Members of a community action group are drawing attention to a rezoning proposal of 592 hectares of bushland along the Newcastle Link Road and its threat to local wildlife.
Save Link Rd Forest is a group formed by Newcastle and Lake Macquarie residents concerned about the impacts of a rezoning proposal under assessment by Newcastle and Lake Macquarie City councils.
The proposed rezoning along the Newcastle Link Road from Wallsend to Minmi would facilitate a 3000- to 4000-home housing development owned by Eden Estates.
Save Link Rd Forest members staged a COVID-safe roadside act today, helping to draw public and community attention to the threat of extinction presented to many different species that call the bushland home.
Save Link Rd Forest spokesperson Ivan Macfadyen said the proposed bushland clearing posed a threat to more than 50 different species of flora and fauna.
Out of those 50, there are 15 already threatened species, including the squirrel glider, powerful owl, flying fox, bent wing bat, native orchids and scrub turpentine.
“There are some animals that only eat the seeds of the scrub turpentine. So if the plant dies, the animals will die. So, it just runs right up the chain. This tree is an important link in our ecosystem,” Macfadyen said.
“We have destroyed 85 per cent of the coastal plain for the entire length of NSW. This specific forest is a significant part of the remaining 15 per cent of native forest left. The native wildlife that lives on the coastal plain has never adapted to live at high altitudes or the cold. Any proposed rezoning will help ensure their extinction.
“Another species is the powerful owl, which mates for life. It stays in the one nest and lives there for about 30 years; it also needs to graze and hunt for food over a 400- to 800-hectare area. The development has allowed 100 metres of remaining bush around each nest when this bird needs at least 400 hectares to feed and survive properly.”
Macfadyen said urban infill and prioritising new developments in areas already cleared was essential in protecting threatened species and the overall quality of life in the region.
Hunter Community Environment Centre (HCEC) coordinator Jo Lynch said many community voices had also raised concerns over the further erosion of essential biodiversity corridors.
“It is an essential habitat for squirrel gliders, which is a species we have been focusing on a lot. They need connectivity of bushland and hollow trees to survive,” Lynch said.
“We want to raise awareness over the important biodiversity at this site and make sure that all checks are implemented and the full picture has been assessed before the council just whisk it through.
“We want to avoid clearing established bushland wherever we can across the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast electorates.
“We know that there is a high demand for housing, but we must think twice about the need for land clearing when there are a lot of very vulnerable species threatened.”
NovoNews has reached out to City of Newcastle for comment and is awaiting a response.