Council investigates expansion of environmental conservation zones to support Koala protection

Port Stephen

Port Stephens Council has endorsed a Notice of Motion from East Ward Councillor Leah Anderson to investigate the opportunity to rezone land at Salamander Bay to ensure the long term protection of important koala habitat.

The Council owned land at 22 and 30 Homestead Street, Salamander Bay and 1 Diemars Road, Salamander Bay is currently zoned for public recreation and is adjacent to existing land zoned for environmental conservation.

Councillor Leah Anderson said the land in and around Stoney Ridge Reserve is recognised as key koala habitat and one of the most important koala release sites for the team at the Port Stephens Koala Hospital.

“The site is subject to a number of environmental constraints including koala habitat, flooding and endangered ecological communities all of which would make it very difficult to use for any type of urban development,” Cr Anderson said.

“It’s our responsibility as a Council to ensure that we do as much as we can to protect and conserve koala habitat across Port Stephens.

“By rezoning this land, we can ensure that this important koala movement corridor is retained and protected into the future,” she added.

President of Port Stephens Koalas Ron Land said the land at 22 Homestead Street, Salamander Bay is a critical koala habitat and one of the most important koala release sites on the Tomaree Peninsula.

“The area around of Stoney Ridge Reserve is adjacent to some of the last remnants of active koala habitat. This land provides connectivity for koalas that live and move through this space,” Mr Land said.

“By protecting this land, we can help koalas survive in our urban space. This isn’t a solution for koala protection but it will have a big impact and forms part of a multi-layered approach to koala protection in Port Stephens.

“Over the last year, almost 60 koalas were admitted to Port Stephens Koala Hospital. Once the koalas have recovered, it’s important that we have safe locations to release them back into the wild where they can move freely and have access to food,” he added.

Acting Mayor Giacomo Arnott said that this is the type of proactive conservation planning the Council needs to do.

“We’re future proofing this land from urban development and it’ll certainly improve the movement and protection of our koala population throughout the Salamander Bay area,” Acting Mayor Arnott said.

Council staff will prepare a further report to Council outlining the process and costs associated with the rezoning of the land.

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