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Bringing a world-class precinct to life

It is the largest, most encompassing and diverse community project ever delivered by Council for Redlands Coast. It is Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP), and it is being shaped into something truly wonderful in a collaboration between the community and Council.

We encourage you to keep visiting this site to learn the latest on this regionally significant project set on glorious former farmland in Birkdale. This Your Say project page has a wealth of background on the precinct, including a copy of the Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan and its supporting document, and details around the journey to this point. It shares the rich culture and history of the much-loved land and details how this heritage will be protected and celebrated. It also explains the unique natural habitat which will be protected and enhanced. It shows how your thoughts and input are shaping it into the world-class community asset that this generation and those to come will enjoy and cherish.

BCP will continue to tell its stories while locals and visitors to the precinct create their own.


Bringing a world-class precinct to life

It is the largest, most encompassing and diverse community project ever delivered by Council for Redlands Coast. It is Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP), and it is being shaped into something truly wonderful in a collaboration between the community and Council.

We encourage you to keep visiting this site to learn the latest on this regionally significant project set on glorious former farmland in Birkdale. This Your Say project page has a wealth of background on the precinct, including a copy of the Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan and its supporting document, and details around the journey to this point. It shares the rich culture and history of the much-loved land and details how this heritage will be protected and celebrated. It also explains the unique natural habitat which will be protected and enhanced. It shows how your thoughts and input are shaping it into the world-class community asset that this generation and those to come will enjoy and cherish.

BCP will continue to tell its stories while locals and visitors to the precinct create their own.


  • Council confirms commitment to proposed Redland Whitewater Centre

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    Redland City Council at this week’s General Meeting (15 May 2024) confirmed its continued support of the Redland Whitewater Centre.

    A Council spokesperson said the decision followed previous Council resolutions, in April 2021 and September 2023, to commit to being a Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Brisbane 2032) Junior Games Partner.

    “Council has confirmed its continued support for the Redland Whitewater Centre,” the Council spokesperson said.

    “The resolution adopted at this week’s meeting noted that the Sport Venue Review panel report acknowledged the proposed whitewater centre presented a compelling case, with a sound financial model and strong legacy outcomes.

    “The review panel findings noted the facility would provide a regional attraction that could have broader benefits to Redlands Coast and would provide a convenient training facility for Queensland Government Emergency Services, Queensland Surf Life Saving and other first responder agencies.

    “Council noted the Queensland Government’s response to the recent Sport Venue Review: Independent Review of Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Venue Infrastructure report that recommended the project proceed subject to the continued support of Council.

    “Council also noted that it will also refer the Birkdale Community Precinct, which includes the proposed Olympic venue site, for assessment under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

    “No construction, beyond heritage and maintenance works, will be undertaken on the site until the EPBC referral process has been decided.”

    The spokesperson said the Redland Whitewater Centre – as part of the broader Birkdale Community Precinct – was a region-shaping project.

    “Council undertook extensive consultation with the Redlands Coast community to design a precinct that would meet community needs as well as Games requirements to deliver a legacy project for the city,” the spokesperson said.

    “According to the Trade and Investment Queensland website, the Games are forecast to drive more than 90,000 jobs per year, $3.5 billion in social benefits and more than $4.5 billion in tourism and trade boost for Queensland.

    “Being an event venue city will give businesses and investors the confidence that our city is worthy of their attention, and Redlands Coast has a golden opportunity to participate under this once-in-a-lifetime spotlight.”

    The Queensland Government’s Project Validation Report process on the Redland Whitewater Centre is in progress and, upon completion, will be considered by the Australian and Queensland governments for an investment decision.

    Following consideration by the Australian and Queensland governments, anticipated to be later this year, summary Project Validation Report information will be released.

    Council will also share the information with the community at that time.

    The proposed Redland Whitewater Centre, to be located on about 18 per cent of the 26 hectare core parkland within the Birkdale Community Precinct, will be funded by the Australian and Queensland governments, and will be planned and delivered by the Queensland Government.

