Small things done now will be disproportionately important in decades to come.
NEXT MEETING Annual General Meeting - 7pm Thursday 15th May at Sunnybank Hills library
Level 2 Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown
Cnr. Calam Rd. and Compton Rd. Sunnybank Hills
THECA FORUM 2008
Several members of the Society were able to take advantage of BCC free sponsorship to attend this years THECA forum. The theme for this years forum was “A Green Future? Biodiversity under Climate Change” Guest speakers were twelve highly regarded members of our academia and legal professions. Summaries of three presentations follow:-
Tim Low spoke about “Climate Change Myths” pointing out that contrary to popular belief plant species do not need to move to follow suitable conditions. Genetic tests show species separated by distance have different genes meaning that they have coped independently with changes in their natural conditions. Plants stay in place and develop the ability to cope with new conditions bringing to the forefront the importance of reproduction and pollination. High investment in pollination allows our plants to adapt to changing climate in situ. Australian plants invest very heavily in pollination compared with trees in Europe and North America most of which are pollinated by wind. Australia is the only continent in which the dominant trees are pollinated by birds and mammals (who fly long distances) plus insects. Due to this Australia’s sclerophyll plants have a great capacity to evolve rapidly. Eucalypts hybridise on a scale unmatched by any other trees.
It is the pollinators which are of greatest concern as Flying fox and lorikeet numbers have been dramatically reduced over the years. The pollination potential of these species is critical to the survival of our eucalypts in times of climatic changes and all stops need to be pulled out to prevent numbers from being lowered further.
Don Sands from the CSIRO spoke about the effects of climatic variation on the distribution of insects and in turn the damage to the ecosystems which depend on their services. He made his first public announcement regarding new information about oecophorid moths and the important function their larvae have in breaking down and reducing the litter on the forest floor. Don pointed out that differing species of eucalypts have different species of these moths which break down the litter at a rate of 400 larvae per sq mtr. If fires are allowed to destroy the litter on a regular basis the moths will not be able to build up in sufficient numbers to do their job and the litter will build up creating a greater fire hazard more quickly.
It is important to understand the contributions of insects to stabilizing the environment and this new information will have major repercussions with regards to fire management practices and predicted greater fire sensitivity of our bushlands.
Larissa Waters, a solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office presented relevant information from the legal point of view. Larissa drew attention to the lack of federal and state laws which are specifically designed to deal with climate change. The existing biodiversity laws were drafted before climate change was a political reality so they do not recognize climate change as a major threat to biodiversity. The need for specific climate change laws is clear, with special focus on biodiversity. Larissa gave examples where the EDO had taken legal action to make coal mine Xstrata accountable for their carbon emissions but the case was over-ridden by special legislation to approve the mine without considering climate change.
The need for specific climate change laws with special focus on biodiversity is clear.
Larissa encouraged everyone to write to the state and federal government requesting that laws be immediately amended to allow for the protection of biodiversity from climate change. These laws will not be changed unless people push for this to happen.
In summary, the main laws relevant for biodiversity protection and climate change are:
1 The Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) – Protects national parks and threatened species. Conservation orders to stop action contributing to climate change, or listing (or upgrading) of species as vulnerable/rare/threatened could occur because of climate change, but the Act has not been administered this way to date.
2 The Vegetation Management Act (Qld) – regulates tree clearing and in some cases protects threatened species habitat. However, vegetation is not protected on the basis of its biodiversity or carbon values.
3 The Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld) (IPA) – regulates town planning for development and sets the process for assessment of development applications. It can be argued that climate change is a relevant consideration in development assessment. A State Planning Policy on Climate Change is expected soon.
4 The Environmental protection Act 1994 (Qld) – Regulates activities that cause pollution or environmental harm. A recent court case on greenhouse gas emissions from coal mines has shown the need for stronger provisions which clearly require consideration of emissions from all aspects of the mining cycle and which oblige conditions to avoid, reduce or offset emissions to be imposed.
5 The Coastal management and protection Act 1995 (Qld) – protects and manages the coastal zone, including coastal biodiversity, by regulating coastal development primarily through State and Regional Coastal Management Plans. These plans mention storm surges but are insufficiently implemented through IPA.
6 Queensland’s 2004 Greenhouse Strategy and 2007 Climate Smart 2050 Strategy make scarce mention of biodiversity, but the 2007 Climate Smart Adaptation Plan 2007-2012 has some actions focused on biodiversity. However none of these policies have legislative force.
7 Federally, The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 –which requires actions that are likely to have a significant impact on specified “matters of national environmental significance” to get federal approval before proceeding. However, court cases have been unsuccessful in requiring greenhouse gas emissions to be considered, and EDO continues to advocate for the inclusion of a specific greenhouse gas trigger in the Act.
8 Federally, the 2004 National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan has some strong statements and actions about protecting biodiversity from climate change, but implementation has been poor and the Plan has no legislative force.
BUSH WALK – MAY
The May walk will leave from the Acacia Road picnic area, Acacia Road Karawatha. 7am Sunday 25th .
Due to a change in circumstances, bush walk guide Jo Rixon will no longer be able to coordinate and lead this activity. It has been taken off the Walking For Pleasure programme and will go into abeyance.
We are very grateful to Jo for the many years of dedication to the bush walking programme. Jo has led thousands of people through the Forest and has familiarized them all with many aspects of Karawatha.
If there is anyone out there who would like to pick up where Jo has left off we would be very happy to hear from you. It will be a great loss to Karawatha if the monthly guided walks were to cease.
At our last coffee morning a decision was made to change venues for this get together. Our new meeting place will still be at the Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown but we will be meeting at Brenat’s Coffee Shop opposite the entrance to Pick and Pay Hypermarket. The next meeting will be on Tuesday June 3rd at 10.30am
DATES TO REMEMBER - MARCH/APRIL
||Thurs 15th May
||Tues 3rd June
||Sun 25th May
Report illegal activities to 3403 888