Environment East Gippsland shouldn’t be forced down this costly road but they are … and it works! If anyone would like to share in this winning strategy you can send us a few bob so they can keep it going. Donations are tax-deductible (but we understand if people have thin piggy banks after Xmas). EEG has quite a few large bills to pay now. But their work isn’t over yet! Please drink a toast to all the players tonight – the EEG lawyers, the risk taking EEG team, and the GECO and FFRC surveyors – what a force! You can donate here.
Thursday 4th Feb 2015: Legal action forces VicForests to survey
Action taken by Environment East Gippsland and their lawyers, Environmental Justice Australia, has resulted in VicForests today agreeing to halt logging and survey for rare wildlife and plants in a stand of East Gippsland’s forests rich in threatened species.
“Sadly, since mid-January and while negotiations have been going on, VicForests continued to clearfell this amazingly valuable forest where four rare and threatened wildlife and two plant species were discovered by volunteer surveyors” said Jill Redwood from EEG. “It’s a shame that so much has been destroyed in this time, in an area that clearly should have been surveyed by trained biologists before the chainsaws moved in.”
The species recorded in the Kuark forest about 30km NE of Orbost, were the Long-footed Potoroo, Yellow-bellied Gliders, a new species of galaxias fish that only occurs in Kuark, a likely new, as yet undescribed species of crayfish, and two rare plants that should have 250m Special Management Zones applied.
“We have to wonder what gems we have lost over the years because the state government’s logging company calls the shots on whether an area should have a survey before it is clearfelled and burnt.”
“Sadly, Minister Neville’s Environment Department consistently refuse to order VicForests to survey for rare and threatened flora and fauna in areas slated for logging, so it’s left up to community groups to engage lawyers” said Felicity Millner of Environmental Justice Australia.
“We welcome this belated action by VicForests in this instance” said Ms Millner.
“We will be watching closely how their actions are carried out and are leaving our options open at this stage”, said Jill Redwood.
Wednesday 3rd February marks the 19th anniversary of an agreement that has allowed the logging industry a legal exemption from Australia’s environment laws. Jill Redwood from Environment East Gippsland, where this exemption from commonwealth laws was first introduced says the Turnbull government is planning to instate another 20 years of this special treatment. When the agreement between the state and federal govt was signed, EGipp was promised a multi-million dollar economic boost – 400 new jobs – a bright future. There were 20 sawmills at the time – it’s now down to 5. It employs less than 0.05% of the regional workforce. The joint MR of 3rd Feb 1997 promised world class protection of old growth and biodiversity – both of which have declined rapidly in that time.
“We have one more year before this archaic agreement expires. To continue this out-dated, anti-environmental exemption to the laws for a passé and declining industry is deplorable”.
“Being exempt from environmental laws has caused the status of many forest dependent wildlife to take a nose dive. Some are now critically endangered, like the Leadbeaters Possum (Victoria’s faunal emblem) and the Swift Parrot while others like our Gliders are being added to threatened species lists”.
“We need to make native forest logging accountable” said Jill Redwood. “It’s time to bring it in line with other Australian industries and strip its preferential treatment. It has had 19 years of immunity from the law at great cost to our forests and the public purse”.
“Such critical wildlife habitat is worth far more standing than as a cheap export commodity. Our timber needs are 85% supplied by tree plantations. This is where the jobs and security for the industry is”.
“Over the past 19 years our forests in East Gippsland and across the country have been systematically clearfelled, mostly sold cheaply to overseas pulp and paper factories”.
“It’s time to set in place a new phase of valuing forests, keeping them upright and onshore for the many values they provide for Australia”.
Sat, 2015-11-07 18:54 by Geoff at Eco Bushwalks Sydney
If you have a heart please don't ignore this post - we need to let the whole world know what's happening. Boycott palm oil products now. Please donate to the campaign. Because of forest clearing for palm oil, in just the last 20 years 90% of orangutan habitat has already been destroyed. If deforestation continues at this pace, orangutans could be extinct in the wild as early as 2015, and their jungle habitat could be completely gone in 20 years from now. Donate at https://orangutanproject.worldsecuresystems.com/how-to-help/donate
A primate genocide and ecological
catastrophe on an industrial scale
is occurring in
some of the most valuable, sensitive and diverse ecological habitats on Earth –
all thanks to a cheap cooking oil we find in our supermarket products
Palm oil is a cheap and common ingredient in many foods and household
products, but as with everything apparently ‘cheap’ – it comes at a terrible
cost. Vast swathes of pristine rainforest are razed to the ground every minute
to clear the way for palm oil plantations in countries such a Borneo, Sumatra,
Indonesia and Malaysia. The scale and speed of this deforesting
operation is staggering.
It tragically appears those people who are managing the palm oil business and
the workers carrying out the forest clearing work do not care if they destroy
the abundant and endangered wildlife that lives in the forests. In fact
deforestation workers are told to dispose of any wildlife that gets in the way –
no matter how inhumanely – which includes running over orangutans with logging
Because of forest clearing for palm oil, in just the
last 20 years 90% of orangutan habitat has already been
destroyed. It’s a difficult reality to let sink in.
If deforestation continues at this pace, orangutans could be extinct in the
wild as early as 2015, and their jungle habitat could be completely gone in 20
years from now.
If this information makes you angry it should – but there is something we can
do to help stop this disaster. It’s as easy as stop buying products with palm
oil as an ingredient, and help reduce the insane demand for this massively
Palm oil is found in loads of everyday products – from breadsticks to anti-dandruff shampoos (you know the one) – so please check the label every time you buy, especially if the products come from the big ‘discount’ supermarkets where supplier corners are cut.
Palm oil is not even healthy food for you – it’s bad for the heart. You could also help greatly by writing to companies and stores who source or sell palm oil and indicate you will boycott their products unless they pledge to eliminate palm oil from their source chain and products.
Finally please share this post widely to help spread the
word about this urgent and terrible ecological disaster across the
Environment East Gippsland (EEG) has won its fourth successful legal case, in a remarkable series for this David vs the Goliath of logging and destroying habitat. Over 2000 hectares have been set aside for owl habitat in a legal win for the owls. This was EEG's fourth Court case challenging the government's non-adherence to its own environment laws and it was settled on 17 July 2015, in favour of the owls!
EEG, DELWP and VicForests have agreed that the environment department (DELWP) take action to adhere to legal obligations and increase owl protected areas as well as assess the damage done to owl habitat and study owls post-fire to inform whether new protection zones are necessary. Logging in key areas of unprotected owl habitat scheduled for clearfelling will be halted for 4 years while this work is underway.
The department and VicForests have agreed to:
- move 9 stands of old growth forest off the logging schedule and into protection zones
- put a 4 year moratorium on another 16 stands of prime owl habitat planned for clearfelling
- increase the size of all owl protected areas that are below legal minimums in East Gippsland
- task biologists to study owls post-fire and consider if additional owl protection measures are needed
- carry out assessments of burnt owl zones
- pay a portion of our considerable legal costs
The department and VicForests have agreed to:
- move 9 stands of old growth forest off the logging schedule and into protection zones
- put a 4 year moratorium on another 16 stands of prime owl habitat planned for clearfelling
- increase the size of all owl protected areas that are below legal minimums in East Gippsland
- task biologists to study owls post-fire and consider if additional owl protection measures are needed
- carry out assessments of burnt owl zones
- pay a portion of our considerable legal costs
Specific areas include:
An additional 180ha added to a protection site for the Powerful Owl in the Cobon forest including 58ha that was scheduled for clearfelling. An additional 1,390 ha of good quality forest for the Masked Owls (including 500ha within Kuark and 36ha that was scheduled for logging).
Brown Mountain’s remaining unprotected stands of 580ha (including a Powerful Owl nest site) to be included in a Special Protection Zone, including 185ha that was scheduled for logging.
Forests totalling 537ha planned for imminent clearfelling will be put under a 4 year moratorium. This includes old growth areas of:
- 235 ha around Bonang-Bendoc
- 65ha at Martins Creek
- 237ha around Kuark/Freds Track
The case was launched 10 month ago when the Napthine government was in power. Then Ministers Walsh and Smith refused to review the owl protection zones. Although we were disappointed that the new Labor government chose to continue along the legal path for some 7 months, we are pleased that it now accepts that it must do more work to ensure our large forest owls survive.
We look forward to working with the department on these owl protection measures over the next year while continuing to demand permanent protection for all remaining old growth forests and the many other threatened wildlife species in East Gippsland.
In summer 2014 bushfires raged across some of East Gippsland’s best old growth forests in and around the Snowy River National Park. The loss of primary habitat for many threatened wildlife was obvious. The constant crashing of hollow bearing trees for 2 months (and afterwards, thanks to the department’s habit of falling every big tree within cooee of a track) made it clear this would have a shocking toll on wildlife – especially those dependent on old trees with large hollows.
There were 46 protected owl zones impacted in the final 170,000ha of burnt forest (much of which was deliberately burnt by the department). Some zones suffered very severe fire that killed trees and ‘evaporated’ the understorey. Others had less severe fire through them but still resulted in many hollow bearing trees being lost.
Owls, gliders, frogs, bandicoots, potoroos and untold other species were wiped out in the inferno. It will take decades for the damage from this shockingly managed fire to start to recover. East Gippsland’s rare species that relied on the Snowy Park for refuge will now be under even greater threat and need all the help they can get.
Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia, populations of native birds and animals are in freefall, and less than 25% of our rivers and creeks are in good condition.
The Great Forest National Park proposes that Victorians create and add a new 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria. The basis for this tenure change is weighed scientifically, socially and economically against 5 key reasons;
1. Conservation of near extinct wildlife and plants after Black Saturday and in light of future fire events.
2. Water catchments of Melbourne, LaTrobe and the Goulburn Murray systems. The largest area of clean water and catchment in Victoria. Food bowl and community security.
3. Tourism. This is Victoria's richest ecological asset, but these magnificent forests have not yet been included in a state plan to encourage tourism. Our rural towns want and need this boost to tourism.
4. Climate.These ash forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest studied in the world. They sequester carbon, modulate the climate and can act as giant storage banks to absorb excess carbon if they are not logged. The financial opportunity in carbon credits is significant and can be paid directly to the state when a system is established federally.
5. Places of spiritual nourishment. These magnificent forests have been described as a 'keeping place' by the traditional owners, a place to secure the story of the land and places of spiritual nourishment that we pass on to future generations. There should be no price tag on the value nature brings to mental health and spiritual well-being.
The tallest flowering trees on Earth grow north-east of Melbourne. In their high canopies dwell owls, gliders and the tiny Leadbeater's (or Fairy) Possum. Victoria's precious and endangered faunal emblem lives only in these ash forests of the Central Highlands.
David Lindenmayer, from the Australian National University, is an ecologist and conservation biologist who has spent over 30 years studying the Mountain Ash Forest of Victoria.
‘There’s a little mixture of things that always want to have the last word. The Lyrebird is one and the Kookaburra is another and the Eastern Yellow Robin and the Pilot Bird are two others,’ he says.
(image: Eastern yellow robin)
‘The birds are calling less than in the morning, but still nevertheless calling, and they’re just confirming their territories before there's an extraordinary change in the light in this long dusk period,’ says Lindenmayer.
The Mountain Ash, and one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Leadbeater’s Possum, are threatened by ongoing clear-felling and bushfires. The population of large old hollow-bearing trees has collapsed. These are a critical habitat for the animals that use them, including Leadbeater’s Possum. There is a high risk that the possums will become exinct in the next 20-40 years.
Home to threatened species, including Victoria’s animal emblem - the Fairy Possum, the proposed park will also be a sanctuary, providing real and lasting protection to some of Victoria’s, and the world’s, rarest plant and animal species. Prominent environmentalists Tim Flannery and Bob Brown have lent their support to the campaign. Sir David Attenborough has weighed into the state election, backing a call for the creation of a Great Forest National Park to protect the state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum.
The environmentalist’s intervention comes as a survey found 89 per cent of Victorians support the creation of a new national park in the Yarra Ranges and Central Highlands.
Logging over many years had previously reduced the Leadbeater's possum down to a fraction of its original range and now only around one per cent of mountain ash forest is old growth. A new 'taskforce' attempts to negotiate the future of the logging industry in the central highlands of Victoria and the possible creation of the new national park, in light of the critical status of Leadbeater's Possums.
The state government — elected in November — has so far made no official commitment to the proposed 355,000-hectare Great Forest National Park, which would include both recreational areas and conservation zones.
‘The time for further reviews and studies is over. The only thing that will save Leadbeater’s Possums from extinction is to immediately stop the clearfell logging of the forest it lives in,’ Greens Senator Rice said.
The news that the Copenhagen Zoo has carried out the execution of the resident young male giraffe, and cut his body up in front of onlookers, feeding him to the resident lions also in front of a young audience is macabre, insensitive and devoid of judgment and empathy...
We all know that lions eat meat and that in the wild they hunt and eat giraffes. In captivity, lions must be fed meat but it is a very far cry from feeding a captive animal “meat’ to feeding it the identifiable body parts of a named personality in the zoo , one who has died at the hands of the zoo authorizes for no crime whatsoever but for the very dubious reason that it’s genes were too like those of the other giraffes in the zoo.
We are supposed to think that this is OK! It is not OK ! Apart from being a crime against the animal who was in the care of the Copenhagen Zoo, to deliberately show the feeding of Marius to the lions to children is try to desensitize them to what was really a ruthless killing and amounts to a sort of pornography.
We all need to come to terms with our own omnivore /carnivore natures in the industrialized urban society many of us live in, divorced from nature but to commit this act, to show it to children and to expect them to understand is for want of a better word – sick.
I know a child can take in that a farm animal becomes meat on the table, but this incident in Copenhagen is ... gratuitous flaunting of the horror of zoo life. Are the children supposed to mull this over and conclude that it is OK because the respected zoo did it? It’s not OK! I wonder if Princess Mary's children were treated to this display.
In a way, for utter disregard of other creatures this possibly even beats the systemic mismanagement, cruelty and neglect of animals in the Surabaya Zoo. (Indonesia)
This planned and premeditated exercise in Copenhagen was carried with chilling efficiency and horrifies me as much as Surabaya Zoo's apparent careless neglect.
As with any such story, the killing of Marius the giraffe is ten times as distressing on knowing that it is common practice to kill healthy animals in zoos if the genes match too well.
I wonder what an interplanetary visitor would make of this killing. The ratio of giraffes to humans is – maybe 10,000 giraffes- depending on which article you read – max 100,000, and there are 7,143, 000,000 humans ( and rising rapidly ) This looks like a ratio of 71,430:1 at best.
