A bit less national news this week. Thanks to those
sending in some very good material, some will go on the web site in time, and
some in News & views.
We have just sent an email with our "Demands for a national propert rights
bill" to most politicians and others who may be interested. Many pollies have
replied. Several state Farmers lobby groups are working on their position to
property rights and compensation issues.
In this edition we have
(1) Report of the visit by Nick Bolkus to Aramac (Qld) last week
(2) Lance Jones (Qld) criticises Firewood figures
(3) Ian Mott updates on the Barns Case & Local Govt Ethics
(4) Govt introduces tax incentives for conservation covenants
(5) Wilson Tuckey says tree clearing not necessarily cause of salinity
(6) Environmental Defense (US) model for improving the environment.
(7) Several studies of property conservation show large costs involved
(8) NSW Vegetation Committees not addressing legal requirements?
(9) Greg Burrows comments on locked up sites
(10) Bill Soko discusses biodiversity
(1) Report on Shadow Federal Environment Minister Nick Bolkus`s visit to
Chairman of the Aramac Landcare Group Mike Price said the visit by Nick
Bolkus on 14th August was fairly dissappointing bordering on depressing.
While he believes Nick is quite approachable, Mike cannot see Nick having a
view that is moderately close to Landholders views.
Several landcare members showed Nick Bolkus around for a few hours. They
visited places including
* Areas of Gidgee invasion where 5000 seedlings / per ha plus were growing
on previously clear land.
* Areas of ironbark invasion where 3000 trees per ha were now growing.
* Open Downs that never had trees and no salinity problems either.
* Some natural springs with Endemic species of fish
Due to a lack of time they did not see any pulled country with improved
grasses and soil structure.
Some of the Shadow Ministers comments were
* He couldn`t understand why there wasn`t a salinity problem in central Qld.
* He did however accept that the Open Downs never had trees on it.
* He couldn`t understand how tree pulling could improve the environment.
* In the circles he mixes (NFF etc) tree pulling is not regarded as a
required management tool for landholders
There is one comment that Mike never heard but others reckon Nick Bolkus said
or at least alluded to, which is that if he (Nick) had his way then all
treepulling (even for regrowth control) would be banned.
The visit at least shows one thing. It is important that the NFF realises
what timber management is required to keep the tree thickening areas of
Australia productive, otherwise they are not representing us, which is what
they are supposed to do.
From Lance Jones (Qld)
(2) Firewood Figures Questioned
I heard this " Firewood" story on ABC while in Hospital in early July
someone from conservation council talking about the 6 million tonne of
firewood taken in Australia each year of which 1.2 million tonne it is taken
in QLD.Has anyone stopped to analyse these at all?
Simply this, it equates to 1/3 of a tonne per Man , Woman and Child in Aust
or 1 TONNE per household for every household in the country . I have
travelled very extensively through much of Qld and I do not know of a single
house [Town or Country] that uses firewood for cooking.
The last one was about 10/12 years ago. Most certainty some use wood for
heating in Winter but they would be a small percentage .
Now let's use some real figures 1.2 MILLION Tonnes works out to 48,000 25
tonne semi loads or nearly one thousand loads per week [ 923 actually ]
Strangely in hundreds of thousands running into millions of klms I have done
in cars and trucks I don't ever recall seeing one loaded with firewood , sure
some would be loaded in tippers and don't see their load yet I have seen
hundreds of trucks carting wood chip
I travel a lot in areas toward Brisbane and Toowoomba and am yet to see any
activity of clearing old timber for firewood , plenty raked for burning so
where does it all come from?
Certainty the weekenders in their 1/2 ton trailers but no way would they
amount to a significant proportion , So I DEMAND to know how these figures
It seems to me we are being feed a red herring by the Conservation Council
and the Government have come in hook , line and sinker as they see as a
money raiser . Can we get the FACTS or they carefully hidden and distorted
from the truth like our Vegetation Management .
Sawmills would supply a big qty I imagine [from what is not chipped ]
Those figures should be obtainable.
