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

Thursday, 21 November 2019

"The unnoticed apocalypse": insect declines and why they matter

"In early 2019, Australian entomologist Francisco Sanchez-Bayo published a scientific review of all existing evidence for insect declines [Sanchez-Bayo & Wyckhuys 2019]. He located 73 studies, mainly from Europe and North America, which collectively suggest that the rate of local extinction of insect species is eight times faster than that of vertebrates. He also estimated that, on average, insects are declining by 2.5% each year, with 41% of insect species threatened with extinction. The paper concludes: “we are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian” (a geological epoch 250 million years ago)."  [Professor Dave Goulson, FRES, "Insect declines and why they matter", 2019]

This report originates in Britain but it is relevant to insect decline world-wide, including the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.

The Wildlife Trusts (Somerset)Insect declinesand why they matter:

In the last fifty years, we have reduced the abundance of wildlife on Earth dramatically. Many species that were once common are now scarce. Much attention focusses on declines of large, charismatic animals, but recent evidence suggests that abundance of insects may have fallen by 50% or more since 1970. This is troubling, because insects are vitally important, as food, pollinators and recyclers amongst other things. Perhaps more frightening, most of us have not noticed that anything has changed. Even those of us who can remember the 1970s, and who are interested in nature, can’t accurately remember how many butterflies or bumblebees there were when we were children. 

The bulk of all animal life, whether measured by biomass, numerical abundance or numbers of species, is comprised of invertebrates such as insects, spiders, worms and so on. These innumerable little creatures are far more important for the functioning of ecosystems than the large animals that tend to attract most of our attention. Insects are food for numerous larger animals including birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians and fish, and they perform vital roles such as pollination of crops and wildflowers, pest control and nutrient recycling. 

There have been several recent scientific reports describing the rapid decline of insects at a global scale, and these should be a cause of the gravest concern (summarised in Sanchez-Bayo & Wyckhuys 2019). These studies suggest that, in some places, insects may be in a state of catastrophic population collapse. We do not know for sure whether similar reductions in overall insect abundance have happened in the UK. The best UK data are for butterflies and moths which are broadly in decline, particularly in farmland and in the south. UK bees and hoverflies have also shown marked range contractions. The causes of insect declines are much debated, but almost certainly include habitat loss, chronic exposure to mixtures of pesticides, and climate change. The consequences are clear; if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing. 

The good news is that it is not too late; few insects have gone extinct so far, and populations can rapidly recover. 

We urgently need to stop all routine and unnecessary use of pesticides and start to build a nature recovery network by creating more and better connected, insect friendly habitat in our gardens, towns, cities and countryside. 

Only by working together can we address the causes of insect decline, halt and reverse them, and secure a sustainable future for insect life and for ourselves. 

This report summarises some of the best available evidence of insect declines and proposes a comprehensive series of actions that can be taken at all levels of society to recover their diversity and abundance.

Read the full report here.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Rescuing flying foxes across Northern NSW & Southern Queensland in the current drought

The Daily Examiner, 23 September 2019, p.10:

As WIRES becomes inundated with sick and starving bats, residents are being urged to give them a helping hand.
A bat starvation event is occurring across Northern NSW and Southern Queensland as WIRES works hard to nurse sick and starving back into health.
WIRES officer Linda Harrison said she had been receiving a large number of flying foxes, particularly juveniles, which were severely undernourished.
The lack of blossoms due to a combination of worsening drought conditions and continued destruction of the natural habitat went some way to explain the event.
“I have had them come in near dead. They are just starving, there is just no food out there for them,” she said.
“A big part of that is the amount of clearing that has been done – 200 years ago this would not have affected them near as much as it what it is now because there would have been more trees out there.”
Ms Harrison said the lack of blossoms meant the bats were starting to look for alternative food sources and were increasingly being found in backyards and trees lower to the ground.
“They are flying in and finding a food source and because they are just so worn out they are staying where they are,” she said.
“People are finding them in their backyards because they don’t have the energy to go anywhere.
“They do have a fairly specific diet but at the moment they are eating anything.”
Ms Harrison said while the bats should be left alone, there were a few things people could do to give them a helping hand, including putting fruit out on string for the bats to have a feed.
“As a rule we don’t usually encourage people to feed them but at the moment they are eating anything and we are doing what we can to keep them alive,” she said.
“Cut up some soft fruit or hang some fruit on bits of rope.”
Despite some rainfall in the last week, Ms Harrison said she was expecting the problems to continue and flying foxes were not the only animals having a hard time.
“I think I am in for a long couple of months, this is going to go on for a while. I think we are in for a long summer.”
“You can see there are more kangaroos coming into people’s yards around South Grafton, they are just coming in for fresh grass.”
WIRES rescue line: 1300094737.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 Satin Bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks

