Re: Cairns foreshore mudflats

To: (Andy Anderson),
Subject: Re: Cairns foreshore mudflats
From: Alan McBride <>
Date: Sun, 06 Jul 1997 09:48:53 +1000
Chatters, Birding-aus and Andy...

Below is a note from Andy Anderson about the Cairns mudflats. I have cross
posted it to Birdchat and others to highlight this problem worldwide. 

Andy, can your support group post the addresses for the relevent State
Government people we can all write to please, snail mail wise fax wise and
any other wise. Can we have some acknowledgement from RAOU (I know they are
now on email) and other bird club groups (either members or committees) that
they are aware of and are supporting this fight. It's easy to stop sending
subscriptions if one believes any club is not helping the birds. It is the
birds we are supposed to be caring for here and not the Cairns local economy!

I've also included in Denise Goodfellow in Darwin who many Birdchatters may
remember was figthing a similar battle in Darwin with the Stuart Park
Mangroves. I am happy to report that because of all the international
letters received that Denise has been succesful in saving ALL these mangroves. 

It can be done. Lets get some fingers out in Queensland, ACT, NSW, Victoria
and the rest of the world. Go for it ANdy.



At 23:56 05/07/97 -1000, you wrote:
>Cairns Esplanade mudflats:
>Richard Nowotny asks about the threat against, and possible action to
>ensure retention of, part of this estuarine habitat. The current position
>is this.
>Cairns BOCA, almost on its own and lacking significant support from either
>RAOU and AWSG, has been active for nearly two years in trying to have these
>mudflats from being destroyed.
>We have a multi-pronged campaign plan, consisting of peruasion and
>education of local people, tourists, Cairns City Council, Cairns Port
>Authority and Queensland State Government; funding of an educational
>structure; and occasional direct attack on the Mayor and City Council.
>Probably half of any western civilation population doesn't care about the
>environment and the people of Cairns are no exception. They dislike
>estuarine mud and don't care if half of us like it or not. The majority of
>people aspiring to councils are of this persuasion. In Cairns, for most of
>this century, nearly all City Councils have tried to fill the mudflats in.
>And they are slowly succeeding. But at least two grandiose plans to get rid
>of the entire flats by fill or flood,   backed by the council of the day,
>have been thwarted by the local people. A strong local conservation group
>wants the mangroves to be allowed to grow back again right along the front.
>It can be seen that the public opinion situation is a little complicated,
>but we worry away at other points of view and hope we can wear them down to
>agreeing with us.
>Because these flats are "owned" by the Cairns Port Authority (State
>legislation), and have been weeded of mangroves every year for over 100
>years, they cannot be protected by any normal conservation measures.
>One of our plans is to have them declared a Ramsar site on two grounds. One
>is as a public education facility; the other, which we pushed very hard,
>was on the basis of over 1000 Whimbrels overwintering here.
>Unfortunately, everyone else, across the State, has their own agenda for
>Ramsar sites. Our case never even got past the State Government departments
>in Brisbane to the Ramsar coference there last year. And until our proposal
>has hefty outside-the-State support from the RAOU and the AWSG it will
>remain in the pigeonhole behind the Moreton Bay and Gulf of Carpentaria
>Successive Queensland Governments, including the past Labour one, are
>powerfully lobbied by Cairns Port Authority and City Council to be allowed
>to "develop" these mudflats and by law, the Port Authority can do what it
>likes to them. We have tried to counter this influence by our own lobbying.
>The latest is this.The local federal member for Leichardt, Warren Ench, has
>written to the Federal Minister of the Environment, who has in turn written
>to the Queensland Minister of the Environment, Brian Littleproud,
>emphasising the importance of the mudflats, and asking him to consider
>Ramsar listing.
>So we are working from the top as well as the bottom, where we continually
>ask tourists to write to the Mayor and the local paper. We regard the paper
>to hold a position to the right of Gengis Khan, but they do often publish
>these letters; one appeard today.
>The Mayor and his Council are well aware of the situation. Shortly after
>their attaining office, we invited the Mayor and the councillor from the
>Esplanade area, to front up to three TV news crews and the local paper, on
>the Esplanade, to have explained to them and all news watchers and readers,
>the importance of the high mud along the Esplanade wall.
>The publicity was excellent. The elected officials listened attentively.
>The Mayor acknowledged
>the importance of the mudflats for wildlife and as a wildlife-watching
>area. He said that it was ideal for marrying the rainforest and the reef
>    "But if the Council wants to fill it in for street widening, you'll be
>the first to know".
>Since then, he has announced that the Council wants a 30-40 metre strip
>right along the wall, and most of the S.E. corner. For street widening and
>more parkland for tourists, and a swimming pool and artificial beach for
>the locals. We are hoping he will be voted out next election, but it might
>be too late.
>In conclusion we ask, that if you write, write to the RAOU and AWSG in
>particular, and to BOCA and QOS, to put pressure from on high to the
>Queensland State Government. We locals can handle local pressure points but
>we need extra pressure from the Brisbane area and from national bodies,
>based further south. From listing as a Ramsar site (not enough in itself to
>save it), we hope to have the State Government conserve the "Esplanade mud"
>with special legislation.  The State Government is the key.
>As one international birder was told by a city councillor,
>"These mudflats would have been filled long ago, if it wasn't for you bird
>Andy Anderson
Alan McBride
P O Box 190
Newport Beach
NSW 2060
Somewhere in Australia

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