Director’s report May 2016

Director’s report May 2016

First, let me apologise for the long period since the last newsletter. We have had a few changes here at the TCT, most significant being the departure last December of long serving TCT officer manager Trish McKeown. Those who knew Trish would know she didn’t want a great fuss being made about her, but I do feel it necessary to say thank you to her publically on behalf of all TCT members, councillors and staff, past and present.

Fire in the wilderness

Fire in the wilderness

The bushfire situation in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has worsened significantly in the last 40 years. In the early 1980s, malicious and spiteful lighting of fires was rampant, particularly along the Lyell Highway, although this human malevolence seems to have largely abated. Accidental ignitions from campfires and other human folly require vigilant controls, but they are not the most significant threat. Since the early 2000s fires started by dry lightning have become the most significant concern.

Tasmanian Cat Management Reference Group

The first meeting of the Tasmanian Cat Management Reference Group was held on 19 June 2015. The reference group was established by the Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff, and includes representatives from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, RSPCA, Hobart Cat Centre, Australian Veterinary Association, Cat Association of Tasmania, Landcare Tasmania, Local Government Association of Tasmania, NRM North, Tasmanian Conservation Trust and the University of Tasmania.

Species harvesting in 1.1 million hectares of reserves

The Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act 2014 (FRFI Act), passed the Tasmanian Parliament on 2 September 2014 and commenced on 22 October. It includes provisions which amend the statutory management objectives and purposes for all conservation areas and regional reserves (clauses 27 and 31) to specifically permit harvesting of special species timbers.

Restore Skyline Tier

In the late 1960s to early 1970s the Reece Government in Tasmania funded the landscape-scale conversion of native forest to radiata pine plantation in the Fingal Valley/Mathinna and Scamander (Skyline Tier) areas. This was done as much to create jobs for unemployed miners in the region as for any guaranteed commercial outcome. In the early 2000s clearfelling of mature pines on the visually prominent and steep eastern slopes of Skyline Tier triggered community interest and concern.

Pets and Pests – biosecurity in Australia

Practitioners from a range of disciplines and countries spoke about emerging threats and new technologies being developed and applied in the field of vertebrate pest management. Pest species and their associated management challenges discussed at the conference ranged from old foes including wild dogs, feral horses, feral cats, camels, goats, foxes, Indian mynas, starlings, pigs, deer, rabbits, carp, rats, wallabies and possums to new arrivals such as smooth newts in Victoria and black-spined toads.

The Future of Vital Marine Research Areas Hangs in the Balance

Two small research areas that were closed to rock lobster fishing, so that researchers could investigate the Centrostephanus urchin barrens that threaten much of Tasmania's rocky reef systems, are at risk of being opened to fishing even while they remain vital to the fight against the destruction of reef habitat and important fisheries. Centrostephanus barrens currently represent the greatest threat to Tasmanian reefs and recreational abalone and rock lobster fishing.

Winners and losers in a Tasmanian suburb

Several related wildlife themes have surfaced in the recent past: ways in which our cities and suburbs turn some animal species into winners or losers (Low 2002); a trend for some species to adapt to habitat or landscape-scale changes (TPC 2010) and how landowners might best manage the major problem of browser impacts (Greening Australia 2003). Are we creating winners and losers by appropriating wildlife habitat? What is the current position? The Hobart suburb of Fern Tree may be an instructive example here.

VDL clearing proposal set for strict assessment by Australian Government

On the 18 February 2013 the Australian Government decided that the Van Diemen's Land Company (VDL) dairy farm expansion proposal at its Woolnorth property is a controlled action under the EPBC Act and will be assessed by an environment impact statement. In our submission on VDL’s referral to the Australian Government, we recommended that this proposal be rejected outright but, if not, that it should be assessed through the most stringent assessment process.  Having this proposal assessed through an EIS is a good outcome and is certainly justified.

State of the Forests Tasmania 2012

The State of the Forests Tasmania 2012 was tabled in the state parliament at the end of November 2012.

Although it hardly registered a blip in the media or in the state parliament, the report is an important component of Tasmania’s environmental reporting and provides a key role in the five yearly reviews of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (the next review is due in 2014). It also provides many important facts in regard to forest conservation and management which should of use to those currently debating the Tasmanian Forest Agreement Bill.