AFTER 18 years in the making, Lismore City Council's Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) for South-east Lismore has been approved.
Council received the approval last Friday from the NSW Department of Planning. When president of the Friends of the Koala, Lorraine Vass, heard the news she literally jumped for joy.
Ms Vass said the impetus for a Plan of Management began back in 1995 when ecologists Stephen Phillips and John Callaghan from the Australian Koala Foundation undertook a Koala Management Study in the Goonellabah and East Lismore areas. They identified the tree species preferred by koalas and wrote recommendations about how to manage this unique urban population of wildlife.
"This plan is a real credit to council's ecologist Dr Damian Licari and other integrated planning staff," Ms Vass said.
The approval comes after a consultation process that brought together industry stakeholder groups such as the NSW Farmers Association and the Australian Macadamia Society with wildlife carers and environmentalists.
Dr Licari told The Echo the plan will affect people planning developments on landholdings of more than one hectare.
"Effectively there's no real change from State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 44," he said.
"But now there's a clear and transparent development approval process we didn't have before.
Ms Vass said there was concerted opposition to the plan when it was first put on exhibition.
"It's been very political and has had its fair share of opposition. At one stage during the development of the original plan, even supporters waivered because they felt it had been watered down.
"There are so many unknowns about the future of koalas - things like the impact of climate change, still on the horizon that we don't yet fully understand. But having this plan means we can get on with the job of managing what we've got, employing the best practices we can and using the knowledge we have now."
She said she hopes the plan will eventually be applied to the whole of the Lismore local government area one day.
Late last year, Lismore's KPoM and in particular the way the community consultation process was done, won an environmental award in the Natural Environment Poicies, Planning and Decision making category from the Local Government and Shires Association.
Council is now required to make a few minor amendments to the KPoM before it takes effect. Council then will advertise for expressions of interest for members of a Koala Advisory Group to oversee implementation of the management activities identified in the plan.
Koala ecology, conservation and management
A Friends of the Koala workshop presented by Drs Stephen Phillips and Ross Goldingay will be held on Saturday, February 16, from 9.30am-4pm at Southern Cross University. Bookings are essential. Phone 6622 1233 or email email@example.com
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