Posts Tagged ‘vegetation’

A Balance of Faeries – revisited

March 9, 2009

** before you read this article, have a quick look here – Story : Koalas in SE Queensland, Australia. Dec 2008**,  HERE  , and last of all HERE : Draft South East Queensland Koala State Planning Regulatory Provisions  .   

Faerie tales are stories of imagination, folklore and historical heresay. Many faerie stories can have deeper meanings behind their outer words. Now perhaps you do not believe in faeries . You may think that faeries are merely symbolic adornments in childhood books, movies and from cultures of a bygone age.

Now that you are grown up, you may be quite sure that faeries, santa clause and the easter bunny are not real. Or, you may have your own ideas about faeries, that no one else seems to have at all.

Well, all that aside, if you have some time to spare, have a read of my story below. It is a true story, and it has no faeries in it at all. Well… there is just one reference to faeries – right near the end.

My story takes place on the Marburg Range, some 35 kms west of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia. The year is 1989…..

Part One: The Afternoon

The afternoon was peaceful, broken only by the sounds of cicadas , and scrub birds , as they settled into their nesting trees for the evening ahead. A bulldozer came slowly up the dusty road. Grinding noisily, its metal tracks, and steel chains broke the quiet of the afternoon. The bulldozer stopped outside my little farmhouse, high up on the ridge.

Then the unthinkable happened.

The first large tree to go creaked mournfully, its roots loosening eerily from the soil, in passive opposition to the bulldozer’s strength.

The second large tree gave even less opposition, and the native bushes, herbs and grasses beneath were pushed into a tangled pile, flattening the unseen creatures that inhabited the narrow road verge. Birds’ nests fell. The koalas‘ food and roadside refuge was gone. Lizards, marsupials and baby birds of the understorey had little hope of survival.
The living wonder of the road verge was to be destroyed in 30 minutes, by over a million years honed into the diesal powered steel of the bulldozer.

My heart ached for the bush creatures and their homes.
Their lives, so cruelly flattened and trashed.

At first, my screaming thoughts wanted me to yell at the bulldozer driver “STOP!!! STOP!!- you are killing so many defenseless beautiful creatures and plants!!”
Instead, I stood transfixed in disbelief, watching the dozer fell the third tree then the fourth, fifth, sixth – on and on, up the road verge, heading to the top of the ridge.
Those brief moments of hearing that bulldozer do its work, they would change my life forever.

Spirit reeling, I tried to conceive how such a thing could be happening! No one else was watching – just me and the bulldozer driver. So much destruction of so much life taking place.

No one cared. No one cared at all. And if they did, well, what could they do?

This was not a large forest, protected by vigilant activists, prepared to chain themselves to trees. My heart began to ache, beyond this mindless act, to all the other places on earth that were silently witnessing the same destruction.
As a powerless observer, my anger and helplessness grew, and I did not know where to channel it.

The bulldozer driver did not realise. It was his job, and he had a family to feed. I could not be angry at him. But still my anger grew, threatening to consume me.

I needed a quick respite, a quick solution, to temper this anger – turning it into love.

Then a thought came suddenly to me. I could store this anger, transforming it with love, to hold deep in the base of my body, deep below my stomach. I could store this energy and use it, lovingly, thoughtfully, creatively, in future days, months, years and decades, as a power source. A power source dedicated to generating compassion and love, for nature’s bounties, gifted to humanity. What a big ask of myself! But then again, I could not deny this event.
I would remember this day for eternity. The day the grey boxes fell before the bulldozer.

As the bulldozer driver stopped to reconnect some chains, I went over to him, and asked of him ” Why do you clear this stretch of land? Do you realise that this soil is highly dispersive – it washes away so easily with rain that the land here is riddled with deep sub terranean holes? The aspect is so harsh, that without adjoining vegetation ( I pointed to the adjacent overgrazed paddock ) this road verge will not recover for many decades”.

