Wherever you live in Brisbane, you should probably be aware that Brisbane City Council is proposing a major amendment to the ‘biodiversity overlay’ of the city plan, adding/changing/removing areas of ‘general ecological significance’ and ‘high ecological significance.’

One likely outcome of this amendment is that many heavily vegetated areas within our city will no longer be protected from private development.

The biodiversity overlay does not completely prevent development in areas of ecological significance, but requires council to take a closer look at ecological impacts when assessing development on these properties. Unfortunately, council still continues to approve developments which have an excessive and inappropriate impact upon areas of ecological significance, regardless of the biodiversity overlay, but at least the thresholds are higher.

I’m not going to have time to look at all the proposed changes throughout Brisbane, so I’m hoping local residents who know their own neighbourhoods will compare the proposed changes with the existing biodiversity protections and email in your own suggestions/submissions.

Based on the proposed changes I’ve looked at within the Gabba Ward, it seems like areas of ‘high ecological significance’ (e.g. the remnant rainforest vegetation in the gully pockets of Highgate Hill) are being reduced in size and downgraded to ‘general ecological significance’ and many other areas (e.g. big chunks around Norman Creek in East Brisbane, and stretches of vegetation along the West End riverfront) are being removed from the overlay altogether.

The proposed changes are outlined here: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/…/proposed-citywide-amendme… (Click on any of the numbered squares in the main map and you’ll see a PDF link to the specific local map)

And you can see the current biodiversity overlay maps here: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/planning-building/planning-guidelines-tools/brisbane-city-plan-2014/brisbane-city-plan-2014-mapping/brisbane-city-plan-2014-mapping-biodiversity-areas-overlay

You can also view the existing biodiversity overlay by going to the City Plan map, http://cityplan2014maps.brisbane.qld.gov.au/CityPlan/ and clicking ‘Overlays’ > ‘Biodiversity areas’.

Below is the initial submission I’m making. I might put in another more detailed one down the track. As you can see, you don’t need to write using technical language and lots of specialist jargon. You can make your own submission by emailing strategic.planning@brisbane.qld.gov.au. Please CC in my office at thegabba.ward@bcc.qld.gov.au so I can get an idea of the kinds of changes that council is proposing to make across the city.

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Hi team,

I wanted to submit a few brief comments regarding the proposed city plan amendments to the Biodiversity mapping.

I’m concerned that the proposed amendments to the biodiversity overlay excessively reduce protections to existing areas of ecological significance. The purpose of the biodiversity overlay is not simply to outline the exact boundaries of areas that contain native flora and fauna, but to identify the broader footprint around these areas where development is likely to have an impact on flora and fauna of ecological significance.

I believe the areas of the Gabba Ward listed below contain vegetation/other features that would merit inclusion in the biodiversity map. I understand that the mangroves themselves are also protected by state legislation, but much of the vegetation I’m referring to is on private land or council-owned land and is not part of the riparian zone itself. You’ll note that I have not simply suggested every single area in my ward that happens to have a bit of dense vegetation, and that I’m specifically highlighting areas which I genuinely believe to be deserving of protection. Many of these areas are currently listed on the biodiversity overlay, but council is (wrongly) proposing to remove them.
– Along the river in West End there are significant pockets of vegetation which are the habitat of a range of iconic native species including water rats, goannas, water dragons and snakes. The large treed areas in the properties adjacent to the river between Boundary Street and Hoogley Street should be added as an area of general ecological significance, particularly the area between 113 Ryan St and the end of Carlow St
– The riverside stretch of Orleigh Park between Montague Road and Hoogley St (habitat for birds, reptiles, semi-aquatic mammals, fish and sometimes fruitbats)
– The riverside vegetated area of Orleigh Park near the dog park at the end of Drury St
– The heavily treed vacant lot at the corner of Boundary St and Dudley St, adjacent to the river
– The vegetated gully between Loch St and Bristol St, West End (I’m told that echidnas were known to inhabit this gully until as recently as the early 2000s)
– The vegetated beach at Captain Burke Park in Kangaroo Point under the Story Bridge
– The native vegetation reserve in the middle of Mowbray Park, East Brisbane – this is definitely an area of general ecological significance and perhaps deserves an even higher threshold of protection
– The densely vegetated gullies around Rosecliffe St, Fraser Tce, Dauphin Tce etc in Highgate Hill are shown on the map as areas of general ecological significance, however the shaded green areas are not large enough to fully capture the ecologically significant vegetation – further on-the-ground studies should be conducted in this area to investigate whether the boundaries of the ecological significance area should be increased, and whether the very heart of the gully (which is remnant native rainforest vegetation that I’m told predates the European invasion) should continue to be listed as ‘high ecological significance’ rather than ‘general ecological significance’ given that it is still the habitat of a breeding population of goannas
– The row of established fig trees along Lytton Road in Mowbray Park, East Brisbane is also habitat for possums and a range of reptiles and birds and perhaps should be considered for protection
– The densely vegetated slopes between St Mary’s Anglican Church, Kangaroo Point and the Riverlife building at the bottom of the cliffs
– The extent of the existing biodiversity overlay around Norman Creek in East Brisbane and Woolloongabba should be preserved, and it should not be downgraded from ‘high ecological significance’ to ‘general ecological significance’. This is a sensitive riparian corridor and development on the properties around the creek will inevitably have an impact on the creek itself. As such, it is appropriate that a higher threshold of assessment should be applied to any construction/development projects on these properties.

Please ensure that all of these listed areas are extended protection as part of the amendments to the city plan.