Community fights to save vulnerable birds' homes
More than 3120 people have signed a petition demanding the Uniting Church save the food trees of the glossy black cockatoos on the site of its planned Sunrise Beach aged care residential development.
Project partners Lendlease will also develop a residential living village as part of this approved staged development at Grasstree Crt.
Petition organiser Bettina Walter of the Glossy Team Sunrise said the vulnerable-listed species was one of the rarest cockatoos in Australia.
"Of the 96 glossy black cockatoo identified in southeast Queensland in the 2016 count, 37 were in Noosa," Ms Walter said.
"Many of these can be observed feeding and drinking at Sunrise Beach particularly from May to November.
"Glossies are extremely fussy eaters with a very restricted diet, feeding only on the seeds in cones of she-oaks casuarina and allocasuarina species and even then only selected individual trees."
Ms Walter is concerned a development approval condition for food trees to be propagated for planting on a different site would not be effective in providing sustenance for the birds.
"This development has come as a shock to our community and flora and fauna conservationists," Ms Walter said.
"There is a small window of opportunity to act and maximise the outcome for the glossies and the community.
"At a minimum we are asking Uniting Church to retain and protect our Sunrise glossy black cockatoos and wallum - and we are asking Noosa Council to support them in this," she said.
They are requesting the church consider land swap options and the retention of the majority of glossy food trees on site.
A spokesman for the church's Blue Care service said the development project team has worked alongside expert ecologists and Noosa Shire Council to prepare an ecological management plan to protect and enhance the local natural environment for generations to come.
"Blue Care has been greatly encouraged by the overwhelming support of the greater Noosa community for the development of this much needed community service at Sunrise Beach," the spokesman said.
"We're excited to deliver this new 102 bed residential aged care home as stage 1 of the Sunrise Beach integrated development, in partnership with Lendlease Retirement Living."
Blue Care last month submitted an amended stage 1 management plan prepared by Justin Watson of the Gondwana Ecology Group which is being considered by council staff.
Dr Watson has a PhD in ecology and has been a Birdlife Australia councillor with decades of local research experience.
He said a 2018 a survey found 71 glossy back food trees on or adjacent the development site but in 2021 many showed little use by these birds.
Dr Watson said the development layout had been changed to accommodate these food trees with 11 on site to be retained while others nearby will be retained in future staged developments.
"Trees to be removed are to be offset at a ratio of 8 to 1 by seed collection and subsequent replanting," he said.
There will also be special tree protection fencing used before any site clearings are undertaken and a fauna spotter will be used during all vegetation clearing.
Leandlease on its website has committed to working with residents, schools, local community groups and members to provide additional she oak seedlings for future planting.