Regards Lance Jones. (Rolleston, Qld)
*The web site www.ea.gov.au/land/firewood/publications/strategy/strat1.html
Data on the precise amount of firewood collected in Australia each year is
variable and scarce. Estimates range from 3 million to 6 million tonnes.
(Australia currently exports 3 million tonnes of eucalypt woodchips.)
This is from Ian Mott (QLD)
Barns Case Update - Where Maroochy shire won a case which means there is a
requirement for a development permit for every change of land use
The Qld Supreme Court did not grant Mr Barns leave to appeal his case so the
decision stands. He is left with legal bills of circa $150,000 and has to
continue negotiating with a council that blatantly wants his property for
public use without payment.
And the implications are already feeding through. While native forestry
operations are still going on consistent with their newly defined rights,
the same cannot be said of the plantation sector. One Sunshine Coast Nursery
has not sold a single tray of seedlings since the judgement. Jim Barns would
now be fielding more telephone queries on farm forestry than the DPI
switchboard and, as one would expect, he tells it like it is. Many of those
seeking his advice have been prospects for the DPI Forestry Joint Venture
Yet, the persecution still goes on. Mr Barns recently received a demand from
the council to seek approval (at $800 fee) for the Bee Hives that had
recently been placed on his property, as they had been placed every winter
for the past 30 years, or face a fine for a development offence. The fact
that the annual rental charged to the hive's owner was no more than a bucket
of honey for Jim's family did not seem to phase the intellectual heavy
weights at Maroochy Council.
Ian Mott also comments on Local Government Ethics
It is clear from the actions of council staff that a major priority of all
the landowning sector in Qld must be to ensure that Local Government
employees are brought in under the provisions of the Public Service Act
1994, under the supervision of the Public Service Commission.
At the moment, a breach of the ethics principles under the Public Sector
Ethics Act, which include "proper regard for the rights and obligations of
persons", and respect for law etc, is an offence for State employees only.
The Public Sector Ethics Act outlines ethics obligations for all sectors of
government but it has no provision for offences. The Public Service Act
provides for a breach of those ethics principles to be treated as a breach
of discipline by State employees (usually by way of departmental codes of
But the relevant provisions in the Local Government Act only apply to the
CEO of each local government entity who is required to apply those
principles to his area of responsibility. Few local government codes of
conduct have any consideration of ethics obligations and any breach of those
principles by employees are referred to the CEO only. This is clearly of
insufficient arms length to ensure adequate compliance with these
At state level, all Director Generals of departments are required to report
to parliament annually on their compliance with their ethics obligations and
The Public Service Commissioner is the ultimate referral authority.
But even in the State sector these obligations are not well understood, even
by those tasked with ensuring compliance. It is a matter of record, for
example, that when I telephoned the secretary to the Director General of the
then Department of Environment, a year or so ago, to obtain a copy of their
employee code of conduct, I was initially told that these ethics obligations
only applied between employees and other employees, not between employees and
So if the very top of the organisation doesn't know their own obligations,
it is easy to see why the new veg police can slip so easily into the
Extending the ethics obligations to local government employees, under the
Public Service Act, as is the case in NSW, must become a major priority.
Find the Public Sector Ethics Act , The Public Service Act and the
voluminous but seriously lacking Local Government Act at
From ABC radio
(4) Government pushes green incentives
In a move that clearly signals the growing importance of the green vote, the
Prime Minister has announced new incentives for landholders who want to
protect their land. The new measures mean farmers who place part of their
property under a perpetual conservation covenant, will receive income tax
deductions, in lieu of not being able to sell or develop the land. Both
farming and conservation groups agree the move will see more land of high
conservation value protected.
Greens Senator Bob Brown supports the move but says the government needs to
go further. "It's very important that the Prime Minister take up other
proposals put forward by the CSIRO and others which would mean that where a
convenant is put on the land, people get tax breaks for managing that land
for its conservation value. Or where a landholder gives land of high
conservation value to an environmental organisation at less than the cost,
they sell it cheaply, they get a tax deduction for the effective gift they've
given to that entity."
