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Help manage the valley’s biodiversity … before it’s too late

Geoff Helisma |

It’s almost ten years since Clarence Valley Council (CVC) adopted its Biodiversity Management Strategy 2010 – now, the time has come for its review and CVC is encouraging people to have a say.

However, the strategy has not been put on public exhibition; instead people are encouraged to participate in the process by completing a questionnaire/survey on a CVC website, – the survey closes this Friday August 30.

An August 2 CVC media release states the council is aiming “to halt the decline of biodiversity in the Clarence through the overarching aims of maintaining and rehabilitating natural areas, protecting threatened species communities and implementing actions to address threats to biodiversity”.

CVC’s natural resource management officer (biodiversity), Heather Mitchell, said in the media release: “Human impact on the natural environment is having detrimental effects worldwide, with the decline of plants, animals and even insects at unprecedented levels.

“The Clarence Valley remains a stronghold for a diverse range of plants and animals and with targeted programs, council is working towards halting this trend of biodiversity decline.

“Clarence Valley residents place a high value on the natural environment and biodiversity, which is not surprising given that the natural environment underpins many of the region’s key industries and the wellbeing of residents.

“We really want people involved.

“A healthy and bio-diverse environment should be important to everyone and the more input we get from the community the better off we’ll be in developing the new strategy.”

The Independent asked CVC what it was currently doing to protect the valley’s biodiversity – which it described in the media release as “one of the most bio-diverse regions in Australia” and, as a result, “the Clarence Valley Council is calling for public input to help keep it that way” – with the following question and qualification.

Independent: What is Clarence Valley Council doing to ensure that threats to the valley’s environment and ecosystem are being mitigated, specifically regarding mining, forestry and illegal clearing?

For Example: the mine likely to go ahead at Cangai (and any others) and its proximity to rivers; and changes to how forests are being harvested and the many incidences of illegal clearing, since the implementation of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act, as highlighted by the NSW Auditor General (a quote from her media release dated June 27: “The clearing of native vegetation on rural land is not effectively regulated and managed according to a report released today by the Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford.

“The processes supporting the regulatory framework are weak and there is no evidence-based assurance that clearing of native vegetation is carried out in accordance with approvals.”)

Clarence Valley Council replied with the following statement: “We’re developing a biodiversity strategy.”

The Independent also asked: Regarding the online biodiversity survey, which finishes on Aug 30, is that the sum total of the interaction with the community on the strategy’s review?

Or will there be a public advertised consultation?

If no advertised public consultation, why not?

CVC had not responded to this enquiry before Monday’s noon editorial deadline.

Only 20 people, had completed the survey as of Monday August 26.