21.1 C
Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Dam doesn’t give a damn about koalas

Latest News

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Listening to the truth tellers

A long time ago my husband had to attend a meeting in Redfern. He works in the health and academic sector and it was a consultation with some First Nations clinicians and community workers. He arrived a little earlier for the meeting to the centre – not your typical clinical setting but a regular house. On arrival he was greeted by an older woman who led him to a table and offered him a cup of tea. They chatted. Had a laugh. She offered him a biscuit.

Other News

Happiness

Mick woke up this morning to a great epiphany. So, we’ve decided to forget all our activism, we’re going...

Discourse

Dear Editor, good on you for your piece reminding us about the importance of public discourse. Like you, I find...

Editorial: Dear Committee Secretariat

The federal Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has commenced a new inquiry into Australia’s regional newspapers (print...

How two local farmers’ markets are supporting young farmers

With everyone talking about the empty shelves in the supermarkets at the moment, it’s reassuring to know we have...

Ocean Shores DA threat to biodiversity, say residents

A proposal to subdivide one lot (2,097m2) into three lots, and build two dwellings and three secondary dwellings, in densly forested riparian land in North Ocean Shores would create ‘Gold-Coast-style overdevelopment’, say residents.

Daintree buyback sees more forest retained

Over the last two-and-a-half years, the Mullumbimby based Rainforest 4 Foundation has had a mission to buy back parts of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest that were subdivided for sale in the 1980s. 

This koala, killed by a car near the proposed Dunoon dam, was part of a genetically important population in the Dunoon area that may be able to contribute to the strengthening of the general koala population. Koalas face many threats, including cars and dogs and disease, but the worst is habitat loss. Hugh Nicholson.

The proposed Dunoon Dam is still a possibility, though it has been voted against twice by the members of Rous County Council. Now information has emerged which presents another reason to shut down the threat of the dam once and for all.

Nan Nicholson of WATER Northern Rivers says new information has been revealed about the local population of koalas which would be impacted by the proposed 50 GL dam at Dunoon.

‘The Dunoon Dam was taken off the table by Rous County Council in December 2020,’ she said. ‘The councillors who voted down the dam proposal cited the loss of important ecological systems and fauna habitat, as well as the valuable cultural heritage sites of the Widjabul Wia-bal people.

‘It appears that the Dunoon Dam koalas are even more important than first thought as they can help other koala populations to recover robust genetics.’

Unusual genetics

Internationally renowned koala expert Dr Steve Phillips. Photo supplied.

Dr Steve Phillips from Biolink Ecological Consultants says the Dunoon koala population has different genetic origins.

‘These koalas are more robust and outbred than other koala populations to the south and east, which are, in contrast, immunologically compromised and demonstrably inbred,’ he said.

‘The Dunoon koalas thus have lots to offer these other koalas which suffer from high disease levels and associated mortalities, as well as the manifestation of physical traits of inbreeding such as smaller average body sizes and microcephaly,’ said Dr Phillips.

‘As far as we can tell, the genetic affinity/origins of the population imply a link to hinterland koala populations of SE Queensland, loosely referred to as the SEQ genome,’ he said.

Dr Phillips says we have known about the presence of this special koala population for some time, since at least mid-1990s, but ‘we do not yet know such critical things as population size and the full extent of the population’s distribution in the Dunoon area.’

Why is the population so special? 

Dr Phillips says is it because it carries genetic information known to be missing from the coastal populations of Byron, Ballina, and the Richmond River floodplain around Lismore.

‘The progressive or assisted incorporation of genes from the Dunoon koalas into these other populations will increase their overall genetic and immunological fitness and so increase their capacity to resist change.’

Channon Gorge area to be inundated by proposed dam. Photo David Lowe.

Nan Nicholson says the Dunoon Dam would destroy 23 ha of koala habitat according to the Terrestrial Ecology Impact Assessment prepared for Rous County Council in 2013.

‘This does not include forest damaged or fragmented by construction works, or peripheral impacts on koalas living around the edges of the impact zone.

‘The forest consists of key koala feed tree species such as Tallowwood, linked by rainforest and regrowth,’ she said.

‘In addition to habitat loss, Koala corridors linking this population to others would also be negatively impacted.’

Ms Nicholson says mitigation is not an option because koalas need these trees now and cannot wait for a regrown forest. ‘Northern NSW koalas could be extinct in less than 30 years if nothing is done to halt ongoing habitat loss.’

Future water

Revised Future Water Project plan. Rous County Council.

A new Future Water Plan, without the Dunoon Dam, has been prepared by Rous County Council and released for public comment. Submissions close on May 28.

WATER Northern Rivers Alliance represents local groups promoting diverse water options and opposing the Dunoon Dam: https://waternorthernrivers.org/

The organisation is urging people who care about koalas to put in a submission supporting Rous’ new Future Water 2060 plan. This plan has taken the Dunoon Dam off the table.

More information here: https://rous.nsw.gov.au/future-water-for-our-region


More stories about Dunoon Dam:

An unexpected vote for two Rous representatives from Lismore Council

Last night the new Lismore City Council voted for two Councillors to represent Lismore on Rous County Council, even though the agenda was clear that Rous County Council voting had been excluded owing to the requirement for a minimum nomination period of 21 days.

10

Keith Williams out but not down

At the recent Ballina Council elections, Keith Williams' campaign to become mayor was unsuccessful, and he lost his position as a councillor after preferences were distributed in the tightly contested B Ward, where Sharon Cadwallader and Jeff Johnson were also running.

12

Public subs ‘predominantly’ oppose proposed dam 

Public submissions in response to a future water strategy for the region have been released by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). DPIE say of the Far North Coast Regional Water Strategy, the feedback received ‘was predominantly in...

32

Accusations of false dam claims in Cr Cadwallader’s mayoral campaign

Ballina Shire Council candidates against the idea of a new dam in Byron’s hinterland are accusing fellow candidate Sharon Cadwallader of false claims in her electoral campaign.

9

The no-dam business case

There are groups standing for election next Saturday who are composed mainly of high profile business people. Many people believe they will do the best job. Business people certainly have a lot to offer Council, including innovation, a track...

1

Which values are important?

Public opinion sure is divided about the Dunoon Dam (the DuD). Clearly it does not have sufficient social licence to convince decision makers that it should proceed. The issue has become one of values. For those who cherish Indigenous heritage,...

0

Outgoing Ballina independent speaks out against Dunoon Dam campaign

Outgoing independent Cr Sharon Parry has seldom contacted The Echo during her time on the council but says she felt honour bound this week.

21


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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Lennox Head forge ahead across four grades in local cricket

Local cricket is approaching the midway point of the 2021–22 season and sees Lennox Head playing strongly across all four senior grades.

Sunrise paddler with Rainbow Dragons offers new era for seasoned campaigner

Former long-distance paddling champion Brooke Harris has found new sporting life with the Rainbow Dragons and likes to take advantage of the new 6am Sunrise session in Ballina.

Far North Coast Comedy

Lots of comedy to laugh out loud at

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 26 January, 2022

There's still loads of stuff on in the Byron Shire and beyond