Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environmental vandalism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Australian federal & state governments are preparing to exploit large gas resources that are still in the ground




The fossil gas industry in Australia tripled production from 1990 to 2010 and then from 2010 to 2019 production tripled again. Nearly all of the new production was exported. Australia has become the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG) and one of the world’s biggest gas producers. Australia’s gas and coal exports make Australia’s the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world, after Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Over the decade to 2018 Australia was responsible for most of the growth in LNG, and a third of the growth over the last 20 years, more than any other country Australia’s share of global gas production soared in recent years, even as its share of global proven gas reserves levelled out.

Australian Government publications list 22 new gas production and export proposals across Australia with an estimated gas production capacity of 3,368 PJ pa. Governments and companies are preparing to exploit further gas resources in the ground that are larger still.

Despite calls for decarbonisation be central to the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the Australia government is proposing policies and subsidies for what it calls a “gas fired recovery”. From an economic and employment perspective, this makes little sense. There are many low cost ways to reduce gas consumption, and the industry, despite its size, employs few Australians. Expanding fossil gas production also threatens to release large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Burning fossil gas releases carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, extracting, processing transporting and exporting fossil gas is also highly emissions intensive, and already responsible for more than 10% of current Australian emissions, on official government data. A large portion of these emissions come from gas burned by LNG facilities.
Australian LNG facilities burn around nine percent of all gas they receive to help liquify the remaining gas for export. Gas consumption in LNG facilities is double the size of whats consumed by Australian households and about as large as what is consumed by Australian manufacturing.

Another major climate impact is ‘fugitive’ emissions from flaring, venting and leakage. The true impact of these emissions is larger than officially reported. Fossil gas is made up mostly of methane, itself a greenhouse gas with much greater heat trapping potential than CO2. While methane is more powerful than CO2 over a 100 year timeframe, which is the conventional basis for comparison, methane traps far more heat over the nearer-term (a 20 years horizon). A small amount of methane loss greatly increases the climate impact of fossil gas.

Many recent studies show rates of methane loss much higher than the Australian government’s official figures, especially in unconventional gas production, such as coal seam and shale gas where techniques like hydraulic fracturing are required. Methane loss at rates observed in recent studies of large US shale gas fields range from 2.3% to 3.7%, at the higher end delivering a near-term climate impact equivalent to doubling the emissions of the burnt gas. Reducing and avoiding the release of methane emissions is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals.

There are 22 major new gas projects proposed by companies and listed by the Australian Government’s Office of the Chief Economist. The analysis here converts the supply capacity into common units for comparison and aggregation. The proposed projects are spread across the country and are of various sizes, types and stages. The largest projects are offshore fields designed for gas export, especially off Western Australia’s coast. The single largest project, Woodside’s Browse / Burrup Hub Extension, would involve piping gas from a large new gas field nearly 1000km through new undersea pipelines to an onshore facility for export…...

Monday, 14 September 2020

NSW Koalas Need Your Help - NOW! Phone or email a state government pollie today



Nort East Forest Alliance, media release, 10 September 2020:

Liberals need support to save Koalas from National Party



The North East Forest Alliance is calling on people who want core Koala habitat to be identified and protected from logging to contact the Liberal Party and encourage them to resist National Party bullying.

The Koala State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) was introduced by the coalition in 1995, with the then National Party member for Ballina, Don Page, claiming credit for it, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

"The SEPP basically requires the preparation of Koala Plans of Management (KPoM) that identify core Koala habitat. These are required to be prepared for individual Development Applications over core Koala habitat, though the emphasis is on Councils preparing shire wide Koala plans.

"Where Councils identify core Koala habitat it is identified as Sensitive Regulated Land and therefore can't be cleared under an exemption, and is excluded from logging under the Private Native Forest logging codes.

"This has been intended since the first 1994 Koala SEPP, yet the Koala inquiry identified that over the last 25 years only 6 comprehensive KPoMs have been approved, and these are mostly just for parts of Local Government Areas, and mostly don't identify core Koala habitat.

