13/5/01
(1) Designated recharge area of the GAB has no supporting evidence
(2) Comments on the web site
(3) Overpopulation comments
(4) Tas Gas pipeline injustice
(5) Local council flexes green muscles
(6) Greenhouse gases & Housing
(7) Ecosystem services article

Hello everyone,
                       A few people have checked out the web site this week.
And a couple of more interviews and articles should be on the site by next
week.

Some notes on the Great Artesian Basin
There is a lot of evidence that would refute the "yellow jack country" of
the
Desert Uplands as being the recharge area of the G.A.B.  It`s an issue that
concerns a number of people because Sub-ordinate legislation (Water
Management Plan  for the Cooper Creek catchment) was quietly passed on
10/2/2000 by the Qld Govt (without the DNR or the public knowing for a
month)
that declared that a strip of country (the Yellow Jack area) is the recharge
of the G.A.B. There was even a map put into the plan that defined the area
concerned. The plan decided there was no guarantee that bores even for stock
and domestic purposes would be approved for that area - no reasons were
given. Plenty of people wrote objections to the plan but all were ignored.
(the standard consultation process it seems)
However there has always been some reasons that local landholders and bore
drillers believe recharge is not occurring in the Desert Uplands. These are
some that I am aware of. If these details are not correct, please let us
know.
(1) In the Desert Uplands, the rock strata lays horizontal, not vertical as
the government model suggests it should .
(2) There is only a little water above the first layer of rock which would
indicate only minimal rainfall infiltration occurs in the sandy "Yellow Jack
Country".
(3) The "supposed recharge" sandy soil has several hard rock and associated
tight clay layers in it below the first rock layer and above the "best"
water
bearing aquifer.
(4) There are several water bearing aquifers above the "best" and main
aquifer. (sometimes they have internal pressure, sometimes not)
(5) The water often rises 10 metres or more when the "best" aquifer is hit.
(It`s a confined aquifer with pressure in it so how does rain water get in?)
(6) There are large differences in the altitude levels of the standing level
of the water in the "supposed recharge area" bores.  i.e. ranging from
approx
750 to 950 feet above sea level (altitude of the land, less the depth of the
bore to water  )
( top of several flowing bores north of the supposed recharge area, are
higher in altitude (Approx 1100 feet above sea level) compared with the
standing bore water in the supposed recharge area. (Approx 750 - 950 feet
above sea level)


So to summarise, The Queensland government legislated that in the narrow
strip of "yellow jack country" in the Desert Uplands, the rain infiltration
goes though several layers of rock and associated clay and then under a
sealed layer so that  it builds up substantial pressure to cause 3000
flowing
bores hundreds of kilometres away and up to approximately 200 feet higher in
altitude to flow.

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee (Melbourne) also gives several technical
explanations  of why he believes there is no apparent recharge areas  and
that the G.A.B. is probably a limited resource.
His articles will be on the web site soon - There are many critics of his
views, but the issue is what is the truth not what is the majority view and
no one will get the right answers if people do not begin by asking the right
questions.
Richard Makim (Julia Creek, QLD) said the government was prepared to let
mines open up the G.A.B. because they (the government) knew how much
recharge
was occurring and they said the mines would hardly affect the G.A.B.

I think we as a community need to see exactly what evidence our governments
have before they make any resource decisions in future. (probably on a web
site) The Cooper Creek water  management plan was a classic. If we don`t get
more open and accountable governments then we are going to get lumbered with
some major stuff ups that will cost not only those who rely on the resource
but the whole community. Certainly not all the knowledge and wisdom needed
lies within the government agencies.

From Leon Ashby (whose property "Barcoorah" is a few kms from the "supposed
recharge" area)

This Comment comes from Virginia Angel (NSW)
Hi,
Have checked out your web page and found it very good. I was very interested
to read Richard Makim's comments on "catchments". I have also followed Dr.
Jones's articles on salinity with great interest. I am sure at times I will
be using some of the information I have received in either e-mails or from
the this site. Continue the good work. I have not seen it yet but I was told
there was an interesting article on the front of this weeks Land Newspaper
(NSW edition).
Cheers Virginia

Warren Wait (Edenhope, Vic) has this to say

overpopulation  is going to stuff the world  up more than the clearing of
a few trees but no one seems to think that way
thats my thinking  we are looking at it the wrong way        regards   waz

(There is an excerpt from an article at the end of this email which mentions
this point Warren.)