Echo NetDaily,  September 2019:

Insecticide poisoning caused the death of 15 satin bowerbirds found at Modanville, near Lismore in recent weeks, investigators have revealed.
A Satin Bowerbird. Source: Wikipedia
Investigations conducted by North Coast Local Land Services have confirmed that the bird deaths were caused by the banned insecticide Fenthion.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is now seeking assistance from members of the public in a bid to determine how the poisoning occurred.
As the responsible regulator for pesticide use, the EPA is exploring the possibility that the birds, which are a protected native species, may have been deliberately targeted.
No other bird species is known to have been impacted.
EPA Manager Regional Operations North Coast Benjamin Lewin said the killing of native birds, whether through intentional or reckless pesticide misuse, was a serious offence.
‘We are encouraging anyone with information on these deaths, or anyone who may have seen some activity that could be related to this illegal baiting, to contact the EPA as soon as possible,’ Mr Lewin said.
Fenthion, which was banned from use in 2014 with a phase out period of one year, is a broad-spectrum organophosphorus insecticide.
It is extremely toxic to birds and substantial penalties exist for its possession and use.
The chemical was widely used in the past for insect control on a broad range of fruit crops and for external parasite control on livestock.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Northern Regional Planning Panel to consider 140 lot development on 19 September 2019

29 August 2019 

Dear Sir or Madam 


The panel will meet to determine the following development application: 

  2015NTH026 – Clarence Valley – SUB2015/0034 ‐ Hickey Street, Iluka ‐ 140 lot residential (Community Title) subdivision and new roads 

Relevant documents will be available on the Planning Panels website at least seven days before the meeting. 

The purpose of the meeting is to give interested people the opportunity to speak directly to the panel before a decision is made. If you wish to present to the panel, you must register to speak by contacting the Planning Panels Secretariat before 4pm Tuesday, 17 September 2019 on 02 8217 2060 or via email to 

Any person is welcome to attend the public meeting to observe. 

The panel is required to make an audio record of the meeting and make the recording publicly available on the Planning Panels website. You should be aware that this may include your personal information if you are presenting to the panel. 

The panel will aim to publish its decision on the Planning Panels website within 7 days of the meeting. 

 Guidelines for speakers 

 As a guide, individuals will have 3 minutes to speak, a community group will have 10 minutes in total, and the applicant, including consultant(s), a total of 15 minutes to present and address issues raised in public submissions. Any requests for extending time limits are to be granted at the discretion of the Chair. 

 Please consider focussing your oral submission on how the assessment report has addressed your concerns, as the panel will have read your written submission before the meeting. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Planning Panels Secretariat on 02 8217 2060. 

Yours sincerely 

Lisa Foley Project Officer

Clarence Valley Council voted to recommend the subdivision 6 to 1 on 27 August 2019.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

More koala news....

Monday, 26 August 2019

It's Koala Breeding Season in the NSW Northern Rivers - keep an eye out for animals crossing the road and slow down when driving at night

Images: @talkingkoala

Although the Koala is a tree dwelling marsupial it often has to travel across the ground, especially during breeding season when males are searching for females. 

These photos are of a Clarence Valley male koala hit by a car on 24 August 2019 at a crossing 'hot spot' on Broadwater-Evans Head Rd .

