Ecotone_Vol 29_No1_Mar 09_amalgamated.indd by xumiaomaio


                                               Newsletter of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre Inc.

                                               Vol 29 Number 1                                                                      March 2009

                           What Environmental Record?
                                                               By Ellie Bock
O    nce again, an election is called for
     Queensland. Going early in these eco-
nomic times may seem like a smart move for
                                                   purely economic reaction. Again, we see law
                                                   and order becoming a pre-occupation, in the
                                                   face of growing social stresses arising from
                                                                                                         QLD ELECTION 2009
Ms Bligh and her party, seeing as the news         an arcane economic framework which sys-                SPECIALS MENU
on this front seems to be just as confronting      tematically ignores an objective evaluation of
to some as the news on climate change…             the values, attributes and contribution made      Mains
but if the Premier is keen on promoting her        by the natural environment to production and      �     Concrete Coast Delux Meal
government’s environmental record, perhaps         consumption, let alone the human costs inher-     �     Native Habitat Pancakes with
she should be seeking green answers to brown       ent in the current arrangements – where profit           Remnant Sauce
problems and ratchet the environment up to         is held above all. This arcane system is not      �     Fresh Fried Threatened Species
the very top of the agenda across the state.       able to respond quickly or with any useful de-
                                                   gree of flexibility to the serious challenges we   Drinks
For one, this means bringing the environment,      now face. Exploitation of valuable and often      �      Cool Coal Cola
planning and ‘sustainability’ portfolios into      unique resources is a given – be they natural     �      Uranium Reviver
the one room and giving them a real place at       or cultural or human resources. Job losses are
the big table, rather than slathering them in      a given as employers scramble to retain an op-    Desserts
gross platitudes, hanging shiny trinket tokens     erational base and profit margin, where jobs       �      Solar Sadness Sundae
off them and leaving them out in the cold.         are shed to make balance books look better.       �      Wonky Wind Power Whip
                                                   Continued abuse of the environment can no
The most effective way to develop realistic        longer be a given.
solutions to escalating climate change impacts
is to transform the economy: by a rapid tran-      Instead of sinking vast sums of tax payer
sition away from brown jobs to green ones.         dollars into out-dated, grossly polluting in-
And real green ones at that. You know that         dustries which are to all intents and purposes
when the national firefighters union issues          neither environmentally, ecologically nor
statements not only acknowledging climate          ethically sustainable or even justifiable in the
change as a real threat on the basis of current    medium term, a responsible government for
trends, but warning that the severity of fires is   Queensland (and indeed a responsible gov-
bound to increase now and into the immediate       ernment for Australia) would instead seek
future, that its out of the frying pan and into    to strategically invest in green technologies,
the fire – literally.                               to stimulate rapid growth and employment
                                                   transition into these more viable industrial
Large scale fires such as those that have dev-      and technological sectors. The agenda seems             Inside this Edition....
astated the south of Australia in recent years     to be that bad behaviour is not only actively
and again this year provide a grim warning of      rewarded but actively encouraged. This does       Saving the Dolphins ........................... 2
the rapidly emerging threats of extreme cli-       not bode well for our natural environment. We     How to Kill Cuttlefish ........................ 3
mate change. In the wet tropics we are not         are flogging a dead horse if we think we can       Politics In The Pub ............................. 3
immune from equally increased exposure to          merrily spend our way out of this one.            Rail for Cairns .................................... 3
extremes in weather and climactic fluctua-          For the Queensland Election 2009, CAFNEC          Seadumping ........................................ 4
tions. These trends are now well documented        urges you to use your vote wisely and to in-      Co-ordinators Report ........................ 5
with a growing research body demonstrating         form yourself of your candidate’s policies on     Campaigners Report ......................... 6
supporting evidence for escalating dangerous       the environment, on sustainable economic          NatureAssist Incentives ..................... 7
climate change impacts.                            and transport solutions, and for ensuring the     Presidents Report ............................... 8
                                                   communities of the far north can improve          Far North Bicycle Tour ...................... 9
A responsible government for Queensland            their resilience to become more viable in an      The Wenlock River ...........................10
must prioritise environmental solutions to         undoubtedly climate change affected future.       Important Dates ................................11
these threats, and move rapidly away from a
    Australian Snubfin and Humpback Dolphins Under Threat
                                                        By Blanche Danastas
                                                                          SAVE DOLPHINS – WRITE A LETTER
                                                                          The State Government recently announced that they had given the
                                                                          Townsville Ocean Terminal Project the ‘brown’ light in the media, even
                                                                          before submitting the coordinator general’s report to the Common-
                                                                          wealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and The Arts.
                                                                          There is a great deal of political and public opposition to this devel-
    Two Snubfin Dolphins                                                   opment locally, with Townsville City Council outright opposing the
                                                                          luxury canal estate due to its negative social and economic impacts.

