Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
Livestock Health and Pest Authority Review
PO Box 8731
Gundaroo NSW 2620
Review of the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) is a community group dedicated to the conservation of natural temperate grassy ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. FOG advocates, educates and advises on matters to do with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, and carries out surveys and other on-ground work. FOG is based in Canberra and its more than 200 members include professional scientists, landowners, land managers and interested members of the public.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the review. As FOG is a group concerned with the conservation of grassy ecosystems, it is confining its comments to the future of Travelling Stock Reserves and Routes (TSRs).
One of the questions raised in the Review of the LHPA issues paper is “Is and if so to what extent is the maintenance of certain Crown lands as Travelling Stock Reserves justified on net public benefit grounds?”, although TSRs do not appear to be covered in the terms of reference. FOG sees the future of TSRs an important issue for the review to consider. Over the years, FOG has visited many of the TSRs in our region, and overall has been impressed by the good condition and biodiversity of these. Many TRSs in our region are important remnants of threatened ecological communities, such as natural temperate grassland, snow gum woodland, and box gum woodland. They also support many threatened species, such as the Grassland Earless Dragon (possibly the most threatened of Australia’s reptile species). In FOG’s view, TSRs have significant public benefit from the environmental perspective. As well, grassy ecosystems are not well represented in the national reserve system, so TSRs play an important role in conserving these ecosystems.
Another important role TSRs play is to create connectivity and habitat corridors across the landscape, forming a network that connects with stock routes and corridors in other states. These interstate connections are important for biodiversity and ecological health overall. The way in which the TSR network is managed will have effects well beyond NSW borders.
Because of the public benefit of TSRs with high conservation value, FOG believes that the management of these should be funded by public monies. They should be managed by a single, well-funded agency with proven rural land management expertise and on-ground staff. It is important is that proper management plans, based on sound conservation objectivities, be developed where these do not exist already and that such management plans be adequately and continuously resourced. Management should also include grazing regimes compatible with maximum conservation of biodiversity, and integrated pest/weed management programs across tenures in partnership with other land managers.
As well, management of TSRs needs to be broadened to protect and promote connectivity values. To maintain connectivity, the government needs to ensure that the network is not fragmented between land management agencies, nor are parts sold off. TSR managers should work closely and in a coordinated way with managers of other, non-TSR roadside vegetation.
John Fitz Gerald
28 September 2011