Impacts of the Development
The development site lies only 2 km northwest of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (Figure 1) and is linked to this protected area by high quality woodland habitat.
Despite some small-scale human disturbance over the years, the site has retained moderate to high habitat values. This is largely due to a diversity of broad habitat types (e.g. eucalypt woodlands and rainforest) as well as a diversity of microhabitats (e.g. boulder piles, caves and rock fissures, hollow-bearing trees) (NRA 2003).
Fauna studies undertaken at the site have observed 66 terrestrial vertebrates. Of these, four are recognised as rare or vulnerable in the state of Queensland. An additional sixteen threatened species were considered as possible/probable residents of the area.
In addition, migratory species protected under international conventions are present at the site, including White Bellied Sea Eagles, Ospreys and Rainbow Bee-eaters.
The study site has retained good connectivity with the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which is situated approximately 2 km south-east of False Cape (NRA 2003), allowing free migration of animals. Development of the site will mean loss of habitat, and therefore a reduction in animal numbers. When habitat is destroyed, animals usually do not migrate from an area, as other suitable habitat are already occupied by members of the same species. Instead, they are killed during the development process or die of starvation.
The Environmental Protection Agency clearly identifies parts of the False Cape site as containing habitat which is suitable for the critically endangered southern cassowary (red hatched areas in Figure 2). Some of these areas fall directly within the development footprint, and will be obliterated by development of the tiny allotments identified at the site.
The presence of Estuarine Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) in Trinity Inlet is well known, and they are likely to utilise the waters of Sunny Bay during feeding and migration. Beaches off Cairns are regularly closed in response to crocodile sightings.
There are recent anecdotal reports of crocodiles seen off Second Beach, just 2.5 km south west of False Cape.
The deadly Box Jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri inhabits North Queensland waters. This large, almost transparent invertebrate is common in coastal waters during the warmer wet season months, when it actively hunts fish. Its venom is amongst the most virulent known, and it can kill fit, healthy people in a few minutes .
Beach closures due to Box Jellyfish are an accepted fact of life in tropical northern Australia. Although some beaches are protected with nets, there are none in the East Trinity area, therefore swimming is generally out of the question during the hot summer months. Even wading can be deadly.
The heavy wet season rains provide ideal breeding condisions for insects. Both mosquitoes and march flies (biting, blood-eating flies of the family Tabanidae) are common in the hillside forests of the False Cape area.
Tiny, blood-feeding sandflies are also common in coastal areas.
The area of the development is heavily infested with termites. Pole homes, as enforced by the terrain, will require saturation chemical treatment to the poles before delivery to the site, and will require maintenance of ongoing heavy chemical treatment. Termites have not been considered in the Public Environment Report (HLA-Envirosciences 2004) and buildings located so close to the waters edge could create extensive problems with pollution from chemicals used to treat termites.