    The total area for the Birkdale Community Precinct is 62 hectares, which comprises a 36-hectare conservation area. The proposed Redland Whitewater Centre will encompass about eight per cent of the total area of the precinct.

  • Historic antennae at Birkdale Community Precinct being stored before being restored

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    Three of the four historically significant rhombic antennae located at Birkdale Community Precinct are being removed so they can be safely stored prior to restoration and to enable construction across the site when approved.

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said removal of the antennae planned for the end of January, subject to weather conditions, was vital for site safety and to ensure their ongoing preservation.

    “Also known as the rhombic array, these antennae played an important role in world history,” Cr Williams said.

    “Installed in several locations from 1943 as an integral part of the former World War II Radio Receiving Station, the array – along with others in Redlands Coast and Brisbane – was crucial for effective communications during the War in the Pacific.

    “Records show that the two functions of the station were to listen to enemy broadcasts and receive encrypted messages from Washington DC, which were then relayed directly to General McArthur’s headquarters at Lennon’s Hotel in Brisbane.

    “It is thought that the message that the Japanese surrender had occurred, and the war was over was relayed to this very station – you can imagine the joy and exultation of the people working here at the time.

    “Redland City Council is honoured to be entrusted with helping ensure these important World War II artefacts are safeguarded for future generations.”

    The historic rhombic antennae arrays are located to the east of the receiving station, well away from the site of the proposed Redland Whitewater Centre which is to the north-west of the receiving station. They are being removed now to simplify the construction of the precinct’s access roads and initial park space.

    Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said the condition of the antennae has been fully recorded and the relocation approved by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

    “The entire process of relocating, restoring and returning the antennae to the same position will be fully supervised by Australian Heritage Specialists,” Cr Bishop said.

    “The three antennae leaving the precinct site will be stored safely before being restored and then returned to their precise locations.

    “The remaining antenna cannot be removed without impacting important vegetation, and as it is unlikely to affect site safety due to its location, it will remain in-situ and be provided an extra level of protection while works are being carried out.”

    As shown in the Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan, the former World War II Radio Receiving Station will be the centrepiece of the precinct’s Communications Hub.

    The 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct – designed for and by the Redlands Coast community – will feature seven hubs:

    • Cultural Hub – a meeting point and launching pad for all the precinct offers.
    • Willards Farm Food Hub – a celebration of farming heritage with a restored Willards Farmhouse, classic Victorian garden and space for outdoor food markets, restaurant, café and cooking school.
    • Innovation Hub – an exhibition space showcasing the future of farm methodologies and techniques, agricultural technology and food production.
    • Entertainment Hub – multiple outdoor spaces for local performers and touring artists as well as BBQs, picnic areas, oversized games and outdoor movies.
    • Communications Hub – memorial and contemplation space paying homage to war and peace-keeping services, anchored by the former US Army-built World War II Radio Receiving Station.
    • Recreation, Resilience and Adventure Sports Hub – Redlands Coast’s first public lagoon, whitewater centre as well as an adventure playground and running track.
    • Conservation Hub – 2.8km of walking trails, interactive tours, wilderness experiences and enhanced koala habitat.
  • Great prizes to be won in ‘Name the koala joey’ competition

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    South-east Queensland residents have been invited to enter Redland City Council’s ‘Name the koala joey’ competition.

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council launched the competition to find names for the joeys of ambassador koalas currently living in and around Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “Birkdale Community Precinct is one of our important sentinel sites for koalas on Redlands Coast,” Cr Williams said.

    “The eight ambassador koalas tracked and tagged within Birkdale Community Precinct contribute to Council’s understanding of koala movement and behaviour in an urban setting, and the better we understand that behaviour, the better our ability to improve conservation outcomes,” she said.

    “We are fortunate to have some adorable koala joeys nearing their first birthdays, a time when joeys typically leave their mothers and find their home range.

    “Naming the joeys helps with tracking family lines, creating a family tree and understanding the genetic history of each generation of koalas.

    “These joeys – like the one released onto the site with its mother Jazza earlier this year – are true locals, born and raised on Redlands Coast, and we want south-east Queensland residents to give us suggestions for what to name them.

