The Tasmanian Conservation Trust is deeply disappointed in Environment Minister, Peter Garrett’s, decision today to reject recommendations made by the ‘Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999’ (EPBC) in relation to the forest management and Regional Forest Agreements (RFA).
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today congratulated the Bartlett Government on its allocation of additional funds for the Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today accused the State Government of secretly weakening the state’s vegetation clearing controls and called on David Llewellyn to work with councils to strengthen the new system to stop destruction of Threatened Native Vegetation Communities and threatened species habitats. The Minister for Energy and Resources, David Llewellyn, tabled the ‘Forest Practices Amendment Regulations 2009’ in the House of Assembly on Monday 16 November 2009 and the regulation took effect after notification in the Government Gazette on 25 November.
According to TCT Director, Peter McGlone, under the new regulations the Forest Practices Authority will no longer have responsibility for issuing permits for clearing of native vegetation for construction of buildings and associated developments, mining or mineral exploration and construction and maintenance of a railway or electricity infrastructure. The Authority will retain controls relating to forestry and agricultural clearing.
The TCT understands changes to the vegetation clearing controls passed through Parliament unnoticed, during the last busy week of sitting for the year, with no debate in either house and no prior consultation with councils. “The new regulations will lead to an increase in clearing of Threatened Native Vegetation Communities and threatened species habitats, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas where so much of our threatened vegetation is found,” Mr McGlone said. “We are particularly concerned that many councils have no controls or very weak controls over vegetation clearing in their planning schemes and clearing will be largely unregulated.
Where councils have controls, they do not have the people and resources to properly assess whether development applications will affect threatened vegetation and will be obliged to approve clearing. “The TCT calls on the State Government to set an absolute minimum regulatory standard for all councils, ensuring Threatened Native Vegetation Communities and identified threatened species habitats cannot be cleared for housing development and provide councils with resources to implement the new regulations. “Local councils were not consulted on these changes and the State Government has forced new responsibilities on them without additional resources to implement them.
The State Government failed to establish an alternative system for controlling vegetation clearing before scrapping the old system. It may also pull the Australian Government into dealing with more local development disputes. The new system will also mean developers will face different rules across the state.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust acknowledged the passage of the Cat Management Bill 2009 through the Tasmanian Parliament today as a historic achievement and probably one of David Llewellyn’s most important achievements as a minister.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust is warning that the Tasmanian Devil is doomed to extinction if the Tasmanian Government does not change the current strategy and re-focus on delivering an insurance population.
According to TCT Director, Peter McGlone it is more than four years since the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program started collecting disease-free devils for an insurance population yet the Program's web site reveals that currently only 170 or just over 10% of the target number of 1500 animals have been secured "The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has told us there is no limit to the number of healthy devils they could trap but they have 'no where to put them' as the zoos do not have space," Mr McGlone said. "The Program informs us they stopped trapping for the Insurance Population in 2008" he added.
Mr McGlone's concerns were endorsed by Geoff King, wildlife tour operator and TCT representative on the Devil Program Stakeholder Reference Group. "With the devil facial tumour disease spreading across the State and no cure on the horizon, an insurance population of disease free devils is essential to safeguard the species against extinction," he said. "At the rate the Program is progressing the insurance population, it looks certain they will fail to reach their target before the disease spreads over the entire state," Mr King warned.
The TCT claims that in recent months a number of current and former employees of the Devil Program have expressed similar concerns regarding lack of progress with an insurance population while complaining other more high risk strategies are supported.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust acknowledged the entry into Parliament yesterday of the Cat Management Bill 2009 as a historic achievement and probably one of David Llewellyn’s most important achievements as a minister. “The reason this government has succeeded where numerous previous efforts have failed is they have listened to the concerns of people who own and care for cats and those who wish to control cats from impacting on wildlife and livestock” said TCT Director Peter McGlone. “They have produced workable legislation that will empower those who want to control cats, reduce the number of unwanted and abandoned cats and put in place safeguards for peoples much loved pet cats.”
The Cat Management Bill proposes a phase-in of compulsory de-sexing and microchipping of pet cats, taking effect in 2014. After 2014 a pet cat that strays and is not desexed and micro-chipped will risk being destroyed, however no fines will apply.
