Author Archives: Wayne Olling

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

Blacktown & District Environment Group Inc endorses Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc in endeavors to increase the extent of flora and fauna habitat in the Sydney Bioregion.

State and Local Government are declining to take land for conservation management from developers and business interests who set aside a portion of their land as an offset for bushland lost to development. Also, flood prone land in private ownership, with no development potential, is allowed to sit idle and prone to weeds.

A risk also exists that a future government will dismantle environmental protection laws and conservation zones to permit development on what was originally a conservation offset for earlier losses. These lands need to be secured for conservation management in perpetuity.

Scope exists for those land owners to remove those offsets from the parent land title and hand it over to a community land conservancy group to manage it for conservation in perpetuity.

Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc (CLC) arose because of this growing need on the Cumberland Plain. Similar community land conservancies or trusts operate overseas and, nearer to us, Tasmanian Land Conservancy operates successfully with financial backing of government, major industries and educational institutions. See: here

There are other scenarios by which CLC can obtain land for conservation management including donations of money or land from benefactors.

Members of CLC will be the owners of acquired land with limited liability i.e. the incorporation, not any individual, is liable. Membership costs $10 pa and members have full voting rights. Until the first AGM office bearers are: President Wayne Olling; Secretary Mark Fuller; Treasurer Brian Powyer; Public Officer Lisa Harrold. Their background here

CLC incorporated with the NSW Dept of Fair Trading in December 2014 and has commenced the process of meeting criteria for admission to the Commonwealth Register of Environmental Organisations to obtain status for receiving tax deductible gifts from donors.

One criteria is a minimum of 50 financial members. You are earnestly invited to join what looks to be an exciting yet necessary initiative for flora and fauna conservation on the Cumberland Plain. Expressions of interests and enquiries can be lodged here. Tell your friends.

At time of writing the website www.cumberlandlc.org.au has been delayed but is expected to operate within 10 days.

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

 

 

Link

NO TO FERNHILL SUBDIVISION

IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE MULGOA VALLEY AND OF FERNHILL PLEASE TAKE A FEW MOMENTS TO RESPOND TO THE DEVELOPMENT BEING PROPOSED BY SIMON AND BRENDA TRIPP.

There are two developments being prosed

  1. The first for the ‘Eastern Precinct’ around the historic Mulgoa Public School (this incorporates 50 urban lots with roads, drainage, road lighting, bridges, signage etc.)

  2. And one for the ‘Western Precinct’ which will see subdivision of 11 x 25 acre lots

A BRIEF GUIDE TO WRITING YOUR SUBMISSION

  • Keep it punchy. Use simple language and focus on the big ticket issues.

  • It is OK to criticise elements of the DA. It can be helpful to recommend alternative action.

  • Don’t be overly emotive and challenge the applicant’s claims if you disagree.

  • Refer to relevant legislation, eg Penrith LEP 2010;

  • A short point form submission is acceptable

SUBMISSIONS CAN BE EMAILED to council@penrithcity.nsw.gov.au

SUBMISSIONS CAN BE MAILED to The General Manager

Penrith City Council

PO BOX 60

PENRITH NSW 2750

Remember to request that all Councillors receive a copy of your Submission.

ISSUES WHICH MAY BE IMPORTANT TO YOU FOR THE EASTERN PRECINCT

  1. The proposed subdivision is prohibited in the current E3 zoning.

  2. Use of the heritage incentive clause 5.10 (10) is highly questionable

  3. The northern rural entry to Mulgoa is under threat by this urban development

  4. The subdivision threatens the rural character of Mulgoa village and the vistas of Fernhill

  5. The subdivision impacts on the vistas of other heritage assets eg: Mulgoa Public School, Mulgoa Road

  6. The subdivision impacts on Mulgoa’s rural and historic setting and compromises its aesthetic and cultural values

  7. There is a substantial impact on amenity for residents and visitors to Mulgoa Valley: loss of rural views, altered landscape, traffic, noise, congestion, pollution, lighting signage etc. The worry this has generated is having an impact on the well-being of some residents;

  8. A similar subdivision was opposed by Council in 2010 for reasons of impact on amenity and the fact it was disjointed from Mulgoa village. These reasons today are just as valid;

  9. The subdivision, using the heritage incentive clause, would create a precedent that potentially threatens other heritage assets in NSW including within Mulgoa Valley, ie developers will be able to apply for massive scale developments (such as this one), generating profits far in excess of that which is needed to support PART of the costs associated with maintaining the heritage item. This is NOT the intention of the Heritage Incentive Clause.

