‘Second worst in Australia’: Dismal record on wildlife
GOLD Coast and Tweed is the second worst urban area in the country for forested habitat destruction and dozens of species are in the firing line, a new report shows.
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) data reveals 39 threatened species were impacted by habitat destruction covering 2641 hectares - the size of about 1490 Cbus Super Stadiums - in the region between 2000-2017.
The loss of habitat has affected iconic wildlife including koalas, curlews and painted snipes.
However, developer Norm Rix - who famously told ABC's Four Corners he had probably "knocked down more trees and pushed over more trees than anyone else on the entire Gold Coast" - believes most developers are going above and beyond to safeguard habitats.
Mr Rix said balancing conservation with projects serving some of the fastest-growing areas in the country was tricky, but developers were more environmentally minded by the year.
"There's a line between conservation and development," he said. "You can't have development and then basically be a total conservationist. Leaving certain areas for conservation purposes (as we're doing) should work fine. This is working pretty well here on the Gold Coast.
"I would not know how much land I've given Gold Coast City Council (for conservation). There's rules and regulations and they're very strict. If they're enforced correctly it works well. It is working well.
"We create a lot of employment. We should be proud of what we've got here on the Gold Coast.
"Every development I do, I learn a little more, I can tell you. It's a very tricky balance."
The ACF said the five worst urban areas for forested habitat destruction between 2000-2017 were Brisbane, Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Sydney.
"While national parks and protected areas are essential for safeguarding biodiversity, our cities and towns also provide critical habitat for threatened species," ACF nature campaigner Jess Abrahams said.
"Around 25 per cent of Australia's nationally listed threatened plants and 46 per cent of threatened animals can be found in cities, towns and suburbs.
"Australians love nature and 90 per cent of us live in cities and towns. But our laws are failing to protect urban habitat from property developers destroying bushland for a quick buck."
Mr Abrahams pushed for stronger environmental protection laws, an independent regulator and a $4.5 billion "job-creating investment" in long-term wildlife protection and recovery.