Liberal MP David Elliott, flanked by the most outspoken Koala SEPP opponents Nationals MPs Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, found himself bombarded with questions from the media about the Koala Policy at a fire mitigation announcement at Kungala on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020. Photo: Bill North / The Daily Examiner
Liberal MP David Elliott, flanked by the most outspoken Koala SEPP opponents Nationals MPs Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, found himself bombarded with questions from the media about the Koala Policy at a fire mitigation announcement at Kungala on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020. Photo: Bill North / The Daily Examiner

Solving the koala dilmemma - Pt II

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Solving the Koala dilemma II

IN OUR region the National Parks (NPs) occupy 25 per cent of the land, and the State Forests and Reserves occupy another 25 per cent, for a total of 10,000sqkm.

The NPs were created for many reasons, one being they were core areas for protecting our native wildlife and their habitat.

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Over the last few years there have been articles saying that the farmland next to the NPs is better habitat than the parks (a truism), and need to be made part of the parks.

On September 14, (Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition spokesperson) John Edwards wrote “…SEPP 44 has been roundly criticised for its ... narrow definition of (koala) core habitat, … and their numbers were already in free-fall even before last year’s bushfires decimated populations across the state. Therefore, if koalas are to survive in Australia, the strengthening of legislation to protect (more) habitat is absolutely imperative.”

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This could be equated to making the hole in the dam larger.

John, you have 10,000sqkm of government-controlled habitat, which has been an utter failure. Adding to it by expanding the definition of core habitat so more land can be confiscated will only result in larger areas being devoid of the wildlife they are meant to protect.

So, why have they failed? And why does privately owned land provide a better environment?

It is because the NPs are not kept in a healthy natural state, unlike the surrounding farmland, and, like any land that is not looked after, it will deteriorate.

This problem is aggravated by two things:

  • It used to be that NPs could remain in their original natural state indefinitely without assistance, and this is still true for some parks. For our parks, it’s not the case. They are being invaded and destroyed by weeds and feral animals, which can come from anywhere else in the world.
  • The other has been a change of philosophy. Up until the 1960s parks used to be managed by conservationists, who would use people to control the invasion of the pests and to improve the environment needed by the native wildlife. They are now mismanaged by green environmentalists, who decree that parks have to be left to their own devices and that any assistance by mankind is not allowed, and is even considered detrimental.

Fortunately, there are still conservation groups who are revitalising the native environment. The dominant one is the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), which now owns 165,000sqkm of the Australian landscape.

They buy and fence off core areas, remove weeds and ferals, rejuvenate the natural vegetation, provide water and set up breeding centres. They have brought back many species from the brink.

As well as their own properties they have been contracted by other organisations. Surprisingly, one is the NSW NPs for projects at Mallee Cliffs, Scotia, The Pilliga and North Head (Sydney Harbour). Maybe out west our NPs are not so anti-people.

It has been mentioned before, but instead of grabbing more land and ruining it, why not bring in an AWC to start rejuvenating our 5,000sqkm of NPs? Of course, overcoming the local environmental conniptions could be a problem.

Alternatively, or in addition to, a number of small-scale projects could be done locally, using Banrock Station in SA as an example.

“Since 1994, we have been restoring the wetlands including reintroducing natural wetting and drying, planting thousands of native trees and shrubs, and creating a haven for native wildlife,” the winery states on its website.

In 2002, the wetland was listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, recognising its international significance as habitat for threatened species and migratory birds.

Now there is something locals could strive for - a Ramsar listing or something similar. Firstly, they need to have a change of attitude, and realise people are part of the solution, not the problem.

There are 40 NPs in our area with an average age of 35 years. Can John, Greg (Clancy) or any other SEPP 44 supporters provide data showing where there has been a net increase in wildlife numbers, and an improvement of their environment, which has occurred in our parks during that 35-year average period? I won’t hold my breath.

They need to produce positive outcomes in “their” own backyard before trying to usurp additional private land.

Finally, I would like to thank the Nationals politicians, who objected to the land-grabbing SEPP 44, in spite of knowing the personal backlash they would (and did) receive from a gaggle of braying twits.

John Ibbotson

Lawrence

Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis' threat to move to the crossbench over the Koala Habitat Protection policy made front page headlines of the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020.
Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis' threat to move to the crossbench over the Koala Habitat Protection policy made front page headlines of the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020.

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