Sep 3, 2012

Sapphire to Woolgoolga offset project

More than thirty threatened species including ospreys, koalas, yellow–bellied gliders and threatened bat and frog species have had their habitat guaranteed in the South Moonee Forest at Moonee Beach.

Approximately 100 hectares of land in South Moonee Forest at Moonee Beach, 10 kilometres north of Coffs Harbour, have been purchased as part of the Pacific Highway Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade.

Duty Senator for Cowper, Matt Thistlethwaite, said the South Moonee Forest area would be beneficial to the community as the area would be protected from future development.

“An additional aerial-rope fauna crossing linking the forest area to vegetated areas to the west of the upgraded highway will also be provided as part of the biodiversity offset package,” the Senator said.

“This will help connect natural habitats for threatened glider species which have been recorded in the area.

“South Moonee Forest will be a key part of the biodiversity package to offset the direct and indirect impacts of the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade,” he said.

Coffs Harbour MP, Andrew Fraser, said the Minister for Planning’s Condition of Approval for the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade required RMS to provide approximately 100 hectares of native vegetation to meet its biodiversity offset requirements.

“Roads and Maritime Services had been working closely with the Environment Protection Authority, the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) and Coffs Harbour City Council during the purchase process.

“It is likely the area will be transferred to NPWS to form part of the Coffs Coast Regional Park to ensure conservation values of the area are maintained going forward,” said Mr Fraser.

The Federal Labor Government has committed $632 million to the $705 million Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade and the NSW Government has committed $73 million.