Action required as environmental impact emerges

Published on 23 January 2024

Trees damaged during the Christmas storms

The environmental impact of the Christmas night storms is very evident with significant investment and ongoing, long-term action needed to repair and restore the city’s natural assets.

The City, in partnership with Dr Patrick Norman from Griffith University’s Climate Action Beacon, is using state-of-the-art satellite imagery processing to map the extent of the storm damage.

Mayor Tom Tate said as well as the impact to suburban areas, approximately 500 hectares of the city’s forests on both private and public lands have sustained severe damage across the Gold Coast.

“We are yet to properly access and assess some of the areas due to the scale of the impact,” Mayor Tate said.

“Of the 800 plus natural reserves across the Gold Coast more than 90 of them had been severely or highly impacted.

This included impacts on wildlife with Currumbin Wildlife Hospital experiencing record admissions of injured wildlife following the storms.

“While we have been focusing on restoring our suburbs to normal, we have also had teams beginning the task of restoring hiking tracks, surveying the damage in our forests and looking out for injured wildlife,” Mayor Tate said.

“Over time, NaturallyGC will provide opportunities for the community to help recover our native forests and restore wildlife habitat, through tree planting and other environment initiatives.

“But unless you see it for yourselves it’s hard to comprehend. The debris across hiking tracks in one reserve was so significant that a whole team spent an entire shift to only clear 100m.

“This is going to take time, so please do not enter badly impacted natural areas and stay well clear of fallen debris and storm damaged trees.”

“I would remind State and Federal Governments that the best outcomes always come from teamwork.”

“Let’s work together to make sure we do not lurch from one disaster to another.”

Mayor Tate said bushfire mitigation was also a top priority with our hazard reduction burn team conducting assessments and analysing the risks extra debris around the city as well as canopy loss in some areas might pose.

The City will continue to engage academics and other experts to ensure we are innovative, and using best practice to undertake these works.

Mayor Tate said some of the most impacted areas were:

Wongawallen Conservation Area, Eagle Heights Section, Timberview Reserve Wongawallan, Upper Coomera Conservation Area Reserve Road, Pleasant Parklands Riverstone Crossing Upper Coomera, Caballo Road Reserve Guanaba, Gladrose Reserve Wongawallan, King Parrot Reserve Clagiraba, Michigan Drive Bushland Reserve Oxenford, Weka Park Pacific Pines, Highvale Drive Reserve Helensvale, Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area, Chiba Park Coombabah.