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Brunswick Heads News

Wallum development a further blow to the south-eastern Glossy Black Cockatoo

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glossy black cockatoos Wallum

Wallum development a further blow to the south-eastern Glossy Black Cockatoo

 

By Sarah Waters

Among the trees in the firing line of Clarence Property’s Wallum development are several casuarinas and 76 old-growth, scribbly gums, which one of Australia’s rarest cockatoos needs to survive.

Since 2022, there has been a joint conservation partnership underway to save glossy black cockatoos across the Northern Rivers.

The project, known as Glossies Northern Rivers, aims to find the elusive birds, their feed trees and nesting habitat, so it can be mapped, studied and ultimately protected.

The population of glossy black cockatoos has been undergoing a decline of 30 – 50 per cent over the last 45 years.

A major threat to the survival of the glossy black cockatoo is habitat loss.

The birds prefer to nest in 1.5meter deep hollows, which take centuries to form naturally in old-growth eucalypt trees.

They feed almost exclusively on seeds found in the cones of sheoak trees (Allocasuarina and Casuarina species).

In south east Queensland and north east NSW, they show preference for black sheoak (found at Wallum) and forest sheoak.

The Glossy Black Conservancy states these trees must be protected to maintain a food source for glossy black cockatoo populations.

glossy black cockatoos Wallum

There are only nine glossy black cockatoos left in the Byron Shire according to ecologist James Barrie. Image: Locky Cooper

The 2019-2020 bushfires impacted as much as 50 per cent of the glossy black cockatoo habitat range.

In another blow, the 2022 floods further impacted glossy black cockatoo nesting and feeding habitat in the Northern Rivers.

The south-eastern glossy black cockatoo is listed as vulnerable in NSW and in August 2022, the birds were also listed as vulnerable under national environment law.

They have become a rare sight across the region.

Clarence Property’s chief executive officer Simon Kennedy said the hollows in the scribbly gums marked for removal were unsuitable breeding habitat for the glossy black cockatoo due to them being close to the ground.

Local ecologist James Barrie said what Mr Kennedy failed to mention was the site is feeding, roosting and watering habitat for the glossy black cockatoos – all of which affects their ability to survive in the local area.

Mr Barrie said there are only nine glossy black cockatoos left in the entire Byron Shire.

And, less than 8000 glossy black cockatoos remain in the wild across Australia.

According to WWF’s Deforestation Fronts report, eastern Australia is one of the world’s deforestation hot spots.

Nearly half of the area once covered by forests has been lost.

 

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Brunswick Heads News

Marine Rescue Brunswick granted region’s first remote controlled on-water life-saving device

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Marine Rescue Brunswick USafe

Marine Rescue Brunswick granted region’s first remote controlled on-water life-saving device

 

Marine Rescue Brunswick will bolster its rescue capability with a new state-of-the-art life-saving device after being awarded an Australian Government Stronger Communities Grant.

Marine Rescue NSW Northern Rivers Zone Duty Operations Manager John Murray said the Federal Government grant has aided the unit to purchase the Marine Rescue Northern Rivers region’s first ever USafe, a motorised remote controlled lifebuoy for rescue missions on local waterways including the Brunswick River, Simpsons Creek, Marshalls Creek and offshore.

“The USafe is a versatile and reliable piece of equipment that will assist our volunteers greatly in their mission of saving lives on the water.

“It is also reassuring for boaters, paddlers and swimmers who use our local waterways that this valuable tool is at the ready should they require assistance,” he said.

The USafe cost $14,000 with the Stronger Communities Grant contributing $10,000 and community donations funding the remainder.

“The financial support provided by the Australian Government and the local community to allow the unit to add a USafe to its rescue capability is greatly appreciated,” Mr Murray said.

Marine Rescue Brunswick Unit Commander Jonathan Wilcock said the USafe is operated by remote control and is a valuable life-saving tool for the Brunswick unit’s 76 volunteer members.

“The USafe will assist rescue crews in locations where we may not be able to get a vessel, like close to rocks or in shallow waters.

“This incredible piece of equipment can assist with recovering people in the water or getting a tow line to a disabled vessel in a challenging location.

“The device is easily transferable between the Brunswick unit’s rescue vessels and will be deployed when required to assist with a tasked mission.

“The USafe has a 300 metre working range and can transport up to 160kgs of buoyancy.

“It also features a variable speed motor so our rescue crews can approach a person gently or steer around hazards in the water,” Mr Wilcock said.

Volunteers at Marine Rescue Brunswick are currently undergoing training and familiarisation with a Marine Rescue NSW State Headquarters USafe device. Marine Rescue Brunswick is expected to take delivery of its own USafe in the coming weeks.

Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.

