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Tag Archives | NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC)

Raising Warrangamba Dam Wall Impacts

The NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) says that up to 1000 hectares of world heritage area and 3700 hectares of national park will be inundated for up to two weeks by raising Warragamba Dam wall.

The NCC is very concerned about 58 threatened species within the area already impacted by  recent bushfires including the koala, critically-endangered regent honeyeater, greater glider, broad-headed snake, brushtail rock wallaby, eucalyptus benthamii and eucalyptus glaucina.

In January 2020 the World Heritage Centre asked the Commonwealth Government to provide an update on the state of conservation of the Blue Mountains heritage area after more than 80 per cent was ravaged by fire last summer.

In response, the Commonwealth Government said Water NSW would re-assess bushfire impacts and include them in the pending environmental impact statement (EIS).  However, to date the draft EIS states Water NSW has no intention of re-assessing the area impacted by fire.

Ornithologist Martin Schulz said last summer’s Green Wattle Creek blaze burnt most of the southern Blue Mountains leaving only a small unburnt section which will likely be flooded by the Dam. “The ecosystems are different and parts will be in recovery for decades. How can an assessment done before the fires be valid? Dr Schulz asked. The fires changed so many things,” he said.

The draft EIS shows before the bushfires only 15 hours of spotlight searches were conducted for the koala, greater glider and squirrel glider in the inundation area, despite a 61 hour recommendation. Dr Schulz says this is “bafflingly low” especially for koalas given the area is so vast and how hard they are to find.

The time spent gathering sample collections of the squirrel glider and brush-tailed phascogale also didn’t meet the guidelines with only 1820 nights completed but 3224 nights recommended. The assessment of the large-eared pied bat was 11 times less the suggested amount with traps laid for 78 nights yet 864 recommended. “The low survey effort for the large-eared pied bat is particularly disappointing,” Dr Schulz said.

Community group Give a Dam spokesman Harry Burkitt has called on the Federal Government to intervene.

“The barrow-loads of leaked material now in the public domain show (Western Sydney) Minister Stuart Ayres and Infrastructure NSW haven’t even bothered following NSW guidelines, let alone those required under federal law or by UNESCO,” he said.

Infrastructure NSW, which oversees the project, says feedback from state and federal governments on the draft EIS is important in developing the final version. “The final decision on the dam raising proposal will only be made after all environmental, cultural, financial and planning assessments are complete,” a spokeswoman said.

The World Heritage Committee, which selects sites for UNESCO’s world heritage list, has expressed concerns over the project and will review the EIS before the Federal Government’s decision.

10,000 Koalas Dead

The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) states that shocking new analysis estimates that fire, drought and starvation have killed 10,000 koalas since October [1]. That’s one out of every three koalas in the state!

Koala numbers were already declining steeply and slipping towards extinction. The fires have made their plight even more urgent.

In the midst of this crisis, you would expect our government would do everything in its power to protect remaining forests. But it is doing the opposite.

The NSW Government has now approved logging in two state forests that fires ripped through just weeks ago.

The NCC wants you to call on Premier Berejiklian to put an immediate moratorium on logging and to conduct a wildlife and habitat assessment.

More than 5 million hectares has burnt in NSW this fire season [2], including more than 41% of the national parks estate and 40% of state forests [3].

Native forests are resilient and will recover in time. Burnt forests are living forests with trees that are sprouting fresh leaves. Animals that survived the fires will slowly move back into these forests as life regenerates, so it is critical that these areas are kept safe.

Logging burnt forests not only destroys wildlife habitat, it slows recovery and harms soil and water health. It also increases future fire risk and leaves the forest uninhabitable for decades [3].

Premier Berejiklian has the power to keep forests safe from further destruction. The NCC asks you to call on her to put a moratorium on logging and give our wildlife a fighting chance after the bushfires.

Unburnt forests are critical refuges for koalas and other threatened species. With so much of the state burnt, koalas cannot afford to have their homes and food chopped down and their lives put at risk.

Right now, the NSW Government is looking at where else can be logged, against the best scientific advice, and before carrying out a post-bushfire wildlife and habitat impact assessment.

Pressure from the community has made a difference this bushfire season already, allowing wildlife carers and ecologists into closed state forests on the North Coast where koalas were dying of starvation.

We need to keep being a voice for koalas and other threatened species.

In times like these it can be hard to hold on to hope, but tens of thousands of people are standing up for nature and we are not backing down. Burnt forests are recovering and koalas are being rescued and rehabilitated by dedicated wildlife carers.

[1] Ten thousand koalas may have died in the NSW bushfires, inquiry hears. ABC, 19 February, 2020.
[2] Understanding the impact of the 2019-2020 fires. Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, February 2020.
[3] Analysis by The Wilderness Society, 2020.[4] Post-bushfire logging makes a bad situation even worse, but the industry is ignoring the science. ABC Lindenmayer, 29 January, 2020.