Friday, 13 November 2015


John Edwards' description of the beauties of Fortis Creek National Park featured in an earlier post .  In a subsequent visit, described below, John was horrified at park management.
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Just weeks ago I raved in this column about the marvellous array of rare and threatened flora found in the Fortis Creek National Park, urging readers to take the opportunity to visit national parks to enjoy nature at its very best.

Today, after a return visit to another part of Fortis Creek NP which had been subjected to a prescribed hazard reduction burn, I'm forced to describe the ugly side of the way our national parks are managed.

Aside from the fact that frequent fire is negatively impacting biodiversity, and the question of whether there is a need for frequent hazard reduction in areas which have no nearby urban settlements under threat from fire, what we observed was environmental bastardy at its worst. For kilometres along a service trail, practically every old-growth tree within 40m of the track had been bulldozed, vandalism that would result in prosecution had it occurred on private land.

The loss to native fauna through destroying those hollow-bearing trees is incalculable, and animals occupying those hollows would undoubtedly have been killed or injured.

It is well documented that about half of all threatened fauna in Australia are tree-hollow dependent, and loss of habitat is the primary reason for their decline. What is not so well known is the time frame required for those trees to form hollows, which is literally hundreds of years.

Research undertaken at the Australian National University has determined that: “Large hollows, in Blackbutts (the main species targeted in this instance) with a minimum entrance greater than 10cm, are formed after approximately 240 years”. I observed some hollows greater than 30 cm.

In reality, many of these trees were already mature when Captain Cook sailed by 250 years ago, and survived the timber getter's axe in the 1800s because they were already too old, only to be mindlessly destroyed today.

Tourism is the life blood of the Valley, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, and it's supported by wonderful national parks and world heritage areas, but what tourist wants to see this?

-          John Edwards

This post was initially published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on November 11, 2015.