He replied ” The owner of the property up the road wishes to put in electricity. Power lines are coming through. He is connecting power to that little quarter acre block, at the top of the ridge, so that he may sell it more easily”. And that was that. Legally ok!! Socially sanctioned.

After years of living on this range, I had grown to deeply respect the earth, and the natural balances that permeated through it. The harshness of the climate, at times, sent alternating flash flooding, and merciless drought. Fire could spring up quickly, within the badly managed vegetation and the lower valleys had became choked with salted soils and slow running creek water that resemble the sea in it’s saltiness.

The Eucalypts, with their long roots sunk deep into the earth, drew the water that lay in the rocky aquifers beneath. This was third generation regenerated bushland (from the clearing of the past 150 years) giving homes to many native animals. Beneath the box and red gums, grew all manner of remnant dry vine scrub plants, interspersed with the wildy spreading, naturalised weeds, that had arrived with agrarian settlement.
Silvereyes and double-barred finches nested in the hoop pines, blue wrens frequented the scrubby understoreys, koalas clamboured lazily tree to tree, goannas and snakes made frequent appearances, and after the rains, the frogs sounded in the dams and gullies along the side of the ridge.

Part Two: The evening

That evening, I suffered a disquiet that I had never known before. Falling asleep, my tears for the defenceless roadside homes turned into a dream. This dream eventually woke me. Such forces in a dream I had never experienced before.

I dreamt that I was in my little farm house, with my family. Suddenly a great wind tore through the house, ripping doors from hinges, hurling furniture to the walls. Our lives were in peril. The house was being destroyed by something so great, and invisible, that in the dream, my husband called to me, “Get the children, we must escape – we shall be killed!!”.

Now, in our dreams, we can be a hero, that in waking life, seems absurd.

Holding my husband back with one arm, I cried “NO! I can see what is happening – it is all coming from the bookcase” . I ran to our bookcase, which spanned the length of the living room wall, high to the ceiling, crammed with books, all tightly packed together, against the entire wall.

The wind was now of tornadic proportions, as I fought desperately to get near the bookshelf. I searched frantically for the source of the wind. There it was! Funneling through a small gap, on the bottom shelf. This was the only gap in the bookshelf that lined the wall and the wind was howling out of it, tearing past me and ripping my home apart.

“I know what to do” I cried, and kneeling down, desperately searched the floor for the missing book, that had fallen from the bookshelf, to stop this gap , and block the fierce wind.

The gap was so small, and the wind coming through it seemed to have no end. My hands felt about, on the floor. THERE it was, the book!!

I held it in my right hand, and pushed it back into the hole in the bookshelf. The strain was enormous, the wind so strong. I summoned all my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength to push that book back in, and suddenly there it was, back in place.

The wind stopped. But I was utterly spent – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The effort woke me from the nightmare, worn and exhausted. As I awoke, I knew that the name of this book must be remembered, this little book that held so much force at bay. In my waking, lucid moments, I frantically tried to decipher the tiny print on the cover. Oh, it was so hard to read, and I was waking fast. But YES, there it was! I could see it written on the cover – “A Balance of Faeries”.

I woke up, exhausted.

Part Three: The morning

There is not much more to say now. The dream has been recorded.

This dream has had a profound influence on how I view the world and share my view with others.

My place, within the natural processes that the world has gifted me, seems very small, insignificant. But, like that tiny book, in that great big bookshelf of my dream, small, seemingly insignificant parts of a much greater collective can have far reaching consequences.

The tiny, “non- significant” parcels within our delicately balanced environment can have an critical part to play in survival of all living things on earth.

The collective knowledge of mankind (the bookshelf) holds such power behind it, that should the knowledge not be complete, the power that is held can escape, creating havoc and untold destruction.

Part four: The return

I have since returned to visit the Marburg Range, some months back, before the 2008 summer rains drenched it once again, and after many years of drought, harsh winds and relentless sun. The road verge leading to the top of the ridge is bare, no trees have grown back yet, and no koalas, birds or marsupials could be seen on the narrow strip that was cleared so suddenly, 20 years ago.