He was partially scalped, with multiple wounds and sheared nails. 

Please drive with extra care, so this scene is not repeated with you at the wheel.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Presentations on the plight of Koala populations will be held at Maclean and Lawrence on 14 August 2019 - be there to support Lower Clarence koalas

Koala at Lawrence in the Lower Clarence Valley
Photograph supplied

Deborah Tabart, Chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation is coming to brief the local community on the plight of koalas and why we need a Koala Protection Act. 

It is amazing that we do not have such an Act to protect one of Australia’s iconic animals. As we know, koala numbers are declining and this issue is now very topical in our area, especially around Lawrence, where koala habitat trees are under threat.

Ms Tabart will be visiting Lawrence and adding the koalas there to the Foundation’s koala map. If you know where koalas are living in the Lower Clarence please come along to the presentation to make sure that all the koala habitats are added to the map. 

There will be two information sessions in the Clarence Valley on Wednesday the 14th August one at 11 AM and one at 6.00 PM. 

Maclean Branch of the NSW Country Women’s Association invites everyone to the Koala presentation at 11 AM on Wednesday 14 August at the CWA Rooms, 40 River Street, Maclean followed by a light lunch. 

A donation of $5 is requested to help with catering. Please let the CWA know via Linda if you are coming so that we will have enough chairs and lunch. Ring Linda on 02 66 47 7373 or email 

The next session is at 6 PM in the evening at the Lawrence Hall, located between the pub and the shop, with a light supper provided for free. 

Ring or text Elizabeth on 0407 883 656 or email It helps to know how many to cater for. 

These events are friendly and informal and a great way to meet interesting people. 

Bring your Koala questions and your appetite.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Land clearing law in New South Wales

It’s been almost two years since the NSW Government introduced a new scheme for regulating land clearing and biodiversity in NSW. While the business of tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes and a new Vegetation SEPP, fundamentally important parts of the scheme are still missing. This EDO NSW series of legal updates looks at how the laws are being implemented and the regulatory gaps that are putting our wildlife and healthy sustainable landscapes at risk.

Our first update looked at clearing in rural areas and outlined the fundamentally important parts of the scheme that are still missing even while tree clearing has continued apace under self-assessed codes. The second update looks at elements of the new scheme that are missing or lack clarity for tree clearing in urban areas and e-zones. This third update looks at compliance and enforcement of new clearing laws.

Read the third update here.

Friday, 19 July 2019

In the Kalang River forests of New South Wales......

According to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage the Milky Silkpod is found only within NSW, with scattered populations in the north coast region between Kendall and Woolgoolga.

This plant is currently listed as Vulnerable in NSW and has a Commonwealth conservation status of Endangered. Little is known of its reproductive biology.

However, this means little to the Forestry Corporation of NSW, its board of directors and workers or the Berejiklian Coalition Government.

The Belligen Shire Courier, 16 July 2019:
 OEH-Milky Silkpod profile. Photo Shane Ruming

A volunteer survey team that trekked through the Upper Kalang forests on the weekend found dozens of endangered plants damaged by Forestry Corporation's logging preparations.

The Milky Silkpod (Parsonia dorrigoensis) is listed as 'vulnerable' in NSW and is a nationally endangered plant.

As the name suggests, the forests of the Mid North Coast are a stronghold for it, with most records found between Kendall and Woolgoolga.

In 1999 it was estimated that there were less than 2000 individual plants and the main threat to the survival of this species is low numbers.

Official government advice on how to manage the plant says that "searches for the species should be conducted prior to any logging operations" and known habitat should be "protect[ed] from clearing, high levels of disturbance and development".

"Yet once again Forestry Corporation has shown its disregard for the the environment," survey team member Jonas Bellchambers said.

"Of the 110 confirmed new records identified on the weekend, 39 specimens were found that had already been damaged and are unlikely to recover.

"With more logging and roading imminent it is highly likely to wipe out a good part of this population.

