The federal government is working towards devolving decision-making powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to the state governments. This move has resulted from pressure from big business and the mining industry who are interested primarily in profits and who, it appears, have little interest in environmental protection.
The TCT stated today that the decision by the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke that the proposed doubling of the area of fish farms in Macquarie Harbour did not significantly impact the endangered Maugean Skate and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, and therefore did not require assessment, is incorrect and constitutes an abandonment of his responsibilities.
To commemorate Threatened Species Day on 7 September this year, Roadkilltas.com (the website that provides tools to help drivers in Tasmania make their journeys wildlife friendly) and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust launched a Metro bus-back advertising campaign to get the message to Hobart’s drivers regarding slowing down to save wildlife.
While the TCT is pleased with the expansion of the previously tiny marine reserves at Ninepin Point and Tinderbox in 2009, it is disappointing that, under the Labor–Green government, no new reserves have been created or proposed.
The TCT already has a forests policy (available on the TCT website) but we have decided that there is a need to provide more detail on what our nature conservation and, in particular, our biodiversity priorities are. We hope to address geoheritage issues later. This article outlines a draft addendum to our forest policy, which will be completed over the next few months. One purpose is to provide further evidence to support TCT’s statements made over the last two years regarding the inadequacy of current and proposed public land reserves in addressing the conservation requirements of many biodiversity values, most of which are found on private land.
In the last Tasmanian Conservationist we reported that the eastern quoll, Dasyurus viverrinus, has been nominated for inclusion in the Tasmanian threatened species list under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Act 1995. The quoll was nominated by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) established under the Act, rather than as a public nomination, although much of the scientific data was provided by Bronwyn Fancourt, who has been studying the quoll as part of her Honours and now PhD projects at the University of Tasmania. The SAC nominated the quoll for inclusion as endangered on the basis that it meets the criterion of ‘a population decline of at least 50 percent over the last ten years’. As can be seen in Figure 1, it is clear that the population of eastern quolls has declined significantly in the last ten years.
The company Southern Waste Solutions (SWS) has recently received permits from the Tasmanian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Sorell Council to construct and operate a ‘C-cell’, or high-level hazardous waste disposal facility at a site between Copping and Carlton River in south-east Tasmania. The local community is strongly opposed to the proposal and demands that the permits for the Copping C-cell be revoked. The TCT supports this stand and the reasons for it.
The Launceston Field Naturalists Club was formed in October 1949 and went along quietly and successfully for many years with regular meetings and outings, until 1966 when its Vice President and Life Member John Skemp died. John was the last of his family and so he bequeathed the family property at Myrtle Bank to the club. This meant that the club went from a group with around £100 in the bank to owner of a 52ha subalpine property with financial commitments far in excess of its normal income, and as it was not incorporated, the club could not legally hold the property in its name.
Wombats with mange in Tasmania has been an ongoing problem for a very long time. In fact, at a meeting in June 2011 with the Wildlife Management Branch from the DPIPWE we were informed that there has been a ‘huge problem’ of mange on Flinders Island and that ‘it has been a problem for the past 20 years’. Other areas reported to have wombats with mange are, north-east Tasmania and north-west Tasmania, Primrose Sands, Copping, Bothwell, Central Highlands, Jericho, Colebrook, Narawntapu National Park and a recent report from Lake St Clair as well as Ben Lomond.
The TCT first became aware that the Van Diemens Land Company (VDL), based at Woolnorth in north-west Tasmania, was intending to clear native forests after reading an article from the Mercury newspaper, ‘$180m dairy plan a cash cow’ on 23 August 2011. The article included an unattributed comment that some of VDL’s 7000ha of forests would be cleared as a part of its planned dairy expansion. Since then we have received reports that VDL intended to clear 2500ha, and from another source 4000ha, of native forests. This scale of clearing on one property has been unheard of for many years in Tasmania and comes two and half years before the state government’s long-held commitment to ceasing all broadscale clearing on private land comes into effect. As far as we know, VDL has not yet made an application for a permit to clear native forest.
People here can probably remember the weather the weekend before last. An intense cold front moved across the state on Friday, bringing fierce wind, heavy rain and snow down to 700 metres. It was sleeting in South Hobart and Dynnyrne. From Friday to Monday, the mountain was enveloped in a thick cloak of fast-moving cloud that every now and then permitted brief glimpses of snow-covered middle slopes. Then, on Monday, it cleared up – under a blue sky, the mountain looked resplendent, with not a skerrick of snow to be seen.
On 20 April 2012 the Tasmanian Supreme Court ordered that the Tasmanian Conservation Trust is not required to pay a security bond to the court. The TCT was greatly relieved that the court dismissed Gunns’ application, requested that we pay a bond. We were also very encouraged that Associate Justice Stephen Holt concluded that the TCT’s ‘case has not been shown as lacking merit or weak’ (Paragraph 48, page 10). A full copy of the decision is available on the TCT’s website.