Sunday 19 November 2017


For decades the Australia Government has been lobbied to allow electricity generation from burning biomass to attract clean energy credits. Lobbyists promoted this as a way of disposing of waste vegetable matter as a renewable energy source, a win-win situation they explain.

Electricity generation from biomass is already occurring. Millions of tax-payers dollars have gone to businesses, such as timber and sugar mills, to establish co-generation plants, utilising heat they were already using in their manufacturing processes, to also generate electricity.

Both industries create significant amounts of waste, and are ideally placed to benefit from co-generation, a win-win situation indeed. However, while it is undoubtedly renewable energy, it is far from clean. Reports from the USA, which has a long history of wood-fired power generation, show the resultant emissions are actually worse than those from burning coal.

Conservationists in Australia have long been concerned that any up-take in biomass burning here would ultimately lead to the burning of native forest timber, to the detriment of those forests. The fact that some of the most strident supporters of biomass use are from the timber industry adds to those concerns.

The co-generation at sugar mills, originally promoted as a way of disposing unwanted bagasse and cane tops during the short crushing season, has turned more to burning wood because it is more efficient.

Initially this was promoted as a way to dispose of pest species such as Camphor Laurel. However, as feared, some sugar mills have seized the opportunity to turn themselves into full-time wood-fired power stations, and are burning wood chips which they claim is waste.

One Clarence Valley timber mill is currently applying to Council to increase its wood-chip output from 1,000 to 50,000 cubic metres annually to feed the sugar mills' furnaces. Clearly this is not waste timber, but logs that have no commercial value, hence the state government's current move to allow clear-felling in state forests, a practice that has been happening illegally for a decade or more.

If we value our unique wildlife, and amazing biodiversity, this madness has to stop.

- John Edwards

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on October 16th, 2017. 

Sunday 12 November 2017

EARTH MATTERS - The Indian or Common Myna – A Pest Species

In the final Earth Matters session of the year Laura and Kevin Noble from Clarence Valley Conservation in Action (CVCIA), will be talking about Indian or Common Mynas and why they are a threat to our native biodiversity.  Their presentation will include identification, control and a review of activity in the Clarence Valley and surrounding areas.

The session will be held in the Staffroom at Grafton Public School, Queen Street, Grafton from 5.30 – 7 p.m. on Monday November 20.

There will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion.  Refreshments will follow.

For further information, contact Stan Mussared on 66449309.

Earth Matters is a session on the environment which is conducted every two months by the Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition ( ).

Indian or Common Mynas

Saturday 4 November 2017


Park Watch is a new group comprised of former National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officers, scientists, researchers and former government officials. It is concerned with the sound management of protected areas so that the diversity and beauty of our natural wild places and landscapes is maintained for all to enjoy - now and by future generations. 

Park Watch believes it is important to alert the NSW public to the consequences of the cut-backs to visitor services, control of weeds and introduced animals, loss of species, degraded walking tracks and vandalising of our natural areas.

Park Watch outlined some of its concerns in a media release on 1st November.

Park Watch spokesperson on National Park Operations, Mr Ross McKinney has stated that “Under the Berejiklian Government the 10 years of relentless NPWS ‘decimation-by-restructure’ has caused the highest rates of employee stress that has now reached a point where sources within the NPWS are concerned that some staff may be at serious risk of harm.
“I have recently seen a letter of desperation written by a staff member to an NPWS executive Director which paints a disturbing picture of what is happening to staff in this once, world renowned organisation. Unfortunately, based on the the present NPWS executive’s record, the letter may prove to be career ending for this courageous officer but it clearly demonstrates the anger and sheer desperation of the remaining staff in NPWS”, Mr McKinney said.
“Other sources from within the NPWS have also mentioned a groundswell of Branch based staff who want to send a formal no-confidence message to the government over the existing NPWS executive’s inability to consult, continual movement of the restructure goalposts, lack of leadership and direction, unmanageable work loads, bullying, the direct appointment of favourites to positions that clearly should have been advertised and the loss of positions held by those who have spoken out against the restructure, not to mention the massive funding cuts and decade-long restructure time frame,” he said.
Mr McKinney went on to say, “Based on the numerous pleas for help from NPWS staff and information they have provided to Park Watch, it is obvious the  Berejiklian Coalition Government is hell-bent on dismantling the NPWS by setting it up to fail completely, well before the 2019 March election. The NPWS failure as a conservation land management agency then allows the government to introduce a ‘common-tenure’ approach to the state’s remaining forested areas as proposed by Timber NSW, which essentially opens the State’s protected areas to destructive logging operations.