News

Highway habitat threat

Marc Stapelberg

THE CALL for tenders to build 700 nesting boxes for animals displaced by the Pacific Highway upgrade is an indication of the extent of the habitat damage says local ecologist Dr Greg Clancy.

Dr Clancy said 700 boxes means the extent of the ecological damage will be huge.

"There's no doubt some animals will use the nesting boxes," Dr Clancy said.

"The same way some animals will use the under passes and others the rope bridges across the highway.

"But there is more to the trees that will be lost than hollows in the trunks. They provide nectar and food and other habitat for many species as well."

Dr Clancy said the environmental studies along the route had not been carried out correctly.

"The RMS chose the route, then the detailed ecological studies were done," he said.

"What should have happened was detailed ecological studies should have been used to choose the route."

Dr Clancy said he had worked with environmental scientists during the initial stages of the project who discovered about 80 endangered plant and animals species were found to be in danger from the highway. "The nest boxes will work to some extent, but they are a band aid solution," he said.

Meanwhile businesses have been invited to tender for the opportunity to construct the 700 boxes to go along the highway upgrade from Woolgoolga to Ballina.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the nest boxes will allow animals to settle into new homes ahead of major highway works.

"Management strategies to minimise impacts on the environment are an important part of projects on the Pacific Highway, including along this major section from Woolgoolga to Ballina," Mr Hogan said.

"The nest boxes will assist in the relocation of animals such as squirrel gliders, sugar gliders, brushtail and ringtail possums, microbats and lorikeets by providing them with new habitats."

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said more than 2000 nest boxes have been installed along Pacific Highway upgrades between Hexham and the Queensland border.

NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the tender provides an opportunity for local industry participation.

"The contract will also cover ongoing monitoring of the boxes, which is an important aspect of nest box maintenance because the data collected will help inform future environmental managements strategies."

Topics:  pacific highway



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