Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Forestry Industry S.E NSW By Indi Wood

Posted: June 1, 2014 by indiwood in Economics, Environment

Whether you think it’s due to the environmental movement, operational costs or an international market most people these days are aware that the forestry industry has undergone a downturn over the last couple of years. Interestingly though, that’s not actually true of the entire industry.

Although hardwood timbers are becoming more and more difficult to sell, the softwood timber industries such as treated pine and softwood timber framing have caused the mill in Bombala to boom, attracting international backers. A Korean company bought the locally owned mill in Bombala and with a massive injection of funds they have installed a computerized mill that will cut as much timber in one six hour shift as the manual team could do in a week.

In Eden the hardwood chip mill went through this kind of boom in about 2008 and is now owned by Japanese backers. Peter Mitchell, the general manager of South East Fiber Exports, now tells me that he is not in a position to tell the community how long their operation will last in its current form. This year they look set to export almost half of the 1.1 million tonnes they shipped in 2008. So, how successful are these multinational organizations? In small regional communities like Eden or Bombala they offer a great boost to a regional economy but what does it mean if the community looses control of their local employer? We also have to ask ourselves the question how far would these local businesses have gone without the international support and how does a regional center balance out all these concerns.

Although the hardworking communities of Eden and Bombala stay standing at this point,  it’s the hard working Victorians who will be effected by this reduction. If, however, the reduction does effect the Eden based mill. As the communities major employer the outcome will be concerning to say the least.

As Peter Mitchell said ‘I’ve lived in this community for 30 years and had to be neighbors with people I’ve made redundant’ in a tight knit community any troubles with the major employer have an effect on the whole town.


A month after the dramatic  Black Saturday fires around Kinglake in 2009,  logging recommenced in the Central Highlands forests at Toolangi.


These tall mountain ash forests are where the devastating Kinglake Black Saturday fires stopped.

Since that time thousands of hectares  have been logged primarily for woodchips. The tall mountain ash forests of Mt. St.Leonards are being stripped, opened up to weedy grass invasion and dried out,  creating a further fire risk.

These forests are home for many endangered species, most notably the leadbeaters possum, Victoria’s state emblem.

VicForests are currently being sued by some community members for logging leadbeater possum habitat. The Appeal will be heard in April.

Locals are outraged at the logging in Toolangi, and have kept up their opposition with public meetings, submissions, requests to state government. Tony Burke Federal Environment Minister has been requested to intervene.

Local resident and avid conservationist Bernie Mace has lived on 140 acres in Toolangi for the last 24 years –  mountain ash country. He remembers as a young child walking at his uncle’s place at Pheasant Creek near Kinglake and seeing the tall mountain ash trees ” … enormous trunks of enormous trees which seemed to go on forever…”

Bernie was enraged when logging recommenced at Toolangi following the Black Saturday fires. Listen to  Bernie Mace

With other locals he continues to fight on to end logging at Toolangi.

The call to add over 6500 hectares of internationally significant heathland at Anglesea to the Great Otway National Park has landed on the desk of Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.

Geelong Environment Council and other nature conservation groups  have written to Tony Burke requesting that the unused 6,480 hectare portion of Alcoa’s Anglesea Coal Mining Lease  be added to the Great Otway National Park giving it protection for all time.

Alcoa’s open-cut brown coal mine at Anglesea is surrounded by botanically unique heathlands .

They are home to many different species such as the critically endangered New Holland mouse,

the rare white-footed dunnart

the white-footed dunnart

and swamp antechinus.

With 79 orchid species it is considered one of the most orchid-rich sites in Australia.

Despite requests to add the unused part of the mining lease to Great Otway National Park, in October last year, the state government re-leased 7,145 hectares of heathland back to Alcoa. The new 50 year lease took effect on 1st February this year.

The lease had been granted to Alcoa in 1961 by the Bolte government. This was to operate the open-cut mine and 150 megawatt power station to power Alcoa’s aluminium smelter 35 kilometres away at Pt Henry.