But there was no place in the world for Marius the giraffe …
The koala was rescued by Nigel Williamson of Nigels Animal Rescue. Barrie Tapp, the senior investigator for Animal Cruelty Hotline (sponsored by Animal Liberation NSW - free call 1800751770) was called in to investigate the trap issue. Jenny Bryant, of Koala Rescue, Tyabb, was also involved at the scene of the rescue and took the Koala to her rescue centre.
Sadly, despite Jenny's excellent care, the koala, which had had the trap hanging from its paw for days, died.
These traps are awful things and koalas these days, due to the removal of trees everywhere for human population growth, have to get down on the ground to go from tree to tree. They are slow on the ground and very vulnerable. They get stomped on by cows, attacked by dogs, and sometimes walk onto traps.
Victoria is not doing well in protecting wildlife or its habitat or our environment. Our wildlife carers work for no money and their services are hugely overstretched. Often, even when they successfully rehabilitate an animal, there is nowhere to release it because the native fauna habitat has been built over.
Getting help can be difficult
In this case, a complainant first called RSPCA and was told to call VicWildlife. He reported that, unfortunately, after calling three times, with no response, he called the local fire brigade, which in turn contacted Nigel.
Animal cruelty hotline is a free service to the community and you can remain anonymous if you so wish to report a complaint regarding animal abuse/cruelty. Animal cruelty hotline is not in any opposition to any other animal welfare organisation but is an alternative with trained investigators. Barrie Tapp an ex RSPCA Senior inspector for some two decades heads the Vic division and works closely with RSPCA Vic/ Vicpol/ and DEPI.
Life is increasingly serious, it seems to me. Or is it just what I choose to watch on television or read, especially on the Internet? Quark writes about our Heath Robinson government in Victoria, of the war between cyclists and nature lovers over parkland, of factory-farming of human masses and the tedious obligation of infinite pseudo choice.
It’s not that I go looking for trouble exactly.
I have what I would call a normal concern about our environment, not only because I enjoy nature but because I think I understand its inextricable relationship and importance to us. I also think I have a normal concern about the future, about the way animals are treated and about preserving native species and even about people and their quality of life.
Who doesn’t care about at least some of these things?
The sad thing is that I can’t find any good news, anywhere on these fronts.
Everywhere I look things seem to be getting worse
Everywhere I look the situation seems to be getting worse and I am constantly confronted with images and accounts of suffering factory farm animals, homeless, doomed orangutans whose forest homes have been decimated, kangaroos being culled, and cattle tortured after an interminable journey to the other side of the planet before what must be the final real relief of expiring.
I think, to be a happy balanced person, I’m supposed to focus on other things and to appreciate the “privileged” place in history and in geography in which I find myself.
I’m supposed to thank my lucky stars that I live in the age of mass communications, especially the Internet.
I must say that I really do appreciate these things which I am using right now but, at the same time, there are so many other aspects of our contemporary world that are draining it of enjoyment.
This effect is a combination of how changes to our political, social and physical environment affect us directly and the pressures that human existence place on other creatures. I learn about these things via the very media which I have just acknowledged as a great plus.
Daily deluge of pleas to save the helpless from us
Daily, I am deluged with electronic pleas to help stop baby seals being clubbed to death, save bears from being caged for the purpose of draining bile from them, to save from logging, forests in my own state which are home to the engaging and endangered Leadbeater's possum, the Victorian state emblem.
Even if I did not look at electronic media, I would still receive through my letter box appeals for funds to help the hapless products of puppy mills or to rescue other cruelly treated malnourished domestic animals.
It is well known that laying hens are kept in tiny cages, their little feet never scratching in the earth. If this were not bad enough, the media is oozing with propaganda meant to coax people, push them, finally forcing them through price into minimal sized apartments with little or no natural light.
Factory farming the human masses
Housing for the masses is now all about minimally accommodating people rather than providing living space.
Both situations - for hens and for people - are utilitarian, functional and completely inconsiderate.
I then read and hear about scarce public parkland being appropriated for road construction. At best one could see this as a utilitarian approach about traffic and transport rather than about people and their lives, at worst a project for its own sake.
Stealing our parkland and enemy cyclists
Parkland is a luxury that can be just stolen from the people it seems. This can happen in Melbourne or Istanbul.
Whatever is happening spawns unexpected competing interests.
The gentle activity of cycling has become some sort of monster! In Melbourne cyclists want bicycle paths as commuter highways through parkland and require the sacrifice of pre-European settlement trees.
The cyclists could traverse the parkland in a meandering fashion on the existing pathways but they want to go at top speed in order to get to work.
You see, cycling is now a mode of transport rather than a recreational activity.
Cyclists occupy the high moral and environmental ground because of their dainty carbon footprint.
This is a kind of war between the cyclists and those who want to preserve the park.
The country’s priorities now seem to be focused on our lives as real estate consumers and workers. Numbers of hours worked, house prices, GDP, company profits, are critical indicators of our competitive edge.
Are these things really life or death?
Heath Robinson government
We seem to be trapped in a very unimaginative version of a Heath Robinson machine with no detours.
Even our recreation seems to be about something organised and orchestrated from a higher power like the AFL (football) rather than our own ways of re creating ourselves. Our private activities and invented fun have literally no room in contemporary life.
Opportunities for creative play are being removed as open space diminishes and we are funneled into profit making arenas of entertainment. These opportunities are being removed as the ratio of nature to humanity decreases and access to nature diminishes, becoming less accessible in crowded, regulated, expensive cities.
Even our precious spare time is hijacked by organisations.
Things that I never used to have to make decisions about and could leave ticking away in the back ground are now items I am supposed to spend time on. I refer here especially to telcos and to energy supply.
In a nutshell, it requires quite some calculation to ascertain if one company is better value than another. This question comes up several times a week through phone calls interrupting my peace or someone at the door insisting that I go and find my last electricity account. Even after I have worked out the advantage of one over another, it will have all changed by the time I get around to working it out again and I’ll find I’ve been on the wrong plan or with the wrong company.
'Choice' - a tedious obligation
Did we ever really need this in our lives? “Choice” has become a very tedious obligation.
The Internet, smart phones, the “vibrancy” of a city growing in population at an enormous pace, Skype, Twitter, tablets: all these should make me happy.
The trouble is that I am losing what really made me happy.
Normal life increasingly criminalised
At the risk of appearing to indulge in nostalgia, our lives are far less free than they were. Big Brother is out there doing its robotic best to nab us in a hapless 100 metres of driving at 64 in a 60 zone or the parking officer is doing his level best to add to his daily quota as we tear back to our parking meters when a community meeting goes 10 minutes too long.
Even using water has become a sort of crime whereas it was once part of our lives and it was OK to hydrate both ourselves and our environment. Friends boast to one another that they never water their plants or are getting rid of their gardens. My neighbours have covered theirs in concrete slabs which will be very economical on water.
All the above symptoms impose stress and remove spontaneity and freedom. It is the effect of our governments imposing themselves on us and overcrowding us so that we are constantly banging up against the will and interests of others, the limits to resources, and being reminded us of the cost of everything, every minute of the day.
Along with the loss of fun and freedom in contemporary life, there is a burdensome overlay of the oppressive and unhelpful role that governments play in our lives. There’s a feeling of being administered, of having ideas, projects and changes to our environment imposed on us; of control of our world coming from somewhere outside ourselves.
Tony Burke had no legal obligation to even consider the threatened koalas in Leard forest for the Maules Creek and Boggabri approval. New loopholes could see developers and miners determining if koalas are under threat.
Federal documents obtained by the ABC unveiled on 13 February that the Federal government is endeavouring to make it even easier for miners and developers to avoid protecting koalas.
This comes as Federal Minister Tony Burke approves the Maules Creek and Boggabri open cut coal mines in Leard forest, despite never considering the impacts to koalas.
"The thousands of hectares of Leard State forest to be destroyed by the open cut coal mines are teeming with koalas, however they are offered absolutely no protection by the 2012 addition of the koala to the federal threatened species list," said Naomi Hogan of The Wilderness Society.
Tony Burke had no legal obligation to even consider the hundreds of Koalas that will certainly die as a result of the Boggabri and Maules Creek open cut coal mines in Leard forest. The Maules Creek and Boggabri open coal mining applications were lodged before the koala became a federally listed threatened species, so the Federal government isn't obliged to even consider the koala's plight. The koalas in Leard forest now face a slash and burn future. In essence, the federal koala protection law is useless to the koalas facing a forest wipe out by the Maules Creek and Boggabri open cut approvals."
This date discrepancy is just one of many loopholes in our Federal environmental protection law.
On 13 February it was revealed by the ABC that under the leaked draft federal guidelines, the applicant seeking to develop an area must establish for themselves if an area has koalas and if their proposed activity will have an impact on the habitat. The guidelines to not include any koala maps nor a requirement for long term koala surveys.
"No developer, no mining company can be trusted to undertake their own assessments of threatened species. Mining companies are driven by their legal requirement to make money, not to protect our threatened koalas. I have no doubt that many mining companies would rather see koalas dead than have them interrupting with their profits," said Ms Hogan.
Media Release 13 February 2013 from The Wilderness Society
The Growling Grass Frog, one of the largest frog species in Australia, was previously widespread across Victoria. They are now endangered. Southern Brown Bandicoots once occurred commonly in the wider Frankston area (pre-1970s). They have rapidly declined and are now restricted to isolated remnant habitat patches. They have little chance of long term survival against the economic benefits of population growth. Without robust ecosystems, with each natural species contributing its part to the web of life, we end in a barren, artificial and sterile, wastelands. (First posted
Posted July 13th, 2012; Reposted July 15, 2012.)
The Growling Grass Frog, one of the largest frog species in Australia, was previously widespread across Victoria. They were once so abundant In Victoria that they were used for dissections in universities and to feed the snakes at the Melbourne Zoo.
The now endangered Growling Grass Frog were once so common around parts of Melbourne that they were the only frogs people saw.
Worldwide, amphibian have declined and become extinct at a greater rate over the past fifty years than birds, reptiles and mammals. Australia alone has seen the extinction of eight frog species in recent decades. At least 27% of the 219 Australian frog species are threatened with extinction.
Wildlife species cannot be “saved” in the long term by protecting them solely in captivity in zoos or small reserves. Without the existence of sustainable wild populations interacting with their environment, and evolving, each species will end up hopelessly inbred, and eventually doomed to extinction. Apart from high quality wetlands, they need grassland habitat for foraging, dispersal and shelter, and overwintering sites.
An anthropocentric colonial concept assumes that "vacant" land is a wasted resource unless there is concrete, lawns, landfill, infrastructure and housing on it.
The framework to protect our native species, even endangered ones, can easily be "revised" and made impotent against the lucrative economic momentum of the property development industry.
The expansion of the urban boundary is not really urban planning but a caving into market forces and the greed for growth.
Native species are victims of relentless government efforts to increase the size of our economy. However, each species, even humble native frogs, have intrinsic value and a role to play in maintaining our shared ecological foundation.
Protecting Marvellous Melbourne
Part of the problem of protecting Melbourne's "marvelous" status is that Melbourne's population continues to grow. Those governing and making decisions on planning assume the adage that "growth is good". Population growth has become a synonym for economic-growth.
We are outstripping our ability to provide for the demands of our swelling population. This is a time of job losses, and a decline in our once vibrant manufacturing base. An economy that relies on housing inevitably comes hits the limits of growth with the inability of being able to fund infrastructure, especially for the outer growth suburbs.
We are being strangled by an economy built for failure. The short-term benefits of land taxes, cash flows and stamp duty etc fail to cover the long term costs of urban expansion.
The goal should be to grow the economy until the costs are higher than the benefits. At this stage we need wisdom, and the political willpower to stop growing. Our growth is now uneconomic, counterproductive and destructive.
City planning has become synonymous to the greed for growth at all costs.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot, which is listed as threatened in Victoria, would have set up corridors for the species to move between habitats in Melbourne's south-east, will be re-written by the end of the year – no doubt watered-down to make more ease for developers.
Southeast Melbourne and the Westernport region are home to some of the few remaining populations of Victoria's endangered Southern Brown Bandicoots outside of national parks.
The proposed buffer zones around waterways and wetlands to protect the Growling Frog populations will also be reassessed and weakened. It's an effort to make green wedges and conservation corridors more rubbery and eventually non-existent.
According to the VPNA media release 12 June, Obviously the Victorian Government has been captured by developers and is failing to take into account long-term conservation and community needs.
Prescriptions for strategic assessment
On 16 April 2010, the federal environment minister approved several prescriptions for ecological communities and threatened species associated with the Melbourne strategic assessment. These prescriptions specify requirements for protection of nationally protected matters that must be followed in preparing precinct structure plans and in undertaking individual developments.
The expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary will also include the clearing of critically endangered grassland and woodlands, as well as the establishment of large grassland reserves west of the city and 200m wildlife corridors on each side of creeks.
Our slow-evolving species need to adapt to more disturbances, smaller fragments, narrower gene pools and thinner remnant habitats - what the developers and our State government condescends to “save” for them.
Southern Brown Bandicoots once occurred commonly in the wider Frankston area (pre-1970s). They have rapidly declined and are now restricted to isolated remnant habitat patches. Presently there are only two known populations within 15 km of the Pines Flora Fauna Reserve, namely the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) and at Quail Island in Western Port Bay. The population at RBGC is the only population in the greater Melbourne area large enough and managed appropriately to be considered secure. It's the thin-edge of the knife!
Nationally threatened species such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Growling Grass Frog and the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth should be protected before final urban growth plans are released. But this hasn't happened as yet! Instead of green landscapes and green policies, they are being based on greed.
"Furry friendly" Peninsula Link?
Peninsula Link's builders are spending $20 million on eco-friendly initiatives including a "furry freeway" for endangered wildlife. A 30m-wide underpass will allow animals including the protected southern brown bandicoot to cross below the freeway. Picketers were attempting to save native bushland from being cleared until the appeal was heard and were keeping a 24-hour vigil at the Frankston South Westerfield property, a pristine pre-settlement biodiversity hot-spot. Bulldozers razed the area anyway, and the “furry freeway” for endangered wildlife is simply tokenism. Property prices in the Peninsula are expected to surge.
Green wedge backlash
Coalition co-ordinator Rosemary West said the inclusion of a Cranbourne South egg farm within the urban growth area could rebound on the government at the next election. Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the decision to rezone the 104-hectare Brompton Lodge egg farm in June this year following a logical inclusions review. The review committee concluded it was not high-quality agricultural land and the egg farm was not viable in the long term. What is “viable in the long term” now? Nothing in the way of “progress” and urban sprawl!
