Dr. Rebecca Larkin of the Ipswich Koala Protection Society.
Dr. Rebecca Larkin of the Ipswich Koala Protection Society.

Koala groups unique plan for rehabilitating local habitats

AN IPSWICH koala group and the Lock the Gate Alliance are calling on the State Government to help the southeast’s struggling koala population.

They are proposing rehabilitating the two major mine sites at Ebenezer and Jeebropilly to deliver additional vital koala habitat that links areas already identified as priority koala habitat by the state.

Both mine sites are currently in proposal stages for transformation into waste dumps.

In late 2018, the then owners of the Ebenezer mine site, Zedemar Holdings, transferred the site responsibilities to W2R – a Sydney-based landfill and waste management company.

New Hope Mine at Jeebropilly west of Brisbane.Ian Gray Senior Mining Engineer West Moreton operations New Hope Coal
New Hope Mine at Jeebropilly west of Brisbane.Ian Gray Senior Mining Engineer West Moreton operations New Hope Coal

Late last year, it was revealed waste company Lantrak was taking Ipswich City Council to court over that company’s unpopular bid to transform the nearby New Hope owned Jeebropilly mine site into a waste dump.

“Conversion to landfill is a huge lost opportunity to expand koala habitat and further secure the future of the species,” Lock the Gate rehabilitation spokesman Rick Humphries said.

He said the heavy industry in and out of the sites, and the nature of the businesses were not compatible with their surrounds.

The Ipswich Koala Protection Society is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. Members Maureen Hall, Rebecca Larkin, Steve Hall and Marilyn Spletter with Kotoni the koala.
The Ipswich Koala Protection Society is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. Members Maureen Hall, Rebecca Larkin, Steve Hall and Marilyn Spletter with Kotoni the koala.

“Rejecting the landfill applications and rehabilitating these sites to suitable native vegetation would protect both the interests of the residents of Willowbank and Rosewood and that of the koala, an iconic species facing an increasing threat of extinction,” Mr Humphries said.

“The Department of Environment and Science should block the applications to establish landfills on these mining sites and require that the sites be rehabilitated and returned to prime koala habitat.”

The QT understands it would take “decades” for the DES to take control of the sites and they would need to be rehabilitated first.

Ipswich Koala Protection Society vet Dr Rebecca Larkin said the state-led Koala Conservation Strategy has identified areas around both sites as potential habitat for koalas.

“IKPS has been rescuing and releasing rehabilitated koalas back into the area for more than 25 years,” she said.

Koala and baby at Jeebropilly open cut mine. Picture: Annette Dew
Koala and baby at Jeebropilly open cut mine. Picture: Annette Dew

“During that time we have rescued some of our oldest koalas on record, some of which were 17-plus years old, and we have identified this area as critical habitat creating corridors and connectivity to surrounding koala habitat.”

An Ipswich City Council spokesman said the council had identified parts of the area for conservation and controls the planning schemes, but does not own the land.

“Council has identified in planning that the south west portion of the Ebenezer industrial area is of high value from a conservation perspective,” he said.

“The northern and eastern parts of the Willowbank (and) Ebenezer area are planned for limited conservation, but largely industrial related uses.”

The spokesman also said it would take a considerable amount of time and would not be completed in the timeline of the current proposed waste uses.


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