Although the final result remains uncertain, it’s reassuring that the federal election has led to perhaps two positive outcomes. The first of these may be a change to the proposal to roll-over the Regional Forest Agreements, rather than reviewing them.
The second positive is the re-election of Labor’s Dr Mike Kelly, to the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro. The seat has been held by various governments since 1972, although time will tell if the tradition continues. More important though are Dr Kelly’s well known concerns about our declining environment. Interestingly the vote for the Greens and independents in Eden-Monaro, with 86% of votes counted, were both down.
While this reduction may not be associated with the Greens at a state and local government level, it is from these levels that the strategy to ignore die-back emanates. As I understand it, the strategy is aimed at ensuring the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service doesn’t look bad.
Apart from misrepresenting the facts, it is arguable the the state government is happy to ignore die-back too, as indicated in the most recent Draft South East and Tablelands Regional Plan, produced by the NSW Department of Planning.
With regard to the environment, there is no mention of die-back, conveniently ignoring the fact that trees are dropping dead across hundreds of thousands of hectares in the south east. Despite this and the fact that a large chunk of the south east supplies Sydney’s drinking water (blue hatched area) the plan suggests – “It aims to protect and restore environmental values and connections to the landscape, to contribute to healthy, engaged communities.”
On koalas and as indicated in the map above, the so-called flora reserves remain as State forests. However, there is mention of the tablelands koalas and the NSW Government will:
• support Cooma-Monaro Shire Council to develop and implement a Koala Plan of Management; and
• support councils across the region to monitor the koala population, where relevant.
Regrettably, it appears the state government’s decision to eliminate Cooma-Monaro council, is yet to filter through to the NSW planning department. Similarly, the notion that Bega Shire Council needs support to monitor ‘the population’, seems a little odd, given the OE&H is running things.
So I expect the connection is with the Biamanga Board of management, where greens councillor Keith Hughes represents local government. This links in with the OE&H suggestion that a koala recovery plan should fit into the management plan for Biamanga National Park.
Tragically, the Biamanga management plan doesn’t refer to die-back either, I assume due to the involvement of the Greens and the National Parks Association.
The challenge for the conservation movement is to form a united front, by joining with the only group that does talk about die-back, South East Forest Rescue and supporting forest restoration.