It also recommended incorporating the adjoining Ranfurlie Golf Course within the urban growth area. Coalition co-ordinator Rosemary West said the rezoning was very poor planning, with Brompton Lodge surrounded by green wedge on two of three sides.
It's beautiful land, it's in the path of a proposed southern brown bandicoot corridor between the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne and The Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve in Frankston North , and it's a viable egg farm. It's doomed to yield 1100 housing lots!
Native animals, conservation corridors, food production, green wedges and picturesque land and our city's “lungs” can't hold back the spread of concrete, housing and the lucrative profits from population growth.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke will have to give environmental approval before the growth plans can proceed. However, with State government having control over biodiversity and with no population policy coming from Burke, also the Minister of Sustainable Population, there is little chance the answer will be “no”!
Here is a short report from University of Sydney about recent research which threw into doubt the role of genetic inbreeding as a factor in lack of immune defense against the killer tumours in devils.
Picture: "Tasmanian Devil." Photo by Rodrigo Hamede, University of Tasmania.
Mystery of Tasmanian devil tumour deepens – for now
The degree of genetic difference to a tumour rapidly decimating the ranks of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) is not a factor in their likelihood of contracting the disease, according to research led by the University of Sydney.
The finding, published today in PLoS, the Public Library of Science journal, surprised researchers and means they will take a different approach in the race to better understand the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a contagious cancer which has already wiped out 85 percent of all Tasmanian devils.
“We looked at the West Pencil Pine population, in north-western Tasmania because they are the first population to be less severely affected by DFTD than other populations,” said Professor Kathy Belov, the senior author of the study from the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science.
In West Pencil Pine there is lower prevalence of the disease, increased survival time of infected individuals and little indication of changes in population size or population growth rate, four years after the disease was first detected.
“We thought that differences in certain key immune genes might explain the different susceptibility patterns between devils in West Pencil Pine and other devils,” Professor Belov said.
Due to devil populations having low genetic diversity most Tasmanian devils share the same Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes as tumours. The researchers believed that since the tumours were genetically similar to individual devil’s own cells their immune system wouldn’t recognise that the cancer cells were foreign and wouldn’t attack them.
“Many of the devils at West Pencil Pine are genetically different to the animals in the east of the state. We thought these genetically different animals might be able to mount an immune response against the tumours,” Professor Belov said.
“We thought devils that were most genetically different to the tumours would be less likely to catch DFTD. This isn’t the case.”
The researchers will have to go back to the drawing board to try to work out why DFTD is affecting genetically different devils.
“It is possible the tumour itself is suppressing the immune response in some way. We also know that DFTD is evolving and changing over time. Perhaps the strain of DFTD in West Pencil Pine is different and that is why fewer animals are getting sick in that region,” Professor Belov said.
The next step will be to look more closely at the tumours in West Pencil Pine and at genetic difference across the entire devil genome, rather than simply focusing on the MHC genes. West Pencil Pine may still hold the key to why some devils catch DFTD and others do not.
The other contributing authors to the PLoS paper include Dr Amanda Lane, Yuanyuan Cheng, Belinda Wright, Dr Laura LeVan an and Dr Beata Ujvari from the University of Sydney and Dr Menna Jones and Dr Rodrigo Hamede from the University of Tasmania.
Verity Leatherdale: (02) 9351 4312, 0403 067 342 or verity.leatherdale[AT]sydney.edu.au
Have you spent a lot of time on the Mornington Peninsula, but never heard of Tootgarook Swamp or its values? If your answer is yes, well you aren't the only ones. We were in that position a few months ago too and here is what we've learned since then.
Have you spent a lot of time on the Mornington Peninsula, but never heard of Tootgarook Swamp or its values? If your answer is yes, well you aren't the only ones. We were in that position a few months ago too and here is what we've learned since then.
Once a major landmark, diminished by peat mining
· Tootgarook Swamp was once the largest landmark on the southern end of the peninsula stretching almost the whole length between the bay and the ocean.
· The area used to be home to hundreds of species of native fauna including Southern Brown Bandicoot(endangered), Eastern Quoll(extinct on mainland), Long-nosed Potoroo (endangered), Australian Bustard(critically endangered) to name just a few.
Unfortunately it was also valuable for its special Peat soil which was extracted and used as fertilizer on nearby farms and experimented with in hopes of producing electricity and gas from it. Dredging allowed enrichment for this fertiliser process and also gave opportunity for grazing land, and residential housing developments to occur on the Swamp and human interference caused a lot of changes and damage to the natural environment as well as increased flooding which is still being addressed currently.
Still home to 115 species of birds and other animals whose habitats are endangered everywhere
So maybe now you're thinking, why should try to save it now? We also asked that and after much research we found many reasons which we've listed below.
· Because it is still home to over 115 different bird species, some of which are endangered or threatened. Many are migratory and travel thousands of kilometres to the area to use breeding site and produce new generations of birds.
· The Swamp contains many indigenous flora species which no longer readily occur on the peninsula. Endangered Communities of indigenous vegetation still grow in the area.
· It also houses many species of native mammals, reptiles, fish and insects. Some of these are also endangered or no longer plentiful on the Mornington Peninsula.
· It is all that's left of an important part of the history of the Mornington Peninsula.
· Because it's a floodplain and the Swamp helps to control the flooding by acting as a retarding basin and sponge, by holding, storing and soaking up excess water.
· Water is important for everyone. Wetlands keep our waterways healthy by filtering, cleaning water as it flows through. Wetlands filter suspended solids, nutrients, heavy metals, organic matter (which may break down here too) and even oil. They treat stormwater naturally before releasing it back into our waterways and ground water. This ground water is used for irrigation on farms and keeps our soil healthy so we can grow trees and crops as well as many residential bores.
· Peat wetlands globally have been identified as a major storehouse of the world's carbon, exceeding that of forests. They actively accumulate organic matter into carbon sinks. Both aspects are worthy of attention by the UNFCCC.
· Peat wetlands have a wide international significance and their wise use is relevant to the implementation of the RAMSAR Convention, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and other international instruments and agreements.
· Peat wetlands play a special role in conserving global biodiversity because they are the refuge of some of the rarest and most unusual species of wetland-dependent flora and fauna.
· Peat wetlands have been recognized by the RAMSAR Convention as a particularly threatened wetland type.
· Peat wetlands are the predominant wetland type for cultural heritage, notably through their capacity to preserve archaeological remains and the palaeobiological record under waterlogged and deoxygenated conditions.
· It is mostly in the hands of private landholders. If we do not give voice to a voiceless environment nothing will stop it from being destroyed to make way for more development on the Mornington Peninsula
· It is important as a habitat for animals at a vulnerable stage in their life cycles and provides a refuge when adverse conditions such as drought prevail.
· As a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention, Australia has an obligation to promote the conservation of Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR listed wetlands) and the wise use of all wetlands.
· Although wetlands cover only about 3% of the Earth's surface, they are vital to our environment.
· Wetlands constitute a resource of great economic, scientific, cultural, and recreational value for the community.
· Environmental degradation is more prominent within wetland systems than any other ecosystem on earth. By 1993 half the world's wetlands had been drained.
Tootgarook Swamp needs RAMSAR status
So with all these reasons now we need to ask How do we save Tootgarook Swamp? (see www.SPIFFA.org/ for more in-depth information or view photos at Facebook-Friends of Sanctuary Park.)
One important way we have identified is through the RAMSAR convention. What is this?
The Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. At the centre of the Ramsar philosophy is the “wise use” concept. The wise use of wetlands is defined as “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development”. “Wise use” therefore has at its heart the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind.
To become a Ramsar site the Tootgarook Swamp must go through a nomination process to assess whether it meets the criteria necessary to become an internationally recognized site. We are currently encouraging the Mornington Peninsula Shire and Government Agencies to begin this nomination process but we need your support.
To support a Ramsar nomination for the Tootgarook Swamp we encourage you to pass this information to as many people as possible.
If you support this Nomination we ask that you email Send Email to Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Graham Pittock along with your name and address stating that you support this nomination.
Proposed revisions to the Code of Practice for Forestry in Victoria Australia could adversely impact Victoria's threatened species. As many candobetter.net readers know, the Victorian Auditor General found last year that Victoria has utterly failed in its objectives under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1986) to measure and protect unique species from threat and endangerment. These changes also follow Environment East Gippsland's historic win in court against VicForests last year, where EEG sought protection under this Act for endangered species. With these changes, loggers could seek exemptions from state environment laws protecting endangered species. Victorians (and people all over the world) need to be aware of these proposed changes and to make comments. You can make a submission via this article
According to comments reported in the Age, 3 November 2011:
The Secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment would be able to exempt a logging project from the requirements of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, which protects the state's endangered and threatened species.
"The proposed changes follow a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court last year banning VicForests from logging old-growth forest at Brown Mountain in East Gippsland, after an endangered long-footed potoroo was filmed in an area to be felled."
"The secretary will consider, among other things, the numbers required to maintain a viable population of a listed species in the area to be logged, and the amount of habitat near the proposed coupe already protected in national parks."
How to make a submission and how to get more information on-line
TheCode of Practice for Timber Production 2007(the Code) is a key regulatory instrument that applies to commercial timber production in both public and private native forests and plantations in Victoria. It is a statutory document prepared under Part 5 of theConservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987. Compliance is required under theSustainable Forest (Timber) Act 2004and via its incorporation into the Victoria Planning Provisions.
The purpose of the Code is to ensure that commercial timber growing and timber harvesting operations are carried out on both public land and private land in such a way that:
permits an economically viable, internationally competitive, sustainable timber industry
is compatible with the conservation of the wide range of environmental, social and cultural values associated with timber production forests
provides for the ecologically sustainable management of native forests proposed for continuous timber production
enhances public confidence in the management of Victoria's forests and plantations for timber production.
Proposed variations to the Code of Practice for timber production (October 2011)
Members of the public are invited to provide comment on a number of proposed variations to the Code of Practice for timber production to improve certainty of timber supply to the native forest timber industry, while balancing the needs of the environment.
Document explaining the proposed variations
The following document outlines the proposed variations to the Code of Practice for timber production.
If you have problems downloading this document, please contact the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for assistance.
The proposed variations change the wording in relation to the application of Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statements. This aims to introduce more flexibility and allow further consideration of the importance of Victoria’s national parks and conservation reserves in the protection of threatened species.
The variations will improve the focus of conservation for threatened flora and fauna species to be applied at landscape level, and allow for a reduced focus at the individual animal or plant level.
Factors needing to be considered by the Secretary to the Department of Sustainability and Environment in determining the application of a Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement are also being considered for inclusion in the Code.
Submission of comments
Anyone interested in making a submission on the proposed variations should provide their comments to DSE in writing by:
Review of the Code of Practice for Timber Production
Native Forest Silviculture Guideline series- Provide information and recommendations on the best available practice for basic silvicultural operations carried out in Victoria's native State forests, that may be applicable to other native forest areas.
The Center for Biological Diversity has a very successful campaign linking human population growth to other species loss. They sell "Endangered species condoms." Their creative approach has now been independently recognised by, of all things, the American Advertising Federation. Good on them!
Our wildly popular Endangered Species Condoms are getting some additional love. This week we found out the colorfully packaged condoms, part of our campaign highlighting the connection between overpopulation and species extinction, won the American Advertising Federation's gold ADDY Award in Tucson in the "public service" category. In case you haven't seen them, the nifty condom packages feature illustrations of six different endangered species, along with catchy slogans like "Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle" and "Wear a jimmy hat, save the big cat." The Center handed out 350,0000 condoms last year and hopes to send more out soon to draw attention to this crucial issue. Through the empowerment of women, education of all people and universal access to birth control, we can curb our population to an ecologically safe level.
But some members of Congress are making that very hard. In fact, the House has just passed a bill to cut government funding for critical programs like women's health clinics -- which for millions of people provide the only available access to reproductive services, family planning and birth control. With this February marking Global Population Speak Out month, it's time to tell our elected representatives they should be expanding those programs, not cutting them -- for the sake of our planet and the public.
Check out our Endangered Species Condoms Project and sign the GPSO pledge. Then learn more about the legislative attack on family-planning services from politico.com and contact your senators asking them to counter it. (Ed. Actually www.politico.com doesn't appear to have any directly accessible information on this subject.)
Through a network of more than 5,000 volunteers, in 2010 the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 350,000 free Endangered Species Condoms in all 50 states — as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico — to highlight how unsustainable human population growth is driving species extinct at a cataclysmic rate.
The earth’s population has nearly doubled since the original Earth Day in 1970. In those days, it was well understood that human overpopulation was causing the many environmental challenges cropping up around the world. Now, with the passing of the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day, unsustainable human population growth is too often ignored, even though it continues to drive all the major environmental problems that plague our planet.
At 6.9 billion people, the human race is not only the most populous large mammal on Earth but the most populous large mammal that has ever existed. Providing for the needs and wants of this many people — especially those in high-consumption, first-world nations — has pushed homo sapiens to absorb 50 percent of the planet’s freshwater and develop 50 percent of its landmass. As a result, other species are running out of places to live.
Human overpopulation is the driving force behind the current mass-extinction crisis, endangering:
• 12 percent of mammals
• 12 percent of birds
• 31 percent of reptiles
• 30 percent of amphibians
• 37 percent of fish
To help people understand the impact of overpopulation on other species, and to give them a chance to take action in their own lives, the Center is distributing free packets of Endangered Species Condoms depicting six separate species: the polar bear, snail darter, spotted owl, American burying beetle, jaguar, and coquí guajón rock frog.
The beautifully designed packages, featuring clever slogans, are being distributed by a network of 5,000 volunteers ranging from ministers to grandmothers to healthcare providers to college students and biologists. The condoms will be handed out at concerts, bars, universities, spiritual groups, local events, and farmer’s markets. Along with two condoms, each package contains original artwork and information on the species, facts about overpopulation and the extinction crisis, and suggestions on how the human population can be stabilized.
To help ensure a world that is livable for other species — and healthy and prosperous for us — practice responsible reproduction and learn more about the Center’s campaign to address overpopulation.
The Bushfires Royal Commission plan of increasing "controlled burning" in the Mallee is an example of a one-size-fits-all mentality.
Birdlife including the Mallee emu-wren and black-eared miner, both of which are endangered, and threatened marsupials such as the western pygmy possum, face a dramatic loss of habitat if the commission's advice to triple the rate of prescribed burning to 5 per cent of public land each year is followed.
It would threaten the long-term survival of the region's native wildlife, a scientific study has found.
