Posts Tagged ‘golf course development’

Wollumboola threatened by selfish 20thC ‘golf’

Friday, September 2nd, 2011
Lake Wollumboola,
South Coast (Shoalhaven Region) of New South Wales, Australia

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Where is NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s environment minister when you need her?

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Where is NSW Minister for Environment (etc.) Robyn Parker when it comes to a land use development threat to coastal breeding grounds of migratory birds and to a nominated Ramsar Wetland?

Lake Wollumboola is a natural shallow, saline, coastal lagoon, located on the NSW south coast lies north juxtaposed to Jervis Bay and forms an integral part of the Jervis Bay National Park.  Lake Wollumboola is listed as a wetland of national importance, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is investigating its nomination as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Lake Wollumboola supports abundant growth of sea grass and algae, and is currently home to several thousand black swans and grey and chestnut teals and ten threatened species of Australian fauna.  International migratory birds depend upon Lake Wollumboola during seasonal migration including the Caspian Tern and Little Tern.

Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) with its distinctive black crest
[Source: ^http://www.ozanimals.com/Bird/Little-Tern/Sterna/albifrons.html]

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NSW Minister for Environment etc Robyn Parker may have come to politics with the credo of  ‘keeping it real’, but what environmental conservation credibility does Robyn Parker have?   Many conservations are trying to keep Lake Wollumboola real and indeed free from a new golf course development threat on its northern shores.

Parker’s claim to fame is in teaching, community services, child care, childhood education, early intervention, and health issues such as drug rehabilitation and education. But sorry Adrian Piccoli MP got the Ministry for Education.  So why did O’Farrell gift her with the important and controversial ‘Environment’ portfolio?  No-one else put their hand up?  What personal interest does Robyn Parker have in Environmental Conservation?  NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker has probably never heard of Lake Wollumboola. Has she?

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20th Century Golf Course Development Threat to Lake Wollumboola

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According to the Sydney Morning Herald 20110827, defenders of Wollumboola are worried about a proposal for an 18-hole golf course on the lake’s north-western shore lodged with Shoalhaven City Council by the developer Allen, Price and Associates on behalf of the landowner, Warren Halloran.   Halloran is bleating the standard ‘jobs, jobs, jobs‘ and ‘good for tourism‘ justifications for his planned development.  But seriously it is just about profiting from exploitative development of natural land without a care to the ecological impact.  The development concept is backward 20th Century, who the hell plays golf in the 21st Century?  Golf clubs are in crisis around the nation trying to find new members.  Their existing membership base of baby boomers are dying of old age!

A development application for the course lodged with the council on June 30 has attracted more than 60 submissions, nearly three-quarters opposed.  Review of the proposal by local Shoalhaven Council is likely taking place behind closed doors as a ‘Confidential Business Paper‘ ~ which translates into ‘democracy exempt‘.

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Council Decision on RAMSAR Wetlands?

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The president of the Lake Wollumboola Protection Association, Frances Bray, said one of the biggest dangers from a golf course would be increased runoff of organic material and fertilisers.

It is feared that algal blooms could choke the lake, killing the fish, crustaceans and seagrass that can attract up to 20,000 birds during drought.

It’s just the most beautiful serene place and to think that that could be degraded for a golf course is an absolute tragedy,” Ms Bray said.

A water management plan submitted with the development application proposed the construction of wetlands to treat stormwater runoff from the site, but the plan acknowledged that not all of the fairway areas would be covered.

The Greens councillor Amanda Findley, said the proposal was a last-minute attempt to develop land set down to become conservation land under proposed new land zoning.

But the proposed golf course has garnered some support from nearby Culburra Beach for employment opportunities and increased tourism.

 

The council will hold a public meeting on Monday.’

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[Source: ‘Water hazard: golf plans at prized lake ruffle conservationists’ feathers’, Peter Rae, 20110827, Illawarra Mercury,^http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/national/national/environment/water-hazard-golf-plans-at-prized-lake-ruffle-conservationists-feathers/2272184.aspx, accessed 20110828]
Jervis Bay Heathland near Lake Wollumboola
(© Photo by Michael Thompson)

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Lake Wollumboola?

