Friends of Grasslands
supporting native grassy ecosystems
PO Box 987
Civic Square ACT 2608
Phone: 02 62.. ....
17 June 2011
ACT Planning and Land Authority
Dear Mr Mackenzie
Re: Molonglo River Park Concept Plan
Friends of Grasslands (FOG) was delighted to participate in the Wed 8th June forum on the Molonglo River Park Concept Plan where it became clear that some of the community concerns have at last been considered in recent plans for Stage 2. However, major issues remain and FOG shares many of the concerns aired at that meeting.
In particular –
- The very nature of the River Park means a long urban interface is unavoidable. However, such a park will be extremely expensive to implement and is likely to be prohibitively expensive to maintain. Long term sustainability in its currently planned form is seriously questionable.
- The planned overlap of outer asset protection (bushfire buffer) zones across the narrowest parts of the Park is highly undesirable since it implies annual hazard control right across the river corridor in these zones. At a minimum such control will need to be managed carefully to ensure biodiversity does not degrade in the long term, but overlapping should be reconsidered.
- It is of serious concern that part of the outer asset protection zone proposed lies within the Kama Nature Reserve. The forum was advised that this area as part of Stage 3 was not part of the River Park Concept planning, however FOG requests it be removed from every future map.
- The lack of ACT offset policy is greatly regrettable in a circumstance where approx 30 ha of endangered yellow box red gum grassy woodland habitat (directly south of the proposed group centre) will be destroyed by Stage 2 without any identifiable effort to compensate for this permanent environmental loss.
- There is a need to design, establish and implement long-term monitoring of conservation values, which include diversity of flora and fauna, habitat quality, landscape condition and erosion (for example from the establishment of informal tracks), across the Park. Maintenance of these established values can then be identified as a desired outcome for the park. FOG recommends that such a program of monitoring become a feature of the Concept Plan.
- The general positive intention of conserving some existing areas of grassy ecosystem and rehabilitation of other areas to ‘native grasslands’ style appears to be neither effectively planned nor budgeted. As one example, issues surrounding the perpetual weed and pest control need to be clearly addressed to handle all problems that will inevitably arise from the long urban interface.
- Plans for community education and involvement with environmental issues in the new park need to be much further developed with more detail included in the final concept plans and in the construction schedules from the outset.
- The key area of high-quality Aprasia habitat near the centre of the Park must be far better isolated from construction and community-recreational damage. The (schematic?) longitudinal cycle path through this zone should be relocated at the urban edge and passage through the area must be effectively controlled; ‘low level’ fencing would be the bare minimum solution, even if just to direct movement to entrances for a raised walkway.
- The recent mapping of individual areas for Aprasia shown in the Hassell plans does not account for likely movement of animals between rock outcrops. FOG recommends the habitat be reevaluated as one continuous unit wherever outcrops are close together.
FOG looks forward to continued engagement in developing these and other issues involved in the next version of this Concept Plan. Finally we thank ACTPLA for making the series of seven (Phase 2: opportunities and constraints and concept options) planning maps from Hassell available to forum attendees – they have been very useful in informing FOG and guiding our thinking.
John Fitz Gerald