NEW!!! Wallumetta newsletters available here
The Interim Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act has now been released by Professor Graeme Samuel.
How do the Interim Report and the Government response measure up?
Members will recall that one of the Society’s concerns about the Ivanhoe Estate project was the reliance by the proponent on biodiversity offsets to compensate for removal of critically endangered Sydney Turpentine and Ironbark Forest on the site. Importantly the Interim Report states:
Offsets do not offset the impact of development, and overall there is a net loss of habitat. Proponents are permitted to clear habitat in return for protecting other areas of the same habitat from future development. It is generally not clear if the area set aside for the offset is at risk from future development. (p14)
The Society was truly justified in questioning offsets in respect of the Ivanhoe Estate proposal. However the Interim Report does not rule out offsets and instead recommends measures to incentivise investment in restoration. This will not prevent a net loss of the relevant critically endangered ecological community.
The Interim Report recommends an independent and effective regulator to enforce National Environmental Standards. Unfortunately the Federal Government has rejected the need for an independent regulator and claims the federal department is sufficient for this role.
Another matter of concern is the recommendation for new bilateral assessment and approval agreements for conducting reviews of proposals. Already the Federal Government has flagged its intention to amend the existing law to delegate environmental approval powers to the states. As such the assessment and approval will be subject to resourcing and other priorities of each State.
The Interim Report also excludes a trigger for review of matters affecting the climate and other environmental matters such as land clearing. The report states that existing separate legislation is appropriate for these matters. The requirement to conduct an EPBC assessment should extend to these other matters unless the equivalent provisions exist in the relevant separate legislation.
A further concern is the recommendation to provide only for limited merit review. This would curtail consideration by Court of matters not raised during the assessment process.
There is the opportunity for comment on the Interim Report and the Society will make a submission on these matters. Members are encouraged to also make submissions and to let us know their views. The following provides a link for submitting comments on the Interim Report and provides further links to the report and other relevant information: https://epbcactreview.environment.gov.au/get-involved.
Frank Breen, President
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
(subject to current Covid-19 restrictions)
2020 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – Saturday 15 August, 2pm.
This will be held at the Visitor Centre, Field of Mars Reserve and Wildlife Refuge, followed by afternoon tea. At this meeting members may review the reports on our operations during 2019, and elect the Management Committee for the year to March 2021.
We hope to organise further events after the AGM, though of course it all depends on developments with Covid-19. Members will be informed in advance by email, as always, and in the next Wallumetta.
OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT WOMBATS
The Colong Foundation presents a distance education interactive discussion course: Wombats, Wattle, Wilderness, World Heritage and Wellbeing (WWWWW). A minimum of six people come together to read, talk and discuss and email their reflections to the Worker's Educational Association (WEA) tutor, Janine Kitson, who then responds to it.
WWWWW deals with the connections between wombats, acacias, wilderness, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and wellbeing. It highlights Australia’s history of land clearing where today only 2% of the Brigalow Belt in Queensland is protected in reserves, including the tiny Epping Forest National Park, home of the critically endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat.
The WEA Sydney WWWWW Discussion Group course costs $68 per person to enrol in (minimum of six people to enrol) and is available at https://www.weasydney.com.au/course/D243
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.