"Like for most species, it's a death of 1000 cuts, and before we know it another plant has blinked out and has gone from our planet completely. We are in the midst of a major extinction event. Here we have a clear example of why. Because government and industry just don't care....

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Who will be to blame if Essential Energy cuts down koala trees in Lawrence, NSW?

Koala habitat within Lawrence, NSW

Essential Energy is a NSW state-owned corporation supplying ‘poles and wire’ infrastructure to communities on the North Coast.

One of those communities is the small village of Lawrence on the Lower Clarence River.

An attractive feature of living in this village is that it is one of the ever diminishing small regional/rural urban areas which still have resident koalas.

Koalas like this one sitting in a tree line marked by Essential Energy for felling.

Photograph of Lawrence koala supplied

Koala mid-canopy & circled in black
Photograph supplied

Apparently those surveying the short new route for a section of poles and wires in Lawrence neglected to look up into the trees – what else can explain the fact that known koala trees have been marked for destruction?

So who is it that employs such incredibly blind staff?

Well Essential Energy has a Board of Directors (very comfortably remunerated from $60,600 up to $764,200 pa) and all apparently living far from this particular group of koalas.

These board members are:
Patricia McKenzie – Chair, Non-Executive Director
Robyn Clubb – Non-Executive Director
Jennifer Douglas – Non-Executive Director
John Fletcher – Non-Executive Director
Peter Garling – Non-Executive Director
Patrick Strange – Non-Executive Director
Diane Elert – Non-Executive Director
John Cleland – CEO and Executive Director.

The shareholders are represented by the NSW Treasurer and Minister for Finance, Services and Property. Current Treasurer is MP for Epping Dominic Perrottet.

With the exception of the Treasurer all these people belong to what might be called the professional directors class and, between them are associated with a number of other businesses and a research facility:

APA Group, Health Direct Australia,
Australian Wool Exchange Ltd, Craig Moyston Group Ltd, Elders Ltd, NSW Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council, Rice Marketing Board of NSW,
Hansen Technologies LimitedOpticomm Pty LtdPeter MacCullum Cancer Foundation,
Charter Hall Funds Management Limited, Charter Hall Limited, Energy Group Limited, Downer EDI Limited, Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Limited, Tellus Holdings Limited,
Auckland International Airport Limited. Chorus Limited, Mercury Energy, NZX Limited.

Annotated image; photograph supplied
A fair number of people in Lawrence have told Essential Energy that they want these koala trees to be left standing and the corporation states it has taken its plan under review.

So if Essential Energy does decide these koala trees are to be cut down in the next few months, don’t blame the men with chainsaws, blame these eight professional directors and the successive NSW Coalition governments who appointed them - from the O'Farrell Government in 2013 through to the Berejiklian Government in 2018.

Because state government is clearly appointing directors who cannot even ensure that Essential Energy’s environmental policy (for which they are responsible) is comprehensive and actually mentions vulnerable and threatened flora and fauna.

It is a policy which (aside from a brief mention of greenhouse gas emission reduction) fails to give clear direction to staff, given there is only a single broadly worded line in its 12 point health, safety & environmental policy to cover all manner of environmental issues ie., "Comply with relevant legislation, regulations, standards, codes, licences and commitments"

These directors appear so divorced from real life that they apparently never thought that their regional/rural staff need to be trained to look up into tree canopies before they decide to mark a tree line for destruction.

The bottom line is that the Koala as a species is at risk of localised extinction across the areas in which populations still survive and, sadly is at risk of total extinction across the entire country by as early as 2050 if  those in positions of power continue to be deliberately blind to the fate of this Australian icon.

Morrison Government caught out attempting to retrospectively censor native bird export information

The Guardian, 4 April 2019:

The Australian government has attempted to retrospectively censor critical information related to exports of rare and exotic birds to a German organisation headed by a convicted kidnapper, fraudster and extortionist.

Guardian Australia revealed late last year that Australia had permitted the export of 232 birds, some worth tens of thousands of dollars, to the Brandenburg-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) between 2015 and November 2018.