"The bipartisan Koala Inquiry found that the regulatory framework for private native forestry does not protect koala habitat with the theoretical protections for koalas 'weakened substantially, or indeed non-existent, when practically applied'.

"In 2019 the Coalition adopted a revamped Koala SEPP that tries to make the process for identifying core Koala habitat workable.

"Since then Timber NSW have been worried that if Councils identify core Koala habitat then they won't be able to log it, and have been targeting the National Party in a campaign to overturn the SEPP.

"The current threat by the National Party to resign from the Coalition is all about trying to make the identification of core Koala habitat unworkable so that it can continue to be logged and cleared.

"Koalas had declined by over 50% on the north coast since the Koala SEPP was first introduced 26 years ago, then in 2019/20 30% of their high quality habitat was burnt, with losses of 44-100% of Koalas from firegrounds. Since 2015 clearing of native vegetation has doubled, with no consideration of Koalas.

"Wild Koalas will likely go extinct in NSW by 2050 if the National Party continue like this.

"NEFA are asking people to email or phone the offices of Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Environment Minister Matt Kean to thank them for helping protect Koalas against National Party bullying. Encourage them to provide support to Councils to complete the mapping of core Koala habitat across NSW within 5 years.

"NEFA are also asking people to email or phone the offices of north coast National Party representatives to protest their attempts to remove protections for Koalas, such as Geoff Provest (Tweed), Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Gurmesh Singh (Coffs Harbour), Leslie Williams (Port Macquarie), Melinda Pavey (Oxley), Stephen Bromhead (Myall Lakes) and Upper House representative Ben Franklin.

"We need to show that the community supports Koala protection" Mr. Pugh said.

Parliamentary contacts are at:


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Illegal land clearing and rubbish dumping still plagues parts of the Clarence Coast


This must be so disheartening for Wooloweyah Community Landcare and Angourie Community Coastcare volunteers.......

The Daily Telegraph, 9 September 2020:

The next time you amble past Wooloweyah’s Foreshore Reserve, someone might be taking note. 

Late last month, residents received a letter from Clarence Valley Council alerting them to alleged illegal activity affecting the reserve. 

“A recent inspection of the Lake Wooloweyah Foreshore Reserve by Council Officers has identified vegetation clearing that has been undertaken illegally,” the letter states. 

“Council is investigating these breaches for possible legal action.” Rumours have also circulated about the possible installation of spy cameras to catch people in the act. However, council has yet to confirm this claim. 

“The problem is widespread,” Athena Batcheldor posted on a Wooloweyah social media page in response to the letter. 

“Wooloweyah is just the latest that has come to the attention of CVC. “The reserve is only 30 meters wide. Surely we can give the wildlife half a chance. If the people of the Clarence don’t stand up and jump up and down, nothing happens.” This is not the first time the Wooloweyah and Angourie community’s bushland has been impacted. After a bushfire swept along the native vegetation in September last year, the aftermath of the fires revealed a significant amount of rubbish dumped into the bushland over the years.


IMAGE: The Daily Examiner


Friday, 4 September 2020

NSW Nationals continue to betray the Northern Rivers region when it comes to Berejiklian Government push for coal seam gas mining expansion


Echo Net Daily, September 2020:

An area of the Pilliga Forest where a CSG wastewater
spill occurred in 2011. Nothing has grown back.
Photo David Saunders.
Many of the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on regulating the CSG industry will not be adopted, according to the government response.

Instead, the NSW Liberal and Nationals government claim the ‘state’s regulatory framework for resource projects and the reforms to date ensure NSW is well positioned to develop a safe and sustainable domestic gas industry’.

Of the 17 recommendations by the NSW Chief Scientist, only two are supported.

They are improving transparency of information, and reviewing all new findings in relation to health impacts, which would be included in any new CSG assessment.

The other recommendations are ‘noted’ or ‘supported in principle’ by the government.

In the reply, the government outlined what regulatory improvements had been made since the issue attracted ‘community concern’ in 2011.

The response concludes by saying that existing gas projects are winding down, and the only one ‘in the pipeline’ is the Santos Narrabri gasfield project, which is awaiting determination by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC).

