With many people fulfilling the ‘Aussie dream’ and building homes in new suburbs popping up on urban fringes bolstered by advertisements presenting images of happy children riding bikes around wetlands, it is easy to forget some of the implications of populating an area that was previously unoccupied by people. What could be more appealing? Beautiful new homes, happy families, a sense of security, community, something to work towards… but for populations of koalas in some parts of Australia, the reality has grim consequences, with koala numbers in distinct decline. Today’s Belle Property blog reports.
The federal government has been forced take action in response to the dwindling numbers of koalas across Queensland, NSW and the ACT. The koala will now be listed as a threatened species in these states and as such, developers will need to complete greater research and present additional sustainability strategies to local councils when planning future housing estates.
It is not only a loss of habitat for the species, but the deleterious side effects of people populating an area (with koalas lost to dog attacks, disease and vehicle strikes) along with the limitation of food sources caused by clearing an area for housing. Victoria and South Australia are not subject to the changes, due to the fact that in some areas koala numbers are stable or even increasing. In fact, in some places koala colonies are so strong they are depleting their habitat and suitable food supplies. The information comes from an extensive three-year study undertaken by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which found that koala numbers were down by 40% in Queensland, and by a third in NSW. The Gillard Government has now pledged $300 000 in funding for further research into koala habitats. As the edges of suburbia creep further and further out creating greater urban sprawl, it is important to consider the cost of a ‘home among the gum trees’ in terms of the impact of dense development on local flora and fauna. Part of the reason for living in the outer suburbs is proximity to ‘the outdoors’; people want to provide an idyllic lifestyle where children can play in a safe community. Adding the koala to the endangered species list is a step towards maintaining equilibrium between people and the environment and ensuring that housing development does cause more harm than good.