Biodiversity surveys,
NPWS Advisory Committees,
To Milo Dunphy
Australia's national parks - Future directions 6 by Penelope Figgis
Lake Cowal mine Trust,
Reserve expansion,
'Chipstop' sets its sights on Daishowa,
Boral Green Shareholders,
Maroota lands still at risk
Monga-Buckenbowra - A true forest refuge 10 by John Macris
Managing habitats at risk: Up in smoke 12 by Rochelle Thompson
Western woodlands 13 by Barry Traill
Costa Rica conference on wetlands 15 by Cath Webb with Jamie Pittock
NSW Wetlands Management Policy 17 by Phillip Kodela
The future of biodiversity 18 by Andreas Glanznig
Habitat action 19 by Andrew Sourry & Beryl Strom
ACTIVITIES PROGRAM (Supplement following p 12)

FRONT COVER: New light for national parks?
Central Australia; photo supplied courtesy of Penelope Figgis

About this issue of the National Parks Journal. AUGUST 1999 Vol 43 No 4


NPWS at the Frontline

In May and June this year the National Parks Association had to fight a most unexpected battle – a battle to prevent severe cuts to the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s budget. The NPWS was facing cuts of up to 10% for this financial year, and more than 25% over the next three years.

Noel Plumb Executive Officer It was clear that the Service was facing pressure from the Treasury to take funding cuts as part of a general budget cut for government agencies. Compounding this position were uncertainties and contingency planning by the NPWS for budget reallocations flowing from the proposed operational restructure of the Service.

NPA strongly objected to the possibility of any cuts to the NPWS budget. The Service has to manage a large expansion in the size of the national park estate. Indeed, the Eden and North East forest decisions of late 1998 alone required a further 105 frontline jobs.

Bob Carr’s Government has added nearly 25%, or over a million hectares, to the parks system since 1995, with more than 150 separate, new national parks or nature reserves being created.

We had foreseen the need to protect the NPWS budget and had gained an assurance from the Government prior to the March election that there would be no reduction in the NPWS budget. We in fact sought a commitment to increased funding in the light of the additional tasks facing the Service.

Our view was very clear - the budget resources of the NPWS could not be cut.

When the budget was handed down in late June, the NPWS received a 12–13% increase in budget funding. This was a victory for NPWS supporters. I believe that significant credit must go to the new Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, who clearly faced an extremely difficult task in the budget negotiations.

The NPWS is facing some considerable internal tensions as it seeks to restructure and most effectively direct staff and financial resources to deal with the greatly increased workload. NPA is concerned that the restructuring should not diminish resources for its primary responsibilities, the conservation of nature and the establishment and good management of the national parks system. Damage to staff morale is also a great concern, as the NPWS has already been subject to a constant stream of reviews, inquiries and restructures over the last ten years.

We understand that frontline positions such as district managers, rangers, field staff, pest and weed control officers and technical staff in the zone teams will not be lost.

However, some restructuring of the current 27 districts will occur to reflect the change from 6 regions to 4. Also, the NPWS is seeking to flatten the management structure, which currently has 8 levels of management. We would be concerned about inappropriate district amalgamations, and about the loss of the long-established and crucial public role of the district managers – who should continue to be known by that title.

NPA has asked the Minister to ensure that NPA, the NPWS Advisory Council and the NPWS district advisory committees are provided with a genuine opportunity for consultation on the proposed restructure, not simply presented with a fait accompli.

From the president

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking some visitors from Thailand on their first bushwalk.

I chose the undeveloped hills on the northern side of Bouddi. A perfect day for the area: sunny (but too cool for leeches), smooth-barked angophoras, Aboriginal engravings on the peak, grinding grooves at the creek, kookaburras, views over lakes and towns, the first wattle flowers. As our cities expand, so does our need for accessible natural places like this. We are fortunate in still having the opportunity to create and enjoy national parks near our population centres.

As the conservation movement regroups and works through the results of the north-east forest decision, some opportunities for new parks emerge. Near Queen’s Lake a park could run from just south of Port Macquarie towards Crowdy Bay National Park. There is also a clear need for a new national park on the headwaters of the Karuah River, down to and including Fame Cove on the foreshores of Port Stephens. NPA has begun work to protect these areas.

Senator Hill’s success in persuading the World Heritage Committee in Paris that another mine would not endanger Kakadu National Park reminds us that we have to do most of our conservation work at the State level, and not rely on Federal Government or World Heritage protection of our special places.

Finally, let me thank all of our members who have donated so generously to the Association in response to our appeals this year. Our work for the forests and for the west depends heavily on such contributions.

Tom Fink NPA President

We receive more copy for the Journal than we can afford to print. Our advertisers do contribute to the cost of producing this Journal, so please consider their products and services when you are buying. And those of you who are in the position of placing advertising, please don’t forget the National Parks Journal!

NPA Matters

NPWS Advisory Committees -members sought

Nominations are being invited by the NPWS for membership of Service district advisory committees. It is highly desirable that each committee has at least one NPA member, someone thoroughly committed to the ideals and policies of NPA. We also need to establish and maintain a strong liaison between advisory committee NPA members and NPA State Council office and its committees: Park Management, Reserves and Biodiversity.

If you feel you would make a good committee member, please seek endorsement from the Association by notifying the NPA Office, "Attention: Park Management Committee". Please include:

We will notify you when to nominate and the procedure to be followed. We expect calls for nominations will be made in September, so please do not delay in getting in touch with us.

Alan Catford Convenor, Park Management Committee

To Milo Dunphy

A eulogy by John Sinclair at the unveiling of the plaque in Milo's honour at The Rocks, 11 April 1999.

Milo Dunphy was a passionate man. He was dedicated to protecting the environment of the land which he loved and which he knew so intimately.

Milo’s passions were reciprocated by everyone whose lives he touched, and he touched many. We who were privileged to know him personally came to hold him in our deepest affection.

Like all of us who espouse the conservation cause, Milo’s arguments and advocacy sometimes provoked strong opposition and angry reactions. This occurred mainly where his persuasive arguments touched some vested interests. Then his messages were seen as heresy.

However, no matter whether it was with warmth or antagonism he was regarded, he inspired universal respect, even from those who had never even met him: respect for his intellect. Respect for the views we held and which he espoused so loudly and so articulately. Respect for his ability to organise and prosecute a public campaign. Respect in an increasingly cynical society is not an affection readily granted, yet in Milo’s case it was warranted.

He lived by that edict which Bob Brown espouses as the test of all our actions: “Will future generations thank us for what we have done today?” With Milo, who had inherited so much love for this country, particularly its natural environment, this was a creed from which he never wavered.

There was something of the Boy Scout in Milo. He was always well prepared. His strategies were well thought out and meticulously prepared. And when he went bush, as was his frequent wont, he was always prepared for any eventuality.

That was the thing which first struck me when Milo turned up on one of my Fraser Island safaris in 1973 as a member of the Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate. Although I am known as a good provider, Milo - who hadn’t previously met me - came so well prepared, he didn’t need to rely on my catering because, he said, he had experience of poorly organised expeditions.

After that I got to know Milo much more intimately as a councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), on which we served together for 12 years, and then when I was a member of Total Environment Committee’s (TEC) Management Committee.

I recently looked up some correspondence I had with him in 1990 which I addressed to him as “Dear Old Silver-Tongue”. Milo was not only a great orator, but he had a whimsical sense of humour and he also had a distinctive, voluble laugh which was like a homing device when anyone wanted to find him in a crowded hall.

Milo’s achievements for the environment don’t rest on a single achievement. They are many. He elevated the environment so much higher on this State’s agenda than it would have been without him. He saw the quadrupling of the national park estate in NSW. There are many areas which would now have been laid waste without his indefatigable efforts. Many groups addressing a diverse range of environmental issues would have floundered without his inspiration.

Milo pursued the public interest despite the personal cost. He put his concern for the environment ahead of his personal security and comfort.

To achieve so much, Milo sacrificed a great deal.

He surrendered a professional career which would have enabled him to lead a comfortable lifestyle. He worked day and night and many weekends for TEC for a mere pittance. He freely volunteered his time to NPA, ACF and other conservation organisations.

Milo was a leader who took up issues which needed to be taken up. He helped set the agenda for the environment movement and governments. Like all true leaders, he recognised the issues that needed to be addressed well before others. He was not satisfied with compromises when politically compromises were the best he could get at the time.

Milo Dunphy was a friend to the environment and to those who knew him well, but he was often unjustly pilloried. However, I am a great believer in natural justice. History will record Milo as one of the great movers and shakers of the Australian environment movement in this destructive twentieth century. Future generations will really appreciate his efforts.

Like the legendary little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dyke, Milo, by his leadership of the conservation movement, has been trying to stem the tide until reinforcements arrived. Milo slowed the flow against us but he has not stopped it. However, he has inspired others to take up the call.

We who are left behind thank Milo sincerely for his friendship, his affection and his inspiration to the environment movement. While dedicating this memorial to him here today, close to the eve of the third anniversary of his death, we will do more to perpetuate his memory if we re-dedicate ourselves to respond to his leadership and strive to reverse the environmental decline in Australia.

Biodiversity surveys - helpers wanted

The NPA Biodiversity Committee is responsible for the surveys we run and many other campaigns. We need people to help with:

Please contact Claire Carlton on 02 4294 1339 or Kristi MacDonald at the NPA Office on 02 9233 4660.

The next surveys will be on October 1-4 at Kumbatine NP and March-April 2000 in south-west NSW.


We have some challenging honorary jobs. Flexible hours, great job satisfaction and as many cups of tea as you can drink!

Personal Assistant to the Executive Officer Noel Plumb needs someone at least one day a week to help with research, filing, appointments, documents, etc, etc, etc.

If you know Word for Windows and e-mail, great - if not, we will train you.

