|Newly "renovated" Parklakes wetland|
The Parklakes Wetland near Bli Bli on Queensland's Sunshine Coast had rightly been hailed as a model for private sector environmental responsibility and good corporate citizenship. Two years ago I congratulated the developers of the large Parklakes residential housing estate for establishing in its midst a vibrant habitat for waterbirds of numerous species. Parklakes adopted an illustration of a waterbird as its promotional emblem. The company reprinted some of my congratulatory blog post in its promotional material, with my approval.
|Australian Little Bittern at Parklakes|
|Main lagoon before development|
|Main lagoon during development|
The Parklakes developers insist they were told by the Sunshine Coast Council that the wetland had to be "renovated". My council sources say the initiative for the changes came from the developers. Queensland Globe maps indicate that the wetland is the property of the council. Asked to clarify the situation, the developers initially said: "Does it matter? It needed fixing." Later, Parklakes said that the works were being done to comply with conditions of council approval.
The council says, effectively, that the wetland was never intended to be a wetland. Says the council: "The wetlands at Parklakes were constructed several years ago for the purpose of providing water quality treatment. It is important to recognise that the habitat resulting from the construction of the wetland, including for water birds is a valuable but secondary outcome. The ongoing management and maintenance of the wetland, while being mindful of habitat values, needs to focus on its effective functioning for the treatment of water quality."
In a 2014 article in its newsletter, Parklakes boasted: "There are other subdivisions that boast parkland, but in reality it's just a mowed bit of flat grass with a park bench plonked on it. We went the opposite way and created a haven where you live within nature itself." Really?
Parklakes even launched a dedicated bird book, Birds of Parklakes Bli Bli, announcing the move under a blog headline: Amazing Parklakes Birdlife Inspires New Book. The author, Mary Hines, belongs to a group called the University of the Third Age Sunshine Coast Birdwatching Group. Some of the birds featured in the book no longer visit or reside in the wetland.
In view of the above-mentioned advice from the Sunshine Coast Council, Parklakes should stop calling these artificial ponds "wetlands".
Another motivation for the development might be explained by the first image in this blog post. The reed bed was removed along with a strip of native vegetation which had been planted around the lagoon to provide waterbirds with privacy. As can be seen in the image, these changes allow potential buyers of newly developed residential plots to have open water views, doubtlessly boosting the value of those plots. It appears that maximising profits has overridden ecological sensibilities.
|Australian Painted Snipe at Parklakes|
Anyone wishing to express their views to the Parklakes developers can email them here: