The Federal Environment Minister has ignored evidence of a significant threat to internationally protected wetlands, koalas and threatened bird species in his decision to progress the Toondah Harbour development proposal, national conservation organisations have declared.

James Trezise, Policy Analyst at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said:

“The Environment Minister already has enough evidence to reject this unprecedented high-rise development. He knows it will harm the internationally protected Moreton Bay wetland and destroy 42 hectares of fragile biodiversity.

“This area is critical habitat for Eastern Curlews on their long migration from Russia. The development will also seriously harm koala populations in the area, which are already facing significant threats from urbanisation, vehicle strikes and dog attacks.”

Evan Quartermain, Head of Programs at Humane Society International (HSI), said:

“Humane Society International is disappointed that this development, set to destroy vital habitat for dugongs, turtles, dolphins and migratory birds, hasn’t been declared clearly unacceptable from the outset.

“In designating the Moreton Bay a Ramsar site, Australia agreed to conserve these globally significant wetlands and they should be absolutely off limits to such destructive impacts.

“If Minister Frydenberg seeks to excise an area from this international commitment just to facilitate the Toondah Harbour project it will be a dark day for Australia and the threatened wildlife we pledged to protect. It’s the sort of Ministerial discretion that needs urgent curtailing through a new generation of environment laws that Australians could count on to actually protect nature.”

Connie Lee, Migratory Shorebird Program Coordinator, BirdLife Australia:

“If approved, this development will encroach on over 40 hectares of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site. As the most important wetlands in the world, Ramsar-listed wetlands should never be developed.

“If the Australian Government does approve this proposal, it sets a dangerous precedent for our other 65 Ramsar-listed wetlands that provide important habitat to many threatened species.

“The proposed development at Toondah Harbour will also impact over 30 bird species including irreplaceable feeding habitat for the critically endangered Eastern Curlew, the world’s largest migratory shorebird. Coastal reclamation is a key driver in the dramatic population declines we’ve seen for the Eastern Curlew and other migratory shorebirds. It is critical that we protect what habitat we have left for these long-distance migrants.

“BirdLife Australia and the international bird community will be watching this decision closely and urge Minister Frydenberg to uphold Australia’s international commitments.”

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