COMMUNITY-based group Mollymook Says hopes potential developers will be put off making a bid to buy a controversial block of land for a number of reasons.
The group recently formed to try and stop a piece of NSW Education Land on Garside Road, Mollymook and group spokesperson, Liz O'Connell, said rezoning and environmental issues, along with community backlash, could make a developer hesitate.
"Shoalhaven City Council is reporting lots of developer inquiries about the site but, without being given government assurance of which the community has not been advised, how can a developer be confident it will get subdivision approved when the Mollymook Says community will be standing against it all the way", she asked.
"The recent history in Manyana demonstrated clearly that developers can risk losing out big time when a huge community protest resulted in a moratorium on land clearing, becoming a very expensive headache for the developer.
"No-one had anticipated the backlash to land development in an area so badly affected by the Currowan bush fire."
The land is up for auction on March 10 and the department says it's surplus to its needs.
The group says 80 percent of Shoalhaven bushland was lost last year and surviving pockets like Garside Road now hold enormous importance for the displaced birds and animals who lost their natural habitats in the fires.
According to Mollymook Says while a formal flora and fauna report has not been conducted since 2017, it is anticipated that, after the fires, lots of endangered species are likely to be found in the Garside Road land pocket.
The forested areas Narrawallee to Mollymook Beach "have been known to be used by the powerful owl, sooty owl and masked owl", according to Conacher Travers 2006; EcoLogical Australia 2017.
These forest owl populations were devastated in last summer's bushfires which burned through 80 percent of the Shoalhaven's bushland, decimating precious habitats.
According to Birdlife Australia, the southern masked owl habitat lost 49 percent of its habitat since last season, while the greater sooty owl lost 43 percent and the powerful owl lost one-third of its natural habitat [birdlife Australia analysis / smh 24 January].
The powerful owl (Ninox strenua) is symbolic as being one of the supreme nocturnal predators, according to the experts, reliant on forest ecosystems that support abundant wildlife.
In recent times, the powerful owl has sadly earned the conservation classification of 'vulnerable' because of loss and fragmentation of suitable forest and woodland habitat not only from the fires but also from land clearing for residential development.
"This is exactly what is at risk with the sale of the Garside Road land and resulting subdivision," Ms O'Connell said.
This loss also affects the populations of arboreal prey species, particularly the greater glider which reduces food availability for the powerful owl.
Its main prey is possums of various species, though large bats such as flying foxes are also often caught.
The Milton-Ulladulla Birdwatching-Club has reported that in the last few years, three large-scale residential subdivisions have occurred within several kilometres of the Garside Road site.
"In the course of those developments, the sites were completely cleared of all vegetation," the birdwatching-club reports.
"In addition to the destruction of key nesting habitat for the threatened powerful owl, these developments have increased the fragmentation of the native vegetation in the region.
"The loss of habitat on Garside Road land will further erode the available wildlife habitat."
"A sale and likely subsequent habitat destruction will also disrupt the wildlife corridor between Narrawallee Creek Nature Reserve in the North and Meroo National Park in the south.
"The area between Merimbula and Ulladulla is designated by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a Key Biodiversity Area [ http://www.keybiodiversityareas.org/].
"While the KBA designation means that the entire region requires special protection, the triggering species for this region is the endangered swift parrot [critically endangered nationally]."
The swift parrot breeds in Tasmania and migrates north through this region every year.
The recent Currowan bushfire has devastated much of its normal corridor and the precious unburnt areas around Mollymook, according to the experts, will be important for their continued survival.
The bird experts say this could also affect such species as the swift parrot, the yellow-faced and white-naped honeyeaters, silvereyes, pardalotes and wattlebirds that migrate through this region and use the Narrawallee Creek to Meroo National Park corridor that would be adversely impacted by the loss of the Garside Road habitat.
Environmental groups hope the powerful owl could ultimately be the determining factor in the sale of 98 Garside Road, Mollymook.