With biodiversity comes the ability for our ecological systems to withstand the greater forces of nature – wind, sun, rain, fire, cold, heat. With knowledge and understanding of the smaller, delicate portions of nature, comes an ability to hold back the greater forces that great knowledge exposes us to.

It is time to wake up.

Links:

Queensland State of the Environment 2007 download at the Qld Government Environmental Protection Agency website

New South Wales State of the Environment Report 2006 download at the NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change website

  • Download the Soil Conservation Act 1986 – This Queensland Act for Soil Conservation has been in place since 1986 – yet the SE Queensland Region is still undergoing landclearing, ecological degradation and water pollution at unsustainable levels for the future population’s well being.

Roadsides, Powerlines & Stock Routes:

a few more interesting links:

  • North East Rainforest Alliance NEFA – homepage –

Some historical reading about Forests in NE NSW:

  • old NEFA site ? try the NEFA homepage

and finally, some more Blue Crayfish Links from bluecray.org :-

Bluecrays, Crayfish, Blue Crayfish Links

18-06-2008

PK, Litoria & Chin Ting have a look at the big picture, along with the Python, Spangled Drongos & other Wildlife that live by the roads in the Mt Warning Caldera Region, Australia.

Logan and Albert Conservation Association : KOALAS  

Follow candobetter.org for information about KOALAS – they have compiled  great info, links, articles, and brief recent history concerning KOALAS and the QUEENSLAND Government and DEVELOPMENT trends 

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PK & Litoria look for Rufous Bettong – a threatened species listed as vulnerable by the NSW Government

March 6, 2009

There are 25 threatened marsupials in NSW – (NSW  Government Threatened Species). The Rufous Bettong is one of these threatened species.

I share some mutual habitat with a Rufous Bettong that lives nearby,  in Upper Burringbar, NE NSW.  Thickets of vegetation, old fallen tree logs, a  variety of niches to  set up a nesting spot and stay for a while to live. This  could definitely be appealing to a Rufuous Bettong

PK & Litoria learn from Goanna how the Grass got sick, and that Rufous Bettong has moved

PK & Litoria learn from Goanna how the Grass got sick, and that Rufous Bettong has moved

The gully and surrounding land is part of  this Rufous Bettong’s territory. Its home and backyard.  This land was sprayed last year with glyphosate. Since then, the tall grass has died and fallen over. 

Hortico Weed Killer  360 Concentrate   Material Safety Data Sheet  (MSDS SHEET) = GLYPHOSATE  MSDS

The pathways and resting spots of other small animals that lived there were more  apparent for a while after the spraying. Eventually the wildlife  re-adapted their travel and lifestyles.  The changing of the landscape can have many consequences.

The dead thatched layer of this sprayed gully was quite high, and opened up  in places.

The Rufous Betong had nested in one such thatched area  when I walked next to it. I disturbed the Bettong and  gave it a fright.

Extracting itself from the undergrowth, it thumped away very quickly. Poor dear Rufous Bettong!

Lesson 1 :  Aepyprymnus rufescens -RUFOUS BETTONG  * =  beautiful!!!

 lesson 2 : sudden change and human traffic can cause stress to a vulnerable animal… a threatened species listed animal – marsupial… one of 25 listed little darlings

lesson 3 : Rufous Betong , one of 25 threatened Marsupials in NSW  RUFOUS BETTONG  – vulnerable marsupial species listing in NSW

Rufous Bettong distribution and vegetation association – Northern Rivers, New South Wales

NSW Environmental Legislation   

Rufous Bettong at the Marsupial Society of Australia  

bluecray.org  : see original article here, with more Threatened Species links :  Rufous Bettong and the Glyphosate Bank

bluecray search engine : Rufous Bettong  

bluecray Regional Environmental News – Mt Warning Caldera  SEARCH : Rufous Bettong