Library team We need your help with our library. Some experience is best but we will train if you can help on a weekly basis.

Membership promotion Do you have writing skills, people skills, promotion skills or media contacts? Please help us promote NPA and our great walking and conservation programs. Work with a small volunteer team to build NPA through positive promotion.

If you are interested please call Noel Plumb any time on 9233 4660.

Join the NPA!

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Please post this form, with payment, to: National Parks Association of NSW Inc., PO Box A96, Sydney South NSW 1235.

OR for credit card payments ring Kristi at the NPA Office on 02 9233 4660.

Australia's national parks Future directions
Penelope Figgis*

In June this year the Australian Committee for IUCN Inc. (IUCN - The World Conservation Union) published the first major overview of the future of national parks in Australia, "Australian National Parks: Future Directions". Written by long-term conservationist Penelope Figgis, the paper examines the global trends affecting protected area policy and the current major national programs in protected areas. It also discusses the specific issues facing Australia from increased pressures from tourism, recreation and multiple use, to the new opportunities and challenges of Aboriginal lands, private lands and bioregional approaches.

At the 1997 NPA/NCC New Visions conference, a strategic conference on the future of national parks, the then NSW Minister for the Environment, the Hon Pam Allan asked, ‘Will national parks be regarded as cultural remnants of a bygone era?’ To most environmentalists this seems a preposterous question. To anyone remotely attuned to the ecological crisis facing our Earth it is more important than ever that nature be conserved in ‘safe havens’. The idea that a national park will protect nature in perpetuity has been central to the post-war environment movement. When the environment movement cried ‘Save’ to South West Tasmania, Fraser Island, Myall Lakes or the Wollemi, it was code for ‘declare this area a national park’. The legislative status and public ownership of parks represent the ultimate our political system has offered in ensuring that valued lands will survive.

So with nature’s back against the wall world wide, and no less in Australia, how could anyone suggest that parks might disappear or become an institution of the past? What the Minister seemed to be alluding to is that change is in the wind, that the familiar protected area policy landscape, which most of us have been part of, will be substantially different and far more complex in the 21st century. Certainly the most recent major review of park policy, the 1998 Visions for a New Millenium Conference in NSW, confirmed entirely that changing international trends have translated to Australia.

In the Recommendations of the Working Group following the conference (NPWS 1998; and see NPJ April 1999), emphasis is placed on bioregional planning, building partnerships with the community, acknowledging and involving indigenous interests, and emphasising community involvement and non-regulatory instruments.

So what are the future directions looking like?

Firstly, the current array of what we call protected areas is likely to get even more complex. The most powerful trend for protected areas, often dubbed bioregionalism, argues that isolated archipelagoes of national parks and protected areas will not achieve the task of biodiversity conservation. The way forward is to extend conservation management beyond park boundaries to surround and link protected areas with buffers, biosphere reserves, regional agreements, indigenous protected areas and land stewardship agreements.

This integrated approach builds on the seventies concept of ‘Man and the Biosphere’ (MAB) Reserves.

The MAB model envisages a strictly protected core surrounded by buffer and then transition zones. This concept has evolved into a vision of many such areas linked together into total networks, even creating corridors on a global scale. Internationally, Yosemite to Yukon and the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil are two examples, while in Australia there is discussion of a corridor for the entire Great Dividing Range.

We are therefore likely to see mosaic corridors of land tenures with diverse ownership over broad landscapes, under overarching management principles aimed at biodiversity conservation. A pioneer project of this model is Bookmark Biosphere Reserve in South Australia. Bookmark brings together 27 parcels of land covering some 6,000 square kilometres, which includes protected areas, private lands and land owned by private conservation organisations.

The concept of turning protected area ‘islands into networks’ has broad agreement. However, in policy terms it clearly constitutes a shift from a simpler concept of Australian protected areas being substantially government-owned national parks, predominantly managed for strict nature protection. The winding out of the bioregional approach will mean the inclusion of multiple-use zones in a recognised protected area, which in turn could fundamentally change the Australian community attitude that protected areas are commerce-free sanctuaries, to one far more accepting of human commercial activities.

The concept also envisages the use of non-legislative mechanisms. These may provide greater flexibility, but will not deliver security, and may mean management is subject to the prevailing political, economic and social pressures of the moment.

A second key trend is that there are likely to be far more components of the community involved with parks. The current scenario, where parks have largely been an issue for the environment movement and government agencies, will disappear. All over the world governments are retreating, budgets shrinking, authorities being put on a business footing and functions outsourced. As the conservation task gets harder, the ability or will of governments to do it alone is shrinking. This, along with the need to build a constituency of support for parks, lies behind the strong trend to seek partnerships, to seek other players and participants in reaching conservation goals.

But what will this actually mean? There is much discussion of community involvement, sharing the benefits, collaborative management. On the positive side, we are likely to see a much stronger role for nongovernment organisations such as the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, which is rapidly becoming a major landholder with eleven properties of high conservation value. It will also mean an increasing role for indigenous Australians, with major gains possible if indigenous people manage their lands voluntarily as protected areas. For example, a recent agreement in South Australia will lead to a significant expansion of a site managed for conservation.

But could it also mean a retreat from nature conservation priorities as other, less conservation minded, constituencies are accommodated? A major concern will be the emerging access and anti-wilderness lobby, whose virulent advocacy in favour of access and against strict protection may find a conducive political climate in the future.

A further concern is the vulnerability of many parks services to commercial pressures as they are increasingly required to generate their own funds. For most protected area agencies this will mean higher levels of human use in order to increase fees along with greater susceptibility to fundraising concessions. The fights to keep tourism accommodation and other forms of commercialisation out of parks will almost inevitably increase, and will necessitate much thinking about acceptable income streams and partners for conservation agencies. Perhaps proper pricing of the multiple ecosystem benefits of protected areas will emerge in the future and generate proper funding.

A third likely aspect of 21st century protected areas, and perhaps the core reason why the Minister asked her question, is the likely battle to maintain the legitimacy of strict protection. All of the key trends identified in Australian National Parks and Protected Areas: Future Directions point to a convergence of thought which will challenge our most passionately held view that true nature conservation is strict protection with as little impact from human demands as possible.

However, we live in a human-dominated world and increasingly the debate about nature conservation tends to stress its values to people, its quantifiable economic values and its utility to humans through recreation and tourism, as well as the need to integrate conservation with human development. The recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and roles also, perhaps inadvertently, puts people centre stage.

This predominant anthropocentrism is reflected in the trend to champion biodiversity conservation over other conservation values. If the aim of nature conservation is to sample ecosystems and preserve species, then it can be argued that issues like community attachment, landscape integrity, aesthetics, peace and quiet, and the intrinsic rights of non-human species, are irrelevant or old-fashioned. It also leads to the argument that, as long as an activity or development does not harm biodiversity, it is acceptable. A good example would be the Cairns Skyrail which although a major engineering works through a World Heritage Area and national park - was judged not to be a threat to the actual plants and animals, and therefore acceptable. This approach can lead inexorably towards multiple-use approaches which are clearly desired by many forces - governments wishing to provide ‘compromises’ with extractive industries and development, or those forces opposed to wilderness and strict protection, such as the aggressive access lobby.

So the future will bring more privately owned reserves; lands owned and/or managed by other authorities or levels of government; indigenous protected areas; pressures for multiple use, for tourism and high-impact recreation - in short, many diversions from the traditional concept of national parks. However, the shift away from strict protection to multipleuse models and non-statutory instruments is not inevitable.

Much of the impetus comes from populous developing lands. Australian conditions are, in the main, very different from the developing world. With a comparatively low population and greater affluence, there are no compelling reasons here to move away from strict protection as the core of nature conservation within Australia. All the newer forms need to build on core lands which are managed as sanctuaries of nature. Conservation needs to move out from these lands, not multiple use move in.

New paths undoubtedly need exploring, but in doing so there also needs to be a substantial reassertion of the need for nature conservation to be the preeminent value in all protected areas. Without this fundamental principle the unique status of these lands, as our only land allocation where human commercial motives and demands do not dominate, where life’s grandeur can thrive, could be lost irreversibly and for all time.

* Penelope Figgis AM is a member of NPA, Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, and a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas.

‘ Australian National Parks and Protected Areas: Future Directions by Penelope Figgis is available from the Australian Committee for IUCN Inc.; ph 02 9281 4994; GPO Box 528, Sydney 2001. Cost $10 including postage.

Environment News

News from the NPWS:
New guide showcases nature's best

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has recently released a visitor’s guide highlighting the State’s numerous national parks and reserves in an informative, easy-to-use format. The new guide provides information on the features, facilities and services of every national park in NSW.

Produced in cooperation with the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, the guide is the ultimate holiday planner for the outdoor enthusiast.

This year’s guide focuses on the spectacular arid landscapes in the west of the State, with a stunning photograph of Sturt NP near Tibooburra, in the north-west corner of NSW. Other colour photographs feature views of Kinchega, Mutawintji and Warrumbungle national parks, and Mungo NP’s Walls of China are noted among the not-to-be-missed natural wonders of the World Heritage listed Willandra Lakes. The recreational opportunities available to outback visitors are also listed.

The guide includes information on a number of new parks and reserves that were created in the north of the State as part of the State Government’s north-east forest decision last year. Some of these new parks contain historic relics of buildings and machinery left behind from forestry workers earlier this century.

This year, the guide also contains tips on some commonly asked questions, such as the best places to see native plants and animals in the wild and where to find Aboriginal rock art sites.

The Guide to NSW National Parks is free of charge and is available now from all NPWS Visitor Centres.

Liz Rossiter Media assistant

Lake Cowal mine Trust

North’s Lake Cowal gold mine project, near Parkes, was quietly given assent in March 1999 by the Carr Government (in the lead-up to the State election), in line with the recommendations of the second Commission of Inquiry. This came as no surprise to most, with only a few voices, including NPA’s, challenging the acceptability of the venture and its legacy - a huge deep hole filled with contaminated water intruding forever into an outstanding freshwater wetland.

