Residents of a leafy Sunshine Coast village have started calling their community ‘Deforest Glen’ after ongoing tree clearing to make way for development.
The small, tranquil pocket of Forest Glen in the hinterland has been alive with the sounds of forest felling which has created upset.
The natural environment is one of the reasons many chose to live in the area.
But developers have undertaken what one local Kate Kitchin calls an “extraordinary” amount of legal land clearing over the past five years.
She said hectares of mature trees had been dropped as part of the three latest developments:
- Azure masterplanned collection of boutique villas (Owen Creek Road)
- Greenwood Forest Glen (bounded by Mons and Parsons roads and Grammar School Way)
- Ingenia Lifestyle Nature’s Edge expansion (Owen Creek Road)
Community outrage was voiced on social media when other large trees were lost recently on Sunshine Coast Council-owned verges.
They were located at the start of the Tanawha Tourist Drive for access to the Nature’s Edge property.
“Residents understand the need for more housing options as the population on the Coast grows,” Ms Kitchin said.
“But the absence of any community engagement for these huge developments, and large-scale clearing of mature forests in such a short space of time, has ruined the character of this suburb and decimated wildlife populations.
“It’s quite sickening to watch a majestic, beautiful tree, that’s taken hundreds of years to grow, be torn down for no other reason than poor planning.
“The scale of mature-tree clearance that we’re talking about in Forest Glen is extraordinary over the last 18 months.”
An Ingenia Communities spokesperson said the company had “always been extremely diligent in meeting any conditions set by local council, and worked closely with them and our residents to ensure the best possible community outcomes”.
The spokesperson said the company had installed fauna nest boxes within the preserved bushland to support existing wildlife, and preserved a Moreton Bay Fig around which an area of green space would be retained.
“We are currently creating a new entry point along Owen Creek Road. This has seen the removal of some trees which we appreciate may concern residents, but the updated intersection will improve motorist safety in the area, and the final step will see the tree planting bordering the road reinstated.”
The national property firm took over Nature’s Edge and The Village Forest Glen, as well as the neighbouring Forest Glen Holiday Resort, as part of a larger $65 million deal that also included a Townsville holiday park in 2021.
The expansion development is set for completion by the end of next year, when the total Nature’s Edge will have about 300 homes.
Division 7 Councillor Ted Hungerford said the council had approved an expansion of the Relocatable Home Park and Retirement Facility in Forest Glen in June 2021.
The approval underwent a comprehensive assessment by the council and state government.
“As a condition of the approval, a significant area of the existing vegetation has been protected by covenants,” he said.
“However, some vegetation removal has been permitted around the existing entry way to Nature’s Edge to ensure the safety of people travelling to and from the grounds.
“In addition, a further 9000sqm of vegetation planting – the equivalent of nearly 600 new koala habitat trees – will take place to offset what was removed.
“A condition of this approval required professional fauna spotters to assess vegetation before removal and they must be on site during the removal process.”
Further details of the application and development conditions can be viewed on the Development.i website (application reference: MCU11/0175.08).
But Ms Kitchin said the former Big 4 caravan park had many well-established trees, which were now all gone.
“There are smarter options. Here, we are seeing a complete demolition of the existing landscape to create a blank slate for building. We could look to many European cities for examples of how clever development takes into account their surrounding environment.”
Ms Kitchin said she feared for native wildlife and birds that once called the trees home – some of which had been forced to take up refuge in smaller backyards neighbouring the developments.
Her recent post on the Buderim community board page on Facebook, alerting local residents to trees being removed from the verge outside the Nature’s Edge development, garnered 97 reactions, 68 comments and 69 shares in one day.
It prompted Leigh Coxall to comment: “Totally ruined my childhood stomping ground. Forest Glen is now all highways and concrete.”
And Lu See to reply: “Drove along the road past where the Big 4 caravan park used to be. Yesterday they cut down the big trees on the right. Today they stopped all the traffic as they were cutting down the trees on the left. I started crying when I saw the destruction.”
Other residents comment that marketing associated with the developments mention the ambience of the lush surrounding rainforest, yet many of the trees on the land parcels have been “decimated” by bulldozers or cut down.
As the trees were all on the developers’ land and permits had been granted, Ms Kitchin realises little can be done.
But she hopes the community’s concerted efforts and pleas to to Sunshine Coast Council for better community engagement during the planning of new developments may emphasise to developers the need to replant established trees – especially given the Sunshine Coast’s new UNESCO Biosphere status as an international site of excellence and an area of natural beauty.
“I’m hoping that by highlighting what’s already happened to Forest Glen … we can retain the last remaining pockets of mature trees we have left. And make sure there’s a habitat left for our unique UNESCO biosphere occupants.”
Cr Hungerford said that through the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme, the council had a plan for development of the Sunshine Coast region, including how to accommodate the additional people choosing to live here.
“We are confident that with our focus on protecting our environment, caring for our community, careful planning, and good design, council can help our region grow sustainably while maintaining and protecting the things we love about our Sunshine Coast, including our liveability and natural assets,” he said.
Article source: www.sunshinecoastnews.com.au