Category Archives: News

Old Growth Trees – Mulgoa Rd Penrith

Blacktown & District Environment Group has joined with other Conservationists in Western Sydney who oppose the destruction of old growth Eucalyptus amplifolia trees adjacent to Mulgoa Rd, Jamisontown, Penrith.

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has initiated a plan to widen Mulgoa Rd and the Review of Environmental Factors commissioned for the project proposes destruction of the trees.

The trees can be seen immediately on the western side of Mulgoa Rd in the following aerial photo:

Mulgoa Rd Amplifolia (3)-Inked

Not all of the approximately 40 trees are old growth (some have regenerated from the older trees) but a little less than half are old growth with some almost certainly 200 to 400 years old. As such, the older trees are living emblems representing the landscape through which Aboriginal forebears and European settlers such as Sir John Jamison, William Cox, his son Edward Cox (who built historic “Fernhill”), James (Toby) Ryan MLC (who built historic “Emu Hall”) passed as they went about their lives. There were many other early people for whom space does not permit naming but it needs to be clearly said that as people moved between the locations which became Mulgoa and Windsor they would have passed by and perhaps took shelter under the older trees of which we speak.

If our society makes much of preserving built structures identifying with notable people or events of the past why is there insufficient regard given to preserving living organisms which formed part of the life, if only as landscape but quite possibly more, for notable people or events of the past?

In short we reply, “We should regard them!”

As trees age they lose limbs and create hollows which become habitat for a wide range of fauna. That has happened with the trees of 100 years or more age here alongside Mulgoa Rd. We don’t dare venture to quantify the fauna species inhabiting these hollows but a casual passer-by will see activity in and out of and on the edge of the hollows by Corellas, Red-rumped Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets. Possum scratches are also visible on the trees. Other passers-by would see other species for it is well known to locals the extent of fauna activity with the large number of hollows these trees bear.

Also of high significance but inadequately addressed in the Review of Environmental Factors is the number of scars many of the trees bear. It would seem that a broad involvement of Aboriginal groups were not involved in assessment of the scars to determine whether there are any Aboriginal Scarred Trees. This is a shortcoming. More than one Aboriginal person should have been involved to determine whether any of the trees were used by early Aboriginals for resources in their living.

Take a look at the following aerial image of the location of these trees. The image was taken in 1943 and you will note that, apart from a stand of Eucalypts east of Mulgoa Rd, the stand of trees in the centre of the image were the few survivors from land clearing of the whole area:

Mulgoa Rd Amplifolia (2)-Inked

What that image tells us is that 75 years ago (and well before that) these trees were the subject of preservation wishes of past inhabitants of the area that became the City of Penrith. That which applied in the minds of people in the past has proven to be of benefit to ecology, landscape, cultural and natural heritage experienced past and present. Who is it then who has been born into the world in these present times who will overturn all the conservation endeavours of people in the past, people dating back in some instances, as much as 400 years?

It needs to be realised by RMS that there are only two principal routes from the south into Penrith CBD and beyond viz The Northern Rd and Mulgoa Rd (the only other route is Kingswood Rd but it is somewhat out-of-the-way). Traffic demand will only increase on these roads. Already, The Northern Road is under extensive widening and Mulgoa Rd is now under consideration. However, the future will produce greater demand and perhaps introduction of dedicated bus lanes or light rail will be placed on a future agenda. Such potential demands the provision of road reserve for further widening now and the only viable option to achieving that reserve is to acquire the residential properties on the eastern side of Mulgoa Rd.

What is proposed in the present Review of Environmental Factors to take out the old growth trees will still have adverse impacts on the residents living on the eastern side of Mulgoa Rd. The wider and more trafficked Mulgoa Rd will be closer to residents and a noise wall will be a visual and breeze barrier to residents.

This writer is well experienced with RMS road upgrades. He and his past neighbours have suffered the ill effects of the widening of the road outside their property from road to highway and the immense increase in traffic associated noise, air pollution and the ‘prisoner-like’ lifestyle as one attempts to limit exposure by staying indoors rather than making use of the full residential boundary. This writer eventually had to move out to quieter and cleaner surroundings. In doing so he found his property value was less than those properties not directly exposed to a major road in the area where he lived.