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The Shoalhaven landscape is home to some of the outstanding natural features of the South Coast of NSW. The landscape contains wetlands of national importance, significant habitat for international migratory species, and is a habitat stronghold for the threatened Green and Golden Bell Frog.

The scenic beauty of the lower Shoalhaven and the lifestyle of coastal and estuary villages attract large numbers of visitors to the area. Important Aboriginal places around the estuary, coastal floodplain and headlands reflect a cultural attachment to the estuary’s natural resources extending over thousands of years.  The Shoalhaven region includes a number of sensitive natural assets. The Shoalhaven River and estuary system, Jervis Bay, Coomondary Swamp and Lake Wollumboola and a number of other coastal lakes and estuaries all represent sensitive natural environments.

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Lake Wollumboola

Lake Wollumboola and is a coastal estuarine lake within the Shoalhaven region situated south of Culburra Beach, between the Shoalhaven River and Jervis Bay and the Beecroft Peninsula. The Lake, sand bar and south west part of the catchment are included in the Jervis Bay National Park.  It has an area catchment of 35 km2, and a waterway area of  6.2 km2.  Lake Wollumboola is situated between Culburra Beach (north) and Currarong Road (south) at the northern end of the Beecroft Peninsula. Coonemia Creek flows into Lake Wollumboola.  This estuary falls in the area covered by Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority.

The lake does not possess an inlet channel – after periods of sufficient rainfall, the lake breaches directly across Warrain Beach to form the entrance.

Lake Wollumboola is recognised for its conservation attributes, and in 2002 was included in the Jervis Bay National Park. The Lake is frequented by thousands of native black swans, ducks, herons and waders, especially as a wetland refuge in times of drought.  Large numbers of migratory birds visit the lake including over twenty species protected by international treaties.

‘Protected (endangered) species such as the Little Tern and Green and Golden Bell frog breed on the foreshores of the lake.’

Endangered Green and Gold Bell Frogs (Litoria aurea)

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Lake Wollumboola possesses over a square kilometre of seagrass meadows, which provide vital habitat and food sources for the many migratory bird species that seasonally visit the lake.  The endangered species Wilsonia rotundifolia is also present.

The woodlands, white sands and translucent waters of Jervis Bay are reminiscent of an early, pristine environment. This park has many facets – woodland and heath, wetland and lake, seagrass beds, bays and beaches. Together they create a place that is especially beautiful.  The unique Lake Wollumboola is an integral part of the park with the lake, its foreshores, associated wetlands, creeks and springs interlocking to produce twelve rich waterbird habitats in a relatively small area.

Aboriginal heritage goes back many thousands of years here and local Aboriginal people continue to maintain strong links with places special to them.

Shoalhaven City Council formed the Lake Wollumboola Estuary Management Task Force to prepare the Lake Wollumboola Estuary Management Plan.

With gazetting of the lake as part of the Jervis Bay National Park the Lake Wollumboola Reference Group was established by Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to oversee preparation of the Lake Wollumboola component of the Jervis Bay National Park Plan of Management.. The NSW Government is preparing a Sustainability Assessment for Lake Wollumboola, as recommended by the Healthy Rivers Commission Inquiry into Coastal Lakes.

But high human population growth rates in the Shoalhaven places considerable pressure on these natural resources, highlighting the need for appropriate management and investment.

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Wetlands Under Threat

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Wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world.

In the past, many wetlands were drained or filled in to create farmland or urban areas. In NSW, regional wetland losses range from 40% to 80% since European settlement. Although no longer openly destroyed, wetlands are currently affected by alteration of natural flow patterns caused either by droughts or by water extraction and regulation of rivers by building dams and weirs. Urban development, land clearing, grazing and use of pesticides can also impact adversely on water quality and the natural water cycles of wetlands.

