ESCAPE: Koala with joey, Australia. Picture: Istock
ESCAPE: Koala with joey, Australia. Picture: Istock

New fears for Tiaro’s ‘crippled’ koala population

TIARO'S already crippled koala population could be further decimated when the Tiaro bypass goes ahead.

That is the belief of Natalie Richardson from Fraser Coast Wildlife Rescue, who fears the area bookmarked for the bypass could be a koala corridor.

"It's a big cause for concern," she said.

"The numbers out there are already in significant decline."

Ms Richardson said koala numbers in Tinana were already in crisis because of land clearing.

She said the new bypass would mean more work for her and the wildlife rescue organisation because animals in the area would be impacted, both by the construction and the traffic.

The plan for a bypass around Tiaro was announced late last year.

It's aim was to address issued caused when the highway flooded, preventing traffic disruptions.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey and Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders unveiled the plans in November, which will see a new road built east of Tiaro and around flood-prone areas like Black Swamp Creek within five years.

A spokesman from the Department of Transport and Main Roads said the Tiaro Flood Immunity Upgrade corridor is a study area only and was not the final footprint for the new highway.

"If koala habitat is found, our first preference will be to avoid it altogether," he said.

"If this is not feasible, we will aim to minimise any impacts.

"Community feedback will be considered together with the field investigation outcomes when developing the highway design."

When announcing the project, Mr Saunders said the upgrade would be built to withstand a one in 100-year flood.

Earlier this year, Transport and Main Roads staff sought feedback from the Tiaro community about a potential upgrade.

"Locals overwhelmingly told me they want a bypass to avoid congestion in town and access being cut off when it floods," Mr Saunders said.

"More than 5800 local businesses pump close to $4 billion into our economy every year, and many rely on the Bruce Highway to get their goods out the door.

"This is about making sure our community and local businesses don't come to a standstill when severe weather hits."

Further consultation will occur, following a highway alignment being developed.

The highway upgrade has been jointly-funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.

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