From ABC radio
(5) Planting trees not the key to solving the salinity crisis
Federal Forestry Minister Wilson Tuckey says millions of dollars has been
wasted planting trees to fight the country's salinity problem. Mr Tuckey says
trees are not the best defence against salinity and the money would have been
much better spent on engineering works. He's also challenged the idea that
the country's salinity crisis is the result of land clearing by farmers.
Minister Tuckey says a lot of the ground water that is affecting and
producing salinity is to be found in million-year-old paleo channel streams
that are 40, 50, 60 metres under the ground and have been there for a million
years, long before farmers started clearing trees.
Reaction to salinity options
State Salinity Council Executive Officer, Don Crawford says there are a
number of solutions to the salinity problem, of which engineering is one and
trees are another. Mr Crawford agrees a combination approach should be used
to address the salinity problem. He says while there is natural groundwater
some metres below the surface, it's the additional water going in as a result
of clearing which is causing salinity problems. Mr Crawford says scientists
would dispute any statement which suggests land clearing hasn't caused the
* There have been several other salinity / tree water use / grass water
holding comments in the Australian farm journal (eg Dr John Angus, CSIRO)
and on ABC local radio (SA) saying the impact of grasses in water retention
in the soil has been undervalued while the tree impact has been over valued.
These views align with Dr Christine Jones articles on our web site.
(6) US Environmental Defense model for improving the environment
From Bill Soko (Daintree rainforest Foundation)
Environmental Defense (USA) is a leading national nonprofit organization
representing more than 300,000 members. Since 1967, we have linked science,
economics, and law to create innovative, equitable, and cost-effective
solutions to the most urgent environmental problems.
Federal and state regulators essentially threw up their hands at the prospect
of controlling "non-point source pollution," which was generated by hundreds
of small farms. State regulators called on farmers to use "best management
practices" to curb this dangerous pollution, but selenium continued to pour
into wildlife refuges, threatening ecosystems and violating water quality
standards in the San Joaquin
Environmental Defense sat down with farmers, the federal agencies responsible
for water quality and management in the region, and leaders in the towns
collectively design a better way. Convincing the farmers to significantly
modify their daily operations required some serious negotiating (and federal
agencies played an important role in this process), but eventually the
farmers agreed to reduce selenium pollution. Environmental Defense proposed a
four-step plan to achieve the needed cuts:
o First, set a cap: a limit on the amount of selenium pollution that local
could accommodate without suffering irreparable damage.
o Second, let the farmers decide what equipment or procedures they would use
reduce selenium runoff into nearby waterways.
o Third, have regulators measure the results to ensure compliance with the
o Fourth, hold the farmers accountable and impose penalties if they exceed
Given the flexibility to find ways to reduce pollution that worked best for
them, the farmers implemented a variety of solutions including a discharge
trading program. And it worked! By 2000 - the fourth year of the program -
selenium discharges had already been cut 23% below the allowed total.
Combining firm limits on pollution with accountability for results and local
control of implementation has yielded benefits for everyone involved:
o Farmers benefit because the flexibility to find pollution controls that
for them lets them choose the most cost-effective techniques.
o State and federal regulatory agencies benefit because their focus is only on
enforcement of the cap.
o The environment benefits because the program begins by placing a cap on
that protects waterways and wildlife and then proceeds with clear
accountability and strict enforcement.
(8) Studies on properties that took up conservation practices
From NSW Farmers
A detailed analysis was conducted of the conservation options available on
eight farms in south-east Australia that had significant areas of native
grasslands. In each case, the objective was to investigate whether plans that
involved the retention of these grasslands in their original state would be
cost-neutral for the farmers involved.
Four of the properties were in plains areas, and a range of conservation
options were examined to determine their impact on farm business
profitability. Fencing out just 2.5% of the property for conservation
resulted in losses of between $16 and $42 per hectare. Lighter stocking to
preserve the native pastures was also examined, but when compared with a
traditional cropping/pasture sequence, the results were not favourable.
