As Chris mentioned at the August meeting he has asked me to prepare a draft of a COG submission on the Jerrabomberra Wetlands draft Master Plan. (Jenny Bounds and Peter Ormay are also helping with the draft). Chris suggested that any members wishing to contribute to the COG position on the master plan let me have their comments. Information on the draft master plan can be found through:
I propose to finish my work on the draft by 7 September, leaving 3 weeks for the COG committee to consider it before the closing date of 28 September. The purpose of this message is to invite any member with points that might be taken up in the COG submission to let me have them. Of course it is open to anyone to make their own submission to the ACT government, and I might even make a separate submission myself. As this chatline is not restricted to COG members I do not propose to try to settle a draft COG submission through this medium. However, we might establish a smaller group of COG members who indicate a particular interest to be consulted on our draft as it develops. Such a group, rather than this chatline, will be a better forum for discussion of the detail of the issues, and how a point should be expressed.
The framework for the master plan is the ‘Management Plan’, which is now in operation. It seems to me that this is not a time to re-open matters resolved in the management plan, although that could be done in a separate submission. By that, I mean that the Master Plan is not going to adopt a direction that is not open under the Management Plan.
From my own reading of the draft plan and preliminary consultations, it seems to me that these are the main points COG might need to address:
Below, I use the term ‘sensitive species’ to refer to bird species that are either threatened, required to be protected, rare, or reliant on the wetlands for breeding or foraging habitat.
Paths too close to core bird habitats
At several points proposed new walking paths with no screening run close to places used or that might be used by sensitive species. As a rule of thumb, an unscreened path or observation point should not be closer than 70m to a place used or that might be used by a sensitive species. Paths should be screened, by fencing or vegetation, and hides or discreet observation points provided. Kellys Swamp and the Jerra Billabong are of particular concern in this regard.
Some uses proposed for the zone mis-labelled a ‘transition zone’ are not appropriate in the reserve
Barbecues, jogging paths and fitness stations might in theory be consistent with the conservation aims of a nature reserve, but are unlikely to be so in practice. Use by any significant number of people will degrade the vegetation and discourage wild-life, including sensitive species. Such facilities will encourage the belief this is a neighbourhood multi-use park and they should be outside the reserve.
The reserve adjoining the East Lake development should have a clear ‘conservation area’ demarcation
To avoid any confusion about the area subject to the reserve regime, the boundary should be fenced with specific entry points with prominent notices stating relevant restrictions on use, warning of hazards, and stating the area is subject to baiting to counter foxes and other pest animals. Appropriately dense vegetation as a buffer against light and noise should be planted now as a priority. [This is because in the absence of a guarantee that the East Lake development will be sympathetic to the reserve, with its own open spaces for example, it must be assumed the development will be worst case in impact terms.]
The existing 3m shared cycling/pedestrian path is unfortunate in that many cyclists use it at high speed for no purpose except transit, sometimes competition or sports training, with no connection to the conservation aims of the reserve. Any 3m connecting paths that might be used for commuting should be outside the reserve. The winding 2m pedestrian paths shown in the map on page 21 are unsuitable for cyclists and should not be used by them.
The proposed cattle grazing should be used in limited areas where it can improve habitat, and experimentally in the sense that the value it is suggested it might have will be regularly monitored.
Mowing and cleared open areas
The draft plan is not specific on what areas might be planned to be maintained as open for example for reasons of fire control. There are no such areas shown for the area adjoining the East Lake development. Such areas will have major implications for use of the area by fauna. Are any such mown or cleared open areas proposed and where would they be? Or is fire control not an issue?
The signage measures referred to on page 26 are important, and badly needed. The present absence of such signs makes effective enforcement action difficult.
These comments are prepared on the basis that the visitor precinct will be at the proposed location on Dairy Road, which is our preferred location. If any other site is proposed we would wish to comment.
In view of our particular interest in this matter we would like to be consulted when decisions are to be made on the specific location and design of further hides
Restricted and closed areas
Access to such areas should be open for genuine scientific purposes with special permission, on a scheduled basis where appropriate. Otherwise fauna in those areas will not be properly monitored.
Vegetation and habitat (section 4)
Three measures that should be particularly mentioned under this heading are: a) control of the rampant Typha; b) provision of large dead trees for roosting birds in pond areas; and c) planting immediately of a few isolated (potentially) large trees of suitable species for raptors etc (which now use power-lines and power-poles.
Those are the main points at this stage. Does anyone have further comments on the measures proposed in section 4 on ‘Vegetation and Habitat’ ?
If commenting, it will be helpful if you suggest a formulation that might be used in a submission, rather than just floating a general idea.