A colourful, info-packed, 94-page strategy from Council is before the public!
It’s a draft 10-year biodiversity plan for Byron Shire, and those who know this area well would be aware of its very special and unique biodiversity.
And as most would know, biodiversity is under threat and is in decline.
The executive summary reads in part: ‘In Byron Shire, we are also fortunate to have an active community, who care about our wildlife, as well as visitors who come here for the natural environment and want to see it protected’.
But before delving into this plan, what were the outcomes of previous biodiversity strategies?
In appendix 1 of the document, there is reference to the first Biodiversity Conservation Strategy in 2004.
Council claims to date, it ‘succeeded in addressing 80 per cent of actions, including 90 per cent of those designated as high to very high priority’.
‘These actions were reviewed during development of the revised Strategy – many of them are still current and will continue to be implemented by Council as part of the 2020–2030 Biodiversity Conservation Strategy’.
The Echo asked staff for more information regarding these actions/outcomes, as well as the budget and staff allocated for this department. That information will be published when it is supplied.
As with any government strategy, it fits within the context of legislation (page 34). This document is required to adhere to federal and state legislation, and forms part of Council’s suite of strategic plans. There are twelve of these plans listed, and they make up the Byron Shire Community Strategic Plan.
There are also ‘datasets’ and mapping tools available (page 35), for Council and the community to assist with its implementation.
Key sites currently being restored are highlighted, and future plans to enhance those areas and others are presented.
On page 22, it states that, ‘Since 2004, 633 hectares of Council managed lands have been identified as needing ecological restoration or management. Council’s bush regeneration team is progressively restoring these sites based on conservation priority’.
So will this strategy have any teeth when it comes to protecting what currently exists? Back in November 21, 2019, when the strategy’s vision and aims were debated by councillors, a motion to include ‘Biodiversity is a priority for Council,’ was inexplicably rejected by Greens Mayor Simon Richardson. He was supported by councillors Martin, Lyon, Spooner, Hackett and Hunter.
Not a priority
Cr Richardson’s amendment also deleted the sentence: ‘Biodiversity considerations are integrated through all activities of Council’.
Otherwise, the motion by independent Cr Cate Coorey’s motion remained unchanged. Crs Coorey, Ndiaye and Cameron voted against the mayor’s amendment.
The Echo asked Cr Richardson in December last year for his reason for removing the word ‘priority’.
He replied at the time, ‘Of course it puts biodiversity at the forefront – that’s the point of the strategy’.
To read the full document, visit www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/biodiversity-strategy.
Submissions close Wednesday May 20.