T    ownsville’s near coastal-waters are home to the recently described
     Australian snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) and the Indo-pa-
cific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), also known as the humpback
                                                                          I urge you to write to Minister Garrett, the Federal Minister for the En-
                                                                          vironment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, calling on him not to approve
                                                                          the Townsville Ocean Terminal and Luxury Canal estate on the basis
dolphin. Both are known as coastal dolphins, because their habitat is     that it alone could cause a local extinction of snubfin dolphins.
restricted to shallow coastal areas of less than 15m depth. They are
among the most threatened species of dolphin, due to their reliance on   Take the time to draft a letter using the template, which you will find at
river mouth habitat, which often puts them into conflict with people. For an electronic copy of the letter con-
                                                                         tact Steve or myself at Please feel free
Researchers have found snubfin and humpback dolphins are usually to email me to tell me that you have written a letter, because it will
found in less than 15 m of water, within 10 km of the coast and within make my day!
20 km of the nearest river mouth and are very site attached. They feed
at river mouths, often in as little as 1 m of water, returning to these Please send your letters to:
places year after year.                                                  The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
                                                                         Minister for the Environment, Heritage, and the Arts
Coastal development is the greatest threat to marine wildlife next to PO Box 6022
climate change. Snubfin and humpback dolphins from Cairns through House of Representatives
to Mackay are all at threat due to coastal development.                  Parliament House
                                                                         Canberra ACT 2600
In Cleveland Bay, off Townsville, populations of the two species are
estimated to constitute less than 100 individuals each, putting them at Or use the online contact form:
great risk of localized extinction - even a loss of 5% of the population
annually could cause a local extinction. Critical habitat for these dol-
phins in the Townsville area occurs at the mouths of the Ross River and
Ross Creek, and is threatened because of several developments. In the
map provided, areas of critical habitat currently threatened with land
reclamation have grey shading:

•        The Townsville Ocean Terminal and Luxury canal Estate (A)
•        The Port Access Road (B)
•        The Townsville Port Authority Marine Precinct (C) and
•        The Townsville Port Authority Expansion (D).

Marine Wildlife Australia is fighting these coastal developments and is
working towards legislative reforms that will ensure Commonwealth
assessment of land reclamation in the future. Snubfin and humpback            INTRODUCING MARINE WILDLIFE AUSTRALIA
dolphin populations in Australia are still in reasonable shape compared      Marine Wildlife Australia is committed to the conservation of char-
to many other species- if we start now to protect their habitat, they        ismatic marine wildlife and the precious ecosystems they inhabit.
might still be here in 100 years!                                            We are based in Townsville, and operate under the auspices of the
                                                                             North Queensland Conservation Council. For more information,
                                                                             visit our website:

                                                                             If you would like to volunteer with us, or would like information
                                                                             about our projects, please visit us or our website, email us or call us:

                                                                             Suite 2, Level 2 Flinders Mall. Townsville, Qld, 4810
                                                                             P.O. Box 364 Townsville, Qld, 4810
    Sousa Chinensis leaping out of water                                     Phone: (07) 4721 5996
    - photo by Daniele Cagnazzi
    How Do You Kill the
  Australian Giant Cuttlefish?
                       Just Add Salt.
                    By Blanche Danastas

                                T  he BHP-Billiton-operated Olym-
                                   pic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, in
                               South Australia is home to the largest
                               uranium deposit in the world, the fourth
                               largest copper deposit and the fifth larg-
                               est known reserve of gold. These de-
                               posits are located in a water- and infra-
                               structure-poor region.
BHP is hoping to expand their mining operations to create the big-
gest man made hole on the Earth’s surface. BHP’s own figures state
that existing mining operations require 35 mega litres of water per day
from local water supplies. The proposed expansion demands an ad-
ditional 200 mega litres per year.
To put this into perspective, annual water consumption by South Aus-
tralian households is 144 gigalitres, or 394 megalitres per day. In other
words, the mine’s expanded operations will use more than half as much
water as the household use by the entire South Australian population.
To supply this water, BHP wants to build desalination plant in the
Spencer Gulf. This doesn’t sound so bad until you think about the
biology of sea creatures. Organisms living within coastal waters exist
in a world that is regulated by salinity, acidity, tide, current, light and
temperature regimes. Creatures that evolved within these stable envi-
ronments have a low tolerance for change.
                                                                                 ������������	�����������
This is the case for the Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama),
whose most significant breeding sites exist the Spencer Gulf. Saline
discharge from the proposed desalination plant will inevitably create
water that is too saline for cuttlefish babies to survive. This species is
already in decline and the increases in salinity in critical breeding areas     ���������������������
caused by brine discharges could wipe them out forever- it would only           ����������������������������� ��!�����"
take three unsuccessful breeding seasons to cause an ecological extinc-
tion. The risk is clearly unacceptable- especially when you consider
that the impacts will also extend to species of whales and dolphins.

General Environmental Impacts Of Desalination
Politicians may see desal as the shining golden bullet to all of the gov-
ernments’ population and dirty industry growth needs. However, all
desalination does is allow population and industry to expand far be-
yond the carrying capacity of the natural environment. Their impacts
are wide ranging, including direct loss of marine habitats, release of
brine with its high concentrations of salt, nitrogen and heavy metals,             ��#��$%�&�	��'&��()*+�	
and creation of localised low oxygen waters. Further, introduction of                                      �

this energy intensive process, combined with the necessary pumps to                         �,#�������#����#�
move the water across the desert, will result in massive increases in            $-.��&����/����#���������,�0!�'��������1
carbon dioxide emissions
In summary, this proposal has the capacity to severely and perma-                   �����������	������	������������	�������
nently damage an entire marine ecosystem and cause an extinction of             �	������������������������������	���	�������
a national treasure – the giant cuttlefish - , found only in Australia’s            ���������	������������	����������������
waters. Desalination and the subsequent destruction of the marine en-
vironment is not the answer to anyone’s water crisis. The solution has
to be population stabilisation. Infinite growth in a finite world is a            ��������������������������� !������"�#�������	������
crazy person’s paradigm.                                                        !���	��������$�����������	���������������	���	��������
I urge you to write to the Federal Environment Minister, the Hon. Peter            �������3'���������4!������2��������/����
Garret calling on him not to approve this development.                          ���5�������/�5���6'����������&���)�7*$%�..-�8%.
     Seadumping and a New Dryland Boat Basin Proposal
                                                    -Oyster Point Again
                                                     By Margaret Moorhouse

Third attempt at ‘Port Hinchinbrook’
“Stage II”

L    ate in December 2008, Keith Williams’ development company
     Williams Corporation Pty Ltd (WC) (formerly Cardwell Proper-
ties Pty Ltd) lodged an application for another so-called “Stage II”
development on the rural land south of the present ‘Port Hinchinbrook’
canal estate and marina.