 

Another threat to wetlands, and other ecosystems, is climate change. In inland NSW, climate change is expected to modify rainfall, evaporation and flooding patterns, increase droughts and bushfires, change the temperature of water bodies and, along the coast, cause sea levels to rise. This threat will cause the coastline to retreat and saltwater to flood freshwater lakes and lagoons.’

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[Sources: ^http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/parkhome.aspx?id=N0090,

NSW Department of Natural Resources, ^http://test.dnr.nsw.gov.au/estuaries/inventory/wollumboola.shtml

Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, ^http://www.southern.cma.nsw.gov.au/our_catchment-shoalhaven.php

NSW Government Land and Property Information , Atlas of NSW – Wetlands, ^http://www.atlas.nsw.gov.au/public/nsw/home/topic/article/wetlands.html]

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‘International recognition due to Lake Wollumboola on World Wetlands Day’

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[Source: Nature Conservation Coucnil of NSW, 20080201, ^http://www.nccnsw.org.au/media/international-recognition-due-lake-wollumboola-world-wetlands-day]

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The state’s peak environment group has called for the protection of Lake Wollumboola near Culburra Beach on the eve of World Wetlands Day on Saturday 2nd February.

“The Nature Conservation Council calls on the NSW Government to celebrate the unique beauty of Lake Wollumboola this World Wetlands Day and protect it under a Ramsar listing,” Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council said today.

“Lake Wollumboola more than meets the criteria to be protected by an international Ramsar listing.

“Lake Wollumboola is a fragile and unique place that provides a safe haven for many endangered plants and animals like the Little Tern and the Green and Golden Bell Frog.

“Of the nine possible criteria for being protected under the international Ramsar listing, Lake Wollumboola meets five.  Only one of these conditions needs to be met to make the area eligible for protection.

“A Ramsar listing for the lake would allow low impact recreational activities to continue, and encourage international nature and Aboriginal cultural heritage tourism and environmental education activities.

“Lake Wollumboola is one of the largest shallow saltwater lake in New South Wales. It often provides a home for thousands of iconic water birds and waders like Swans, Chestnut Teal and Bar tailed Godwits.

“The lake supports at least 43 species of migratory birds large populations of local species, with bird populations estimated at over 20,000,” Ms Faehrmann said.

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During 2001/2 Researchers have been studying the complex processes of Lake Wollumboola, including the presence of Hydrogen Sulfide in the sediments and water column, and the age and rate of deposition of the sediments.

Shoalhaven City Council through its Lake Wollumboola Estuary Management Task Force developed a Community Education strategy for Culburra Beach. This focuses primarily on the Hydrogen Sulfide issue. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is likely to proceed with this program.

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[Source: http://www.wollumboola.org.au/]

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‘Lake Wollumboola gazetted as part of the Jervis Bay National Park’

.[Source: http://www.wollumboola.org.au/news.php]
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On 11th December (1997), the Attorney General and Minister for the Environment, Mr. Bob Debus announced his decision to gazette the bed of Lake Wollumboola, the sand bar and surrounding crown land as part of the Jervis Bay National Park. Mr. Debus said the lake is one of the most significant water habitats in the State. “in recent years we have been fortunate to witness an extraordinary natural phenomena on Lake Wollumboola when 20,000 waterbirds at a time gather to feed on the lake’s rich food source.”.

Little Tern chicks at Lake Wollumboola, 2008
(click photo to enlarge)

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‘The saviours of Lake Wollumboola’

[Source:  Penny Figgis (ACF Vice President and a board member of the Environment Protection Authority of NSW) and Bruce Donald (Sydney lawyer and consultant, and gave voluntary legal advice to the campaign).
© 2000 Australian Conservation Foundation, © 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning, ^http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb4727/is_4_28/ai_n28789147/

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In 2008, local conservationists, Frances Bray and Keith Campbell, were celebrated as winners of the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award.

 

‘For more than seven years Frances and Keith, together with many dedicated people in the Lake Wollumboola Support Group, tirelessly fought against a huge subdivision of some 3000 houses that would have unquestionably damaged the unique ecology of the lake and its surrounding forest.

