Toondah Harbour, in Brisbane, is located within one of Australia’s internationally protected wetland areas, the Moreton Bay Ramsar site. It is a critical habitat to some of our most vulnerable animals – dugongs, turtles, koalas and migratory shorebirds, including the eastern curlew.  

Despite being protected under the Ramsar Convention and Australia’s own national biodiversity laws, the wetland is under threat from a massive real estate and marina project. 

One of Australia’s largest private developers, Walker Group, plans to destroy 42 hectares of Ramsar wetland to make way for 3,600 private apartments, shopping strips and a new marina.  

After years of opposition from concerned citizens and community groups, the company submitted its final environmental assessment to the Federal Government last November.  

Now, the Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has until April 23 to decide whether to approve or refuse the proposed development. 

If approved, the development will be a significant blow for the wetland’s many threatened species.  

As a Ramsar wetland, Moreton Bay is recognised as being of significant value not only for Australia, but for the planet.  

EDO lawyers have been working with the local community and environment groups to protect the wetland site since the development was first proposed in 2015, including advising clients about the ongoing federal assessment of the project, other related approval processes, and potential law reform to improve protection of the Ramsar site. 

In 2021, we represented Redlands 2030 in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. We pushed for Right to Information access to a key development agreement between the Queensland Government, Redland City Council and Walker Group that would reveal the details of all the claimed $116 million in “community benefit infrastructure” used to justify spending public money on this privately-owned mega-development.  

The development agreement accounts for approximately $60 million tied to such infrastructure. However, the Tribunal found the development agreement could legally remain secret and so far, the public has been unable to confirm what the money is for.   

We’ve worked with our client, BirdLife Australia, over seven years as they’ve steadfastly opposed the proposed development which could permanently alter important feeding habitat for over 33,000 migratory shorebirds representing at least 28 species, including the critically endangered eastern curlew and vulnerable bar-tailed godwit.  

The population of the eastern curlew has declined by up to 80 per cent in the last 30 years, including because of developments along their coastal habitats, just like this one. 

Australia is facing a mounting extinction crisis. We are proud to stand with our client to help protect this critical habitat from destruction.

BirdLife Australia strongly opposes Walker Group’s proposed real estate project at Toondah Harbour which would permanently destroy internationally important wetlands that are home to threatened migratory birds, including the Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew. If approved, this project would undermine the global Ramsar Treaty to protect the world’s wetlands and would set a dangerous precedent for the future development of these declining ecosystems.  

“The Environmental Defenders Office have provided crucial legal and related policy advice throughout BirdLife’s 7+ year campaign including securing the release of important information through Freedom of Information Act and assisting in the development of a submission guide pack for the public to provide meaningful comments to the draft Environmental Impact Statement.”