No new areas for CSG exploration have been released, says the government report, ‘And if [that did happen] in the future, it would take considerable time for any potential production projects to emerge’.

As such, the report argues that the Chief Scientist’s recommendations have been achieved.

Yet there was no mention of the gas expansion expected to occur under an agreement struck between the federal and NSW government. SMH (Nine) and other media reported in January that ‘Nearly $3 billion will be pumped into NSW to increase gas supplies’.

Local Nats MLC supports his govt

When asked whether he supported his govenrment’s response, local Nationals MLC, Ben Franklin repeated his government’s justifications for not implementing all the recommendations, while accusing the committee oversight body of ignoring ‘robust CSG-related regulatory controls delivered by the NSW government’…...

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Oh, the NSW National Party stupidity - it burns!

Koala in search of a tree at Iluka, Clarence Valley in the Northern Rivers
PHOTO: supplied

In the NSW Northern Rivers region, even before the devastating 2019-20 bushfires ripped through hundreds of thousands of hectares destroying forests and wildlife habitat, our koala populations were in decline due to rural/regional tree clearing, timber logging, local traffic and dogs.

Now post-fires, faced with a possible 70 per cent loss of the entire state's koala population and functional extinction on the horizon, a local National Party nitwit goes to the media with this statement.

ABC News, 2 September 2020:

A North Coast National Party MP has threatened to move to the crossbench if the State Government forces farmers to search for koalas on their property.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis says a proposed bill that would force farmers to look for koalas before conducting any work on their land is ridiculous.

Mr Gulaptis says people in regional areas know how to care for their koala populations better than those in the city.

"We know how to manage our koalas in the regions and now we're being dictated by people in the city who decimated their koala population and [are] telling us what we need to do."

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Court of Appeal rejects Adani's application to search an activist's home & Supreme Court orders Adani to pay $106.8 million to four companies - in part due to its own "serious dishonesty"


ABC News, 27 August 2020:

Mining company Adani secretly sought to raid the Brisbane home of an activist to seize evidence but failed twice, court documents have revealed.

Adani and its Carmichael Rail Network applied for a search order, known as an Anton Piller order, against Benjamin Pennings in June this year.

It claimed Mr Pennings had possession of "confidential information on a computer at his home" which was being used in a concerted campaign of "intimidation and conspiracy" against the Galilee Basin coal project.

As part of the application, Adani claimed Mr Pennings had information to which only company executives and other select staff and contractors had access.

Anton Piller orders are searches carried out without notice to the defendant to ensure that evidence cannot be destroyed and is preserved to be used in judicial proceedings.

Adani's court application and subsequent appeal in July were also heard ex parte, meaning they were both heard without notice.

Adani has described Mr Pennings as the "principal" of a group of political activists called the "Galilee Blockade", whose objective is to prevent the development of the mine and railway.

In rejecting Adani and Carmichael Rail Network's appeal last week, the Court of Appeal ruled the evidence was "wholly inadequate to justify the order sought".

"The appellants have failed to establish the likelihood that Mr Pennings has any confidential information or that he has any confidential information stored at his home," the Court of Appeal judges said.

"They have failed to establish the likelihood that the use of any confidential information has resulted in any loss."

The Court of Appeal also raised concerns about the impact of a search order could have had on Mr Pennings' partner and children.

"Surely, to permit a search of a defendant's house, with the humiliation and family distress which that might involve, lies at the outer boundary of the discretion," the Court of Appeal judges said.

"This is because, for reasons that anyone can understand, the 'shock, anger, confusion' and the 'sense of violation and powerlessness' will be much greater in such a case and may be suffered not only by someone who is proved in due course to be a wrongdoer, but by entirely innocent parties as well."……

Read the full article here.

BACKGROUND

Mining Pty Ltd & Anor v Pennings [2020] QCA 169 (17 August 2020)

The Adani Group appears to have been the applicant or been named as a respondent in around seven court cases between 2013 and 2020.

