Showing posts with label flora and fauna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flora and fauna. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

The Berejiklian Government appears willing to stand by and watch wild koalas rapidly go extinct in New South Wales within the next 30 years


Under cover of the public heath emergency created by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Berejiklian Government is still not genuinely moving to save koala populations in New South Wales from extinction.


The Liberal Party leadership is still paralysed by the blackmail threats of National Party leader and MLA for Monaro John Barilaro - and so Liberal MLA for Hornsby Matt Kean in his conflicted role of Minister for Energy and Environment is doing little except mouthing soothing platitudes and making empty promises.


Because logging remaining native forests on Crown and private land - for woodchip, logs, sawn & dressed timber and biomass for power station/s - is what Liberal and Nationals shadowy political donors, greedy logging companies and developers hungry for cheap land are insisting needs to happen.


People in the Northern Rivers region are noticing.




The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 January 2021: 


Koala advocates say the NSW government is not doing enough to save the animal from extinction after it backed without qualification a quarter of the recommendations of an upper house inquiry into the marsupial's populations and habitat. 


In its formal response into the koala inquiry, the government supported 11 of the 42 recommendations, while offering "support in principle" to 17 others. 


It "noted" the remaining 14. Among the recommendations supported was the suggestion the government rule out opening old-growth forests within the state reserve for logging, and that it create Georges River National Park to secure habitat on Sydney's southern fringe. 


However, it only "noted" the call to investigate setting up a Great Koala National Park in northern NSW. 


“Recommendations such as the government urgently investigates the ‘utilisation of core koala habitat on private land and in state forests to replenish koala habitat lost in the bushfires’ appear to be rejected out of hand," Cate Faehrmann, the Greens MP and chair of the upper house committee, said. 


“Many of the key recommendations, the vast majority of which were supported by all committee members because they are what needs to be done to save koalas from extinction, seem to have been rejected outright." 


The inquiry's report, released last June, found koalas were on track for extinction in the wild in NSW before 2050 with habitat loss the main driver of their demise. Environment Minister Matt Kean said in the following month that he would set a goal to double the numbers of the animals - believed to be as few as 15,000 to 20,000 - by 2050.....


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Australia's unique plant species declining in population numbers faster than mammals and birds


The Conversation, excerpt, 16 December 2020:


Plants, such as WA’s Endangered Foote’s grevillea, make our landscape unique.
 
Andrew Crawford / WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions



Australia’s plant species are special - 84% are found nowhere else in the world. The index shows that over about 20 years up to 2017, Australia’s threatened plant populations declined by 72%. This is faster than mammals (which declined by about a third), and birds (which declined by about half). Populations of trees, shrubs, herbs and orchids all suffered roughly similar average declines (65-75%) over the two decades.


Of the 112 species in the index, 68% are critically endangered or endangered and at risk of extinction if left unmanaged. Some 37 plant species have gone extinct since records began, though many others are likely to have been lost before scientists even knew they existed. Land clearing, changed fire regimes, grazing by livestock and feral animals, plant diseases, weeds and climate change are common causes of decline.


Vulnerable plant populations reduced to small areas can also face unique threats. For example, by the early 2000s Foote’s grevillea (Grevillea calliantha) had dwindled to just 27 wild plants on road reserves. Road maintenance activities such as mowing and weed spraying became a major threat to its survival. For other species, like the button wrinklewort, small populations can lead to inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity.... 


Threatened plant conservation in fire-prone landscapes is challenging if a species’ relationship with fire is not known. Many Australian plant species require particular intensities or frequencies of burns for seed to be released or germinate. But since European settlement, fire patterns have been interrupted, causing many plant populations to decline. 


Three threatened native pomaderris shrubs on the NSW South Coast are a case in point. Each of them – Pomaderris adnata, P. bodalla and P. walshii – have failed to reproduce for several years and are now found only in a few locations, each with a small number of plants. 


Experimental trials recently revealed that to germinate, the seeds of these pomaderris species need exposure to hot-burning fires (or a hot oven). However they are now largely located in areas that seldom burn. This is important knowledge for conservation managers aiming to help wild populations persist.... 


A quarter of the species in the threatened plant index are orchids. Orchids make up 17% of plant species listed nationally as threatened, despite comprising just 6% of Australia’s total plant species. 


