New report: Principles and Zoning Rules for Bioregional Planning

Conservationists and scientists have united in support of smart regional planning that ensures threatened species like spotted-tail quolls are considered in our housing planning and given a fighting chance at survival, in a new report.

Research commissioned by the Queensland Conservation Council, Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF-Australia and Birdlife Australia undertaken by University of Queensland and Griffith University, outlines an eight-point plan for getting regional planning right for people and nature. The report shows ‘no-go for development’ conservation zones.

Scientists and conservationists have rolled up their sleeves to deliver these findings while waiting on the State and Federal Government to deliver on the promise they made back in 2022 to create bioregional plans for three zones in Queensland to protect nature and provide certainty for developers. The Queensland Government has recently committed $2 million in the State Budget towards this, but the pace is still nowhere near fast enough.

The Queensland Conservation Council encourages the Federal Government to use this report as a playbook on how to get regional planning right across the country for people and nature, in lieu of its two-year delay in delivering key parts of the federal nature law reforms.

Queensland Conservation Council Nature Campaigner Natalie Frost said:

Queensland has some of the most amazing animals and plants on the planet, but their homes are at risk when we build ours in the wrong places.

Regional plans that set out clear conservation zones or ‘red zones’ that are no-go for development are urgently needed to protect threatened plants and animals in places like western Springfield where locals are fighting to protect Woogaroo Forest. 

In South East Queensland alone, we found up to a third of the region needs to be identified as a ‘red zone’ and secured from clearing and degradation now.

This mapping makes it clear where we can't afford to lose another hectare of habitat from places like the iconic Glasshouse Mountains, the Gold and Sunshine Coast hinterlands and throughout the Scenic Rim.

The spotted-tail quoll is one of the species of threatened animal that needs its habitat marked as a ‘no-go’ for developers. This iconic Australian marsupial with red-brown fur, covered in white spots, might not be around for future generations to see.

Defining what irreplaceable habitat is for species like the spotted-tail quolls and having accurate data to understand where they live is crucial if Australia wants to meet its commitment of no new extinctions.

In some areas in SEQ remnant vegetation is now below or close to less than 30% of its original extent, with little remnant vegetation remaining, it is critical that remaining areas be urgently protected. 

We are calling on the Federal Government to deliver on its promise for Stage 3 of the new nature positive laws this year to ensure that threatened species like the spotted tailed quoll, glossy black cockatoo and yakka skink are given a fighting chance of survival. For too long our failing nature laws have not delivered good outcomes for nature. 

This report shows it’s possible to do planning differently, by creating clear conservation zones that prohibit all development and allow threatened plants and animals to not only survive, but thrive in the wild.

University of Queensland Professor James Watson said:

Queensland’s biodiversity is in crisis with the state containing more threatened species than any other.

The proactive identification of important habitat for those species that are considered threatened with extinction is an important first step in their long recovery. We can only save what we can see and these maps help all stakeholders see what needs to be done to save more animals from extinction.

This is just a first step in a process that ensures regional planning works for Queenslanders. It shows that we can proactively map the needs of threatened species into our housing planning, which means we can set limits to the loss of their habitats.

Read the summary report here

Read the full technical report here