This next comment comes from Anna Renkin (Forth, Tas)

Ian Mott has raised an important issue, but for us it appears 'too little
too late':

"The problem for most landholders is that we rarely properly document our
existing uses, our intended uses or the potential uses that we might
lawfully pursue on our land. Most of us have a very good plan with multiple
variables but it is all in our heads where it evolves, like any good plan,
over time.

We do not have a record of those changes or any evidence of what factors
contributed to those changes of plan. More importantly, we do not have a
record of the future options that have been noted by our management
processes for closer examination when certain circumstances change."

I read this and thought, this is exactly what's happening to us. Nothing to
do with land clearance per se, but with the fully government backed Duke
Energy proposal to put a massive gas pipeline through much of Tasmanian
farm (and other) land.

Our small (100 acre) property is one that is affected, and we have
absolutely no say about it. We have raised many concerns with Duke's public
consultation team, (when we've been lucky to be on the property at the same
time they've come to drive all over it - yes, one guy per Landcruiser, 3 in
total), and we've yet to have any of these concerns acknowledged in
writing, let alone dealt with. We can't treat them as trespassers, as the
government has given them the right to come onto our land, we can't refuse
them access for the pipe, as the government has allowed Duke compulsory
acquisition, much like when a highway is built.

And they won't compensate us for the loss of a paddock which we were
considering putting into an orchard (in the future) because, like Ian Mott
points out, we don't have any evidence of those plans. It has to be more
than the loss of the land as it is (pasture), as now we won't be able to
establish this orchard because they are one of the few crops that can't be
built over this type of pipeline, according to Duke. Too costly to
compensate down the track, if they have to conduct maintenance on the pipe
at some stage. If.

What are our rights here? None it seems. It just goes to show how little
control we do have over what we all think is 'our' land. We are not owners
in the true sense of the word, but more like stewards, I was told by Duke.
But as stewards of our land, we would never allow this pipeline through in
the first place, for the huge (and it will be huge) machinery will surely
disturb and compact our soils, bring in weeds, and the construction of the
line (which goes right through our creek) will fully disrupt our water flow
and the platypus that use it, not to mention the loss of some beautiful
gums and blackwood that fall in Duke's ideal route.

It is so disappointing to us. We bought our land only 2 years ago, our
first property. We're building our first home there and hope to one day
build it up to the stage that we can afford to give up our jobs and work on
our own property. As a small holding, this will require intensive use of
the available land, hence our thoughts for establishing an orchard of some
kind. Niche marketing, that's our plan. This pipeline and the consequent
loss of control of part of our property will be devastating to our future
plans, but it appears this is of little concern to Duke and it's backer,
state government.

I haven't heard much public outcry about this issue, which surprises me -
is everyone complacent or are we being silenced? Sure, natural gas is a
more efficient fuel, but at what cost? I'd like to hear others' views about
this.

Anna Renkin
Forth, Tasmania

Glenda Keys (QLD) has sent this quick note.

I'm still following your reports with interest.
Our local council is pressuring our show society over
two Jacaranda trees.  The show society wants to increase the floor area of
one of its pavilions and the two trees were to get the chop until one very
green councillor thought he's jump on the environmental band wagon, flex his
green muscles and literally tell the show society what to do.
He says they must not be touched as they are of scenic value.  Total
insanity
is prevailing as a result.  Our show society had the plans for the additions
drawn up and approved years ago by council and were just waiting on funds.
The society deliberated on moving the trees but the cost was going to be
excessive.  They had intended to plant more trees in the grounds to replace
those lost.
Our show committee is like most others throughout regional Qld., hardworking
and honorary workers to boot.
Our current councillors (who voted themselves a big pay rise
2 months after the last election) are blowing in the wind and bending under
the strain of Welford's legislation.  Welford, as you know, moved on from
his
Environmental portfolio/s and is now Attorney General........heaven help us.
We probably have about as much chance as the Fraser Island dingoes.

Regards,
Glenda Keys

ABC radio national recently had a comment from Jim Sullivan (Mataranka, NT)
on it, Here is the transcript.

The biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Australia is the Greater Sydney
area, which consists of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. I would like to
focus on one aspect of that great emission of greenhouses gases, which is
housing. And the cost in greenhouse gas terms of building a house in the
cities, or anywhere else in Australia for that matter.