 

Lake Wollumboola is one of the New South Wales coastline’s last remaining, virtually pristine, coastal lakes that intermittently open and close to the sea. It lies at Culburra Beach between the mouth of the Shoalhaven River and Jervis Bay. The lake is on the Register of the National Estate, is a wetland of key significance and a habitat for resident and migratory birds of international importance. Several threatened species have been identified within the area, including the green and gold bell frog which is seasonally abundant in the grassy edges of the lake.

 

For most of the past century the land around the lake was within the paper subdivision plans of the only major developer of the Shoalhaven, Realty Realizations. In the early 1990s the company finally achieved a rezoning of the land by the Shoalhaven City Council and the government of the day. The subdivision carried with it the threat of serious pollution from urban run-off, loss of forested habitat and increased recreational pressures, including demands to prevent the lake’s natural cycle of periodic draining.’

 

 

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In for the long haul


‘Although the politics and regional power dynamics were against them and government departments were equivocating, Frances Bray and Keith Campbell refused to consider the battle lost. Together with the Lake Wollumboola Support Group, they mobilised all the effort needed to begin the task. Their dogged campaign finally achieved a decision in 1995 by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning to remove from the council its ability to approve the subdivision. Then, in 1996, a Commission of Inquiry into the subdivision was appointed.

 

At this point Frances and Keith enlisted some voluntary legal back-up and achieved a historic grant of legal aid for the inquiry from the New South Wales Legal Aid Commission. Though small, this grant helped obtain high calibre water, fauna, vegetation and social impact reports from acknowledged experts to give independent substance to their case. This also contributed to a reversal by National Parks and Wildlife Service on the first day of the inquiry of its previous decision that a Faunal Impact Statement was not necessary. Gradually over the extended four years of the inquiry the support of the principal regulatory agencies gathered force.

 

All of this, however, was achieved against strident support for the development at the local level. Local media targeted Frances, Keith and their colleagues with all the familiar distressing and defamatory charges that make this sort of campaign emotionally exhausting for those in the front line. These attacks continued over the duration of the inquiry and, with the enormous demands of preparing submissions of a high quality and responding to the voluminous information advanced by the developer, lesser campaigners would have been knocked out of the race. Yet they completed an outstanding and detailed submission, now held by the Environmental Defenders Office (NSW) as the leading precedent for pro-environment representation.’

 

 

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Inspiration for us all


‘The tireless and exhausting efforts by these two remarkable campaigners and their colleagues was rewarded when on 5 April 2000 the Commission of Inquiry ruled for the environment and against the development, adopting nearly all of Frances and Keith’s submissions.

 

Then on Friday 2 June, just a few days before ACF announced its award, Deputy Premier and Planning Minister, Dr Andrew Refshauge, announced the government’s decision to refuse the proposed residential subdivision within the catchment of the lake.

 

The ACF Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award presents a fitting opportunity for a more public recognition of these brave and passionate people who were not prepared to stand and watch the loss of a place of such enormous value. They are fitting winners of the environment movement’s highest accolade.’

 


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‘Turning Point for Lake Wollumboola’

[Source: Frances Bray, (2000), NPA supporter and Convenor of the Lake Wollumboola Support Group, ^http://dazed.org/npa/npj/200012/Deccover.htm]

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This has been an extraordinary year for coastal protection generally, and for Lake Wollumboola in particular. The Premier, the Hon Bob Carr, outlined new policy directions. The NSW Government announced in April that the catchments of five South Coast lakes would be protected as national parks. It then requested the Healthy Rivers Commission to conduct an inquiry into the protection and management of coastal lakes. The Coastal Lakes Inquiry issues paper brought further good news, with its proposals for Lake Wollumboola and eight other South Coast lakes to be protected as reserves and considered for World Heritage listing.

 

Then on 2nd June the Deputy Premier and Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Dr Andrew Refshauge, announced his decision to refuse the Long Bow Point subdivision application, at Culburra Beach near Nowra on the South Coast. The proposal involved development of 837 housing lots, stage 1 of a 3,000 lot development, mainly in the catchment of Lake Wollumboola (see also June NPJ). He said,

“The evidence is overwhelming – our primary concern must be the long-term protection of the Lake.”

