FLORA AND FAUNA

Wildlife researchers camping in the forest

wildlife researchers camping in the forest
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In September 2005 Department of Environment and Conservation ecologists held a field day on my property in Mount Rae forest.
“MOUNT RAE FIELD DAY: Find out more about the flora and fauna of the Mount Rae area. The area of Mount Rae supports a number of significant vegetation communities…We invite you to join flora and fauna specialists from the Department of Environment and Conservation to learn more about the unique attributes of these vegetation communities and some of the rare and threatened flora and fauna species found there. ”   
 

surveys

Alan W.Stephenson-National Conservation Officer for the Australasian Native Orchid Society-has conduceted many surveys in Mount Rae forest. Here he is photographing the NSW listed as Endangered Diuris Aequalis orchid.
TAFE students as part of their Land Conservation and Management studies have conducted various field survey techniques and documented the findings .
Elliot trapping revealed the Agile Antechinus

assessments for VCAs

Mount Rae forest is home to eleven threatened species and two Endangered Ecological Communities. All threatened species have been independently verified by experts in the field.Species lists (revealing approximately 240 fauna and flora species ) have been compiled over many years with the help of independent consultants and  government scientists conducting on ground surveys for conservation agreements  and local ecologists from organisation such as the Goulburn Field Naturalists Society. All orchid species have been verified by Alan W. Stephenson the National Conservation Officer of the Australasian Native Orchid Society .  

This forest has been studied on and off for nearly a decade. The surveys have formed the basis for NSW Government scientists to make recommendations to landowners and those entering Conservation Agreements on management practices . Commerial scale clearing has NEVER been recommended as a management tool…

Forestry interests , whilst claiming their own “extensive research” (soil sampling and tree aging) have ignored all biodiversity values and even claimed threatened species to be “imaginary”. They  will manage lands in this forest to produce future straight poles-good for firewood , not for wildlife. The below quotes from their Chairman , published in the Bungonia Times, on Mount Rae forest  reveal the forestry “sound science” .

   “Mount Rae forest as it now stands will continue to decline and supposedly endangered species will die out” “…it is in my opinion a highly degraded forest of no commercial value except firewood and has no threatened species or anything of conservation value.”

By ignoring the existing biodiversity and functioning native ecosystems forestry interests reduce this forest to the base level of commercial firewood. They and the developer appear to see only one species -firewood? Actually the Chairman of STFFN did identify one fauna species in this forest. Perhaps the following constitutes the sound science and extensive research they constantly refer to…

“In 2 hours walk through the forest on a glorious autumn day , I saw only one of bird-the common white winged Chough, no canopy feeders, no birds of the forest floor, no parrots, no pigeons and no marsupials were present indicating a forest in severe decline . Compare this with our own situation where bird and animal life abounds, it is obvious some form of intervention is needed. ”

All readers are welcome to compare this wildlife ‘survey’ by the Chairman of STFFN and compare his conclusions with the surveys and species list throughout this website. For more of the Chairman of STFFNs sound science referring to this forest and myself , read on:

“The catch word of the opponents seem to be endangered species . Realise that in the living world of plants and  animals in any ecosystem there are winners and losers-better adapted species will die out or become endangered . This has been happening throughout all geological time and will continue as conditions change. Anyone adopting a narrow view on forest ecology while ignoring recent trials and scientific evidence will hopefully become an endangered species themselves”.      

   The STFFN and commercial firewood merchants-speeding up the evolutionary process in Mount Rae Forest ! Sound science indeed…

The Mount Rae Forest wildlife were so appalled that they asked one of their number to write a letter to the local media after one of the many (6 or 7 ?) applications by the developer in this forest:  

The following is an article that appeared in local media: 

Three more threatened species, and local volunteer efforts in the International Year of Biodiversity.

The recent listing of three more bird species (the Flame and Scarlet Robins and the Varied Sittella) of Mount Rae Forest on the NSW schedule for threatened species , highlights the increasingly important role of Roslyn Landcare wildlife and vegetation corridors which link such forested areas. The total number of documented threatened species in the Mount Rae forest now stands at eleven.

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor, says the Roslyn Landcare Group has  been successful in winning a $69,260 grant for a project that includes fencing pockets of remnant vegetation on unused travelling stock reserves and adding corridors of native vegetation between the Mount Rae Forest and the Wollondilly and Tarlo Rivers.