The endangered coloured spider-orchid (Caladenia colorata) is pollinated only by a single thynnine wasp, and relies on a single species of mycorrhizal fungi to germinate in the wild. 


Yet even for such a seemingly difficult species, conservation success is possible. In one project, scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, aided by volunteers, identified sites where the wasp was still naturally present. More than 800 spider orchid plants were then propagated in a lab using the correct symbiotic fungus, then planted at four sites. These populations are now considered to be self-sustaining. 


In the case of Foote’s grevillea, a plant translocation program has established 500 plants at three new sites, dramatically improving the species’ long-term prospects.


The coloured spider orchid, found in South Australia and Victoria, is endangered. 
Noushka Reiter/Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria




Friday, 4 December 2020

On keeping faith with the environment, biodiversity and our natural landscapes

 

Wildlife Crusaders For Our Environment shared this letter on Facebook. It was written by Catherine Cusack, Member of the NSW Legislative Council since March 2013, to Friends of Kalang Headwaters:


Dear Friends of Kalang Headwaters,


Can I say I am incredibly flattered by the invitation and if I could be there without cancelling other commitments I would 100% be there.


Apart from the many good reasons to join you, the best part of my job is first hand seeing our incredible ancient landscape with people who understand it and can explain what I am looking at, what has happened and the actions we need to take.


The real heroes in our state are those who care, whose deep knowledge is the result of years of observation, concern, research and trying to share with their communities and people like me in politics who they believe have a duty to respect and act upon the facts.


I cannot find words to adequately describe my respect for all that work and advocacy for our environment. And I would add the word worry. People are really worried about past mistakes, how we can address them and where things are headed. Anxiety for our precious and fragile landscape and the species in trouble because it’s their home and we failed to respect that. All of it is local. All of it is respectful and all of it is informed by science - and I am just the blow in whose contribution is simply to listen and absorb the information. Information that has taken years of work to discern. The briefings I receive are beautifully prepared often people take time off work and fit in with my program. I cannot tell you how lucky I am in this job and how duty bound I feel to act on the information I am given. There is patience even when it’s forced because frankly past mistakes for whatever reason make me angry and so I can only imagine how local communities who live through the errors must feel.


I voted against my Government's Bill because it was just wrong and a big mistake - the suffering was all about being disloyal to my team who gave me no choice.


The messages of support I received were completely unexpected and overwhelming. I was stunned and of course very grateful because it was a big fall for me - and people who I don’t know reached out to put me back on my feet again.


I have thought so much about how surprised and pleased people were by my vote. I can only guess they have become used to disappointment in decisions and how “the system” just isn’t hearing what they are saying. These people I am referring to have poured their lives into helping our environment and while I am grateful, I am also sorry it was an unexpected surprise. I get it because I worked hard before the Bill was debated in Parliament and well know that sinking feeling - this is super important and nobody is listening to me.


After the vote they played Tom Perry’s song “I won’t back down”. I certainly experienced a rush of affection for them but needed to message that wasn’t the song I was listening to as I dragged my sorry self up to Parliament that morning. The song I was playing on a loop that I will always associate with that issue was The Eagles “Take it to the Limit”. Because for me that song was all about OMG I am failing but I have got to keep trying and when I fail again I need to try harder.


I tell this story because these feelings I recognise in every passionate person trying to assist our environment. I sure know that weariness and so when in spite of being so tired you keep going - well that’s what inspires me.


There is a Bobby Kennedy quote I first heard as a child. This is off topic but google Bobby Kennedy’s son Robert Kennedy Jnr environment podcasts and get ready to be inspired.


Anyway this is his father’s quote and I love it because gives me so much optimism about the power of community activism.


Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”


There are ripples of hope crisscrossing our state and all of you know this to be true because you are the ripples of hope. And it is becoming a mighty torrent.


Last week the torrent was unleashed on a government Bill I voted against. It happened to be me - but I was just the end product of a massive shift in opinion driven by local activism. I wouldn’t be there or be able to do that if not for you. What you are doing is reversing political currents in politics it is making a difference and the power only grows because of perseverance in the face of disappointments and adversity.


Please never stop or feel disheartened. It is making such a difference.