 

Members of the Lake Wollumboola Support Group are overjoyed by the Minister’s adoption of our case. The group has been campaigning, since 1993, to stop the development because of its likely destructive impacts on the unique ecology of this most fragile of coastal lakes and its catchment.

Our group was formed in response to Shoalhaven City Council seeking comment at the commencement of the Estuary Management Study for Lake Wollumboola. Soon after, we learned of plans by Realty Realisations, a landowner and developer, for a massive development primarily in the catchment of the lake. We decided to work to protect the lake, and to inform the Culburra Beach community on related issues.

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A unique ecology


Lake Wollumboola is located just north of Jervis Bay. Maps and records from 1805, when the first Europeans came to the area, confirm that Lake Wollumboola was much the same then as it is today and that the area provided a rich environment for Aboriginal people. The Jerringa people maintain today their traditional cultural ties with Lake Wollumboola and the Beecroft Peninsula.

 

Lake Wollumboola is an intermittently closing and opening lake. It is particularly vulnerable to urban pollution and disturbance because it is shallow, above mean sea level and is infrequently open to the sea, causing high nutrient levels to build up in the sediments. Additional pollution is likely to maintain permanently eutrophic conditions, with algal blooms, death of seagrass and ultimately decline of the lake’s extraordinarily rich ecology.
Inter-glacial wave-cut reefs and rock platforms form much of the lake bed. The lake’s catchment is coastal bushland, wetland and heath of significant biodiversity, with at least 300 species each of flora and fauna at Long Bow Point, and at least 33 threatened species in the immediate catchment. Green and golden bell frogs are reasonably abundant around its shore, as well as the extremely rare wetland plant Wilsonia rotundifolia.

 

The lake is listed on the Register of the National Estate, in the Directory of Wetlands of national significance, and meets the criteria for listing under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international significance for water birds.

Lake Wollumboola is recognised and protected under migratory bird agreements with China and Japan as internationally significant habitat. At least 43 species of migratory birds, including little terns, have been identified, as well as large populations of local species such as black swan, teal and royal spoonbill. In the summer of 1999 a spectacular bird event occurred, with populations in excess of 20,000 and high bird populations are continuing.

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Long-standing conflict


Conflict between protection of the natural environment of the Jervis Bay region and inappropriate development is long-standing. Since the early 1900s, Realty Realisations (the principal landowner in the region) has floated various plans to develop paper subdivisions in environmentally sensitive areas. There is equally a long history of efforts to protect this unique area. Myles Dunphy in the 1940s and NPA in 1974 put forward proposals to Government to protect the lake and the Beecroft Peninsula to its south.

 

The NPA case for national park status, as quoted by Alan Catford in the National Parks Journal, August 1974, says, “The club-shaped Beecroft Peninsula, which backs Point Perpendicular, the northern part of Jervis Bay, combined with the magnificent lagoon of Lake Wollumboola and the connecting lowland, is an ideal national park. Variety is surely its keynote.”

 

Realty Realisations and Shoalhaven City Council had other ideas. In 1992 the north-west area of the catchment was rezoned to residential as the Culburra Urban Expansion Area, by agreement between Realty Realisations, the Council and the NSW Government.

In 1995, Shoalhaven City Council was poised to approve the Long Bow Point Subdivision application, despite our protests and the reservations of several government agencies. Following the election of the Labor Government, the then Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, Craig Knowles, in August 1995 called in the Long Bow Point subdivision and subsequently agreed to establish a Commission of Inquiry (COI).

 

In October 1996, Commissioner Carleton convened the first session of the Long Bow Point Subdivision COI. The Lake Wollumboola Support Group, the Culburra Beach Progress Association and, finally, the government agencies, opposed the subdivision. The NPWS reversed its previous position and advised that a Fauna Impact Statement (FIS) would be required. At the resumption of the Inquiry in November 1996, the Commissioner adjourned it indefinitely at the request of the developer, to allow for completion of a FIS.

