Community members are desperately trying to convince Eurobodalla Shire Council to protect 40 hectares of unburnt bushland where Yellow-bellied Gliders have recently been found.
Vicki Digby, a member of Dalmeny Matters community group on the Far South Coast, has found evidence of Yellow-bellied Gliders in Council owned bush land, which is currently being advertised for sale, with a plan to clear and subdivide.
Gliders leave a distinctive V shaped cut in the bark of gum species such as Spotted Gums, when they cut the bark with their sharp teeth to feed on sap.
The marks in the bark have been verified by a local ecologist Craig Dunne. He commented that:
"These feeding incisions are characteristic of the yellow bellied glider. Judging from the photos, these are very fresh and have probably been made in the last week or so. Although they can move around their home range quite a bit, if you went out at night I am sure you would hear them calling in the area and would probably be revisiting that same tree.”
Photo Credits - James White https://www.instagram.com/_james__white
Expressions of interest on the land close Sep 15. It is not too late for the Council to reconsider and act to protect the Glider population.
Dalmeny Matters are concerned that even with evidence of threatened animals living there, current environmental protection laws do not stop developers from clearing the area, but allow them to pay to ‘offset’ the damage. If Eurobodalla Shire Council continue with the sale of the land, it will lose the ability to effectively protect the Gliders.
Vicki Digby who lives near to the Council owned land said:
“You can hear the territorial calls of the gliders at night, but to then see their territory is something else. For me, it is gut wrenching to see our local council continue its blatant disregard for its responsibility to better manage and protect our natural surrounds, made even more precious after periods of drought and bushfire.
Particularly when the reasoning behind the release of the Council land is clearly one to support developers; Develop and demolish and then walk away with pockets lined. Habitat protection is not part of the Council’s fibre.”
Ecologist Craig Dunne went on to say:
“Given that you found evidence of yellow bellied gliders in such a small amount of time, I have no doubt there would be more glider feed trees in the area, and probably several gliders. Also the presence of numerous allocasuarina with crushed cones beneath them, indicates that glossy black cockatoos are regularly foraging in this area."
Vicki Digby, like many community members who have contacted Dalmeny Matters, felt angered by Eurobodalla Councils lack of concern for the local environment when deciding to activate a decades old Urban Release Plan. Vicky commented:
“Council’s dismissal of community voice on the sale of Lot 2 Tatiara st indicates an autocratic agenda that has no place in our democratic society. The Council’s lack of environmental policy will allow developers through the Biodiversity Offset Scheme, to pay to destroy.
You cannot offset an area that has been relatively undisturbed and unburnt for several decades. You can not replace aged trees with hollows. You can not duplicate an ecosystem.
This land needs to be reclassified as Community Land and developers need to pay their own way.”
In 2006, Eurobodalla Settlement Strategy made a commitment to:
“ Develop a Policy for Conservation of the Yellow-bellied Glider on the Coastal Lowlands of the Shire to identify areas of suitable and high value habitat for the glider. No clearing will be allowed in areas of high value habitat. Include multi-aged forest patches and corridors as an absolute constraint in Council’s SEA”
Because Eurobodalla Shire Council has so far failed in its 2006 commitment to produce a Policy for Conservation of the Yellow-bellied Glider, Lot 2 Tatiara st was never identified as a habitat area, the zoning of the land was never rethought and Councillors have voted to sell without this important piece of information.
Vicki Digby expressed what is means to her and other community members to live close to the bush and be able to walk along the tracks there, particularly during stressful times:
“There is a feeling that comes with being in the bush, particularly an area rich with smells, sounds and movement that comes from a living, diverse, ecological habitat, one that has not been disturbed in extended periods of time. Nature left, without tampering. That is one of the reasons why these gliders, glossy black cockatoos and gang gangs call the area slated for development home.”
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