Your starring role in our dark sky future

Pattemore House Maleny, Credit Dr Ken Wishaw

Now is the time to have your say and join our region’s galactic journey to establish a Dark Sky Reserve.

Sunshine Coast Council is proposing to establish a Dark Sky Reserve that would encompass the Mary River catchment and adjoining State protected areas within the Sunshine Coast local government area.

About 15,000 residents live in the proposed reserve area, which would include the townships of Maleny, Mapleton, Montville, Witta, Flaxton and Conondale.

From today, Council is inviting the community to provide feedback on the proposal through our Have Your Say website at haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

Dark skies with plenty of visible stars are important for retaining character of hinterland areas, for community wellbeing, promoting astro-tourism which supports hinterland businesses and is also important to our native wildlife that need to move and feed safely at night.

Division 5 Councillor Winston Johnston said community involvement was a key element of the proposed reserve.

“In the hinterland, stars in the sky are etched into our identity,” Cr Johnston said.

“We’re seeking to understand what our dark skies mean for all our residents, groups and businesses, and we need to know if our community supports a Dark Sky Reserve.”

Community feedback on the proposal will inform Council decisions on making an application to the International Dark Sky Association to establish the reserve.

The proposal to establish a Dark Sky Reserve

The proposed reserve area encompasses 873 square kilometres in the Mary River Catchment and connected national parks, covering 38 per cent of the Sunshine Coast local government area.

If successful, our hinterland would join a select group of Dark Sky Reserve locations around the world, including central Idaho (United States), the Murray River (Australia), Mercantour (France), Aoraki Mackenzie (New Zealand), Brecon Beacons (Wales) and the Rhon Mountains (Germany).

Establishing a reserve would involve demonstrating our commitment to reducing light pollution through:

  • improving public lighting such as streetlights
  • progressing dark sky friendly lighting standards
  • showing our communities care about our dark skies and want to preserve them for the future.

Division 10 Councillor David Law said the Dark Sky Reserve project was another example of how Council is working with our community to nurture and enhance our environment and quality of life.

“There will be no mandate for residents and businesses to change their lights or to switch off lights,” Cr Law said.

“We all still need lighting, but we can do it smarter.

“There is a monumental difference a well-designed, fit-for-purpose light can make, whether it’s a public streetlight or a lamp for your garden path.

“We’re encouraging our community to get involved and consider the small changes that are in your power: making sure your outdoor lighting is useful, targeted, low-level, controlled and warm coloured wherever possible.”

Steps to reduce light pollution at your place

No matter where we live, we can all help protect our dark skies by ensuring outdoor lighting is:

  • useful – use lighting only if it has a clear purpose
  • targeted – direct lighting so it falls only where it is needed or use shields on lights
  • low level – keep lighting no brighter than necessary
  • controlled – use controls such as timers or motion sensors to ensure light is only on when required
  • warm coloured – use warmer coloured lights with low blue-violet light where possible.

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