Wednesday, 30 November 2016


A group of Knitting Nannas Against Gas from the Clarence Valley travelled to Chinchilla in the Queensland gasfields for the second annual Knitting Nanna (KNAG) conference which was held from September 26-28. Nannas from NSW and Queensland as well as some from further afield (e.g. Alice Springs) assembled for the conference and the gasfield tour on the last day. Nanna Lynette was deeply affected by the experience of seeing what a gasfield is really like.  Her report of the Nannas’ tour of the Kenya Gasfield (one of a number of gasfields close to Chinchilla) is below.

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Nanna Lynette's Report

I found that although I’d seen many photos and movies of gasfields and had heard people talk about them, nothing prepared me for visiting a gasfield and walking around the infrastructure and hearing the massive amount of noise. The size of the Kenya gasfield and the amount of infrastructure was mind-blowing.  

Gas Well

The gas from the field is piped to the Kenya processing plant and after processing is piped to Gladstone. The processing plant, which covers an area of a couple of acres, consists of three massive metal structures about five storeys high.  The noise coming from this was horrendous. We were standing about a kilometre away and where we were the noise was deafening.

The next part of the tour was a visit to the State Forest where some of the actual Kenya gaswells are. Initially they were about a kilometre apart but when production slowed they drilled other wells in between the existing ones so that the wells were then 500 metres apart.  Each well sits in a cleared pad of at least a quarter of an acre.  This means you’ve a fractured environment because the ground is bare except for some gravel over it.  And each well makes a horrific noise as well.

The whole area is massively noisy and dusty because of all the clearing.  

Nannas in a corridor infested with fireweed

The cleared pipeline corridors are about 100 metres wide and have been taken over by weeds like fireweed.  Along the main pipeline there are vents – high point vents and low point vents about 400 metres apart. 

The high point vents vent raw gas 24 hours a day. Of course this smells.  It just goes straight into the atmosphere. The low point vents expel moisture which is collected in troughs and presumably evaporates if it doesn’t overflow.
High point vent

We spent between four and five hours on the gasfield tour with gas company officials following us around the whole time.

During the tour my eyes started stinging and I started to get a headache.  Nearly everyone had these symptoms.  A couple of people had nose bleeds.  I can’t even begin to think of what the people who are surrounded by gasfields are going through.  The side effects of living close to a gasfield are very real.  These unfortunate people are not making it up.

The trip and the tour was a good thing to do. I am left feeling really thankful that we have kept this industry away from the NSW North Coast.

Cartoon from the local paper

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Stoned on oily eucalypt leaves, high in the cleft of a gum-tree bough,
Snoozy phascolartctos cinereus, indifferent to the world below;
For aeons we let that world go by, but our creeping ghetto isolation,
Without a blow, without a sigh, is wiping out our population.

While we koalas are protected our habitat is not,
When illegal logging fells our home, precious leaves are left to rot.
Starving we are forced to roam, but in the bush our fate is grim
Down on the ground and helpless when daylight’s getting dim
We’re completely at the mercy of attacking dogs and cars that speed.
They smash our bones, kill our young, leave us lying there to bleed.

While red-neck councillors and strutting pollies display us for the gaze
Of VIPs, foreign tourists get their jollies nursing us in sanctuaries
Ignoring the cause of our fearful plight, the death of our habitat.
Please, human beings, take up the fight before Phascolarctos cinereus
Forever will depart.

            - Dorothy Hillis

Photo: Stan Mussared

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


Fire is regularly used as a purported means of protecting life and property against uncontrolled wildfire. But does it work?

Haslem et al (2011) warned that we cannot manage fires beneficially without first knowing how litter behaves over long periods after fire. Now, with data gathered in time-since-fire measurements of litter tonnage per hectare (t/ha), interviews with long-term residents, historical family property records and collected materials from other earlier studies, research finally proves that burning vegetation along prescribed 30 year interval guidelines (Department of Environment and Conservation 2005/DECC 2008) based solely on an expected response to fire by plants, is less successful in protecting life and property than leaving it alone (Croft; Hunter, Reid University of New England / Office of Environment and Heritage 2016)

Observant landowners already know that fire brings only a denser layer of dropped leaves, dead sticks, fallen trees and elimination of soil moisture, fungus and organic mulch, all set for a hotter fire the next year.

In line with these views, it is now known that litter loads ('fuel' in human terms) in forests unburned for greater than 100 years pose less threat than occasionally burned areas. Also, on frequently burned sites, leaf and bark build-up is significantly greater (about 10 t/ha) than where fire is removed from the landscape.

Depending on soil and moisture, litter after fire builds up over 20–30 years to around 4–8 t/ha. It then stabilises for a further 10 or so years, then declines with an increase in humidity, fungus and soil creation. In forests unburned for greater than 100 years, litter mass remains generally constant at less than 2 t/ha. Similarly shrub cover increases rapidly in the first 10 years after fire, continues a more gradual increase up to 15–20 years, then declines, eventually reverting to its original balance beyond 100 years.

As ground litter does not, after all, continue to build up ad infinitum, as believed, the prescribed 30 year cycle fire regime is not only ineffective (Whelan 2002; Fernandes and Botelho 2003), but actually detrimental to long-term protection.

Land managers who leave forested areas alone are ensuring a much safer environment for themselves, their neighbours, and their following generations.

- Patricia Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on October 10, 2016  

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


The Greater Glider ( Petauroides voluns) with its two northern and southern subspecies, was once common across the east coast of Queensland, NSW and Victoria, from sea level to around 1,200m elevation.

Now, after a comprehensive 20-year monitoring program in conservation reserves, state forests and a range of forest types and ages, the Federal government has taken the Scientific Committee's advice and listed Greater Glider as a Vulnerable species under the  Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The glider, a pretty animal, might easily have raised the same awareness and public interest as the koala, only being a shy, dedicated nocturnal, hollow-dependent animal, it is rarely seen by anyone not out at night looking for them.

Despite its name, it is a light, fragile animal, with a head and body length of just over 30 cm, large furry ears, a long tail for steering and balance, and fine bones covered by a dense weightless fluffy coat. Single young are born between March to June each year, reach sexual maturity in their second year, and have an estimated age limit of 15 years.

Greater Gliders' home range is small, between1-4 ha, to 16ha in more open forests, yet they depend on large tracts of intact forest for survival, do not inhabit small remnant forests, and will not disperse through non-native vegetation.

The gliders are absent in areas with under 6 den hollows per hectare, and are now known to need at least 160 km2 of connected native forest, with a ratio of 2-4 living old-growth hollow-bearing trees for every 2 ha, to sustain a viable population.

Also, through a high sensitivity to disturbance, and a poor ability to recover, and because most prime habitat is in areas best suited to timber production, the Scientific Committee's advice assigns a catastrophic consequence for the species by fragmentation and habitat loss through clearing, clear-fell logging and prescribed burning, and severe consequences by the current shorter rotation logging practices, frequent fires, and a gradual loss of remaining old dead stags.

In 2010 the gliders were absent from all surveyed sites after widespread state wildfires in 2009.

- Patricia Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on October 24, 2016