    “Some great prizes are up for grabs, including tickets to a ‘Koalas in the Wild’ walk, double passes to a family theatre production at Redland Performing Arts Centre in 2024, and IndigiScapes gift vouchers.

    “With the school holidays coming up, we’re asking our young people to express their creativity in coming up with some innovative names they think will best suit these important new members of the Redlands Coast koala family.”

    Cr Williams said the koala joey naming competition was part of Council’s community engagement program to create awareness of koalas in urban areas.

    “The Redlands Coast Koala Conservation Plan and Action Plan 2022-2027 outlines the extensive work undertaken by Council, our research partners, conservation groups and the community to continue protecting our koalas into the future,” she said.

    “Increasing community connection through the koala joey naming competition is one example of how we can involve our community in this important work.”

    Cr Williams said naming the joeys was an important part of the research program in place for koalas living in and around the Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “Redlands Coast is home to one of the most significant urban koala populations in Australia and, just like in other places around the country, disease is one of our key concerns for this precious native animal,” Cr Williams said.

    “Every two weeks the Detection Dogs for Conservation from the University of the Sunshine Coast track and check on the health of each ambassador koala living in and around the Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “These regular health checks enable the chance to pick up and treat any illness or injury quickly, giving the best chance at a positive outcome for that koala.

    “The work being done here goes further, contributing to a knowledge base that will help all koalas.”

    The 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct – designed for and by the Redlands Coast community – will feature seven hubs:

    • Cultural Hub – a meeting point and launching pad for all the precinct offers.
    • Willards Farm Food Hub – a celebration of farming heritage with a restored Willards Farmhouse, classic Victorian garden and space for outdoor food markets, restaurant, café and cooking school.
    • Innovation Hub – an exhibition space showcasing the future of farm methodologies and techniques, agricultural technology and food production.
    • Entertainment Hub – multiple outdoor spaces for local performers and touring artists as well as BBQs, picnic areas, oversized games and outdoor movies.
    • Communications Hub – memorial and contemplation space paying homage to war and peace-keeping services, anchored by the former US Army-built World War II Radio Receiving Station.
    • Recreation, Resilience and Adventure Sports Hub – Redlands Coast’s first public lagoon, whitewater centre as well as an adventure playground and running track.
    • Conservation Hub – 2.8km of walking trails, interactive tours, wilderness experiences and enhanced koala habitat.

    How to enter the competition: Complete and submit your competition form by Friday 2 February, 2024, to be in the running to win some great prizes. Competition forms are available on the Birkdale Community Precinct Your Say page or request a form from one of the friendly staff at our Redland City Council libraries, customer service centres, the Redland Performing Arts Centre or Redlands IndigiScapes Centre.

  • Historical radio receiving station and homestead being prepped for 21st century life

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    Works have commenced to bring the former World War II Radio Receiving Station located within Birkdale Community Precinct into the 21st century.

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the historically important building, constructed by the US Signal Corps in 1943, was the centrepiece of the Communications Hub featured in the Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan.

    “This fascinating building has been an important communications centre for Redlands Coast and is in need of some essential repairs to help revitalise the structure prior to its future restoration,” Cr Williams said.

    “Works have commenced, with the roof and gutters to be repaired in consultation with Australian Heritage Specialists to ensure protection of the building’s important historical values.

    “At the same time, hazardous materials and some of the newer, unusable and unstable structures – added by past occupiers from 1950 onward – will be removed to make the area safer for Council staff, visitors and contractors.

    “Electricity is already connected, and soon sewerage and WiFi connections will also be in place, helping prepare the building for its ultimate purpose as a community space within Birkdale Community Precinct.”

    Cr Williams said work being undertaken by local restoration company Baroque Group Pty Ltd for the Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings on another section of Birkdale Community Precinct were also progressing well.

    “We have reached a milestone in that the Baroque Group are preparing the homestead for restumping, which will provide a solid foundation for this legacy building into the future,” Cr Williams said.

    Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said undertaking the works on the historical buildings was an important step at this stage of delivering Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “The former radio receiving station was one of the first places in Australia to receive vital telecommunications, including the message that the Japanese had surrendered and World War II was over,” Cr Bishop said.

    “This legacy building is one of only a handful of US Army-built radio receiving stations remaining in Australia and these important works will pave the way for its eventual restoration so it can be appreciated for generations to come.

    “Australian Heritage Specialists are also overseeing the restoration of Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings to ensure the heritage values of the circa 1870s dairy farming property are carefully protected while work undertaken to revitalise its historic beauty.”

    The structures to be removed at the former World War II Radio Receiving Station are the radio hut and telecommunications tower, with works expected to be completed by early 2024. Once works are completed, the building will be used as a temporary site office for Council staff and a central meeting point for visitors to Birkdale Community Precinct.

    The restoration of Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings is expected to be completed in mid-2024.

    The 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct – designed for and by the Redlands Coast community – will feature seven hubs:

    • Cultural Hub – a meeting point and launching pad for all the precinct offers
    • Willards Farm Food Hub – a celebration of farming heritage with a restored Willards Farmhouse, classic Victorian garden and space for outdoor food markets, restaurant, café and cooking school
    • Innovation Hub – an exhibition space showcasing the future of farm methodologies and techniques, agricultural technology and food production
    • Entertainment Hub – multiple outdoor spaces for local performers and touring artists as well as BBQs, picnic areas, oversized games and outdoor movies
    • Communications Hub – memorial and contemplation space paying homage to war and peace-keeping services, anchored by the former US Army-built World War II Radio Receiving Station
    • Recreation, Resilience & Adventure Sports Hub – Redlands Coast’s first public lagoon, whitewater centre as well as an adventure playground and running track
    • Conservation Hub – 2.8km of walking trails, interactive tours, wilderness experiences and enhanced koala habitat.
  • Koala-proof fencing installed at Birkdale to help protect local koala population

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    Koala-proof fencing that will help protect the local koala population is being installed on the Old Cleveland Road East boundary of the Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP).

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the koala-proof fencing was a proactive measure that could help prevent vehicle strike of koalas and other wildlife along Old Cleveland Road East.

    “Designed with input from an ecologist, the fencing will help stop koalas on the site from heading onto the busy roadway and instead guide them to move through the precinct and the Tingalpa Creek corridor,” Cr Williams said.

    “In addition, koala escape poles will be installed along the fence to assist any koalas in the roadway area to enter the precinct site.”

    Cr Williams said installation of the first stage of the koala-proof fencing would run from the Willards Farm homestead all the way to the northern point of the property at 380 Old Cleveland Road East.

    “This is a reflection of Council’s commitment to protecting our Redlands Coast koalas and how the Birkdale Community Precinct demonstrates best practise koala management to help protect and enhance the koala population on the site,” she said.

    “We have a small, healthy breeding population of koalas residing on the BCP, eight of which are collared and monitored, three with joeys.

    “One of these is ‘Jazza’, a koala that was recently released onto the site, and her joey.

    “A number of other koalas use the site, although we’re not sure yet whether they visit regularly or occasionally.”

    Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said Bluetooth collars on the koalas indicated how they moved around the site.

    “Partnership with research organisations helps in our understanding of which areas and trees are most favoured by koalas and enables Council to plan and develop more effective habitat enhancement projects. For example, the Gourmet Gum Leaves project being delivered in collaboration with researchers from the Australian National University,” Cr Bishop said.

    “Whether it’s koala-proof fencing to help prevent death by vehicle strike, research for better nutrition, or regular health monitoring, Council is committed to working with experts on initiatives and programs that help improve conservation outcomes for this precious, endangered marsupial that is so important to our community and ecology.”

  • Council submission to Senate Inquiry backs Redland Whitewater Centre

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    With Redland City Council committed to its role as a Junior Games Delivery Partner for the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Council has made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s Preparedness to host Commonwealth, Olympic, and Paralympic Games.

