Ever seen a Jacaranda-eating koala?
SOME Jacaranda-lined streets of Grafton have been included in new koala habitat mapping.
Fourth-generation timber worker John McPherson has warned the local industry could be “devastated” if the new Koala State Environmental Planning Policy continues in its current form.
The operator of Silvertop Logging said there was “massive uncertainty” in the industry after the new laws came into effect and the Koala Development Application Map was released.
According to documents published by the Department of Planning Industry and Environment the maps are based on the government Koala Habitat Information Base, used to “identify areas that have highly suitable koala habitat and that are likely to be occupied by koalas”.
But Mr McPherson said the inclusion of jacaranda trees in the mapping showed the potential for the maps to be used to “lock up” land which might not be koala habitat.
If the maps were used to create areas of core koala habitat Mr McPherson said the cost to landowners of proving it was not could be prohibitive.
“If land is designated core koala habitat, the land is then rezoned as an environmental zone, preventing certain activities,” he said.
“What worries me more than anything is the effect on private native forestry because many of the areas will be rezoned as environmental zones.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said the Koala Habitat Protection SEPPwas only triggered when the pink map captured land one hectare or more.
“Smaller lots, such as those in CBDs, will not be affected,” the spokesperson said.
“The site investigation area for koala plan of management map (blue map) assists councils by identifying where councils should look for core koala habitat in their LGAs while preparing their Koala Plans of Management.”