Further, a noise wall acts as a barrier to the movement of much desired breezes in the hotter months of the year yet it somehow fails to prevent the small carcinogenic vehicle emission particulates drifting into the residence despite windows and doors being closed. If not a long term health risk these particulates make the residence constantly dirty and requiring more regular cleaning than would otherwise be the case.

If I were a resident alongside Mulgoa Rd in the area of Jamisontown I would be pursuing resumption of my property by RMS, with adequate compensation to facilitate a move to a better location, and make a new start in life. Property value will not keep up with others in the area once the road upgrade commences so the better option is to take the early recourse of a move.

Sadly, Infrastructure – road, rail, plane or other is the ‘god of this age’ and is difficult to resist as it imposes itself on the lives of people, animals and the landscape. The Mulgoa Rd upgrade in Jamisontown has the potential to make life horrendous for humans and animals living alongside the road. Also, ecological function of the old growth trees and their place in the history of the City of Penrith is under threat. It need not be this way. A solution can be achieved if RMS and residents ‘bite the bullet’ now.

Flora Workshops Spring 2016

FLORA WORKSHOP – Spring 2016

Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

Derived Grasslands Workshop

Native Grasslands derived from Cumberland Plain Woodland in western Sydney have only recently began to be recognised for their conservation values, but are still poorly mapped and documented. During this workshop we will cover the following:

  • The importance of derived grasslands and “paddock” trees in western Sydney
  • Mapping and condition assessment
  • Identification of grasses and herbs
  • Threatened species

Date: Two dates are planned if sufficient interest.

Friday 18th November (9 am to 3 pm) and Sunday 20th November (9 am to 3 pm)

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

Venue: TBA but we will be visiting 2-3 sites with car pooling between sites.

If interested in any of the above workshop please complete the registration form and return to Teresa James t.james@optusnet.com.au

Copies of Teresa’s latest Identification Guide Native Flora on Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain Woodland (2016) are also available for purchase ($38).

Spring Flora Workshop 2016

Registration Form

DETAILS

Name:

Organisation:

Contact Address:

Phone:

Email:

Please copy, complete and return completed form to t.james@optusnet.com.au asap. An invoice will then be sent out with payment details.

Autumn Flora Workshops 2016

Flora Workshop

FLORA WORKSHOPS – Autumn 2016

Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

1. Introduction to identifiying western Sydney plants (NEW)

Date: Sunday 17th April (10 am to 1 pm)

Details: A field based practical introduction to identifying native plants. No previous knowledge is required. Learn how to identify plants based on simple, user friendly keys, descriptions and photographs. Please bring a hand lens or magnifier if you have one. We will be using my latest book Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain – An Identification Guide (2016) – this is an expanded version of Native Flora of Cumberland Plain Woodland (2013).

Cost: Option 1 includes a copy of Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain: $75

Option 2 – workshop only : $40 Venue: TBA

*Class copies of the book will be available for use on the day

2. Grass Identification Workshop – western Sydney (NEW)

Date: Wednesday 20th April (9 am to 3 pm)

Details: A one day field-based workshop. We will cover the importance and types of grasslands found in western Sydney, basic grass morphology and terminology, main grass groups, common genera, how to examine a specimen and use a simple botanical key. The focus will be on native species but common or easily confused exotic species will be included. Please bring a ruler and a hand lens or magnifier if you have one.

Cost (including workshop notes): $140 Venue: TBA

3. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Workshop

Date – Saturday, 23rd April, 2016 (9am – 3.30 pm)

Details: A single day workshop to assist in identification of the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest critically endangered community and explore natural variability within the community. There will be an indoor presentation, field survey along the shale sandstone transition and inspection of a few contrasting local sites (within the Hills Shire).

Cost (including workshop notes): $125 Venue: In The Hills (TBA)

All inquiries and bookings to Teresa James: t.james@optusnet.com.au

Meeting – Government’s Biodiversity Legislation Review

The NSW Government is rewriting land clearing laws and the news isn’t good for biodiversity and communities across the State, including Western Sydney. With the Government’s draft legislation due for public release in March 2016, join us to learn more about the Government’s proposed changes and be empowered to make your voice heard.

This event is organised by the Total Environment Centre and Nature Conservation Council for NSW, in collaboration with the Blacktown and District Environment Group, as part of a series of events across Sydney.