This is the latest:


Excerpts from the judgment:

[197] The applicant’s conduct was deliberate, not just heedless or indifferent 81 to the position of the remaining users. The applicant was fully cognisant as to the effect its behaviour would have in increasing the fixed costs to the remaining users. It desired that effect in order to advantage itself financially. That is, to achieve a gain for itself, the applicant engaged in calculated behaviour to the disadvantage of the respondents.82 This is evident in the timing and structure of the QCPL transactions.”

[203] The applicant’s behaviour in attempting to disguise or camouflage the true basis of its dealings with QCPL involved dishonesty – [117] ff and [122], and so far as this proceeding is concerned, involved serious dishonesty – [98] and [121].”

Friday, 14 August 2020

What little Koala habitat remaining in NSW is being logged right now


https://youtu.be/3JKA5ZoRDD4


Wildlife rescuer and arborist Kailas Wild shows us evidence of koalas in the middle of a logging operation in the Lower Bucca State Forest on the NSW North Coast.

The bushfires burnt over 2 million hectares of koala habitat and yet the state-owned logging agency Forestry Corporation is right now cutting down unburnt forests that koalas call home.

The NSW Government has the power to stop this destruction. We need to create a groundswell of support for protecting koala habitat. If more people know this destruction is happening and raise their voices in protest, we can work together to ensure our koalas are not forgotten.


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Forestry Corporation of NSW ordered to cease tree harvesting at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest



The EPA says this is one of two 'giant' trees felled in the Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.(Supplied: EPA) - ABC News, 19 July 2020

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), media release, 18 July 2020:

EPA orders Stop Work on forestry operations in Wild Cattle Creek State 


Forest The NSW Environment Protection Authority has today issued Forestry Corporation of NSW with a Stop Work Order to cease tree harvesting at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest inland from Coffs Harbour. 

 The NSW Environment Protection Authority has today issued Forestry Corporation of NSW with a Stop Work Order to cease tree harvesting at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest inland from Coffs Harbour. 

EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Carmen Dwyer said EPA investigations into operations in Compartments 32, 33 and 34 of the forest had revealed serious alleged breaches of the rules that govern native forestry operations, set out in the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA), in relation to the protection of trees that must not be felled. 

“To maintain biodiversity in the forest, the Coastal IFOA rules require loggers to identify giant trees (over 140cm stump diameter) and ensure they are protected and not logged. The EPA alleges that during an inspection on 9 July 2020 EPA officers observed two giant trees which had been felled. 

“Any trees except Blackbutt and Alpine Ash with a diameter of more than 140cm are defined as giant trees and must be retained under the Coastal IFOA,” Ms Dwyer said. 

“As a result, the EPA has issued a Stop Work Order under the Biodiversity Conservation Act to stop Forestry Corporation logging in the forest. The order ensures that no further tree harvesting takes place in the area where the trees were felled for 40 days, or until the EPA is confident that Forestry Corporation can meet its obligations to comply with the Coastal IFOA conditions to protect giant trees.” 

This is the first time the EPA has issued Forestry Corporation with a Stop Work Order under new laws which came into effect in 2018. 

“These two old, giant trees have provided significant habitat and biodiversity value and are irreplaceable. Their removal points to serious failures in the planning and identification of trees that must be retained in the forest. 

“These are serious allegations and strong action is required to prevent any further harm to giant or other protected trees which help maintain biodiversity and provide habitat for threatened species like koalas.” 

This action follows the recent issue of two Penalty Notices totalling $2,200 to Forestry Corporation for non-compliances associated with an alleged failure to correctly identify protection zones for trees around streams and for felling four trees within those protected zones in Orara East State Forest near Coffs Harbour. The penalties were issued under previous rules when the penalties were lower. 

“The EPA continues to closely monitor forestry operations despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, to ensure compliance with the regulations,” Ms Dwyer said.  

“The community can be confident that any alleged non-compliance during forestry operations will be investigated by the EPA and action taken if the evidence confirms a breach.” 

Stop Work Orders and penalty notices are examples of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. A recipient can appeal and elect to have the matter determined by a court. 

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm

ABC News, 19 July 2020:

The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group's Zianna Fuad said the group wanted the forest protected and she was extremely relieved the stop work order was in place. 