A four-year study, led by Professor Clarke of Latrobe University and Professor Andrew Bennett of Deakin University, found that large parts of the Mallee have not burned for between 20 and 140 years.
The Mallee has been recognised as the most threatened environment for birds in Australia.
Image source: Wikimedia commons
The Striated Grasswren is a little bird with rich and varied songs, and require large clumps of spinifex to hide in. The size is only suitable 25-40 years post-fire. Tree hollows, needed by many kinds of animals for nesting or roosting, take at least 40 years to develop in mallee.
Mallee Emu-wren (Stipiturus mallee) is one of Australia’s smallest birds, weighs up to 6.5 grams. It uses its size to great advantage to move quickly through dense shrubs, darting about amongst the very prickly spinifex. Very large or frequent fires can eliminate these birds from large areas, leaving them isolated in small, scattered locations, unable to escape further fires. It is globally endangered.
Species such as the Pig-footed Bandicoot, Bridled Nail-tail Wallaby have disappeared in the last 150 years. Many fascinating species remain vulnerable, including 6 species of small mammals that are valuable enough to be treasured and protected.
Large fires burn thousands of hectares and dramatically change vegetation and wildlife habitats.
Professor Clarke said the Baillieu government needed to respect the unique characteristics of the Mallee in managing fire risk.
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFG) and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act should be used to override the Bushfires Royal Commission and stop any actions that further threaten species and their habitats.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) chief fire officer Ewan Waller said the program would be the biggest in recent years, weather permitting. Burning is by far the best way to manage fuel loads within our forests and give protection to Victorian communities, Mr Waller said. What about species who make homes in this "fuel load"? "Victorian communities" are more than humans!
Ecological sensitivities and endangered wildlife are just left to be collateral damage!
This year is the International Year of Biodiversity, and it is not too late for some real action to protect some diminishing native species.
Controversial Tweed Shire Council has a history of making poor environmental decisions that are hugely unpopular with the largely Green-oriented residents. It is the second most complained about council in New South Wales. However in November 2010 the councillors voted for the worst possible blunder which will be recorded as a major crime against Nature.
Byrrill Creek, NSW
In October 2010 the residents in Tweed Shire did something that had never been done before in the history of World Rally Championships – they succeeded in ridding Tweed and neighbouring Kyogle Shire of the rally. There were many reason for this, not the least of which was the threat to already threatened and endangered species living en route.
One of the routes, pristine and idyllic Byrrill Creek - home to platypus, diminishing koalas and 45 threatened and endangered fauna, 26 threatened and endangered flora and adjacent to two World Heritage National Parks – had such fierce opposition from locals that the race had to be stopped after only 3 cars went through. News travelled as far as New York Times that rocks had been thrown at the cars – which was 6 months later denied by local police.
Short Lived Euphoria
The residents only had a few weeks to bask in the glory of success when a far worse environmental travesty was foisted on them by the local council – the building of a 36,000 ML dam in Byrrill Creek, against advice of their staff planners and the community working group. Such a dam would flood 400 hectares of this high conservation value, riparian area.
Sustainable water recommendations such as mandatory water tanks for new houses, dual reticulation, stormwater harvesting, grey-water recycling, wise water use were not even considered as an option.
The raising of Clarrie Hall dam nearby, recommended as the #1 option by council staff and the CWG, was rejected in favour of building a controversial dam at Byrrill Creek. The councillors voting in favour of Byrrill Creek dam must have influential friends living at Clarrie Hall dam is all I can say because that would be by far the cheaper, simpler and less controversial option.
While the shire already has almost enough water to support the existing population until 2036, the given reason for the building of a new dam is the addition of two new mega housing developments on the coast which would double the population effectively. It would seem sensible for the new housing developments to meet their own water needs with sustainable water management such as in the U.K. and Singapore.
(Cr Skinner, Cr Polglase and Cr Youngblutt)On November 1st, Mayor Kevin ‘Green’ Skinner (who declared on his election his commitment to 'preserving this lovely pristine environment'(see http://www.tweednews.com.au/story/2010/09/21/skinner-tweeds-new-mayor/ ) used his casting vote to push the motion for a dam through, contrary to convention to vote with staff recommendations. The ‘Three Stooges’ pro-development councillors who voted for the dam, also dogged a motion for an independent review of water demand management for the shire.
Councillor van Lieshout was unable to vote due to her husband's ownership of land that would be part of the area at Mebbin that would be inundated. The other three councillors Cr Milne, Cr Holdom and Cr Longland lodged a recission motion and the following week an extraordinary meeting was held which which resulted in the same outcome - 3-3 tied with the Mayor once again using his casting vote to push the dam through in spite of receiving hundreds of requests from residents not to. The council also received letters from 5 District Ratepayers Associations representing 70% of the shire's population. They all strongly condemned the dam proposal.
When these three councillors, who only received 25% of the vote at the council elections in 2008, use their power to force a decision that is unwanted by the majority of the residents and ratepayers, it makes you wonder what is their motivation.
Even the General Manager (who was on the Board of the Repco Rally) is not in favour of a dam at Byrrill Creek. Nor is Max Boyd (former Administrator) and Nationals MP for Tweed Geoff Provest. They realise that the NSW Weirs policy is opposed to new dams. The Federal EPBC Act stopped the Traveston Dam on Mary River Qld due to its nationally endangered species but there are more federally threatened and endangered species at Byrrill Creek. Forging ahead for a dam is fraught with legal difficulties and may well be rejected by the government after many years and much money wasted. Who pays for all the costs involved in planning the dam, legal costs, amounting to millions of dollars? Why ratepayers of course! Not the Three Stooges, that’s for sure.
If they were wise they would raise Clarrie Hall dam (which needs repairs anyway) to ensure the shire’s water needs are met by 2036. However, while the raising of Clarrie Hall dam is less environmentally destructive, nevertheless it will negatively impact on the threatened species there. By far the best option is sustainable water options.
Environmental Reasons to Oppose a Dam
1. It threatens two adjacent World Heritage areas. Byrrill Creek is an identified and important wildlife corridor between three National Parks, two of which are World Heritage listed (Border Ranges NP and Mount Warning NP) and the third (Mebbin NP) is currently under consideration for inclusion of World Heritage status. Since 11 hectares of Mebbin NP would be inundated, that part of Mebbin NP would not be eligible for WH status.
Byrrill Creek is geologically part of the inner ring dyke system of the extinct volcanic complex of Mt Warning. This shield volcano is one of the best preserved in the world.
2. Byrrill Creek and surrounding National Parks provides habitat for a high level of flora and fauna, threatened, vulnerable or endangered within the TSC (State) and EPBC (Federal) listings. An assessment of priority fauna species identified 42 priority flora species, 37 priority fauna species and 6 amphibians, 7 reptiles, 13 birds and 11 mammals.
According to Dr S. Phillips of Biolink Ecological Consultants, there are 45 threatened fauna species in a 5km radius of Byrrill Creek and 26 threatened flora, some of which are found nowhere else in the world, including:
Some of the species impacted by a dam at Byrrill Creek
Byrrill Creek Koala, Brush Tailed Phascogale, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Spotted Tailed Quoll, Squirrel Glider, Red Legged Pademelon, Stephens Banded Snake, Byrrill Creek Planigale, Yellow Bellied Glider, Large Footed Myotis, Giant Barred Frog, Green Thighed Frog, Pouched Frog, Loveridge’s Frog, Stuttering Frog, Barking Owl, Marbled Frogmouth, Masked Owl, Sooty Owl, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Barred Cuckoo Shrike, Powerful Owl, Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Square Tailed Kite, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Albert’s Lyrebird, Black Breasted Buttom Quail, Rose-Crowned Fruit Dove, Rufous Scrub Bird, Bush Hen.
The pouched frog is found only in Tweed shire. This remarkable frog leaves its eggs under leaves, not in the water. When they hatch the hatchlings crawl on the back of the male frog where it has two pouches. It is there that they live till big enough to leave.
Ironically enough, the Albert's Lyrebird is on the Tweed Shire council's crest. In NSW, this species occurs in the Northern Rivers Area only, occurring west to the Acacia Plateau in the Border Ranges and reaching its eastern and southern limits in the coastal range south-west of Ballina. It is found nowhere else in the world. Will they have to change their crest when it becomes locally extinct due to the dam going ahead?
The Giant Barred Frog (mixophyes iterates) is endangered under the EPBC Act. It is one of the largest frogs in Australia. A three month study was conducted on this frog in Mebbin National Park.
According to Dr Steve Phillips of Biolink Ecological Services there are also two endangered ecological communities that would be at risk. There are 15-17 species at risk of local extinction in the lowland rainforest if it were be inundated in the case of a dam built in Mebbin National Park.
3. Under the Border Ranges Biodiversity Management Plan, the Tweed Caldera (of which Byrrill Creek is an important part) is a recognised priority area for biodiversity management. So why is this area even being considered for a dam? It is an area of high conservation value with no less than six ecological assessments classifying Byrrill Creek catchment as a site of the highest conservation value riparian status in the Tweed Shire.
Stressed Rivers Assessment Report 1999 (NSW Land & Water Conservation)
Tweed Riparian Restoration Prioritisation Report 2003 (Ecosure, Burleigh Heads)
Tweed Shire Vegetation Management Strategy 2004
NRCMA Byrrill Creek Riparian Rehabilitation Project 2006
PAS Key Corridor Connections Project 2009 and 2010
A local Byrrill Creek Fauna & Flora Survey by J. Gardner 2009
Currently there has been no complete fauna & flora assessment of the proposed dam site. There needs to be a comprehensive new assessment of the true ecological significance of Byrrill Creek catchment.
If a dam went ahead, irreplaceable rainforest would be flooded at Mebbin NP. Lance Tarvey of NPWS, Murwillumbah, considers these the most valuable in diversity of species and irreplaceable.
4. The Stressed Rivers report DLWC 1999 classed the mid Tweed River as already stressed due to water extraction at Clarrie Hall Dam and it has been identified by NPWS for conservation. Another dam would exacerbate this problem.
Financial Reasons to Oppose a Dam
Over the last three years a total of $546,000 has been allocated in grants to the Byrrill Creek area for restoration, landcare and conservation projects. All of this would have been for nought.
The cost to build a dam at Byrrill Creek would be $67 million compared to $35 million to raise the wall at Clarrie Hall dam.
Furthermore to proceed with a dam when there is a high possibility it will be rejected is wasting millions of ratepayers' money when it didn't need to be. Traveston Dam was rejected on the grounds of endangered species and the Qld government wasted $100 million of taxpayers' money in the process - for nothing.
Dams only have an average lifespan of 50-100 years before they fail. What a waste of time, money and irreplaceable biodiversity for old-school mentality!
Sustainability Issues Ignored
Social and government trends are towards low impact water management and harvesting strategies (stormwater and rainwater harvesting, dual reticulation, greywater use and reduced demand through efficient water use. The Tweed community overwhelmingly called for the latter practices to be enforced and identified a dam at Byrrill Creek as the last of possible options.
Indigenous Sites Under Threat
Mt Warning is a sacred site to the local aboriginal population and contains numerous cultural heritage sites within the Byrrill Creek area. There was a 3-day indigenous study showing 26 registered sites confined to the original aboriginal inhabitants (camp sites etc). In 2009 4 new sites were found. A dam would cut highly significant pathways. These sites are significant and important to the indigenous people living here.
Indigenous leaders chose of the four options the following:
2. pipeline to SE Qld
3. Clarrie Hall dam
4. Byrrill Creek dam
Legal Reasons to Oppose a New Dam
Rainforest like this would be inundated.
A dam at Byrrill Creek is currently prohibited. Section 9, Clause 6, In-River Dams of the Tweed River area Unregulated and Alluvial Draft Water Sharing Plan states that a dam at Byrrill Creek is prohibited because of its high conservation value. Should the council plan to transfer water interstate, this same plan within Part 13, Clause 36 says ‘Interstate transference of water allocations to or from these (Tweed’s) water sources are prohibited.’
Yet Tweed Council submitted amendments to both of these clauses in October 2009 allowing a dam at Byrrill Creek and allowing the transfer of water to and from the adjoining shires of South East Queensland and Rous.
Additionally, inundating areas of Mebbin National Park which are part of the Federal and NSW government and State Forestry North East Forest Agreement (NEFA) would necessitate the same levels of legislation.
There are twelve pieces of legislation that would need to approve this dam and it is highly likely that the Threatened Species Conservation (TSC) Act and the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 would not approve it due to all the state and federally threatened and endangered species.
The NSW Weirs Policy is for environmentally sustainable development. It gives fifteen reasons why no new dams should be built and has as a goal to halt, reduce and remediate the environmental impacts of dams. Furthermore, it disallows the construction of dams or even augmentation of a dam for the purpose of an increase in town population. It also disallows construction of a dam if it breaks connectivity for species. Both of these apply in the case of Byrrill Creek.
Why Biodiversity Protection is Critical at this Time
* According to http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/hotspots/index.html
“Australia is one of 17 countries described as being ‘megadiverse’. This group of countries has less than 10% of the global surface, but support more than 70% of the biological diversity on earth. These countries represent more than two-thirds of all (known) life forms and the majority of tropical rainforests, coral reefs and other priority systems. The results of the assessment were published in Megadiversity: Earth's biologically wealthiest nations."
* Australia has the most (non-fish) vertebrate species of all the 17 mega-diverse countries.
* We only had around 2% of Australia covered in rainforest when we first arrived we now have less than .25% left and in that resides over 60 % of our biodiversity.
* The Australian Government listed the Border Rangers, including the Tweed Caldera, as one of the 15 biodiversity hotspots around Australia. “These hotspots were identified to increase public awareness of the cost effectiveness of strategic and timely action to conserve biodiversity. In hotspot areas, timely intervention may prevent long-term and irreversible loss of their values, and provide high return on our conservation dollar”. (Aust Govt website: Biodiversity Hotspots).
* Of countries containing large endowments of biodiversity, Australia is unique in another very significant way. Of all the countries classified as megadiverse, Australia is one of only two countries in the high income category. This position carries a special responsibility and implies that a high standard of biodiversity protection can be expected in Australia. It also carries with it an opportunity too for world leadership”. (Aust Govt website: State of Environment report 2001)
* The Earth is experiencing the 6th mass extinction event – the 5th was 65 million years ago. The conservation status of Australia's biodiversity reflects the global situation. Close to 50% of all mammal extinctions that occurred globally in the last 200 years were in Australia - http://www.greateasternranges.org.au/nature/wildlife/global-extinction-crisis
* Approximately 13% of all Australia's known vertebrate species are listed in Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as either 'threatened' or 'vulnerable'. The number of terrestrial birds and mammals assessed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable on this list rose by 41% in the last decade.
