DOZENS of locals turned out last weekend in Springfield Lakes to plant another six hundred trees into their loved Opossum Creek. 

The project, supported by a $20,000 federal government Community Environment Programme grant, is a partnership with the Ipswich City Council and has become a consuming passion for a whole lot of residents. 

Luise Manning from Springfield Lakes Nature Care said the group had spent months removing the weeds and preparing the site for planting day. 

“Its always great to have volunteers come back again and again,” she said. 

“Its all about diversity and bringing back the frogs and the birds into the suburbs.” 

By contrast, the Ipswich City Council has another environmental partnership associated with Springfield, specifically a memorandum with the Cherish the Environment Foundation, a service providing non-profit company. 

The Foundation established a formal relationship with the Ipswich City Council in 2009 when then Mayor Paul Pisasale, along with Foundation founder and tennis great Pat Rafter, were nominated as Patrons.   

The jewel in the crown of the Foundation’s work is a 60ha revegetation project at Mutdapilly, just off the Cunningham Highway south of Ipswich. 

In 2018 questions started to be asked in government about the project’s effectiveness, its value for money, and the charitable credentials of the Foundation.       

In replying to a question taken on notice concerning the koala offsets for construction of the Springfield rail line the Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey MP, said all requirements concerning koala offsets at the Mutdapilly site had been met and endorsed. 

“A number of factors needed to be considered when determining the most appropriate site, including the scale of the planting, the ability of the site to support similar vegetation to the clearing site, and the long-term viability of the offset location,” he said. 

“Queensland Rail worked collaboratively with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Ipswich City Council and Cherish the Environment Foundation to appropriately meet all offset requirements.” 

President of the Rosewood District Protection Organisation Ursula Monsiegneur said despite more than 22,500 habitat trees being planted and maintained at great expense, there was no net habitat gain or direct benefit to koala conservation.   

“The 60-hectare site is totally isolated from extant koala populations so, despite not having a market, a direct land-based offset was proposed and developed as a koala ‘fodder farm’,” she said. 

“It’s planted out like a cherry orchard and maintained better than most parks in the city. 

This project is supposed to compensate for at least some of the lost forests of Springfield but it’s highly unlikely to produce a single leaf to the benefit of any koala ever.” 

The Ipswich City Council holds a Board position on the Foundation, shares an address and also guarantees financially the Koala Offset contracts, in relation to the more than $2mil worth of property accumulated by the Foundation, to be delivered.    

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding has said she will respond in full to our questions regarding the operations of the Foundation and its future relationship with Council once she has received a report from her Chief Financial Officer.   

In the meantime, the good work will continue in Springfield Lakes.   

The Member for Blair Shayne Neumann MP, in dedicating the Opossum Creek Nature Care project reflected on the enduring contribution to the environment by one of his political idols, Bob Hawke.     

“The most enduring thing Bob Hawke did at a grass roots level was LandCare,” he said. 

Bob’s legacy is shared by the people of Springfield Lakes, but it seems the logical conclusion to the legacy of the Cherish the Environment Foundation has negated the premise for its own existence.      

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