Charles and Claire Gilmour Fragile Eco-system & Endangered Giant Freshwater Lobster Habitat To Be Destroyed!
Here is their last hemmed in wild home. For many fauna species other remnant native forests are too far away to escape to. It is home to not only the Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi) but also to the Grey Goshawk, the Wedge Tailed Eagle, the Platypus, healthy Tasmanian Devils, the Spotted Quoll, the Burrowing Crayfish, the Azure Kingfisher, the Pink and Dusky Robins and the Beautiful Firetail, Tasmania’s only native finch, which is declining in the North West, plus 6 other rare, threatened and declining bird species.
IN the far North West, nestled within a pristine Blackwood, Myrtle, and Sassafrass cool temperate rainforest, lies the cradle of a rare and fragile eco-system — Millicent Valley.
Often blanketed in mist, this valley and surrounding protective rainforest with its many creeks and streams is teeming with rare wildlife.
Here is their last hemmed in wild home. For many fauna species other remnant native forests are too far away to escape to. It is home to not only the Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi) but also to the Grey Goshawk, the Wedge Tailed Eagle, the Platypus, healthy Tasmanian Devils, the Spotted Quoll, the Burrowing Crayfish, the Azure Kingfisher, the Pink and Dusky Robins and the Beautiful Firetail, Tasmania’s only native finch, which is declining in the North West, plus 6 other rare, threatened and declining bird species. It also protects scores of other bird, fish, mammal, frog and insect species and rare flora species. Many of which only survive in sizeable protected untouched areas. (“. some species of birds may not disperse from or move into patches of habitat if they are too small or too isolated. Birds that require certain patches of habitat in good condition for their survival may be called “indicator species”. The presence of these birds indicate the ecological health of catchments and landscapes.” – Richard Donaghey)
Although in the past this area was identified as a fragile eco-system and water quality and erosion needed to be protected — as per sign erected by the Commissioner for Forests, Forestry has recently started putting a road through this area, in readiness to be destroyed by logging, fire bombing and poisoning in preparation for a monoculture of pulp wood trees.
As can be seen by the photo of a typical forestry road in this area, creeks do not have bridges built over them, but instead have a culvert installed, and are then filled in, often with introduced fill. Time and time again due to the high rainfall in the area, these creeks are silted with sediment from these installed creek crossings and by directly draining table drains into the creeks. This not only hampers, and harms the fish species, but the depth of fill (up to 6m) in these creek crossings over steep ravines prone to flash flooding, sometimes causes the road to completely collapse into the creeks. Many creeks and streams are totally destroyed, by road construction, logging, fire bombing or simply filled in.
The Giant Freshwater Lobster is very sensitive to siltation, a small amount can kill them. This rare, beautiful blue ancient creature, lives up to 80 years and does not breed until it is 14 years old. It is territorial and requires cold, low ph pure water. It has been Federally protected since 1997 but is under extreme threat from Forestry operations. The Forest Practices prescriptions are not enforced and thus do not adequately protect the lobsters’ habit. More often than not the coupes are cleared before assessing the site, apparently it’s easier to see what’s going on then! By which time the habitat is destroyed. One small area, a high hilltop north of Millicent Valley has been set aside as a protected area for the lobster, (there are very few trees here to log) and there are no creeks on this hill! This protection effectively only protects one small area from plantations and the subsequent siltation due to erosion, better than nothing, but does not protect the creeks, the habitat itself.
Hook Creek, and its tributaries, which run in and around Millicent Valley, are one of the most significant lobster habitats in the northwest. The upper reaches have been declared an undisturbed river by the Australian Heritage Commission, but it is being prepared to be logged and under extreme threat from Forestry operations. Many of these creeks eventually feed the Detention River; one of the main rivers which supplys many of the local residents and farmers with their water. With increased forestry operations in the area, each year, many of the local streams water supplies have been diminishing. The pristine nature and pure water quality around Hook Creek in the Shakespeare Hills area, as per the Giant Freshwater Lobster Recovery Team”. indicates that this site should be given the highest possible protection” and is “. an area of high conservation significance.”