* Known species extinctions Australia has experienced since non-Indigenous settlement have been primarily in arid/semi-arid climatic areas, however, significant loss of biodiversity has occurred in the forests and woodlands. The extinction of local populations and community assemblages continues with the degradation of ecosystem functionality. This local loss of biodiversity is partly recognised by the species and ecosystems formally regarded by each Australian state as threatened, as distinct from those listed nationally as threatened with global extinction.
* Tweed has the largest number of threatened flora in Australia. 80% of bush land in Tweed has high (or very high) conservation status” (State of the Environment Tweed 2009).
Clearly, this World Class environment deserves world class planning practices.
No wonder we have such a high percentage of biodiversity loss when we have people in power like the three Tweed Shire councillors who voted for this dam. Time for unenlightened councillors to get with the program – this is 2010, the Year of Biodiversity. Why do they think they are not responsible for intelligent governance of the environment for the people and future generations? Perhaps they should review #5 of council’s charter where it says to properly manage environment in a sustainable way?
Authorities are bracing in northern Australia for an influx of protesters representing Gouldian finch societies and breeders throughout the globe. Police fear a repeat of last years bloodbath when Mitchell hopping mouse advocates protested against further degradation of the marsupials habitat in South Australia.
Lovers of the popular aviary finch are incensed at the inaction of Australian governments in protecting what little habitat remains for the endangered bird. Gouldian finch societies from Australia, the USA, South Africa and many European countries have banded together to raise awareness of the damage that pastoral activities and modern fire regimes are doing to the birds habitat.
Australian Gouldian Finch Society spokesperson Terry Anderson has made an emotional plee to the Australian public to help fight for the remaining Gouldian finch habitat:
“There are only 2500 of these beautiful birds left in the wild…. All Australians have a responsibility to prevent this species from becoming extinct in its natural environment and we are here to remind them of that responsibility”
Police in Katherine, NT are expecting hundreds of protestors and are expected to use a zero tolerance policy after similar protests in South Australia last year resulted in 15 arrests and several police officers injured. Sgt Mackey of NT police states:
“Whilst the 2009 confrontations with South Australian police were instigated by breeders and owners of Mitchell’s hopping mice fighting for habitat protection… we must anticipate that the Gouldian Finch people are capable of the same emotionally driven violence that have made the hopping mouse advocates a household name”
Wildlife advocacy groups and other critics of Gouldian finch breeders claim that dwindling finch numbers are due in no small part to the aviary trade and poaching continues to be a problem as demand for the finch increases. Furthermore they claim that breeding of the finch involves colour and behaviour selection that does not mimic wild Gouldian finch populations. Terry Anderson refutes these claims:
“They’re just nit picking. If the Gouldian becomes extinct in the wild, we are the ones they will come running to”
Outspoken supporter of keeping native animals as pets Prof Mike Archer was (unusually) unavailable for comment.
Congratulations Jill Redwood, leader of Environment East Gippsland! In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland. “This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood. “If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.” EEG Website for more updates
To find out more about the history of this battle, which has demanded so much courage and committment from people like Jill Redwood and those who fight with her, see the section: Brown Mountain in Candobetter
Landmark decision enforces law to defend animals and trees
In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court has found that the government has a responsibility to look for and protect endangered wildlife before logging in the contentious Brown Mountain forests of East Gippsland.
“This judgment has implications for all native forests that are set to be destroyed by logging,” said EEG spokesperson Jill Redwood.
Decision shows the battle was just and necessary
“If we hadn’t sued VicForests, Brown Mountain would have been illegally logged by now. And Brown Mountain is just one area. The government is logging publicly owned forests every day without endangered species surveys.”
“We are calling on the government to respect the judgment by stopping logging in native forests that may contain rare wildlife, until the full implications of this judgment are examined.”
“VicForests, the Government-owned logging monopoly, has a legal responsibility to protect endangered wildlife. They can’t just go in and log blindfolded.”
“Victorians have always known native forest logging is immoral, uneconomic, unaccountable, unsustainable and unpopular. Today we’ve proved that where endangered species are present, or likely to be present, it’s potentially illegal as well”.
Will the Victorian Government try to defy the courts as well as the law now?
“This extraordinary court case isn’t just about protecting Brown Mountain’s rich and ancient ark of rare wildlife; it’s about forcing the government to abide by its laws as anyone else would”, said Ms Redwood.
“This represents a win for the state’s rare forest dependent wildlife. It’s also a win for all Australians who are concerned about the environment.”
Next danger may be Government attempt to change laws to suit itself
Environment groups are now concerned that the government may attempt to alter the laws to allow the destruction of endangered species habitat, as happened in Tasmania in 2008.
“The government must now honour the law, not alter it”, said Ms Redwood.
Forest supporters will gather at Victorian parliament tomorrow at 1pm, to ask the Environment Minister, Shadow Environment Minister and Greens for their response to the judgment.
On 18th June, the ACT Government advised that areas within the Canberra Nature Park would be closed from 19 June to 31 July 2010 to allow for the controlled culling of 'over-abundant' Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The sites closed were Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Crace Nature Reserve, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra West Nature Reserve, Kama Nature Reserve, Mount Painter Nature Reserve, Mulligan’s Flat Nature Reserve and unleased territory land adjacent to Kama Nature Reserve.
This makes a mockery of 'nature park' when there is supposed to be a higher level of protection for native animals than in National Parks. It also makes a mockery of democracy when there was no public consultation on the cull. It also makes a mockery of science when the ecological benefits of native species is totally disregarded.
The purpose of this cull is to 'maintain kangaroo populations at appropriate levels to protect the integrity of ecosystems, several of which contain endangered flora and fauna such as Grassland Earless Dragon, Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, Perunga Grasshopper and threatened plants such as the Button Wrinklewort (a perennial herb).'
Apparently they are worried that the grasslands and woodlands will be overgrazed by kangaroos and threaten species and ecosystems. Yet where is the proof of this? I would like to see before and after photos. Since when do kangaroos create excessive soil loss and destroy habit for ground-feeding birds? That is something sheep, cows and humans do, not native species.
The cull is part of the recently released Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP) which sets out the ACT Government’s approach to managing the environmental, economic and social impacts of kangaroos to ensure their numbers are maintained at a sustainable level into the future.
I wonder when humans are going to maintain their own species at a sustainable level? It's obvious that the greatest threat to our native grasslands and woodlands is not kangaroos but human activity.
Apparently relocation (a compassionate approach) has been ruled out because 'that would be offloading the problem to another location' and lead to their starvation. How considerate of them. Killing them is better than saving them.
Why do we continue to close off green corridors with new housing estates and expressways that fragment Nature Parks leaving wildlife with nowhere to go? Until the government acknowledges this, the bloodshed will continue until kangaroos are no longer on the face of this continent. The relentless slaughter of healthy kangaroos is creating an ecological depression* which could very really push kangaroos over the edge of the precipice to extinction. We can already see signs of that at http://www.stopkangarookilling.org
(Flier: Sylvia Raye)
The RSPCA has failed abysmally to point out the sheer cruelty of the way joeys are despatched. Until a truly 'humane' way of killing baby kangaroos can be found no further slaughter should be allowed by anybody.
When a female kangaroo is shot, any 'in pouch' babies are killed by bashing their heads in. Also, as shooters have difficulty locating 'at foot' kangaroos (these are baby kangaroos still dependant on their mothers), whose mothers have been shot, these babies will most likely die a slow painful death from starvation, dehydration or predation.
Does the ACT government really think we have not noticed their hypocrisy? On the one hand they blame kangaroos for damaging grasslands and endangered species while themselves approving environmentally destructive projects such as:-
- 73 hectares red/yellow box to be destroyed in West Hume
- Canberra Airport runway extension dissecting Earless dragon colony
- Canberra Airport freight, shopping and office hubs built over and dissecting grasslands
- Proposed Cowan Expressway dissecting grasslands
- New and extended AFP training facility over Majura grasslands
- Dept of Defence Majura Training Area extended due to the increased volume of Defence training and traffic
- Symonston Long Stay Caravan Park debacle where land of high grassland value was sacrificed as compensation to developer
- Lawson Housing estate to be built over endangered colonies in the water tower section of the BNTS site
- Decontamination earthworks at the BNTS site wiped out tracts of grassland
- Irreversible damage done to BNTS grasslands by vehicles driven continuously across the grasslands to round up and slaughter kangaroos in May 2008
- New mega-housing estate at Downer destroying more grassland/woodland habitat that backs onto Nature Park
- Where are the 'Friends of Grasslands' and 'Limestone Plains Group of Scientists' on these issues? We haven't heard a peep.
Australia's Culling Territory
Cull after cull, the ACT is gaining the reputation as the Australian Culling Territory.
Why the obsession with exterminating kangaroos? In May 2008, 514 kangaroos were killed at Belconnen Naval Transmission Station and the reason given by the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment was:-
'At BNTS the natural temperate grassland is the habitat of the perunga grasshopper (which the Minister, on the recommendation of the Flora and Fauna Committee, has declared to be a vulnerable species), the golden sun moth and the ginninderra peppercress (both of which the Minister, on the recommendation of the Flora and Fauna Committee, has declared to be endangered species). Another vulnerable species, the striped legless lizard, has been found outside the secure area; however, it was most likely present in the secure area at BNTS in former years. Under the EPBC Act the golden sun moth is listed as critically endangered and the ginninderra peppercress and striped legless lizard are listed as vulnerable.'
The advice of experts who recommended against the cull was not taken into account. The offer to professionally relocate these kangaroos was rejected. As if that was not enough, because toxic contaminants were found in the soil at BNTS the remediation of the land naturally caused massive damage to all the above species and was not even questioned.
After the slaughter 4 wheel drives turned the place into a dust bowl. Then in came the earth movers to take out the toxic soil remediation required for the area to be a new housing estate. So much concern for endangered species or grasslands. The legless striped lizard, golden sun moth and ginninderra peppergrass were all buried without any further ado.
The construction of new housing estates immediately adjacent to the area gave no concern to the government. What about the dust and fumes from cars and trucks, the footsteps of people plodding through BNTS walking their dogs, playing with their children, and their cats killing fauna, wouldn't that have a damaging effect on endangered species?
There was no evidence that kangaroos threatened any endangered species but plenty of evidence that humans did.
Since Belconnen there have been several other large culls. In May 2009 over 7000 kangaroos were killed by the ACT government at Majura Firing Range once again on the grounds of 'degraded grasslands'. Once again, only junk science to back it up. No other options considered, no conservation experts bar Don Fletcher and RSPCA who know nothing of marsupials (their specialty is cats and dogs). Our experts were not called in but they were discriminated against because they have the best interests of the kangaroos at heart.
And in July 2009 550 kangaroos were 'culled' at Callum Brae, Nature Park in Canberra. The usual story i.g. kangaroos were eating too much grass but nobody talked about the degradation of grasslands by cows or sheep. Most likely the kangaroos at Callum Brae were deemed to be a problem by local farmers. Farmers hate kangaroos. Why don't farmers erect kangaroo-proof fencing instead of killing them on sight? Sheep's grazing pressure is 10-20 times higher than kangaroos so we are focusing on the wrong target.
As usual, it was declared that the cull would be 'conducted in the most humane way with highly trained marksmen using high-powered rifles according to the code of practice including hairless joeys to be decapitated and larger joeys shot at close range or injected.' Even Landcare said they were 'happy' with the 'cull.' What kind of monsters have we turned into?
Ecological benefit of Kangaroos
It's also time the ecological benefits of kangaroos on the land were acknowledged by governments, farmers, ordinary people i.e.
1. Kangaroos lessen the possibility of bushfires by eating dry grass that ignites easily.
2. Their soft padded feet and long tail are integral to the ecological health of the land, as regenerators of native grasses. Any seedling that falls into the long-tapering footprint of the kangaroo is buried into the hole left by the toenail. Covered and with moisture concentrated at one point, the germinated seedling has a chance of survival. Their tail drags along behind them while they are grazing, pressing the ground, rolling seeds into the earth.
3. Kangaroos also help regenerate native grasses (which is their preferred food) by excreting these seeds onto the ground thereby spreading the growth of grasses, undoing the damage caused by livestock which is turning this country into a dustbowl.
4. Kangaroos play an undeniable role in biological diversity and ecological integrity.
5. Their urine and faeces is a natural fertilizer (not excessively high in nitrogen which pollutes ground and surface water like livestock waste), essential to the health of the soil meaning that many species depend on kangaroos.
6. Unlike livestock kangaroos do not produce greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide), drink massive quantities of water, cause soil erosion, loss of soil nutrients and soil ecosystems leading to deserts. Nor do they destroy wildlife like the livestock industry does by shooting, deforestation and habitat destruction. If they were allowed to co-exist with livestock they could undo the extreme imbalance caused by cattle. Government statistics show that kangaroos only exert 1-8% of grazing pressure on land.
Therefore, the more kangaroos, the better for the land.
Kangaroo Extinction Around the Corner?
It's time we had a real government environment department that did proper studies on how to protect our native species from extinction. Australia has the highest rate of wildlife extinctions in the world because our government is in collusion with the Kangaroo Industry, which it subsidises. If it had any economic sense it would be supporting nature-based eco tourism worth $85 billion to Australia (compared to a measly $250 million to the kangaroo industry). A kangaroo is worth more alive than dead.
Take a look at how kangaroo populations have crashed since 2001 on
You can see that half of them have gone in less than 10 years. Shouldn't we be taking the precautionary approach, considering the drought and other factors? What would Australia be without any kangaroos? We would have to take the kangaroo off our national emblem, off Qantas jets, we would have to rename rugby teams and every business that uses kangaroo on their logo would have to remove it so as not to have the constant reminder of how we have FAILED to protect these magnificent animals.
It's time the ACT government was challenged on their view that kangaroos overgraze (their own literature shows that kangaroos only have 1-8% grazing pressure compared to sheep and cows - http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/publications/drs/indicator/162/index.html )
Another report from CSIRO shows that kangaroos do not threaten sheep: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR9740027.htm
I can't help but wonder if in a few short years governments, due to their chronic short-sightedness and predictable mismanagement, will be pleading for endangered kangaroo species whom it helped drive to the state of quasi extinction just as with the Grassland Earless Dragon.
Not only for tourism but consider some of the new information coming out about biodiversity.
It's time people woke up to the horrific way we are trashing our wildlife in particular our national icon. These are sentient beings with feelings we are talking about, not pests to be dispensed with because they are 'in our way'.
Who is the Real Pest?