In 2004 and early 2008, the EPA said NO to two earlier versions of this
canal estate. To recap: in 2004, ASH, anticipating a possible court ap-
peal against Council approval, secured highly qualified expert reports
on the hydrology and ecology of the subject land and impacts on the
adjacent Unallocated State Land (USL), now Girramay National Park.
These telling reports were funded mainly by the Thorsborne Trust and
proceeds from the Art Show fundraiser held in Cairns.
                                                                          condition a coastal management plan would be written within two
On the advice of barrister Chris McGrath, both reports were made          years (it took eight years).
available to the EPA at an early stage, knowing that the EPA had the      All ASH asks is that the EPA be allowed to do its job, that is, to apply
power (under the provisions of the Cardwell-Hinchinbrook Regional         the provisions of the CHRCMP to any application for seadumping in
Coastal Management Plan (CHRCMP) and the Integrated Planning              the Hinchinbrook Channel.
Act (IPA)) to say NO before the public review and formal consider-
ation by Council could take place.
                                                                          ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:
Seadumping Proposal                                                     Who is your local member? Will it be a new person after the elections?
                                                                        Now is the time to visit him or her and explain why the Hinchinbrook
The hydrodynamics affecting ‘Port Hinchinbrook’ have not changed Channel is important to you.
since the Department of Harbours and Marine described Oyster Point Look out for further bulletins from ASH about the seadumping appli-
in 1977 and 1980 as lacking “natural deep water” and “subject to se- cation and related information.
vere siltation”. Despite missing dredging records in recent years, the
fact of the rapid infill rate has now been exposed, and the cost of land Please email ASH ( for further spe-
disposal of dredge spoil declared “prohibitive”.                        cific information and explanation to assist your understanding and sub-
                                                                        mission preparation.
The recent application to seadump dredge spoil in the Hinchinbrook
Channel was lodged by Port Hinchinbrook Services Pty Ltd (PHS),
a pseudo-body-corporate company controlled by Keith Williams. The
proposed dump site lies in the shallows of the subtidal seagrass mead-
ows off Oyster Point. The consultant is Ecosustainability, a Cairns
based company headed by Guy Chester.                                           Solar
No seadumping can take place without a DNRW permit for Resource
Entitlement, DPI&F and EPA permits.
Under the Cardwell-Hinchinbrook Regional Coastal Management
Plan 2004 (CHRCMP), the Hinchinbrook Channel is listed as an area           By Michael Bryan
of state significance. In areas of state significance, new activities can

take place only if they would have no adverse impact. In the ‘Port
                                                                          reported in last Ecotone that with grid-connected solar panels my
Hinchinbrook’ coastal locality the EPA has concurrence status under
                                                                          agreement with Ergon Energy did not allow for payment for any
the Integrated Planning Act (IPA), which means that the EPA can re-
                                                                        surplus electricity I supplied: credits would just accumulate. Now I
fuse a development application before the public review stage and pos-
                                                                        have seen a letter from the Minister for Mines and Energy, saying that
sible approval by local Council.
                                                                        credits that persist for 12 months will be paid to the customer.
The CHRCMP came into being because the Friends of Hinchinbrook
Inc. (FOH) appealed the Commonwealth Consent for ‘Port Hinchin-
brook’ in the federal court in 1996. The court upheld the Consent on
                                                  Coordinator’s Report
                                                  Elaine Harding

                                                              2009 A Year of Change
                                                                  for CAFNEC

2   009 is a year of change for CAFNEC and
    likely for Australia and the entire globe.
As the saying goes, the ‘times they are a
                                                  this year and we already have many individu-
                                                  als emailing and signing up for the popular
                                                  tour. Thanks to Rob Rutten, Sarah Hoyal and
                                                                                                      will create a new role that suits the organisa-
                                                                                                      tion’s needs and that the right person will fill
                                                                                                      those shoes.
changing.’ Recently, we undertook a part-         Tammy Andrews and a crew of volunteers
nership with the Pew Environment Group (a         who have decided to make it happen! Jon             I feel very fortunate to have worked with
US-based charity with interests in conserva-      Metcalfe did such a great job for all those         such an amazing group of people over the last
tion and global warming) to assist in estab-      years of leading the bike tour, that it will be a   year. CAFNEC is a very unique place and its
lishing the world’s largest marine reserve in     tough act to follow, but it will be another great   strength is the individuals who contribute to
the Coral Sea. To undertake the campaign, we      year for the tour.                                  it – whether they be staff, MC, volunteers or
advertised for a Marine Campaigner, and the                                                           members. It is due to the unwavering deter-
selected candidate was our own Steve Ryan!        With Steve leaving the Campaign Director            mination and keen abilities of those combined
He will be beginning to work on the campaign      position, and our financial situation being less     individuals that create a clear voice for con-
as he transitions out of the Campaign Director    than ideal, we have decided to re-examine           servation in our region. I thank everyone for
role and into this new exciting job. Congratu-    both the Coordinator and Campaign Director          providing me with the opportunity to learn,
lations to Steve as he will do a fantastic job    positions and likely combine them into one. I       laugh and contribute to a great organisation.
and we still get to keep him within the organi-   have decided that I will not apply for the new      May CAFNEC prosper and bring great sup-
sation.                                           position, as my interests are more in the edu-      port to our community so that we may live
                                                  cation realm than in campaigning work. Fur-         more harmoniously with our natural environ-
Another major decision that was made re-          ther, I am travelling over to the United States     ment and with one another.
cently is that Envirofiesta will not be run this   in the near future to spend some time with my
year, but we will begin to develop a plan for     family. Therefore, I have resigned and am
it in 2010. The Wilderness Bike Tour will run     confident that the Management Committee

       CAFNEC Film Night
                    Thursday 26th March 2008
      An invitation to all our valued Members & Friends
 To kick off our first general meeting for the year, CAFNEC is hosting a film
 night, followed by an update on our Coral Sea campaign.