 

The following three years of waiting were very stressful. In March 1998 we suffered a major setback with the release of the NPWS’ Assessment of the Natural Heritage Values of the Culburra Urban Expansion Area and Environs. While this report recommended consideration of national park or marine park status for Lake Wollumboola and recognised the high conservation values of much of the proposed development site, it recommended to the Minister for the Environment that the Government not purchase Long Bow Point. The Minister, Pam Allen, accepted this recommendation, to our great disappointment. Nevertheless, the Government purchased a large area of land between Jervis Bay and the southern shore of the lake, which is now part of Jervis Bay NP.

In November 1999, the COI reconvened, with the final hearing in January this year. In April, the COI report was released, recommending refusal of the subdivision because of its likely impact on Lake Wollumboola and its catchment. On 2 June, Dr Refshauge announced his decision to refuse the subdivision and to establish a review of planning controls and environmental management for the catchment.

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Techniques for success


The success of our part in this landmark decision was due to several factors.

 

We studied and recorded the behaviour of Lake Wollumboola, analysed and interpreted research and expert advice. With the assistance of a Legal Aid Commission grant, we obtained advice from a highly professional group of experts who supported us in our submissions and presentations. Their original data and research covered water quality; evaluation of water-pollution control measures; ecology of the lake and its catchment, particularly its extraordinary birdlife; environmental law; and social and economic impacts of the proposed development.

 

We also worked closely with environment groups who gave us expert and strategic support, in particular Total Environment Centre, NPA, Nature Conservation Council, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and our local coalition of environment and community groups, the Jervis Bay Regional Alliance.

On World Environment Day, a few days after Minister Refshauge’s announcement, ACF recognised our efforts by awarding Frances Bray and Keith Campbell the Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award. This prestigious award focuses national attention on the lake and will assist us greatly in our ongoing campaign: to have Lake Wollumboola and its catchment protected from urban development for all time.

 

We are delighted also that the Lake Wollumboola Support Group has received local recognition. Narelle Wright, Frances Bray and Keith Campbell were honoured with Shoalhaven Healthy Cities awards, for their efforts to protect the lake.

 

Whilst the refusal of the Long Bow Point subdivision provides breathing space, the future of protection of Lake Wollumboola is not yet guaranteed. We hope this year represents the turning point, with the Healthy Rivers Commission Coastal Lakes Inquiry issues paper adding further weight to the Lake Wollumboola cause.

We hope other local environment groups will take heart from our success so far and join us in supporting these significant proposals.

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References

    1. The Hon Bob Carr. Speech to the Brisbane Institute, A Matter of National Importance – Protection of the Australian Coastline. April 2000
    2. Healthy Rivers Commission. Independent Inquiry into Coastal Lakes – Issues Paper. October 2000
    3. Ministerial media release, 2 June 2000
Lake Wollumboola – nominated RAMSAR wetland
(click photo to enlarge, then click to enlarge again!)

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History of Estuary and Catchment Use and Abuse

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[Source:  ‘Coastal Management in Australia – Key institutional and governance issues for coastal natural resource management and planning‘, (2006), published by the CRC for Coastal Zone, Estuary and Waterway Management, and supported by The Australian National University and the National Sea Change Taskforce, ^http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/313359/Coastal_Management_in_Australia.pdf  [Read More]

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‘Critical to human health and the biological health of coastal waterways are factors influencing the discharge of waters, sediments, nutrients and pathogens into rivers and estuaries.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, land clearance, soil erosion and urbanisation (including canal estates) have all contributed to the cumulative degradation of rivers, estuaries and coastal lakes.

Symptoms of the degradation are many including:

 

  1. Siltation of channels, which in some cases like on the Hunter has resulted in downstream displacement of shipping ports, and in the burial of estuarine sea grasses;
  2. Increased levels of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, which are key elements for plankton and plant growth and trigger algal blooms when they reach excessive levels; and
  3. The presence of pathogens which may be digested by humans causing death and ill-health following consumption of seafood, or ingested while swimming.