Another major creek in the area, Crayfish Creek has had most of its catchment already destroyed by Forestry operations, and consequently dries to a mere trickle in summer. This creek passes through a tourism site, a “past” enjoyment for tourists!
“In much of the northwest the principal land use is agriculture with plantation forestry dominating some parts of the landscape. This rural landscape is a matrix of agricultural cropping and grazing land with scattered remnant native vegetation. Most of the original native forest is gone and the remaining patches are much reduced in size, fragmented and isolated. The agricultural ecosystem that replaced the native vegetation is simplified in terms of the numbers of plant and animal species, vegetation structure and function. Natural ecosystems play an important role in processes such as soil formation and protection, water production and purification, climate control and maintaining biodiversity (the variety of nature). Today it is recognized that protecting natural land and freshwater systems and maintaining biodiversity is fundamental to sustainable agriculture.” – Richard Donaghey.
Forestry operations are the single biggest threat to this rainforest and valley eco-system. Over the next few years it will be totally destroyed. The obvious devastating down stream effects on water supply, farm production and the loss of endangered species and ecology will only be fully realised when it is too late and it is gone.
We question what is sustainable in destroying this magnificent, rare and fragile eco-system? It will employ only a small number of people as it is systematically destroyed. Forestry will make little from it, and in all likely hood one company will reap the major benefits in supplying woodchips to give to an overseas market their toilet paper. MIS investors will either be sold a lie or not care what is destroyed in the process, or if the introduced trees live or die, and the land is grabbed by a company for their sole use.
In a time of global climate change, is this eco-system not worth more? and does it not have far greater long term benefits, left as it is, pristine, natural and ecologically sustainable?
Peg Putt MHA
Greens Opposition Leader
Monday, 7 May 2007
CONTROVERSIAL LOGGING ROAD PLANNED TO BISECT MT VICTORIA FOREST RESERVE
To Facilitate Gunns’ Private Land Logging Next Door
The Tasmanian Greens today blew the whistle on plans by Forestry Tasmania for a major logging road to be bulldozed through the Mt Victoria Forest Reserve to facilitate Gunns’ logging on private land adjacent to the reserve, despite the existence of potential alternative routes which would not affect the reserve.
Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MHA said that the Mt. Victoria Reserve was an area of acknowledged conservation significance, having been identified as a high priority Recommended Area for Protection (RAP) by authorities during the 1980s and protected as part of the Comprehensive and Representative (CAR) Reserve system touted by government as securing conservation values.
“The Mt. Victoria Forest Reserve contains spectacular rainforest of high conservation value which all sides of the forest debate agreed was of the highest priority for protection, yet now Forestry Tasmania are getting ready to bulldoze a logging road through the reserve to facilitate the demands of Gunns to log on private adjacent land,” Ms Putt said.
“The travesty is that there are other road options for Gunns to cart the product from their plantations which Forestry Tasmania has not considered seriously, and the pressure needs to come on them to keep the bulldozers out of this reserve by telling Gunns to use an alternative route.”
“Its unacceptable that the proper management of this outstanding reserve should be compromised so Gunns can have their way.”
”Just as the plantations now to be felled were put in utilising other routes, they can be carted out that way with a few upgrades.”
“It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious that Forestry Tasmania is apparently ruling out the most feasible alternative route because it involves a creek crossing and claimed environmental damage, but that can be fixed by putting in a bridge whilst the damage to one of our most superb protected areas from a logging road will never be undone.”
“Does Tasmania really stand by its much vaunted Comprehensive and Representative Reserve system, under the RFA, or will the government facilitate its destruction by a thousand cuts?”
“Private Timber Reserves such as those to be logged should not be approved if a cartage route is not determined as part of the proposal, or else local government planning and other land uses will be at risk, as on this occasion,” Ms Putt said.