    Mayor Karen Williams said Council believed it was imperative that the Inquiry was provided with information about the comprehensive research, planning and community consultation Council had undertaken for the proposed Redland Whitewater Centre and Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “We do not believe the Inquiry has all the information required to make the recommendation it did in a recent interim report in regard to the Redland Whitewater Centre,” she said.

    “Our submission is in support of the Redland Whitewater Centre to be built at Birkdale Community Precinct.

    “It was made to provide factual information on which the Inquiry could make accurate recommendations.

    “Our submission also will address information that other parties may have submitted during the hearings.

    “Council is aware of the local lobby groups views made in their address to the Inquiry, but is also aware those views do not represent all the evidence and facts.”

    Cr Williams said Redland Whitewater Centre was a Queensland Government project for which the Queensland and Australian governments had committed funding for its construction.

    “This whitewater centre will be capable of hosting international, national and state events before, during and long after the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” she said.

    “The centre also has significant legacy opportunities as a swift-water rescue training facility, which will include a flooded urban landscape mockup, for State, national and Asia Pacific emergency services personnel.

    “Council has commissioned more than 20 independent studies to support evidence-based decision-making in relation to the venue, its design and its legacy mode.

    “This evidence has demonstrated that the venue will not have a detrimental impact on the environment, and Council’s financial investigations show there is confidence the venue will deliver positive financial returns for Redlands Coast.

    Cr Williams said the Queensland Government was currently undertaking a Project Validation Report for Redland Whitewater Centre.

    “This process is ongoing until the Queensland and Australian governments endorse the Project Validation Report, so we believe it is pre-emptive to make the recommendation that was expressed within the interim report,” she said.

    Click here to view Council’s submission documents.

  • Community thanked for input into Birkdale Community Precinct planning process

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    Redland City Council has thanked the Redlands Coast community for their participation in the latest consultation into the delivery of Birkdale Community Precinct.

    At its general meeting today[13 September 2023], Council endorsed the summary report on the consultation phase of the precinct’s Local Government Infrastructure Designation (LGID), and thanked those who made submissions.

    Public consultation was held from 21 April to 22 May, 2023, with 2300 active visits recorded during that period to the dedicated Birkdale Community Precinct Your Say webpage.

    Mayor Karen Williams said a total of 172 submissions on the LGID were received, of which 92 were proforma submissions.

    In endorsing the Birkdale Community Precinct LGID Consultation Summary Report and its submissions, Council noted that officers would continue to progress amendments to the LGID based on the report, Cr Williams said.

    “The submissions will help shape the detail in the precinct’s LGID which is the statutory planning process required to deliver this amazing intergenerational project on 62 hectares in Birkdale,” she said.

    “The Birkdale Community Precinct LGID will ensure that precinct-wide land use and activity rights have been established in accordance with the conceptual spatial layout and design principles to reflect the values and aspirations of our community and stakeholders that are incorporated in the Master Plan.”

    The Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan was adopted by Council at its general meeting on 15 March 2023.

  • Work starts on restoration of historic Willards farmhouse

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    Work to restore the historic Willards Farm homestead and outbuildings will start soon, with contractors this week undertaking preparation works at the site on Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP).

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the heritage values of the circa 1870s farming property would be carefully protected while work was undertaken to revitalise its historic beauty.

    “Restoring this fabulous homestead – along with the milking shed, creamery, garage, inground well and elevated water tank – to its former glory is a project dear to many Redlands Coast residents’ hearts,” she said.

    “The history of this property dates back many decades, but in 2016 it was facing demolition, prompting Council to step in and buy it for $1.45 million to protect its heritage for future generations.

    “Since then, locals have shared some fascinating memories of the property and I know I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing new life breathed into these historically important buildings.”

    Cr Williams said Willards Farm was a key hub and first stage of the 62-hectare BCP, an exciting intergenerational community destination.

    “Its restoration kicks off a program of works that will ultimately see a precinct for our whole community, today and in the future,” she said.

    “The restored Willards Farm will be the welcome gate to international visitors as they arrive for our world-class Olympic venue for the Brisbane 2032 Games, which will leave a legacy as the Resilience Training Centre of Excellence for Swift Water and Urban Flooding training.

