the following is from Lloyd Nielsen, is long and is self explanatory:
LESSER SOOTY OWLS & KINGFISHER PARK URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP
Geraghty Park at Julatten is a public park adjoining Kingfisher Park in
North Queensland. Geraghty Park is public land administered by the Mareeba
Shire council as Trustee. It has a number of large Blue Gums (Eucalyptus
tereticornis) scattered on its northern boundary away from the oval and main
activity areas. these are the last remnants of a eucalypt forest which once
existed. They are important breeding trees for seventeen species of birds
namely Lesser Sooty Owl, Barking Owl, Barn Owl, a pair of pacific Baza, a
pair of Brahminy Kite, a colony of metallic Starlings. as such they are of
high conservation value.
The local council plants to remove these trees.
A councillor who lives opposite the park has been pushing for many years to
have these trees removed on the pretext that they pose a danger to the
public. Recently, Council sought 'expert' opinion to support the contention
that the trees were old and dangerous. an astonishingly biased, erroneous
and fanciful report was provided by council's own environmental Officer and
supported by the local Forestry Ranger. The competency and qualifications
of both to give a scientific, unbiased opinion is questionable. The report
states that the trees are in 'decline through ageing' with 'sparse canopy
cover'. In reality, the trees are some of the healthiest eucalyptus in the
district with full crowns of foliage. At present some have a good deal of
flower and are far from decline. Further, no consideration has been given
to impact on temporary defoliation from a colony of Metallic Starlings which
use the trees each year, or from annual water-logging each wet season.
We are seeking an independent scientific report on the trees which appear
quite sound and have just reached the hollow bearing stage.
The Environmental Officer's recommendation is that the trees be
'progressively removed in the interests of public safety' (because they are
declining). He suggested that council should wait until after the Metallic
Starlings have finished breeding for the season before removing their main
breeding tree! The report also makes the ludicrous recommendation that
council 'seek the assistance of the Department of Environment to capture and
relocate any affected wildlife as necessary'. The question can be posed -
how does one capture and relocate pairs of Lesser Sooty and other owls and
their offspring successfully?
The Possibility of Baby Owls in the Hollows when the Trees Are Felled Is
Very High. Owls breed from autumn to spring but can breed at any time of
the year and the possibility of baby owls being in the hollow if they are
felled is extremely high. They would be killed if the trees were brought
down. Imagine the public outrage!
At a recent public meeting attended by the Mayor of Mareeba Shire, the
community voted overwhelmingly to retain the trees. 23 people voted to
retain the trees whole 3 voted for their removal. A compromise was
suggested by the community to retain the trees and have any dead branches
removed by a tree lopping service. this appeared to satisfy the council at
the time. However, at Council meetings on 7 and 9 July, councillors decided
unanimously to remove the trees because of their perceived danger to the
public, and have called a public meeting for this Thursday 13th august to
inform the community of their decision.
The trees in question stand in an area little used by the public. To retain
them would not inconvenience or restrict the public's useage of the Park in
any way. In fact, the area where the trees stand is inundated for several
months through the wet season.
The move to destroy the trees is seen as a determined effort by a single,
democratically elected individual pushing his own agenda against public
opinion, but able to capture Council's sympathy.
The destruction of the trees will see the eventual loss of the Lesser Sooty
and other owls, the Metallic Starlings, the pacific Bazas, the Brahminy
Kites and others from Kingfisher Park and the Julatten area which many
domestic and international visitors now enjoy. it will be a major blow to
birdwatching in North queensland and birdwatching in general.
Our contention is that Council should retain the trees and declare an
Exclusion Zone around them. In other States e.g. NSW, an Exclusion Zone is
immediately erected within 50 metres of breeding trees of owls when sites
are located on public land. This course of action would afford the Shire
valuable mileage and kudos and further promote environmental tourism to the
Shire. The Julatter/Mt Molloy area is some of the richest for birds in
Australia with about 300 species recorded within a radius of 15 kilometres.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT. PLEASE SEND A FAX, LETTER OR EMAIL TO THE MAREEBA
SHIRE COUNCIL DECRYING THE REMOVAL OF THE TREES. YOUR HELP WOULD BE GREATLY
APPRECIATED. IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO WOULD SEND A FAX, THAT WOULD BE
Council has called a public meeting - at short notice - for this Thursday
evening 13th August 1998.
FAX/WRITE/EMAIL - The Chief Executive Officer
Mareeba Shire Council
PO Box 154
Fax (07) 4092 3323 Email
A COPY OF YOUR FAX OR LETTER TO EITHER - Ron Stannard
Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
Fax (07) 4094 1466
OR Lloyd Nielsen
PO Box 55
Mt Molloy 4871
Fax (07) 4094 1372
Chris Dahlberg's Specialised River Tours
Daintree Village Q 4873
Ph/fax International +61 7 4098 7997, Australia 07 4098 7997, Local 4098 7997
When visiting Queenslands WET TROPICS in the WET SEASON please bring a
rain coat. Jan to Apr yeilds 2 metres of rain mostly at night.