Litoria species – a little Frog of Wetlands, Forests and Woodlands – Habitat Care and Stewardship

March 4, 2009

litoria_latopalmata_burringbar3

Litoria species of frogs occur throughout the Mt Warning (Wollumbin) Caldera Region of NE NSW & SE QLD.   Byron Shire, in the Northern Rivers of NSW has many lowlands, wetlands, small catchments, remnant forest ecosystems and development and vegetation / habitat clearing pressures. Tweed Shire , in the Northern Rivers of NSW, the same. Both Shires have lowland estuarine and swamp (high water table) vegetation communities that can often have their water tables changed by inappropriate development. The re-shaping of catchments, and thus ground water flows and sedimentation areas, can have far reaching consequences for our beautiful East Coast Australian Frogs.

litoria_latopalmata_burringbar2

Litoria Species do not always need to live in the low wetland areas. some can be found higher up, on perched water table areas, wet and dry rainforests – indeed anywhere that there is clean water and habitat condusive to breeding and living successfully as a frog.

The little Frog in the photos is Litoria latopalmata, from what I can work out.

Lets have a look at some websites about this beautiful little frog:

Gold Coast City Council – Litoria latopalmata    a photo

Native animals of the Gold Coast’s eucalypt forests and woodlands Google HTML doc  of the PDF  

Native animals living in or near creeks and rivers of the Gold Coast (Gold Coast City Council) Google HTML doc of the PDF

The frogs of NSW Wetlands at NSW Department of Natural Resources  

Litoria latopalmata (Broad Palmed Frog) at Amphibiaweb : distribution, photos, links, specimen search

Call and video list on Amphibiaweb   

Litoria latopalmata at Frogs Australia Network – Australian Frog Database   

ICUN Redlist of threatened species :  Broad-Palmed Rocket Frog – Litoria latopalmata  

Australian Government Action Plan for Frogs “Checklist of Australian Frogs”      

A survey of the frogs of Nixon and Little Nerang Creeks adjacent to the proposed Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk route. 2005  googleHTML doc for the same PDF at the EPA Queensland  Government  (Environmental Protection Agency QLD)

Australian Faunal Directory   at  the     Australian Biological Resources Study  –  web page for    Species Litoria latopalmata Günther, 1867 (Broad-palmed Frog, Gunther’s Frog)

Amphibian’s Keepers LicenceNSW Government – Google HTML Doc

Wetland Link :  Wetland Management tools for NSW  and some legislative info? 

litoria_latopalmata_burringbar5

bluecray frog links  

bluecray Regional Environmental News Search – Mt Warning Caldera  Litoria latopalmata – search

bluecray.org   : more photos of the little (Litoria sp. ) frog here

NSW Department of Water & Energy  

NSW Department of Primary Industries   

NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change   

NSW Department of Lands

Australian Frog Calls, Subtropical Eastern Australia – by David Stewart 

 

I found this little frog in a bucket, that was left outside last night. I put the little frog into the wettest, most protected part of the garden, and it hopped away

I found this little frog in a bucket, that was left outside last night. I put the little frog into the wettest, most protected part of the garden, and it hopped away

Australia’s Bushfire Legacy : An Ash Oracle

February 15, 2009

The Victorian Bushfires and Australia’s Bushfire Legacy highlight Australia’s environmental future regarding Urban and Rural Planning within an Australian Fire Prone Landscape.  Stephen J. Pyne,  (professor at Arizona State University and author of two FIRE books – “Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia” 1991 and “The Still-Burning Bush”  2006), wrote a ‘must read’ article in The Australian’s Opinion column on January 10th 2009.  

Professor Pyne’s article  ” Bushfire leader becomes laggard”   highlights the need for Australians to look beyond the ARSON and GLOBAL WARMING perspective to what is right under our Aussie sunscreened noses and our romantic virgin green environmental mindsets:

1. The Australian Bush is a complex, diverse and dynamic feature  – critically important to our sustainable future. Fire is an integral part of this dynamic environmental heritage across the vast and diverse regional forest, woodland and grassland habitats of Australia.

