EARTH FIRST | September was National Biodiversity Month – Think Local

National Biodiversity Month was a time to focus on our native flora and fauna, to acknowledge that world-wide, Australia’s reputation for protecting and conserving our unique biodiversity is not great.  We celebrated Wattle Day on September 1st and Threatened Species Day on September 7th, but this year September also saw a greater acknowledgement of climate change impacts on global biodiversity with young and old attempting to alert governments to the disasters ahead.

However, our considerations should not just focus on the big issues, like climate change impacts, the fate of the Great Barrier Reef and our iconic Koalas, but look closer to home. Contemplating biodiversity in our own region doesn’t mean how many different varieties of apples are grown in our orchards, or grape varieties that contribute to wines from our vineyards.

The beautiful Acacia meiantha (photo), whose home is predominantly in the Mullion Range, has already been listed under both State and National legislation as an endangered species. But it is not the only such species in our region.

Compared to the coast, our region has far fewer areas of native habitat left intact, let alone protected.  The Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area is therefore a gem to be highly valued, especially as it is home to several threatened species including plants, animals, vegetation communities and a unique lichen community.  Two endemic plants worthy of note are Prostanthera gilesii, listed as critically endangered under NSW legislation, the other, Eucalyptus canobolensis is listed as vulnerable in NSW and endangered nationally.

It was pleasing to read in early September, journalist David Fitzsimon in writing about the latest Plan of Management for the Conservation Area, quoted Orange Mountain Bike Club president Jack Rahilly publicly stating that “riders did not want to endanger sensitive environmental areas”, in planning for bike trails on the mountain; while Environment Minister Matt Kean re-iterated that “Any proposed development would be subject to rigorous environmental assessment”.

NPWS do a great job under difficult conditions, with on-going limitations on funding and human resources.  We all need to be aware of the value of our natural environment and assist in conserving and protecting the remaining remnants.  Legislation (NPW Act 1974) informs us that “State Conservation Areas are gazetted firstly for the protection and conservation of biodiversity, habitat, ecosystems and populations of threatened species, landscape values and scenic features…”.  Let’s remember that, not just each September, but every time we visit one of these special places.

AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE BY JENNY MEDD APPEARED IN THE ‘EARTH FIRST’ COLUMN OF THE CENTRAL WESTERN DAILY ON 28 SEPTEMBER 2019.

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