 

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Quite clearly urbanisation and deforestation has had some effect along the east coast.


The saga of Wallis Lake since the oyster contamination event of 1997 is there to remind us of the sensitivities of waters to pollutants. These sensitivities are not just biophysical and economic, but also lead to complex judicial proceedings on responsibilities under the common law concept of ‘duty of care’ as determined in the Wallis Lake case by the High Court.
We know that increasing nutrient loads or even the sediment loads from catchments into estuarine and lake systems may not trigger much change as these systems have considerable resilience to varying biophysical conditions. However, the fear is always that a lake/lagoon or estuary backwater will go beyond the ‘critical load point’. Turbidity and phytoplankton will then dominate.

It was such a concern that encouraged the then Planning Minister for NSW, Andrew Refshauge, in 2001, to stop a 2000-lot subdivision at Lake Wollumboola on the NSW south coast. This was at a location which years before had been zoned for such intensive urban use.’

Seagrass Meadow
Source:  ^http://www.hn.cma.nsw.gov.au/

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‘Lake Wollumboola- Listing as a Ramsar site’

[Source: Amanda Findley, Shoalhaven Greens blogsite, 20110628, ^http://amandashoalhavengreens.blogspot.com/2011/06/lake-wollumboola-listing-as-ramsar-site.html]
 
Black Swans and Teal (left) on Lake Wollumboola
© Photo by Frances Bray
(click photo to enlarge, then click to enlarge again! ~ you’re being looked at.)

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‘Shoalhaven Council is it so narrow minded that it will not support taking a step forward in listing a lovely wetland in the RAMSAR register? seems so.

Department of Environment and Heritage have approached Council to advise that they wish to begin the process of talking to the community about listing this special little lake as a significant wetland- local campaigner Frances Bray sent the following letter to Council to try and influence tonights decision making.

Thanks Frances for allowing me to share this and your great photo of the swans and teals.’

~ Amanda Findley.

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‘To General Manager and Shoalhaven City Councillors,

Please circulate this message to all Councillors,

I understand that at your meeting on Tuesday next, that you will consider a recommendation to oppose the listing of Lake Wollumboola as a Wetland of International importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Today I have been on a bird counting walk at Lake Wollumboola with ornithologist, Ms Joy Pegler. The Lake is an astonishing site, with Joy counting 1100 Black Swan, 957 Grey Teal and 536 Chestnut Teal, as well as 9 other species.

Here is a photo of some of the birds which are easily viewed from the north shore. Do come and enjoy this wonderful experience.

I urge you to think carefully about the benefits of Ramsar listing. Increased monitoring and research into this unique Lake would benefit its management, whilst maintaining current recreational activities. There would be significant benefits for the Aboriginal community from employment in management and Cultural tourism opportunities if community members choose to support Ramsar listing. The local and wider Shoalhaven community would benefit too from carefully promoted and managed national as well as international tourism.

The Lake Wollumboola Protection Association Inc as well as many Culburra Beach residents and ratepayers strongly support Ramsar listing, knowing the special qualities of the Lake especially for birds and understanding that Lake Wollumboola meets the relevant Ramsar criteria.

We understand that the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is in the process of consulting the Aboriginal community regarding its views and we respect the need for that consultation to continue before the Office proceeds with consultation with the wider community.


Please do not jeopardise the planned consultations and the opportunities represented by Ramsar listing.’

Yours faithfully,
Frances Bray.
President Lake Wollumboola Protection Association Inc

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Little Terns
 

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Footnote

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Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

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The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.    The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.


The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty whose mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. As of October 2010, 160 nations have joined the Convention as Contracting Parties, and more than 1900 wetlands around the world, covering over 186 million hectares, have been designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.’

 

The Ramsar Mission


‘The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
The Convention uses a broad definition of the types of wetlands covered in its mission, including lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans.’

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What are wetlands?

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‘As defined by the Convention, wetlands include a wide variety of habitats such as marshes, peatlands, floodplains, rivers and lakes, and coastal areas such as saltmarshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds, but also coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than six metres at low tide, as well as human-made wetlands such as waste-water treatment ponds and reservoirs.’

