Comment on Weed Management Plan

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve recently completed a Masters and commenced PhD study at ANU. On ground Landcare activity at Flood Creek has continued, but I haven’t had the time to write about it. Also, to be honest, I’ve been a bit disheartened of late for various reasons and my engagement has dropped off proportionately. However, as I say, there have been on-ground developments and I hope to provide a few updates over the next little while. As always, please email any contributions you may have: icare(at)nonnativistlandcare(dot)org

Right now I’m just posting to point out that South East Local Land Services has put out a call for comment on its new “Strategic” Weed Management Plan. If you like the English language, and have a preference for clear communication, you’ll hate the form they’ve provided to direct your input. But please have a go. Read the plan here. Comment (you can skip the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ section if you want) here.

I’ve already provided my own feedback and will copy and paste this below. There are plenty of other comments to be made, but I don’t have that much time to donate. Also, given how much effort they’ve clearly put into directing the feedback they receive, I doubt they have the organisational capacity to authentically engage with their community.

Despite this, hopefully others will be able to mention the wider benefits of a more ecological approach to environmentalism and agriculture, and spare a word for the obvious dangers of herbicides and aerial baiting programs, etc…

Here is my own brief comment which I hope makes a point about ongoing willow destruction activities in the southern part of the SELLS management region, as well as recent disastrous activity near Braidwood.

IMG_9025

Government-funded “environmentalism” near Braidwood, NSW

Comment follows….

“On the content of the strategic document, I don’t have a lot of time to donate, so will stick to one main point: why are all salix species listed as weeds to be targeted?

These trees provide both productivity and environmental benefits, including (but not limited to) essential riparian habitat for many native species as well as shade and fodder for stock. Given recent record-breaking heat waves and a continually warming global climate (surely we’re all scientists at SELLS aren’t we?), both stock and native wildlife will increasingly rely upon the dense shade provided by riparian willows as heat refuges.

As such, I am dismayed to know that SELLS and other similar organisations are continuing to provide taxpayer-funded incentives to landholders to allow the destruction of these landscape assets. I realise there is funding made available for SELLS to do so, however I question the ethics of this course of action given the realities I have spelled out above. Landholders who retain riparian willows will see dramatic benefits from a productivity and wildlife habitat perspective compared to those whose trees have been destroyed using funding which is actually intended for environmental benefit.

As I say, the fact that this funding is available does not make willow destruction an appropriate course of action. It is up to the managers currently working within SELLS to formulate a clear policy which foregoes ongoing destruction of riparian vegetation and actively discourages well-meaning, but horribly misguided landholders from pursuing this counterproductive activity.

The Flood Creek Non-nativist Landcare Group has commenced a trial of non-destructive revegetation along Flood Creek near Braidwood, NSW. We have received much support and approval from sections of the community who would not normally bother to interact with SELLS or respond to requests for feedback such as this one. We would be delighted to host any representative of SELLS who wanted to come and see how very easy it is to simply reintroduce native species without first destroying the existing non-native habitat or disturbing the mixed ecology that currently stabilises so many of our riparian systems.

In summary: Please remove or substantially amend your current blanket reference to all salix species as weeds of concern. Please reconsider your current funding of environmentally destructive vegetation removal in our region’s riparian systems. Please come and see for yourself how easy it is to achieve agriculturally productive environmental outcomes through non-destructive Landcare activity by visiting us at Flood Creek in Braidwood. My phone number is 04XXXXXXXX. I’d love to hear from anyone in your organisation willing to see and learn something new. Regards, Ben”

Local Land Services Creek Destruction debate continues in Braidwood

For those following this story of riparian destruction from afar, Peter Marshall’s and Annie Duke’s insightful letters to our local paper (The Braidwood Times) drew an official press release from South East Local Land Services (BT 23/3/16). I’m now posting this SELLS response along with the excellent counter responses from Peter and Annie, both published in the BT of 30/3/16. For brevity, I won’t be commenting, although I have inserted some illustrative images for those unable to see the site for themselves.


“Monkittee Creek Willow Removal Works” (from BT 23/3/16)

South East Local Land Services has recently received inquiries from members of the community about remediation works currently being undertaken on private land which has included the removal of willows along a 380 meter stretch of the Monkittee Creek outside of Braidwood.

IMG_9044

Some of the poisoned stumps and dead trees piled and waiting to be incinerated beside Monkittee Creek, near Braidwood, NSW.

Acting Manager Land Services (Tablelands), Aaron Smith said Local Land Services was approached by the land manager about erosion on the site which has resulted in the project works.

“Mature willows which had previously provided protection to the stream bed and bank were becoming increasingly dense and have contributed to the erosion issues on site,” Mr Smith said.

