My rates notice arrived with a community update from Byron Council, trumpeting the receipt of a third award for the Tweed-Byron Bush Futures Project. This is indeed wonderful recognition for a project that has provided a model for managing urban bushland. Well-deserved praise for Council staff involved in the project is conveyed in the council newsletter, recognising that officers from Tweed and Byron councils have been instrumental in sourcing funds for the project from the NSW Environmental Trust and then steering assessment and planning and overseeing on-ground works. Dedicated staff have undoubtably put in unpaid overtime and spent many off-duty moments agonising over environmental issues.
Central to the Bush Futures project has been a Bushland Audit, which involved the survey of more than 900ha of urban bushland to determine its condition, identify threats and recommend management actions. Works were prioritised and costed. Surveys, data collection, databasing and analysis, mapping and reporting were mammoth tasks and were undertaken by a team comprising Bushland Restoration Services Pty Ltd, Landmark Ecological Services Pty Ltd, EnVite Environmental and A S Murray and Associates. Other contributors are acknowledged in the audit report.
I was not personally involved in the audit, but watched from the sidelines while otherwise occupied, and may be the only person to have observed the slave-labour conditions under which the audit was cheerfully conducted by qualified and experienced personnel with long-term commitments to environmental restoration. Not one of them would dare to calculate the hourly rate for which they have worked; the result would be truly scary.
So, since no-one else is apparently going to do so, I will take it upon myself to wholeheartedly and publicly thank and congratulate everyone who has been involved in this triple-award-winning project.
Dr Barbara Stewart, Director Landmark Ecological Services Pty Ltd