Late last month, Queensland’s Courier-mail printed an article on dwindling koala numbers in the state, quoting Dr Greg Baxter from Queensland University. While the article ( Thanks Mum) was less than encouraging for the species, Dr Baxter did have a simple message.
” . . . He said if we relied on nature, koala numbers were unlikely to bounce back. It’s a critical determination to be able to give them good koala habitat – quality of soils determines the quality of leaves and affects the koalas’ health.”
Closer to home, ABC radio reported on predictions that the far south coast could face catastrophic fires over the coming year. ” . . . Brent Jacobs from Sydney’s University of Technology says part of the problem is that the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla have had frequent small fires, but it has been a long time since a major blaze. “It’s really praying on the minds of the Rural Fire Service. The Bureau of Meteorology has said we’re expecting a mega El Nino coming so the landscape’s going to be drying out. If we get some high temperatures over the summer, which we probably will, there’s every chance that we could have some fires, catastrophic in the way that we saw them in Victoria, in the future.”
Missing from this discussion is the notion that bushfire intensity is likely to be increase, if the forests are brown, and this complication is also associated with quality of soils.
Using the Bermagui River as an example, the catchment can be divided into three sub-catchments, the largely cleared upper western section, and the largely forested lower western and coastal sections, dominated by the Murrah soil landscape. Areas of public and private land are roughly equal, although Biamanga NP (3,497 ha) exceeds the area State Forests (904ha), in the catchment.
Further to local community concerns about Bega Council’s proposals for its quarry in the catchment, and without consultation, Council has also turned properties around the quarry into so-called ‘buffer areas’ for the quarry. This cheekiness is perhaps no worse than the State government, that made the area a focus for its koala recovery proposals, also without advising residents.
Coincidentally, Council has also recently refreshed its MOU’s with Local Aboriginal Councils. Hence, the time seems appropriate to approach the Biamanga/Gulaga management boards, to follow up previous support for the re-introduction of native species, at a broader scale. It would be helpful to clarify whether the, ‘potential for creative partnerships and co-operative outcomes which benefit both the natural environment and the local community’ , remains a priority.