Local environment groups are calling on the Brisbane City Council to acquire a large block of land adjoining Toohey Forest. The property at 139 Klumpp Road, Upper Mount Gravatt, comprises 26 acres (10.5 hectares) across remnant bushland and a disused chicken farm.

Michael Fox, co-President of Mt Gravatt Environment Group (MGEG), says that the sale represents a rare opportunity to expand habitat for native flora and fauna. Since 2007, MGEG has recorded over 280 native plant species in the area. Fox, who lives nearby, says two Squirrel Glider families and a population of koalas call Toohey Forest home.

Griffith University Emeritus Professor Dr Carla Catterall supports an urgent purchase by Council.

“This is a matter of the future of an area of bushland which is significant for the whole of Brisbane City and for southeast Queensland,” Dr Catterall said.

Having worked on environmental advisory committees for local, state, and federal governments, Dr Catterall has studied remnant habitat across southeast Queensland since the early 1980s. She claims that if restored, the site would provide a strategic wildlife corridor between Toohey Forest and the nearby Roly Chapman Bushland Reserve.

Jen Basham, Urban Sustainability Strategist for the Queensland Conservation Council, echoes this sentiment.

“Opportunities like this… are as rare as hen’s teeth,” said Basham. “This is one of those few examples of a rare opportunity where we can actually restore habitat. So we should seize that opportunity.”

Basham backs a purchase by Council amidst broader concern for habitat destruction across the region.

“Even though we’ve slowed the rate of habitat loss across southeast Queensland, we are still losing koala habitat, year on year. You cannot save a species if you do not have habitat,” she said.

In February 2022, the Australian Government lowered the koala’s threat status from vulnerable to endangered.

“If we don’t protect and restore habitat, then iconic species like the koala will be lost. There’s a lot of discussion about other initiatives, other ideas, but that’s the fundamental requirement.”

In 2011, MGEG commissioned a study by consultancy firm, Biodiversity Assessment and Management Pty Ltd, to determine the feasibility of a wildlife corridor between Toohey Forest and the nearby Roly Chapman Reserve.

The report found that a corridor connecting the sites is indeed feasible – provided that the property at Klumpp Road is revegetated. A fauna crossing over Klumpp Road would also be necessary.

For sale as 139 Klumpp Road, the property consists of multiple addresses: 782 Mains Road, 166 Mount Gravatt Road, and 2 O’Grady Street. 782 Mains Road also encompasses an address at 787 Mains Road.

The site is no stranger to development proposals.

In December 2021, consultancy firm Saunders Havill Group submitted an application to build 84 townhouses at 787 Mains Road and 2 O’Grady Street, according to documents on development.i.

In correspondence with Saunders Havill Group, Council found that the application infringed upon a low-density residential zone and an environment management zone. Additionally, a large portion of the property contains matters of state environmental significance that are regulated under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld).

Under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld), Council then requested an ecological assessment and, amongst other things, a bushfire assessment.

Saunders Havill Group, in its original application, wrote that an ecological assessment and bushfire hazard assessment for the site would be provided upon request.

However, no such assessments are available on Council’s website. Come February 2023, and the development application was withdrawn.

Since 1990, Council has purchased over 4400 hectares of bushland through their Bushland Acquisition Program. The Program, funded by ratepayers through the Bushland Preservation Levy, purchases land that sustains significant flora and fauna habitat.

In a statement, a Council spokesperson said that ‘Brisbane City Council is currently investigating options to protect this site and we have nothing further to add at this stage.’

MGEG is leading an electronic petition calling on Council to purchase the property. At last count, it had received over 1700 signatures. Concerned readers will find the petition on Council’s website under ‘Current ePetitions’, or alternatively through Mt Gravatt Environment Group’s Facebook page at Facebook