Richard White, East Ballina
I was going to deride the various government departments and agencies (DPI, DPE, OEH, EPA etc) that have failed the Richmond River, all the farming interests, and local governments within the catchment, that over the years promised so much and yet have done so little, when I realised it is all of us who have failed.
We are losing countless tonnes of soil and smothering all the aquatic and marine life because no-one is prepared to do more than write reports and attend seminars.
Where is most of this soil coming from? Mismanaged, outdated, and inappropriate farming practices and unsealed roads are major culprits.
Whether it is destroyed riparian zones along creeks and rivers that can no longer protect the remaining trees hanging onto the steep banks, further undermined by cattle wandering down to the river because there are no fences, or macadamia farming practices blowing and sweeping soil loose from under the orchards, or the disaster that is the sugarcane flood mitigation scheme, they all need to be radically changed, now!
Having a few Landcare groups fiddling around, clearing invasive weeds and replanting native species here and there just doesn’t do it. Some people feel good, governments can say they’re supporting the environment, but then why do I see, day after day, a deluge of mud flowing down the river and out to sea?
Why is this river rated one of the worst in the State, and probably Australia, where oysters can’t survive and fish stocks have collapsed?
Ballina Council imposed a levy, but where was that money spent? Why isn’t the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), who are responsible for the administration and development of agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry and biosecurity, spending serious money helping farmers transition from old destructive practices?
All sides and levels of government must get together and plough some money into this major problem so we reap the benefits and get a net improvement in our land management and river health.
At the next local, state, and federal elections demand that your representative has land care as a major platform.