Document Sample
					VERSION 1



Prepared for
Redland Shire Council

Authors:           A.H. Caneris & P.M. Jones
Checked by:        Dr G.J. Ingram
Date:              September, 2004
File no:           File no 0015-004

Biodiversity Assessment
and Management Pty Ltd
PO Box 3205
                                     Version 1


                              Executive Summary

While there are many factors involved in conservation planning for Koalas
(Phascolarctos cinereus), this Action Plan commissioned by Redland Shire Council
focuses specifically on the issues associated with Koala-vehicle collisions in Redland
Shire, with an aim to identify technically and economically feasible actions that can
be applied to roads identified as major contributors to Koala hits in Redland Shire to
reduce Koala hits by vehicles.

Redland Shire is home to a nationally significant population of 4,000 Koalas (QPWS
in press, as at 1999), found on the mainland and North Stradbroke Island. The Koala
is listed as a “Vulnerable” species in the Southeast Queensland Bioregion under the
Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, with increasing mortality from cars
identified as one of the threatening processes leading to the recommendation for the
species to be listed. A Conservation Plan for Koalas in Queensland is currently being
prepared by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and will need to be
taken into consideration when planning road projects in the future.

Much of the remnant bushland in the Shire is subject to State Planning Policy (SPP)
1/97 – Conservation of Koalas in the Koala Coast in which the planning intents to
minimise impedance or threat to the movement of Koalas refer specifically to a need
to minimise the extent to which Koala habitat and connections between habitat areas
are disrupted by roads or other service corridors. It is understood that the SPP 1/97 is
currently under review.

Between 1994 and 2003, 1787 Koalas were reported as having been hit by vehicles in
Redland Shire (QPWS data, 2003). Relevant actions set out in the Redland Shire
Council Koala Conservation and Management Policy and Strategy for addressing this
issue compel Council to:

•     Investigate and implement any measures that the Council sees fit to help
      mitigate incidents between Koalas and vehicles; and

•     Amend road design standards to include a range of wildlife compatible features.

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

This Action Plan is in the form of an initial scoping study, and will be available to
Redland Shire Council officers and officers of relevant State Government authorities
to facilitate consideration of Koala-vehicle collision issues when planning road and
other relevant projects in Redland Shire. It also provides recommended actions for
the treatment of roads, habitat protection and enhancement, and increasing community
awareness, aimed at ensuring secure habitat and safe movement opportunities for
Koalas throughout the Shire. The Action Plan is not intended to be a planning
document, or to override existing or future strategic and environmental planning

The recommended actions set out in this document are relevant to both Local
Government and State-controlled roads within Redland Shire.

Throughout the main document there are links to relevant statistics, charts, maps and
road design features that are discussed in the text.

Study Methodology

Background research for development of the Action Plan has brought together:

•      Known aspects of the ecology of Koalas in relation to their movement patterns
       and susceptibility to vehicle collisions;

•      Statistical information on Koala-vehicle collisions in the Shire from the
       Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Koala Research Unit;

•      The status of wildlife crossing implementation, research and monitoring in
       Australia and elsewhere where relevant, and resulting recommendations for
       options suitable to minimising Koala-vehicle collisions in the Redland Shire;

•      The results of Stakeholder consultation undertaken specifically for this project;

•      Consultation with the Queensland Department of Main Roads, including
       potential Koala movement infrastructure options and obtaining information for
       future Main Roads upgrade projects in the Shire;

•      Consultation with the Environment Section of Redland Shire Council to obtain
       data and details of current relevant Council activities;

•      Consultation with the Roads Section of Redland Shire Council, obtaining
       information for future road upgrade projects in the Shire;

•      Air photo interpretation to categorise Koala habitat throughout the Shire to
       determine the most suitable road treatment locations for the current situation,
       and for the future;

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

•      A review of Redland Shire land use planning documents and consultation with
       the RSC Planning Section to discuss compatibility of the Action Plan with
       Council’s current planning instruments; and

•      Numerous on-site investigations at priority locations.

