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Sunshine Coast Ecological Park

The vision to create an “ecological wonder” and restore a pasture site to rainforest and wetland ecosystems is now a step closer to reality thanks to the endorsement of the Sunshine Coast Ecological Park Master Plan.


The plan sets out council’s vision for the 65ha project site adjoining Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve on Jinibara country - delivering nature-based recreation, education and research, while protecting, celebrating and restoring the site’s inherent environmental, natural and cultural heritage values.

"A place of cherished nature and ecological wonder for generations to discover and enjoy".

The project provides an opportunity to create a unique ecological park, inspired by the beautiful natural environment and expand accessible green space on the Sunshine Coast. The park will enhance the conservation and recreation credentials of the Sunshine Coast for the community and visitors to enjoy and deliver lasting environmental, social, and economic benefits to the entire Sunshine Coast community.

The master plan provides long-term guidance to aid future planning, staged implementation, and successful operation of the ecological park.

Vision and values

The vision for the park is to create a place of cherished nature and ecological wonder for generations to discover and enjoy.

The vision for the park is underpinned by 6 core values:

  1. an ecologically valuable, resilient and connected landscape
  2. a place that welcomes people to learn, play and contribute to the future
  3. a place inspired by nature
  4. an immersive experience that promotes balance, respite and revival
  5. a place of expected and spontaneous discovery
  6. a place that shares the stories of people, culture and the natural history of the region.

Project overview

Following council’s acquisition of land between 2016 and 2018, a detailed site investigation and feasibility assessment were completed in 2021 to ensure the concept of an ecological park on this land was achievable.

A master plan and strategic business case was prepared between 2021 and 2023 to guide future detailed design and construction over the next 5 to 10 years.

The master plan was prepared with the input of the community to ensure the project delivers the desired mix of park activities, education and ecological restoration. 

The community identified the top elements they would like to see and experience in the park and these have been included in the master plan – including walking trails, the wetland, loop path, forest lookout and treetop bridge.

To view the full master plan, click here (PDF, 102.65MB).

Engagement

Input from the Sunshine Coast community has informed the planning for the new park. There were 3 engagement stages throughout the planning process.

Stage 1: the information sharing and gathering stage was completed in May 2022 and tested the vision and values of the project. Stage 1 feedback informed the creation of key strategies to guide the design and delivery of the ecological park and based around 3 themes:

  1. recreation and wellness
  2. ecology and restoration
  3. research, education and culture.

Learn more about the stage 1 findings (PDF, 156KB).

Stage 2: shared, tested and sought feedback on spatial ideas, proposed activities and strategies for the park with the community and stakeholders was completed in September 2022.

Learn more about the stage 2 findings (PDF, 262KB).

Stage 3: Presented the draft Master Plan document for public feedback. Stage 3 was completed in March 2023. The feedback received is being used to refine and finalise the Master Plan before it is presented to council for consideration. 

Learn more about the stage 3 findings (PDF, 262KB). 

In addition to community engagement activities, an excellence advisory panel and community reference group were established and helped inform the development of the master plan.

Excellence advisory panel members

Spencer ShawJohn Wright
John MainwaringElla Woodborne
Angela WrightAlan Hoban
BJ MurphyCathryn Chatburn

Community reference group members

Rosa LohrischLindsey Bowles
Charne TurnerDesmond Crane
Natalie FrostRick Vickers
Jillanne LeachPeter Stevens
Darren GilsonTamara Kowitz

Next steps

The master plan was endorsed by council at the Ordinary Meeting 27 July 2023, allowing the project to progress to implementation.

The scale and complexity of the works means the park will take significant time to be fully realised, through phased construction over an estimated 10 year period subject to securing funding, and the restoration works evolving and developing into mature forests over a 30 year timeframe. It is anticipated that the project is well positioned to attract external funding partnerships to facilitate delivery.

Next steps will include the establishment of the required project governance, planning for the staged design and delivery and exploring strategic and financial partnerships to help realise the benefits of this once in a generation park.

More information

For more information on the ecological park, please email [email protected].