The other key elements of the legislation are to provide public and private land owners clarity on where and how they can destroy cats and providing a registration system for cat breeders. Fundamental to the Cat Management Bill are the twin goals of promoting the welfare of cats and reducing the impacts cats have on native wildlife and agricultural industries.
The legislation will require cat owners take responsibility for their pets in the same way that dog owners currently do. If cat owners care for their cats then they will get their cats de-sexed and micro-chipped and stop them straying. Responsible cat owners have nothing to fear from these proposals. De-sexing benefits cats by ensuring there are less unwanted kittens produced, to be abandoned and suffer a premature death, and micro-chipping ensures pet cats which stray are given a chance of being reunited with their owner.
The TCT urges the State Government to provide funding in the next State Budget to help subsidise the cost of de-sexing and micro-chipping of cats.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today launched a new initiative to protect the state’s environment and industries against weed invasion. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust will establish the “Tasmanian Weed Alert Network”, a group of volunteers who are on the lookout for high-impact weeds which have not yet got a foothold in the state. “Taking action early is critical to prevent the spread of new, high-impact weed varieties around Tasmania.
The aim of the Tasmanian Weed Alert Network is to get people involved in land management from all sectors to be alert for new weeds and to intervene early if they find them” said Tasmanian Conservation Trust Director Peter McGlone. Weed invasion hurts nearly every Tasmanian, ranging from primary producers, through government land managers to community groups. For this reason, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has partnered with Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Tasmanian Herbarium and Tasmanian Weed Society to establish the Weed Alert Network.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today claimed a report by the National Water Commission found the Tasmanian Government is the worst performing of all the states and territories in developing water management plans. The TCT claims this failure may put at risk Australian Government funding for irrigation, create uncertainty for water users and threaten the environment.
There was a 44% increase in 1080 use Tasmania during the last financial year. The TCT calls for a ban on poisoning of native animals to mark World Animal Day – Sunday 4th October.
The TCT is alarmed at the dramatic increase in 1080 use for native animals in the 2008- 09 financial year. Figures released recently by the State Government show the amount of 1080 used is up 44% since 2007-08. To make the situation worse, this spike in 1080 use comes as the State Government’s ‘Alternatives to 1080 Program’ is winding down.
Without a commitment from the State Government to on-going development of effective alternatives, farmers and forestry companies may go back to relying on 1080 or another poison being developed 'Feratox'.
The TCT calls on the Minister for Primary Industries and Water, David Llewellyn, to mark World Animal Day by making a commitment to end the use of 1080 and other poisons for control of native animals and to refund the ‘Alternatives to 1080 Program’ to deliver non-lethal control options.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has appointed Peter McGlone as Director and Phil Anstie as their new President for 2009-2010. These appointments were made at the TCT’s Annual General Meeting in Hobart on Saturday 29 August 2009.
A drastic reduction in funding for fox eradication by the Australian Government is a nightmare for Tasmanian wildlife. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today condemned the Australian Government’s decision to reduce their funding for the Tasmanian Fox Eradication Program from $2.5 million for 2008-09 to only $1.0 for 2009-10. In March this year the Fox Eradication Program submitted an application to the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program for $2.83 million per year for four years (2009-2013). This amount was matched by a commitment by the Tasmanian Government of $2.5 million per year. An offer of $1.0 million for 2009-10 was sent to the Tasmanian Government in August 2009. The Australian Government funding has only been provided for one year rather than the requested four years. The TCT calls on the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, to reverse this disastrous decision.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today congratulated Australian Government Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett’s decision on 25 June 2009 to list Lowland Native Grasslands of Tasmania as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. “Lowland native grasslands are probably Tasmania’s most endangered vegetation type but have had no legal protection until Minister Garrett’s decision,” said TCT Acting Director Peter McGlone. “Minister Garrett’s decision is incredibly important because the State Government deliberately excluded lowland grasslands communities from protection under state legislation in 2007.”
Lowland grasslands communities were excluded from the list of threatened native vegetation communities established by the State Government in 2007 under the provisions of the State Nature Conservation Act. This occurred even though they were one of the most threatened Tasmanian communities.
“Until Minister Garrett’s decision, lowland grassland remnants in Tasmania had no legal protection and landowners could legally clear them without obtaining approvals. Permits were also granted by the State Government for destruction of state-listed species that inhabited native grasslands. This will now change for areas covered by Minister Garrett’s decision.
