Local residents and concerned community members have once again been drawing the attention of the public and politicians to the way the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust have been managing the Coastal Cyprus pines located on Crown Reserve lands at the Brunswick Heads Terrace Holiday Park.
Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith yesterday asked the environment minister during Question Time in NSW Parliament to do more to protect the Coastal Cyprus pines located at the Brunswick Heads Terrace Holiday Park.
‘In reply to my question, the minister pledged to protect the pines and said her office would work with the Crown Holiday Parks Trust if they asked her to.
‘I call on the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust to take up the environment minister’s invitation and work with her office to protect and responsibly manage the trees which are estimated to be aged between 200 and 400 years old.
‘The Minister cautioned the Trust in her answer that they are obliged to protect the trees and that harming an Endangered Ecological Community is an offence under law.
‘The Coastal Cypress Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) is identified in NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and must be protected according to the government’s own legislation,’ said Ms Smith.
A report undertaken last year by local ecologist, Dr Robert Kooyman, identified the value of the EEC and noted that the Brunswick trees represent a significant continuous stand of this poorly represented species and it is therefore critically important that it be protected and made recommendations for the ongoing management.
‘The Coastal Cypress trees also have significance in the hearts and minds of many locals as they have long been regarded as a memorial park for those who lost their lives defending our country at war.
‘I will also be asking the Minister to access the ‘Saving Our Species’ funding to protect the trees. Providing protection and funding for the preservation of the Brunswick Heads Coastal Cypress EEC will be a state first, an initiative the local community and the state government can be proud to achieve,’ said Ms Smith.
Thanks Tamara, but I’m wondering why NCHP/NSWCHPT are allowed to get away with damaging a protected community of coastal cypress pines? Over the past decade Park Management has changed and intensified the use of this community land without BSC or Ministerial permission. These changes and the degradation of the area were photo-documented by Sean O’Meara. Sean has been sending photos of campers behaviour in this area to Council, Crown Lands Administrators and Trustees and virtually every relevant Minister since NCHP’s took over management in 2006. It’s been included in reports to the ombudsmen and ICAC.
No one disputes Park Management is responsible for tree damage documented in Arborists reports. Park management removed all the understorey and regrowth around those protected pines. Most trees under 3m were chopped down and the ancient pines were aggressively pruned in 2007 to provide a 10m clearance level to enable access for large caravans and expanded camping opportunities into shared public use areas.
Trust CEO Steve Edmonds is wrong in claiming high impact vehicles and 24/7 camping has been permitted for over 40 years – all the damage has been done since 2007 when NCHP changed and intensified the use of this area without Council or the Minister’s permission.
BSC is ultimately responsible for enforcing compliance, yet the department has been noticeably hamstrung in following up community concerns and consistently outmanoeuvred by Crown Lands all-powerful bureaucracy. Facilitating commercial expansion seems to have been a priority, rather than enforcing existing environmental protections or addressing amenity issues inflicted on local residents.
Why are these harmful activities allowed to continue as they did over Xmas and Easter and school holidays this year? Why is Crown Lands insisting on expanding harmful commercial activities into this protected area … without any social license to operate?