RE: War on the environment nears crisis

To: <>, "'Terry Pacey'" <>
Subject: RE: War on the environment nears crisis
From: "Lawrie Conole" <>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 09:51:43 +1100
David Geering wrote:

>In Terry Pacey's defence clearing for urban areas can be a serious 
>regional problem.  My experience in Newcastle for example 
>(where I lived 
>for 7 or 8 years), is that incremental clearing of urban bushland is 
>resulting in a loss of biodiversity.  The best example of this 
>is not a 
>bird but Squirrel Gliders.  Areas of bushland are being cleared around 
>Lake Macquarie for subdivisions.  Although these areas contain 
>Gliders, and in many instances Masked Owl (eating the 
>gliders), it is not 
>considered a big enough issue to even stall the development.  
>The problem 
>is there will come a time when they are down to their last 
>patch or two 
>with gliders.  This population then becomes regionally 
>significant and the 
>developers (and consent authorities will be forced to deal with it). 
>Perhaps a bit to late.

Stream of consciousness coming up - likely to be a bit garbled ....

Terry, David (and various others) are quite right of course.  This
creeping, incremental loss has to do with a simple concept called
"cumulative impacts".  Each little residential block clears only a few
trees, but that happens tens of thousands of times per year in expanding
urban areas - not just on farms!  I'm currently dealing with a planned
estate of 3200 houses in 320ha on the Sunshine Coast (on mainly cleared
land as it happens).  Urbanisation is the major threat to biodiversity
in SE Queensland.  It is undoubtedly so in various other metro fringe
areas (such as here in Melbourne), and some of these metro fringes are
in biodiversity hotspots of varying significance.  Biodiversity is
patchily distributed, so gross area isn't the only factor to consider
(WRT agriculture vs. housing).  The other thing to consider is that land
degradation is at least as serious as clearing - the trees don't have to
be bowled over for the habitat to be destroyed.

Cumulative impacts are not well dealt with by either planning or
environmental legislation and policy - though that too is beginning to
change.  Perhaps a bit too late in most areas .....

Lawrie Conole
Senior Ecologist
Ecology Australia Pty. Ltd.
Flora and Fauna Consultants
88B Station Street
FAIRFIELD VIC 3078 Australia
Ph: (03) 9489 4191; Mob: (0419) 588 993
Fax: (03) 9481 7679
ABN 83 006 757 142

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