SEQ Plan a positive step forward, but not enough to protect our endangered species

The final SEQ Regional Plan update  shows an increased recognition of the need to reign in urban sprawl, and to design better, more resilient, cities and communities.

Many of the features of this updated Plan reflect the principles that SGS Economics & Planning suggested in their independent report Best Practice Regional Planning for SEQ.

However, it does not go far enough in protecting and restoring critical habitat, and ensuring the sustainability and liveability of our communities.

Queensland Conservation Council Urban Sustainability Organiser, Jen Basham, said:

"We are in the midst of an extinction crisis. And we know the biggest threat in SEQ to our iconic species like koalas, quolls, and glossy black cockatoos is out of control, poorly designed urban sprawl and development.

"The plan shows the Government was listening. The emphasis on density and diversity in housing is really welcome. By building more densely and sustainably in our middle suburbs, we can provide most homes we need for everyone, and more quickly and affordably than urban sprawl "greenfield" developments.

"It also takes climate change seriously, and is a big improvement in terms of implementation. With more diverse voices around the table, better indicators, and closer scrutiny we will know if it is headed in the right direction, and be able to make the right adjustments along the way.

"However the State needs to go further if we are to protect critical habitat and ensure that our ecosystems can maintain their integrity and function. The urban footprint is still expanding in this final Plan. And while clearing has slowed, Koala habitat is still being bulldozed. It is still death by a thousand cuts.

"Our expert report Holding the Line: Reversing Biodiversity Decline showed that SEQ has remnant bushland cover of around 35%. In the life of this final Plan, it risks dropping below the 30% threshold for healthy ecosystems.

"There are two key decisions that the State could take to immediately address the concerns:

  • Firstly set a target for restoring SEQ to at least 40% bushland and other critical habitat, such as wetlands and riparian zones;
  • Secondly, commit to bioregional planning for the whole of the SEQ bioregion.

"Best practice bioregional planning would give more clarity to all stakeholders, and so speed up housing. And these commitments would give our SEQ community a blueprint for saving and regenerating the precious green space and waterways that fundamentally sustain our own lives and those of our most loved creatures.

"The test is now for the government to implement the plan in line with the best available science to ensure our precious koalas and other iconic wildlife remain protected for future generations."