Planting of areas to native species such as saltbush was also examined, but
the results were marginal and very sensitive to a number of management
The authors conclude “None of the actions which might maintain or improve
conservation management …are unambiguously profitable. Conversely, cropping
native grasslands is profitable on the two Victorian properties.”
For the four properties in more hilly areas, the results were not dissimilar.
In all cases, the conservation options examined resulted in significant
reductions in whole-farm expected operating profit, in comparison with a
range of land development options that were identified.
Again, the authors conclude “ …if various development options are undertaken
(on native grassland areas)…all four farmers are in a much better position to
pursue conservation management…(on the rest of the property)” .
From a draft paper "landscapes for the future"
Four properties were recently involved in this study in South east Qld
All properties were beef cattle enterprises ranging from 991 ha to 10,107 ha
and from 130 breeders to 900 breeders.
Extra woodland was needed for
*salinity risk (**debatable)
*Wooded riparian buffers
*Viable patches (minimum 5ha in native pastureland or 10 ha in sown pasture
*Overall woodland cover meeting 30% property level (**again debatable, but
some green groups demand it)
Estimates were made for capital costs (fences, gates, water troughs & poly
pipe, some tree seedlings) but no debt servicing commitments were allowed
The capital costs ranged from $87,000 to $1,699,000 per property.
The % lost income from reduced herd size was from 9% to 22% per property
The % lost profitability was from 29% to 73% per property
( You guessed it, one property needed to spend $1.7 million and stood to lose
73% of their profitability as a result)
* While this study is very good at identifying the imposts on the landholders
finances, it did not look at
(1) if the conservation methods are in fact going to achieve the expected
(2) if there is actual management and some further costs required to achieve
*If Allan Savory`s understanding of the environment is correct then the lock
it up approach will cause ecological degradation in brittle (non humid)
environments *Monitoring and some grazing and / or occassional fire will
still be necessary to ensure the conservation goal is achieved.
*However by using grazing as a tool to assit in the conservation of grasses
there would be less profitability loss.
(8) NSW Vegetation Committees not addressing Legal Requirements?
*This has been sent to us and will be of interest to people in NSW on
Vegetation committees. It illumuninates the fact that the DLWC is supposed to
report on how vegetation controls will impact on landholders rights, loss of
income, and more in the Richmond region.
From: Roger Bailey <email@example.com>
To: Glynn Tosh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tuesday, 14 August 2001 10:49:am
Subject: Questions to Des Schroder- 18/9/00
Attached is a document tabled at a Richmond Regional Vegetation Committees
meeting twelve months ago. The questions on notice are still relevant to the
Plans development today. A lack of reply from DLaWC will be questioned at the
next meeting and a response solicited.
The Richmond RVC's current "Draft Plan" is unable to meet the required
criteria defined under the Guidelines and Schedules 1 and 2 of the
Subordinate Legislation Act 1989. As such the Minister is obliged to modify
the proposed regulation (the Plans Regulatory Code) to meet those criteria
prior to submission to the Regulatory Review Committee (a joint committee of
parliament), whose brief under the Regulatory Review Act 1987 is;
9. (1) The functions of the Committee are:
1.. to consider all regulations while they are subject to disallowance by
resolution of either or both Houses of Parliament;
2.. to consider whether the special attention of Parliament should be
drawn to any such regulation on any ground, including any of the following:
1.. that the regulation trespasses unduly on personal rights and
2.. that the regulation may have an adverse impact on the business
3.. that the regulation may not have been within the general objects
of the legislation under which it was made;
4.. that the regulation may not accord with the spirit of the
legislation under which it was made, even though it may have been legally
5.. that the objective of the regulation could have been achieved by
alternative and more effective means;
6.. that the regulation duplicates, overlaps or conflicts with any
other regulation or Act;
7.. that the form or intention of the regulation calls for
8.. that any of the requirements of sections 4, 5 and 6 of the
Subordinate Legislation Act 1989, or of the Guidelines and requirements in
Schedules 1 and 2 to that Act, appear not to have been complied with, to the
extent that they were applicable in relation to the regulation; and
c. to make such reports and recommendations to each House of
Parliament as it thinks desirable as a result of its consideration of any
such regulations, including reports setting out its opinion that a regulation
or portion of a regulation ought to be disallowed and the grounds on which it
has formed that opinion.