Establishment of the Lake Cowal Environmental Trust by signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (Total Environment Centre, Nature Conservation Council, Save Animals From Extinction and NPA, along with Norths) is now being actively pursued; the aim is to have the Trust in place by October 1999.

Anne Clements & Associates are developing a strategic framework for protection and enhancement of the important natural values.

High priorities are to mitigate encroaching salinity, which seriously threatens the long-term viability of the wetland system; and to ensure protection of key sites for nature conservation. The brief also includes establishing a sound geographical information system data base, and initiating constructive dialogue with others having a key interest in the area, such as Aboriginal people, landowners, ecologists and naturalists.

Lake Cowal lies within Wiradjuri land, whose representative at the Inquiry advised that native title issues would need to be addressed. In response to correspondence, Anne Reeves, as NPA’s representative on the MOU initiative, has commenced discussion with representatives of the Wiradjuri Council of Elders, to look for ways which maximise the outcomes for nature conservation while meeting Wiradjuri concerns for their traditional lands.

Anne Reeves Vice President

Reserve expansion

The June Journal carried a report on expansion of the national park estate in north-east NSW (see pp 10-11). It is pleasing to be able to report that there have been further useful additions since that was written. We will carry more details in a future issue, or you can check our website at http://NPANSW.cjb.net (under "New Parks Announced").

CHIPSTOP sets its sights on Daishowa

The Daishowa chipmill at Eden is Australia’s oldest, “celebrating” three decades of woodchipping this year. But until now none of the campaigns to save the south east forests ever aimed solely at ending woodchipping and permanently closing the chipmill.

CHIPSTOP is the new regional campaign which links forest activists from Bega, East Gippsland, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

The campaign reflects disillusionment with the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) process and outcomes, particularly the fact that it has delivered a further 20 years of woodchipping in Eden and East Gippsland.

CHIPSTOP now fears a similarly dismal result in the Southern Region from Ulladulla to Narooma, an area increasingly threatened by woodchipping. Worst of all, it fears, woodchippers may use the RFAs as a basis for claiming environmental credentials for their operations.

Daishowa is already on record as stating that the RFA means:
“international recognition that Australia’s forests are subject to high levels of management … and will allow for Australia’s forest products to be readily accepted in world markets.”
CHIPSTOP is working on corporate strategies and collaboration with conservationists in countries where Daishowa operates. We are also involved in regular log-truck actions in Bega and direct action in East Gippsland forests.

Contact us on 02 6492 3134 or CHIPSTOP@hotmail.com for information.

Harriett Swift CHIPSTOP

Boral Green Shareholders

Boral Green Shareholders is a nonprofit organisation which was formed in 1994 in reaction to the company’s continued woodchipping and logging of old growth forests. It was founded on the belief that shareholders are in a position to influence Boral to operate in an environmentally responsible way. Failing to do so would reduce public support, which would ultimately affect profits.

Boral is the second largest eucalypt woodchip exporter in the world. Our native forests are woodchipped for paper through its subsidiaries Sawmillers Exports Limited (SEPL) in NSW and Forest Resources Pty Ltd in Tasmania.

The company frequently claims that it only uses for woodchips the waste that remains on the forest floor, however the contrary seems to be the case. Last year our group visited one of Boral’s mills on the NSW north coast at Heron’s Creek. Here, we were advised that there is a recovery rate of 38% per log, while the rest goes to the chipper. However we saw a large pile of logs destined for the chipper which looked to us to be good millable logs.

A similar situation applies in Tasmania, which we have just visited. We saw a mountain of woodchips; the boat from Japan arrives twice a month and 850,000 tonnes of woodchips are to be exported this year.

Until recently concerns over the environmental performance of companies in Australia has been given little attention. Perhaps that is about to change given overseas developments, where poor environmental performance has had a negative effect on company profits.

Our aim is to stop the logging and woodchipping of old growth wilderness and native forests, and to effect a change in the corporate culture. We hope to do this by lobbying Boral executives, attending annual general meetings (we have been doing this since 1994), and publicising breaches and failures to follow environmental guidelines, until ultimately the company and its subsidiaries have to change course.

New members welcome!

To contact us: Donald White, 34 Bathurst St, Woollahra 2025; ph 9389 6728.

E-mail: wayamba@nsw.bigpond.net.au Virginia Milson 9389 4130 or fax 9389 6927.

Virginia Milson Boral Green Shareholders

Maroota lands still at risk

Long-time Journal readers will recall the more than 20-year campaign for a national park over the rare blue gum forests of Maroota in north-western Sydney. This conservation jewel came close to reservation in 1976, when the Maroota State Forest was revoked so the area could be declared a nature reserve or national park.

However, years of deliberate obstruction by the former Lands Department meant the area had still not been included in the national parks estate by 1989, when the Daruk Local Aboriginal Land Council (now the Deerubbin LALC) lodged a claim over it as unalienated Crown Land.

Just as spurious technicalities at the bureaucratic level obstructed reservation of the area in the preceding decade, so the trend has continued with a recent Land and Environment Court decision to uphold the DLALC claim (under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983). It was upheld apparently largely (and ironically) on the basis that the NPWS had failed to demonstrate vigorously that the land was likely to be needed for nature conservation.

The DLALC has yet to clarify with conservation and other groups its intentions for the land.

Other land in the district has been subdivided into small parcels and subjected to grazing, clearing, logging, sand mining and rural residential use.

On the basis that the conservation values of the area were not adequately considered in the decision, NPA and many others urged the Government to appeal.

This has been done, but the appeal rests on narrow legal grounds and cannot go to the heart of this matter - the need to ensure protection of publicly owned, important conservation lands in the national parks estate.

Noel Plumb Executive Officer

IN MEMORIAM Jabiluka, lost to uranium mining.

Monga-Buckenbowra: A true forest refuge ...
let's keep it that way by John Macris*

T he more I learn of the extent that Australian climatic conditions have shifted through the last thousands and millions of years, the greater I value those ecosystems with direct linkages to the cool wet Gondwanan forests which dominated pre 30 million years ago. Our moist forest environments, once extending over much of the continent, have hung on through millions of years of retreat into the remaining well-watered settings along the Eastern Escarpment and in western Tasmania. Even through the last two million years of recurring ice ages, where a halving of today's precipitation levels during glacial times appears to have been common, Gondwanan remnants have held on in sheltered refuges.

If you have driven the Kings Highway from Batemans Bay up to Braidwood on the southern tablelands, you have unknowingly been in close proximity to one of the key Gondwanan refuges of southern New South Wales (see also NPJ October 1998).

The eastern escarpment here is less than 40 kilometres from the coast and rises very steeply to between 800 and 1,000 metres in altitude, creating a magnet for moisture-laden air. Perched behind the crest of the escarpment are the headwaters of the Mongarlowe River which flows northwards, rather than dropping east over the escarpment, to eventually join the Shoalhaven River. This high valley is the focal point for rainfall and cloud captured by the adjacent escarpment, making it the wettest location in the region. This provides a suitable refuge for remnant moist forests, dominated at this latitude by the remarkable pinkwood. These trees, with their coppicing growth habit, are commonly over 2,000 years in age.

Major conservation campaigns of the 1970s and 80s led to the protection of the largest tracts of our remaining north coast rainforests in national parks and later as World Heritage estate. These significant decisions unfortunately overlooked the southern rainforests, with the majority even today in State Forest tenure without formal protection.

At the foot of the seaward side of the escarpment, the Buckenbowra River and a number of tributaries flow southwards before turning east through gentler country to join the Clyde River near Nellingen. The rugged upper reaches of this catchment (over 3,000 ha) are essentially free of modern human disturbance, to the extent that even the major surrounding ridges have been spared from the network of fire trails that have ingressed much of the southern ranges since the 1960s. Thus we have in this river a "reference" catchment which must be regarded as a rarity. The river hosts a further significant area of temperate rainforest, this time a warmer association more like those in northern NSW, typified by masses of birds nest ferns, cabbage tree palms, Dicksonia tree ferns and canopy species such as the giant stinging tree, coachwood and sassafras.

In less sheltered valleys and foothills are tall open forests with old growth brown barrel and mountain grey gums of massive proportions, while on the higher ridges and plateaux are examples of dry sclerophyll forest and patches of heath.

Refuge values These days the area still serves as a refuge, though much more from escalating human impacts than glacial cycles. The old growth forests are home to 17 threatened forest-dependent species, including the brush-tailed phascogale. Habitat loss through human exploitation is recognised as the most significant contemporary threat to biodiversity, from the genetic to the ecosystem level. This emphasises the importance of undisturbed refuge areas like Monga-Buckenbowra for future recovery of threatened biodiversity.

This is especially significant given that the area forms a link between Budawang National Park in the north and Deua in the south.

As such, Monga and Buckenbowra State forests form the biggest missing link in the chain of national parks that currently stretch along the southern ranges from the Illawarra to the East Gippsland area in Victoria. It has been the very steep nature of the bulk of the two catchments which has seen them largely spared from the logging schedule to date. Steep areas may deter loggers (for a time), but they have something of the opposite effect on curious bushwalkers.

Through gorges and cascades On the long weekend after Christmas 1998, my party of two headed cross-country to Murrengeburg Mountain on the range which divides the Buckenbowra and Mongarlowe rivers.

Just as the maps depicted, this range is without a trace of fire trails. The first few kilometres were characterised by moist eucalypt forests with a dense understorey of ground ferns and vines. After struggling through one particularly thick saddle, the ground became rockier and our vegetation dramatically changed to a dry open forest with a sparse understorey of grass trees and heathy shrubs, making for very agreeable ridge walking. The open vegetation also revealed interesting views across to the coast, north to Pigeon House and down into the fairly formidable looking gorge.

