The ink is dry on a landmark agreement that will protect more than 2000 hectares of Noosa koala habitat.
Mayor Tony Wellington and Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch joined Noosa Parks Association President Michael Gloster and HQ Plantations representatives on site to sign the $3.5M conservation deal today.
It will see private harvesting licences phased out within the 2,400 hectares of state-owned forest between Tewantin, Cooroy, Pomona and Boreen Point and the timber company compensated.
Mayor Wellington said the project was a huge win for koalas, the environment and the local community.
“Council is delighted to work with the State Government, Noosa Parks Association and HQPlantations Pty Ltd to deliver this Queensland-first project,” the Mayor said.
“Over time, this project will generate opportunities for ecotourism, scientific research and the enjoyment of locals and visitors. And it will not only benefit our local koalas, but many threatened and endangered species like quolls, giant barred frogs and the wonderfully named Hairy Hazelwood.”
The 2,400 hectares will be gradually added to the Tewantin National Park, doubling its size to over 5000 hectares and connecting it to Cooloola National Park, over the next 10 years.
Council, the State Government and Noosa Parks Association will jointly fund the $3.5M investment needed to secure the land. Council will provide one third of the funding from the Environment Levy, the State will contribute a third, and the remaining third will be funded by Noosa Parks Association.
The State will hold Council’s contribution, and that of Noosa Parks Association, in trust until the land is gazetted as conservation park with Council as trustee. The interest earned will be spent on koala conservation programs in the Noosa region.
The Mayor said that the land will create an important regional wildlife corridor, connecting the hinterland with the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park.
The Mayor also acknowledged the seminal role played by Noosa Parks Association in this project.
“The original concept was brought to us by Noosa Parks Association nearly two years ago. Council recognised the significance of the proposal,” he said. ”It is possibly the last really big land-based environmental project that this shire will see.”