Only 665 hectares of the lease are planned for the current and future mining of coal. The rest is co-operatively managed between Alcoa, Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment.   Alcoa had sought the second 50 year term of its lease to provide the business certainty required to secure future investment in the Anglesea and Geelong Alcoa operations. However this does not secure the protection of the heathlands.

Earlier this year, Alcoa, which already receives government subsidies, was given a bail-out package of over $40 million. This was to help keep the Point Henry smelter operating in Geelong for at least two years.

Joan Lindros, President of GEC, believes the leased mine site and surrounding heathland could be sold to “the highest bidder”.

Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) also want National Park protection for Anglesea heathlands. Simon Branigan,  VNPA Marine and Coastal Project Officer says that this would give the heathlands “…the highest level of protection…”

Anglesea power station is the smallest coal-fired power station in Victoria. According to Environment Victoria, it could be replaced with cleaner energy sources including renewable and gas.

At the time of this report there has been no comment from Minister Burke’s office.

A Burning start to Spring

Posted: October 1, 2012 by 320b in Environment, Rural Events
Tags: , , ,

September 6th

Written by Bennett Norbury

A swift grass fire backed by 100km/h winds ripped through the fields of Cooma yesterday pushing fire brigades back to the outskirts of Berridale.

At approximately 2pm yesterday, officers from Fire Rescue station 263 in Cooma NSW, supported by elements of Rural Fire Services, rushed to the scene of a life threatening grass fire in the fields outside of Cooma.

The blaze engulfed a 100-year-old historical home in its wake however no other properties were damaged.

Cooma Fire officer Bede Nicols said, “A number of properties were threatened but we were able to protect them and thankfully, no one got hurt.”

As fire crews slowly began to get a strangle hold over the grass fire, it leaped into another paddock and surged towards the town of Berridale some 20km away.

Paul Clark, manager of Snowy Mountains Airport located between Comma and Berridale said, “I could see the fire moving across the paddock quickly.

“With all the smoke in the air and given how strong the wind was, I was beginning to panic.”

25 fire trucks and a helicopter performed a desperate fighting withdrawal and were able to halt the fire on the outskirts of Berridale.

Strong winds continued throughout the day damaging homes throughout the region. The ABC has the latest updates on the story.

For information and advice on fire safety, contact your regional fire department.

Please Don’t Feed the Ducks!

Posted: October 1, 2012 by Rochelle Moss in Education, Environment, Melbourne, Social Issues
Tags: ,

Image by Rochelle Moss

Native and wild ducks of the Knox area, South East Melbourne, are invading local properties and crossing roads,putting themselves and people at risk. The ducks are crossing the roads looking for food and places to nest.

The main areas that are affected by ducks are the adjacent roads to the Tim Neville Arboretum; Dorset Road, a main thoroughfare, and Francis Crescent, a bus route, and nearby houses.

Image by Rochelle Moss.

So far no one has reported a vehicle accident due to ducks crossing the roads. However some occurrences of ducks flying into cars have been reported. This has caused great concern for local residents who do not want the ducks hurt.

The local council put up duck crossing signs only when baby ducklings are hatching, because they believe that the effectiveness of the signs would be reduced if the signs were constantly present.

The Arboretum is home to the Black duck, Wood duck and Mallards. Mallard ducks are the result of native ducks and wild ducks breeding. Wild ducks are domestic ducks that are dumped by their owners. At present a dumped domestic duck is the local celebrity at the Arboretum, with people going to the arboretum just to see it. The removal of the dumped duck is needed, due to the chance of injury and death of the native ducks, if breeding occurs.

Video by Rochelle Moss.

Jean Bourchier a local resident near the Arboretum, says that she has had no problem with the ducks. However local resident Sharon Reid believes that the ducks in the Boronia area are becoming too comfortable in residential areas and is concerned with the welfare of the ducks.

By Rochelle Moss.

It is important for ducks not to be artificially fed, due to the impact that it has on the animals and environment. Artificial feeding of the ducks encourages ducks to trust humans and wander from their natural habitat, onto roads and into residential yards.