The ridges leading into the gorge, with rare exception, all start very steeply off the main range, making it somewhat challenging to select the most appropriate way down into the gorge. After an afternoon of negotiating the very steep spurs, we settled for the night above a tight bend of the Buckenbowra River.

The river is relatively small although still bigger than your average creek. Attractive pools with small cascades and fringed with rainforest are in abundance. After a successful morning in the pristine upper reaches, we headed downriver through continuing exquisite rainforest, cascades and pools. Progress is reasonably easy; the only thing this section of the gorge lacks are places to camp. A few kilometres downstream the rainforest begins to give way to open forests. Soon after, the main access ridge on the east side of the valley comes in and with it the historic Corn Trail.

This was a route for transporting produce to the tablelands from the farmland in the lower valleys during the first half of the 19th century. It had become disused by the turn of the century, but was reopened as a Bicentennial project in 1988. The route continues down the valley among giant river oaks and tall open forest. The banks also become a little more suited to camping as the valley opens up.

A night was spent in this transition area before capitalising on the Corn Trail for a quick exit up the ridge to complete our circuit. This ridge features frequent views over the gorge and a very interesting mixture of forests and finally heath as the high plateau is attained.

Mega track or wild lands This is one route under consideration for a tri-State walking track called the Great Eastern Centenary Track, which is currently in its conceptual stages. I have strong reservations about the suitability of this area for accommodating such a tourist concept, particularly with the limited availability of natural campsites and also the high wilderness and wild river values (Buckenbowra is under assessment as a wilderness area) - I would like to see the "mega track" proposal centred elsewhere.

It is NPA's hope that these wild lands and National Estate listed forests will become a national park with a substantial wilderness core, as part of the Southern Forest assessment due for completion this year. Thus would be closed the main gap in the escarpment reserve system (the only other being between Deua and Wadbilliga in the upper Tuross catchment). An area which has functioned as a refuge from long before we were around could again serve in that role, only this time to mitigate against our mounting environmental impacts.

The walk description in this article is adapted from an item by John in "The Bushwalker" ,Vol 24, No 4.

* John Macris is a student of Earth Sciences at Macquarie University and Secretary of NPA Reserves Committee.

PHOTO NO 2 EXPAND TO 300% Monga waratah and acacia in flower, Monga SF Photo: Rob Jung Mountain grey gum at Monga STEPHEN TAYLOR PHOTO NO 3 REDUCE BY 65% 12 AUGUST 1999

Up in smoke
Rochelle Thompson*

T he woodlands of the central west of NSW have faced a variety of threats since European settlement (see also pp 13-14), but none perhaps as great as the current demand for approximately 130,000 tonnes per year of timber to supply a charcoal plant at Dubbo. The plant will feed a silicon smelter at Lithgow. The production of silicon and silicon products all sounds pretty high tech and sophisticated. In fact, it is extremely primitive to turn our precious woodland remnants into charcoal to produce silicone sealer!

The proposal has been made by Portman Mining Ltd (from Western Australia) and Doral Minerals Industries Ltd (a Japanese joint venture partner). The first step in producing silicon is melting and reduction of silica. The current method used is to mix silica and carbon - in the form of coal, coke or charcoal - and then heat the mixture to high temperatures in a submerged electrode arc furnace (Shimura 1989). The chemical equation which represents this is SIO 2 + C = CO 2 + SI. In simple terms, quartz pebbles are mixed with charcoal, made from woodchips, in a furnace. The result is carbon dioxide and silicon lumps, known as metallurgical-grade silicon, with a purity of about 9899%.

The production of silicon requires carbon with low levels of impurities. Coal or charcoal can be used in this process, but the coal that is currently available in Australia is not appropriate as it has too many impurities. However, there are low ash content coals in New Zealand that could be used. The preferred species for producing high-grade charcoal include broadleaf ironbark, New England blackbutt and silvertop stringybark. State Forests are currently assessing the potential for our box and ironbark woodlands to provide the low ash content charcoal required.

Extractions from the western woodlands for firewood and other timber products are already placing pressure on the species which rely on these areas. The current extraction of timber is much less than the 130,000 tonnes per year required to supply the charcoal plant. At current levels there are already concerns regarding sustainability and the impact on biodiversity. This massive increase in extraction will significantly reduce the viability of the woodlands to provide habitat and refuge to already threatened species.

Approximately 500,000 tonnes of metallurgical-grade silicon is produced each year in the world.

Most is used for aluminum alloys (60%) and chemical products such as silicone resin (30%), or ‘gasket goo’. Only 1% or less of the total production of metallurgical-grade silicon is for manufacturing highpurity silicon for the electronics industry. The metallurgical-grade silicon which will be produced at Lithgow is far from the 0.999999 purity that is required to make such high-value products. This refining process would most likely be done offshore and would not necessarily benefit Australia.

The woodlands of the central west, especially those within Goonoo and Pilliga State forests, provide refuge to wildlife in an otherwise largely cleared and fragmented landscape. They play an important role in providing habitat and food for a vast number of species. Goonoo State Forest, approximately 20 km from Dubbo, looks set to be one of the key forests to supply timber for the charcoal plant.

Goonoo is one of the few remaining viable areas that support a mallee/ironbark/cyress pine woodland ecosystem in a relatively natural state. The forest is one of the few refuges of the nationally endangered mallee fowl (Leipoa ocellata); no mallee fowl are found east of this area. It also supports populations of the glossy black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) and the turquoise parrot (Neophema pulchella), both listed as vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

The impact of this increase in logging for the charcoal plant could be the last straw for many species.

We all buy and use these products around our houses, in our cars and in our computers. It is not the production of silicon as such that we are concerned about; it is the reliance that the proponents place on the use of our precious woodlands that is the worry. It is unacceptable to log and burn valuable woodland remnants, that support fragile and dwindling numbers of species.

Unfortunately, we have a historic habit of valuing our environmental resources so low that in effect we give them away. We must appropriately value our woodland remnants and the service they provide to maintaining biodiversity and bolster a nature-based visitor industry in western NSW. The woodlands must not be just a cheap fix for the companies producing silicon. An alternative must be found, otherwise we will lose the precious western woodlands and the biodiversity they support.

Reference: Shimura, F. 1989 Semiconductor Silicon Crystal Technology, Academic Press, San Diego, USA.

* Rochelle Thompson has a BA/BSc in Science & Technology Studies and Geography; and is the Western Forest Officer with the NPA/WWF Western Project.

Western woodlands Why the west must be won
Barry Traill*

One of the most interesting aspects about the first settlement at Port Jackson was the great length of time the first English settlers spent huddled around the harbour. From 1788 to 1813 the settlement only spread a little to the north and south along the coast . Though a great maritime people, the English were obviously a tad uncomfortable in the bush. Finally, in June 1813, they broke physically and psychologically from their island amongst the sandstone ridges when Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains and saw the grassy plains of Bathurst.

This was truly a great day for Australian agriculture. The breaking of the sandstone barrier created the future for Australia’s first long-term export industry - wool. Instead of scratching around on a few cramped river flats, the way was open for the squatters to push stock onto the apparently endless grassy woodlands of the central west, and then north to Queensland and south to Victoria.

This country is now often accurately tagged the sheep and wheat belt of NSW - part of a formerly vast area of woodlands, grasslands, shrublands and wetlands that stretched from South Australia and central Victoria through the western slopes and plains of NSW and into Queensland.

In NSW this area of temperate woodlands forms an ecosystem, the western woodlands, quite distinct from the wetter coastal mountain ranges and plains, and the drier mulga and semi-arid woodlands and grasslands of the Western Division. While varying considerably with changes of soil and climate, undisturbed woodlands typically had large wellspaced trees and an open understorey of grasses and low shrubs.

They stretched from the Queensland border to Victoria, bordered in the east by the wetter forests and sandstone country of the Great Dividing Range; in the west by lands too arid for cropping.

Unlike other ecosystems the temperate woodlands had no major refuges, protected from white settlement by geography or climate, where wildlife would remain undisturbed. The rangelands of the Western Division have been at least partly protected by aridity and poor soils, the forests of the Great Dividing Range by rugged terrain. But in the woodlands the bulk of the country was suitable for agriculture, and all but a few areas were claimed and cleared for wool, wheat, cotton and cattle.

What wooded country remained was typically on the scattered rocky outliers and low ridges of sandy or rocky soils. This has been typically logged repeatedly for posts, firewood and railway sleepers.

Today virtually all of the woodland in NSW has either been completely destroyed through clearing; or degraded by logging, grazing, mining, or combinations of all three. To better envisage these massive changes, it is worthwhile to try to envisage all the forests of the Great Dividing Range the north-east, the Hawkesbury sandstone country, and the south-east and southern forests.

Now try to imagine more than 80%, in some districts 99%, being completely cleared of all native vegetation and virtually all the remnants degraded in some way.

This is the scale of what has happened in the temperate woodlands of NSW over more than 20 million hectares (200,000 square kilometres) of land.

Surprisingly, it is only in the last few years that extensive research has really started on the effects of this loss. Well established is recognition of the loss of nearly all the ground mammals in the woodlands region. The bettongs, the native rodents, the bandicoots went not long after settlement. More recent research has focused on the species that remain, particularly the birds.

The results of this research make for depressing reading. It is now clear that there is a rapid wave of extinctions happening in woodland birds. Some of the most familiar of the woodland birds bush stone-curlews, red-capped robins, babblers - are disappearing from much of their former ranges. Others such as the regent honeyeater are now critically endangered and are already extinct through the great majority of their former range. Even in areas which have 10-15% cover of trees left, some species are still disappearing. This situation is greatly different to those of forest ecosystems, where many threatened species have been documented, but where few are known to be disappearing from regions which still have habitat present.