Conservation groups and federal politicians had repeatedly expressed concern about the group, which is headed by Martin Guth, a man with multiple criminal convictions.
The Guardian’s investigation relied on internal government documents secured through freedom of information laws, released in August.

Guardian Australia made subsequent freedom of information requests and received further documents in January. But the federal department of environment has now attempted to retrospectively redact parts of the documents, saying it accidentally released information it shouldn’t have.

Some of the inadvertently released information could “facilitate fraudulent export applications”, the department said. The department had also accidentally released “personal information, such as birth dates and name, and confidential business information”.

The department has asked Guardian Australia to destroy its copies of the documents, and not further disseminate the newly redacted details.

“While we understand that the FOI decisions have already been made, and that you are under no obligation to follow the department’s wishes, we kindly request that you either: destroy the documents that the department has previously released to you and instead, use the redacted documents attached to this letter; or otherwise ensure that the information in question … is not further disclosed or made publicly available,” the department said in a letter emailed to the Guardian on Wednesday, but dated last month.

The documents have not been published on the department’s online FOI disclosure log. The department’s stance suggests that other parties – journalists or conservation groups, for example – would be subject to the newly introduced redactions if they requested the same documents.

Freedom of information experts say the government’s actions have “no legal basis”……

The new redactions remove details that made it possible for Guardian Australia to establish that the operator of ACTP’s Netherlands facility was convicted in 2015 of involvement as a buyer in a trading ring that was illegally selling protected exotic birds.

The department has also removed identification numbers for the birds that were exported to Germany, arguing that its original decision to release that information could lead to “fraudulent” exports of Australian birds overseas.

It has also blacked out permit numbers from the export permits issued in Australia, the names of individuals who operate other ACTP facilities in Germany and in other countries, and removed information relating to ACTP’s exemption status from corporate tax.

The redactions remove images of ACTP’s main breeding facility and maps that illustrate its layout.

In recent months, Guardian Australia has been trying to establish whether the department undertook adequate due diligence to ensure that all of the birds sent to ACTP were legally captive bred.

But the department has refused to release names of suppliers in Australia that would show the chain of custody for each of the birds before they were exported to Germany. Those details were redacted from FoI documents released to the Guardian in January and from documents tabled after an order for the production of documents in parliament.

Attempts by government agencies to retrospectively recover or redact FOI documents have previously been found to have no lawful basis under NSW freedom of information law. Landcom, the NSW government’s land and property development organisation, attempted to retrieve documents it had accidentally released to a school committee group in 2005, and took its case to the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

The tribunal found it had no power whatsoever to retrieve previously released FOI documents.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

When local people power has a win

The rejection of a $25 million development at Byron Bay’s Ewingsdale Rd for a 282-lot subdivision was met with thunderous applause.
Villa World’s plan for a controversial development was unanimously rejected by members of the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel at a meeting on Monday.
It was the second DA for the West Byron site to be refused by the panel, as a $40 million development put forward by West Byron Landowners Group was rejected earlier this year.
Numerous speakers pleaded with the NRPP on many grounds, including that they “did not want a Gold Coast” in Byron Bay.
The proposal was refused on 10 grounds including: adverse impacts to surrounding properties; a significant visual impact and undesirable impact on the street scape inconsistent with the northern entrance to Byron Bay; the development was likely to have had adverse impacts on threatened species and ecosystems; no adequate discharge of storm water and was not considered in the public’s interest.
Echo NetDaily, 9 April 2019:

No social or environmental license

Newly reelected MP Tamara Smith said this another great win for our community and people power. ‘The thousands of community submissions and actions highlighting the fundamental flaws in developing this land have successfully culminated in the NRPP rejecting both subdivision plans – against the odds,’ she said.

‘With the rejection of both the West Byron subdivision applications by the NRPP the developers should immediately approach the State government and request that they buy the land and restore it to the Cumbebin Swamp Reserve.

Ms Smith said there is no social or environmental license for a subdivision of the swamp land known as West Byron. ‘So why waste more money on legal battles when the community is utterly opposed.

