NSW government selects Murrah reserve committee, while confirming business as usual

This week’s Narooma News reports on a “. . . newly formed committee drafting the working plan for the Murrah Flora Reserves.” Those selected for the committee include five NPWS/OE&H employees, three reserve neighbours, chairpersons of the Biamanga and Gulaga management boards, two representatives from the South East Timber Association and a Rural Fire Service representative.

The inclusion of SETA representatives seems to infer the original proposal, to protect 2,800 hectares of forest from logging, remains on track. In addition and excluding the neighbours, whose opinions are currently unknown, all of the other committee members support burning forests.

According to NPWS ranger Simon Conarty, “. . . We have a real opportunity to implement a range of actions that will promote a forest structure and regenerate koala browse species to improve floristic diversity and habitat values.”

Exactly how this is to be achieved isn’t apparent, given die-back isn’t an issue and the first meeting focused on ‘cultural burning’ and 1080 baiting.  Simon stated, “. . . Cultural burning initiatives are strongly supported by the boards because they enhance fire management and provide opportunities to the Aboriginal community to connect to country and be involved in management across the landscape.”

Of course there is no information to suggest Aboriginals burned these forests. Rather the evidence confirms burning was largely constrained to grassy forest ecosystems and headlands. So it seems a shame that lighting inappropriate fires is seen as a way to connect with country.

On the 1080 baiting issue, the article refers to wild dog control, although it must be nearly 20 years since I last heard a dingo. There seems little doubt that losing dingoes has improved the lot for foxes. In that regard I recently found the fresh fox scat, on the left in the photo below,  within 1km of 1080 bait location, although the bait remains untouched.



Simon also refers to the ‘20 threatened fauna species and three threatened flora species’, found in the reserves. One of the threatened species is the Powerful owl, although there doesn’t appear to be any Powerful owl records in the reserves post 2004. However, early this week, the day after a powerful owl was heard close by, I found the owl bolus, on the right in the photo, in the front yard. It was adjacent to a brush tailed possum’s head and entrails. Although they used to be a lot more common, populations of all forest owls were greatly reduced after the extensive canopy die-back event of 2002-04.

The NSW scientific committee undertook a review of the powerful owl’s vulnerable status in 2008. Unfortunately the information they had came from research undertaken prior to 2002. So it will be interesting to see if the OE&H/NPWS can confirm there has been no reduction in the populations of threatened species, including owls.

While dealing with the NSW government is a constant source of disappointment, I am happy to announce my trial syngas collector, on the second attempt, actually worked and surprisingly filled the 2,000 litre gas bag. The gas provides an additional heat source for the solar timber dryer, to reduce the moisture content. While the outcome is a little beyond my expectations, it seems reasonable to assume any notions the NSW government may take a different approach are well beyond expectations.



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