The above information has been collated and interpreted, enabling:

•      The identification of priority roads and/or portions of roads that warrant
       investigation for the implementation of mitigative measures to minimise Koala

•      The description of a range of mitigative measures that could be employed to
       achieve the stated aim of the Action Plan, including feasibility and costing
       information for those options;

•      The broad-scale analysis of habitat and areas of Koala movement throughout the
       Shire, with management objectives and actions that could be implemented
       within broad management precincts and at specific road locations to facilitate
       and guide safer Koala movement; and

•      The formulation of case studies for a number of priority road locations.

Impacts of Roads on Koalas in the Redlands

In 1999, QPWS (unpublished) reported the results of Koala population surveys from a
number of sites throughout Redland Shire, estimating the population to be around
4,000 animals within the Shire boundaries at that time. While all of the surveys have
not been repeated to enable a revised population estimate since 1999 (this is currently
in progress), evidence is suggesting that the Koala population of Redland Shire is in
decline (see Section 4.0), and that Koala deaths from vehicles on roads is contributing
significantly to that decline.

An unpublished QPWS document on trends in density and other factors affecting the
management of Koalas that occur at R250, Redland Bay Road, Capalaba, based on
results from research conducted between 1996-2003 (Dique and de Villiers
unpublished) contributes to an understanding of the causes of Koala population
decline in Redland Shire. Reserve 250 (also referred to as the Greater Glider
Conservation Area) is located directly adjacent to Redland Bay Road, which has the
highest recorded Koala hits from vehicles in the Shire. Koala density was estimated
for R250 from surveys conducted twice annually from 1996-1999 and annually from
2000-2003. Density was estimated at 0.7 Koalas/ha in 1996 and at 0.4 Koalas/ha in
2003. These results show that Koalas in the R250 Reserve have declined in density
(and hence abundance) during the period of the study.

For the Reserve (R250), Koala mortality (from all causes) was observed to be higher
than the birth rate, and the immigration rate was similar to the birth rate, a pattern not
observed at any other site during the larger research program (Dique and de Villiers

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

unpublished). These results show R250, as a large bushland reserve in an urbanised
area and adjacent to a high volume 80km hour road, to be acting as a “sink” for the
local Koala population, attracting Koalas to high quality habitat when habitat is
available through an individuals death, only to present the same range of risks to the
newcomer. There are several other high Koala mortality roads in the Shire that are
adjacent to significant Koala habitat and are likely to be affecting local Koala
populations similarly.

Annual variation in casualties from 1994 to 2003 shows 138 casualties reported
during 1994 and 127 casualties reported during 2003. While these casualty numbers
are similar in scale, the circumstances under which they occurred were very different.
In 1994 there was more extensive, less fragmented, habitat and fewer cars on roads in
the Shire than in 2003. Between those years, reported Koala casualties from vehicle
strike rose to 229 in 1997, followed by a steady decline to 2003. The decline is
unlikely to reflect safer roads for Koalas as traffic volumes increase at an estimated
rate of 3.5% per annum, rather it reflects a declining number of Koalas on roads and
therefore in the Shire.

A simple analysis of available data for premature Koala deaths in Redland Shire was
carried out for the purposes of this study in order to examine the likely impacts of
roads on the Koala population. The usefulness of the analysis is that has provided an
opportunity to examine the relative relationships between the causes of premature
death in Koalas, and the scale of their impacts on population size over time.

Quite clearly, disease has had the most significant negative impact on population over
the six-year period. When it is excluded as a factor of premature death, the other
causes alone suppress, but do not prevent, normal population growth.

When deaths from disease and dog attacks alone are factored, the population remains
relatively steady (without factoring habitat loss), indicating that the treatment of roads
for safer Koala passage would result in a significant beneficial impact.

Most worryingly, with all recorded cases of premature death over the available data
period, the population shows a clear downward trend.

The results of this rudimentary analysis, without taking into account the currently
immeasurable impacts of habitat loss, stress and disease, show reason for genuine
concern for the population status of Koalas in Redland Shire and support the
recommendation for the application of the Precautionary Principle to the management
of processes that affect Koala habitat and welfare.

