15.5 C
Byron Shire
June 22, 2021

It’s not over till the big trucks fill

Latest News

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Climate Change, Coal and the Flushing Toilet

Sometimes I wonder why people seem to have stopped caring about climate change. Is it because it’s too big? Is it because we have a Prime Minister who is in a dirty love triangle with coal and gas? Or is it the convenience of the flushing toilet?

Other News

Massive multi-dwelling Paterson Street DA before Planning Panel

The Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP), an unelected consent authority that overrides Council decision making, will be considering a...

Travel declaration required for travellers entering Queensland

Queensland Health says that all travellers from a state or territory with a declared COVID-19 hotspot (currently Victoria and from 1am Saturday, June 19 also New South Wales) are required to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass prior to entry.

Two mumma koalas with joeys hit on Terranora Road

Tweed Council is warning motorists that koalas are on the move and is asking drivers to take extra caution through new koala zones marked on Terranora Road, following several sightings and two accidents involving the much-loved marsupials in recent weeks. 

Mental health workshop for girls in Lennox

The mental health organisation Beautiful Minds is holding a one day workshop for pre-teen girls in Lennox Head on Sunday 27 June 2021.

Byron triathletes maintain impressive form to take second spot

The Byron Bay ‘Breakers’ Triathlon Club finished their season with an impressive and highly respectable second in the Forager North Coast Interclub Series.

History as she is wrote

It seems that I may have touched a nerve in my attempt to give some background to Byron Greens...

Cumbebin-Belongil complex. Photo Mary Gardner.

It’s not a done deal. The swamplands that define Byron Bay are crippled but still alive. The NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel is still debating how mega-development of West Byron might harm the Cumbebin Nature Reserve and the Belongil waterway. But the ecological powerhouse that includes these sites is a force to be reckoned with. It is only satisfied with water. We all live with this. That’s why it’s important that each of us make submissions to Byron Council by 29 March.

What we know is what the decision-makers need to hear.

The Belongil waterway is three kilometres long in a catchment of approximately 3,000 hectares. Think of each hectare as the equivalent size of a rugby football field. Over 1,000 hectares of the Belongil catchment is swamp.

From 1870 to 1920, more than a hundred kilometres of drains dug from Lilli Pilli to Tyagarah tried to make decent hard dry land of Byron Bay. What looks like proper paddocks, paved roads and solid buildings are simply various works on degraded wetlands. As we all know, what with rain and tides, flooding persists to this day.

Since 1999, 40 hectares of wetlands were protected as Cumbebin Nature Reserve. In 2008, the Arakwal Indigenous Land Use Agreement extended protection so that by 2012 the reserve totalled 91 hectares. Since 2006, the Cape Byron Marine Park includes the Belongil waterway itself. The idea was that these legal zones would safeguard all that wet ecology.

Cumbebin and Belongil work together. Wet places have murky edges that shift and change. In these damp to soggy places grow tallowwoods, paperbarks, casuarinas and mangroves. These branches and leaves are shelter and food for the familiar koala, water dragon and the coastal and migratory birds.

The leaves, bark and roots of trees plus the sedges and grasses and all the microbes active in the Cumbebin-Belongil complex also support aquatic wildlife. As the water levels vary with rain and tide, the juvenile and adult fish and prawns move in and out. They wander, feed, chase, escape and play in the shallows and depths.

Seafood basket

Such complexes are very productive. Recently, ecologists weighed small fish who travel to feed in these shallows. The first weighing was as they came in with the tide. The second was as they left. With each tidal cycle, their weights doubled.

The size and quality of these overall complexes are important too. In the living memory of some of our residents, the Cumbebin-Belongil was part of a larger seafood basket. It offered an abundance of fish, prawns and shellfish.

This basket is rather empty now because ever fewer aquatic animals found ever poorer conditions. While very heavy fishing was under-way, the extent of the complex was reduced and degraded. Water became polluted. The flow changed.

To clean water and refill the food basket, we need to protect and restore more of the original 1,000-hectare swamp. Imagine a Cumbebin-Belongil-West Byron complex.

Instead, on offer in West Byron are two mega-development proposals. They include 2.1 hectares of wetlands. On the borders of the two proposed sites are another 96 hectares of wetlands. All will be degraded, not enhanced.

To try to make decent dry land at a height above flood level, some of West Byron will be smothered with a million tonnes of fill. Some of the degraded wetlands will be bulldozed. A lot of it will be polluted. Farewell frogs. Goodbye hungry fish. Never mind hungry people.

Creating fish kills

West Byron also has a mosaic of degraded wetland with acid sulfate soils. When these are disturbed by works, their chemistry creates sulphuric acid. These seep throughout the site and into the Cumbebin-Belongil. Hello fish kill.

So tell the government that, on top of all the other issues, you care about the Cumbebin-Belongil complex. It’s not the best now but it won’t improve as a result of these proposals.

It’s not a done deal. These proposals could be much better. In January, Wildlife Trust (UK) published Homes for people and wildlife. They insist that ‘all housing developments must result in measurable improvements for wildlife and habitat’ plus ‘all residents have lasting access to nearby nature’.

The Cumbebin-Belongil-West Byron complex must include growth plans for wildlife. Rehabilitating more of our 1,000-hectare floodplain would help refill the food basket. It would also create a life worth living for people too. Isn’t ‘lasting access to nearby nature’ what Byron Bay is all about?

♦ Homes for people and wildlife

 


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

1 COMMENT

  1. SHUT THE GATE THE BLOW-INS & THE GREEDY OPPORTUNISTS HAVE TAKEN CONTROL

    IT’S A HAS BEEN NOW BYRON!
    BIGGEST SHAME ON THE NORTH COAST
    AND AS FOR THAT MAYOR!!!! GRIMACE!!!

    I’VE LIVED ON THE NORTH COAST ALL OF MY TEENAGE & ADULT LIFE & BYRON IS COMPROMISED NOW!!!! Backpackers playground

    Was once great is no more!!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the Week Begining 23 June, 2021

A dazzling array of talent to be seen live, in and around the Byron Shire

The Sourdough Chick rises to the occasion!

When you talk to Susann Wiedermann, her passion for sourdough is clearly evident. She describes the world of sourdough as like ‘falling down a...

Frida’s Field winter menu

  If you’re thinking of a long lunch on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, out in the country with a beautiful outlook across the fields, then...

Lambruk: Local gourmet providore

S Haslam Lambruk Pantry is a local gourmet providore based in the heart of the Byron Shire. They create a range of condiments and hampers...