 When:    7.00pm Thursday 26th March 2008
 Where:   Cominos House, Cnr Greenslopes & Little Sts
 What’s On:“Ghosts of the Gulf” 30 min film and Coral Sea campaign update

 In keeping with our marine theme, the film highlights the issue of ghost nets. Titled “Ghosts of the
 Gulf”, it was produced by The Production Hub 2007 in collaboration with the Carpentaria Gulf Nets
 Programme. This should be an interesting evening, so be sure to mark this date in your diary now!

                                                   Campaign Directors Report
                                                   Steve Ryan

                                                                       Campaign Update
                                                                         March 2009

W      elcome to a new year of Ecotone, I hope you have had a great
       festive season and not too much of a mouldy wet. The veggie
patch is going great guns at my place and it’s great to heading into drier
                                                                               they will yet grasp the opportunities to leapfrog Labor on these issues
                                                                               and give the debate the push it requires.

and cooler months.                                                             Greens preferences will likely decided the fate of Steve Wettenhall in
                                                                               Barron River, and possibly other FNQ seats. With the Greens holding
2009 will see a new team campaigning for CAFNEC, with a fond                   out on their preference allocation, it will be up to every Green voter to
farewell to Elaine our coordinator for the past year and to my role as         decide whether to give a major party your preference.
Campaign Director also winding up. I have now taken on the role of
CAFNEC Marine Campaigner, working primarily on the declaration                 CAFNEC encourages all those interested in the fate of our planet to
of the world’s largest no-take marine reserve in the Coral Sea (see Eco-       call your candidates and let them know you will only hand your prefer-
tone Vol 28, No4).                                                             ences out to a party that is committed to taking the necessary steps to
                                                                               safeguard our regional, state and global environments.
What about the environment you ask? Well, much has happened
over these past months and 2009 will likely see the environment de-
bate rising t     o a global profile and intensity never witnessed be-                               FNQ 2009-2031
fore. The year gets off to a start with the announcement of the FNQ
2009-2031Regional Plan (formerly known as the FNQ2025 Regional
                                                                                                     Regional Plan
Plan) and a state election on March 21. The year will end with the
                                                                               The Plan formally known as FNQ2025 Regional Plan, was finalised in
UNFCCC Climate Change summit in Copenhagen that carries with it
                                                                               mid February. The planning minister launched the final Plan on a Fri-
our hopes for a global effort to trade in our gas guzzling economies for
                                                                               day afternoon during the Victorian bushfire disaster fallout with little
new cleaner and leaner models.
                                                                               notice to his own department. This attempt to bury the launch was not
                      State Election                                           It must be said that the final Plan represents a step forward and opens
Keep an eye out on the CAFNEC website in the final days of the elec-            up new avenues for dealing with inappropriate development. The ur-
tion campaign for an analysis of the candidates and their polices and          ban footprint should provide a clear limitation to urban sprawl, and that
statements. For those without internet, call the office for a chat in these     must be seen as a positive step.
last days and we can talk you through what we have found.
                                                                               The first notable change since the draft Plan is the ability of the min-
The new LNP is showing much of the same colour of the old National             ister to gazette changes to the land use categories at any time. This
Party in its inability to constructively engage in debate on environment       change allows a minister cave into anyone with enough clout, be that
policy. After a short discussion with shadow environment spokesman,            politically expedient, and is in no way a signal of a strong commitment
David Gibson, I came away with the impression that the environment             to the principles underlying the final Plan.
debate remains in the too hard basket, with little expertise or knowledge
of conservation issues or the conservation movement.                           The Plan fails the test CAFNEC puts on it, as it does not give wildlife
Latest announcements that the LNP will “review” the Regional Plan              corridors statutory protection. This is clearly a missed opportunity, but
are of great concern as the talk is of landholder aspirations rather than      the Plan does give some strengthening to the language underpinning
sustainability. This apparent appeal to the personal financial interests        habitat protection. Time will tell it’s usefulness in stopping the destruc-
of some landholders over planning and environmental considerations             tion.
is an example of low level politicking.
                                                                               One of the Plan’s major failings was the 18 months given to developers
To their credit, the LNP have engaged on the “brown” issue of solar            to submit their development wish-list before the Plan came into effect.
feed-in tariffs, easily trumping the Labor’s solar policy vacuum. Unfor-       We have heard that in the order of 15 years worth of development
tunately, the LNP seems not be able to take this further into green and        applications were received during this period, hinting at many more
urban development issues. With Labor hopelessly tied to the property           problem developments coming our way that will be exempt from the
development lobby, there is surely ample opportunity to show leader-           current Plan. As the SEQ Plan provided a commensurate period of
ship on coastal and habitat protection, issues the Bligh government has        only 3 months, this can be seen as nothing but an ALP backdown to
failed to tackle. This would be new territory for the LNP and they have,       development interests.
so far, not shown the maturity to approach these issues. Here’s hoping
                    Erosion and
                  Sediment Control
                                                                                NatureAssist Offers Cash
The first Sediment Buster workshop was held in mid-December 2008
at the Cairns Regional Council (CRC) Chambers. The workshop was
                                                                                Incentives to Landholders
aimed at equipping the community with the tools to take action on