If one takes into consideration the cost in energy of cooking the bricks and
the tiles and the cement, the manufacture of the steel and all the fittings,
the heating and lighting and air-conditioning, in my estimation it’s the
equivalent of clearing 5,000 acres of acacia woodland in Queensland. And if
you said that there was 20,000 houses and units constructed a year, in our
capital cities, I’m not just picking out Sydney, but I’m using it as an
example, that’s the equivalent of clearing a million acres a year in
Queensland, 400,000 hectares.

What amazes me is you never hear a word about it. Nothing’s ever said on the
media. The environment and green groups are absolutely one-eyed, and can
never see anything else but the great crimes in the bush, and never look at
the crimes in the cities. If we’re going to succeed as a nation to attack
greenhouse gases, we’ve got to do it all over the country, in which everyone
is seen to be pulling their weight.

But it’s easy to be critical; what we’ve got to have is solutions, and my
solution I suggest, is that we bring in a tax on housing, a greenhouse gas
tax, in which a house that’s up to 120 square metres is tax free, but for
every 25 square metres above that size, you pay a tax, and every unit is
higher than the last. So a house of 200 square metres, which is an
extravagant house, you’re paying three units of tax.

Now of course this will raise a great hullabaloo, but we’re all going to
have
to take the pain together, and it’s time the cities started to pull their
weight. Cheerio. -Jim Sullivan

And Finally here is an excerpt from a web site. I believe it has a bit more
balance to it than the CSIRO  "Ecosytem services" notes that Jo Wearing had
sent that was on the last email news & views.  Although I agreed with most
of
the ecosytem facts. I thought it came across that landmanagers took none of
those things into account, which I believe is not exactly correct. My view
is
that there is a growing appreciation for  many things such as pollination
services by bees and insects, microbial activity in the soil for nutrient
cycling etc, and most landmanagers realise these jobs are essential, but
no-one worries about them if they are still "doing the job" There are too
many other things to worry about.
As to putting a value on them, I`m not so sure because if any one essential
part is not present then "the whole" breaks down completely.  We can only
try
to manage things as whole things e.g. whole farms (whole microorganisms,
whole stock, whole plants, whole feral animals, whole people) etc.
    I can see though how  groups who want to have lots of wilderness areas
would like this sort of dissection, so that they can say a certain area of
wilderness is worth so many dollars  just for it`s ecosystem services. The
way I see it  Ecosystem service values are fairly meaningless if there is no
resources  produced  to give them value. i.e. a pollination service that
produces no food or useful plants (only weeds) is not the same as a
pollination service that helps produce millions of dollars worth of
commodities that feed and clothe the world. - Leon Ashby

Benefits of Biodiversity - Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
web site (USA)

1 The Importance of Agriculture
The world has at least 5 to 7 million different species of plants, animals,
and microorganisms (May, 1999), many of which have contributed to one of the
most dramatic changes that has occurred on earth--the emergence of humans as
the dominant species (Diamond, 1997). Agriculture is the major reason for
this success. During the past 10,000 years, and especially during the past
century, advances in agriculture have supported ever-larger human
populations
enjoying higher standards of living. Agriculture has been so productive that
an ever-decreasing proportion of society has been able to feed the rest,
allowing more people to pursue careers in industry, medicine, science, arts,
and humanities. The resulting cultural development and accumulation of
knowledge has increased our ability to live at greater population densities
and with higher standards of living. Thus, all of human society and most of
human recorded history are intimately intertwined with and highly dependent
on the successes of agriculture. With the world’s population at more than
5.9
billion, and with this number likely to double within the next 50 years, the
future of humanity will depend even more on the way in which we manage both
the agricultural enterprise and the remaining natural and seminatural
ecosystems of the world.

What has led to thousands of years of advances in agriculture? What is
needed
to sustain agriculture during the coming centuries? Such questions have many
answers. The development of new technologies has played, and will always
play, a significant role. However, another essential part of this success
has
been derived from biological diversity (Diamond, 1997). Humans do not
produce
food. Other animal and plant species produce it for us. The essence of
agriculture is the harnessing of numerous species of plants and animals for
human benefit. Many of the advances in agriculture have come from the
selection and development of new crops and from genetic refinements in these
crops. Some major crops grown in this century were rare a century or two
ago.
Development of more-productive crops and the replacement of old ones have
occurred for millennia. Today, 80 plant crops provide about 90% of the
world’s food from plants (Food and Agriculture Organization, 1996) (Figure
1.1). Fift