Peak conservationists withdraw, as waters get murkier for oysters

As reported in the SMH yesterday, conservation groups have withdrawn from stakeholder consultations about NSW biodiversity laws. The groups include the NSW Nature Conservation Council, Wilderness Society, Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association, WWF Australia and Humane Society International.

Concerned about a ‘wind back’ of environmental protection and increased broad-scale land clearing, a group statement indicated ” . . . It has become clear that the broad outcomes of this process are being predetermined by a minority of rural interests, and the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Act will fail to secure adequate protections for our wildlife, water and soils.”

While ‘a minority of rural interests’ are frequently a source of concern, a greater concern is the generally poor and frequently contradictory understandings about what ‘adequate protections for our wildlife, water and soils’, actually are.

So it was interesting to read the Eden Magnet story this week about the Wonboyn Lake Ratepayers’ Association’s concerns about reduced water quality ‘ when an unusual orange discolouration was observed for the first time’. The Wonboyn Lake catchment (33,522 hectares)  is dominated (90%) by East Boyd, Nadgee and Timbillica State Forests, with the remainder being private land (6%) and National Park (4%).

The Association suggested the turbidity was caused by recent logging. The forestry spokesperson suggested 300-500 ha per year are logged in the catchment. Not surprisingly, this figure contrasts with FCNSW proposed logging for the 2014-15 financial year, indicating compartments totally 6,400 hectares were up for the chop.


For its part, the EPA/OE&H indicated its investigation had traced the source of the turbidity to an unspecified ‘unique soil type’, in the catchment. They went on to claim, ” . . . identifying the exact location of this soil and where exactly it is entering the lake is difficult to determine.”

I’m not sure if anyone actually believes the OE&H/EPA and I don’t have soil landscape mapping for the catchment. However, the map above is another adaptation of FCNSW’s dry weather and drought associated die-back in the catchment.

As indicated areas with a high or high/low predisposition to this particular form of die-back dominate the catchment, yet the responsible NSW government agencies seemingly see no connection between water quality and forest health.

Coincidently, among the attendees at the meeting was Mr Kel Henry, proprietor of Wonboyn Wilderness Oysters and general manager of Allied Natural Wood Exporters, the new owners of the Eden woodchip mill.



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