sediment pollution incidents and to increase community understand of           unding is available under the third round of the Environmental
the role CRC plays as a regulator. That this event was co-sponsored            Protection Agency’s (EPA) NatureAssist scheme. NatureAssist
by CRC demonstrates a positive change in attitude within that body         has been set up for rural Queensland landholders to help sustainably
towards dealing with the concerned public.                                 manage their land, conditional upon them entering into a nature ref-
                                                                           uge agreement. NatureAssist is a competitive market-based incentive
Unfortunately, commitments to provide information regarding council        scheme that gives landholders throughout rural Queensland the oppor-
regulations and enforcement made at the event have been subsequently       tunity to tender for financial assistance to carry out on-ground manage-
turned down and information on enforcement not made available to the       ment actions that will maintain or enhance their property’s conserva-
public.                                                                    tion values.
There have been numerous complaints to CRC regarding their enforce-        NatureAssist is administered by the EPA with support from the Depart-
ment of sediment and erosion control regulations. Mr Sediment Buster       ment of Natural Resources and Water, through the Blueprint for the
himself, Terry (the Terrier) Spackman, has been doggedly pursuing          Bush initiative with AgForce. Partnerships have also been formed with
polluters and non-performing regulators for many years. This has           some regional natural resource management groups in Queensland.
seemingly landed him a reputation as a vexatious complainant among
the regulators who seem to see public complaints as useful, with the       Expressions of interest in NatureAssist Round Three will be invited
provision of follow-up information on steps taken as optional. Unfor-      from 23 February 2009 and must be submitted by 16 March 2009 (5pm
tunately this still seems to be the case and a culture of accountability   AEST). Landholders can express their interest by completing a simple
clearly has not arrived overnight.                                         one-page expression of interest form. This form will be available be-
                                                                           tween the 23 February and 16 March 2009 for download or online
CAFNEC hopes to run more of these events in an effort to help in           completion on the EPA website or
building trust between our community and our Council on develop-           by calling the EPA Customer Service Centre on 1300 130 372.
ment, planning and environmental issues of interest.
                                                                           Landholders may tender for any tangible, on-ground activity that con-
Also, Cr Rob Pyne recently suggested a ban on heavy earthwork over         tributes to the protection and management of the conservation values
part of the annual wet season. This should be supported. CAFNEC            of the proposed nature refuge. Examples of some types of activities
asks where do the other Councillors stand on this?                         previously funded through NatureAssist include:

                                                                            implementing measures such as fencing to control stock access to
                Hillsopes Protection                                       creeks, wetlands, springs or environmentally sensitive areas;
                                                                            establishing alternative off-stream watering points for stock;
CAFNEC and Save Our Slopes (SOS) continue to pursue the slow                fencing to protect environmentally sensitive areas from pest animals
process of convincing CRC that hillslope protection is possible within     or unauthorised access;
current legislation, and that compensation would only be payable if the     identifying, protecting and managing cultural heritage resources;
Council chose to oppose a development application that was likely to        revegetation and/or regeneration techniques to enhance values, sta-
win in the courts.                                                         bilise soils and improve water quality;
                                                                            one-off flora and fauna surveys for the purposes of guiding conser-
A recent briefing session was held with full Council and the compensa-      vation management activities;
tion issues explored. The result vindicated our position and there will     control of weeds and pest animals; or
now be moves to consult with Councillors over specific back-zoning           development and implementation of plans for on ground land man-
proposals of concern.                                                      agement, including for sustainable farm management, fire manage-
                                                                           ment, conservation management or broader property management.
CAFNEC and SOS believe that backzoning sites such as Whitfield Hill
and False Cape can only help by providing future decision makers with      Putting cash in the pockets of land managers is a way of rewarding
a basis for reversing poor decision making. Compensation payable re-       those who have implemented best management practice and looked
sulting from these changes is a real concern, but one which the Council    after their property. Funding is provided to the landholder once a na-
can, and must, navigate as required.                                       ture refuge agreement has been signed by both the landholder and the
                                                                           Queensland Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innova-
Go to the CAFNEC website and download a letter to your Councillor.         tion (or the Minister’s approved delegate such as the Director-Gen-

                                                                           There are now more than 730,000 hectares of land under nature refuge
                                                                           agreements in Queensland, providing habitat for threatened plants and
                                                                           animals while allowing businesses to continue and develop.

                                                  Presidents Report
                                                  Ellie Bock

                                                       Changing and Challenging
                                                          Times for CAFNEC

