Sunday, 28 July 2013


In the first half of 2012 the Federal Environment Minister listed koalas in NSW, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as vulnerable under the  Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation  (EPBC) Act 1999.  This followed years of campaigning by people concerned with declining koala numbers.  This decline has been the result of loss of  habitat, urban expansion leading to deaths on roads and from dog attack as well as an increased prevalence of disease.

Despite this  listing koalas are still under considerable threat.  Examples of this were given in two recent  Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition posts illustrating how State Forests has little regard for the well-being of this iconic species -
   On June 14 - Logging in Core Koala Habitat in Northern NSW
   On July 11  - NSW Forestry's Destruction of Koala Habitat

Obviously much more needs to be done to have these vulnerable animals properly protected.  

Koala campaigner Pat Edwards has created an on-line petition through the Avaaz organisation.  It's called SAVE AUSTRALIA'S KOALAS.

Pat points out that campaigns like this start out small but they can grow quickly when concerned people get involved.

In her petition Pat has stated:
Koalas are a billion dollar industry to Australia, yet still rate a poor second to any development or logging activity that destroys their habitat and causes colony collapse. We urgently call on Australian governments at all levels to finally recognise the importance of koalas, not only to Australia but to the global community.


Example of a Koala needing Help

                                                                                   Photo:  Pat Edwards

Young Koala Gumnut, who lived west of Grafton, was orphaned when his mother was killed by a dog. He was called in at 2 a.m., and at around 5 months old weighed just 450g. Right now he's at the Currumbin koala clinic, under  supervision by the Australian Wildlife Hospital, and so far is doing OK.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


What are the problems?

The timber industry believes it has had a big win with the NSW Government proposing to change the Protection of the Environment Operations Regulation, so that “waste from land rehabilitation activities involving the removal of invasive native scrub and logging debris from approved forestry operations on State forest or private land may be burnt to generate electricity”.

Some timber mills have long been using waste material from the milling process, to kiln dry timber and generate electricity. Sugar mills have also operated co-generation plants, burning a mixture of cane trash, mill waste, and noxious trees like Camphor Laurel.

However, building power stations specifically to burn logging residues is fraught with financial danger, because tree crowns and stumps, what most people see as forest waste, cannot be economically field chipped and transported large distances to power stations. Wood-fired power stations cannot compete with coal-fired generators, built adjacent to a mine where coal is fed straight from the pit into the furnaces by conveyor belt.

Environmentalists fear that, in the same way the wood-chip industry gained a foot-hold, claiming it would only use logging waste, biomass proponents will end up burning enormous quantities of logs from native forests when they find that 'waste' simply isn't an option.

Other than the fact that there are no convenient mountains of logging waste available, burning wood, as with coal, emits greenhouse gasses and toxins, with some 90 different compounds released during the burning process. A 2008 Canadian Government report identified 45 that are seriously detrimental to human health, including formaldehyde, hydrogen sulphide, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead arsenate, phosphorus, mercury, hydrochloric and sulphuric acids, and sulphur dioxide.

The crunch is that while it's possible to filter out those compounds, it's prohibitively expensive. Even an adequate filtration system, one that reduces emissions to acceptable levels, costs about the same to run as the generation plant itself. Therefore, in order to make a wood-fired power station economically viable, we need solid logs sourced nearby, and a filtration system that filters out enough of these toxins to comply with whatever some bureaucrat proclaims to be “safe levels”.

- J Edwards

Sunday, 21 July 2013


Incensed by the letter from NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker and Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson about the Government's new plans for using recreational hunters for "pest eradication" in National Parks, a Clarence Valley Resident emailed this response to the ministers.

Note:  The Ministers' letter was the subject of the previous CVCC post  Plans for Hunting in NSW National Parks Changed dated 18 July, 2013. 
 * * * * *

Who do you think you’re kidding?

Allowing red neck shooters into National Parks (which are intended as safe havens for wildlife and for recreation/leisure for humans) is hardly what I’d call “supplementary pest control”.

More to the point would be to have an efficient LHPA [ Livestock Health and Pest Authority] that has sufficient staff to deal with pest species on private properties.  As it stands our local LHPA has 2 rangers to look after the entire Clarence Valley plus Dorrigo.  You must be joking!!

In my area alone (radius of 5 km) in the past 2 years, wild dogs have killed/injured in excess of 50 head of sheep/goats/alpaca; almost 40 head of poultry; killed 2 pet dogs; attacked 5 pet dogs; and threatened 1 person – and that’s just the ones I know of.  And of course, there is no way of calculating the number of wildlife that have been killed.  There are 2 packs of wild dogs operating in my area that I know of.  That’s a lot of wildlife and domestic stock needed to provide them with regular food.

