands site and assess the risks with the possible re-opening of the floodgates.

Ms Hoyle said the Ingham Council's support in establishing the TYTO Wetlands in North Queensland had led to a tourism attraction that employed 25 people and attracted 25,000 people a year.

The Daily has attempted to contact representatives of the land owners.

Topics:  birdlife department of fisheries yandina


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