"It's devastating that we have lost these old-growth trees that we can never get back," she said. 

"Wild Cattle Creek is especially important — it's the second largest koala hotspot in NSW. 

"We have amazing koala forests up here that we would love to see protected as The Great Koala National Park."

BACKGROUND

BuzzFeed, 1 July 2020:

Sandy Greenwood, a Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson, is in the process of taking Forestry Corporation to court. 

Her statement about the events reads: “We have given our notice of Trespass to the Forestry Corporation and demanded they stop the logging of all Gumbaynggirr Country for lack of jurisdiction and no conciliation or consent. 

The NSW Government and Forestry Corp are breaching international and domestic law under the international declaration of Indigenous Peoples' rights. 

"We are the Gumbaynggirr people, sovereign custodians of Gumbaynggirr Country, land and waters and we demand an end to logging in these irreplaceable and incredibly ancient publicly-owned forests. 

Logging must be stopped immediately and they must be conserved for all beings to enjoy.” 

The sections of the forest that were scheduled to be logged at Wild Cattle Creek are critically important. Not only are they unceded Gumbaynggirr Country, but the forest remains a piece of unburnt refuge for koalas in the area, as it was narrowly missed by the Liberation Trail bushfire last November.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 3 July 2020:

The anti-logging campaign the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group has recently launched in northern NSW is doing exceedingly well. And the word is that the model it’s using to gain all the traction may soon be mirrored across the continent. 

Back in April, by cover of COVID, the construction of roads into the Nambucca State Forest commenced, with a view to opening up the area for logging. 

This native forest escaped the wrath of last summer’s unprecedented bushfires, but evidently not that of the Berejiklian government. 

The Forestry Corporation of NSW then moved in to commence logging in May. The state-owned company has said it’s only conducting “low intensity thinning” of “regrowth” forest, however local custodians, the Gumbaynggirr people, assert that this isn’t the case. 

But, despite loggers having moved in with machinery, the traditional owners and their allies have had them on the run. A series of lock-ons in Nambucca last week saw them scamper over to the Wild Cattle Creek State Forest this week, where further lock-ons have seen operations halted there. 

Sign of the times 

The Gumbaynggirr people were handed back their land through the native title process in 2014. And today, it’s the native title holders and conservation organisations that have joined together to form the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group (GCG). And it’s been running quite a campaign of firsts. 

NSW Forestry announced it was pausing operations in Nambucca State Forest on 5 June for five days, to allow the GCG to undertake an independent cultural heritage survey. 

This was the first time logging had ever been halted since the NSW regional forestry agreement came into play 20 years ago. 

And further, the Gumbaynggirr people are taking the NSW Forestry Corporation to the state Land and Environment Court, which is the first time it has been taken to court by an individual organisation in decades. 

Then there’s the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group itself. Having established the Gumbaynggirr Tent Embassy in Nambucca in mid-May, the GCG is an alliance that’s forging a new type of activism, which organisers maintain will soon be replicated at other sites nationwide. 

GCG spokesperson Sandy Greenwood has said that if NSW Forestry isn’t stopped “deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated, our beautiful old growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go”....

Wild Cattle Creek State Forest. Image: Dean Tresize 

Friday, 17 July 2020

Will U.K. based multinational mining corporation Rio Tinto Ltd be stripped of its status as a human rights leader following its destruction of an Aboriginal sacred site showing evidence of 46,000 years of human habitation?


"The fact that nearly half of the companies assessed (49%) score 0 across all indicators related to the process of human rights due diligence is particularly alarming. These indicators focus on the specific systems the company has in place to ensure that due diligence processes are implemented to assess the real-time risks to human rights that the company poses, to act on these findings so as to prevent and mitigate the impacts, and to track and communicate those actions. Human rights due diligence is a fundamental expectation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The three companies that top the 2019 ranking (Adidas, Rio Tinto and Unilever) all score full points on the human rights due diligence indicators...Eleven [of the 56 extractive] companies score above 50%, with Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Freeport McMoRan and Repsol in the highest scoring band of 70-80%" [Corporate Human Rights Benchmark 2019 Key Findings]

The New York Times, 8 July 2020:

MELBOURNE — Aboriginal and human rights groups on Thursday called for miner Rio Tinto Ltd to be stripped of its status as a human rights leader following its destruction of an Aboriginal sacred site showing evidence of 46,000 years of human habitation. 