The reasons for these losses are complex and still not fully understood. Often extinctions in regions occur in some districts 1020 years after habitat loss effectively ceased. The most likely scenario is that the habitat remaining is simply not extensive enough to maintain viable populations in the long term. This phenomenon has been tagged an ‘extinction debt’ - after habitat destruction occurs, the debt of extinction is paid a long time afterwards.

This probably occurs because after loss of most bush in a district, the fragments of habitat remaining may support small populations of many species. However, for some species the populations may be isolated, and too small to survive in the long term. When the next drought or fire comes through, the population is lost and the area is not recolonised - a local extinction has occurred. While the drought or other natural event may be seen to have caused the extinction, the ultimate cause was the loss of most of the habitat, possibly decades previously.

Given the poor ecological state of woodlands they should have received a very concentrated focus on their conservation. In fact the reverse is true. High levels of habitat destruction for agriculture continue to be approved by the Department of Land and Water Conservation for woodlands on private land in NSW. This still occurs, particularly in the northern areas where expansion for cropping continues. An estimated 30,000 ha, possibly more, of temperate woodlands is still cleared annually in NSW. This equates to the direct death of around 450,000 woodland birds alone - many of course the species now known to be threatened.

On public land the story is little better. Only 1-2% of the former woodlands areas lie in a conservation reserve system. Forestry practices in NSW woodlands are probably the most ecologically destructive in Australia. Of greatest impact has been the systematic conversion of large areas of ‘mixed’ forests of eucalypts and native cypress (Callitris) pines into monocultures of dense Callitris. This activity alone will have caused local extinctions of the many fauna species dependent on eucalypts for food and shelter.

In addition, many public land areas are still grazed, often heavily, with a consequent loss of grazing-sensitive understorey plants.

Proclamation of reserves has tended to occur haphazardly and is demonstrably inadequate. Most of the larger reserves are in steep rocky areas unwanted for timber or grazing.

It would be easy given the above to spit out a diatribe on the problems of destructive government agencies. And yes, obviously the destruction of temperate woodlands on private lands needs to cease and the remaining public land should be managed in a conservation reserve system.

However, far more important than blaming bureaucrats is to look at what conservationists have done to put public pressure on government to do the right thing in the woodlands. The answer is: not much. With a few, very honourable exceptions, there has been little effort to create a strong, continuing and coordinated campaign for the proper reservation and protection of the remaining temperate woodlands - the most threatened of wooded ecosystems in NSW. Until there is such a campaign, conservation management will continue to be hampered by vested interests, and the woodlands will continue to be fragmented. More birds, and more species, will be lost.

It took 25 years for the first white Australians to leave the sandstone and the cramped coastal valleys. After several decades of conservation work, it’s overdue for us to also cross the Great Dividing Range and to protect the woodlands that remain beyond.

* Dr Barry Traill is an ecologist with special expertise in box and ironbark woodlands. He is currently Director of the Australian Woodland Conservancy.

PHOTO NO 4 CROP AT BOTTOM & EXPAND TO 325% Woodlands in Goonoo State Forest BARRY TRAILL 14 AUGUST 1999

Getting wins in the west

NPA has been aware for many years of the need to focus more atten-tion and resources in the west of the State. For instance, we sponsored the Morgan-Terry report, Nature Conservation in Western NSW, in 1992. Then, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), NPA set up the Western Project in 1996. This has been suc-cessful in directing greater interest from government and the conserva-tion movement to the areas inland of the Dividing Range. In particular, the project has made a difference in attitudes to western wetlands, and NPA and WWF brokered the recent voluntary Ramsar listing of part of the Gwydir wetlands in north-west NSW (see also pages 15-16).

As Barry Traill points out here, we now need to aim for specific results to ensure the remaining natural areas in the west are properly reserved and protected, particularly the woodlands. We know that establishing new conservation reserves doesn’t come easy in the west - but it is clear that we need to push for this to ensure that the remnant western woodlands survive into the future.

The NPA Executive has been seeking funding for the employment of a campaigner to focus on permanent protection of the woodlands, and some generous donations have been received in response to our appeal. If you would like to find our more about this important cam-paign, please contact me at the NPA office on 02 9233 4660.

Noel Plumb, Executive Officer

AUGUST 1999 15

Costa Rica Conference on Wetlands
Governments consider indigenous rights & wetlands conservation policy
Cath Webb with Jamie Pittock*

T he Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was agreed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, and is the first of the modern intergovernmental environment treaties. The aims of the Convention are to conserve wetlands world wide and to advocate for their wise use.

This is achieved in several ways.

Governments are encouraged to establish policies which protect all wetlands in their jurisdictions, and to address the looming global freshwater crisis. To acknowledge the importance of specific wetlands, the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance has been established. There are currently 996 wetlands on the list, of which 53 are in Australia.

Every three years countries which are signatories to the Convention (Contracting Parties) meet at the Conference of Contracting Parties (CoP). The seventh of these was held in May 1999 in San Jose, Costa Rica. There are currently 115 contracting parties, and at least 1500 people attended the meeting either representing their countries or as observers.

Four non-government organisations (NGOs) have permanent observer status with the Convention and are called International Organisation Partners. They are the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); Wetlands International; Birdlife International; and IUCN the World Conservation Union. This arrangement was formalised at the May conference.

Regional reports The main business of the conference opened with regional reports.

The Oceania region report indicated much progress over the previous three-year period, although there are areas of concern.

These include the limited participation in the convention by small island states in the Pacific. The Oceania countries are Australia, New Zealand and Papua/New Guinea.

In formal comments from the floor regarding issues arising from the Oceania Report, the Australian Wetlands Alliance raised concerns over the absence of adequate management plans for the majority of Australia's Ramsar sites.

WWF commended the Australian Government on the development of a national framework for the provision of environmental flows. They noted that this has been applied by the NSW Government, which has provided for environmental flows or water sharing in most regulated rivers. WWF went on to point out that most State governments are quick to promise policies, strategies and plans, but have delivered little or nothing for wetlands conservation.

PHOTO NO 5 CROP SIDE & BOTTOM AS MARKED REDUCE BY 10% [13.15 X 8.2] HOWARD BLACKBURN Wise use principle of wetlands management - cattle in the Gwydir wetlands

WWF expressed disappointment that although there is an in-principle commitment to catchment management by all Australian governments, several developments have been allowed which will jeopardise important wetlands, notably the Jabiluka mine in Kakadu and the Ord Stage Two irrigation development.

Australia's new sites As part of the discussion following the Oceania report, the Australian Government head of delegation, Steven Hunter, announced from the floor of the conference Australia's new Ramsar sites. These are Great Sandy Straits in Queensland; and Narran Lakes Nature Reserve, Myall Lakes NP and the Gwydir wetlands in NSW. He congratulated the landholders of the Gwydir sites and noted that this is the first agreed private land Ramsar site in Australia (see NPJ April 1999 ). He went on to congratulate WWF and NPA for our "tenacious advocacy", and to announce that the Gwydir is Australia's 50th site. A poster outlining the importance of the Gwydir wetlands and the process of reaching Ramsar listing was on display throughout the conference.

The budget A disappointing outcome of the conference was a decision to effectively reduce the budget of the Ramsar Bureau. This will therefore reduce the amount of work able to be undertaken, and in particular may effect the Small Grants Fund. This fund is available to developing countries looking for assistance to achieve wetlands conservation.

Recommendations and resolutions To advance the work of the Convention, part of the business of these conferences is for the contracting parties to discuss resolutions and recommendations. The following were of interest.

Migratory waterbirds Currently Australia holds bilateral agreements with Japan and China to protect the migration paths of a number of birds. Recommendation 7.3, which was co-sponsored by Japan and Australia, establishes mechanisms for the development of multilateral agreements to better protect migratory birds throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Boundaries Sponsored by the Australian Government, it was disappointing to find upon arrival in San Jose that very few NGO concerns had been incorporated into the boundaries document. The Australian Government, while acting in good faith, sought a unique power to delete difficult areas from Ramsar sites at will. Fortunately, a great many NGOs and countries recognised the dangerous precedent proposed by the Australian Government. In a series of interventions led by Australian NGOs, the Aussies were forced into a negotiating meeting on the last day with a number of concerned governments. Norway and Spain - with the assistance of Peru, Canada, Sweden, UK, Belgium and the Netherlands - forced Australia to abandon the worst elements of their proposal. Regrettably, changes are still proposed to the boundaries of the Coongie Lakes and western shore of Port Phillip Bay sites, which will require close attention from conservation groups.

River basin management Resolution VII.18, Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management, sets policy for catchment management. It is heartening to note that in NSW the water reforms substantially meet most of these guidelines. It is clear that the NSW Government reforms, underpinned by responsible and effective Commonwealth policies such as the Murray Darling Basin Cap on extractions, are in the forefront of the world's efforts to share water and manage catchments.

Invasive species and wetlands Resolution VII.14 Invasive species and wetlands, sponsored jointly by Australia, Uganda and Norway, is the first time the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has set policy on invasive species. It is a visionary resolution which takes a proactive rather than a reactive approach to the issue. Dealing with both plants and animals, the resolution amongst other things sets up a worldwide database of species of concern.

Indigenous and local people World wide, many conservation groups acknowledge and support the rights of local and indigenous people to live in and manage areas of high biodiversity conservation value including wetlands.

Many such communities depend on wetlands and related systems for part or all of their livelihoods, and hold knowledge and skills integral to the health of the systems. This is particularly the case in Australia where Aboriginal people nationwide have considerable knowledge of and affiliation with land including wetlands, rivers, and estuaries in both remote and more settled areas. Often such rights and affiliations are ignored or overlooked.

The contracting parties have also acknowledged the involvement of indigenous people and local communities in conservation of wetlands. Resolution VII.8 calls upon contracting parties to seek "... active and informed participation by local communities and indigenous people in the management of Ramsar listed wetlands." It goes on to acknowledge the traditional affiliations and knowledge of indigenous and local people worldwide.