‘Restitution is on offer for the landowners and they should jump at the chance to be made whole and walk away. They need only look to Condon Hill at Lennox to see decades of iconic land ownership that has never passed muster to see development on it. Get out now is my advice.

‘I strongly advise Byron Shire Council to shelve any idea of a reduced sub-division and instead respectfully ask them to help me actually deliver what the community wants – No West Byron Mega-development.”

Justifiable opposition

Former Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham also spoke to the panel. She said she wanted to acknowledge the amazing efforts of the community in their justifiable opposition to the inappropriate proposals for the West Byron lands.

‘This development fails on every point,’ she said. ‘From the destruction of biodiversity and the threat to the local koala population and wallum froglet, the filling of a flood prone area, likely negative impact on the Belongil Creek and the Cape Byron Marine Park and further traffic chaos on Ewingsdale Road, that will not be alleviated by the bypass.

‘I’m confident these points have been raised in sufficient detail in the submissions to inform a refusal.’

Ms Barham summed up the general feeling on the day. ‘The refusal of Villa World by the Planning Panel alongside the previous West Byron refusal, justifies years of commitment by our community to protect and preserve our special place, with evidence, passion and genuine concern for the future,’ she said after the decision was announced.

‘It makes me feel so proud to be a member of an activist community who knows the value of standing up for what we believe in and thankfully, this time, the independence of the process delivered the right outcome.

‘Well done to everyone who took the time to be involved, no doubt there will be more challenges to come but the refusals vindicates us and our role as protectors.’

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Valley Watch urgent message to Clarence Valley residents about saving Lawrence koala habitat

Koala habitat within Larwence village streets

Valley Watch Inc has sent this email out…….

Hi everyone brief history and response from Essential Energy below.  

Upgrade and change of route required due to safety (currently passing over someone's house).  Project planned then needed to change route as an underground water main was identified in their proposed route.  New route chosen and vegetation clearing increased from two trees and trimming to approx. 28 trees & shrubs being cleared in a known koala corridor.

Thanks to Community who raised concerns and attended special meeting where they presented new route that could be considered.  As per email below we need to ensure Essential Energy hear there is large community support for protecting koala habitat.

Please telephone and email Raelene Myers at Essential Energy.


----- Forwarded message -----
From: Linda redacted]
Sent: Friday, 5 April 2019, 05:06:11 pm AEDT
Subject: save Lawrence koala habitat

Hi everyone,

At the end of an information session today in Grafton, led by Essential Energy Community Liaison Officer Raelene Myers, the Essential Energy staff told the assembled concerned Lawrence and wider Clarence Valley residents, after much discussion, that they will now put the plan to relocate some poles and wires to an area that would involve koala habitat destruction on hold, while they examine an alternative route that would not. 

The alternative route was put forward by meeting attendees. The plan attached shows the existing route in green, the habitat-destroying route in orange, and the non-habitat-destroying route in red.

Raelene has undertaken to keep updated people who let her know they want to be. Our best chance of saving the koala habitat now is to get as many people as possible to contact her and let her know we are in favour of the non-habitat destroying route and want to be kept updated. Her contact details are below.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think might care.



T: 02 6589 8810 (extn 88810) M: 0407 518 170
PO Box 5730 Port Macquarie NSW 2444
General Enquiries: 13 23 91


The Daily Examiner, 10 April 2019, p.5:

Clarence Valley councillor Greg Clancy said the the proposal would result in the removal of a number of trees and put at risk the koala population in the area.

“We think they could reroute the power lines a different way to reduce the number of trees that would need to cut down,” he said. “I think it’s going to push the local population further towards extinction"

Mr Clancy said despite the relatively small number of trees marked for removal, the frequency with which koalas could be found in them meant they should be saved.

“I was out there the other day with a representative from Essential Energy and there was a koala in one of the marked trees,” he said.

“The point is the koalas are always in these trees and there is a lot of habitat they may not find as suitable. You need to rely on where the koalas are, not where they might be.”