The "Plan" as drafted, fails to meet most of the above criteria and will be
rejected unless major modifications are applied. DLaWC's failure (including a
senior planning officer) to acknowledge these legislative requirements
jeopardizes months of work by this committee and is potentially a breach of
the DUAP Code of Conduct.
* a copy of the document mentioned is attached to this email.
This is from Greg Burrows (WA)
(9) Environmental responsibility
In reply to Leon Ashby
First just going back a week or 2 on a couple of issues
With your question on what is fair for clearing (you could ask fair for who?
you , your neighbour or the region?).
As I understand in a farm/catchment approach, fair would be to keep a
representation of the various vegetation types (linked) that exist and in
doing this retain a sufficient size area for habitat for all the fauna that
exist in that niche.
Also to keep a water "balance" the clearing would need to relate to the
proposed new landuse. As you have indicated in the past ,base data is the
I would also like to comment on the rangeland grazing as far as to say I
agree that stock are selective grazers and once introduced into a system
along with water, alter that system. They are most likely to graze those
species most pallatable and work on from their, several species a year can
be lost without notice, expecially with no base data.
The decline of a grass habitat that was "locked up"is an example of such a
changed system. Some of the things removed from the system are likely to be
the cause of the problem, these are the burrowing type mamals/ reptiles that
have been spoken about before, the larger fauna roos & emus etc and the
bacterian and other soil biota have also probably changed. Is the problem
than , so where are they now? When key species are removed from the system
the system starts to collapse, lack of diversity.
I`ll just finish by saying that I am sure farmers should be payed for
managing remnat vegetation, if it has a value than it needs to have a
figure put on it, maybe according to its signifigance after an an intial
base rate , it needs to be substansial, farmers would soon get the money
back into the system, it would create jobs and contribute to rural
Where would the money come from, Banks are the biggest land holders and
Australians spent 13.8 billlion on legal gambling last year, thats got to
be a start!
just to clarify one point you have raised
The locked up sites at Ilfracombe Qld had both total grazing exclusion, and
partial grazing (no stock) but roos, rabbits etc could still graze. Both
areas had less mitchell grass that the areas outside the enclosures, and the
remaining grasses in the enclosures were less vibrant as well. Only the
pigweed and roly poly were doing well. This is not an isolated case. Allan
Savory and others have many photos of comparable sites side by side from
around the world, where the only difference is stock separated by a fence,
all other factors are the same. The conclusion is that in brittle
environments, the perennial grasses decline over the years without
To verify this theory we should then be able to do the reverse - that is by
using the appropriate grazing on degraded areas perennial grasses should
return. And today many landholders around Australia are doing just that. (see
our Web site)
On the video called :"Creating a sustainable civilization" - Allan Savory
makes the comment that without stock such as cattle, two thirds of the world
land mass will eventually become desertified because of the need to recycle
carbon (grass) via dung, microbes, soil biota and plants etc. He explains how
Africa and America in past centuries had phenomenally large herds of grazing
animals roaming the abundant grasslands grazing the land and recycling the
carbon, but now it is only a fraction of that.
Savory has verified his views many times over but the understanding still
does not get through to some people as the following story indicates.
Richard Makim retells this story from Savory. A mining company wanted to
revegetate with grasses etc some land that they had finished using for
mining. They got all sorts of people in to plant the varieties they wanted,
watering & fertilising them etc but the results were very unsuccesful. They
were about to give up when some one suggested they get Allan Savory to try
his ideas. So Savory comes and throws out some hay, then runs cattle on the
area, takes the cattle off the area, grasses come up. Grazes the grasses,
more dung gets spread around, rests the area etc etc. After he does this for
some time, Savory says to the mining people, "You`ve seen what I`ve been
doing, now it`s your turn to manage the area". So the mining company says
"Beauty the first thing we`ll do is get rid of those *#@!*+& cattle".