 

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Brunswick Heads News

Council supports improving environmental and housing outcomes on Wallum development

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Wallum Development

Council supports improving environmental and housing outcomes on Wallum development

 

Last week Byron Shire Council passed a resolution in support of a negotiated outcome on the Wallum development at Brunswick Heads that aims to maximise environmental benefits, minimise the development footprint, and improve housing diversity and affordability.

Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon brought forward a Mayoral Minute to update the community, and Council, about recent negotiations with Clarence Property. He previewed a proposed site map of the Wallum development that was drafted following discussions between Clarence Property representatives, and Councillors Michael Lyon, Asren Pugh and Cate Coorey.

“These discussions explored ways to protect more of the environmental values of the site whilst improving the affordability of housing lots by shrinking the footprint of the development and reducing some of the lot sizes. The total development footprint would reduce from 12 to 11 hectares and increase the eastern buffer by 1.8 hectares,” Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon said.

“This would allow for the different types of housing that are needed in Byron Shire, including smaller dwellings for singles, couples and empty nesters.”

The revised footprint also creates a larger buffer between the development and the most significant population of Wallum froglets, west of Simpsons Creek. This re-arrangement can save more than half of the scribbly gums, including all the oldest specimens in this eastern section.

Wallum Development Alternative Layout Proposal

Wallum Development Alternative Layout Proposal

“With an approval from the Northern Rivers Planning Panel, Clarence is not compelled to make any changes, nor is it in their interest financially. All that Cate, Asren and I could do was try to persuade them of the proposal’s overall merits,” Mayor Lyon said.

“Whilst some people are set against the developer of this site, to not talk to Clarence Property was not an option because there is no other way to get a better outcome and we have looked into all options. Most of us would rather see no development on this site, but sadly that’s not possible. I am happy that Clarence is taking us seriously and considering our proposed changes,” Cr Cate Coorey said.

“Unfortunately, our environmental laws are very weak when it comes to protecting precious endangered species. This site approval, for a much larger development footprint, was given over a decade ago and we look forward to the passing of the proposed Federal National Environment Laws currently under community consultation. We have seen examples, like at West Byron, where a negotiated outcome has meant a much better result for the environment than taking an all-ornothing approach. Let’s hope that the same can be achieved here,” Cr Asren Pugh said.

“I want to thank all of those involved in the discussions to date. The ecologists that have given their time, the staff from Clarence Property who came to our discussions in good faith and are, I believe, open to different ideas to resolve this issue and Cr Coorey and Cr Pugh who brought different perspectives to the discussion that were very important”, Mayor Lyon said.

“It needs to be recognised that Clarence have already reduced the development footprint significantly compared to the original approval in 2013 as part of the DA process. Clarence have undertaken to also consider this revised footprint in the context of the site constraints, and there are still many things to work through, however discussions have been positive so far and they have expressed openness to the concept,” Mayor Lyon said.

“I believe that with goodwill and a willingness to compromise from all stakeholders and the community, including those passionately campaigning, we can negotiate a better result for the environment and for housing diversity,” he said.

 

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Restoring Brunswick River Banks: Council Plants 5000 Native Species to Boost Biodiversity

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Brunswick River

Restoring Brunswick River Banks: Council Plants 5000 Native Species to Boost Biodiversity

 

A rejuvenation effort is underway along the banks of the Brunswick River in Mullumbimby, as Council embarks on a significant planting initiative. Over 5000 native plants are being carefully placed along a 2km stretch of Riverside Drive, spanning from Pine Ave to the Mullumbimby Showgrounds.

This ambitious project has been made possible through a $220,000 allocation from North Coast Local Land Services, specifically earmarked for addressing priority river erosion sites stemming from the Flood 2022 NSW Government funding. The planting endeavor aims not only to fortify the riverbanks against erosion but also to foster biodiversity and enhance the local ecosystem.

Dave Filipczyk, Council’s Team Leader in Bush Regeneration, expressed enthusiasm for the project’s potential impact. He highlighted the extensive efforts undertaken last year, which resulted in significant natural regeneration of native species following the removal of invasive weeds. Despite being situated in the heart of Mullumbimby, this stretch of the Brunswick River boasts an impressive diversity of 139 native species alongside 79 weed species.

The previous year’s activities included the removal of Camphor laurel and comprehensive bush regeneration, along with habitat enhancement measures. The current endeavour to plant 5000 new native specimens aims to further strengthen the riparian zone, providing crucial food and habitat resources for local flora and fauna. Additionally, it is anticipated that the initiative will contribute to improving water quality, benefiting aquatic life within the river ecosystem.

This initiative is part of Council’s broader “Bringing Back the Bruns” project, a comprehensive bush regeneration program encompassing the Brunswick River and its tributaries. Spearheaded by Council’s Bush Regeneration Team, this project underscores a commitment to environmental stewardship and the preservation of local ecosystems.

 

For more local Mullumbimby news, click here.

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