2. Global Warming and Arson consequences underline our urgent need to properly understand and manage fire in our urban and rural landscapes. However, fire storms in many parts of Australia can, and will still occur regardless of Global Warming and Arson.

3. Urban and Rural Planning play a critical role in Fire Storm defense as Germaine Greer so aptly and forcefully suggests in her recent article in The Times online .

Urban & Rural and Regional Planning roles should include above and beyond what is already current (**see links below):

  • Clear, practical, easy to access and understand guidelines for regional and local  fire management strategies
  • Pro-active support of trained Rural Fire Authorities by all levels of government via technology and substantially increased capital inputs and educational outreach centres 
  • Building and infrastructure design guidelines, including shelters and building & infrastructure industry codes 
  • Development design guidelines geared to Biodiversity & Fire Regimes
  • Biodiversity maintenance based on sound local knowledge and not hypothetical “money talks”  nature disassociated  engineering principles
  • Community education
  • Consultation with local indigenous peoples who carry with them oral instruction on local fire management, 
  • AND, above all, taking the emotional response out of fire management and placing it back into the hands of those that understand the nature of fire, instead of misguided political movers and shakers

4. Each and every child in Australia should have, at the core of their education syllabus:-

  • Environmental Education on equitable terms with Economic Education (something that was not created by the 2020 Summit) : including Fire Education and Land Stewardship  
  • Fire understanding, from pre-school level, that goes beyond how to put out a small fire or survival when the smoke alarm rings in the school ground  
  • National syllabus should include starting, controlling  and putting out fires, understanding the nature of the different types of fires that our future will present to them and how to LIVE with FIRE 
  • Understanding the role of fire in Australian Vegetation Landscapes and Habitats, the dynamics & cycles of Vegetation Communities and the history of Fire Management in Australia
  • Recognising fire prone landscapes, situations and seasons
  • Knowledge of fire defense (back burning, burning off, fuel management in landscapes), community fire warnings and emergency procedures    

pk_ponders_a_big_fire_in_mt_warning_caldera_region

Phantom Koala ponders a big fire in the Mt Warning Caldera Region! Chin Ting says: “Don’t worry PK, if the fires come – You can run into the surrounding bushland….. that is….. if the PLANNING LAWS promote sensible prescribed burning and keep enough safe places for you to run to”

**Links: 

Searching for Fire Management Guidelines in the NSW Government Department of Planning – Planning Guidelines for Hazardous Development appears to still be in the pipeline?  (Hazardous Industry Planning Advisory Paper No2. : Fire Safety Study Guidelines Consultation Draft July 2008 )  

Bushfire Guidelines : NSW Government Department of Planning

NSW Rural Fire Service 

Searching for Fire Management Guidelines in the Qld Department of Infrastructure & Planning  – here is the Current Qld Government’s Planning & Development Laws list

Qld Government : Department of Infrastructure and Planning :- Planning and Growth

Qld Government State Planning Policies : including Guideline for SPP1/03 Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of  Flood, Bushfire and Landslide 1.0

Qld Rural Fire Service

http://fhsarchives.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/historian-stephen-j-pyne-on-the-australian-fires/

Nature Conservation Council of NSW : 25th July 2008 Re: National Koala Conservation Strategy Review – Nature Conservation Council Submission  

COAG 2003 Bushfire Enquiry  ” The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference … issues related to bushfire mitigation and management that are of national significance;  opportunities for enhanced cooperation and the adoption of national best practice. The Inquiry took account of the work and findings of other bushfire inquiries.” findings released 24th Jan 2005.  Find the report here at Report of the National Inquiry into Bushfire Mitigation and Management  at the COAG website

“a review of current knowledge and literatue assist in determining ecologically sustainable fire regimes for the southeast queensland region” 2000 at Cuong Tran Southeast Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium page on the COAG website

Bluecray.org FIRE links

Phantom Koala and the Roadworks

February 4, 2009

 

PK travels to Mt Warning, and on the way he meets up with Chin Ting, the dragonfly, who gives PK a Warning!!!

