OE&H announce statewide BMAD review, but fall behind on science, animal care and ethics

The Office of Environment and Heritage has recently advertised a tender for ” . . . a consultant to synthesise current knowledge of Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) across tenures and provide prioritised recommendations that can drive a strategic, whole-of-government cross-tenure approach to managing the issue in NSW. ” The ad to goes on to suggest ” . . . This research is being commissioned with a view to guiding targeted funding for implementing control measures.”
Technical experts from a consortium of government departments, the OE&H, NPWS, EPA, DPI, FCNSW and the RFS, along with others, will be consulted ” . . . to ensure the most up-to-date information is included in the review.”  Of course one of the problems is the notion that most of these departments have their own, generally less than scientific, ideas about BMAD. So what eventually comes out of the review is any-one’s guess.
On a positive note the tender suggests ” . . . Careful consideration should be given to finding a balance between managing BMAD and maintaining or enhancing forest biodiversity.” Although it is a shame that notions about careful consideration rarely apply to the aforementioned agencies.

Along those lines, the OE&H has also recently released a report titled ‘2012–14 Koala survey report in coastal forests of south-eastern NSW – Bermagui/Mumbulla area‘. The report indicates            ” . . .The only major change in the method was the survey grid for 2012–14 was aligned with the Geocentric Datum of Australia (GDA94) one kilometre grid coordinate intersections.”

Exactly why this poorly considered change was made is not clarified in the report. However, the predicable negative outcome was an inability to directly compare the plot data. In addition there was added expense, the need to engage consultants, who found only 29% of the plot data could be employed for comparison.

RGBSAT tree

I have previously made suggestions to the OE&H about ways to improve the surveys, including changes to methods used to mark the plots to increase accuracy. Among these suggestions, all of which have been ignored, was an alternative method of marking plots, rather than leaving plastic tape throughout the bush.

The other day I dropped into the RGB-SAT plot, central tree pictured above, where I picked up some fresh koala scats earlier this year.

As indicated by the date on the central tree in the plot, another survey was undertaken a month after my visit. During the survey another two plastic tapes were put on the tree and as indicated, a large nail with metal tag attached, has also been driven into the tree.

Neither of these methods are necessary or desirable. The plastic tape, now potentially up to 4,000 metres of it, can readily detach and potentially end up in waterways.

The nail, given it could cause a serious injury, is a threat to all tree climbing animals. For species like the Yellow-bellied glider, a hard landing on a nail could be fatal.

So I made some inquiries, only to find the OE&H has it’s own animal care and ethics arrangements. Seems these could do with some improvements too.

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