Rapid catchment assessments – remediation or business as usual?

Reported in the Narooma News this week, NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes has announced Bega shire council will receive $20,000 to conduct rapid catchment assessments of Cuttagee Lake, Nelsons and Middle Lagoons. According to Minister Stokes, “The aim is to identify actual and potential threats in each catchment and provide the basis for future remediation and land-use management techniques for the issues identified.”

The funds come from the NSW Estuary Management Program administered by the Office of Environment and Heritage, although the website suggests Local Land Services will be undertaking the assessments.

Should this be the case it seems possible the assessments form part of the Natural Resource Commission’s additional requirement for the Southern Rivers Catchment Action Plan. That is ” . . . to develop reference points against which progress towards Catchment Action Plan (CAP) targets will be measured to further improve accountability for delivering outcomes.”

Regrettably, and as previously reported, since the CAP was approved most of the Melaleuca trees near the mouth of Cuttagee lake, at the location indicated on the map below, have died.

cuttlog

As indicated, significant areas in the catchment have been logged since the early 1980’s. The last attempt  during 2005 was thwarted by community action. At that time Forestry claimed it would begin talks with conservationists.These talks never happened, perhaps because Forestry, like other government entities, NPWS, OE&H etc, prefer not to talk about issues that reflect poorly on their respective management.

If there is any benefit from the death of the Melaleucas it’s the prominent position they occupy, because it would be difficult not to notice them. Assuming they do get noticed, the issue is whether the circumstances of these deaths are similar to, and/or associated with tree dieback in the upper reaches of the catchment, where koalas cling to existence.

There isn’t much point talking about future remediation and land-use management techniques while these issues continue to be ignored, and the outcome is always business as usual.

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