The Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, has replied to the TCT’s letter regarding the Dans Hill nickel mine proposal (feature article in the of the Tasmanian Conservationist #319) and has promised to investigate the circumstances and conditions under which Australian Government funds were used for the purchase of private land for inclusion in the Dans Hill Conservation Area.
The TCT has called on the Australian Government to intervene to stop recreational vehicle users threatening the immense natural and cultural values of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area (APCA). Since the emergency listing of the Tarkine area as a National Heritage Place under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act in December 2009, which includes the APCA south of the Arthur River (the vast majority of the reserve), we assert that the thousands of recreational vehicle users accessing the area are damaging matters of national environment significance and are therefore in contravention of the EPBC Act. Without assessment and approval under the Act each and every recreational vehicle user is committing an offence.
The Alternatives to 1080 Program has now ceased and, without a decision by the Australian and State governments to provide additional funding, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE) will only be able to maintain a low-level program. Landowners are reporting high losses from browsing animals but the State and Australian governments have basically left them to deal with this issue alone. DPIPWE will be able to provide advice via the telephone and distribute copies of documents produced by the Alternatives to 1080 Program, but expect the calls for easier access to 1080 poison to become louder, particularly from the farming community.
In October 2009 the State Government called for submissions on the boundaries for the proposed Bay of Fires National Park. It its submission, the TCT recommended that it was premature and inappropriate to seek public input regarding the boundaries for the proposed Bay of Fires National Park as Aboriginal concerns and existing management problems should have been dealt with first. Also, public input was never sought into the proposed boundaries or other potential uses for the area. Media coverage indicated most people were dissatisfied with the final national park boundaries.
The TCT was deeply disappointed that the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, rejected recommendations in relation to the forest management and regional forest agreements made by the independent reviewer Dr Allan Hawke in the October 2009 ‘Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999’ (EPBC). Dr Hawke’s recommendations were not radical or highly restrictive on the forest industry and Minister Garrett should not have dismissed them so conclusively and hastily.
The Tasmanian Cat Management Act 2009 received royal assent on 19 December 2009 and is expected to commence in July 2010.This is perhaps Australia’s best cat control legislation, empowering those who want to control cats, and helping to reduce the number of unwanted and abandoned cats, whilst putting in place safeguards to protect peoples’ much-loved pet cats.
Legislative changes recently introduced by the State Government will leave clearing of native vegetation unregulated or poorly regulated in some areas of the state, exposing even the most endangered vegetation communities to destruction.
It is now six months since the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, listed Tasmanian Lowland Native Grasslands on the EPBC Act and we are finally starting to see the public debate calm down and the Australian Government take action to implement the listing. Attempts by the Liberal Party to have the listing disallowed in the Senate failed when the government and Green senators joined forces. Although some farming interests still believe the listing can be overturned or amended, to exclude former grassy woodland that has lost its tree cover, this is highly unlikely to succeed.
Thank you to all the TCT members who responded to our request in the last newsletter to write to Minister David Llewellyn calling for protection of swift parrot habitat. In reply to the TCT’s letter, and in our recent meeting, the minister has made it clear he believes the interests of Forestry Tasmania and loggers on private land come before the swift parrot.
In the last edition of the Tasmanian Conservationist we ran an article, ‘Questions regarding the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’ (STDP). This was based on the TCT’s 1 September 2009 letter to the Manager of the STDP in which we asked a series of questions related to the performance of the program, and in particular the insurance population for the species. We wrote this letter seeking information because the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Stakeholder Reference Group, on which we are represented, has not met since November 2008 despite us making several requests for a meeting.
‘1080 poison is a metabolic poison which, when ingested, interferes with the energy-producing cycle that takes place within an animal’s cells. The active ingredient of 1080 poison is sodium monofluoroacetate. This compound is one of many that have evolved in plants as a protection mechanism against browsing.’
Proto Resources’ Dans Hill Mine proposal is for a 210ha open-cut nickel mine, half of which is within the Dans Hill Conservation Area (see map). Mining this area would result in the destruction of half of the known population of the nationally listed critically endangered herb Tetratheca gunnii, possibly Tasmania’s most endangered plant species. But wait, there’s more. One hundred hectares of the proposed mining area was purchased in 1999 – 2000 with Australian Government funds through the Private Forests Reserve Program specifically to protect Tetratheca gunnii.