L   ate 2008 and early 2009 have brought more change for CAFNEC,
    carrying with it a fair number of challenges, and also some sad
news for some of our long-term members and supporters. Whilst we as
                                                                            Finally, I welcome Steve Ryan to his new role as the Coral Sea Ma-
                                                                            rine Campaigner position, a collaboration between CAFNEC and the
                                                                            Pew Foundation. Steve commences his role in March 2009, but with
a collective can only try to bring the organisation through hard times      our present election commitments, may take on much reduced role for
and reduced circumstances, these pale into insignificance when we            CAFNEC in this respect in the interim until the Coordinator vacancy
take into account the difficult or changed personal circumstances fac-       is filled. Fortunately for us, Steve’s proactive approach looks to have
ing some of our most valued resources: our members, our supporters          secured us a solid volunteer base (both local and international!) to as-
and our staff.                                                              sist in election-related activities, so CAFNEC will be engaging in the
                                                                            pre-election madness to steer the debates in the right directions!
At such times, it is especially important that CAFNEC acknowledges
and reaffirms the significant and highly valued contributions of people       CAFNEC has applied for substantial triennial operational support un-
whom we have had to farewell over the past 3 months. With this in           der from the Federal Grants for Voluntary Environmental and Heritage
mind, we pay our respects to our well-respected and much-liked late         Organisations (GVEHO) program, and whilst the application high-
member and supporter Stephen Mansfield. On behalf of CAFNEC, we              lighted the excellent track-record of CAFNEC in its role, including a
offer our sincere condolences, and send our kindest regards, to his fam-    considered - and in our view - realistic budget, it remains to be seen
ily and friends.                                                            what the outcome of this process will be. Indications from the federal
                                                                            assessment agencies is that applicants will be advised but early April
We have, with some reluctance, also fare-welled several members of          2009. Depending on the outcome, the CAFNEC MC will reconsider
our Management Committee in this time.                                      how the CAFNEC Coordinator and Campaigner roles might be pro-
 Bill Bray has been a long-time MC member: staying on, leaving             gressed in the longer term.
and returning a number of times to offer his valued support and input       In summary, 2009 brings changes for many aspects of our lives, our
into CAFNEC’s on-going work, campaigns and of course the Wild-              environment and our society. CAFNEC is not removed from these
ness Bike Ride. This time however, Bill is clear that he is leaving us to   greater changes afoot, and as is often the case for an organisation of its
further his other life priorities elsewhere. We wish him the very best      kind, faces some hefty challenges of its own.
for the future, thanking him very much for his sterling contribution to
CAFNEC over many years.                                                     On behalf of the CAFNEC MC, I extend our thanks to you all for your
                                                                            on-going support and commitment, particularly in these interesting
 Ruth Zee has been a dedicated returning MC member, offering her           (and uncertain) times!
considered insight and input during a number of stints on the commit-
tee. She is re-focusing on her professional priorities, and we will miss
her wisdom and warmth. We thank Ruth for her dedicated service in
the role of Secretary, and for her numerous terms on the committee in
                                                                                   Human Appropriation of the
the past.
                                                                                    Products of Photosynthesis
 Scott Pickard brought fresh professionalism and new insight to the
committee during his time with CAFNEC. Scott’s contributions to our
human resource management processes were considerable and we are
                                                                            The CAFNEC library now has a sobering paper from BioScience
                                                                             Vol. 36, No. 6 (Jun 1986) entitled “Human Appropriation of the
                                                                        Products of Photosynthesis”. Various calculations are drawn together
sad to lose his expertise, although we wish him all the best in meeting
                                                                        of the potential quantities of material produced by photosynthesis on
the vast professional challenge he has accepted in taking on the Cairns
                                                                        land and in the ocean without human activity and then compared with
Base Hospital re-development project.
                                                                        calculations of the material either consumed by human activities or
We also received the resignation of our Coordinator, Dr Elaine Hard- displaced by them.
ing, in mid February 2009. Elaine brought new perspectives and ideas              The conclusion is that by the 1980’s, while oceans were only
to the organisation, and we thank her very much for her informed in-    slightly affected, 40% of potential photosynthesis on land had been
put, her quality advice and her commitment to CAFNEC as a whole. taken by humans, leaving 60% for all other species. Since then human
Elaine has provided us with her final Coordinator’s Report and it is activity has increased and is accelerating. People alive today will be
included within this edition.                                           able to watch a greater reduction in organic diversity than occurred at
                                                                        the Cretaceous – Tertiary boundary 65 million years ago.
The Coordinator vacancy is being advertised during early March 2009,              The full article can be viewed at: http://www.biology.duke.
and related information is available from the CAFNEC website. Ap- edu/wilson/EcoSysServices/papers/VitousekEtal1986.pdf
plications close on Monday 16 March 2009 and we hope to appoint a By Michael Bryan
person to the role by early April 2009.
            In Memory of
                                                                                      On Your Bike!
            Steve Mansfield                                              T    he FNQ Wilderness Bike Tour is
                                                                              on again in 2009, from the 19th
                                                                         to the 26th September.

                                  S   teve Mansfield’s death in late
                                      November 08 was an enormous
                                  shock, not only to CAFNEC but to
                                                                         This will be CAFNEC’s big fundrais-
                                                                         ing event for the year, so lots of as-
                                  the many people who have been in-      sistance is needed to make sure it is a
                                  volved in CAFNEC’s Wilderness          fantastic success. Anyone with time,
                                  Bicycle Tour since its inception in    energy or resources to spare, please get in touch with the organising
                                  2001. Steve was involved in all the    committee by emailing or contact Sarah
                                  rides except one, when he and his      Hoyal on 4053 5395/0488 681916.
                                  wife Ann were away travelling.
                                                                          For those wishing to participate in the ride, the website is currently
                                     Steve’s enormous generosity was being updated ( and application forms will
                                     a crucial factor in staging the bike be available soon. In the meantime you can register your interest by
                                     tours, and that contribution helped emailing
                                     make them great successes both
                                     from a financial and social perspec-
                                     tive. Being a builder Steve had a
                                     huge array of equipment which was
                                     always made available as needed,
                                                                                       In Memory of
                                     when preparing equipment before-
                                     hand, or taking as spares in case of
                                     breakdowns. Our large water tank
                                                                                        Ron Ruffley
                                     and our bike trailer, itself packed