(10) Bill Soko (daintree rainforest Foundation) has replied on biodiversity
biodiversity -- big topic
its not possible to simply state that every rural landowner should put
15% of their land under conservation purposes including BD.
It does take regional plans, on a catchment by catchment basis to plant
out all conservation needs. It is difficult because in some areas we
are in a crisis situation and in others not. There is a lot of work
done in some area on identifying areas of high BD but it is of coarse
incomplete and not down to property by property detail. It should be
included in gereral veg management.
My professional opinion in the interium or as a present direction for
* protecting vegetation on watercoarses, particularly in the flood
paths. Of coarse, in broad acre flood areas in the west the main
channels must be protected.
* protecting vegetation on land considered margional for farming due
to; shallow or infertile soil, steepness, wetlands, or any land
that has a high cost to bring into production making it
economically risky . Only very sound judgement can in the end
draw the line between productive and non-viable marginal land, but
lets say that FARMERS SHOULD ERROR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION and they
will be less likely to go broke in the process. Desperate acts
usually finish up that way.
* landowners need expert advice of where the best place to conserve
BD is on their land taking into long range regional plans.
I close with a recent quote.... regards Bill Sokolich
LEAKEY WARNS OF MASS EXTINCTIONS
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, August 23, 2001 (ENS) - The world is losing
between 50,000 and 100,000 plant, insect and animal species a year,
Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey said Wednesday at a lecture. This
is much higher than a similar estimate Leakey gave in 1997. "Human
activities are causing between 10,000 and 40,000 species to become
extinct each year," Leakey said then.
Many of us probably agree with your comments on Biodiversity planning as it
what we already do in Qld.
The still unanswered question is, what is the determination between "duty of
care" and "public good" as there are situations where biodiversity
conservation is a "public good' such as in the federal EPBC act, whereas a
level of biodiversity for sustainability would fit into the "duty of care"
So my question is can anyone propose a fair way to decide what the duty of
care is in actual terms or will it eventually become an indefinite
politicised haggling point determined by court cases.
Here are two situations to consider.
The dairy farm I am managing has virtually no native vegetation except for
bracken fern. It is continually producing 4 times the milk from the same area
as it was 40 years ago. We are reducing chemical use assuming that natural
processes (biodiversity in the soil with some minerals to balance things)
will find a balance for most disease and pest control.
What is the biodiversity duty of care on this Property and why?
The Qld property I have has 95% native vegetation cover. It runs 700 breeding
Buy reducing the tree density in places and using high intensity short
duration grazing it could run substantially more than that number, and the
grasses (some native, some introduced), will become healthier and denser
with next to no erosion occurring).
By not managing the trees and with no improved grazing management it will
become an unmanageable mass of trees with less native grasses and more
erosion. Productivity will decline as well
What is the duty of care on this property and why?
My thoughts are a brief definition of "duty of care " could be
(1) To prevent / reverse dryland salinity (mainly via dense perennial grasses)
(2) To keep a level of biodiversity e.g. 15% native veg in timbered areas,
with a bit of dead timber left on the ground. Otherwise to create healthy
(3) To reduce / prevent erosion ( via dense perennial grasses) Otherwise with
a water runoff plan.(crops)
And everything done for conservation above that is for the public good.
One final thing - the quote of Leaky`s is very exaggerated
Our university text book "Environmental Science" (Botkin & Keller) says there
are 1.4 million identified and named species and many unnamed species (mainly
in the insect & plant world)
Going by Leaky`s comment, there would be nothing left alive in 20 or more
years (100,000 species extinct each year), or better still, in the last 20
years most of the world`s species became extinct.
Does Richard Leakey actually have a list of the species that have become
This is very different to the figures in the "Environmental Science" text
book which has a graph on page 45 with a grand total of 104 bird species and
77 mammal species extinct world wide by 1993. - world conservation union
Do conservationists question Leakey`s claims? I think we ( the
environmentally concerned public) should challenge his claims and others
like him because they are misleading the public . While some conservationists
believe they cannot get governments to react without sensational claims,
honesty and credibility should be able to get more cooperation in the long
term than exaggeration.