The Natural Environment - Ecosystems and Biodiversity

 

 Key Result/Vision: A clean environment, with high biodiversity and ecosystem integrity.

 

 Goal 1: A thriving natural environment which is preserved and protected and its biodiversity fostered and rebuilt.

 Goal 2: A community that is well informed and educated about environmental issues.

(Note: The issue of environmental sustainability of course underlies the entire Sustainability Plan.)

News and Updates...

Top 5 Biodiversity Tips for Nimbin

Nimbin has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in NSW. This is at least partly due to over 40 years of habitat restoration by Nimbinites. BUT with so many species under threat across Australia it is more important than ever to protect and enhance Nimbin’s biodiversity.

Our current targets are the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly—of which there are several remant pockets around Nimbin, and habitat for Mountain Brushtail Possums and gliders in particular. Possums and gliders need up to 6 dreys each to survive. Mountain Brushtails are the largest possums in the world and are specific to this region and SE Qld. They require large nests and are at high risk of vulnerability due to habitat loss.

Our Top 5 Biodiversity Tips are:

Be a RESPONSIBLE pet owner. Control your dogs at all times. Make sure your cat is de-sexed and either keep it indoors or invest in an outdoor cat run — domestic cats can have a devastating effect on local wildlife.

PROTECT habitat. That old dead gum tree might look like firewood to you, but it is probably an apartment block for wildlife. It can take up to 100 years for hollows to form in gum trees.

THINK TWICE before felling your old trees.

REPLACE nesting habitat: Install nest boxes wherever you can to compensate for the loss of nesting habitat in our area. For hints on how to make nesting boxes see the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld or the WIRES NR websites.

PLANT species which promote local wildlife. Koalas, possums and gliders all rely on eucalypts. Possums and gliders also rely on wattles - leave your Sally Wattles to grow.

Plant insect attracting and nectar producing plants for a variety of wildlife.

ENCOURAGE Richmond Birdwing Butterflies by planting the Birdwing Butterfly Vines and removing Dutchman’s Pipe vines. For more info see the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Conservation Network website.

 

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine - plant these.

 

Dutchmans Pipe vine------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sustainable Living Hub - One of the main ideas to emerge in this context again relates to the Sustainability/Demo house idea, and the 7 Sibley St project is now well underway. 

Biodiversity - baseline data - in the process of looking at biodiversity issues we have identified that there is no baseline data specific to our bioregion and as a result it is almost impossible to track biodiversity, species decline or general environmental health, which in turn limits the community’s ability to identify or develop focussed strategies to maintain or increase local environmental health.

In the most recent Community Sustainability survey we asked a question about a range of species in the catchment area.

As a rule, flora is most commonly used by scientists and researchers as indicators of environmental health, however we asked about fauna rather than flora as most people can more accurately and reliably identify birds and animals than plants. However, some of the species listed are difficult to identify so these results are qualified on that basis. We provided a picture board for participants with images and descriptions of the animals, birds and reptiles listed, to assist people in the identification process.

We are very glad to see how much wildlife respondents have observed within 500m of where they live (in the 6 months period prior to the survey), including some of the rarer or hard-to-see species as follows:

Platypus - 18%

Regent Bower bird – 33%

Lyrebird – 5%

Feather tail glider – 6%

Birdwing butterfly – 8% (we will be investigating this further since this butterfly is critically endangered, to see if there is scope to build on the existing population)

Koala – 24%

Koalas - at a workshop held on 14th Sept 2013 we learned about koala behaviours and what we can do around Nimbin to support koalas and their habitat. We learned stuff like: Koalas live for around 11 years, need about 20 food trees per koala and live in groups of around 12 animals. How big the territory of a koala group is, is determined by the density of the food trees. The more spread out the trees are the bigger the territory and the more work the dominant male in particular has to do to monitor his territory. It is the size of the territory which can impact on the health of the koalas as they waste a lot of (their very limited) energy travelling over a larger territory and are also more prone to dog attacks and car accidents, as well as disease. WHAT CAN WE DO? Firstly we need to make sure our koalas can get at existing food trees. Lantana is the enemy of koalas who will not travel through it. Koalas need easy access through undergrowth and to food trees. You can help by checking if you have koala food trees on your property and ensuring that koalas can access thoses trees by clearing and maintaining paths to those trees and clearing around the base of the trees. We will be looking to map the koalas in the Nimbin catchment so we can see whether more trees can be strategically planted to extend or join corridors etc. WATCH THIS SPACE for more info.

FOK can provide free koala food trees for land holders, and may also happy to do a koala tree planting field day at Nimbin sometime soon. We are collecting a list of people who will want trees and may be interested in some of the koala tree planting grant money.....so if you want to get some free koala food trees... please email us here at NNIC or else Peter Hardwick on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please spread the word to anybody you know who might be interested.

THE GREAT KOALA COUNT: 7th-17th November 2013- 43 Nimbinites recorded 148 koalas during the great koala count in November 2013. A pretty good result since that was a period of bad weather and many of the koalas which had been very active in the weeks before (and the weeks after!) the count period went fairly quiet. It seems even the Nimbin koalas resist the census! The count will happen again next year. By comparison, 53 respondents to our own Community Sustainability Survey reported they had seen a koala within 500m of where they live in the past 6 months, which is a similar result. See the map below of the Nimbin koalas located. Map Courtesy of the Great Koala Count, National Parks Association of NSW.

Coal Seam Gas  - the local CSG-free roads survey was conducted by a group of volunteers (not by NNIC) in 2012. The survey had one of the highest participation rates in Nimbin's recent history, including the census.

The survey covered almost every resident (1,830 people) of each of the 42 roads of the Nimbin Valley inc the Lismore-to-Nimbin road from Terania St, and through Booerie Creek and Goolmangar. The survey covered to the end of Stoney Chute Rd, and from Nimbin to the end of Blue Knob Road, but did not include the rest of the Nimbin catchment in the Barkersvale, Wadeville and Uki areas...these are being done separately.

 Over 98% indicated they are opposed to CSG development in the Nimbin valley.

 To learn more about the CSG-free roads surveys as well as lots of other stuff about CSG in the Northern Rivers...see CSG-free NR website here.