Impacts of the Development

Impacts on Flora and Fauna

Fauna

Due to the limited nature of field fauna surveys, a precautionary approach muchs be taken with respect to the assessment of species that may or may not use the site.  There are five species not found during surveys for which the site may in fact provide useful habitat: these are the Southern Cassowary, the Red Goshawk, the Lace-eyed Tree Frog, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and the Wart-nosed Bat (NRA 2003).

The fact the surveys did not pick up more species cannot be intrerpreted as the animals do not occur on site.  For instance, the use of the site by certain species may b periodic or seasonal.  Or, the area may form an important corridor for certain species when moving between areas or avoiding events such as bushfires or human-related disturbances.

Populations or individuals of several animal species may be impacted by the proposed development.  We describe these species, and possible impacts, below.

Spectacled Flying Fox

This is one species found to utilise the site (NRA 2003).  This large bat is considered to be a keystone species within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, playing a critical role in the dispersal of rainforest fruits.

Human activities and habitat loss have already led to an 80% reduction in the numbers of this species.  The availabitliy of suitable feeding areas is a key limiting factoer in the capacity of the species to recover.  We believe this proposed action will further impact on its recovery capacity.

Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat

This tiny bat, Saccolaimus saccolaimus is listed as Critically Endangered in Australia.  Little is known about the habitats or stauts of this bat in Austalia.  HLA-Envirosciences (2004) wisely suggests it be assumed the bat is in fact preset at the site, consequently we believe the best approach ot ensure the spcies is not put at risk is not to put it at risk through construction designed to accommodate 1500 people.

In their “Action Plan for Australian Bats”, Duncan and others (1999) note that, although no reasons for the decline of Saccolaimus saccolaimus can be confirmed, “the clearing of a significant proportion of coastal tropical woodland may pose a serious threat. Changes to the fire regime at the northern and southern limits along the east coast of north Queensland may also have caused decline.

Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat

Duncan and others (1999) state reasons for the decline of this Endangered bat species as human disturbance of roost sites.  Although HLA-Envirosciences (2004) state “… that night-time roosts are simply areas where bats ‘rest’ during foraging or use these locations as a spot t o hawk insects from.  Night-time roosts can be anywhere and are not worthy of any significant conservation preservation effort above normal conservation measures.”  Duncan and others (1999) clearly contradict this statement.  Given the general public’s overall aversion to micro-bats, significant disturbance of the areas during and after construction, and changes to the area’s ecology associated with intensive human habitation, it is difficult to see how this development will do anything other than contribute to the decline of this endangered species.

Cassowaries

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.

Marine Turtles

HLA-Envirosciences (1999) state “Impacts associated with increased boat traffic do not apply as no marina/harbour facilities, marine or offshore activities are permitted within this development”  This is clearly a naïve statement.  Wealthy individuals who purchase land at this site will want to use their boats – it is unrealistic to think that 1500 people using this site are not going to want moorings for yachts and other vessels, or use smaller outboard boats directly from the shore.  It is inconceivable that once established the residents and resort owners will not be pushing for maritime infrastructure to allow access to the marine environment.

Increased use of boats is likely to result in increased death as a result of boat strikes.  Additionally, any development close to shore is likely to impact on adjacent important seagrass beds.

Crocodiles

One of the major threats to the Estuarine Crocodile in the Cairns region is the increasing conflict between crocodiles and humans.  This development is proposed to allow houses 10 – 15 m from a oast where crocodiles are relatively common.  Allowing large scale residential development right next to the significant crocodile habitat of Trinity Inlet is asking for trouble with respect to human-crocodile conflicts.  Already many people in Cairns have been calling for the killing of crocodiles in this region (see numerous letters to the editor, Cairns Post).  Allowing this development to proceed has significant potential to escalate this conflict.

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