With state government approval, the world's biggest iron ore miner in May destroyed two sacred caves in the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as part of a mine expansion. 

 Rio's response to blowing up the caves was "far from adequate", 35 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and human rights groups said in a letter requesting the miner be suspended from the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB). 

Netherlands-based CHRB is a public benchmark of corporate human rights performance. 

It lists Rio as the highest ranked extractives company globally on human rights issues, with a score in the second highest possible band.  

"We are calling on the Benchmark to ensure that the company's human rights ranking reflects the reality for people here on the ground," said Wayne Bergmann, a Kimberley Aboriginal leader and chief executive of Aboriginal charitable trust KRED. 

Rio apologised for the distress it caused to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and launched an independent investigation into how the destruction occurred.

Thursday's letter disputed Rio's explanation of the incident as a "misunderstanding", saying that the indigenous land owners had brought to Rio's attention on several occasions the archaeological and ethnographic significance of the site. 

Rio declined to comment on the letter......

Prior to the November release of its Corporate Human Rights Benchmark 2020 CHRB issued this:

Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), media release, 9 July 2020: 

Due to the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site by Rio Tinto at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia on 24 May 2020, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) and the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) have decided to append this statement to Rio Tinto’s latest CHRB results. 

It would be inappropriate for CHRB to continue to assess and rank Rio Tinto in one of the highest-scoring bands and as the top mining company without reference to this incident. 

The CHRB seeks to provide robust and credible information on companies’ actions to respect human rights across their business, and it would be misleading not to reference this severe impact as a complement to the latest results. 

The statement appears in the homepage banding table, in the company's latest scorecard and in the latest overall dataset.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"It would be inappropriate for CHRB to continue to assess and rank Rio Tinto in one of the highest-scoring bands and as the top mining company without reference to this incident....The severity of the impact and the context in which it took place, including the process that led to it and allegations of other similar impacts involving the company, raise concerns that go beyond this specific incident and point to possibly more systemic weaknesses in the company’s approach to human rights." [CHRB response to the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site by RioTinto at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia on 24 May 2020]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hopefully this statement means that Rio Tinto Ltd will get more than a small red flag next to its ranking with a brief one line explanation for ongoing human rights issues, such as was afforded to another extractive industry high flyer, BHP Billiton.

BACKGROUND

ABC News, 5 June 2020:

Mining giant Rio Tinto was alerted six years ago that at least one of the caves it blasted in Western Australia's Pilbara region last month was of "the highest archaeological significance in Australia".  

Advice delivered to Rio Tinto and the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) Indigenous people of the region six years ago was never publicly released. The ABC has been given a summary of the contents of the report, as well as earlier archaeological survey work and excavations at the sites dating back to 2004. 

The documentation of the 2014 report by archaeologist Dr Michael Slack confirmed one of the sites that was blasted, the Juukan-2 (Brock-21) cave, was rare in Australia and unique in the Pilbara. 

"The site was found to contain a cultural sequence spanning over 40,000 years, with a high frequency of flaked stone artefacts, rare abundance of faunal remains, unique stone tools, preserved human hair and with sediment containing a pollen record charting thousands of years of environmental changes," 

Dr Slack wrote. "In many of these respects, the site is the only one in the Pilbara to contain such aspects of material culture and provide a likely strong connection through DNA analysis to the contemporary traditional owners of such old Pleistocene antiquity."....

Before and After
Juukan Gorge caves, BBC News, 31 May 2020

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

NSW farmers against gas fields on agricultural land or in vicinity of rivers, lakes and underground water



The Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2020:

Local farmers are spoiling for a fight with the State government over plans to dig hundreds of gas wells across NSW’s most fertile countryside.