  10. The subdivision robs future generations of the rural and environmental values of Mulgoa Valley;

  11. It is a fabrication that Fernhill will fall into disrepair if the subdivision is not approved. The Picnic Races and bio-banking are better alternative uses to conserve Fernhill rather than subdivision;

  12. The subdivision is about Angas Securities recovering bad or doubtful debts and Council should not be part of it

  13. Angas is seeking to extract profits from Fernhill many multiples of what it actually costs to maintain Fernhill. Subdivision is not the best use of the heritage incentive clause to conserve Fernhill

  14. In 2010 Council said it would not expand the Village footprint and, yet, are now considering going against this. Why? It is in contravention of Council’s own ‘Villages Plan’;

  15. Within the Village precinct there will be an increase of population closer to 30%;

  16. Fernhill sits within Mulgoa Valley, Mulgoa Valley does not sit inside Fernhill;

  17. A residents’ survey overwhelmingly opposed subdivision. Council’s first obligation is to listen to the community;

  18. The proposal breaches 100m setbacks from Mulgoa Road and houses will be seen;

  19. Tree planting and post, sandstone entrance and post and rail fencing is not designed to enhance the rural character but hide something which is ugly and out of character with Mulgoa.

  20. The proposal deletes important wildlife corridors;

  21. Urban subdivision will see pollutants (herbicides, insecticides, oils, coolants, detergents) and introduced species: dogs, cats, rats, noxious weeds and exotic plants;

  22. The community does not want Glenmore Park to be transported into Mulgoa.

ISSUES WHICH MAY BE IMPORTANT TO YOU FOR THE WESTERN PRECINCT

  1. Endangered species assessment. The legally required assessments have NOT been lodged for the clearing of vegetation in the Western Precinct. Demand that Council does not issue a conditional approval which would allow the developer to lodge the necessary assessments after a decision had been made and in secret away from public and expert scrutiny.

  2. Proposed ‘offsets’. The developer proposes to trade-off the environmental impacts by protecting (‘BioBanking’) some of the bushland. Elsewhere developers have used these ‘offset’ areas to approve further clearing later on – a trick known a ‘partial retirement’ of the offset. Demand that all credits on the BioBank sites must be retired in full by any development – not left to assist further development.

  3. The Western precinct will have huge impacts on wildlife in the neighbouring Blue Mountains National Park and World Heritage Area. These impacts include nutrient, noise and light pollution which cannot be avoided.

  4. The proposal will completely cut the Greater Southern Sydney Koala Corridor. Koala populations in the Hawkesbury and Campbelltown are linked by a corridor of fertile bushland including the Western Precinct of Fernhill. Koala habitat is not found in the adjoining National Park and the western precinct proposal would break this breeding corridor completely.

  5. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest is the type of vegetation community occurring across the Western precinct (GHD Environmental Consultants 2014). It is about to be ‘uplisted’ from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’ by the NSW Scientific Committee which means, in the Committee’s own language, that ‘it is likely to become extinct’. This type of vegetation community is home to many endangered animals including Koalas and the beautiful Regent Honeyeater. Most of what remains of this forest is in patches smaller than 10 hectares but Brenda and Simon Tripp propose to destroy 44 hectares.
  6. Bushfire Risk. For those that experienced the bushfires of Christmas Day 2001, you will be aware of the speed at which wildlfire moves. It is the responsibility of Penrith Council in their decision to approve development within the Western Precinct of Fernhill to ensure that the 11 families who purchase within that subdivision can safely evacuate down Fairlight Rd. REMEMBER access to this area is via a ‘one road in, one road out’ scenario and the mass evacuation of all properties west of Mulgoa Rd down Fairlight Rd only may well present fatal consequences for new families. ALSO REMEMBER the highest fire danger days are associated with hot westerly winds which leaves little or no time for families located in the far west of the Cumberland Plain to evacuate – they will be first in line.

