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.
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.
Many stumps are several meters away from the historic incision (circa 1850).
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
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.
Little River Road approaching Monkittee Creek bridge. Only the upstream willows (to the left) remaining.
Immediately upstream of the bridge. A riparian willow corridor, surrounding a stabilised and shaded series of pools.
Immediately downstream of the bridge. The previous riparian corridor habitat now lying in piles waiting to be incinerated.
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
Ever since he watched the ABC TV series ‘Two Men in a Tinny’, in which celebrated scientist and author Dr Tim Flannery and comedian John Doyle advocated for nation-wide willow eradication, Peter Marshall has been trying persistently to contact Dr Flannery to canvass an alternative approach.
Recently, Peter was delighted to receive a reply from Dr Flannery along with a request for further information. Dr Flannery said he’d be interested to learn about Peter’s work and asked if the willows are ever removed after they’ve done their job holding banks together.
Peter CC’d me into his reply and invited me to respond with an outline of what Non-Nativist Landcare is about and what we’re hoping to achieve. After some encouragement, I’m posting my response here for others to consider. We’re yet to receive further correspondence from Dr Flannery who is undoubtedly a very busy individual, but we live in hope he has read what we sent, and will consider it.
What follows is a simple cut and paste of my email, sent to Dr Flannery and Peter Marshall. I know it’s lengthy and might be a bit heavy, but I wasn’t going to waste time on small talk.
Thanks for your kind introduction Peter. Sorry to be so slow to respond, I have had a number of pressing tasks to complete recently.
Dr Flannery, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write to you. Peter has asked that I outline our thinking and operations (quite a task). I will try to keep what I have to say relatively brief, though this will be difficult.
My educational background is a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Ecological Agriculture’ from CSU. I have since completed a B.Sci(Hons) year looking at natural repair processes within incised swampy meadows. I’m currently pursuing further study at ANU in biological anthropology. In approaching agriculture from an ecological perspective we learn to take a functional approach to agroecosystems and to ourselves (as humans) and our place in this biosphere. It’s odd, but for many people, the word ‘ecological’ simply means ‘natural’; so agriculture and humans are believed to exist somehow outside of, or beyond, ecological processes. This is clearly not the reality of our situation here on Earth, as you have expertly documented (several times). Continue reading
Posted in Flood Creek, Landcare, Nativist Ideology, Natural Resource Management, Willows
Tagged ecological function, ecology, Flood Creek, habitat, Landcare, nativism, nativist ideology, Natural Resource Management, non-destructive revegetation, weed response, weeds, willow management, willows
This post really requires a drum role or fanfare.
With permission, I am posting a scanned copy of ‘The Crucial Role of Willows in Sustainable River Management’, by Professor Haikai Tane. I will also lodge this in our useful publications page.
Click on the image below to download the PDF.
This is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to explore the reality of willows within an ecological-thinking perspective (as opposed to a reductively-compartmentalised nativist one). The research presented is mainly based on a New Zealand environmental context, but there are obvious parallels with the Australian situation. There is ample food for thought for Landcarers here. Continue reading