Black-throated Finches and mining

To: Stephen Ambrose <>
Subject: Black-throated Finches and mining
From: David James <>
Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2011 15:15:15 -0700 (PDT)
Quite right, thanks Stephen. Likewise, in Qld it is the Integrated Planning Act 
that regulates development proposals, but several other acts play a role too. 
I should also add that under Qld legislation, the Environment minister can 
declare "critical habitat"  for threatened species. This is normally a circle 
of some arbitrary radius (a km maybe?) around a point record of a threatened 
species, but clipped to exclude unsuitable habitat within that circle.  Not 
sure that it has any real teeth though, it is used in vegetation clearing 
permits  to increase the amount of offset or compensation that land clearing 
would attract. From a developer's perspective, it just costs more clear 
critical habitat, due to additional conditions imposed on the development 
I guess a response to Allan might be that environmental legislation is very 
complex, and many issues are addressed. The outcomes are as we see them, 
development proceeding at an accelerating pace, biodiversity and natural areas 
declining at an accelerating pace, productive farmland disappearing at an 
accelerating pace. Regardless of the intent of the legislation, It doesn't seem 
to be doing the job. 
David James, 


From: Stephen Ambrose <>
To: 'David James' <>
Sent: Monday, 31 October 2011 8:30 AM
Subject: Black-throated Finches and mining

Hi David,

In NSW, it is actually the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, 1979
(EP&A Act), rather than the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 (TSC
Act) that recognises the need to assess impacts of developments and
activities on the status and recovery of threatened species, populations and
ecological communities and their habitats. The TSC Act merely provides for
the listing of threatened biota and key threatening processes, and gives
recovery plans and threat abatement plans jurisdictional validity.


Dr Stephen Ambrose

Ambrose Ecological Services Pty Ltd
Ryde, NSW

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of David James
Sent: Monday, 31 October 2011 7:58 AM
To: Allan Richardson; Andrew Bell
Cc: '? birding-aus'
Subject: Black-throated Finches and mining

Hi Allan,
That is a good point. Believe it or not, the NSW Threatened Species Act
(1975) recognises this very concept and provides for recognition, assessment
and protection of "potential habitat" for threatened species. It is not
often applied very well, but it is there. Obviously, potential habitat is
less likely to constrain a proposed development than the presence of
threatened species is. The Qld Natutre Conservation Act (1992) and the
federal EPBC Act do not recognise and protect the habitat of threatened
species in this way, and they are the two Acts that apply at Bimblebox NR.
I'm not sure about the other states. 
 In the case of the Bristebirds, the NSW TSC Act would protect the site of
the exterminated population (were it in NSW), in theory. 
In the finch case it would be difficult to apply NSW-like considerations.
Black-throated Finch habitat is grassy woodlands and its range was south
of NSW border to about Ingham and from near the coast to inland a few
hundred kms (ie. most of the Brigalow Belt).  That's an area probably bigger
than Victoria, and a lot of habitat. There would need to be some evidence of
historical records or some other line of evidence to indicate that the
Bimblebox Nature Reserve is in some way more likely to support the finches
than is the rest of the unoccupied grassy woodlands of the Brigalow Belt. 
The reality is that environmental legislation is not designed and not
applied to prevent development. The majority view in the Australian
community is that, on the whole, development is a good thing. Legislation
cannot provide for value judgements that one development is good and another
is bad. There can be bans on something like uranium mining and
asbestos mining, or on certain practises, but there is no blanket ban on
coal mining. So the legislation requires an EIS (or similar) and the
evidence and the arguments are complied by the proponent, the public is
offered a chance to comment, and a long list of issues is
systematically checked over by bureaucrats who then prepare a list of
restrictions and conditions. That is the system.    
What is most disturbing about this case is that Bimblebox Nature Reserve was
supposedly donated to the Qld Government (or the Qld people) for the
purposes of perpetual conservation, and yet Qld legislation does not protect
that land from open-cut mining. That is a disgrace, it seems like treachery.
 A legislative amendment is needed to fix that problem, but I can't see that
happening in the current political climate in Qld.  

David James, 


From: Allan Richardson <>
To: Andrew Bell <>
Cc: '? birding-aus' <>
Sent: Sunday, 30 October 2011 10:17 PM
Subject: Black-throated Finches and mining

Hi guys,

there is a question that never seems to be asked in relation to receding
populations, but seems to come up in my thinking on a regular basis. 

There is a tendency to write habitat off in relation to development
assessments, when it is confirmed that a subject species is no longer
present and hasn't been for some time, Greg Roberts' Eastern Bristlebird
habitat may be a candidate for such a notion in the future, as an example,
as is Black-throated Finch habitat.

On the other hand threatened species are subject to recovery actions by
government departments to promote their return to a more secure status. If
the southern population of Black-throated Finch is confirmed as not being
present at this site, should the habitat be rendered unusable? If so, where
will the proposed recovering populations live?

The writing off of previously occupied habitat, due to a threatened species
not being present is surely ensuring that the species will remain
threatened, particularly in that

Allan Richardson
Morisset NSW

On 22/10/2011, at 12:48 PM, Andrew Bell wrote:

> Which I'm sure leaves most of us who are naive to this (which I suspect
> includes most of the general public) totally gobsmacked. I guess one could
> hope for an intervention to maintain the spirit of, as opposed to the
> status of, such a reserve
> Andrew Bell
> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
>  On Behalf Of Rita & Ian
> Sent: Friday, 21 October 2011 3:23 PM
> To: Peter Ewin; ? birding-aus
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Black-throated Finches and mining
> Hi everyone
> some comments - mining leases can be issued under the Mineral Resources
> 1989 over Nature Refuges.  The declaration of a Nature Refuge, even
> it is declared under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, does not preclude
> mining.
> The clearing of vegetation for mining is not assessed under the Vegetation
> Management Act 1999.
> cheers

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