    “I am excited to share our unique history with the world.”

    “The history of this property dates back many decades, but in 2016 it was facing demolition, prompting Council to step in and buy it for $1.45 million to protect its heritage for future generations.

    “Since then, locals have shared some fascinating memories of the property and I know I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing new life breathed into these historically important buildings.”

    Cr Williams said Willards Farm was a key hub and first stage of the 62-hectare BCP, an exciting intergenerational community destination.

    “Its restoration kicks off a program of works that will ultimately see a precinct for our whole community, today and in the future,” she said.

    “The restored Willards Farm will be the welcome gate to international visitors as they arrive for our world-class Olympic venue for the Brisbane 2032 Games, which will leave a legacy as the Resilience Training Centre of Excellence for Swift Water and Urban Flooding training.

    “I am excited to share our unique history with the world.”

  • Isabella “Goat Lady” Alcock’s legacy to live on at Birkdale Community Precinct

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    A derelict, one-room hut at Birkdale Community Precinct once owned by the locally famous “Goat Lady” will be dismantled starting this Thursday, 31 August.

    Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the often-vandalised hut used by the late Isabella Alcock, who was fondly known as “The Goat Lady” of Birkdale, had reached its end-of-life.

    “It contains asbestos and, while it is sad to see it go, keeping it would present a danger to people as we begin the process of opening up Birkdale Community Precinct to the community,” Cr Williams said.

    “The hut does not sit within the State heritage-listed zones or the Conservation Zone of the precinct.”

    Work on dismantling the hut will be carried out by licensed contractors who will be responsible for ensuring the safe removal and disposal of the asbestos that it contains, Cr Williams said.

    “Unfortunately, the structure cannot be safely restored once the asbestos has been removed,” she said.

    “We have engaged heritage specialists to undertake an Archival Recording, to ensure that an appropriate record is documented about Isabella’s legacy and the hut.”

    Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said that while it was sad that the hut would go, it was important to ensure Ms Alcock’s legacy would continue.

    Together with her mother, Ms Alcock ran a small dairy (cattle and goats) on the northern part of the land, at that time known as Cotton’s Farm, from about 1953.

    “While they were effectively squatters, the goat ladies’ enterprise was instrumental in keeping this valuable piece of Redlands Coast pastoral land from being developed when it passed from private to public ownership in the events following World War II,” Cr Bishop said.

    “Many locals fondly recall stories of encounters with Isabella who was a protector of the land and her cattle.

    “It is hoped that stories can keep their spirit alive in future years as a reminder of how simple life used to be, from pioneer days until quite recently.”

    The Birkdale Community Precinct Master Plan, released in March this year, allows for a visual art piece near the main entry to the precinct commemorating Ms Alcock’s life.

    Share your memories of Ms Alcock – ‘The Goat Lady’

    Council would like to hear your stories about Ms Alcock and the hut in which she lived. To share your story and photos, go to the Share Your Story tab on this page.

  • Gathering gourmet gum leaves for Redlands Coast koalas

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    Koalas are one of the most iconic and beloved animals in Australia and their protection is a top priority for Redland City Council. A unique research project, involving a collaboration between Council and the Australian National University, is looking specifically at the nutritional quality of what these cuddly marsupials eat. Dubbed the Gourmet Gum Leaves project, it is aimed at improving landscape nutritional quality which will assist in koala conservation and management.

    Researchers onsite at Birkdale Community Precinct

    The throw-line launcher’s weighted bag whistles up into the canopy of the gum tree, loops over a small branch and bends its whitish stem. A rope is twisted to the side, it goes taut … crick-crack … and the branch and its leathery, laurel-green foliage drops in a slow spiral.

    It is certainly not a high-tech piece of research equipment, but the launcher beats physically climbing the tree to hand-pick seven or eight suitable branches from as many trees in one collection day. This way the pair of research scientists conducting this work for the Australian National University (ANU) can collect samples from more than 30 trees in a day.