In my speech I mentioned the sad fate of a local koala colony in Ballina Shire impacted by the construction of the Pacific Motorway. I tried so hard at a really early stage of the project and to cut a very long story short, I failed. It is an experience I say honestly, I am embittered by what happened; there were other options but no, it was the koalas who copped it. In some ways my decision to block the LLS Bill is rooted in that defeat. I am not interested anymore in “mitigation” or “offsets” we are so far beyond those ideas as viable strategies. Nothing will restore what happened there in the Blackhall Range and nothing can console the adoring community who knew each koala and cared for their habitat. I share that story of a lost battle because it contributed to the defeat of the Bill last week. Losing battles can sometimes win wars - I am bewildered as to why this is so hard but it is and we just push through it regardless.


I applaud the conservation proposal for the Kalang headwaters. I love that river and I am jealous of everyone who is present at the ceremony. Thank all of you for caring for the river it’s ecosystem and wildlife.


Please never stop believing politics can be better than it is. My personal motto is the longer it takes, the bigger the party when we get there! Let’s try together to get there.


Thanks for keeping the faith.


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:


Sunday, 28 June 2020

Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes


The Guardian, June 2020:

The government has failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws, a scathing review by the national auditor general has found.

The Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes.

The report also finds a correlation between funding and staffing cuts to the department and a blow-out in the time it is taking to make decisions, as highlighted by Guardian Australia.

The review, which comes in advance of the interim report on Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, has prompted renewed calls for the establishment of an independent national environmental regulator.

It is the sixth audit of the department’s administration of the EPBC Act.

The report examined how effective the department had been in administering referrals, assessments and approvals under the Act, which is the main decision-making work for developments likely to have a significant impact on nationally significant species and ecosystems.

Despite being subject to multiple reviews, audits and parliamentary inquiries since the commencement of the Act, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s administration of referrals, assessments and approvals of controlled actions under the EPBC Act is not effective,” the report concludes.

Among its findings, the auditor found the department could not demonstrate that the environmental conditions it set for developments were enough to prevent unacceptable risk to Australia’s natural environment.

Of the approvals examined, 79% contained conditions that were noncompliant with procedures or contained clerical or administrative errors, reducing the department’s ability to monitor the condition or achieve the intended environmental outcome.

The report also found that a document the department is required to produce to show how the proposed environmental conditions would produce the desired environmental protections was in most cases not being written.

From a random sample of 29 approvals from 2015 to 2018, the auditor found this document had not been produced in 26 cases.

In further findings, the audit concluded:
  • environmental assessments were not being undertaken in full compliance with procedures and decisions were being overturned in court;
  • the department is failing to keep key documents related to its decisions;
  • the department has been failing to meet statutory timeframes for decisions. This has been markedly the case since 2014-15 when the number of decisions made within legal timeframes dropped from 60% to 5% in 2018-19. This correlated with cuts to staff in the department who could assess development proposals
  • the department is not properly monitoring if developers are meeting their environmental conditions;
  • briefing packages written by the department when assessing environmental management plans for developments did not contain any consideration of other statutory documents under the Act that are supposed to protect threatened species, including recovery plans;
  • the department has not established any guidance or quality control measures for assessing the effectiveness of environmental offsets. It also has not mapped where all of its approved environmental offsets are, meaning they cannot be properly tracked;
  • agricultural clearing is rarely being referred to the department for assessment under national law;
  • potential conflicts of interest are not being managed, despite the existence of sound oversight structures;
  • the average overrun of statutory timeframes for approval decisions in 2018-19 was 116 days.
This report is a scathing indictment of the federal government’s administration of our national environment law and highlights why we need a stronger law and a new independent regulator,” said James Trezise, a policy analyst at the Australian Conservation Foundation....

In advance of the interim report, due next week, the government has expressed a desire to streamline approvals and cut so-called “green tape”.

But environment groups said the audit confirmed Australia’s laws were “fundamentally broken”.

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe said the findings showed a “catastrophic failure” to administer the law and protect the environment.

This report shows that the natural and cultural heritage that is core to Australia’s identity is being put at severe risk by the government’s unwillingness to fix problems they’ve been warned about for years,” she said.

It shows that even when the department is aware of high risks of environmental wrongdoing, like with deforestation from agricultural expansion, they are unwilling to act.

The Morrison government announced last week that they want to load this failed system up even further by slashing approval times in the name of slashing ‘green tape’. But this audit shows that the current system is not capable of making good decisions, let alone quick ones.”....