                                     high with all the other equipment,                                           on Ruffley died peacefully,
                                     are today safe and sound in Steve                                            after a short illness, on 7th
and Ann’s shed, waiting there ready to head out again.                                                      January 2009. He was a long-time
                                                                                                            CAFNEC member and friend of
The overwhelming impression one got from Steve was one of energy.                                           the environment.
On tour that energy was invaluable. From the very first day when Steve
tied down $30,000 worth of bikes on our trailer to head to Cardwell, to                                     Ron was a leader in the restora-
the final pack-up of trucks and gear 7 days later, Steve’s energy gave us                                    tion and ongoing management
that extra momentum so we could always get the jobs done.                                                   of Cominos House on its present
For organisers, a bike tour is just a continuous progression of problem-                                    site, especially the focus on na-
solving and responding to immediate crisis. How people respond to                                           tive plants in the garden. He was
this often gives deep insight into their true nature. One incident, which                                   persistent in getting a management
I will never forget, told me Steve was a true gentleman with a heart                                        plan for the Cairns Central Swamp
of gold. On the 07 tour we had finished our exertions up the Kirrama                                         and contributed to CAFNEC’s
Range and arrived at Blencoe Falls. Later that evening a rider from                                         restorative plantings there. More
Darwin came back crying and really upset having lost her wallet with recently Ron was the CAFNEC representative on the Cairns Port
all her money, licence and cards.                                         Technical Advisory Consultative Committee.

The wallet had been in her bum bag, and when she used the site com- Ron was a good citizen, a friend and he shall be missed.
post toilet it had fallen out and dropped down into the #!@*. Words
can hardly describe the predicament. To even consider retrieval was Michael Bryan.
too sickening for most. However Steve came forward to help - even
though it involved disassembly and the making of a primitive pole with
make-shift hook. Words again cannot describe what Steve had to suf-
fer to make the attempt, which in the end proved unsuccessful. But if
the quality of a person is judged by one’s willingness to do extraordi-
nary things to help one’s fellows, even if one doesn’t really know them,
Steve’s helpfulness that evening marked him as a truly exceptional hu-
                                                                                EPA Funding
man-being. I’d even say there was an element of saintliness in that           AFNEC wishes to acknowledge the support of the Queensland
attempt, which few of us would be willing or capable of following.            Environmental Protection Agency under the Conservation
                                                                         Organisations Funding Program. Funds received under this pro-
So from all the volunteers at the Bike Tour let me pass on to Ann our    gram assist with our organisation’s on-going operations to create
sincere condolences. Steve will live on, however, in all our memo-       awareness of environmental matters and promote involvement of
ries.                                                                    the wider community. $15,000 has been allocated for the 2008/2009
Jonathan Metcalfe, Bicycle Tour co-ordinator, 2001-2007.

                     Show That You Love The Wenlock River
By Janina Jones, The Wilderness Society and David Claudie, Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation

T    he Wenlock River on Cape York
     Peninsula is one of Australia’s last
great wild rivers. With dense riverside
                                                                                                               Another company, Cape Alumi-
                                                                                                               na, has plans to extract millions
                                                                                                               of litres of water from the river
rainforest, rich fish diversity, extensive                                                                      for a new bauxite mine (partly
wetlands and natural flows – the Wen-                                                                           over the Steve Irwin Wildlife Re-
lock is a river of exceptional biodiver-                                                                       serve), which would potentially
sity and natural beauty. It is also of                                                                         reduce river flows in dry times
great cultural, spiritual and economic                                                                         to possibly critical levels. The
importance to the local Indigenous Tra-                                                                        company’s strip mining proposal
ditional Owners.                                                                                               also seriously threatens unique
                                                                                                               rainforest springs connected to
In December 2008, the Queensland                                                                               the Wenlock River.
Government released the Wild River
protection proposal for the Wenlock                                                                           The Wilderness Society, Tradi-
River triggering a five month public                                                                           tional Owners and other conser-
consultation period.                                                                                          vationists have been working for
                                                                          years to secure the long-term protection of the Wenlock from these
We now have the chance to protect the Wenlock River from the serious threats. We have worked closely with Traditional Owners and
destructive impacts of strip mining and the effects of large scale devel- landholders in the Wenlock catchment for conservation outcomes.
opments that have ruined so many of our southern rivers including the For example, The Wilderness Society and the Chuulangun Aboriginal
once great Murray.                                                        Corporation have a Cooperation Agreement that supports conserva-
                                                                          tion outcomes and sustainable livelihoods on country. We have also
The Wenlock River                                                         successfully helped secure a Government commitment to create Indig-
                                                                          enous Wild River Ranger jobs to help look after the river.
Rising in the dense rainforested slopes of the Great Diving Range on
Cape York Peninsula, the Wenlock traverses the peninsula north-west- Support the Wenlock Wild River Protection Proposal
wards through savanna country before spilling out into the Gulf of
Carpentaria at Port Musgrave just north of the town of Mapoon.            The wild river protection proposal for the Wenlock River Basin is a
                                                                          major step towards ensuring the long-term protection of this iconic
The Wenlock is home to the richest diversity of freshwater fish of all river. Important streams, wetlands, springs and cultural heritage sites
Australian rivers, with some 50 recorded species, many of these shared will be protected from mining, dams and irrigated agriculture.
with the southern streams of Papua New Guinea. Species include the
threatened Freshwater Sawfish and Spear-tooth Shark.                       While this will help to greatly reduce many threats to the Wenlock,
                                                                          Rio Tinto’s archaic water rights remain exempt from the Wild Riv-
This magnificent river also provides some of Australia’s best Crocodile ers legislation. The Wilderness Society is calling on the Queensland
habitat, gives life to a gallery rainforest which hugs the Wenlock across Government and Rio Tinto to reach a new and improved water rights
the Cape and which acts as a huge wildlife corridor, and supports the arrangement that will help to protect the Wenlock River well into the
nationally important Port Musgrave wetlands.                              future.