PK travels to Mt Warning, and on the way he meets up with Chin Ting, the dragonfly, who gives PK a Warning!!!

Koalas of the Tweed Shire in the  Mt Warning Caldera Region, NE NSW, Australia travel throughout the land sometimes by tree, but more often by walking and running  across the ground. 

Some of the obstacles and stresses Koalas meet in the Tweed Shire are:-

You can help Koalas of the Tweed Shire / Mt Warning Calder Region by :

Here are a few more links to some interesting Koala –  Phascolarctos cinereus –  Information and Educational Websites and articles:-

I have included the following few Electricity Power LINKS as often, these vast networks of Electricity Corridors hold keys to where future developments and roads may go, as well as, like main arterial road networks, these Corridors contain fences, Koala food and management practices that may reflect on local Koala populations:-

  • Powerlink Qld Australia : High Voltage Transmission Networks
  • Transgrid NSW Australia : High Voltage Transmission Networks
  • Australian Energy Regulator Website : legislation  , you can also find here the Compendium of Electricity Transmission Regulatory Guidelines Aug 2005    – “Regulatory Test” p.36 ”  (12)  Committed project means a project which satisfies all the following criteria: a) the proponent has obtained all required planning consents, construction approvals and licenses, including completion and acceptance of any necessary environmental impact statement;
  • Friends of the Koala – sick/injured Koala ph no : (02)6622 1233

             Courses run : Basic Training Day: 7th March 2009 Lismore

Corridors Conservation and Phantom Koala

January 30, 2009

Vegetation Fragmentation of Koala Corridors in Tweed Shire : Roads and roadworks pose a threat to Koala Habitats and Koala general health,  well being and ultimate survival within the Tweed Shire Area of the Mt Warning Caldera Region. With every new development comes a new road……….

Phantom Koala travels to Mt Warning to visit his family

Phantom Koala travels to Mt Warning to visit his family

It’s a beautiful day here in the Mt Warning Caldera, (NE NSW & SE QLD), Australia – I have  been travelling about the country here (by road!!!), taking photos for some articles on vegetation fragmentation, roadsides, transport and utilities’ corridors. My focus was land management and stewardship. Tweed Shire has plenty to offer, when it comes to photographic opportunities in this field! New highways, old highways, dirt roads, culverts, local road verges, power line corridors, new developments, roundabouts galore and more. 

Hopefully these articles write themselves soon!!!

Meanwhile, please meet Phantom Koala! or PK as his friends call him. PK will be taking many of the journeys about the countryside with me, and he sometimes has alot to say about what he sees,  so feel free to drop back into the website, and see what PK has to say! And, I may even have an article on roadsides and corridor conservation posted by then.

And,  it is not only Tweed Shire that the threat of continuing fragmentation of Koala corridors is happening:-

Two adjoining Council areas – the Gold Coast City Council and the Byron Shire Council also have plenty of new roads and developments just finished or in the pipeline! 

 

google HTML documents of the PDF files:-

Tugun Bypass Environmental Impact StatementTechnical Paper Number 12 – Flora and Fauna Assessment : Flora and Fauna AssessmentQueensland Department of Main Roads:-

  • Appendix D Survey for Reptiles, Amphibians and Mammals Inhabiting the Northern Section of the Proposed Tugun Bypass (Hero et al. 2001a)
  • Appendix C Survey of Reptiles, Amphibians and Mammals Inhabiting Coastal Lowland Areas Associated with the Proposed Tugun Bypass (Hero et al.2000)

Some other Koala LINKS:-

  • List of Useful Koala References   at  Koala Research in Queensland
  • Advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on Amendments to the list of Threatened Species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) : not eligible  (i am not sure of the date of this document)