Friends of Grasslands

supporting native grassy ecosystems

 

PO Box 987

Civic Square ACT 2608

Phone: 02 62.. ....

 

Referrals Section (EPBC Act)

Approvals and Wildlife Division

Department of the Environment and Water Resources

GPO Box 787

CANBERRA  ACT  2601

 

Dear Madam/Sir

 

Project ref no. 2007/3554

Block 17 Section 102 Symonston

 

This project, referred under the EPBC Act, proposes to provide services to land (such as sewerage and electricity, to convert it into a site that may be used for the purposes of a caravan park and camping ground) and the issue of a lease to a developer. The site may include a population of the grassland earless dragon Tympanocryptis pinguicolla which is listed as an endangered species under both Commonwealth and ACT legislation. FoG believes that this proposal should be rejected or at least warrants further investigation prior to any approval under EPBC, as it may have significant impact on the grassland earless dragon, i.e. it may destroy both members of a population of this species and its habitat. 

 

Friends of Grassland (FoG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of native temperate grassy ecosystems, such as grasslands and woodlands. FoG is based in Canberra and its members, numbering about 200, include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public. FoG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on‑ground work.

 

FoG's reasons for believing that the proposed works, and future proposed development, may have a significant impact on the grassland earless dragon and its habitat are as follows.

FoG is on the public record as being opposed to the development of this site, although sympathetic to the plight of the residents at the long-stay caravan park. Our opposition has been greatly strengthened with the recent crash in grassland earless dragon numbers; for example, poor management at the Majura Field Firing Range has resulted in surveyed numbers there falling, according to our best advice, by 80%. Developments at Canberra Airport have seen removal of individuals and habitat from that site. Elsewhere, the impacts of the drought in the Jerrabomberra Valley, have seen numbers drop by 20%. It has always been difficult to obtain precise numbers for the species, but only several hundred individuals may remain in the wild. This is an appalling picture for the species survival and, in the circumstances, FoG's view is that all remaining habitats should be protected.

 

If the proposed works and subsequent developments were to be allowed - which FoG does not support - it is critical that the area subject to works/development is minimal, that as much habitat is conserved as possible to protect and buffer the species from the proposed land use, and that a regime of effective management is put in place to enhance habitat and species conservation outcomes in the long term. FoG's experience, gained from observing management on Defence lands at Majura and the Canberra Airport, is that conservation management is not guaranteed if left in private or inexperienced hands.

Yours faithfully

 

 

 

Kim Pullen

President

3 August 2007