This is a major policy decision.

It encourages nations to include, at all levels, indigenous and local input in catchment and wetland planning and management. The resolution acknowledges the basic human rights of people to their land and traditional affiliations.

Most of the resolutions and recommendations are on the Ramsar Website, as is documentation of the process leading to Ramsar listing for the Gwydir wetlands: http://www.ramsar.org

* Cath Webb is the NPA/WWF Western Project Officer and represented NPA and WWF at the CoP 7 in San Jose. Jamie Pittock headed the delegation for WWF International.

NSW Wetlands Management Policy Implications for Wingecarribee Swamp
Phillip Kodela*

T he outstanding conservation values of Wingecarribee Swamp have been acknowledged by its listing on the Register of the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the National Estate Register (Australian Heritage Commission) and the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (Environment Australia). As well, the site fulfils several of the Ramsar criteria as a Wetland of International Importance. The Swamp has been referenced several times by the NSW NPWS as a proposed nature reserve. It is located on land zoned 7(a) Environmental Protection under the provisions of Wingecarribee Local Environment Plan (LEP) 1989.

The NSW Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning made an Interim Conservation Order (ICO) on 20 March 1998 and then a Permanent Conservation Order on 10 February 1999, after receiving recommendations from the NSW Heritage Council. Wingecarribee Swamp is now listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) - as an item of State heritage significance in recognition of its natural, archaeological, cultural, scientific and aesthetic values. (The SHR is a statutory list kept by the Heritage Council to accord with the NSW Heritage Act 1977, as amended in 1998.) Management of Wingecarribee Swamp There is a Joint Management Agreement that has been established between NPWS and Sydney Water (this will be transferred to the new Sydney Catchment Authority - SCA) for catchment lands, which applies to Wingecarribee Swamp. The Swamp is managed as a Special Area by Sydney Water (with the owner to become SCA); a joint Plan of Management between SCA and NPWS is currently being revised, especially in light of the August 1998 collapse of the peatland # . The public will be invited to comment on the draft Plan later this year. There are also major legislative responsibilities for the Heritage Office since the Swamp’s listing on the SHR.

The Wetlands Management Policy Wingecarribee Swamp meets many criteria for a wetland of regional or national significance under Principle Eight (page 24) of The NSW Wetlands Management Policy 1996, and accordingly should be conserved. The policy acknowledges that such significant wetlands should be accorded special protection by the NPWS, in conjunction with the relevant State and Commonwealth agencies.

Page 5 of the document states that it is the policy of the NSW Government to: 1 encourage the management of the wetlands of the State so as to halt and, where possible, reverse: • loss of wetland vegetation; • declining water quality; • declining natural productivity; • loss of biological diversity; and • declining natural flood mitigation.

2 encourage projects and activities which will restore the quality of the State’s wetlands, such as: • rehabilitating wetlands; • re-establishing areas of buffer vegetation around wetlands; and • ensuring adequate water to restore wetland habitats.

All the above objectives are relevant to Wingecarribee Swamp.

Rehabilitation efforts outlined in point (2) and other management strategies are now required to help achieve the goals in point (1), especially since the collapse and other environmental damage to the swamp in 1998.

The Policy encourages rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, that is, Principle Seven (p 23) states that “degraded wetlands and their habitats and processes will be actively rehabilitated as far as is practical”. At Wingecarribee Swamp this will probably largely depend on addressing the altered hydrological regime to maintain (or re-establish and maintain) wetland vegetation, habitats and processes. The rehabilitation project (including scientific assessment, possible remedial strategies, planning and management processes, recording procedures, and so on) adopted for Wingecarribee Swamp will be very educational and of potential benefit to other wetland projects. In order to achieve these advantages the methods and results need to be regularly monitored and recorded. These will all be long-term processes.

The policy (on p 23) supports restoration projects that involve the community and government working together. For many years there has been strong community support for the cessation of peat mining at Wingecarribee Swamp and its conservation, both for its environmental heritage values and its important natural functions, which help maintain water quality in Wingecarribee Reservoir (the local water supply). Community groups, such as NPA and the Robertson Environment Protection Society, have expressed concerns and provided recommendations on the rehabilitation and future management of the site. There is community representation on committees, and there could be potential involvement with longer term rehabilitation projects.

Most of the Swamp in its present state poses safety risks therefore access is limited to authorised investigators and other personnel. When and if the wetland is stabilised, there may be areas assessed safe and suitable for community projects such as weeding and revegetating buffer areas on the edges of the wetland. Community involvement and cooperation will be necessary when managing the catchment for the protection of the wetland and water quality in the Reservoir.

The Policy also recognises that cooperative action between land and water owners and managers, government authorities, non-government organisations, researchers and the general community is needed for effective wetland management. This is certainly true in the case of Wingecarribee Swamp.

# see NPJ 1999,Volume 42 (5), page 10. Much damage occurred to the swamp as the result of continued peat mining, despite expert advice and other efforts to stop this practice. Mining ceased when the ICO was placed on the site.

* Dr Phillip Kodela has been investigating Wingecarribee Swamp for many years.

The future of biodiversity
Andreas Glanznig*

W ith the end of the century in sight, the precarious state of some Australian ecosystems has again made it onto the 6 o'clock news. The continuing ravages of rising saltwater on woodlands, scrub and agricultural lands caused by over-clearing, or the predicted devastation of the Great Barrier Reef due to the climatechange induced coral bleaching, are potent signposts to the biodiversity challenge that we must confront in the new millennium.

These are just two ecosystems at risk of being severely degraded.

The Global 200, developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature, lists the Earth’s 200 most biodiversityrich ecosystems at risk of being degraded or destroyed. Australia has the dubious distinction of having 10 on that list. These are: 1. Queensland tropical forests 2. Eastern Australia temperate forests 3. Tasmanian temperate forests 4. Northern Australia and transFly savannas 5. Australian sandy deserts and central ranges 6. South-western Australian shrublands and woodlands 7. Eastern Australian rivers and streams 8. Western Australian marine 9. Great Barrier Reef 10. Southern temperate Australian marine.

Over the past year or so, a range of benchmark scientific studies have been published that document the threats these and other Australian ecosystems face.

They should dampen the sceptical doubts of any eco-cynic attempting to downplay the scale and urgency of the challenge; some of these are summarised here.

1997: Future Australian extinctions Senior Australian scientist predicts that as many as 100 bird species, or nearly 20% of all Australian landbased birds, would become extinct in the 21st century (Recher 1997).

In the 200 years since European settlement, Australia has experienced the extinction of more of its mammal species than any other nation. The number of arthopods (such as mites and spiders) that will become extinct over the next century due to habitat loss can only be speculated.

1998/99: Climate change The 1990s were determined to be the warmest decade of the millennium, with 1998 the warmest year so far. Severe level of coral bleaching reported globally, affecting over 30 countries throughout the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific oceans. Up to 88% of nearshore corals on the Great Barrier Reef are affected. High sea temperatures and solar radiation are the immediate cause, but a US Department of State report concludes that human-induced global warming contributed to this event (Pomerance et al 1999). Scientists predict that the Reef will be affected by yearly severe bleaching events by the year 2030, and that “coral reefs could be eliminated from most areas of the world by 2100.” (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999) Additionally, other scientists predict that the Great Barrier Reef will start crumbling within 50 years due to a process they liken to osteoporosis in humans, again caused by the rapid increase in greenhouse pollutants in the atmosphere.

1998: Biodiversity and rising saline groundwater caused by unsustainable native bush clearing The WA Government reports that up to 50% of remnant vegetation on private land in the wheatbelt will be lost to salinity, further hastening loss of species diversity (WA Government cited in Industry Commission 1998, p 33). In some areas, saline groundwater is rising by up to 0.5 metres a year (George et al In Press cited in Glanznig 1995).

Earth Alive! National Biodiversity Month, being celebrated in September, aims to bring these messages to most Australians. For more information on Biodiversity Month, ring 02 9380 7629 or see our website at http://www.cbn.org.au


  1. Glanznig, A. 1995. Native Vegetation Clearance, Habitat Loss and Biodiversity Decline, Biodiversity Series, Paper No 6.
  2. Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, Canberra.
  3. Hoegh-Guldberg, O. 1999. Climate change, Coral Bleaching and the Future of the World’s Coral Reefs, Study commissioned by Greenpeace Australia, Greenpeace Australia, Sydney.
  4. Industry Commission. 1998. Full Repairing Lease, Draft Report, Industry Commission, Canberra.
  5. Pomerance, R., Reaser, J., and Thomas, P.
  6. 1999. Coral bleaching, coral mortality and global climate change. US Department of State Report, US Department of State, Washington DC.
  7. Recher, H. F. 1997. Australia's Biodiversity and its conservation into the 21st Century. A statement on behalf of the National Biodiversity Council, National Biodiversity Council, Perth.

* Andreas Glanznig is National Coordinator of the Community Biodiversity Network.

Habitat action COSS & Gosford Council
Andrew Sourry & Beryl Strom*

F ollowing Andrew Sourry’s address to the NPA State Council Meeting at Long Jetty on the Central Coast in March 1999, he and Beryl Strom have provided details of this unique system.

Gosford City Council is to be congratulated for having the foresight and dedication to create a system of reserves in that part of the Gosford City area between the northern railway line and the coast.

The Coastal Open Space System (COSS) was first submitted to Council in August 1978 by the then Chief Town Planner, Noel Hewitt.

The original study proposed protection of ridgelands, headlands, estuaries and wetlands.

When eventually adopted by Council in 1984, the System was somewhat modified, but included: • visually significant forested ridges and hills; • areas of high-quality vegetation and significant wildlife habitats; • forested backdrops to lagoons; and • coastal dunes and cliffs.

