The Sunshine Coast Council has warned of big penalties for anyone caught damaging nature after a sensitive coastal environment was poisoned.
Trees and plants have been destroyed inside an 8000m2 area, about the size of two football fields, along the Mudjimba-Marcoola Foreshore Reserve.
This created a significant risk to endangered loggerhead turtles nesting on the beach below.
Council is investigating the environmental vandalism and a large warning sign has been installed to highlight the damage and send a clear message to the community that this illegal activity will not be tolerated.
The signs will stay in place until the site has regenerated.
Those found guilty of such offences can be fined more than $130,000.
A specialist environmental consultant has been engaged to determine the full impact and the options to help rehabilitate the area.
Council is also investigating additional measures, such as installing screening, to reduce light at the beach to support turtle nesting.
Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez called on the community to help take a stand against this vandalism and help to find the culprit by providing evidence to identify the offender.
“Council is investigating but the damage to the site is so severe that the case has been referred to the Department of Environment and Science for additional investigation,” Cr Suarez said.
“Testing inside the damaged area has revealed the use of a damaging herbicide – using a chemical rarely seen on the coast.
“It stays in the soil for a number of years which means it’ll be some time before the site starts to naturally recover.”
Cr Suarez said our beautiful region was loved and treasured and there’d been strong community outcry about this damage.
“This is a case of blatant, malicious destruction with clear intent to not just damage the area, but devastate it,” she said.
“Our natural environment is part of what makes the Sunshine Coast so special and if convicted of illegal damage people can face significant fines of up to $131,580 from Council and more if found guilty under the Queensland Environmental Protection Act.”
Council, through its Sunshine Coast Environment and Liveability Strategy, recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing our natural assets and takes a very strong stance when it comes to illegal damage of this nature.
Council receives regular complaints of illegal clearing and poisoning of native trees.
We are grateful to those residents who report this to Council as without their information, it is often difficult to find the culprits and prosecute them, which in turn deters others from carrying out environmental vandalism.
If you notice suspicious vegetation damage occurring in Council-managed reserves please contact Council’s customer services on 5475 7272.