Community Rallies to Protect Wildlife in Woogaroo Forest

Wildlife advocates in Ipswich are making a last-ditch effort to block a major residential development in Woogaroo Forest, located between Springfield and Brookwater, in the hopes of preserving critical habitat for endangered koalas and other native species.

Read: Platypus Found Thriving in Unlikely Urban Oasis in Ipswich

A public protest is planned for June 16 against the approved plan for “Springview” to build over 1,800 homes with a commercial centre and childcare centre on 160 hectares of the forest area. 

Woogaroo Forest is a 450-hectare natural woodland area situated between the suburbs of Brookwater, Bellbird Park, Camira, and Springfield in Ipswich. It represents the last major remnant of forest linking the Goodna and Camira wildlife corridors to the White Rock Conservation Park. 

Photo credit: Save Woogaroo Forest – Ipswich QLD/Facebook 

According to wildlife advocates, this forest provides vital habitat for significant native species like koalas, powerful owls, echidnas, brush-tailed rock wallabies, and brush-tailed phascogales – all of which have been spotted and photographically documented in and around the area within the past five years.  

Photo credit: Save Woogaroo Forest – Ipswich QLD/Facebook 

Despite objections from some locals, Ipswich City Council signed off on the precinct plan for the development this March as an initial step. 

Facing a severe housing shortage and rapid population growth, the Council is promoting new residential developments like Springview as critical for accommodating the influx of new residents expected in the area. 

With the population of Greater Ipswich currently around 250,000, projections indicate it could potentially double to 500,000 within the next ten years as more people move away from the city centre to the outer suburban regions in search of more open green spaces. 

Keith McCosh of Bellbird Park is helping organise the protest, who noted that people see koalas quite regularly around the place. They have the fear that this will take the koalas to extinction in Ipswich.

Photo credit: Save Woogaroo Forest – Ipswich QLD/Facebook 

A petition by protesters to save the remnant forest has gathered over 15,000 signatures so far. 

However, the developer Stockland says the state environment department has no records of koala presence in the area. Their application included independent flora and fauna studies.

Mayor Teresa Harding has said the project did not require consultation with councillors, and environmental approval rests with the federal government due to claims of endangered species on site. It’s reportedly a code-assessable project, which means it did not require public consultation or allow appeals.

Read: Almost 700 New Homes Built in Ipswich to Support the Housing Market

With housing in high demand yet biodiversity at risk, the June 16 protest at Opossum Creek Dog Park aims to raise awareness and make one last push to save Woogaroo Forest before the development advances.

Published 29-May-2024