Note

Referrals, Assessments and Approvals of Controlled Actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [the ANAO audit] can be found at 
https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/referrals-assessments-and-approvals-controlled-actions-under-the-epbc-act.

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

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Evidence koalas still living in Iluka area in 2020


A koala in Iluka, December 2017

The Daily Examiner, 18 May 2020:

The words excited and elated aren’t often associated with the discovery of poo, but last week in Iluka they certainly were. 


The devastating impact of bushfires on the koalas across the North Coast has been well documented and teams continue to scour bushland to try to assess the impact on local populations. 

NSW National Parks has been at the forefront of the effort, undertaking bushfire recovery surveys with the help of local Landcare groups and volunteers. 

So when Iluka Landcare volunteer Jeff Thomas found a number of koala scats at the base of red gums in the area between Iluka Bluff Rd and Iluka, he was understandably excited. 

“I couldn’t wait to ring Kay Jeffery, president of the Iluka Landcare group, and tell her and the Landcare team the good news.” 

The find was significant as the area had been regenerated through years of hard work by the group to clear lantana and wattle which had been planted after sand mining ceased on the peninsula. 

“I was so excited when we found the scats, particularly in an area that has been ­restored,” Mr Thomas said. 

“It’s good to see all their hard work paid off.” The discovery was aided by Max, one of NSW National Parks’ canine recruits who has been specially trained to sniff out and find koala scats. 

Ms Jeffery was overjoyed to hear the news, as the Landcare veteran said it was the culmination of a vision. 

“I was absolutely elated to hear that all the hard work and careful planning 24 years ago had resulted in koalas ­inhabiting the site,” she said....

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Bundjalung elder Michael Ryan wins in NSW Land & Environment Court over North Lismore Plateau development application


Map showing AHIMs registered sites of Aboriginal cultural heritage value located at the southern end of the North Lismore Plateau land release site. Source: Converge Community and Heritage 2012 ‘North Lismore Plateau NSW Cultural Heritage Assessment 12043C/2012’ Figure 46 page 77
Lismore City Council, "North Lismore Plateau Urban Release Area", 2015


ABC News, 15 May 2020:

A major residential development underway on the New South Wales north coast is now in jeopardy after successful court action by a local Indigenous elder.

The Land and Environment Court has now ruled that approval of the development application was invalid, because no species impact statement was done.

Mr Ryan said he wept with joy when he heard the news.

"I didn't think we had any chance to win it, it was like a David and Goliath fairytale come true and we knocked them for six," he said.

"My old people told me a long time ago to protect this mountain with everything I had.

"This whole mountain is sacred, it's a story from the Dreaming … you can see in the landscape from the air the sleeping lizard."

Mr Ryan was assisted by veteran local activist Al Oshlack, from the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network.

He said the case hinged on whether a species impact statement (SIS) should have been done for a site which is home to the threatened white-eared monarch and eastern long-eared bat.

"When they put in a development application, and it's going to have a significant impact on endangered species, it was up to the developer to attach the SIS with the development application," Mr Oshlack said.

"But then it became the [Lismore City] council's fault, because the council should have said that 'we can't accept lodging of this DA because it's not in the proper form'."

'They just rubber-stamped it'

The development application was approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel in October 2018.

Mr Oshlack said he tried to raise his concerns at the time.

"They just rubber-stamped it," he said.

"During the hearing I yelled at them that we would be taking it to court and then [they] threw me out."…..

Work has already started on a housing development on the North Lismore Plateau, but the Land and Environment Court has ruled the approval invalid.(ABC North Coast: Bruce MacKenzie)

The development manager for the Winton Property Group, Jim Punch, said the court's decision came as a surprise to the developers……

Mr Ryan has said he will fight any future plans to develop the site, and will seek to have the land's heritage value formally recognised.

The matter will return to the Land and Environment Court later this month, when final orders will be issued.

NOTE

* A Native Title Claim by Widjabul Wia-bal people was registered with the Federal Court of Australia on 28 August 2013, applicable to the land which is the subject of this Development Control Plan.

* Originally Lismore City Council accepted with regard to the North Lismore Plateau (NLP) "Measures to conserve the habitat and movement corridors of Echidnas, in acknowledgment of the cultural heritage significance of this species. The NLP land was historically used as an “increase site” for Echidnas by the local Aboriginals." See Lismore City Council, "North Lismore Plateau Urban Release Area", 2015.