Friday, February 23, 2024

Sunshine Coast’s ambitious plan to restore rainforest from cleared land

An ambitious vision to restore cleared grazing land to original lush rainforest has been revealed by Sunshine Coast Council.

The Council has released a draft master plan for the proposed Sunshine Coast Ecological Park, which features numerous highlights including two treetop bridges, a forest lookout with 360 degree views over the Glass House Mountains and down to the coast, a community pavilion, operations and research facility and “forest rooms” for play, discovery, rest and contemplation.

The 65ha land parcel, currently used for cattle grazing, lies in Jinibara country adjacent to the existing Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve at Maleny, and within the Mountain View Green Space, one of the Sunshine Coast’s five major green spaces.

The plan aims to create a place where humans and nature co-habitate, with ecosystems thriving alongside spaces for the community and visitors to experience ecological restoration through education, play spaces and nature-based recreation.

An artist impression of a Treehouse in the Sunshine Coast Ecological Park draft master plan.

Mayor, Mark Jamieson said the proposed project would restore pre-colonisation rainforests and wetlands, but it would take decades for ecosystem function to recover and flourish.

“In 30 years and beyond, council wants our next generations to benefit from the decisions we make today,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Over time, we’ll have the privilege of watching the ecosystems in this park recover as species return to the restored forest and wetland.”

With the Sunshine Coast officially recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere, Mayor Jamieson said council remained committed to major projects such as this, demonstrating our future focus to enhance our national and international reputation and support our economy, lifestyle and environment.

“This is an ambitious vision, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” he said.

“My hope is the community will embrace this park as their own as a place to immerse in nature, connect with each other and be inspired to continue our sustainability journey.”

An artist impression of the Yarning Circle and Community Pavilion in the Sunshine Coast Ecological Park draft master plan.

The Sunshine Coast Ecological Park is a key transformational action in the Environment and Liveability Strategy, which aims to deliver a healthy environment and liveable Sunshine Coast now and looking forward to 2041 and beyond.

Environment and Liveability portfolio Councillor, Peter Cox said the draft master plan would be open to community feedback on council’s Have Your Say website until March 20.  

“This proposal will provide a unique park for the whole community, and council is committed to listening to community feedback to ensure a strong plan for the Sunshine Coast Ecological Park,” Cr Cox said.

“In this third round of community consultation for the proposed park, residents and visitors can help council determine whether this plan will meet our growing community’s needs and aspirations.”

An artist impression of the Wetland Boardwalk and Treetop Bridge in the Sunshine Coast Ecological Park draft master plan.

The draft master plan was developed with input from an excellence advisory panel, community reference group, and an engagement-led design approach that invited the community to help shape the park’s mix of recreation, green space and ecological conservation.

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