KOALAS living in south-east Lismore and the landholders who care about them will be relieved to hear Lismore City Council voted to adopt its Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management this week.
The plan would scarcely be noticeable to most people, Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass said.
"It will only impact on landholders when they put in a development application for changes to their land use which may impact on local koala populations," she said.
"Any development application that involves removing koala feed trees, or fencing in such a way as to impede the movement of koalas, will attract the attention of council."
"The landholder then might be given advice about how to site their development in order to have minimal impact on koala habitat.
"It's a matter of enabling people to do what they want to do while maintaining the interests of koalas as well."
Ms Vass said she was "excited, relieved, and thankful to council staff for hanging in" and seeing the plan through to this stage.
"This has taken a long time," she said.
"The first plan was put up about 17 years ago but was defeated in 2004."
The proposal to approve the plan did not have a trouble-free passage through the council at Tuesday night's meeting.
Councillor Graham Meineke moved a motion to put the management plan back on public exhibition for another 28 days due to changes that had been made since it was last shown to the public.
He called those changes "substantial", but Cr Simon Clough said the changes were mostly about tidying up the way the document was written to make it more accessible to the public.
"I see (Cr Meineke's motion) for what it is," he said.
"It's a subterfuge to delay the plan of management and send it into an endless cycle of exhibiting and adjusting and exhibiting again."
Cr Clough said there were myths in the public mind, such as landowners not being allowed to keep dogs, have barbed wire fences, or even have a swimming pool because the plan of management would regulate against those things.
"How much can a koala bear?" he asked, to groans from the public gallery.
The council staff was asked to clarify one of the changes to the plan, relating to the size of trees required to be "protected and nurtured" by landholders. The original plan on exhibition said trees must be protected until they were 3m high, but this was changed to 5m to come into line with council's Tree Preservation Orders under its development control plan.
Cr Neil Marks supported Cr Meineke's motion, and said an extra 28 days on exhibition would not hurt.
"Let's cover our backsides before we send it to the minister," he said.
With Cr Meineke's motion defeated, Cr Clough moved that the plan of management be adopted.
"We have a chance to improve conditions for koalas; that's good for biodiversity and for tourism," he said.
"The State Government has increased funding for koalas and we need to get with the program. This plan brings together all the objective information and will be a significant aid to development."
The council voted to approve the plan six votes to five with Crs Battista, Meineke, Marks, Chant and Graham against.