Scientists and experts have signed an open letter calling for a development to be halted to protect sensitive wetlands. 

Over 150 names have been added to an appeal to the Australian federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, urging the rejection of a contentious real estate development project at Toondah Harbour, near Brisbane. 

This project, they argue, threatens the ecological integrity of the internationally recognised Moreton Bay Ramsar wetland. 

After extensive community campaigning spanning more than a decade, Plibersek is expected to make a decision on the plans by April 23, 2024.

The heart of the issue lies in the proposed construction of 3,600 luxury apartments and additional amenities, a development poised to dismantle 40 hectares of Ramsar wetlands, jeopardising habitats of nationally threatened species. 

This development is seen as a direct affront to Australia’s commitments under the Ramsar Convention, aimed at curbing the global loss of wetlands, which have seen a 35 per cent decline over the past fifty years.

Moreton Bay plays a pivotal role in the global network of wetlands, offering refuge and sustenance to endangered species such as dugongs, dolphins, and the critically endangered Eastern Curlew. 

Beyond its ecological significance, the area acts as a natural barrier, protecting the region from the escalating impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion and extreme weather events.

Voices from the scientific community, including Professor Hugh Possingham, BirdLife Australia Vice President, and Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, have joined the opposition to the project. 

Experts emphasise the global significance of Ramsar wetlands and the dire consequences of proceeding with the development, not just for local biodiversity but for the precedent it may set globally.

The letter and its list of signatories is accessible in PDF form, here.