The State Government cannot afford the Bay of Fires National Park After announcing a reduced budget for the Parks and Wildlife Service, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust believes the State Government now cannot afford to progress with the Bay of Fires national park.
“We urge the Premier David Bartlett to put the Bay of Fires national park proposal indefinitely on hold until the financial environment improves and Parks and Wildlife Service’s funding is substantially increased.”
The TCT has written to the Premier stating it will only support a national park in the Bay of Fires area conditional on the State Government involving the Aboriginal community from the outset and addressing their needs where possible (including land transfers) and only if substantial additional resources are provided for improving management of the area.
“The reduction in the budget for the Parks and Wildlife Service is nothing short of a disgrace and the government should at least commit to maintaining the numbers of rangers, fire-fighters and other land management staff and make cuts elsewhere.”
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust calls on the Premier David Bartlett and other supporters of the Bay of Fires national park proposal to go back to drawing board and start negotiations with the Aboriginal community. The Premier and other supporters are pushing ahead the Bay of Fires national park but appear to have taken for granted that the Aboriginal community will support it. Recent comments from Aboriginal groups show they may not support a national park and the belligerent approach being taken by the Premier is causing conflict that may kill-off the park’s chances. The TCT supports a Bay of Fires national park but only if the Aboriginal community are involved from the outset, their needs are addressed where possible and if substantial additional resources are provided for improving management of the area. It would be nice to think the government could negotiate a deal where all parties get what they want and collaborate in the management of the Bay of Fires.
To commemorate International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has today joined 18 state and national environment groups to launch the new Stop Invasive Species Alliance to campaign on invasive species threats to Australian biodiversity.
The United Nations proclaimed 22 May as International Day for Biological Diversity and invasive species is the theme for 2009. The TCT has joined this new Alliance in recognition that many of Tasmania’s feral animal, weed and disease problems cannot be fought in isolation and many will require national leadership from the Australian Government to combat.
The Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance Don Challen has been reported in today’s Mercury newspaper as saying there is a lack of rigorous analysis or strategy behind the State Government’s Drought-proofing Tasmania Program.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has written to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Hon. Peter Garrett, calling on him to request the Premier David Bartlett refer the ‘Tarkine Tourist Road’ pursuant to section 70(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as an action likely to have a significant impact on matters of National Environmental Significance.
With the 2009 recreational shearwater season due to begin on the 4th of April, Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust are once again calling for a ban on this barbaric practice.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust condemns the State Government’s announcement that it intends to make Australian Government funded school and public housing projects exempted from the Land Use Planning Approvals Act.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust welcomes the recommendations of the Tasmanian Audit Office Special Report on Management of Threatened Species and calls on the Tasmanian Government to respond by strengthening the pathetically inadequate Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act and providing substantially greater funding for the Department of Primary Industries and Water to implement the act.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust feels compelled to correct a number of inaccurate media statements made recently regarding the potential for the proposed Tarkine Road to affect the number of roadkill Tasmanian devils.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has mixed feelings about the Premier’s announced changes to the planning system and believes that a historic opportunity to improve the system has been missed.
David Bartlett’s grand announcement that Tasmania will become the “food bowl of the nation” and will turn “dry plains” and “degrading soils” into “productive farm lands” continues the Labor Government’s ten year habit of using rhetoric and hyperbole instead of well thought out agricultural policy.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today accused the State Government of sneaking through an amendment to the State Coastal Policy 2006 that would make it easier for developments in sensitive coastal environments to be approved. The amendment will allow development on sand dunes, beaches, tidal flats, coastal wetlands and unstable cliff areas where the development is ‘managed to minimise the need for engineering or remediation works to protect land, property and human life’.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today applauded the Premier David Bartlett for intervening to provide sensible short and medium term solutions for the water crisis in the Coal River Valley.
Tasmanian environment organisations today have expressed deep concern that the developer for the proposed Ralph’s Bay conservation area canal estate is launching into a public relations campaign to talk up the environmental credentials of the development– but pointed out that that campaign won’t wash with the Tasmanian public.
New years day is the time for us all to make resolutions for the coming year and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust has a suggestion for the Minister for Primary Industry and Water David Llewellyn.
The TCT calls on Minister Llewellyn to make a resolution that in 2009 he will ensure the declaration of the 78,000 hectares of reserves recommended in 2006 by the Crown Land Assessment and Classification Project (CLAC).
Photo at top of this column by John Grist