WITHIN three years a 20ha stretch of cleared land at Grandchester has been transformed into thriving bushland once again.
Under the $1 million Grandchester Koala Offset Project, 12,500 trees have been planted in the conservation area to link reserves in Grandchester and Woolshed Creek.
The rapid growth of the plantings has surprised those behind it - Powerlink Queensland, which provided the funding, Ipswich City Council, which provided the land, and SEQ Catchments, which is managing the project.
Powerlink Group Manager Environmental Strategies Nicole Lashmar said the project demonstrated strong environmental returns with survival and tree growth rates outpacing all expectations.
"Powerlink takes its environmental commitments seriously so it's really encouraging to see such positive results after only two years," Ms Lashmar said.
"This project offers significant environmental outcomes from a conservation and biodiversity perspective by increasing koala habitat which will in turn increase koala long-term survival rates.
"The habitat also provides an important koala corridor, establishing connectivity to surrounding koala areas. Saplings that were one metre high about a year ago are now quite substantial trees that will very soon be ready for koalas to call home."
SEQ Catchments Chief Executive Officer Simon Warner said the project was geared towards creating habitat which helped koalas thrive, rather than simply planting trees to meet the minimum offsetting requirements.
"We always enjoy working with entities such as Powerlink and Ipswich City Council because they understand the bigger issues associated with the environment and drive to get real outcomes for our plants and animals," Mr Warner said.
The project, which has high biodiversity significance, was undertaken to help Powerlink meet its obligations to offset impacts as a result of building transmission lines and substations in southeast Queensland.