It was intended that the system would: • provide where possible vegetated connections between landscape units, to allow movement of plant genes and wildlife; and • facilitate and enhance the enjoyment of conservation areas with provision for recreation activities compatible with conservation.

The original study included a series of maps identifying the lands in the system. By 1980, 68% of lands had been acquired and, by 1998, 2,600 hectares of a possible 3,065 ha were in COSS.

Acquisitions were acquired by the following methods: A Direct purchase of land zoned Conservation 7(a).

B “Bonus provisions”, where forested lands (mostly ridgelands) are acquired by increasing development rights on part of the property, often cleared lower lying land.

C Subdivision of land zoned Scenic Protection - Rural Small Holdings 7(c2), where an applicant may subdivide a two-hectare lot into smaller lots. Provided the land is not environmentally sensitive, permission may be granted and the owner pays a contribution towards the purchase of COSS land.

On 1 July 1997, Gosford City Council commenced a levy on rates for “COSS acquisitions”; this was effected by referendum. In October 1998 the Council received $1 million funding from the Natural Heritage Trust towards the purchase of COSS lands. In the Trust’s publication Natural Heritage, Summer 1998/99 No 3, Council was congratulated for “unifying the community through people and the environment” and “having the vision to protect and manage their area’s unique biodiversity”.

Certainly a great achievement!

The COSS Management Committee The COSS Management Committee was set up in April 1991. Prior to this, Council officers made the determinations. The committee makes recommendations to Council; confidentiality is essential.

The committee is appointed by Council and meets monthly. Staff are represented by a Natural Resources Manager, environment officers and the Property Services Manager. The committee includes community members and an officer of NPWS also attends. (Allen Strom was a very active member; Beryl Strom and Andrew Sourry are current members.) Relationship with NPWS So you may ask - how does COSS embellish national parks and create nature reserves controlled by the NPWS?

Gosford Council has generously resolved over the years to transfer some COSS lands to the NPWS. Lands about to be added to Bouddi National Park include significant ridgelands above Daleys Point and behind MacMasters Beach. Council has already handed over 49.15 ha to the NPWS to establish the Wambina Nature Reserve, proclaimed on 21 May 1997, and additions are currently proposed.

Both the Bouddi and Wambina land additions are contained in Helen Latham’s report Proposed Additions in the Sydney Region, published by NPA in January 1999.

What Branches can do:

  1. Select areas of high conservation value in your region with potential for future expansion, along with wildlife corridors.
  2. Assess the areas - seek help from the NPWS Zone team and NPA Biodiversity Committee. You can start with a botanist and zoologist.
  3. Lobby councillors with a proposal - council environment officers and planners may assist.
  4. If you have rainforest, it can be a plus. Encourage your council to adopt a rainforest policy. Use as a guide the NPA study (August 1993) A Proposal for Protection of Remnant Rainforest in the Gosford and Wyong Areas.

* Andrew Sourry and Beryl Strom OAM are both Honorary life members of NPA & members of Central Coast Branch.

Letters to the Editor

Readers are welcome to respond by letter or e-mail to other letters or articles in the National Parks Journal, or to write in about any topic you choose. Preference will be given to short, concise letters. Other letters may be edited or not included, depending on space limits. Please be aware of libel and defamation laws! All views expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by NPA.

What kind of bush?

Scott Marshall’s letter (June NPJ) promoting frequent, low-intensity burning of bushland on the east coast is a wonderful example of the danger posed by Tim Flannery’s populist publication, The Future Eaters. Marshall has clearly accepted without adequate (if any) questioning Flannery’s view that Sydney’s sclerophyll vegetation was an open woodland at the time of European invasion. It should be noted that Flannery is merely postulating this view based on a few historical accounts of early explorers and settlers. There is little solid evidence to support this view, and it has been hotly disputed in a variety of fora including the informative work by Benson & Redpath (Cunninghamia 5(2) 1997; and NPJ August 1998).

Flannery has not adequately explored issues such as observational bias. For example, it is apparent that there were areas of open woodland in the Sydney region circa 200 years ago, but the mere presence of these areas does not make them prevalent. It is likely that parts of the low rainfall, relatively fertile Cumberland Plain in western Sydney supported open to tall open grassy woodlands. The relatively high agricultural and pastoral value of such scenes is likely to have made them far more noteworthy to European eyes than the surrounding sandstone forests and scrub. Thus it isn’t surprising that there would be a relative abundance of references to Sydney vegetation as open woodland in the accounts of explorers and settlers.

It is very easy to be misled by such historical material. It might form the basis for an hypothesis, but the existence of such material does not amount to the evidence necessary to claim that most of Sydney’s vegetation was an open woodland that was burnt often and at low intensity.

What we do know as a result of science is that, if we instituted a fire regime such as that recommended by Flannery and his convert Marshall, we would see local and possibly total extinctions of species and communities along with significant air and water pollution in and around our urban areas. Flannery’s speculation about historical burning regimes is interesting, but it is not useful when it comes to managing biodiversity and other environmental issues in the present.

Decisions about fire regimes need to be based on the core objective of maintaining biodiversity and preventing anthropogenic extinctions. The science of fire ecology should be the decisionmaking tool, not speculation based on a few unempirical historical accounts and some populist theories.

Steve Douglas
15 June 1999

Natural rights

David Rudder is using a peculiar definition of “genuine reconciliation” in his attack on NPA’s position on the leaseback of Mutawintji and other traditionally owned national parks (NPJ February 1999).

I would have thought that any real notion of reconciliation must take into account the legitimate rights and aspirations of both conflicting groups, not just one.

Whether David Rudder likes it or not, non-Aboriginal Australians, who make up the vast majority of the population, have legitimate claims of interest and ownership in all national parks and areas of natural significance. It is only right and fair that the “ultimate authority” on the future of these areas should rest with a Minister who represents all Australians, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

It would be paternalistic to assume what is good for Aboriginal people without reference to them, and the fact is that the leasing of national parks in the Northern Territory and now in NSW has been well received by traditional owners.

However, there is no avoiding the fact that the survival of certain species of plants and animals will be placed in further jeopardy if national parks are not managed primarily for nature conservation.

Graham Daly
19 April 1999

Home or wilderness

Aboriginal communities should be involved in decisions affecting the cultural features in national parks and wilderness areas which are important to them. Much can be done to include Aboriginal perspectives in the management and interpretation of these areas by national parks agencies. However, Aboriginal cultural heritage issues are often confused with land rights issues, and commonsense sometimes takes a back seat to posturing. Noel Plumb has highlighted an example of this from the Australian Heritage Commission (NPJ June 1999).

The Heritage Commission has done good work over the years in support of wilderness, including the development of a National Wilderness Inventory using criteria and a methodology that few have questioned. The wilderness areas in the inventory are large natural areas in a relatively undisturbed condition, unoccupied, and remote from settlement. These wilderness areas make an important contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in Australia. Now, against the evidence of its inventory, the Heritage Commission is suggesting in a recently published leaflet that these same areas are ‘home’ to part of the Australian community.

The Commission’s leaflet shows scenes from NSW wilderness areas, but depicts people enjoying a semi-traditional way of life. This follows the lead of various Aboriginal spokespersons who tend to gloss over the cultural differences that exist in this continent. Aboriginal people in south-eastern Australia are mostly urban dwellers who expect urban facilities and services. It would be costly and damaging to nature conservation values to try to provide these facilities in NSW wilderness areas, and the social benefits of such a policy would be dubious to say the least.

Nobody lives in any declared wilderness area in NSW and all of these areas are within dedicated national parks. In the past Aboriginal people undoubtedly made use of these lands, but even then their broken topography, heavy forest cover and infertile soils would have made them marginal to the traditional Aboriginal economy. This view is reinforced by the locations of many of the wilderness areas: most are on the rugged escarpments and plateaus of the eastern highlands, and many fall within the boundary zones that separated traditional language groups.

When he gave the first Milo Dunphy Memorial Lecture last year, Dr Tim Flannery declared that the wilderness areas we have today are the product of smallpox and settlers’ bullets. This had the desired effect of inducing guilt until one remembered that the same statement could be made about every kind of land use in Australia whether it be a farm, a suburban house, a golf course, a city office block, or even a museum.

The dispossession of the original inhabitants of this continent is something to regret and to apologise for. Governments and the judiciary are rightly attempting to make some reparation in keeping with the realities of present-day Australian society. However, the response has been to divert attention away from the developed lands of the continent, whose current owners are excused any contribution (Neville Wran’s sharing of land tax with Aboriginal land councils being a notable exception). Aboriginal economic claims are instead being steered in the direction of undeveloped Crown lands, national parks and wilderness areas. Some may see this as an obvious (and cheap) ‘fix’, but in the heavily developed south-east of Australia this approach adds to pressures on scarce nature conservation lands, and ignores conflicts that exist between Aboriginal economic aspirations and environmental policy.

Peter J Prineas
15 June 1999

Noel Plumb’s excellent article in the June NPJ highlighted the fact that Aboriginal groups are “fundamentally opposed to the concept of wilderness”, according to a NPWS statement in the Grose wilderness report. It appears that they see wilderness as an impediment to land rights, and would like the current Wilderness Act repealed. Should they succeed in persuading the Service to accept this radical position, then I believe that public sympathy for their cause would rapidly evaporate.

Moving from the general to the specific, I now examine the consequences on an existing and a proposed wilderness.

Kanangra Boyd wilderness (part of both the Blue Mountains and Kanangra Boyd national parks) has been claimed by a local Aboriginal group under the Federal Native Title Act. Should the Gundungurra people succeed in convincing the Federal Court of the justice of their claim, then they will hold native title and NPWS will be required by law to negotiate the terms and conditions under which the area will be used, thus opening it up for inappropriate development (prohibited by the NSW Wilderness Act).

