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Koala plan raises fire management concerns

Posted by on 22/07/2018

Local lad: Pindari became the poster boy of the local koala population after he was found next to his dead mother’s body in mid 2012. He was eventually released back into the wild.What’s more important –the homes of local koalas or the homes of Campbelltown residents?
Nanjing Night Net

That was the conundrumthat faced Campbelltown councillors on Tuesday night.

A revised draft koala management plan was endorsed by the majority of councillors in a bid to ensure the survival of the local population –one of the rare disease-free colonies in the state.

The plan to save the koala population also comes with a risk to residents’ homes.

After bush fires destroyed 200 Blue Mountains homes in 2013, the state government introduced the 10/50 scheme.

The scheme allowshome owners in certain areas to clear trees within 10 metres of their home in order to better protect their property.

However, the scheme is overridden by any koala population management plans.

Cr Paul Lake (independent) said it “didn’t make sense” that the safety of koalas was put before the safety of homes.

He said he felt for local residents in villages like Wedderburn and Kentlyn who wanted to clear trees to protect their homes.

“They’re screwed,” Cr Lake said.

“I can’t believe the council have a 10/50 rule thatis overruled by a koala plan.

“The 10/50 rule should apply wherever you live –you should be able to protect your property.”

Local environmental advocate Ricardo Lonza –who addressed the councillors at the meeting – said development had already destroyed a large portion of the local habitat.

Roads along wildlife corridors such as Appin Road, as well as domestic dogs, posed the biggest dangers to the native animals.

“I rescue koalas and other wildlife …and our koalas are in more danger than they’ve ever been,” Mr Lonza said.

“Any destruction ofhabitat can cause stress to koalas as well as more cars, dogs and other dangers.

“Appin Road takes enough human lives but it’s taken even more koala lives.”

Rural Fire ServiceMacarthur SuperintendentPaul Norton said arbitration could be used to solve any conflicts between koala management plans and properties subject to the 10/50 provisions..

Though healso stressed that cutting down trees was not always the answer.

“Cutting trees is not the key to stopping bush fires,” he said.

“It’s a complex issue.

“It’s not a matter of cutting down trees and the fire will be stopped because you need trees to catch the embers.”

Cr Lake also asked council to consider investing in a drone equipped with heat detection, which could assist in monitoring the koala population more effectively.

Cr Meg Oates (Labor) said “tracking koalas was intensive, hard work” andwas supportive of Cr Lake’s idea.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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