A proposed $3 billion project to drill 850 coal seam gas wells between Narrabri and Gunnedah would be a “climate crisis” according to farmers in north west NSW, who hold grave fears for the future of livestock, cropping and human drinking water.

The NSW Department of Planning last week approved the proposal after a drawn out three-year process, which means the final hurdle is sign-off from the Independent Planning Commission.

A NSW Farmers branch representing hundreds of farmers across the Liverpool Plains voted unanimously to call on its peak industry body to up the ante in its opposition to the coal seam gas project.

The Gunnedah and Tambar Springs branch of NSW Farmers has formally requested its parent body lobby the government to scrap the Narrabri coal seam gas project and extinguish 11 expired and inactive petroleum exploration licences dotted around the region.


Santos Narrabri Gas project has raised alarm among farmers over the future of livestock, cropping and human drinking water in the area. Picture: Nathan Edwards.

Santos has claimed the project won't compromise the Great Artesian Basin – the world’s largest underground freshwater tank, big enough to fill Sydney Harbour 130,000 times – but farmers maintain there is too high a risk it could deplete and irreparably contaminate the aquifer.

"What my members are saying is they can produce food and fibre without gas, but they can’t do it without water,” branch secretary and wheat farmer Xavier Martin said.

The Berejiklian government is not listening so NSW Farmers has to escalate this.”

Farmers see the Narrabri project as a “Trojan horse”, which if approved will encourage gas miners to fire up 11 expired and largely inactive petroleum exploration licences in the state’s north west from the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains north to Moree and west to Coonamble.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis: a portrait of political ignorance


Extract from an email sent by NSW Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (former surveyor, property developer, local government councillor) on 20 May 2020:

Timber harvesting operations take place in around one per cent of State forests each year, which is around 0.1 per cent of forested land in NSW.

Well managed, sustainable timber harvesting operations provide the essential renewable building products our communities need to rebuild following the recent fire season, from power poles, to timber bridge and house frames.

By ensuring an ongoing wood supply, we will help maintain local jobs when they are most needed and meet the critical timber supply needed to rebuild our local communities.

Our forests have been harvested and regrown many times over the past 100 years. Importantly, they have also successfully recovered from bushfires before.

A small number of selective harvesting operations that commenced prior to the fires have continued under the strict regulations governing native forestry in NSW.

These rules require Forestry Corporation to set aside large areas of habitat in every operation they carry out. These rules have been developed by expert panels of scientists to ensure wildlife populations continue to thrive alongside sustainable timber harvesting.

However, the primary focus is on salvaging what timber can be recovered from those badly burnt parts of the forest. These are areas so severely affected by fires they are largely devoid of any habitat. Forestry Corporation is also preparing to embark on a massive re-planting program to recover this estate.

Well, how does one reply to a pottage of misleading statements about a timber industry rife with rule breaking and environmental vandalism?

Firstly the Forestry Corporation of NSW controls more than two million hectares of native and planted state forest in New South Wales and, annually it takes an est. 2.5 million m3 of sawlogs and around 2 million tonnes of pulpwood from these forests, which means it supplies an est 14% of Australia's timber product. This year to date the Forestry Corporation has harvested est. 1.21 million m3 of timber product.

Secondly, on a regular basis the timber industry racks up warnings and fines. As little as four weeks ago the NSW Environment Protection Authority announced that the Forestry Corporation had been fined $31,100 for failure to abide by conditions immposed concerning avoidance of environmentally sensitive areas and retention of habitat trees.

Thirdly, perhaps a few images will clearly show that even after severe bushfires, in the absence of chainsaws and logging trucks, trees will begin to recreate "habitat".

All photographs found at Google Images
And then there is this aspect.....

ABC News, 29 January 2020:

Research has also shown forests that are logged post-fire and then regenerated have an increased risk of burning in high-severity crown-scorching fires. 

This extra fire risk lasts for about 40 years after logging. That is, a burnt forest which is logged tomorrow will still carry an elevated fire risk in 2060. 

A global review published in 2009 showed that links between logging and elevated fire risk is a problem seen in wet types of forests worldwide. 