It is critical to provide additional habitat and ‘stepping stones’ for the threatened wildlife identified in the area as well as protection for the rare and threatened plants in the many pockets of remnant vegetation “ says Mr Sartor.

“This means that families in Burrinjuck can continue to enjoy the presence of native animals and healthy plants in our local community”

It is hoped that a new project being undertaken by the Crookwell Men’s Shed will benefit some of the regions threatened species .This is the building of breeding and nest boxes targeting such threatened species as the Gang –Gang cockatoo and Squirrel glider of Mount Rae forest. This effort has been made possible through the generous financial support of the Goulburn Field Naturalists Society, who support the efforts of Roslyn Landcare in this forest.

(For more on the efforts of community groups to preserve this area see COMMUNITY EFFORTS, LANDCARE and PRIVATE LAND CONSERVATION pages on this website)

It is unfortunate that Australia has one of the worst records for mammal species extinction and near extinctions of any developed nation , but it is hoped that in 2010 ,the International Year of Biodiversity, such joint projects as that between Roslyn Landcare, the Crookwell Men’s Shed and the Goulburn Field Naturalists Society  will  help reverse this trend.

PERSONAL COMMENT:

Those who support Private Native Forestry (PNF) approvals in Mount Rae Forest for commercial scale firewood clearing, claimed that threatened species in this forest were imaginary and that this forest is unhealthy regrowth of no conservation value. Scientific findings of eleven threatened species in this significant native vegetation remnant, of high conservation value, apparently have no place in the PNF process.

In light of the Environment Ministers comments, surely he can see the hypocrisy in undermining these environmental projects with ministerial approvals for logging in the very habitat which is the focus of these efforts.

Mr Sartors predecessors clearly got it wrong in this forest. The new Minister now has the  chance to take action to protect these precious ecosystems. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. What better time to protect our regions disappearing native species?

 COMMENT : We have a new NSW Government and a new Environment Minister. Will they  make changes to future PNF legislation and introduce meaningful environmental surveys and protection for high conservation value forests ?    

2011 has been declared the International Year of Forests. 2010-20 has been declared THE INTERNATIONAL DECADE OF BIODIVERSITY by the United Nations to highlight the plight of the planets fauna and flora. It would appear that both past and present NSW State Governments are not listening.

This website has proven necessary to document some of the plants and animals of Mount Rae forest and counter forestry and developer claims that this forest has no conservation values , no understorey (apart from a leaf litter layer! ) and no threatened species…

Developer and STFFN claims of ‘improvement’ for any  species in Mount Rae forest are meaningless when they do not even acknowledge any components of the ecosytem they intend to log on. Any hypothesis formed is then not based on facts or science . Apparently findings from botanists and zoologists are not science  in STFFNS view and oponents  to firewood logging rely solely on ”emotional hysteria’. STFFNs comments on improvement are value judgements , something sound science steers clear of . How will they improve it for the D.aequalis orchid, or the powerful owl?  They cannot.   

The following is from “Nature NSW” the journal of the National Parks Association. This is from an article by Kirstin Proft. NPA Biodiversity conservation officer from the article “Our biodiversity”: 

“we are living through the sixth massive extinction event in Earth’s history , and,  for the first time , the major cause of extinction is the actions of one species: ourselves… 

” Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity loss worldwide…there is much less habitat available to native species than in the past, and what habitat there is often exists in small , isolated fragments within a heavily cleared landscape. This leads to myriad problems for our biodiversity. Species need appropriate habitat for shelter , food and breeding. When habitat is destroyed , populations  may simply die out, or be forced into small areas of remnant habitat. This can lead to increased competition within and betwen species for food , nesting sites and other resources.”

“Habitat loss can also bring the needs of native species into stark conflict with human needs and desires” 

   Mount Rae forest is in fact an important genetic reservoir of native flora and fauna biodiversity .   For a complete list of the over 230 fauna and flora species of Mount Rae Forest please click on the following  link: http://sites.google.com/site/mountraeforestsite/

“THE one process ongoing in the late 1980’s that will take a million years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitat. This is the folly that our descendants are least likely to forgive ”  Professor Edwin O. Wilson Harvard University Biologist  

A final determination was made on 12th February to list the Flame and Scarlet robins and the Varied Sitella as NSW vulnerable species.