NET NATURE GAIN: Noosa Council CEO Brett de Chastel pores over the Yurol/Ringtail forest map in his council office.
NET NATURE GAIN: Noosa Council CEO Brett de Chastel pores over the Yurol/Ringtail forest map in his council office. Alan Lander

Noosa welcomes forest land transfer for koala habitat

NOOSA'S national park estate is set to increase by a further 357 hectares with the addition of a former pine plantation harvesting area in the Yurol/Ringtail state forest acquisition.

Noosa Council CEO Brett de Chastel told councillors last week the first transfer as part of $3.5 million landmark conservation deal done in conjunction with the State Government, HQPlantations and Noosa Parks Association should happen any day.

"Under the contracts, HQPlantations have five years to finalise their harvesting of their pine plantations that have commercial value,” Mr de Chastel said in his report briefing.

"Over the last nine months, HQPlantations have finalised their harvesting of large sections of the Ringtail pine forest, particularly those areas near McKinnon Rd.

"There was one small non-commercial section of pine which has been mulched to promote early regeneration of that section.”

The CEO said it was "highly likely” that HQPlantations would complete their harvesting well before the five years were up, possibly in three-and-a-half.

"By doing it earlier it actually gives more time for regeneration,” he said.

"I could not speak more highly of HQPlantations as a corporate citizen, they've been very good.”

He said council should also soon be receiving the first of its five $125,000 repayments from the NPA after the green group initially stumped up $541,000 of a $1,166,666 commitment given by all three buying parties.

That meant the council handed over $1,791,666 to secure the deal after receiving a signed contract commitment for the outstanding NPA contribution.

Mr de Chastel said an interest-bearing account had also been set up with the QTC of $2,333,332 and "interest from that account will be used for koala preservation projects in Noosa nominated by Noosa Council”.

"Interest will accumulate for five years.”

The council has the right to become trustee of the conservation park areas on the former pine harvest areas with an annual commitment capped at $125,000 per annum for five years to undertake remediation of those areas.

"Noosa Parks Association has made a similar financial commitment for remediation,” he said.

"At the end of the five years, the remediated conservation park is then transferred into national park.

"Pine areas that have been harvested in recent years in the Ringtail area are showing very strong natural regeneration.

"Even the more recently harvested pine areas are showing positive signs of natural regeneration.”

He said the Department of Forestry also proposed to start removal of some of this hardwood in the next few months, beginning with the hardwood block on the southern side of the railway in Yurol forest.

Mr de Chastel said the council had "no remediation obligations” in relation to any hardwood areas.