Kangaroos have been living harmoniously with their environment without driving a single species extinct for at least 16 million years and they are perfectly suited to their natural habitat. Government's speculation that kangaroos are driving other species extinct is a projection on man's part. Only man is causing the 6th Mass Extinction of all species on the planet and that is a scientific fact. Man's insistence on destructive European farming techniques has caused a large part of the problem in addition to urban spread putting too much pressure on native species by destroying and polluting their habitat.
The result of all these cumulative government 'culls' (in addition to the illegal killing, farmers quotas, roadkill, loss of habitat, fires, floods, drought) will lead us to ecological impoverishment.
The Role of Farmers
Additionally the intolerance of farmers towards kangaroos who put pressure on politicians to kill kangaroos needs to change. We need to adopt a mentality of 'live and let live'.
Personally I would like to see the livestock industry fold. There are many other reasons for this besides the threat to any fauna that is not a cow, sheep or cattle dog. The livestock industry causes deforestation (a major influence in causing the drought) and biodiversity loss from loss of habitat for wildlife. It also causes pollution of groundwater and surface water and pollution to the air through methane and nitrous oxide. Then there is soil erosion and loss of soil ecosystems from the hoofed feet and the fact that cows and sheep pull up grass by the roots. Finally the incredible amount of water needed dwarfs all other industries combined. Clearly the only diet for a sustainable future is a plant-based diet. That would take up less land than livestock require and with kangaroo-proof fencing there would be nothing for farmers to complain about. It would be a win-win situation for wildlife and farmers.
Kangaroos are not overpopulated. Sheep are overpopulated (there are 5 times more sheep than kangaroos) and the human race is definitely overpopulated (at 7 billion). Kangaroos were here first remember and should have the simple right to live in peace.
Once again, humans are the main culprit of endangered species and it is wrong to blame another species that has always lived in harmony with the land.
* An ecological depression is where a species critical mass is reduced to where the species can no longer survive due to factors such as a compromised gene pool and disease.
Many thanks to Y.IZITSO for her brilliant cartoons.
"If we're lucky, it will be many decades before we know whether these judgments are well based," Dr Henry said of commercial kangaroo harvest quotas in December... If they are, this will turn out to be the first instance in human history of the sustainable plunder of a natural resource."
Dr Henry is at odds with prominent ecologists, as well as the economist Ross Garnaut. Professor Garnaut's 2008 climate-change review made the case for an increased diet of roo displacing cattle and sheep consumption. The Garnaut report cited a study by George Wilson and Melanie Edwards that predicted a 3 per cent drop in greenhouse emissions if roo numbers rose from 25 million to 175 million, pushing cattle and sheep of rangelands, and displacing some red meat consumption. Critics on the Henry side question the numbers, unconvinced kangaroo meat could ever replace red meat consumption in Australia to any significant degree.
"A lot of the environmental movement supports eating kangaroos, because people think it is green," said Daniel Ramp, a biologist at the University of NSW helping set up a think tank on the roo industry with the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney.
"But we need to follow that argument through and ask how many sheep or cattle we could displace with meat from a kangaroo."
On Dr Ramp's figures, if every Australian were to start eating roo regularly, its population would need to swell from about 25 million well into the hundreds of millions and possibly billions.
Industry estimates put the average amount of meat derived from a single roo at 12 kilograms. If a 12-kilogram meat yield provides 48 people with one 250 gram meal, 24 million roos would be needed for everyone in Australia to have one meal a week.
But quotas prevent the industry harvesting more than 15 per cent of the roo population a year, making a population above 160 million necessary. Providing fillets would require many more roos, while maintaining the existing amount of meat that is used for pet-food could push the required population into the billions.
"Imagine if we had 175 million kangaroos running about?" said Dr Ramp. "The environmental degradation would potentially be large and it would not be safe to drive on rural roads for the sheer number of kangaroos.''
Traditional Chinese Medicine should be banned in Australia. It relies on animal cruelty worse than animal experimentation. The importation of TCM animal products should also be banned from Australia since it is illegal trade in wildlife. This would send a clear message that
practices involving animal cruelty and wildlife trade are not tolerated in Australia.
It is anathema to Australian moral values. The morality test is that if it is immoral to do it to humans, then it is equally immoral to do it on all sentient beings ('sentience' is the ability to feel or perceive).
The following incident recently reported from China is a case in point.
Rescuers feel the bile rising as they bandage mutilated bears'
- by John Garnaut, Herald Correspondent, 24-APR-2010. Source
Behind bars... one of the bears found by the Animals Asia Foundation. [Photo: Moon Bear Rescue Animals Asia/ Ali Bullock]
"BEIJING: On Monday Jill Robinson entered the dark and stinking home of Oliver, a brown bear, and his nine brown and Asiatic black bear neighbours. Oliver was a huge specimen with burnt-orange eyes, who was deemed ''unpredictable'' after killing a keeper at a zoo.
The bear turned sideways in his metal cage and showed the perfect indentation of a ''full metal jacket'' around his neck and abdomen, and marks from straps that had held an iron box around his abdomen for 10 years.
The illegal metal jacket had just been taken off by the farmer in Weihai, Shandong province, and flung into a corner. And the iron box contained a dirty, pus-infused latex catheter which had been wrenched out of Oliver's gall bladder, where it had been siphoning bile.
Bile from bears has been used in Chinese medicine for 3000 years and is valued for fighting fevers and other heat-related ailments. There are now as many as 50 natural and synthetic substitutes but farmed bear bile is still valuable.
Animal welfare awareness is rising in China but so are the financial incentives to trade in exotic animal products. In the 1980s the government legalised bear bile farming in an attempt to stop poaching. That has had mixed success - the wild population has shrunk to an estimated 15,000-25,000 Asian black bears - and it has created new animal welfare problems.
The Animals Asia Foundation, which Ms Robinson founded a decade ago, has rescued 276 bile bears and sent them to a refuge in Chengdu, Sichuan. The 10 bears rescued on Monday mean that Shandong is now one of the 19 Chinese provinces that are bear farm-free, with 12 provinces to go.
''Awareness of animal welfare has really improved, especially in the past two, three years,'' said Toby Zhang, who works with the foundation. ''In Chengdu the drug shops have agreed not to sell bear bile. They even allowed us to burn it on the streets - and people all stopped and praised us.''
Chinese environment and animal welfare groups are active throughout the country. There is also a traditional emphasis on ''living in harmony with nature'' that survives among Chinese of Han and other ethnicities.
Oliver and his nine neighbours arrived safely yesterday in Chengdu after a 2400-kilometre trip. But Oliver was clearly suffering after the catheter had been ripped out. Wire was protruding from a stinking abdominal hole and his teeth were infected after being crudely cut back to the gum.
From a traffic jam in Shanxi province they called the local police and hospital - and decided to operate right there.
''The police cars arrived with sirens wailing, helping us out of the traffic jam and into the hospital … ,'' Ms Robinson said. ''The doctors were waiting at the entrance with the oxygen cylinder - along with half of the hospital staff and a growing number of onlookers from the street.''
Members of the travelling team performed the emergency procedure to remove Oliver's gall bladder. Inside the gall bladder they found a metal disc that had been used to keep the catheter inside, which had been causing much of his discomfort.
The rescue and road odyssey was sponsored by a Melbourne philanthropist, Sharon Pearson.
''I've just spent the week crying,'' she said. ''I could cry right now. It's barely a drop in the bucket when you think there are still 10,000 bears in those cages while I'm sleeping comfortably in my bed.''
These backward Chinese also kill endangered tigers to use their penis to address impotence.
Traditional Chinese Medicine relies on killing endangered seahorses
More than 20 million seahorses are caught from the wild each year to supply the Traditional Chinese Medicine market to supposedly 'tonify the kidneys and fortify the Yang and for impotence, urinary incontinence, wheezing and old age debilitation. It enlivens the blood, aiding circulation: used for bleeding and pain from congealed blood and swelling due to sores and boils.'
Traditional Chinese Medicine relies on killing endangered rhinoceros for their horns
All five of the world’s diverse species of rhinoceros have been brought to the edge of extinction because of human appetite for their distinctive horns to supposedly treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders.
According to the 16th century Chinese pharmacist Li Shi Chen, the horn could also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.”
Traditional Chinese Medicine relies on killing endangered turtles for their plastron (shell)
Sold under the Chinese names 'guiban' and 'biejia', the plastron (shell) of the Reeves' turtle, a terrapin, as well as that of endangered sea turtles freshwater turtles and tortoises perpetuates an illegal trade to supply Traditional Chinese medicine. the plastron is supposedly used to for 'liver and kidney meridians and to nourish yin and subdue yang, and to soften hardness and disperse nodules. Among the conditions turtle shell is used to treat are febrile diseases, deficient yin with fever, night sweats, and amenorrhea.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, It is wicked and backward.
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain...
A group of forest-warriors in East Gippsland
There is an interesting new you-tube film just published about the people who fight to protect our forests from VicForests, the Government loggers for woodchips. A group of them are located at Goongerah. The film is called "AVATAR at Errinundra Plateau Brown Mountain, East Gippsland.m4v."
Giselle Wilkinson ("Gisellebluepearl") made the film to reach a few more people and help catalyse a bit of extra support for the ongoing battles and particularly for the current legal battle, for which we still don't have the result yet.
"Gisellebluepearl — March 22, 2010 — Come to the Errinundra Plateau, East Gippsland. Visit the home of the forest defenders and the ancient old growth forest they're protecting. The old growth forests of Victoria have been logged for wood chip for years - over 90% is gone forever. Some trees are over 10 metres in girth and a tree stump left behind after loggers was carbon dated to be over 600 years old. The little that's left needs our urgent protection. Brown Mountain is earmarked for logging this year again. For more info go to: www.eastgippsland.net.au; www.goongerah.org.au; www.geco.org.au
GECO is an independent grassroots environment organisation based in East Gippsland. It is dedicated to protecting the remaining old growth forests of the region. There are updates of film-documented recent forest loggings and protests.
The Angel on the tripod
At the end of the film we see the picture above which looks like a Victory Angel protecting and personifying the forest, high in the canopy, appearing larger than human.
I had to make inquiries to find out who it was and what it was all about. The woman with the wings was Allana Beltran, who is a visual artist and the forest is in the lower Weld Valley in Southern Tasmanian forest. Here she met Ben Morrow, a tree sitter who was to become her partner. The photo is probably by photographer Matthew Newton, but I had to look far and wide on the web, where there are many copies, for any reference to the photographer, which I found here: http://slingshot.tao.ca/displaybi.php?0096003">Lilia Letch, "Resistance everywhere - eco-defense in Tasmania," in Slingshot.
In November 2006 the forest camp where Morrow and Beltran were living in was raided by police ahead of a logging company's arrival. In March, only three protesters remained, according to the Tasmania Times:
'One man was locked onto the gate at one of the entrances to the forest. Another man, Ben Morrow, was hanging in a sling off the bridge over the Weld River. Seven kilometres from him, Alanna Beltran was attached to a giant tripod at a second entrance to the forest. She had a long white curtain wrapped around her waist, white body paint on her face and was wearing wings of white cockatoo feathers that she’d scavanged from the shorelines and forest floor. She’d become the “Weld Angel,” the “Angel of the Forest,” and her haunting image was about to enter Tasmanian folklore.
"Allana Beltran and two years ago she walked into the lower Weld Valley in Tasmania’s southern forests and experienced what can only be described as a life-changing epiphany. In front of her was a wilderness of ancient, towering trees, deep gorges and waterfalls, and a wild river flowing through it. On an adjacent ridge there was a different scene. It was the blackened ruins of a recently clearfelled tract of native forest.
“It was the most horrific devastation of land I had ever seen in my life,” the visual artist from Sydney told Vanity Fair recently. “And from that moment on my heart was with the people who were standing up for places like this.”
Allana Beltran decided to stay in these forests and join the group of protesters trying to save it from further logging. That’s when she met Ben Morrow, the man who would soon become her partner. He’d been in the valley for six months, much of it spent 50 to 60 metres up in a grey-trunked eucalypt, in what’s called a `tree-sit,’ on the lookout for loggers.
“Our camp was in the middle of the road that changed from clearfell to wilderness,” Beltran says now from her home in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. “There was 100 ha of clearfelling and they wanted to bulldoze a road another two and a half kilometres in so they could access 2000 ha. This was all old growth forest surrounded by World Heritage Area.”
In November 2006 the camp was raided by police as the logging company moved into build the new stretch of road. Twenty-five protesters were arrested. By March, the beginning of the Australian autumn, the blockade had virtually collapsed with only three protesters left standing between the chainsaws and the forests.
Although not exactly standing. One man was locked onto the gate at one of the entrances to the forest. Another man, Ben Morrow, was hanging in a sling off the bridge over the Weld River. Seven kilometres from him, Alanna Beltran was attached to a giant tripod at a second entrance to the forest. She had a long white curtain wrapped around her waist, white body paint on her face and was wearing wings of white cockatoo feathers that she’d scavanged from the shorelines and forest floor. She’d become the “Weld Angel,” the “Angel of the Forest,” and her haunting image was about to enter Tasmanian folklore.
“I did it because I thought it would look beautiful,” she says now matter-of-factly, “and if I was going to be arrested as a visual artist, I wanted to make a visual statement.”
Beltran sat in her forest aerie for nine and a half hours listening through headphones to Tibetan monk music, as the police ordered her down through megaphones. “I was praying for the forests and for people to realise what they are doing. I was ready to sacrifice myself to this cause. I was ready to stand up for these ancient forests.”"
Why is it that bushfires, regeneration burns, ecological burns, asset protection burns etc., are not considered fuel-reducing?
Why is Victoria logging in water supply catchments when we are short of water - especially after they have burned?
Why has not the impact of continually losing hollow trees as a result of increased deliberately lit fires and logging and the threat of extinction this poses to possums, parrots and other species being referred for consideration under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act?
What are the projected carbon emissions from all deliberately lit fires such as fuel reduction burns, asset protection burns, regeneration burns, etc.?
Why aren't the fuel loads before and after these deliberately lit fires and bushfires measured? If you believe they are, where and when?
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain. The long trial for the wildife on Brown Mountain has come to an end - all except the final decision by Justice Osborn, which all await with baited breath. This is a land-mark trial where real-life avatars have come out and opposed the 160 year old treatment of Victoria's forests and animals as colonial spoils for the taking and Victorians as mere servants to the State.
Read inside a fascinating summary of the arguments and evidence from either side: Vic Forests (for logging) and Environment East Gippsland Inc. (for nature). Revelatory of Department of Environment and Sustainability.
Court case finishes – summary of the final 3 days.