What: Baird’s War on Trees: Time for Action! (Western Sydney meeting)

When: Wednesday 10 February 2016, 6.30-8.30pm

Where: Community Room, Level 4, Westpoint Shopping Centre, Blacktown

Directions: The Community Room is located off the Level 4 open car park which is best accessed from Alpha Street at the roundabout and up the ramp. There is 3hr free parking in this car park.  For those travelling by train, enter Westpoint Shopping Centre near the railway station, take the escalator to Level 4 (where the theatres and restaurants are), turn right after the elevator, head west down the steps or ramp past the games shop, proceed to the end of the gallery and turn left.  The Community Room is about twenty metres further on.

RSVPs: By 08/02/2016

For further information about the NSW Biodiversity Review, go to:http://www.nature.org.au/campaigns/nature-laws/ 

For further information about this meeting, email Corinne Fisher – cfisher@tec.org.au

Harrington Forest Not Protected After All!

In a disgraceful testimony to the degraded morality of government and the failure of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to commit anything of worth toward environmental protection we now find Transport for NSW wants to run an extension of the South-West Rail Corridor through Harrington Forest.

Harrington Forest was supposed to be the negotiated offset for extensive loss of flora & fauna habitat through the Harrington Park development some years ago. But that doesn’t seem to matter to those within Transport for NSW who believe any open space is fair game for their infrastructure projects. This is the trashing of morality and the trashing of Western Sydney.

The mob of kangaroos and other fauna inhabiting Harrington Forest will end up with diminished habitat because of the rail line, if approved, dissecting the Forest.

Make your concerns known by emailing: swrlecp@transport.nsw.gov.au

Herewith is a map of the proposed corridor carving through Harrington Forest:

Proposed Rail Link - Harrington Forest

This Harrington Forest issue is not the only threat to established flora and fauna habitat in Western Sydney. Transport for NSW are also looking at extending the rail corridor north beyond the Western Rail Line through key flora & fauna habitat including an established Regional Park and a proposed National Park & Nature Reserve. Also, a major upgrade to Bells Line of Road with a feeder coming off the M7 Motorway at Dean Park will have the same effect. A proposed Outer Sydney Orbital does likewise. More about these proposed projects and the opportunity to comment via email can be found at: http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects

 

WESTERN & NORTHERN SYDNEY FLORA WORKSHOPS FOR 2015 – Presented by Teresa James

TERESA JAMES FLORA CONSULTANT – Specialising in flora surveys, plant identification, conservation assessment and botanical training. Mailing address: 835 Caparra Road, Caparra NSW 2429 Tel: 02 6550 7311 Mob: 0428218502. Email address:  t.james@optusnet.com.au

AUTUMN 2015

1. Grasslands Workshop – western Sydney (NEW)

Proposed dates: Friday 27th or Saturday 28th March (8.30 am to 4pm)

Details: A one day workshop looking at derived grasslands and their contribution to biodiversity on the Cumberland Plain. Subjects covered include ecology, threatened communities and identification of grasses and herbs. We will visit 3-4 sites with transport by minibus between sites. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

*Please indicate if prefer Friday or Saturday. Enrollments & payment required by March 10th but note limited places and please contact Teresa in next couple of days about this one.

2. Threatened Ecological Communities (TEC’s) Workshop – western Sydney

Proposed date: 2nd or 6th May (8.30 am to 4 pm)

Details: A one day field-based TEC workshop based on a similar workshop held in spring, 2014. The workshop provides an overview of TEC’s and associated plant species occurring In shale environments on the Cumberland Plain. We will look at vegetation patterns across the landscape and identify TEC’s using key diagnostic features. Several sites will be visited (by minibus) with rapid site/condition assessments conducted at some sites. TEC’s to be covered: Cumberland Plain Woodland; Moist Shale Woodland; Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Shale Sandstone Transition Forest. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125
*Please indicate if prefer the Saturday or Wednesday. Enrollments & payment required by 1st April but note limited places.

SPRING 2015

3. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Workshop (NEW)

Proposed date – August, 2015

Details: A two day workshop to assist in identification of Shale Sandstone Transition Forest and explore natural variability within the community with particular reference to the revised final determinations at both state and national levels. Day 1 will include an indoor presentation and field sampling. Day 2 comprises a field excursion (by minibus) to several sites along the margins of the Cumberland Plain. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $195

Expressions of interest are invited with confirmation required by 1st July.