In order to address all causes of premature Koala death, in addition to the
implementation of this Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland
Shire, habitat protection, contribution to Koala disease research, and the
implementation of dog controls in and adjacent to Koala habitat in Redland Shire are

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

Within Council’s immediate jurisdiction, habitat protection, safer opportunities for
Koalas to cross roads and a reduction in deaths from dog attack would significantly
reduce pressure on a Koala population under threat primarily from habitat loss and

For the future, RSC Traffic and Infrastructure have indicated that there is a predicted
3.5% annual growth in traffic for all arterial roads in the Shire up to a 10-year
planning horizon. There are also a number of high Koala collision roads due for
upgrading from two to four lanes over the coming years. Higher traffic volumes and
wider road corridors which increase the amount of time that an animal is exposed to
potential vehicle strike, will result in fewer Koalas (and other species) successfully
crossing these roads. Roads are known to represent barriers to movement for a range
of fauna species, and while Koalas are physically capable of crossing two and four-
lane bitumen roads with ease, vehicle strike represents a barrier to individual animals
with resultant negative impacts not only on the size of Koala populations, but on
genetic exchange between populations divided by roads.

The high numbers of casualties due to vehicle strike and the results of Koala tracking
programs in Redland Shire indicate that Koalas are not capable of adapting to the
presence of roads and avoiding them. The animals continue to occupy home ranges
that incorporate roadways. They also continue to range over large areas during the
breeding season, continue to seek suitable habitat when home ranges are disturbed or
become unsuitable, and young animals continue to disperse throughout habitat
(bushland or urban) within the Shire. These patterns of behavior have contributed to
the historical success of the species in a dynamic environment often influenced by
drought and fire.

Within Redland Shire, while continuous bushland areas continue to provide the most
significant habitat, Koalas can and do occupy fragmented bushland and individual
trees within rural and residential areas. The conservation of key breeding areas is an
issue that Redland Shire Council is addressing through its “Greenspace” and Strategic
Planning instruments; however the animal cannot be confined to planned Koala
conservation areas or designated Koala movement corridors. This problem is
compounded by the fact that the largest continuous areas of bushland are found in the
less fertile soils of the southern portion of the Shire, while the most valuable Koala
food resources are located in deeper and more fertile soils of the northern portion of
the Shire.

Much of the northern portion of the Shire is now developed, leaving larger corridor-
type habitat associated with creeklines and valuable food trees scattered in rural and
urban properties, street plantings, parkland and remnant vegetation on undeveloped
land. To make use of the energy-rich vegetation in the northern portion of the Shire,
Koalas negotiate roads in areas where traffic volumes are highest. Consequently,
Koala-vehicle collisions are highest in these areas.

As Koala behaviour cannot be modified and Koalas will continue to populate high-
risk areas throughout the Shire, the management of vehicle strike as a threatening
process is vital to reduce the existing and future impacts of roads on the Shire’s Koala

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

population. To achieve an effective level of management will require the
commitment not only of Redland Shire Council, but of the relevant State Government
Authorities, particularly the Department of Main Roads in it’s role as the provider and
manager of State-controlled arterial roads which represent the majority of high Koala-
vehicle strike roads in the Shire.

While the likely success of provision of crossing infrastructure for Koalas is unproven
in Redland Shire, the status of the Koala as a ‘Vulnerable’ species in the south east
Queensland Bioregion warrants the application of the Precautionary Principle to curb
the negative impacts of roads on the species. The Precautionary Principle is one of
the guiding principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development, in that “where there
are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific
certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent
environmental degradation” (Commonwealth of Australia, 1992).

Problem Roads and Recommended Actions

The highest casualty roads are Redland Bay Road and Mount Cotton Road, with
almost 200 Koala casualties recorded on each between 1994 and 2003.

Finucane Road, Boundary Road and Cleveland–Redland Bay Road are also high
casualty roads (between 100 and 150 reported casualties each since 1994). They are
all high speed (80km/hr) roads, with Finucane Road traversing key habitat areas
associated with Hilliards Creek, Boundary Road with poor visibility conditions
traversing key fragmented habitat areas; and Cleveland-Redland Bay Road separating
core habitat associated with Hilliards Creek to the west and the high quality food tree
corridors along the foreshore to the east. None of these roads incorporate safe
crossing opportunities for Koalas.