If the weather is warm bacteria such as clostridium botulinim can grow. If eaten, the toxin in the bacteria causes paralysis in the wings, feet and neck muscles of the bird, leading the duck to drown. The Croydon Conservation Society mentions that most waterfowl deaths in the last 10 years were linked to artificial feeding.

According to the local council the duck population has not increased, and is currently average. The last count of the population at the Arboretum was as many as 300, during the drought. It has since dropped with more water areas opening up along the Dandenong Creek for them to migrate to.

Illustration by Rochelle Moss adapted from Melbourne Water

According to the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria is 14 per cent wilderness, park and reserve areas. Humans around the world should appreciate their local native animals and support the environment, so animals can live peacefully, without the threat of injury or death by vehicles.

Author Rochelle Moss.

It’s a Sunday morning at CERES Environment Park when I tag along with the CERES bee group to meet up with Lyndon Fenlon of Urban Honey Co. Long gone are the days when beekeeping was confined to the country, we’re in the heart of Brunswick, beekeeping and hive inspecting up until lunch time. Fenlon lives in Footscray where he keeps some of the 80 hives he has in total, which are scattered across Melbourne backyards and rooftops. There are 19 of these hives located in the CBD of Melbourne on building rooftops in several locations such as, Melbourne’s InterContinental The Rialto and other buildings on Swanston Street, Spencer Street, and near where Parliament House meets Collins Street. The remaining 61 hives are kept in backyards in inner-city suburbs, some streets in these suburbs contain several hives spread across neighbouring backyards.

Lyndon Fenlon transporting beehives on his trike.
Image taken from Urban Honey Co. website.

Melbourne is not the only city to embrace urban and city beekeeping, other cities world-wide over, namely New York, Paris and even the Vatican City have adapted this ancient practice to suit their urban setting. It seems that people have begun to abandon their subscription to the false illusion of the angry swarm of bees, and stopped fearing the sting factor. More people have become aware of how essential beekeeping is for agriculture and for a future of environmental sustainability.

This particular Sunday at CERES Joe Riordan, Leading Apiary Inspector for the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, joins Fenlon in the hive demonstrations for the bee group. Mr Riordan says he enjoys this specific bee group because of the passion Fenlon, and CERES as a whole, have for reducing the carbon footprint we leave behind us. Mr Riordan says that bees are integral to the pollination of crops and plants, thus essential to agriculture country wide. As areas like Melbourne become more built up, it is important to learn how to adapt to keeping bees in these places. Mr Riordan has plenty of reading material for beginner or aspiring beekeepers, and thoroughly recommends attending bee groups. There is plenty of support for beekeepers in urban areas, and bee groups are just one of the many ways to learn more about hive maintenance.

Joe Riordan, Leading Apiary Inspector for the Victorian DPI.

For the Melbournians or other urban dwellers who don’t have access to a backyard to place hives in, Mr Riordan says it is about simply doing your homework. Search around your neighbourhood and ask anyone with a backyard whether you could keep bees on their property. For anyone living in apartment blocks this is when rooftop beekeeping is a great option. This is a matter that needs to be brought up with the body corporate of the apartment building. If none of the participating members of the body corporate oppose the proposal to the use of space on the rooftop for bee hives, then it is entirely possible to keep bees there.

Fenlon says that over the past 10 years he has seen a gradual development in the urban beekeeping game, but it is the last 2 years that huge progress has been made. About a decade ago he found businesses or individuals he approached were hesitant or reluctant to allow him to keep bees on their rooftop or in their backyard. Now he says more people are proud and ever willing to have beehives on their property, he puts this down to society becoming more environmentally aware and therefore more open to these types of practices and why they are important.

With the public conscience growing when it comes to green matters, there is no better time to immerse yourself into beekeeping. Fenlon himself has a type of allergy to beestings and even he is an advocate for beekeeping, so surely the rest of us can see what it’s all about and get educated on why these small stingers are so important. Perhaps you may become inspired to even take on the hobby yourself, or help out a beekeeper in need of hive space. After all, there will always be a free supply of honey awaiting your efforts or generosity.

Written by Meg Riordan.