The final days of summing up both VicForests’ and Environment East Gippsland’s arguments were heard in the Melb Supreme Court on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (23rd-25th March). These were the last submissions presented to Justice Osborn who heard the 17 day trial that started on the 1st March.
Both sides presented their condensed arguments from the past 3 weeks. Early in the case, the economic claims were not allowed as VicForests (VF) had not made any allegations in its defence about economic impact, and there was only summary evidence supplied by VF, without details. The arguments focused on the laws covering protection of threatened species and how VF did or didn’t abide by them. Justice Osborn has reserved his decision . Our legal team have said he could hand this down in a month or two or three ...
Despite some fairly revealing and insightful evidence being given and some quite startling information to come out of cross examination of witnesses, the decision will be looking at the complexities of the laws governing forests and wildlife management.
A new you-tube film about the forest protectors' camp and community at Goongerah, South East Gippsland, near Brown Mountain.../files/Brown-Mt-Supporters-in-Melb-for-trial-.jpg" vspace="13" hspace="13" align="left">
A support team of about 45 people attended the Melbourne start of the case to show that there was widespread interest in Brown Mountain. Thanks everyone who came along and who sat through the proceedings.
1st Day (Tues) – the defence (VicForests) lawyers had the stage on day 1 and delivered their case.
To those who hadn’t heard the facts, arguments and cross examinations of the previous 3 weeks, it could have sounded fairly reasonable and even worrying. Read our responses to their arguments below. VF lawyers’ arguments consisted of the following:
* EEG didn’t have standing to take the case to court as we are too small a group, don’t have a special interest in Brown Mountain, only an emotional or intellectual interest. The fact that we didn’t apply to be on the local Shire environment committee, and the claim that we didn’t take part in the Nat Estate study on 1990 – (but we actually did) and various other arguments were used to attempt to argue we shouldn’t be able to sue VicForests.
* It was DSE that should have looked out for threatened species, not VicForests. VF can’t change zonings.
* The Potoroo wasn’t ‘detected’ within the meaning of the action statement (FFG Act) - although the animals and the sites were confirmed, the full two weeks of footage was withheld by EEG (under instruction from our lawyers) until late 2009 – making the authorities suspicious of possible tampering and was the reason given by VF for not protecting the area.
* Language in the FFG Act and Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act, is not enforceable.
* VF noted that the Forest Management Plan was out of date (ended in 2006), which generated much discussion. Justice Osborn pointed out that if it was no longer applicable, then all logging in EG was illegal as the FM Plan is needed before forest can be logged. That point was then quickly resolved.
* The Precautionary Principle, which was a major argument in the whole case. It was first claimed by VF not to give rise to any legally enforceable obligation against it, and even if it did, VF claimed it had observed the PP even if it wasn’t thought to be regarded as enough precaution.
* VF claim Potoroo wasn’t ‘detected’ to their or DSE’s satisfaction,
* On Quolls - there are 75 already protected in EG and that was enough,
* For the new species of crayfish – it’s still being named and so doesn’t have a prescription for protection and the 100 metre buffer around the creek will protect it
* Sooty and Powerful Owls – only dusk calls detected but no confirmed nesting or roosting sites so no need to protect. Plus there are enough Sooty Owls Management Areas and Powerful Owl Management Areas, despite some evidence from DSE suggesting the protection zone targets had not been reached.
* Giant Burrowing Frogs – even if it is high quality and likely habitat, none have yet been detected.
* Hollow Bearing Trees – logging prescriptions are claimed to look after them.
* Gliders are there in high numbers, yes - but it’s not for VF to protect them and 100 mts along creek should do anyway.
* The Precautionary Principle requires caution, but not total infallibility. Actions to express adherence to the PP can be many. VF argued that a 100 metre buffer along the creek was caution enough for all the species.
2nd day of summing up (Wed) –EEG, the plaintiff’s case was presented.
Debbie Mortimer SC argued that:
* The standards and conditions in the FFG Act Action Statements, Forest Management Plan and the Code of Forest Practices hasn’t been and can’t be complied with by VicForests.
* VicForests was the “agent of harm” about to begin clearfelling when we applied for the first injunction, and VF was as obliged to adhere to the law for threatened wildlife as was DSE.
* VF don’t need to have DSE declare a conservation zone for VF to adhere to the law or decide not to log.
* The Allocation Order (giving forests to VicForests from DSE), Timber Release Plan and the Code (for logging) all mention adhering to the Forest Management Plan.
* The issue of whether EEG has legal standing to bring the case to court was argued well for showing we did have standing. It had not been objected to by VF strongly before we embarked on the 17 day trial.
* If various surveys had not have been carried out (owls, Gliders, Crayfish and Potoroos), the court case would not have commenced. Surveys show a genuine interest.
* Obligation on VF are mandatory – they don’t allow them to ‘duck and weave’ around these obligations.
* The main law is the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act – it deals directly with Threatened Species, and binds the state/crown to protect endangered wildlife. The FM Plan and the Code both refer to it.
* Forests are a community property. Managed for common good into future. DSE’s position in the evidence given by Lee Meizis was that the Timber Release Plan gave ownership of forests to VF to exploit, but with the right to exploit comes responsibilities for conservation.
* FFG Act has strong ‘must do’ language and is imposed on government authorities. Important objectives of FFGA disregarded by VF. Action Statements within the FFGA are enforceable.
* Debbie Mortimer said “In every way, VicForests pushed away from its conservation duties” to benefit its access to forests for logging.
* VF is not abiding by the law by merely reading the Action Statements.
* Logging high quality Quoll habitat is endangering the animal’s survival. At odds with the Precautionary Principle because this species is only found at a functional level in East Gippsland now.
* Sustainable Forests (Timber) Act directly forced VF to adhere to the Code. Allocation Order also states VF MUST comply with CFP, PP, AS and FMP.
* Not complying with the Code was a breach. Acts refer to the Code being adhered to.
* VF must consider advice from relevant experts in Flora and Fauna. The advice of these internal DSE experts were ‘completely sidelined’ during the process that lead to the decision to clearfell Brown Mountain. It was also claimed that the Minister was not given important information on these species.
* The 100 mt buffer offered by VF would not protect the Gliders, Quoll, owls, Potoroo and Large Brown Tree Frog and was unknown if it would adequately protect the Giant Burrowing Frog, Brown Mt Crayfish and Square-tailed Kite. Leaving additional large trees while logging and burning the remainder would be unlikely to protect the habitat values of hollow bearing trees (85 out of 207 was all that survived the logged and burnt coupe across the creek in April 2009).
* The guideline to protect 100 ha for rich populations of gliders is self-regulating and doesn’t need major fuss – just needs to be mapped and complied with.
* Justice Osborn discussed decent reserve designs and ‘whacking in’ some reserve along the creek.
* The oft-cited ‘risk-weighted consequences’ of the precautionary principle the VF lawyers used daily, does not mention social or economic ‘balance’ and in context is only about conservation risks and consequences.
* We are dealing with some species in a demonstrable state of decline. Failure to halt damage is serious. There is lack of scientific certainty as there is no research or info on impact of logging.
* New reserves mean nothing unless we assess the quality and type of the habitat, logging history etc.
* BHP was used as an example of a company which must employ specialist ecologists/biologists if it plans to carry out potentially damaging work. VF either needs to employ biodiversity staff, or get in consultants to survey and advise forest planning.
* Potoroo detections 100% authentic – no questioning by VF of witnesses – fully accepted, yet despite 3 verified detections, VF made no attempt to consult with DSE biologists or protect 50 ha for each as stated in the FFGA.
* DSE set up its own ‘rules’ outside of existing legislation.
* DM asked for full injunction to logging.
Day 3 – Thursday – response from Defendant (VF)
* Having to abide by the SFT Act could mean that every logger, truckie, contractor, roading operator must comply with these laws as well. Does that mean every worker has to set up a biodiversity unit and consult biologists?
* Argues again, it’s all DSE’s responsibility.
* Argues that the words for Greater Glider protection in the FMP says “approximately 100 ha” is unenforceable – how much is ‘approximately’?
* VicForests Lawyers couldn’t find any expert biologists to speak for them. They tried.
* Not being given the entire potoroo footage was the whole problem.
* The 400 ha reserve to the (drier, steeper) west is a benefit for all the species.
* Crays were found in the creek next to a previously logged forest so therefore they can survive OK.
* Potoroo no 2 (on camera) wasn’t used in original evidence (it was actually discovered after writ was served but this was overlooked by VF lawyers).
* The hair tube evidence of the Potoroo near proposed coupe 19 didn’t come with a copy of the note when it was sent off for analysis – so how do we know where it really was?
Final Judgement awaits
This ended the long trial for the wildlife of Brown Mountain. We await Justice Osborn’s final decision ...
Our supporters have been showing astonishing determination to have our forests and wildlife protected! We’ve hit our first minimum target which is really something for a small enviro group. But due to the case having gone for 16-17 days when it was only down for a 10 day hearing, we are still needing some help to cover the extra costs for this time in court with our team, a couple of extra witnesses and various associated costs.
Source of this article was "[EnvEastGipp] Brown Mt Detailed Update, 29 March 2010" , almost verbatim, but without all the photos. The website for Environment East Gippsland is here.
With northern bluefin populations falling dramatically, a proposal by Monaco to prohibit sale under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has won US support, but not Australia's.
The Atlantic, or northern bluefin tuna has lost 72 per cent to 82 per cent of its original stock is under pressure also from illegal or unregulated fishing for the sashimi trade.
(Photo: Northern Bluefin or Thunnus thynnus)
Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Taiwanese Bluefin tuna fleets use long line fishing which results in the incidental deaths of thousands of seabirds, particularly petrels and albatross.
However, the Australian Government has decided not to support a global ban on the trade of the northern variety of the bluefin tuna. Instead, the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has decided to support stronger trade control measures and fisheries management.
Japan, the biggest consumer of the fish, has indicated it may not honour the ban on northern blue fin tuna. Japan says that bluefin is not facing extinction, but acknowledges that recent rates of exploitation are probably not sustainable. Sushi is a popular dish in Japan, where fatty bluefin – called o-toro – sells for as much as 2,000 yen (£13) apiece in high-end Tokyo restaurants. The solution, they insist, is stricter management of fisheries, which have consistently exceeded their own quotas. They feel their "culture is under threat" - a culture of poaching, bullying and powerful lobbying!
The trade ban would allow individual countries to continue to catch atlantic bluefin tuna for domestic consumption. Imports from the East Atlantic and Mediterranean, which could be completely shut down by the threatened ban, would reduce Japan's sources of bluefin tuna by about 20 per cent.
(photo: Northern Bluefin)
The northern bluefin fishery has a poor record of compliance with control measures, and Japan consumes up to 80% of the world's tuna. Japan holds the line on whaling and they are also sending a signal that limits on bluefin tuna aren't up for debate either.
Southern bluefin tuna stocks have also been fished to even more dangerously low levels. Southern bluefin tuna has long been considered endangered and overfished, yet the Australian Government had not reduced the quota given to the Australian southern bluefin tuna industry since 1989.
The Southern Bluefin Tuna is one of the sea's most impressive creatures. A beautiful and powerful fish, it is well suited to a long life endlessly swimming the open seas. An adult Bluefin grows to around 200 kg and over 200 cm long. Its close relative, the Northern Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, can grow to a massive 700 kg.
Glenn Slant, global marine program leader for TRAFFIC, a program of WWF, put the situation more bluntly last year: The southern bluefin tuna is at an all-time low, below 10 per cent of its original population size, and what that means is at any time it could collapse.
Our Government supports Japan's illegal whaling through non-action, and now they will be supporting their on-going cultural pursuit of tuna-based sushi eating through non-action and compliance.
The Australian Government continues to sanction fishing of southern bluefin tuna and perhaps is making this decision to block the protection of northern bluefin because it fears embarrassment that we continue to allow fishing of a critically endangered species in our own neighbouring waters.
Every indication is that the Bluefin Tuna population is crashing toward extinction, said Felicity Wade from The Wilderness Society last October. While it is heartening to see governments finally acting on its plight, the 20% international cut is inadequate for the crisis the blue fin tuna is facing. Australia had the largest quota reduction .
If we were serious about bringing this fish back from the brink, concluded Ms Wade, the fishery would be completely closed while populations recovered.
Sea Shepherd plans to oppose illegal bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean region and will employ the same hard-line tactics it uses against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic waters, Paul Watson said.
The decision by Peter Garrett, and Japan, makes mockery of "fisheries management" and principles of "sustainability".
The monthly council meeting in February 2010 was one of the worst bullying sessions of our only Green councillor, Cr Milne I have so far witnessed. Cr Holdom moved that a limit of 5 questions, 3 minutes each for councillors. This motion arose due to the extreme meticulousness of Cr Milne in researching issues pertaining to environmental protection that some other 'green platform' councillors don't appear to take so seriously, making meetings longer than they wish.
Why the kowtowing to developers? Cr van Lieshout said in a meeting some months ago “We must remember that the developers are our clients.” Cr Milne's relentless pursuit of sustainability in development would impose a financial burden on developers - so said Cr Skinner who pointed out this might aggravate developers.
How quickly the council forgets Cr Milne got the most votes in the history of Tweed elections. Cr Longland would not have even gotten in if not for her preferencial votes. Council should be following her lead, not be treating her in a patronising and disrespectful way. She is the one who is doing the wishes of the majority of Tweed residents.
I thought that one councillor was especially rude to Cr Milne and I could not help thinking of how low that councillor's vote had been in comparison to hers and wondered if he was a tad jealous.
Cr Milne's motion some months ago to request the State government to reclaim Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes as a nature reserve instead of allowing them to be developed into mini cities would have been the best move for the 450 species there, over 30 of which are endangered. Yet not a single councillor seconded it. As a result our population is set to double with 80,000 more people in the near future. There is barely enough infrastructure (water, hospitals, schools, police, roads, nursing homes etc) to cope with the number of people here now let alone twice as many and with state coffers empty what chance in the forseeable future of such needs being met?
So now Tweed Shire Council has Byrrill Creek Dam as one of four water management options to service the people living at these new developments. This area has the most riparian conservation status, more platypus and is the most pristine creek in the Tweed with koala colonies, 15 endangered species, wildlife corridors and backs onto World Heritage national parks. A dam would destroy this area forever and for what? The average lifespan of a dam is only 50 years and the cost to taxpayers around $58 million.