You do not have to comment on all the issues, only the ones which are most important to you. There may be other issues which you may wish to add that are not part of the above list.

Bio Map (Draft) for “Green Corridors” Project

The Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) is proposing to establish “Green Corridors” on the Cumberland Plain and has met with a range of people and entities in the discussion stage.

Conservationists have varying concerns about the project including a sole emphasis on creeklines. Creeklines are not suitable habitat for all fauna species; creeklines are high cost weed maintenance; it will be heavily reliant on biobank funding – that means biobanking land already protected from development as most creeklines are. While some creeklines are only remaining means for connecting key sites – and this is supported – there appear to be too many creeks in the frame for project delivery. See draft map following:

Bio Map Draft

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.

___________________________________________________

 

 

Parklea Correctional Centre Bird Survey

Parklea Correctional Centre in Western Sydney has two wetlands, one very large and one smaller, which have probably been the product of extensive landscaping works on what was perhaps a rural dam and drainage line prior to purchase of the land for a correctional centre by the government two or more decades ago.

The landscaping and the quiet surroundings of the secured outer grounds of Parklea Correctional Centre provide an ideal habitat for a wide variety of birds, particularly water birds.

The following aerial image shows the two wetlands to the west and south-west of the buildings:

Parklea Correctional Centre

The large wetland, by our estimate, occupies 5ha of area and includes quite a sizable island which is well supplied with trees. To the south and north of the wetland are expansive areas of naturally occurring and planted trees. There are shrubs dotting the area to the south but shrubs, particularly Kunzea ambigua, are in more dense supply in the northern area. Native grasses , herbs and groundcovers are in ample supply (along with weed species) but unless protected by shrubs they are subjected to regular slashing. Goodenia, Phyllanthus and Zornia species are well represented.

Management of Parklea Correctional Centre kindly permitted Mark Fuller and Edwin Vella of Cumberland Bird Observers Club as well as Peter Ridgeway and Wayne Olling to conduct a walkaround survey of birds on 12 April 2014.

The day was overcast and rain had fallen prior to the survey. The wetland was full of water and, being at the tail of the season for migratory wading birds, conditions were not best for finding those birds. They were absent.

However, such is the capacity of the wetland to attract a wide range of water birds in the warmer and drier months of the year we anticipate the site would be ‘alive’ with these birds when other wetlands might be struggling.

All things considered, we were not disappointed with the number of birds detected in the two hours of observation. In and around the wetland and in the wooded areas a total of fifty (50) bird species (some introduced) were detected and they can be found here:

Black Swan Cygnus atratus 1
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
Chestnut Teal Anas castanea 6
Hardhead Aythya australis 12
Australasian Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae 10
Australian White Ibis Threskiornis moluccus
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia 1
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 20
Eastern Great Egret Ardea alba modesta 1
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae 1
Little Pied Cormorant Microcarbo melanoleucos 1
Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 3
Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae 1
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus 1
Australasian Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra approx. 300
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles
Rock Dove Columba livia
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes
Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus
Musk Lorikeet Glossopsitta concinna
Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius
Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus
Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus
Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops
White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus
Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana
Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus
Black-backed Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen
Pied Currawong Strepera graculina
Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Australian Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis
Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus 1
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta 1
Australian Raven Corvus coronoides
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii

We are indebted to management of Parklea Correctional Centre for the maintenance of a viable bird habitat in Western Sydney and for affording us the opportunity to observe its function.

For some pics of the wetland and some of the birds sighted subscribe via this website for the Cumberland Conservation Newsletter. Courtesy of Mark Fuller and Edwin Vella the pics appear in the May issue of the Newsletter.

Wayne Olling