 

 

 

 

The Wise Use Concept

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‘At the centre of the Ramsar philosophy is the “wise use” concept. The wise use of wetlands is defined as “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development”. “Wise use” therefore has at its heart the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources, for the benefit of humankind*.’

 

 

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[Source: ^http://www.ramsar.org]

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*Editor:  “for the benefit of humankind‘?     Why so anthropocentric?   It is not as if humankind has not benefited itself since it could at the expense of other species.

A more appropriate ending phrase would be:… “out of respect for the ecological rights of wetland-dependent species and ecological communities for survival, health and natural life processes, undisturbed”.


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Further Reading:

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[1]   Lake Wollumboola Protection Association Inc. ^http://www.wollumboola.org.au/

[2]   ‘Management of Amphibian Populations in Booderee National Park, South-Eastern Australia‘ (2010), by Trent D. Penman (University of Wollongong) and Traecey Brassil (NSW Department of Primary Industries)  [Read More] [3]   Giving Little Terns Their Best Chance of Survival – Lake Wollumboola Little Tern Conservation Program’, (2008), by Frances Bray, ^http://www.coastalconference.com/2008/papers2008/Bray,%20Frances%20Session%205A.pdf

[4]    ‘South Coast Shorebird Recovery Programme (2008/09 Breeding Season)’, ^http://www.southcoastshorebirds.com.au/shorebird_downloads/annual_report/Shorebird%20Report%20200809final.pdf

[5]   ‘Illawarra Bird Observers Club, Inc.’, ^http://www.iboc.org.au/info/IBOCNewsMay2010.pdf

[6]   R.J. Williams, G. West, D. Morrison and R.G. Creese, (2006), ‘Estuarine Resources of New South Wales’, prepared for the Comprehensive Coastal Assessment (DoP) by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Port Stephens.

[7]  R.J. West, C.A. Thorogood, T.R. Walford and R.J. Williams. (1985), ‘An Estuarine Inventory for New South Wales, Australia‘, Fisheries Bulletin 2. Department of Agriculture, New South Wales.

[8]   Wise Use of Wetlands(Handbook 1), RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands,^http://www.ramsar.org/pdf/lib/hbk4-01.pdf [Read More]

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– end of article –

Estuary and catchment use and abuse
Critical to human health and the biological health of coastal waterways are factors
influencing the discharge of waters, sediments, nutrients and pathogens into rivers and
estuaries. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, land clearance, soil erosion and
urbanisation (including canal estates) have all contributed to the cumulative
degradation of rivers, estuaries and coastal lakes. Symptoms of the degradation are
many including:
• siltation of channels, which in some cases like on the Hunter has resulted in
downstream displacement of shipping ports, and in the burial of estuarine sea
grasses;
• increased levels of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, which are key
elements for plankton and plant growth and trigger algal blooms when they reach
excessive levels; and
• the presence of pathogens which may be digested by humans causing death and
ill-health following consumption of seafood, or ingested while swimming.
Quite clearly urbanisation and deforestation has had some effect along the east coast.
The saga of Wallis Lake since the oyster contamination event of 1997 is there to
remind us of the sensitivities of waters to pollutants. These sensitivities are not just
biophysical and economic, but also lead to complex judicial proceedings on
responsibilities under the common law concept of ‘duty of care’ as determined in the
Wallis Lake case by the High Court.
We know that increasing nutrient loads or even the sediment loads from catchments
into estuarine and lake systems may not trigger much change as these systems have
considerable resilience to varying biophysical conditions. However, the fear is always
that a lake/lagoon or estuary backwater will go beyond the ‘critical load point’. Turbidity
and phytoplankton will then dominate. It was such a concern that encouraged the then
Planning Minister for NSW, Andrew Refshauge, in 2001, to stop a 2000-lot subdivision
at Lake Wollumboola on the NSW south coast. This was at a location which years
before had been zoned for such intensive urban use.
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