While it is possible to narrow problem areas to sections of roads within suburbs for
the sake of comparison, it is difficult to narrow down “hot spot” areas. Spatial
representation of the data shows that the term “hot roads” more aptly describes the
problem locations.

Figure 1.1 shows the recommended road treatment locations, types and priorities for
the Shire. Road treatment types are discussed in detail in the Action Plan, which
includes recommendations for the following treatments at key locations:

•        Fauna Exclusion or Guide Fencing;
•        Underpasses;
•        Overpasses;
•        Signage and ‘Cat’s-eye’ Reflectors;
•        Lighting;
•        Verge Treatment;
•        Median Strip Treatment;
•        Road Speed Limits;
•        Traffic Calming;
•        Cuttings and Walled Areas;

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

•        Road Works;
•        Monitoring.

In addition the implementation of a comprehensive and long-term public awareness
and community participation program has been recommended.

So that road treatments are not planned and managed in isolation, without due
consideration of the influences of surrounding land uses and land use practices on
Koala presence and movement Koala habitat types have been mapped, and broad
recommendations for land use planners and environmental managers have been made
for Koala habitat management in relation to roads.

A range of the highest-casualty roads and likely future problem roads have been
targeted in the Action Plan as case studies to determine locations for specific
investigation to develop recommendations for treatment to minimise Koala casualties
from vehicle collisions. Case studies have been prepared for:

•      Redland Bay Road (Windemere Road to Vienna Road);
•      Redland Bay Road (Vienna Road to Boundary Road);
•      Sturgeon Street (Starkey Street to Wellington Street);
•      Finucane Road (McDonald Road to Delancy Street);
•      Mount Cotton Road (Ney Road to Lyndon Road);
•      Mount Cotton Road (Lyndon Road to Gramzow Road);
•      Boundary Road (Panorama Drive to Cleveland-Redland Bay Road;
•      Duncan Road;
•      Moreton Bay Road at Coolnwynpin Creek;
•      Springacre Road;
•      Cleveland-Redland Bay Road (South Street to Colburn Avenue); and
•      Cleveland-Redland Bay Road (Colburn Ave to southern Shire boundary).

The Action Plan includes recommends for Redland Shire Council to continue
consultation with Main Roads regarding:

•      The establishment, maintenance and monitoring of existing bridge structures at:
       (a) the crossing of Moreton Bay Road over Coolnwynpin Creek; (b) the
       crossing of Finucane Road over Hilliards Creek; and (c) the crossing of
       Cleveland-Redland Bay Road over Eprapah Creek as Koala underpasses;
•      Design, installation and monitoring of a Koala overpass structure trial;
•      Potential for Redland Shire Council to contribute to infrastructure monitoring
       programs; and
•      Requirements for Koala movement infrastructure for future road upgrades in
       Redland Shire.

It has also been recommended that Redland Shire Council consider commissioning
the following work:

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Executive Summary
Action Plan to Reduce Koala Hits from Vehicles in Redland Shire (Version 1)
for Redland Shire Council

•      Formulation of a standardised monitoring program for Koala movement
       infrastructure locations in Redland Shire; and

•      Determination of the economic value of the Koala to the existing and future
       economy of Redland Shire.

The following information should be reviewed and where relevant incorporated into
any future revisions of the Action Plan:

•      The finalised Redland Shire Strategic Plan (currently in draft form);

•      Fauna habitat mapping being prepared as part of the new State Government
       planning legislation;

•      The pending Conservation Plan for Koalas in Queensland is currently being
       prepared by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS); and

•      Results of the current Consolidated Rutile Limited research program of North
       Stradbroke Island Koalas, their distribution and resource partitioning. Upon
       completion of this study the findings should be used to map out Koala habitat
       for the precinct as for the mainland precincts.

It should also be noted that the mapping of Koala habitat ‘types’ for the Action Plan
was conducted primarily via desktop methodologies, although with good local
knowledge. The mapping should be refined and progressively updated to correct any
erroneous allocations and to reflect conditions as they change over time.

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