The proposed Grose wilderness in the Blue Mountains NP is also subject to native title claim by the Darug/Deerubbin people. As it undoubtedly includes many areas of significance to Aboriginals, it is open to Minister Debus to place it on Schedule 14 of the National Parks (Aboriginal Ownership) Act, thus setting in train transfer of land tenure in accordance with the precedent established by the Mutawintji lease agreement of September 1998.

I therefore conclude that the reason why Aboriginal groups are “fundamentally opposed to the concept of wilderness” is because the current legislation, as Noel Plumb rightly stated, “is designed to protect wilderness and keep it from the degrading influences of modern technology regardless of race or creed.”

Jim Somerville
16 June 1999

Parramatta-Chatswood rail link

The June Sydney Branch Newsletter urges NPA members to support equal consideration of an alternative route for the proposed Parramatta - Chatswood railway in the current EIS, as it could serve a

“the developing Corporate Park between Delhi Road and also could have a station at Lane Cove”.

The Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society supports the rail link and has considered the proposed routes, including this alternative. A station serving Lane Cove and potentially Lane Cove West industrial area would increase the density of development which, whether one likes it or not, would also increase road traffic. It is also likely to lead to higher residential densities in nearby areas, causing severe degradation to bushland in the Stringybark Creek and Lane Cove River area and to existing residential amenity.

It is likely that an acceptable station depth at Lane Cove West and Delhi Road would need a crossing above the Lane Cove River, which the LCBCS finds to be just as unacceptable as a similar crossing in the Lane Cove NP.

Lane Cove has been “consolidated” for some years, with over 50% of its housing being other than single detached houses, and we do not welcome the prospect of rail-driven higher densities of development over and above those imposed by the State Government’s ill-advised blanket urban consolidation policies.

In short, we do not support this route on environmental grounds and urge NPA members to support the proposed route being considered in the EIS. It excludes stations at Delhi Road and the University of Technology, Sydney, and does not have any impact on Lane Cove NP.

Graham Holland
Vice President Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society
25 June 1999

Population & environment

The last word of the last letter to the Editor on the last page of the last (June) NPJ is “population”! OK - as a last word it was an accident, but nevertheless I suggest that NPA priorities need review. Population should not be last but should be high on the issues agenda.

Author of the above letter, Z Brown of Hazelbrook, is correct in stating, “our major problem is POPULATION.” The relationship between population growth and environmental degradation is undeniable. People do not stand apart from, but are integral with the environment. Each person in Australia has an annual ecological footprint of 5.6 to 6.75 ha at 1991-92 consumption levels (Greenprint for Sydney, Total Environment Centre, Feb 1999).

The discussion on how Australia’s booming population is destroying our environment is given sharp focus in Mark O’Connor’s highly relevant book, This Tired Brown Land. Population growth is directly affecting nature conservation and national parks. It will increasingly do so. In addition, our population is ageing. Policy development must take account of both the changing demographic structure and the environmental realities of fragile Australia.

Until recently, anyone attempting to discuss population growth was branded “racist”, simply because such discussion cannot proceed without addressing immigration. It is therefore important to acknowledge that the issue of population is one of numbers, not race.

Social scientist Katherine Betts recently stated in the journal People & Place, “If Australia were to have an explicit population policy, the question of population growth and the effects of different inputs on Australia's age structure would be analysed rigorously. Without such a policy, ignorance, emotion and special pleading have more scope.” Australia may look big on a map, but it is in effect a small land with resources of soil and water already stretched beyond limit.

More attention to the coupled issue of “population and environment” please, editorial committee.

Geoff Grace
Hunters Hill
17 June 1999


Explore the Australian Alps Parks Victoria, Parks and Conservation Service ACT, NSW NPWS, Environment Australia New Holland Publishers, 176 pp, pb, $29.95 This is a touring guide aimed at both two- and four-wheel drive motorists.

The various writers have attempted to promote their parks responsibly. There is a constant underlying theme of nature conservation in most sections. Although it was written for Australian alpine touring, much of the material in this book would provide an appropriate set of basic principles for environmentally responsible motoring in any part of Australia. From the outset the book stresses motoring safety, and provides rules that should be observed in the Alps.

While motoring is the main concern, other modes of transport are not ignored - there is advice for horse riders, canoeists, cyclists, walkers and snow campers.

The introductory pages provide an overview of the natural history of the region, with emphasis on the fragile nature of the alpine parks and the fact that this is a very small part of Australia that is in danger of becoming “loved to death”. The need for minimum impact park use is stressed in the section, “Travelling and Camping Notes”, with guidelines for its achievement.

The touring guide forms the body of the book and is structured around several main touring routes in each of the three States, with details of numerous side trips from these. In addition to diagrams and maps of the various routes, there are more than 140 colour photographs.

There is lots of information on the activities of the early squatters, settlers and miners. Their homes and diggings are depicted, along with the various items of debris they left behind, much of which is now considered to have heritage value. The guide is not lavish in description of the scenery, probably relying on the photographs, some of which need to be viewed in a strong light in order to see the detail referred to in the text.

At the end there is a useful sixpage table summarising the national park camping areas, giving the size according to the number of camp sites, facilities available at each and, in a few cases, the need for booking. The campsites can be easily located on the maps by means of the identifying code used throughout the guide.

In order to visit these parks, given today's culture and lifestyle, mechanised transport of some kind seems the most practical means.

Therefore this guide would be an excellent reference for any intending Australian mainland alpine traveller.

Bill Dowling
Blue Mountains Branch

Saving our natural heritage Craig Copeland & Damian Lewis (Eds) Halstead Press, 1997 Saving Our Natural Heritage, subtitled "The role of science in managing Australia’s ecosystems", is a compilation of papers by a wide range of authors and is based on a session of the 1995 ANZAAS Congress. It is divided into three sections: Overview, Problem Ecosystems and The Way Forward.

SONH is not an easy read because of its technical nature and generally less than uplifting subject matter. It is not recommended for those inclined to depression, particularly the first two sections. I suggest reading only one paper at a time or perhaps selecting the papers of particular interest to the reader, rather than trying to consume the whole publication, as it covers quite a broad range of topics. I often wanted to flick to the end of a chapter and just get the summary of core points rather than having to wade through the whole, often depressing saga of what’s wrong and why we have ruined or are over-exploiting yet another resource.

SONH’s main value might be for university students or researchers; it is not a mass market product. The readability of the papers varies considerably depending on the author’s style, approach and the subject matter. Some papers were decidedly more accessible and held my attention much longer than those which became very technical, complex or too negative.

Several of the papers contain some current and useful information, but I found others to be largely a revision of established knowledge with little if any new material to contribute. After wading through the whole publication I had certainly learnt some useful facts and had updated my knowledge of issues such as acid sulfate soils, artesian bore management and migratory issues for inland fish. However, I was still left feeling that whilst science is a great land and resource management tool in the right hands, it is the political decisions that generally dictate whether research is funded, whether the findings are implemented and, if so, whether the implementation is timely or otherwise adequate to address the issue. For me, SONH did not adequately address the political environment in which science takes place (or does not take place!).

In summary, SONH would make a useful text for a university student or other researcher studying in the environmental management field, but it does not make for good bedtime reading.

Steve Douglas Environmental consultant Nature Photography Ken Griffiths UNSW Press, 112pp, pb, $29.95 The first thing I did when I got Ken Griffiths’ book Nature Photography was to look at the pictures! I find it fascinating to read another photographer’s notes about how and when photos were taken. Ken uses his photos to explain camera techniques, and the differences between types of equipment and film. There are chapters on equipment care and maintenance, what to look for when buying used equipment (particularly useful), picture faults and technical problems.

The book concentrates on nature photography (as the title suggests) and, reading it over breakfast before work, I found I wanted to be out in the backyard, discovering early morning dew on leaves, curious lizards and sunbathing birds - I particularly enjoyed the chapter on ‘Plants and Animals Exposed’.

Inspiration aside, the book is mostly a technical guide for beginners. However, even after a number of years of picture taking, I found the book still answered some questions for me. The book would make a great gift for someone just starting out in photography, or with a keen interest in nature. The text is very simply written so age is not a barrier to use. The notes on ethics for photographing wildlife are also very much in accord with a conservation viewpoint. Recommended.

Kathy Fook
Photographer & conservationist

The National Parks Association of NSW Inc. is a non-profit community organisation which seeks to protect and conserve the complete range and diversity of natural habitats, features and species as well as significant cultural items and landscapes within New South Wales.

National Parks Association Executive: Tom Fink, President; Stephen Lord, Senior Vice-President; Anne Reeves, Junior Vice-President; Tim Carroll, Secretary; Kathy McCourt, Treasurer; Mike Thompson, John Macris, Beth Michie, Vivien Dunne.

The National Parks Journal is published bi-monthly, with news and features on nature conservation and national parks, by NPA Publications Pty Ltd, 4th Floor, Imperial Arcade, 83-87 Castlereagh St, Sydney.

Phone: (02) 9233 4660 Fax: (02) 9233 4880 e-mail: npansw@bigpond.com website: http://NPANSW.cjb.net Editor: :: :: Glyn Mather Journal Committee: Stephen Lord Anne Reeves Mike Thompson Noel Plumb Tom Fink (ex officio) Proof Reader: Janice Beavan Activities Program Coordinator: Richard Thompson Activities Program Typist: Pat Tregenza Printing: :: :: SOS Printing, 65 Burrows Road, Alexandria.

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ISSN-0047-9012 Contributions to the National Parks Journal are welcome, but we may not be able to publish everything we receive; contributions may be published on NPA's website. Send articles on IBM format disk plus hard copy, photographs or illustrations to: The Editor, National Parks Journal, PO Box A96, Sydney South 1235; or e-mail npansw@bigpond.com Opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily represent the policies or views of the National Parks Association of NSW.

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AUGUST 1999 Vol 43 No 4

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