Active and adaptive biodiversity management – based on faith

The NSW Minister for the Environment has announced a review of the Native Vegetation Act, Threatened Species Conservation Act , Nature Conservation Trust Act, and related legislation.

A panel has been appointed and is now taking submissions for what is described as a ‘major holistic review of biodiversity legislation’. Unfortunately, the issues paper indicates, “The management of national parks or other public lands will not be assessed in this review”.

While the exclusion of public land management tends to take the shine off the holistic suggestion, perhaps more important is whether panel members are impartial.

Among the four member review panel is Dr John Keniry, Commissioner of the NSW Resources Commission (NRC), and former board member of the NSW Environment Protection Authority. Currently, the NRC are taking submissions on its draft ‘Active and adaptive management of cypress forests in the Brigalow and Nandewar State Conservation Areas‘.

Although this public land is intended for conservation, recreation and mineral extraction, the NRC propose ‘thinning’ of dense white cypress pine stands, based on the notion that this make the trees grow quicker and somehow make eucalypts grow back.

The downside is the dense stands are non-commercial, and because the timber industry has run out of timber on State forests, the NRC propose logging of any large trees to help pay for the thinning. According to the draft, and in common with with local forests, the increase in dense small tree regrowth is increasing the wild-fire potential, so more burning is proposed. However, as in local forests, it seems likely that drought, logging and burning all combine to increase the density of small trees, and wildfire potential.

regrow

 
Co-incidentally, to the south, detailed research has been released on fire intensity and tree mortality during the Victorian Black Saturday bush fires. Published in Conservation letters, the ANU research, led by Dr Hugh Possingham, found fire intensity, and tree tree mortality was greatly increased in logged ‘wet forest’, and increased fire intensity may last up to 70 years after logging.

Closer to home, FCNSW are clear-felling what were wet forests in Glenbog SF.  The  Sydney Morning Herald reports,  wombats (not a threatened species) are being buried alive, despite burrows being marked before logging began, as indicated in the Harvesting Plan –

” . . . As far as practicable damage to wombat burrows must be avoided. In particular, care should  be taken to ensure that burrow entries are not collapsed or obstructed by large woody  material, rocks, etc. Approximately 100 wombat burrows have been marked with yellow/black  striped paint in the field by local representatives of the “Wombat Protection Society” to assist
machine operators in identifying their location.”

Another Glenbog SF Harvesting Plan optimistically indicates –

” . . . Very little eucalypt regeneration has occurred in the previously thinned stands and gaps between mature trees are dominated by understorey shrubs. It is expected that this harvesting operation will provide sufficient gaps to allow for a eucalypt regeneration event.”

Not sure if the Wombat Protection Society would agree, given its faith has been tested.

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