Endangered Ecological Community and Flying-fox Habitat to be Destroyed Tonight – HSI Urges Minister and OEH to Act
18th May, 2016
As the chainsaws are readied to destroy Cannes Reserve in Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches tonight, Humane Society International (HSI) is once again left frustrated at the toothless NSW Flying-fox Camp Management Policy and the Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) complicity in allowing Councils to take harmful actions on supposedly protected grey-headed flying-foxes and their habitats.
When the now amalgamated Pittwater Council (Northern Beaches Council) applied to heavily prune 44 dominant canopy trees of the endangered Coastal Littoral Rainforest in the flying-fox camp, HSI was highly disappointed to see OEH grant permission despite gross inconsistency with the Cannes Reserve Flying-fox Camp Management Plan which was approved under the NSW Flying-fox Camp Management Policy and specifically deemed such action unsuitable due to impacts on Endangered Ecological Communities present.
“The Cannes Reserve Camp Management Plan was meant to set the boundaries for what could occur at the site over the next five years and included an objective of protecting the Endangered Ecological Community within the reserve – that would be the same Endangered Ecological Community they’re getting ready to butcher tonight. What’s the point of approving a Camp Management Plan if there’s no intention to adhere to it?” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain.
Unlike previous vegetation removal that has occurred at Cannes Reserve, the majority of tonight’s approved canopy destruction is in the core of the flying-fox habitat – well outside of the formerly enforced 7 metre buffer for which a Species Impact Statement (SIS) was developed. This brings into question whether the granted permissions met legislative obligations, and HSI is seeking legal advice as to their validity.
The vegetation of Cannes Reserve also has the potential to be considered a Critically Endangered Ecological Community under federal environment law. Despite not being recognised as such in the 2012 SIS due to condition, the NSW Government has since provided more than $50,000 to the Council for weed control in the Reserve and HSI believes it is now likely to meet the relevant thresholds. However this status may well be temporary - if tonight’s works aren’t halted sufficient recovery may never be achieved.
“How this permission was issued is beyond me, the request was clearly in breach of the agreed plan for Cannes Reserve and may permanently alter the site. The Northern Beaches Council has been asked by the Government to postpone works while the legality of the approval is investigated, but they are irresponsibly and immorally pushing ahead at the behest of a few outspoken residents. Minister Speakman and OEH have the power to step in and temporarily suspend this licence, and we urge them to act in the best interest of the threatened species they are charged with the protection of and do so immediately - before it is too late” Mr Quartermain concluded.