    “It works really well when you have the skills to be able to use it,” says one of the launcher’s operators, Dr Christina Zdenek, with a grin as she retrieves the downed branch from the ground, deep inside the conservation bushland area of Birkdale Community Precinct. “It is very efficient.” And also a little fun judging by that grin.

    Dr Zdenek, a Queensland ecologist working for The Australian National University, and her fellow researcher and launch buddy James Skewes, a Queensland-bred ecologist who has flown up from his current base at Canberra’s ANU for this job, are part of a unique research project that is looking into the nutritional quality of the leaves of koala food trees.

    Dubbed the Gourmet Gum Leaves project, it is a collaboration between Redland City Council and ANU, and is aimed at improving landscape nutritional quality which will assist in koala conservation and management.

    The collection of leaves from the eucalyptus species in Birkdale Community Precinct is part of the project’s first phase, which involves vegetation surveys, mapping and evaluation of the nutritional quality of leaves from about 160 trees at the site.

    Seeds are also being collected from up to 30 koala food trees on Redlands Coast and nearby locations in south-east Queensland known to have relatively high nutritional quality.

    These seeds, according to Mr Skewes, will be propagated at Redlands IndigiScapes Native Community Nursery at Capalaba and grown into seedlings for future planting at the Birkdale Community Precinct site which currently sustains a small but significant koala population.

    “We’ve got a few areas that have been pinpointed for planting,” says Mr Skewes. “And the seeds are collected from trees that we’ve already got strong data on; so we already know that they’re nutritious for koalas. It will be really good to eventually see them planted on site here.”

    ANU College of Science Research Fellow Kara Youngentob says the aim is to recommend a targeted revegetation strategy.

    “One of the most important factors influencing the distribution and numbers of koalas in any area is the quality of their food trees,” says Dr Youngentob. “This pilot ultimately intends to increase the local koala population by providing a higher quality food source by growing high nutritional quality koala food trees.

    “Better quality habitat for koalas results in healthier more robust populations, that are more likely to produce healthy young who will thrive.”

    It is not only koalas who benefit.

    “Ultimately, projects like these also help to restore and rebalance the landscape for all native species both flora and fauna,” says Dr Youngentob.

    “The ultimate goal of most wildlife conservation programs is to improve the long-term viability of populations in the wild. The capacity for nutrition to contribute to this goal is often overlooked due to difficulties of measuring nutritional landscapes.

    “However, landscapes with higher nutritional quality are likely to support larger populations of herbivores, and animals with access to high quality foods are more likely to be resilient to environmental change.”

    As she picks healthy leaves from the fallen branch, weighs them, dates and files the samples away, Dr Zdenek says the long-term benefits of improving the nutritional landscape through the Gourmet Gum Leaves initiative, are being supported in the shorter term by Council.

    “Preserving old growth trees and conservation areas at Birkdale Community Precinct is fantastic. It’s really best practise management,” she says.

    “Obviously we’re amid a global biodiversity crisis, as people are probably aware, sadly, and that’s no different across Australia where we’re losing many species and even in Queensland.

    “The idea is to think global but act local. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Then on top of that, using evidence-based information and science to improve that landscape into the future, to give the koalas and other species a fighting chance.”

    From a safe distance, Redland City Mayor Karen Williams and Council’s Principal Adviser (Community Education) Stacey Thomson are watching the researchers in action, having trekked their way into the bushland, within cooee of Tingalpa Creek. About two-thirds of the 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct is protected conservation area.

    Cr Williams says the Gourmet Gum Leaves project and other initiatives on the site have intergenerational aspirations.

    “What makes me most proud is that we’re not only just protecting this unique environmental area, we’re actually enhancing it so that future generations can not only enjoy this space, but learn from our unique environment,” she says.

    Ranger Stacey agrees. “It is protecting and enhancing, that’s what it is all about,” she says. “This research is something that will give hope to our koalas in the future, and they deserve it!”

    Acting globally to reverse the biodiversity crisis may feel like a long shot, but with the launcher tensed for another flight up into the gum tree’s canopy, the goal locally is certainly within sight.

Page last updated: 21 May 2024, 08:44 AM