Re the email from Robyn (KFP) a week or so ago, the Awaba Forest (home
of Awaba's Masked Owls- featured in Wingspan earlier in the year) has
indeed been omitted as a potential conservation area in the recently
released Lower Hunter Regional Strategy and Draft Lower Hunter Regional
The Lower Hunter, situated a couple of hundred kilometres north of
Sydney, is strategically important as a nexus of ecosystems from the
north, west and east. The region has environmentally significant areas
of dry sclerophyll forest, wet sclerophyll forest, estuarine and saline
wetlands, heathlands and rainforests. It has a very high level of
biodiversity of as a result. The Awaba Forest is one component of this
biodiversity. Its no co-incidence that the winning NSW twitchathon teams
come through the Hunter every year.
Recent NSW State Government legislation will have a big impact on how
the Lower Hunter develops over the next 25 years. The Department of
Environment and Conservation has recently published its Draft Lower
Hunter Regional Conservation Plan which has been produced concurrently
with the Department of Planning’s Lower Hunter Regional Strategy which
is now final and passed in parliament. The intention is to guide where
developments occurs and ensure protection of the natural environment.
The Conservation Plan however, is still draft and they are accepting
comments until the 17th November. Given that this is a 25 year plan if
anyone is planning on moving to the wonderful Lower Hunter over the next
25 years I’d recommend you have a look and a comment on the plans.
The Awaba Forest has been left out of the potential conservation areas
and has been marked as “rural and resource land” in the Lower Hunter
Regional Strategy, probably not co-incidently. It is discussed in the
Draft Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan as being of biodiversity
importance but it is marked as “resource land” by the Regional Strategy.
Areas of the Awaba State Forest to the north of the Awaba Forest (crown
land) have been declared as State Conservation Area. This will protect
them from the threat of open-cut mining while still allowing underground
mining and access to underground water supplies continue. Unfortunately,
this isn't where the owls are!
You can see the various reports and maps from links on my website. Just
click on the Masked Owl.
The Strategy will be reviewed every five years so there might be scope
for amending omissions like the Awaba Forest in the future.
Nevertheless, it remains possible that the fight to save the Awaba
Forest may have to be fought again in the future.
On a more cheerful note, I was testing camera lenses in the backyard on
the weekend when a Brush-turkey appeared out of the garden and walked
through my test area! It was not only the first Brush-turkey I've seen
in the yard (at Toronto) but the first one I can remember seeing within
about 30km of Lake Macquarie! I've since found out that there has been
an immature Brush-turkey seen in the Coal Point/ Kilaben Bay area over
the last 12 months- probably the same one.
Finally, I've finished the last update of my website
(www.wildlifing.com) from my September 06 trip. It covers Binya SF and
the Temora area. Some of the photos include Barking Owl, Purple-backed
(Variegated) Fairy-wren, Splendid Fairy-wren, Woodswallows and Mulga
Michael Todd Wildlifing Images & Sounds of Nature
Latest Additions: Barking Owl, Splendid Fairy-wren, Mulga Parrot
Toronto, NSW, Australia O41O 123715
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