Importantly, the Wenlock is traditional land for particular Indigenous     Cape Alumina must also not be allowed to build their destructive load-
people and has been managed under Indigenous governance and                ing facility and dredge in Port Musgrave at the mouth of the Wenlock
protocols for many generations. For example, the Northern Kaanju           and Ducie Rivers, or take out water from the Wenlock river in the dry
people under the socio-cultural bloc of Kuuku I’yu, recently declared      months of the year. The proposed protection areas covering the springs
the Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) over         and streams must also be extended from 500m to 1km to ensure better
almost 200,000 ha of their homelands in the interest of protecting their   protection of these sensitive areas.
country for future generations and to support homelands development.
The IPA is managed by the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation which          With your help, we can ensure the final protection plan is as strong as
is a homelands-based Indigenous organisation. Unfortunately, the IPA       possible and that the irreplaceable Wenlock River is protected from
declaration is not enough to stop the effects of damaging strip mining     damaging bauxite mining proposals. Please visit: www.wilderness.
that is being proposed within the western side of the Wenlock River to show your support.
                                                                     For further information on the Wenlock River and Indigenous inter-
Under Threat                                                         ests visit: To view the TWS and Chuu-
                                                                     langun Cooperation Agreement visit:
The Wenlock River is currently under serious threat from damaging ment.asp?EntityID=142
bauxite mining proposals. Under archaic laws from the 1950s and 60s,
mining company Rio Tinto has rights to take up to 80% of the wa- Picture: Aerial view of the Wenlock River, Glenn Walker
ter from the river and can build dams without environmental or other

                           Events Calendar                                                                  Ecotone
                                                                                                   Is the newsletter of the Cairns & Far North
                                                                                                   Environment Centre (CAFNEC). Ecotone
                                                                                                   is published every three months and sent to
13 March           FNQ Regional Candidates Forum, Shenanigan’s,                                    over 400 readers.
                   cnr Grafton & Spence St, 12.30 - 1.30pm (lunch starts at 12.00)
                                                                                                   Reader contributions, including letters, are
                                                                                                   very welcome: content is subject to the
17 March           Flying Fox Public Meeting. Port Douglas. RSVP 4044 3303                         editor’s discretion.

18 March           Rail for Cairns, Public Meeting. Rydges Tradewinds,                             Disclaimer:
                                                                                                   Views expressed in Ecotone are not
                   Esplanade, 6.45pm                                                               necessarily those of CAFNEC as a whole.

21 March           Queensland State Election                                                       CAFNEC Management Committee:
                                                                                                   President:                Ellie Bock
26 March           CAFNEC Film Night & General Meeting. Cominos House,                             Vice President:         Ellen Weber
                                                                                                   Secretary:           Stuart Worboys
                   Greenslopes St, 7pm                                                             Treasurer:            Michael Bryan
                                                                                                   Com. Member:        Tammy Andrews
28/03/09           Quoll Discovery Day 10am Mareeba RSL Ph 3221 0194                               Com. Member:            Sarah Hoyle
                                                                                                   CAFNEC Staff:
29/03/09           Quoll Discovery Day 10am Cow Bay Hotel Ph 3221 0194                             Coordinator:
                                                                                                   Marine Campaigner:            Steve Ryan
18/04/09           The Inaugural Farmgate Market – The Pier 7.30 – 2pm.                            Adminstrator:                 Marie Short
                   See for further information
                                                                                                   Ph: (07) 4032 1746 / 4032 1586
                                                                                                   Fax: (07) 4053 3779

      Don’t Forget to                               One Sided Paper -                              Address: P O Box 323N

        Nominate!                                  Don’t Throw It Out!                             North Cairns, Qld, 4870
                                                                                                   Web address:
                                                                                                   ECOTONE is produced by CAFNEC.
 Next time you shop at Piccones Supa IGA,                                                          Edited by Steve Ryan, Marie Short.
 Pease Street, Manunda, don’t forget to                                                            Layout/Design by Renee Cashman.
 nominate CAFNEC as your benefactor for
 the Local Community Benefits Program.
         It’s easy. Just let the operator at the
 checkout know, before you make payment
 for your groceries, that you wish to nomi-
 nate the Cairns & Far North Environment
 Centre. (Make sure you say our full name,
 not just CAFNEC.)
         Points are then allocated to us and                                                           The Only Local Holistic
 at the end of each period; the points are tal-    CAFNEC is on the look out for your un-               Publication in FNQ
 lied and transferred to a dollar value. This      wanted A4 sheets/documents that are                 Informing - Inspiring - Integrating
 is an easy opportunity to fundraise for our       printed on one side only. Please save this
                                                   paper for us as we use the other side for all        Focusing on the topics that
 organisation while shopping! So tell your         our internal office requirements. This gives            are important to you:
 friends and family to nominate CAFNEC             us a financial saving as we do not need to
 at the checkout to maximize our points.           purchase as much paper and of course has                    Environment
                                                   obvious environmental benefits.                                 Health
                                                           Often a workplace has a huge                           Spirit
                                                   amount of discarded one sided paper that
                                                   could be reused. So keep your eyes open                      Community
                                                   and start collecting.                                         the Arts
                                                           All donations gratefully accept-            Found at health food shops,
                                                   ed. Just drop off at Cominos House or               groovy cafes, new age shops
                                                   give Marie a call on 40321746.                             and centres.
                                                   Many thanks to those who have already       
                                                   dropped off some good supplies.

      Would you like your Ecotone to come via email instead of by post -
         And save CAFNEC money? Email:

If undelivered return to:
CAFNEC, PO Box 323N,
North Cairns, QLD 4870

Ph: (07) 4032 1746
Fax: (07) 4053 3779

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