Tree Hollows – A home to suit every need

Kingborough Council has produced a new brochure, entitled “Tree Hollows – A home to suit every need”. It aims to help people understand the importance of tree hollows and how to retain, or help form this critical habitat.

Tree hollows – homes needed by 42 animal species – are now rare in the landscape because they take a long time to form, typically more than 150 years.

The brochure details how landholders can manage properties to provide better animal habitat whilst retaining safety for people. And it presents ideas that could work on their own properties.

It is based on the booklet “Tree Hollows in Tasmania – A Guide” published by Forest Practices Authority. Arborists, wildlife experts and land managers have provided input to the brochure to ensure it is practical and informative.

The brochure is available at Kingborough Council and here.

Possum in a tree hollow

BIEN Annual Report 2019

Another great year focusing on Bruny’s unique environment saw:

  • the 2018 Bird Festival fly with over 500 people, laughter, cries of delight and sightings of rare birds
  • the cat management program now implemented, based squarely on science and community participation
  • a tribute seat erected to the generosity of Ross and Jo Denne for donating the the bird-rich Dennes Hill to the world
  • a day of discovery of local and global climate change impacts
  • another day focusing on maintaining diverse wildlife habitat, restoration, nest boxes and wildlife monitoring for the Island
  • shorebird protection activities
  • progress on implementing a set of environmental accounts for Bruny,
  • extensive lobbying to ensure proposed extensions of fish farms do not adversely impact the environment, and
  • liaising and working with the new ferry operator ensure environmental concerns are addressed

Read the full details in the BIEN Annual Report 2019.

Speaker series at the 2018 Bruny Island Bird Festival

Three solid days of talks by experts, researchers, enthusiasts and scientists gave plenty of food for thought, culminating in the provocative and irreverent talk by First Dog on the Moon (censored!).  The speaker series has become a much-loved feature of the Bird Festival and links to many of the talks are found below.

Oration on the intellect of threatened species by First Dog

Tonia Cochran – What really happens at Inala

Kaylene Allan Cat management on Bruny

Fi Hume – Spots or stripes

Shannon Troy – Orange bellied parrots

Scott Whitemore – Machine learning birdsong

Sarah Lloyd – Sex and the spring dawn chorus

Ruth Mollison – Elizabeth Gould

Matthew Fielding – Ravens

Craig Webb – Rescue to Release Workshop

Clare Hawkins – Where where wedgies

CHRIS TZAROS – Out of the Blue Bruny Bird Festival 2018

Angela Hansen – Quackipedia

Andrew Hingston – Swift Parrots and invasive species

Adan Cisterne – Masked Owl research

 

Call for Moratorium on Salmon Farm expansion in Storm Bay

Three community groups on Bruny Island joined to call for a moratorium on proposed expansion of finfish farming in Storm Bay.

Friends of North Bruny Inc. (FONB),  Bruny Island Comm-

unity Association (BICA) and the Bruny Island Environment Network (BIEN) today announced they are joining forces to demand a moratorium on expansion of finfish farming in the waters surrounding
Bruny Island including Storm Bay. The moratorium objectives are included in their joint submission regarding Huon Aquaculture, Tassal and Petuna’s expansion plans in Storm Bay lodged on Wednesday 17th .

Spokesperson for the groups Mr. Gerard Castles Vice President of FONB said,“We are NOT trying to stop fish farms, but we want a truly sustainable approach to finfish farming in the Bruny bioregion.” What we are calling for is a moratorium until such time as finfish farming is considered in relation to all other uses and users of resources in the waters surrounding Bruny Island and across Storm Bay.

“Our own research has shown that what is planned around Bruny is a massive expansion and we are calling on Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, to put a moratorium on finfish farming expansion until community concerns are addressed” The  argument is not about marine farming per se.  It is about the use, development and management of all resources in the Bioregion.

See the joint submission here.

 

Reflections on the last year

by Bob Graham

Earlier in the year I prepared and presented a discussion paper which proposed that we engage with the process of developing a Government sponsored Destination Action Plan (DAP) for Bruny along with BICA, BIPIG and the Friends of North Bruny. All of these groups participated actively in the process and argued strongly that the plan should focus on increasing the resilience and capacity of the local community and the Island’s environment to cope with rapidly increasing tourism numbers.

The group responsible for DAP implementation agreed on those priorities and they were included in the final plan. BIEN provided significant input to the measures needed to achieve that.

However, it soon became apparent that the DAP process was not designed to deliver concrete results (despite the sincere efforts of the DAP co-ordinator).

BICA and BIEN after attempting to get better outcomes, publicly withdrew from the process in June. This has been a disappointing outcome as it was an attempt on our part to work with Government, Council and other community groups to achieve better environmental and community outcomes through the development process. Representatives of BICA and BIEN have concluded that community involvement was being used to legitimise the process.

The DAP affair raises a fundamental question of our effectiveness and role. It is not the only matter on which we have provided input and tried to work with Government and Council, only to see those efforts largely ignored.

The unfolding story of the Neck road and walking track upgrade has similar characteristics. We made submissions and provided input which specifically argued for a broader environmental focus (beyond penguins) and the need for a joint development and on ground management program involving Parks, State Growth and Council. That was agreed to in a meeting with State Growth and Council. Now all we have is the road and car park – minimal resourcing from Parks, no management program and the potential for increased environmental degradation with ever increasing numbers of visitors.

Whilst this sounds negative and defeatist, I think it reflects the growing confidence in Government that environmental lobby or action groups can be ignored.

This is reflected in a number of ways by all levels of Government.

The State Government has introduced a planning regime that provides zero protection for most of the State’s important environmental areas, including all State owned land on Bruny. Has any one noticed that the Federal Government is about to further tighten rules on tax deductions for environmental groups? Council continues to avoid their responsibility to enforce planning conditions. This situation makes it much more difficult to define an effective role for groups such as BIEN.

However, there is no evidence that the level of interest and involvement in environmental matters has lessened, and we have large numbers of individuals and communities who do see environmental issues as critical. Bruny is still promoted widely as a place with significant environmental attributes, and there is a strong interest among visitors in those attributes.

I have given all of these things a lot of thought (usually at 3am) and have tried to observe what is happening elsewhere. I think it is pointing us in the direction of lowering our sights somewhat and trying to develop an approach built on shorter term more achievable and realistic results. We have been successful in some of these things in the past. Maybe it is time to go back and revisit an approach that highlights local issues and is built around activities to do with those issues. As we are no longer directly responsible for the Bird Festival and the fact that we have some resources we have an opportunity to pursue some different aims.

BIEN Convenors Report to the 2017 AGM

by Bob Graham

Following the success of the 2016 Bird Festival, things have been relatively quiet. The festival consumed most of our efforts and resources in the months prior to the event. In particular Daniel Sprod’s hard work and dedication in his role as festival co-ordinator underpinned that success. It demonstrated clearly that the coordinator’s position is crucial to the success of the festival. Thanks are due once again to our partners Birdlife Tasmania and Inala and the wonderful volunteers who support the staging of this event.

The 2016 festival also demonstrated that future festivals can be self sustaining. Accordingly, a joint management group consisting of Birdlife Tasmania, Inala, BIEN, Nick Mooney (Australian Raptors Association) and Sally Bryant (Tasmanian Land Conservancy) is in the process of being established. Cat Davidson has been appointed as the 2018 festival co-ordinator and planning is well advanced under the guidance of the wider group. BIEN will still continue to be closely involved but we can now give more attention to other environmental issues on Bruny.

Throughout the year BIEN has continued to be engaged with a number of activities, including;

✦ The Bruny Island cat management strategy – BIEN has been a participant in the strategy which is being managed through Kingborough Council.  Kaylene Allen, the Cat Management Officer, has developed the strategy in discussion with BIEN, BICA and the Primary Industries Group. BIEN has contributed funds to support the strategy. That strategy includes a cat by-law and Kingborough Council is in the process of developing that. Bruny was also selected as one of five Islands around Australia for Federally funded cat management programs;

✦ Agreement on a tribute for Louise Crossley to be held next year;

✦ Re-design and reprinting the wildlife on Bruny brochure;

✦ Purchase of a container for equipment storage;

✦ Wildlife monitoring – two workshops facilitated by Daniel Sprod and Matt Taylor (co-sponsored with TLC) have been held and a number of individuals have monitored wildlife on their properties using equipment supplied through the program;

✦ Shorebirds – signage and fencing to increase awareness and provide some protection of nesting sites has been put up on beaches primarily in Adventure Bay. Several pairs of hooded plovers nested successfully on the main beach and Two Tree Point Beach. Pied Oystercatchers also successfully raised chicks. Of note has been the dramatic increase in the population of Crested Terns which appear to have partially usurped silver and Pacific Gulls;

✦ Web Site – the BIEN web site is now working;

✦ Continued monitoring on the possibility of logging recommencing on Bruny – nothing new to report, but the Island’s production forests have been removed from the interim reserve list

✦ Submissions to PWS and State Growth on the Neck redevelopment;

✦ Participation in workshops on the Destination Action Plan, Plan and the “Trove” concept;

✦ Developing the idea of environmental accounting – including talk by Peter Cosier;

✦ Weed removal at Grass Point; and

✦ Liaison with Bruny Island School.

The year has largely been one of continuing work begun in previous years. I want to thank the Committee and members for their support and work throughout the past 12 months.

Potential activities for BIEN going forward

Due to Governments’ seeming view that ignoring needs to the environment and groups trying to engage at a policy level (see blog here) , there is potential for BIEN to become a much more “hands on” group.  Here is a list of possible activities that could be successfully pursued:

✦ Develop a system of environmental accounts for the Island

✦ Monitor wildlife – particularly threatened species such as the swift parrot

✦ Ongoing shorebird protection – maybe we could also have community field days for residents and visitors and group activities to implement protective measures.

✦ Working with BI school and assisting with environmental education activities

✦ Regular information articles in Bruny News (this could be a double page spread as the school does)

✦ Wider use of social media and posting to this website

✦ Environmental works (e.g. Ragwort removal, tree planting, nest boxes, etc)

✦ Becoming a source of environmental information (through social media, web site, Bruny News) on sustainability and environmental management issues

✦ Continued support for the Cat Management Program

✦ Regular forums on environmental issues

✦ Support research activities into environmental issues, including working with researchers

✦ Excursions/field days

✦ Sponsor BI film society to show films of environmental interest

✦ Monitoring and publicising shifts in Government policy on matters such as forestry, land use planning

✦ Working with BICA to develop a “Respect Bruny” campaign for visitors

✦ Provide visitor information through commercial outlets and accommodation places

Feedback from members and interested people is always welcomed: contact us here.

Tassal and Huon Aquaculture seek community views

Jane Ryan – Community Engagement Advisor with Huon Aquaculture has invited everyone interested to a consultation session 12 September 2017,  6 – 8:30pm at the Alonnah Community Hall.

Contact Jane Ryan, Community Engagement Advisor, Huon Aquaculture mobile 0468 632 044  and email jryan@huonaqua.com.au

Luke Kapitany for Tassal, is seeking volunteers to participate in Community Advisory Groups across the regions that they operate including Bruny Island. They seek representatives from Environment, Education, Community, tourism and local Business groups as well as Council delegates as a community representative voice.

Contact Luke Kapitany – Community Engagement Officer TASSAL GROUP LIMITED – mobile 0408 149 768 and email luke.kapitany@tassal.com.au

The key changes being carried out by these companies is expansion into Storm Bay (see our previous article on this).

Field Officer: cat management on Bruny Island

Cat at the Neck bird colony

Interested in working at the cutting edge of wildlife management? Do we have the job for you!

Working up to 38 hours a week, the position will responsible for the on-ground monitoring and control activities to support the “Progressing feral cat eradication on Bruny Island – a Threatened Species Strategy project”, employed through the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

Contact Peter McGlone, Director, TCT by email peter@tct.org.au or phone 03 6234 3552 (business hours) and see the full position description here.

BIEN Annual General Meeting 2017

Mark the date: Saturday October 14th, 3pm at the Adventure Bay Hall

As usual, we will be seeking nomination for the office bearers.  This year, our inaugural Convenor, the redoubtable Bob Graham will be stepping down, so nominations for Convenor are warmly invited (respond to bien.treasurer@gmail.com), as are those for the other positions (Secretary, Treasurer, Public Officer and Co-convenor).

We were to have Brett Woodruff, Cat Management Officer with the Council and TCT along to reagle us with catty comments, but unfortunately Brett has moved back to the Land of the Long White Cloud, so we will update you with our new focus as news comes to hand.