After living on my property for 35 years and walking my dogs through the bush all that time, I now have to pack my 2 German Shepherd Dogs into my car and drive 10 km to walk my dogs safely along a walking track on the edge of town.  Just exactly what do we pay our LHPA rates for?

Get serious.  If all these shooters need somewhere to go to shoot, get them to help farmers, etc eradicate pest species on their properties and leave National Parks for the benefit of wildlife and the public.

Just don’t think I’m going to believe the rubbish about “supplementary pest control” in National Parks.  When you get serious about eradicating pest species, I’ll be interested.

Thursday, 18 July 2013



In May 2012 the NSW Government of Premier Barry O'Farrell announced it would be allowing recreational hunting in 34 of the state's National Parks, 31 Nature Reserves and 14 State Conservation Reserves. (The CVCC's initial comments on the proposal in an earlier post.)

The Premier's backflip from his pre-election promise that his government would not allow recreational hunting in the state's national parks system was part of a deal to get the minority Shooters and Fishers Party members (Robert Brown and Robert Borsak) in the Legislative Council to support further electricity privatisation.  The Government's spin machine claimed this would be a win for the national parks system because it would make much more effective the eradication of pest species such as foxes and pigs in the parks.

Implementation Difficulties

Those who value the state's reserve system were outraged by the sleazy deal and have since campaigned vigorously to have it overturned.  In addition to this opposition the government has been beset by a number of problems in trying to implement their deal.  There have been studies clearly expressing concerns about public safety and the safety of park workers and the NSW Game Council came under investigation for governance issues.

Dunn Report on NSW Game Council

The report on the review of the Game Council ( Dunn Review Report ) was so damning that the NSW Government has declared it will implement the report's key recommendations.  These are:
        Disband the Game Council
        Transfer the regulatory, enforcement, education, policy and licensing functions to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI); and
        Establish an advisory Game Board that will undertake stakeholder engagement and advocacy.
      Furthermore, it has suspended hunting in all 400 State Forests and on Crown Lands pending the transfer of functions to the DPI and the outcome of a risk assessment.

      Just how effective the DPI will be in ensuring that hunting on community land is conducted according to the rules remains to be seen.

      The New Hunting Plan
      In addition to the changes outlined above the Government has recently announced a revised plan for allowing recreational hunters in national parks.  There's a new name for the hunting deal – Supplementary Pest Control.  In a letter sent out to those who have written to or emailed the Government about their concerns,  Environment Minister Robyn Parker and Primary Minister Katrina Hodgkinson have outlined the scheme to have "volunteer" hunters assisting National Parks staff in pest eradication activities in a trial in 12 parks and reserves beginning in October. According to these ministers the new program follows "a rigorous risk assessment process and expert advice" and will give the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) "additional volunteer resources to ensure pest animals are removed from the landscape".

      Details of the plan as described in the Ministers' letter are below.
      The program will operate under the strictest controls in Australia:
      ·         The program will be regulated and managed by NPWS.
      ·         To participate, volunteers will need to have the equivalent skill, experience and accreditation of our professional NPWS staff and contractors.
      ·         All pest control activities will be scheduled and carefully managed by NPWS.
      ·         All pest control activities will be announced in advance. NPWS will provide notification four weeks in advance and final confirmation to park neighbours and the public a minimum of 48 hours ahead of any activities.
      ·         Areas will be closed to visitors on the days of these pest control activities, with appropriate signage and road closures in place.
      ·         No person under 18 will be allowed to participate.
      ·         Bows and black powder muskets will be banned.
      ·         The program will not occur during school holidays.
      ·         The program will not occur in metropolitan parks and wilderness or World Heritage areas.
      Eventually the program may be made available in up to 75 parks and reserves – less than 10 per cent of the total number within NSW. The majority of these parks will be in the State’s west where ground shooting is routinely undertaken for pest control on both public and private property.
      (Extract from form letter from Robyn Parker, MP, Minister for the Environment and Katrina Hodgkinson MP, Minister for Primary Industries, dated 12 July 2013.)

      A Few Comments

      While this is certainly an improvement on the Government's initial "open slather" approach to giving the Shooters and Fishers everything they wanted, there are still serious concerns. 
          How thorough will the accreditation process be?
          Will the NPWS be adequately funded to operate the program without its management impacting on other NPWS activities and responsibilities?
           Which parks/reserves will be involved in the trial?
           How long will the trial run?
           How transparent will the review of the trial be?  It is significant that there is no reference to the program being abandoned and recreational hunters being denied access to the National Parks Estate if the review indicates there are serious problems with the program.