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Ceremony to honour nature and grieve its loss

ENVIRONMENTALISTS fought hard to save a large section of the Steve Irwin Way Forest from destruction by a Bruce Highway upgrade.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS fought hard to save a large section of the Steve Irwin Way Forest from destruction by a Bruce Highway upgrade. John McCutcheon

IT has been hailed as a victory for the environment but, while the redesign of the Caloundra-Bruce Highway interchange has resulted in significant vegetation being protected, the $920 million project will see the loss of some magnificent trees.

That loss will be honoured in a special smoking ceremony to be held on June 10 when the Friends of Steve Irwin Way Forest farewell precious trees due to be felled for the Bruce Hwy upgrade and to acknowledge cultural heritage of the area.

It will also recognise the loss of all trees, native habitat, flora and fauna throughout the Sunshine Coast due to excessive development by corporations and landowners.

Campaigner Mariko McConnell said the reduction of the project's footprint from 100ha to around 6ha and the declaration as National Park of the more than 700ha Beerwah state forest had been a "pretty amazing" outcome.

It had left, she said, a sense of loss and success for a campaign that had originally hoped to save the lot from the impact.

The committed environmentalist would still like to see the design incorporate better wildlife movement structures and will mourn the loss of two substantial "guardian" trees that now mark the entrance to the forest.

"I'm grateful for all the efforts the government put in (to reduce the footprint)," Ms McConnell said.

"But it would be great in future if greater weight was put on cultural heritage."

The June 10 gathering will be held from 2pm with the smoking ceremony conducted by Bridgette Chilly Davis, Mooloolah Dhdunga senior law woman, and Uncle Alan Parsons.

Walking access is via the forestry gates between the Mooloolah Cemetery and the Road Tek Depot, opposite Jowarra Park.

Topics:  caloundra interchange national park steve irwin way


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