“Erosion was exacerbated by the willows dropping limbs falling in stream and choking the channel this has led to significant flow diversions within the creek resulting in the creek widening and the bed lowering.

“Canopy closure had reduced sunlight penetration and vegetation growth around the willows further compromising the stability of the stream bank.

“South East Local Land Services understands that some members of the community would be concerned about the loss of natural and aesthetic values. It has been necessary to remove these willows because of erosion, their age and position instream.

IMG_9035

Many stumps are several meters away from the historic incision (circa 1850).

Continue reading

Braidwood Willow Destruction: an open letter to South East Local Land Services

The following is another letter written in response to the recent willow destruction activity on Monkittee Creek, just outside of Braidwood. This one was penned by Annie Duke and was sent as an open letter to the South East Local Land Services office.

——————————————————-

To whom it may concern,

I must express my outrage and deep disappointment at the recent government funded and sanctioned environmental vandalism on Monkittee Creek, below the bridge on Little River Rd.

As a Braidwood Urban Landcare Group (BULG) member actively engaged in a non-destructive revegetation project along other parts of Braidwood’s urban waterways, I am truly stunned by this destructive willow removal. It amazes me to think how much public money has been wasted on this venture, while I and others invest hundreds of hours of under-resourced volunteer time planting and tending trees, building biodiversity and landscape resilience, without the expensive and destructive approach employed by South East Local Land Services (SELLS).

I feel great sympathy for residents who must pass by and witness this tragedy each day. As a down-stream resident I am deeply concerned about the inevitable impacts to be expected from these works with the next heavy rains and for years to come. All vegetation has been removed and the bare dirt that remains will last long into the future – especially given the current hot, dry weather retarding any recovery, even of grasses. Establishing new vegetation will be a long term venture and will require a great deal more money and resources and a long period of follow up watering to ensure any success. The lost habitat will not even begin to be replaced for at least 15 – 20 years and even longer for any useful hollows to develop. I have personally and repeatedly observed a vast range of wildlife happily using the willow-lined creeks throughout Braidwood as a home. I grieve for those creatures who inhabited this location.

I am baffled that an agency supposedly concerned with “sustainable water and vegetation management, healthy soils and biodiverse ecosystems” (from the SELLS website) has intentionally enacted so much damage to an existing and viable waterway ecosystem for no environmental gain whatever. This site, right on the edge of our town, is now a highly visible demonstration of all the wrong “how to’s”: how to degrade a landscape, how to create creek erosion and how to destroy habitat and reduce biodiversity. Perhaps I should also add the following; how to misguide landholders, and how to justify the use of expensive machines. Continue reading

Creek Destruction rears its Ugly Head in Braidwood– Peter Marshall’s letter to the Editor

South East Local Land Services officers recently began cutting down and piling up riparian willow trees from a section of Monkittee Creek, on private land, just outside of Braidwood township.

This is exactly the kind of behaviour that Flood Creek Non-Nativist Landcare Group was formed to protest. This second wave of environmental vandalism currently gripping our government agencies is no different to the deforestation incentives of the 1800’s. In the very near future it will be looked upon with intense shame and regret by anyone with an environmental conscience. I’ll provide a bit more background and context on this particular project in the near future. For now, here are three hasty photos to give some perspective of the destruction site, and a copy of Peter Marshall’s excellent letter from the Braidwood Times this week. More to follow on this.

DSCF2422

Little River Road approaching Monkittee Creek bridge. Only the upstream willows (to the left) remaining.

DSCF2439

Immediately upstream of the bridge. A riparian willow corridor, surrounding a stabilised and shaded series of pools.

DSCF2452

Immediately downstream of the bridge. The previous riparian corridor habitat now lying in piles waiting to be incinerated.

Dear Editor,

Was it Einstein who said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result? On that measure LLS has become completely unhinged out on the Little River Road. Continue reading

Cultivating Ecological Perception: Creativity within Undergraduate Explorations of Human Ecology and Ecological Agriculture

Hi all. I’m posting this link to an article I’ve just had published in the Plumwood Mountain Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics because it’s clearly relevant to the topics of non-nativist landcare and Flood Creek.

You can read the whole article by following this link:

Cultivating Ecological Perception: Creativity within Undergraduate Explorations of Human Ecology and Ecological Agriculture.

It is an exploration of several themes which emerged during my engagement with the subject ‘Human Ecology’–an integral part of the Ecological Agriculture degree at Charles Sturt University. These themes include human ecology, ecological agriculture, nativism, ecosysnthesis, rewilding, auto-rewilding and the anthropocene. The assigned task was based on Laura Sewall’s five tenets of Ecological Perception(1). Continue reading