Reef island purchases protect critical koala, turtle habitat

Published Friday, 12 May, 2023 at 10:30 AM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

Reef island purchases protect critical koala, turtle habitat

  • The Palaszczuk Government has purchased the leases for St Bees Island and Long Island Broad Sound, conserving them into the future
  • St Bees Island is a home for koalas and flatback turtles, while Long Island also has a known rookery for flatback turtles
  • It’s part of the government’s $262.5 million investment to expand and create new protected areas – the biggest investment in Queensland’s history

Link to images and video:

Leases on two Great Barrier Reef islands have been purchased by the Palaszczuk Government with the move protecting key habitat for a range of species including koalas and flatback turtles.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon today announced that the government had purchased the lease for St Bees Island, 35km north-east of Mackay and the lease for the Long Island Broad Sound in the Southern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

About St Bees Island:

The St Bees Island lease includes 4.2 hectares of land that fronts onto Homestead Bay and consolidates the South Cumberland Islands National Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The term lease area contains 70 percent remnant vegetation and has high conservation values with essential habitat for koalas and the eastern curlew.

The purchase of the lease and the transfer of 101 hectares of the Islands beach esplanade reserves will mean the entirety of St Bees Island will become a protected area, with the lease area to be rehabilitated.

About Long Island Broad Sound:

The purchase of the Long Island Broad Sound rolling term lease will add more than 3,500 hectares of the island’s unique, natural habitat and a known rookery for the vulnerable flatback turtle to Queensland’s protected area.

Long Island is about 20 kilometres long and 5.5 kilometres wide at its widest point, and features vast salt marshes and mangrove forests and a range of restricted coastal ecosystems.

Combined with the recent acquisition of Wild Duck Island lease, these lease purchases will significantly add to the conservation of critical rookeries for flatback turtles.

It’s part of both the Palaszczuk Government’s record $262.5 million investment to expand and create new national parks, as well as its election commitment to deliver the Great Barrier Reef Island Arks Program.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon:

“The purchase of these leases means that unique and critical ecosystems on our Great Barrier Reef will be protected into the future.

“These areas will now be rehabilitated to support the ongoing management of these islands and better protection for some of our iconic animals. 

“The acquisition of the St Bees Island term lease and the Long Island rolling term lease is a significant investment, building on our more than 14 million hectares in Queensland protected.

“And we want to do more – which is why we’re investing $262.5 million through our Protected Area Strategy to acquire more critical habitat, and why we’re delivering on our election commitment Great Barrier Reef Island Arks Program.

“The entirety of St Bees Island and Long Island Broad Sound will become National Parks and flatback turtles will be able to lay their clutches on those pristine, isolated beaches.”

Further information:

Currently both of the purchased leases are not yet accessible to the public and however once previous operations are transitioned and the historical infrastructure are made safe and rehabilitated the areas will be available for the public visitation.


Media contact: Francis Dela Cruz – 0420 592 078