Each year at the annual general meeting of members the Society’s Management Committee reports on the activities of the previous year in the context of the objects of the constitution for the Society. As President, I offer comments on what may be in store for the year ahead. It is important to remain focussed on our objects and a formal report is a necessary part of that process.
This year I would like to suggest that we do more than review the previous year’s activities at the AGM and that we consider the continuing relevance of our objects and the way we conduct the affairs of the Society.
The current constitution of the Society dates from the 1990’s and the most recent amendment was in 2007. This amendment was relatively minor and facilitated decision making by the Management Committee by changing the quorum for Committee meetings. Since the 1990’s there have been many changes in the number, nature and significance of environmental issues that the Society seeks to address. There have also been many changes in communications technology and the pace at which issues arise and need to be dealt with.
Do the objects set out in our constitution continue to reflect the priorities of our members and contemporary environmental matters? Do the management processes provided in the constitution need to change to permit more timely and effective action? How do we engage members to a greater extent and satisfy our volunteers with our current range of activities?
The Management Committee is holding a workshop on Saturday 19 January 2019 at 2pm to discuss these questions and related matters. The outcome of the work shop will be recommendations to be considered at the AGM in March 2019 where any proposed changes to the constitution may be decided by the membership. The outcomes will be circulated to members with the formal notice of the AGM.
NSW state reserves cover just 0.2 per cent of so-called "koala hubs" that are home to key colonies. Koalas are threatened across eastern Australia, including in NSW where the WWF estimates the animal faces extinction by mid-century. Only one-seventh of the 77,517 hectares of koala hubs in north- east NSW are located in National Parks where they can receive some level of protection.
Recently the NSW and Federal governments renewed the destructive 20 year logging deals in our public native forests despite much opposition. These Regional Forest Agreements exempt logging from our national environment laws and have resulted in the deaths of countless native species over the last two decades.
Australia is enduring an extinction crisis resulting from irresponsible decisions by government, ignoring scientific evidence and advice as well as public opinion. With this industrial logging of our public native forests continuing, many more of our precious wildlife, including the koala, will be at risk and our natural areas destroyed. The campaign to challenge and bring greater awareness about these damaging RFAs will march on.
A group of around 100 walkers have been marching the 560 km from Sydney to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, determined to overturn the NSW government legislation that puts destructive feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park above protection of endangered native species and the sensitive alpine environment.
National Parks and other protected areas are the primary means of safeguarding biodiversity for future generations. Less than 10% of NSW is set aside to be free from human encroachment and development. Kosciuszko is one of Australia’s premier National Parks, being the largest in NSW and part of the national heritage listed Australian Alps.
The detrimental impacts from the building Snowy 2.0 hydro pumping can now be added to the ongoing damage to KNP, from feral horses, infrastructure and tourist developments, horse riding and mountain bike trails, weeds, invasive species and erosion. The move by the Berejiklian-Barilaro government to give heritage listing to brumbies stunned environment groups, scientists and the community.
The NSW Labor opposition has promised to revoke the Act. The brumbies already number over 6,000 and, along with other feral animals, are causing severe land degradation and loss of native species. It sets a dangerous precedent that leaves all National Parks exposed, including the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (now at risk from a new law allowing flooding from the raising of the Warragamba dam wall). For more information on the campaign go to reclaimkosci.org.au
which promotes the value and importance of these amazing Owls in our urban areas, at great risk from rapid growth and development. They and their bushland habitat need our protection. You can find our leaflet at the Visitor Centre. There is also a policy document available aimed at educating and assisting a range of stakeholders to make sure these Vulnerable Owls continue to thrive and survive... https://www.step.org.au/images/STEPimages/PDFdownloads/POppweb.pdf
Society representatives recently met with staff at City of Ryde’s Parks section to discuss Council’s proposed development of generic plans of management for public land within Ryde LGA. The new plans will also cover the recently “acquired” Crown land reserves transferred to local Councils under the new Crown land management regime commenced by the NSW government. Crown Reserves in Ryde include the Field of Mars Reserve and Brush Farm Park. The State government directed Councils to manage the newly transferred Crown Reserves under the Local Government Act (LG Act).
The intent of the LG Act is for a comprehensive categorisation of public land based on the identified values of the land parcel. Community land can be categorised as a Park, Natural Area, Sportsground or General Community Use. Multiple categories can occur across a land parcel. Ryde Council has commenced the generic planning process for all category areas except public land categorised as Natural Area.
In the meeting Council staff argued that Sportsgrounds, Parks and leased General Community Use areas had this priority over natural areas in management processes due to current funding constraints within Council. Generic plans for Natural Areas will be developed next financial year. The Society argued that this is inconsistent with the LG Act which prescribes a comprehensive process to categorise each public land parcel.
Completing the generic plans of management for Parks and Sportsgrounds in isolation of Natural Areas may not properly identify all sensitive areas or future habitat corridors. Consequently, protection of Natural Areas could weaken. The Society will continue to lobby Council to comply with the principles of public land management prescribed in the LG Act to ensure sustainable management of Ryde’s public land occurs.