Why not follow the lead of Singapore (and other countries), one of the most densely populated cities in Asia, who went from buying almost all of their water from Malaysia back in the '70s and in the last 9 years have been using a combination of recycled, storm/rainwater (pumped into reservoirs) and desalinated water. As a result they now produce 60% of their own water and only import 40% of their water and in a year or two will be totally self-sufficient. Wouldn't Tweed council be wiser to consider these options? (See http://www.abc.net.au/rn/rearvision/stories/2010/2813056.htm#t ).
The U.N. declared 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity as species loss every day is between 100-1000 times faster than before. The number one cause of species extinction is habitat loss, especially freshwater ecosystems. There is no requirement on dam owners to account for species at risk after the dam is built. Tragically, many world governments are planning big, destructive dams in biodiversity hotspots.
What kind of future is this for our kids? Clearly Tweed Councillors are not thinking of a sustainable future, just endless growth. That's what happens when you serve developers and not the people.
More examples of the 'Good Old Boy Network' in action:-
SUMMARY OF FEBRUARY 2010 COUNCIL MEETING
(By Cr Katie Milne)
* Councillors voted to restrict debate to three minutes and the number of questions to five.
* They refused to include in the general manager's submission to the rally review any issues on environment, social, indigenous or economic matters.
* They cancelled the workshop for 'Positive Development' which is the latest theory in sustainable urban design (Ed:even though Cr Milne offered to pay the $1,000 fee herself)
* They refused to allow questions about infrastructure costs and traffic issues around Cobaki Lakes and Kings Forest mini cities.
* They did request a review of sustainability and other factors on the above two proposed estates from the state government but this only lasted till the dinner break when a recission motion was lodged.
* This recision motion also prevented the 35 page council report being submitted.
* Mayor Polglase did not declare any conflict of interest in these developments even though the developer of these sites had donated $80,000 to fund the Balance Team Campaign of which he was a part (Ed:during the last sacked council reign).
* Councillors refused to request the council-funded Economic Development Corporation to provide a greater focus on sustainability.
* Councillors refused to fine the developer of Banora Point Caravan Park for numerous works carried out that needed retrospective approvals.
* They also refused to order the developer of Lot 156, Hastings Point to remove fencing that had been reported by residents as a public safety and flood hazard.
* Lastly, they refused to allow questions on the concreting of the natural waterway at Ozone Street, Chinderah.
Logging is set to start within weeks in a forest that supports the last known koala colony on the NSW far south coast. There has been a fractious debate between staff from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, which managed the koala research effort, and Forests NSW, the government agency that will manage the logging operation.
The marsupials are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW, but there is controversy over how many are still alive in the wild.
Early results showed evidence of koalas at about 50 sites in forest between Gulaga and the Mumbulla mountains.
Based on these findings, the NSW Environment Department issued a statement which described Mumbulla as ''a stronghold of the species'' on the far South Coast.
Timber harvesting in Yabbra Forest near Casino late last year damaged areas used by the highly endangered black-striped wallaby, koalas and yellow-bellied gliders, among several other protected native species, according to an independent report. A high proportion of trees used by koalas and gliders had been felled and some buffer zones around waterways had been ignored.
Greens MP and south east NSW spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on Premier Kristina Kenneally to step in to save a koala population under threat from logging in the Mumbulla State Forest. The NSW Premier should hang her head in shame if she allows the last known koala habitat on the far south coast to be destroyed on her watch, Ms Rhiannon said.
Forests NSW has indicated that logging in Mumbulla State Forest will start early in March 2010.
According to the Australian Koala Foundation, koalas are in serious decline suffering from the effects of habitat destruction, domestic dog attacks, bushfires and road accidents. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.
There are four states where koalas occur in the wild - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia - and each state has its own legislation.
The Federal Government passes responsibility for protection of koala habitat to the states.
This is the first state-wide species-specific planning policy introduced by any government in Australia. This Policy aims to encourage the proper conservation and management of areas of natural vegetation that provide habitat for koalas to ensure a permanent free-living population over their present range and reverse the current trend of koala population decline:
(a) by requiring the preparation of plans of management before development consent can be granted
in relation to areas of core koala habitat, and
(b) by encouraging the identification of areas of core koala habitat, and
(c) by encouraging the inclusion of areas of core koala habitat in environment protection zones.
Reported: Two other scat sites were located in Murrah SF that team participants concluded were likely to be koala scat but further analyses were unable to provide definite confirmation of this (B. Triggs pers. comm.). One of these scats, collected at 766574/5955437 could only have been from very young animal if it was from a koala .
Even one koala means that it is koala habitat. Destroying potential habitat is adding to the threat!
Our relationship with non-human species is ambivalent and there are some species that serve our interests, for resources or companionship, and others that are treated as novelties and thus seemingly without any real purpose. There is so much indifference to Australia's original native inhabitants, and our environment, and our extinction record is the worst in the world. In the last 200 years nearly 40% of mammal species that have disappeared are from Australia (WWF figures).
With increased urban living, population growth and cultural diversity, we as a society are becoming divorced from Nature and our unique land. As an aggressive, and arrogance self-centred species, we humans could easily eradicate our native animals, even flagship ones like kangaroos and koalas. They are all on the extinction trail, and all vulnerable to attacks by humans who see them as no more than vermin or rodents - optional features without any real value that can even be killed for sadistic entertainment or steal their homes for selfish interests.
We as a society embrace the suffering baby koala hit a close range, but ignore the on-going savagery of land-clearing and urban sprawl. Losing trees makes koalas vulnerable to sadistic humans, stress, starvation and roving dogs.
Koalas should be declared Endangered now, before it is too late to save these world-famous flagship and much-loved animals.
Our governments have hijacked long-term interests in Australia's biodiversity for the short-term benefits of jobs, population growth and profits.
Please contact those below to send your objections:
Department of Climate Change, Water, NSW [email protected]
59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney
PO Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232
Phone: +61 2 9995 5000
Mr Frank Sartor, MP
Minister for Climate Change and the Environment
Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer)
telephone: (02) 9597 1414
fax: (02) 9567 0508
email: [email protected]
Address: Shop 3A, 452 Princes Highway, ROCKDALE NSW 2216
The Hon. Ian Macdonald, BA(Hons) MLC
Minister for State and Regional Development
Minister for Mineral and Forest Resources
Minister for the Central Coast
Telephone: (02) 9228 3344
Fax: (02) 9228 3452
Email: [email protected]
Address: Governor Macquarie Tower
Level 36, 1 Farrer Place, SYDNEY NSW 2000
The Hon. Tony Kelly, ALGA MLC
Minister for Planning
Minister for Infrastructure
Minister for Lands
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council
Leader of the House in the Legislative Council
(02) 9228 3999
(02) 9228 3988
Email: [email protected]
Governor Macquarie Tower
Level 34, 1 Farrer Place, SYDNEY NSW 2000
The recent Auditor General's Report on the incompetence of the Victorian Government's wildlife statistics collection and maintenance mean that the Victorian government could not logically have the authority to make decisions about sustainable forestry where local fauna habitat is affected, in the opinion of this candobetter.org writer and environmental sociologist. Because of this, it seems to me that Environment East Gippsland has clearly won its case in advance. It will take years, decades, maybe half a century for the Victorian government to repair its statistical collection. But will the judges be aware of just how bad the government's information is? We have to make sure that they do by making this information so well-known that it cannot be avoided. So please pass the link to the Auditor General's report around.
Brown Mountain Court Case
Environment East Gippsland's (EEG) lawyers are working overtime getting the case and expert witness reports prepared for the court case which starts in just over 4 weeks. It will be at the Sale County Court (Supreme Court does regional hearing). EEG people have been offered some accomodation but could probably use more.
The case could blow out to over the two weeks set aside for it. The forest-related Acts can be complex so loads of paperwork needs to generated. EEG volunteers are still flat chat trying to raise more funds to ensure they can cover the immediate costs. Meanwhile Brown Mountain’s wildlife is getting around the old growth forests in peace. Volunteers are still maintaining spy cameras trying to get more critters on film.
Arrests of Wildlife Warriors
The summer season for protesting by our very own Avatars in old growth logging areas is happening with 5-6 brave and ethical people arrested on summons so far. The forests being targeted have been up in the Bonang River headwaters on the Errinundra Plateau. Currently between 20-30 people at the
camp here in Goongerah. VicForests response is to say protesters have stopped important machinery from being used for fighting fires. This is untrue.
Could I recommend the film Avatar as an example of what our Wildlife and Forest Warriors in Australia are defending and the forces that seek to destroy it? Brown Mountain, as you can see from the photos, has amazing huge trees and is a different and beautiful world. Searching for economic growth through these limpid havens is like searching for Unobtainium. It is a gross act.
Rob Quantok will donate half profits from regional performance to EEG
The very kind and funny actor, Rod Quantock is holding his “Bugger the Polar Bears – this is serious” show at Warrandyte on Sat 20th Feb 7.30. Bless him!
Half the profits he raises will be donated to EEG to help with our costs. Tickets $30. Ph: Ingrid 9870 8378 for details. (will send more details soon).
To help EEG's marketing and fundraising they would love the help of someone who has a good grasp of Photoshop or other image programs – to put a hand and an old growth forest together on their website.
Did we all forget again this year to nominate Jill Redwood and Rod Qantok (along with Julianne Bell, Jill Quirk and Mary Drost) for the Australia Day awards? Try to remember next year. Maybe we should have our own awards.
Photo by Brett Clifton. Subject Pino and Paris on pre-release safari. Sadly Brett's dearly loved kangaroo, Pino, died just recently after a very full young life, due to myopathy and related renal failure subsequent to a fox attack
After publishing articles about reports by auditor generals in Tasmania, Victoria and West Australia, on the state of threatened species protection, I sent emails to the Auditor Generals in the ACT, the NT, NSW and South Australia.
Today I received this email from the Auditor General's office in the ACT. This response tells us that no audit has yet been done in the ACT. To me this is an indicator that the ACT statistics are probably in the same poor order as those in other states. I am grateful to the ACT Auditor General for their prompt response. The ACT State of the Environment Report referred to seemed unhelpful regarding reliability of statistics in the mean time.
It is of particular concern that the ACT is not monitoring its wildlife statistics for reliability, validity and effective coverage of the area regarding the species there because of the recent highly controversial culls of kangaroos in Belconnen and in Majura. I believe that I have personally raised enough questions about those culls here to justify a complete moritorium until such time as the collection of statistics and their interpretation and the theory of population dynamics in wildlife in the ACT is brought up to speed, which should include genetic testing for diversity and origin of populations. It sounds like the entire system needs replacing - and perhaps the people running it.
ACT Auditor General's Response 13/01/2010
Dear Ms Newman
Thank you for your inquiry.
My office has not conducted an audit on threatened species protection in the ACT.
The Office is aware of the work done in other jurisdictions, and considers this is an important issue to examine.
However, the Office will not be able to conduct such an audit in the near future, due to our very limited resources. As you would appreciate, there are a wide range of government activities and services covering law and order, education, health, environment, disability, housing, etc..that need to be audited.
I have fully committed our performance audit resources to a number of audits that will cover the next twelve months or so. Our annual planning for performance audits is subject to the availability of resources and the competing priorities of audit topics, as well as important emerging or unforeseen issues. There are also topics already planned to take place on the 2010-11 program.
The Office has now included the protection of threatened species as a potential audit topic to be considered in our forward planning. The merit and priority of such an audit will need to be considered against other topics. Further information about the Office's performance audit program, including how audit topics are selected is available on our website. http://www.audit.act.gov.au.
You may also be aware that the ACT Commissioner for the Environment also has an independent role in assessing government activities in protecting the environment, and can carry out investigations on these matters. The Commissioner has also produced a report which may cover the environment issues of interest to you. This report can be found at http://www.environmentcommissioner.act.gov.au/soe/2007actreport.
Thank you again for writing to us about this issue. Should you have any further questions, please contact me or Mr. Rod Nicholas on 62070833.
Sent: Thursday, 7 January 2010 1:54 PM
To: ACT Auditor General
Subject: Wildlife protection audits
Has the ACT Auditor General provided a report on threatened species protection in the ACT, or will it be doing so in the near future?
In 2009 the Victorian and the West Australian and Tasmanian Auditor Generals published reports on wildlife protection laws in those states:
Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
Tasmania: SPECIAL REPORT NO. 78
Management of threatened species
West Australia: Rich and Rare: Conservation of Threatened Species, Mr Murphy found that, in many areas, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is not providing effective protection and recovery to WA’s threatened flora and fauna.
"How thick can a political skin get?" writes Victorian wildlife ecologist, Hans Brunner.
Mr. Brumby's minister for the Environment, Gavin Jennings, turns a damning report by the Auditor-General on endangered species into receiving a “pat on the back”.
In a media report he welcomes the Auditor-General’s report and stating, “ The findings are a “pat on the back” as well as a remainder that we must continue working to protect Victoria’s unique plants and animals”, hence, nothing will change.
He has received this report with a poker face grin and treated it like water of a duck.
Here are some of the Auditor-General’s remarks:
• “ At the current rate of progress, with existing resources, it will take a further 22 years for the department to complete action statements for the 653 items currently listed threatened.”
• “ Of those threatened species listed as threatened, less than half had an action statement prepared”.
• “ The gap between listed items and items with action statements continue to widen.”
• “On the advisory list are 2249 species of flora and vertebrate fauna.”
• “ Listing decisions are compromised by a lack of reliable, up to date, scientific data and limited stakeholder participation.”
• “ The Act enables the department secretary to prepare formal plans to guide the management of threatened flora, or potentially threatening processes – NO MANAGEMENT PLAN HAS BEEN PREPARED TO DATE.”
• “ This review concluded that the existing regulatory policy framework for the protection of threatened species is in need for a major overhaul.”
• “ There is no legal power to compel department or other agencies to complete the directions within action statements. Departmental staff who prepare and monitor action statements relay on GOOD WILL of other departmental and agency staff to undertake tasks in the action statements.”
• “ The full range of management processes and consideration and control measures available in the act has NOT BEEN USED.”
• “ The greatest human threat to other species is habitat loss. Accordingly, tools to protect ecologically significant areas of habitat are essential.’
The report also pointed out on numerous occasions on inefficiencies, duplications and limits of resources. What it missed to clearly highlight is that huge amount of time and money is spent on listing endangered species and the production of management plans but no further action is taken or enforced to properly rectify the problems.
A typical example is the under resourced and incompetent handling of the nationally endangered Eastern Barred- and Southern Brown Bandicoot. Further more, habitat loss is still continuing unchecked with no realistic offsets possible.
If this deserves “a pat on the back” for Mr. Brumby, ordinary, daily work would have to make him immortal.
Wildlife Ecologist, Victoria
(shown left pointing out bandicoot activity in the Frankston area, Victoria)