Local birdwatching expert Greg Roberts. Photo: Patrick Woods
Local birdwatching expert Greg Roberts. Photo: Patrick Woods

Floody great: Wetlands protection sparks celebration

THE protection of land earmarked for sporting fields as permanent wetlands has sparked celebrations from long-time campaigners.

Bird watcher and former national journalist Greg Roberts was pleased with Sunshine Coast Council's recent decision to designate 90ha of land it bought west of the Sunshine Motorway at Coolum Beach in 2008 for conservation.

Last week's decision came after council officers had advised it would be "impractical" to create a shire-wide sports open space and recreation area due to tidal inundation.

The five-lot site was bought in 2008 with the intention of becoming a sport and recreation space and constructed wetlands for "polishing" effluent from the Coolum Sewage Treatment Plant, recreational trails and more.

The officer's report found the creation of wetland habitat would be the best future opportunity for the site.

SITE: The site of the newly-protected area west of Coolum.
SITE: The site of the newly-protected area west of Coolum.

Mr Roberts was pleased with the decision to preserve the West Coolum Wetland site and let it become a fully-fledged wetland.

He said he came across the wetland while kayaking in Coolum Creek in 2016 and rare bird sightings soon followed.

"I was immediately impressed with its potential as a reserve and wrote to the council requesting that it be protected as a wetland," Mr Roberts said.

"Among nice bird records there were one of only two sightings of Australian spotted crake from the Sunshine Coast region, and the scarce Eastern Grass Owl and Australian Little Bittern.

"The council undertook environmental consultancy studies which indeed underscored the site's environmental values."

Birdwatcher Greg Roberts.
Birdwatcher Greg Roberts.

Mr Roberts had been instrumental in the preservation of nearby Yandina Creek Wetland, which is now owned by Unitywater.

He implored council to ensure there would be public access to the West Coolum site, as Unitywater had promised there would be at Yandina Creek.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the West Coolum site offered an exciting opportunity to establish an estuarine wetland, due to the frequent tidal inundation of the site.


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