In 2016, an Australian study published by the Ecological Society of America found tree fern populations crashed by 94 per cent after post-fire logging..... 

Many burnt trees that look dead now will re-sprout in the next few weeks or months. This is already occurring in the burnt coastal forests of NSW. 

These recovering trees must not be logged. They are essential for the survival of animals like gliding possums — research shows that these animals are unlikely to return to forests that are logged immediately after burning for 180 years (if they can return at all). 

Heavy logging machinery will kill many of the plants that germinate in the nutrient-rich bed of ashes on the forest floor. 

Animals that have miraculously survived in burnt areas can also be killed in logging operations. 

Pioneering research from southern Australia has shown that fungi and nutrients in soils can take up to a century or even longer to recover from salvage logging. 

Mass movement of soils in areas logged post-burn can choke rivers and streams and trigger fish kills as well as kill many other kinds of animals....

The Guardian, 6 May 2020:

A group of senior Australian scientists have warned in an international journal that logging native forests makes fire more severe and is likely to have exacerbated the country’s catastrophic summer bushfires. 

In a comment piece published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, the scientists call for a clearer discussion about how land management and forestry practices contribute to fire risk. 

The article by the scientists David Lindenmayer, Robert Kooyman, Chris Taylor, Michelle Ward and James Watson comes amid intense debate about the resumption of logging in Victoria and New South Wales in bushfire hit regions..... 

In the comment piece, the scientists say much of the conversation in the aftermath of the spring and summer bushfires had rightly focused on climate change, but the impact of land management and forestry on fire risk was often neglected in these discussions. 

They highlight this as a concern because land management policy was “well within the control of Australians” and the fires had been used by some sectors of the industry to call for increased logging in some areas. 

The paper says industry data showed that some 161m cubic metres of native forest was logged in the period from 1996 to 2018. 

“Beyond the direct and immediate impacts on biodiversity of disturbance and proximity to disturbed forest, there is compelling evidence that Australia’s historical and contemporary logging regimes have made many Australian forests more fire prone and contributed to increased fire severity and flammability,” the scientists write. 

This occurs because logging leaves debris at ground level that increases the fuel load in logged forests. It also changes forest composition and leaves these areas of forest both hotter and drier, they say. 

The article says during the bushfire season fire had spread from logged areas adjacent to old growth eucalypts and rainforests in the Gondwana world heritage reserves..... 

The Daily Examiner, 25 May 2020: 

The public was recently invited to comment on a draft code of practice – the “rule book” – for private native forestry. 

The CoP has been in place for about 15 years, with the current draft resulting from the mandatory five-yearly review. 

With the stated aim of ensuring ecologically sustainable forest management, one would expect any review to focus on that aim but unfortunately that has not been the case. 

Ecologists and conservationists have two major concerns, the first being that, while there are provisions to protect threatened flora and fauna that are known to inhabit the proposed logging areas, there is no requirement to actually look for them. 

In fact, unless there is an ­official record of a threatened species on the property, it is assumed they don’t occur there. 

The second concern is a lack of compliance monitoring and enforcement, for which there is certainly a wealth of evidence. 

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason, possibly it relates to a lack of political will to take action against the industry at large. 

Perhaps it is a case of under-resourcing, poorly drafted legislation open to interpretation or all of the above but the fact remains that flouting of the code’s regulations is widespread. 

Two years ago, the Clarence Environment Centre reported one local case where a PNF ­operator broke virtually every rule in the book – literally hundreds of breaches. 

Logging on creek banks, in swamps, on rocky outcrops and on cliff edges. 

Snigging tracks were constructed on excessive slopes and across gullies, erosion control measures were inadequate, threatened species had been trampled by machinery and rubbish such as oil drums and tyres were left littering the landscape. 

The investigators spent days on site confirming the ­reported breaches and finding additional ones, yet almost two years later no action has been taken against the culprits and with the two-year statute of limitations looming, the case will likely be dropped. 

Unless operators are held to account, how can we have any faith in the supposed aim of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management? 

John Edwards, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition