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 firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
Bruny Island was selected under the Australian Government Threatened Species Strategy – 2015/2016 as one of five Australian islands to progress feral cat eradication, in recognition of the potential threat that feral cats pose to the significant biodiversity values on Bruny Island.
A huge thank you to all those partner organisations and individuals that are making this project a reality: Kingborough Council, Invasive Species Branch and Parks and Wildlife, UTas School of Zoology, Ten Lives Cat Centre, Birdlife Tasmania, Bruny Island Environment Network, Bruny Island Community Association, Tasmanian Land Conservancy and private landowners.
It aims to provide the foundations to assess and manage the impacts of cats at the Neck and North Bruny to inform both the long-term control of cat impacts across the island and the feasibility of feral cat eradication.
It is proving to be a very exciting adventure, offering excellent learning and a model and tools for other Councils and cat management programs across the state.
Workshops and consultation with community members and key experts in 2016 provided the basis for a cost benefit analysis of different options and found significant knowledge gaps about the differences in feral cat activity across the island and the impact of cats on native species and agriculture. Control of feral cats at the Neck seabird colony came out as best environmental benefit (both locally and for North Bruny) and value for money during the initial three years of the project. Importantly it also identified that responsible pet cat ownership is critical to reduce the source of un-wanted and stray cats. A special thank you goes to all the participants in these workshops, especially community members.
The current foci of the project is on developing robust baseline data and monitoring systems to assess the impact of feral cat control on threatened and priority native species; achieving community adoption of responsible pet cat ownership; and an assessment of the feasibility and cost of feral cat eradication from Bruny.
Brett Woodruff came on board as the Field Officer for the Bruny Project in March. His role is to monitor and control the feral cat population around the Neck and North Bruny. Brett is a great asset to the project with extensive experience detecting, monitoring and controlling invasive species throughout Tasmania, mainland Australia and New Zealand.
A comprehensive monitoring program has commenced at the Neck and North Bruny to try to quantify the impact of cat control at the Neck and adjacent areas on priority seabirds and small mammals, and to determine the distribution and density of feral cats on North Bruny. By tracking the movement of feral cats, the project is also assessing if intensive management at the Neck can play a key role in limiting the dispersal of feral cats to North Bruny. Additional research funds are being sought to collect data that will help assess the feasibility of feral cat eradication from the entire Island. Research includes identifying cat activity across South Bruny, determining interactions between cat, quoll and rabbit distribution and the prevalence of cat borne disease (cats, native fauna and sheep) across the island.
I am putting down some thoughts on environmental matters from the perspective of being here in Reddish Vale in Greater Manchester half the year and Bruny for the other half.
One of the things that’s exercising my mind is the relationship between environmental conservation and community well-being in the management of local natural areas. That’s of key interest to us at BIEN, especially when thinking about the Biosphere Reserve and the whole culture/nature question, as well as to those of us on the Friends of the Vale (FOTV) management committee. The question is whether the context is so utterly different that nothing meaningful can be gained from a comparison.
Reddish Vale Country Park consists of 140 hectares of post-industrial woodland along the lower reaches of the River Tame. As one of the larger reserves in the area it is a refuge for waterfowl and raptors, a range of endangered wetland species, habitat for woodland species and home to half a dozen Sites of Scientific Interest. Situated in the middle of heavily populated working class suburbs, it is a heavily-used recreational area with a Visitors Centre open 363 days a year staffed by FOTV volunteers. Three former millponds used by the calico mill when it operated here, and walkways along the Tame River, are the focus of most of the visitors. When we arrived here 6 years ago, there were three Park Rangers under the leadership of a Senior Ranger. All four jobs have now been made redundant because of local council budget cutbacks, and they have been replaced by one part-time maintenance person sort-of funded by Council. That puts problems BIEN has with Kingborough Council in perspective! Incidentally, there’s a greater North-South divide in this country than I realised – Northern English Councils are debt-ridden and not coping, London boroughs are flush.
I am one of a team of around 10 volunteers who are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Park as best we can. I only put in a day a week down here, so others are more involved than I am. Our stated goal is to manage the Park for the benefit of the community and the wildlife, but the practical effect of these daily decisions is that wildlife usually comes second when there is a clash between the two. Everyone on the committee is strongly wildlife-oriented, and we are cheered when there are sightings of deer or badgers, but the immediacy of community concerns means they take precedent. One small example: we were out in the southern part of the Park, clearing undergrowth away from an area close to the carpark. A number of us were unhappy with the resulting loss of habitat; ‘where are all the little birds and mammals going to live now?’ grumbled someone. We were planning to speak about this the next week to the volunteer supervisor, but before we could, he reported that a woman had come up to him a few days later in tears, thanking him for clearing out the undergrowth and removing one of the places where a local stalker used to lurk. He had apparently moved on to the great relief of women who jog in the area (the local police are useless in such matters, being hopelessly understaffed). Well, what could we say about habitat after he reported that?
I could go on about the dilemmas we face, the problems with vandalism, the way any planted trees seem to be a focus for destructiveness, but that’ll do it for the moment. When I think about the monthly boneseeding sessions we used to do with Killora Coastcare Group, the contrast is apparent – a large area, very sparsely populated, where the one environmental issue of the spread of invasive species dominates all other considerations. Of course, the well-visited areas of Bruny Island are facing the prospect of being loved to death, just as Reddish Vale is, but for very different reasons.
One of the differences that is very much in my mind is that for me, the power of the natural world beyond the human-made environment is so much more evident on Bruny. I miss it here, though there are glimpses of it in the nearby Peak District. It seems so important, to have the experience of the power of the more-than-human world as part of life. I know that it is quite possible to have that here, in one’s garden, in the night sky, by the river, and I know the human and natural are inextricably linked everywhere, but there’s something palpably different, the land on Blackstone is alive in a way that is still difficult to sense here. From this distance, it seems to me that is one of the most precious things about Bruny, something that we in BIEN don’t do a great job of articulating, but that’s easier said than done.
I’d be interested in people’s reactions. Is this of interest? Is it of any value in thinking about what we do in BIEN or are the differences too great? Are there particular comparisons that would be more interesting (such as my impression that global warming and its effects is much more an accepted part of ordinary life here than in Tassie, where it seems to be still seen by many ordinary folk as a controversial environmental issue)?
BRUNY ISLAND COMMUNITY GROUPS TO PULL OUT OF GOVERNMENT’S TOURISM PLANNING PROCESS
Community groups on Bruny Island have voted to withdraw from the Government’s tourism planning process. The Bruny Island Community Association (BICA) and the Bruny Island Environment Network (BIEN) have taken this stand because they say that the current tourism destination planning process does nothing to address the capacity of the Island and its people to cope with a massive increase in visitor numbers. Overseas and interstate visitors to the Island have increased by 75% over the last 2 years.
In a statement, both groups said that “The process currently in place will simply lead to ever more visitors and increasing pressure on the local community and the environment.”
According to the President of BICA, Fran Davis,
“This has placed enormous pressures on the limited community resources and the environment and we do not have the resources to manage the effects of the increases in visitor numbers. Meanwhile the Government and Council are focusing on infrastructure improvements such as a new ferry and road upgrades which will only increase the number of visitors.”
Community groups have participated in the planning process in the hope that capacity issues would be addressed as a high priority. The Destination Action Plan agreed to for Bruny had wide community involvement and support. The plan identified the key problem as:
“To ensure that visitation is matched by the capacity of the Island and its residents to cater for and accommodate the needs of visitors.”
Community groups participated in the process in the hope that this problem would be addressed as a high priority. They say that the problem has not been taken seriously by the Government and that the community has merely been used to provide legitimacy to the Destination Action Plan. “Questions such as the reliance on volunteers to provide emergency services, the impact of increased visitor numbers on wildlife, the failure of local government to enforce planning and building regulations and the lack of resources for Parks and Wildlife to manage natural areas remain unanswered”
According to the Convenor of BIEN, Bob Graham. “Although infrastructure is an important part of capacity building, it is far more important that tourism activity is managed to match the capacity of the Island and its residents to cope. Infrastructure is costly and often takes a long time to be provided. There are many simple and low cost things that can be done to increase capacity, but these are not on the agenda of the implementation group.”
BICA President, Fran Davis, said “we are not opposed to tourism, but unless we have the capacity to deal with the pressures it creates, community opposition will grow and the image of Bruny Island as tourist destination will be irreparably damaged.”
Community groups still insist that the key problem of capacity must be addressed. Ms. Davis and Mr Graham said “Remaining as part of a process that does not deal with the number 1 problem is not an option for us. We will continue to lobby and seek discussions with Government, Council and Industry to get concrete and effective action to build capacity to manage the pressures of increasing visitation.” They went on to say that; “It is time that Governments and industry realised and accepted that it is irresponsible and unfair to dump ever increasing numbers of visitors on a small community living in a fragile environment and then promote it as a tourist destination without addressing the capacity of the Island to cope with the demands and pressures created by visitors”
Fran Davis. President Bruny Island Community Association
Bob Graham, Convenor Bruny Island Environment Network
In this article Jenny Boyer gives an update on the Federally funded feral cat project, Kingborough Council progress on domestic cat control, the recent Wildlife Monitoring project and suggests the use of Feral Scan phone app to record any sightings you have of feral species on Bruny.
“At the end of May I attended a meeting of the Steering Committee for this Project and was again amazed at the breadth and support around the table with DPIPWE, Parks, Kingborough Council, Ten Lives Cat Centre (Hobart), UTas, Tasmanian Land Conservancy and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub sharing their knowledge and experience. Staff from the Federal Office of Threatened Species and Department of Environment participated by phone hook-up.
The Federal funding contribution requires the project to demonstrate both, a reduction in feral cat numbers and data to inform the impact of cat control on the numbers of threatened and conservation significant species. This is difficult to quantify without knowing what you have to start with.
Tasmania’s Bruny Island community is forging ahead with a world-leading trial of battery storage this weekend.The new system will allow thirty-five residential customers to create a “virtual power plant”, that both supports their own energy needs and feeds back into the grid.
Andrew Fraser, Network Innovation Team Leader at TasNetworks, joined Leon Compton on ABC Local Radio to discuss the CONSORT Bruny Island Battery Trial.
Why undertake this survey?
Knowledge about the status and trends of the world’s remaining wetlands is very patchy and limited. To improve this knowledge, and so as to better inform wetland policy and decision-making, we are conducting a simple worldwide questionnaire survey to gather better knowledge on the state of wetlands.
Who is organising the survey?
The survey is a collaborative initiative between the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS Ramsar Section), the World Wetland Network (WWN) and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), with the help of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.
How can you help?
Are you familiar with a wetland? If yes, then you can help: the survey is open to anyone who can tell us about the state of a wetland(s), small or large, about which they know. The questionnaire asks for your opinion about the state of a wetland, and should take no longer than 10 minutes of your time to complete.
Is there a deadline for completing the questionnaire? Yes, please complete and return your questionnaire(s) by 30 September 2017.
How will the survey results be analysed?
Results will be analysed and reported at global and regional scales – results for individual wetlands will not be made public.
How will the survey results be communicated?
Summary reports will be made available publicly, through the WWN, SWS and other websites. All contributors will be kept informed when the results become available. The results will also be prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. We also anticipate showcasing the results of the survey during the next Ramsar Convention Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP13) in 2018.
Do you have any questions?
If you have any further questions, or need help in accessing or completing the questionnaire, please contact Chris Rostron at the World Wetland Network on Chris.Rostron@wwt.co.uk .
And finally … Many thanks in advance to everyone who knows and cares about wetlands for helping improve the knowledge about the world’s wetlands by completing the survey questionnaire.
Nick Davidson & Rob McInnes (SWS Ramsar Section), Chris Rostron (WWN) and Matthew Simpson (WWT)
CONSORT are pleased to report that batteries installed under the Bruny Island Battery Trial were used for support for the first time over the Easter and Anzac day period. As only three batteries had been installed and commissioned prior at that stage, they were unable to draw enough energy from the batteries to provide significant support to the network peak. This meant that there was very little effect on the use of the generator, which was required to be operated seven times over that period. The good news is that this provided us with a great opportunity for a test run and all batteries responded as expected. They requested support on ten occasions and discharged around 260 kWh from the batteries over this time. This is roughly the equivalent of ten days consumption for an average household. The installation of batteries is now ramping up, with another four ready to be commissioned. The next major event will be over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.
The Trial has continued to receive attention from media, local community members and the energy industry. A report on the Trial featuring an interview with one of the first participants to have their system installed was aired on ABC News on Friday 14 April, with a follow-up print article published the following day. Members of the CONSORT Project Team have been invited to talk about the Trial at several industry events; a copy of the slides presented at a recent event hosted by the Alternative Technology Association’s Tas South Branch can be viewed here, and a recording of the presentation can be viewed here.
The official launch of the Trial has been postponed; CONSORT expect that this will now take place during June.
CONSORT confirm that there will be a third and final intake of Trial Participants. As per the previous two intakes, Participants for the remaining places will once again be selected via a ballot process during May. All previous applicants will automatically be included in the ballot, unless they have advised us otherwise.
BIEN has participated both in the community consultation involved in the development of the State Government sponsored Bruny Island Destination Action Plan and in the Implementation Group meetings to effect measures in the plan. We have concerns that this process cannot address the real issues identified by the community consultations, that being to match demands of increasing visitor numbers with the capacity of the island to manage without negative impacts. The press release and the document below it detail these concerns.