Brays Bay Mangroves Saved

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Subject: Brays Bay Mangroves Saved
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 96 9:02:09 +60000
Over the last year and a half I have been fighting to save the Brays Bay 
mangroves, and it appears that the fight has been won in favour of the 
mangroves, birds and other wildlife!!  For information, this is at Concord 
West in suburban Sydney, with Brays Bay, Parramatta River and Homebush Bay 
nearby, as well as Concord Repatriation Hospital.

The reason I mention the Hospital is because it was the hospital General 
Manager who was threatening the mangroves, with a proposal as follows.  The 
hospital is (was) a "repatriation" hospital connected with the medical 
attention of people hurt in war, and the general manager wanted to build 
nearby a Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway (KTMW) in commemoration of our war 
heroes who served in PNG.  This consisted of a war memorial and creating a 
path of paving tiles, which basically followed where people have generally 
walked and worn a track in the existing Rotary Park lawn.  TO THESE I HAD NO 
OBJECTION WHATSOEVER.  The memorial has been built and is nice in its own way 
(the garden needs to grow a bit yet) and the path is fine as well.

However, part of the grand plan was to build a long (1 kilometre) meandering 
mangrove boardwalk through the adjacent Brays Bay mangroves.  As these 
mangroves are only 20 to 30 feet wide in many places and only about 60 foot 
wide at their widest spot, the nature of the boardwalk was such that it would 
have broken up the mangroves and rendered them useless for birds and other 
wildlife.  Once built, the Hospital had proposed that the Council be 
responsible for the boardwalk's subsequent maintenance!!

The first development application for the KTMW went to Council some one and a 
half years ago, representing Stage 1 of the proposal and including the long 
meandering boardwalk.  Myself and two others from Concord municipality 
objected, and Cumberland Bird Observers Club also objected representing over 
450 people.  The boardwalk was rejected by Council at that stage.

Stage 1 of the development was otherwise approved and building began several 
months later.  To "announce" the development, a sign appeared at the Concord 
Road end of Rotary Park with a map showing  the long meandering boardwalk and 
saying that it was supported by various organisations including Concord 
Council.  Of course this concerned me and three letters to Concord Council 
received no formal response, though the Green Party member of the Council 
phoned me to say the sign was wrong and that Council was asking the hospital 
to replace it.

Due to the lack of response from Council, I took the matter to my journalist 
contact from the Courier newspaper.  That newspaper has previously published a 
front page article on the boardwalk and my objection, and the journalist 
contacted the hospital and Council etc.  The Council re-confirmed that the 
sign was wrong, and that they most definitely were against any long and 
meandering boardwalk through the Brays Bay mangroves.  There is an existing 
short boardwalk going straight from the land to the water (i.e. 90 degrees 
angle to the land, about 30 feet in length) and there may be some 
"refurbishment" of that boardwalk.

So it appears that the mangroves are safe for some time.  I will need to be 
vigilant of course for when Stage 2 etc. development applications of the KTMW 
are presented to Council and of course Councillors could change, but at the 
present time it appears that the current people within Council have a 
reasonable commitment to preservation of the Brays Bay mangroves.

A short summary of the reasonings used in the fight against the mangrove 
boardwalk is:

1.  JAMBA/CAMBA/Schedule 12 of NPW Act
2.  The birds protected as above, unique to Concord West, should be pleased to 
have them
3.  Concord Council itself advertises its environmental concern and Concord 
the "green/garden" suburb
4.  Brays Bay is part of a continuous habitat stretching from Five Dock around 
to Homebush and further.
5.  Mangrove boardwalk could interfere with fish breeding (NSW Fisheries 
requirements apply)
6.  Trees produce fresh air, keep down pollution
7.  Long boardwalk already exists at Homebush Bicentennial Park, only 3 km 
8.  Cost involved in building and maintaining the boardwalk, liability of 
Council towards anyone who hurts themselves on the boardwalk (Strathfield 
Council was already being sued by someone hurt when a plank of a mangrove 
boardwalk gave way).
9.  Cleanliness of the area/rubbish coming into the mangroves from the river 
(some boating people are grubs) - cost to constantly clean up.
10.  Narrowness of the Brays Bay mangroves and hence breakup from proposed 
11.  Constant development of "little bits" of land fast add up to a huge loss 
of habitat.
12.  We don't have to develop every bit of land to an inch of its life - let's 
have something truly natural.

I am most pleased at the achievement to date - a nice way to finish 1996 - and 
have relaxed a little that the mangroves are safe for a while.  Cheers for the 
birds and the environment.

Irene Denton
Sydney    NSW   Australia

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