Category Archives: Natural Resource Management

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

Non-destructive revegetation at Flood Creek

Our non-destructive revegetation trial is now under way at Flood Creek. Many thanks are due to the Green Army team that came and helped, consisting of: Alex, Dylan, Tiarnah, Nicole and Chloe. Thanks Guys! The team was provided by Skillset under the auspices of the Federal Government’s Green Army programme and was locally hosted by the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Council.

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Nicole, Tiarnah, Dylan, Chloe and Alex at the end of the second day’s planting.

We planted a mix of casuarinas and teatree alongside a section of Flood Creek on the Braidwood Common. These were interspersed in some areas with snowgums, yellowbox, blackwood, red-stem wattle and callistemon. All up, around 800 native trees and shrubs went in. Further plantings will follow over time.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of non-destructive revegetation, I’ll give a brief outline of the theory. The main point is that we didn’t begin this planting work by destroying any of the existing riparian habitat. Although this section of Flood Creek is currently stabilised by non-natives (mainly willows and hawthorns), we don’t see removing these plants as necessary or desirable in order to increase biodiversity and habitat value.

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A new native tree, augmenting the existing habitat and biodiversity at Flood Creek

Several native animal species already utilise the riparian corridor along Flood Creek (including swamp wallaby, wombats and platypus). Destruction of the existing vegetation would obviously cause massive ecological disturbance and probably make this area uninhabitable for decades. Moreover, removal of mature riparian trees accelerates peak flows, increasing the likelihood of downstream flooding and raising the risk of local erosion, as occurs time after time following willow destruction activities–sometimes misnamed “revegetation”. Many Australians are opposed to this form of environmental destruction, but the removal industry remains profitable due to outdated environmental funding programmes.

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