Just the news I'd not want to hear. Don't know what to say; I can't imagine what you both must be going through. I can only hope Rhonda will be one of the whatever percentage the beats it. Can't write much or easily talk to you, as I'm in Cambodia at the moment, and won't be back in Oz till late Sept. Will contact you when back. Keep fighting. Thanks for letting me know. Sandy
The NSW Government has announced plans to increase the height of the wall of Warragamba Dam by 14 metres. The stated reason is to mitigate flooding in the area below the dam. Currently the flood plain is not suitable for development and it seems that the proposal is aimed at providing more land to accommodate Sydney’s expanding population which is growing by 100,000 each year.
The Water NSW Amendment (Warragamba Dam) Bill 2018 seeks to overturn provisions in the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974 that currently protect the Blue Mountains and Nattai National Parks from artificial flood inundation.
The proposed raising of Warragamba Dam’s wall will periodically flood 4,700 hectares of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage national parks and 65 kilometres of wilderness streams upstream of the dam wall.
This flooding will have serious and lasting impacts on the biodiversity and threatened species that contribute to the park’s world heritage listing. These include the loss of habitat for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater and the nationally threatened Camden White Gum.
The periodic flooding will also increase erosion and significantly impact on water quality owing to increased sedimentation and silt runoff.
It will also destroy significant cultural heritage sites of the Gundungarra, including artwork, camps and ceremonial sites. These sites are so important that they have been proposed for recognition as an Aboriginal Place.
Another aspect of the proposal is the significant impact it will have on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) listing. The World Heritage listing recognises the international significance of the biodiversity in the Blue Mountains and Nattai National Parks and reserves. The GBMWHA contains significant numbers of rare or threatened species with more than 70 listed threatened animals and over 100 threatened plants.
Raising the wall seems futile as this will not prevent all flooding. The source of half the flooding is downstream of the dam. Alternatives to manage and mitigate flood risks in Hawkesbury Nepean Valley have been identified. This includes lowering the average water level behind the dam to contain build-up during heavy rain events.
The proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall is currently subject to an inquiry by a select committee of the Legislative Council. The Society will be making a submission to the inquiry and members are also encouraged to make a submission. The link to the Inquiry is, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=262
City of Ryde councillors are opposed to the NSW State Government’s Ivanhoe Estate development proposal and members of the Ryde Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society have also been lobbying against it. Submissions are now closed for this State Significant Development (SSD) and can be viewed at https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/SSD- 8903/submissions/12921/3251?query=&classification=All&page=0
We are aware of some concerned people who were unable to make submissions because of the clunky nature of the website, requiring the establishment of an account and password sign-in which some found impossible to do.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the Ivanhoe redevelopment’s impact on the structural integrity of an adjoining building, made all the more credible by the rising number of building failures that have been featured in recent news.
But our main concern is the removal of a prodigious number of mature trees.
547 trees were approved for removal and Stage One adds a further 309 trees for removal. This includes the adjoining Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF), now gazetted as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community under the under both federal legislation and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2016. The project also includes the removal of trees on the edge of a neighbouring property without the owner’s consent.
We have heard that the State Government is considering introducing legislation that will permit the removal of trees, if they are “within strike distance.” Or, put another way, this means that if someone is concerned about a tree, they can have it pruned or removed, without prior council approval. The implications of this for our Urban Forest are dire.
Moreover, the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have expressed their concern with Stage One of the Ivanhoe Estate development, which includes constructing a slip road off Epping Road into the estate, cutting through the centre of the STIF. The RMS submission includes widening of the slip lane to increase vehicle access within the development precinct, together with the reservation of the entire area currently occupied by the Critically Endangered STIF, for any future RMS widening of Epping Road. RMS engineers are effectively saying that the STIF has to go.
The Ivanhoe Estate redevelopment, being a NSW government owned project, should be an example of best practice to the construction and development industry, with regard to site usage, design, planning and building practice consistent with maximising the preservation of the existing tree cover and open space.
Instead, there are early signs that the redevelopment appears to be maximising the usage of the site, with inordinate massive tree loss, giving rise to concerns that it will be yet another high-rise over- development, with all attendant issues. Ivanhoe Estate could showcase best practice for planning and developments, or decisions to not redevelop. It wouInvesting in resilience for the long-haulld be good if the NSW State Government took this golden opportunity to set a good example.
Pollinator-dependent crops may be too much of a good thing. Industrial agriculture’s growing dependence on single, pollinator-dependent crops jeopardises global food security and economic stability.
Research, published in the journal Global Change Biology, indicates too little diversity and too great a dependence on pollinators.The study is based on 50 years of global and regional data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. The world’s total agricultural area increased by 40.6% over that period and land covered by crops reliant on pollination from bees and other insects grew by a massive 137%. However, crop diversity only increased by 20.5% overall, and even declined in some places.
Crop diversity provides a stable food source for pollinators all year round. But if only one or two crops are grown, the available pollen is limited to certain times of the year. Also, monocultures impact biodiversity, habitats and natural pest control, increasing reliance on pesticides and herbicides. These factors all impact the survival of pollinators, which are declining worldwide.
Recommended solutions include improving bee habitats, intercropping with native plants and hedgerows, and restoring natural areas next to crops.
This is an abridged version of an article which was originally published at The Conversation. For more detail and relevant links see theconversation.org.
(by David Lindenmayer, Professor, The Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, and Michelle Young, Director, Sustainable Farms, Australian National University)
With drought ravaging Australia’s eastern states, much attention has been given to the need to provide short- term solutions through drought relief. But long-term resilience is a vital issue, particularly as climate change adds further pressure to farmland.
Farmers who invested in natural assets during the Millenium Drought are coping better with lack of rain now. Photo: CSIRO
Research has found that helping farmers improve the rivers, dams, native vegetation and trees on their land increases productivity, resilience of land, and through this the health and well-being of farmers.
Now is the time to invest more heavily than ever in vital networks in regional Australia, such as Landcare (now celebrating its 30th anniversary) and natural resource management groups like Local Land Services and Catchment Management Authorities.
Growing pressures on agricultural land
Up to 370 million hectares of land in Australia and the Pacific is degraded. Diminished productivity across such a large area has significant implications for long-term agricultural production.
Australia also has one of the worst records for wildlife diversity loss, including extensive loss of biodiversity across much of our agricultural land. The problems of degradation and biodiversity loss are often magnified under the pressure of drought.
Better lands make more money
Many studies have shown improving natural assets on a farm can boost production, as well as avoid costs of erosion and flood control. Restored riverbank vegetation can improve dry matter production in nearby paddocks, leading to greater production and up to 5% boost in farm income.
Shelter belts (tree lanes planted alongside paddocks) lower wind speeds and wind chill, and boost pasture production for livestock while at the same time providing habitat for biodiversity. Long-term work with farmers who invested in their natural assets prior to, or during, the Millennium Drought in NSW suggests these farmers are faring better in the current drought.
Investing in resilience for the long-haul
Well-supported and resourced organisations like Landcare groups are pivotal to supporting effective land management, which improves degraded land and helps through tough times.
However, Landcare and other natural resource management agencies have been subject to major budget cuts over the past decade.
They are also a key part of the social fabric of rural communities, bringing together landowners to exchange ideas and support each other. Indeed, the Australian Landcare model is so well regarded globally it has been adopted in 22 other countries.
This drought is a critical decision point. The need to invest in maintaining and improving our vegetation, water and soil has never been more apparent than it is now. We have a chance to determine the long-term future of much of Australia’s agricultural land.