4. Northern Sydney shale threatened ecological communities (NEW)

Proposed date – September, 2015

Details: A one day field-based workshop looking at TEC’s and associated communities occurring on shale and transitional soils within northern Sydney. We will look at vegetation patterns across the landscape and identify TEC’s using key diagnostic features. TEC’s to be covered: Blue Gum High Forest, Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and the newly described (unlisted) Coastal Shale Sandstone Forest. We will visit several sites by minibus and rapid site/condition assessments will be conducted at selected sites. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

*Expressions of interest are invited with confirmation required by 1st July.

We can highly recommend these workshops.

Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc – An Emerging Need

With news of the emergence of Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc to fill an increasing ‘space’ for flora and fauna protection on the Cumberland Plain, it is helpful to provide a brief background to the office bearers appointed to conduct affairs until the next Annual General Meeting:

President       Wayne Olling

  • Secretary of Blacktown & District Environment Group Inc and Secretary of Cumberland Conservation Network

Secretary       Mark Fuller

  • Editor of Cumberland Bird Observers Club and Coordinator of Birds in Schools Program of Birdlife Australia

Treasurer      Brian Powyer

  • President of National Trust of Austraila (NSW) Parramatta Regional; former senior executive in the NSW Principals’ Association; former Assistant Director Curriculum in the NSW Department of Education

Public Officer   Lisa Harrold

  • President of Mulgoa Valley Landcare Group Inc and President of Cumberland Conservation Network

We encourage those concerned for conservation of the flora and fauna of the Cumberland Plain to support this group by joining as a full and financial member. Membership $10 pa. Enquiries to President@cumberlandlc.org.au

 

 

Riverstone Wildlife Refuge (former)

 

Riverstone-Wildife-Refuge-Map-sml

In 1962, Riverstone Meat Company (a subsidiary of Angliss Meats) sought to dedicate its landholding in the Riverstone area as a Wildlife Refuge.

In 1963, the Governor of NSW proclaimed the establishment of 3,700 acres of land on the western and eastern sides of South Creek to be “Riverstone Wildlife Refuge, No. 76”.

The Refuge extended from the Riverstone Abattoir site south to Richmond Rd and west to near George Street, Windsor. Half was in Blacktown Local Government Area.

Uses of the land were restricted. Sustaining and improving the native flora and fauna species of the area was required.

In the mid 1980’s, presumably under a new management board, Angliss Meats and the Government’s development arm (Landcom) commenced development on the western side of South Creek to form the suburbs of Bligh Park and Windsor Downs.

A 380ha area on the western side of South Creek became Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.

It will fail as a Nature Reserve because it is surrounded to the west, north and east by residential development and by Richmond Road on the south side. It is no habitat for terrestrial fauna and flora species diversity is reducing due to excess incidents of arson.

Terrestrial fauna had to retreat to that part of the Riverstone Wildlife Refuge in Blacktown Local Government Area. This includes Kangaroos, Wallaroos and Goannas among other species.

It is significant to note that most of the development of Bligh Park and Windsor Downs occurred prior to the formal revocation of Riverstone Wildlife Refuge by the Governor of NSW. Revocation occurred in about 1999.

Morally, if not legally, the development on Riverstone Wildlife Refuge on the western side of South Creek was a breach of conditions for wildlife conservation.

Now, the eastern side of South Creek is under consideration for development as Marsden Park North Precinct and Riverstone West Precinct.

Terrestrial fauna displaced from the west of South Creek sought refuge in these areas.

Our appeal to the land owners, NSW Government and Blacktown Council is to not destroy all that the former Riverstone Wildlife Refuge achieved.

  • Protect Indigenous and European cultural heritage sites
  • Allow sufficient flood plain to exist so as to prevent adverse effects as occurred in the huge 1867 and subsequent floods.

We would prefer that Marsden Park North Precinct development not proceed but, if it must …..

  • Ensure a continuous wildlife corridor from Garfield Road to a sufficiently sized floodplain of South Creek.
  • Protect old growth trees.

We are keen to speak to land owners, NSW Government and Blacktown Council on this matter before wrong environmental outcomes occur and all that Riverstone Wildlife Refuge achieved is wasted.

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