Outraged members of the Koala Hospital drove to Bonny Hills on Thursday to protest the clearing of trees from a development site in Beach Street.
Cheyne Flanagan, clinical director of the Koala Preservation Society of Australia which runs the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, said the team were alerted to the site after phone calls from locals concerned about the destruction of wildlife habitat.
“This is 100 per cent core koala habitat,” Cheyne said.
“Which means there are breeding female koalas here. We’ve treated koalas from this site before, we receive reports from locals about koala sightings on this site, we know it’s core habitat and it’s being destroyed.
“We had to move an echidna today. So it’s not only habitat for the koala there are nesting sites in the branches and hollows. There would have been gliders and other native wildlife too.
“When clearing land, there is supposed to be a spotter on site to look out for koalas. we didn’t see a spotter here today.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council director Matt Rogers said the council has asked the regulatory body, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, to investigate the clearing work.
Developer Kevin Shanahan, from Astoria Group of Companies, owns the site and says under the Native Vegetation Act’s Routine Agricultural Management Activities, has operated lawfully in clearing the rurally-zoned site. He said the plan for the site is to run goats.
Cheyne said members of the Koala Hospital would be back on the site at first light Tuesday April 18 when they anticipate further clearing will take place. Late on Thursday the protest was cancelled via the Koala Hospital’s Facebook page, because “as the government have put a stop to any further destruction. If any tree removal does occur, please contact us immediately.”