The Falls festival’s promoter, Brandon Saul, described the festival as ‘Byron style’. Is it really ‘Byron style’ to hold a festival with some 25,000 people at a site that dissects a highly significant wildlife corridor connecting some of the most biologically diverse environments in Australia? This wildlife corridor connects the hinterland World Heritage Wollumbin rainforests with the lowland coastal nature reserves.
The ‘Byron style’ that many of us know involves protecting and nurturing such environments. That’s something for which we are widely known. This new Byron style is something else seemingly cashing in on an existing reputation/culture. This is not unlike the festival’s advertising material that has claimed that the festival is at Byron Bay when in fact it is not.
Ecologist David Scotts believes that ‘The conservation values of Yelgun–Wooyung locality are too important to be compromised by a development that… could and should be sited elsewhere’.
CONOS Inc has been protecting this area for some 20 years. The locality contains more than 50 threatened species and numerous archaeological sites.
As Dr Andrew Benwell (20 years as local ecologist) stated, ‘The government recommends monitoring to study the response of fauna to festival events, which amounts to recommending that the festival site be used for a large-scale ecological experiment. If the purpose of an area is for protection of biodiversity and threatened species, is it appropriate to allow these species to be exposed to a variety of different stresses to see if they persist or not? Is it ethically acceptable to use a high-conservation-value area to study the effects of human disturbance on wildlife?’
Does this not reek of the same mentality that promotes whale killing for ‘scientific’ study?
Meanwhile the promoters declare the festival a great success. We love music too, but we are unwilling to allow our music interests to override the environmental values of this locality. If enough people shared our belief then the promoters/developers would have no alternative than to site the festival away from this biologically and archaeologically rich place.
Bob Ohlenman, CONOS Inc