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Showing posts from 2009

Why we should save Straddie

North Stradbroke Island (NSI) is the only sand island off the south-east coast of Queensland not protected against the environmental devastation of sand mining. It is the closest of these islands to the major population centre of Greater Brisbane, which has an ever increasing need of open space for its citizens who would benefit from ending sand mining and declaring National Park.

There is a growing alliance of local and regional community groups and organisations concerned about the future of North Stradbroke Island (1). The goal is to end sand mining on the island. There is a unique opportunity to do so. More than a dozen of the mining leases have expired. Some expired up to two years ago and some are large in area, including leases currently being mined pending decisions on applications to renew the leases for periods in excess of 20 years.

The mining companies have no "right" to renewal of expired leases. The Government has an unfettered discretion to refuse, and in fa…

E-mail to Premier with Save Straddie message

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Thank you to all FOSI members who forwarded the e-mail flyer shown above, otherwise known as an e-blast, calling for an end to sand mining on North Stradbroke Island to the Premier.

It's not too late to email your copy to the Premier and to encourage all of your friends, family and neighbours to do the same. Also, if you have a Facebook site please posts the flyer there too. Or, if you like write to the Premier directly:
The Hon. Anna Bligh MP
Premier of Queensland

PO Box 15185
City East  QLD  4002 or via contact form.

We are pleased to have the support of leading Queensland environmental groups in our campaign to bring an end to sand mining. A big thanks to the following organisations who have distributed the flyer to their members, spread the word about the on-going destruction of North Stradbroke Island via their websites and newsletters and alerted the media to the loss of precious green space:
Queensland Conservation Council
Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland
FIDO (Fr…

Miners brush off concerns

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In one of its recent publications Unimin subsidiary CRL suggested the anti-sand mining position adopted by FOSI and other groups was a “personal choice” (The Sand Times, Sept 2009).

We agree. We live here. So do our kids.

The decision-makers in Unimin live in Melbourne and Europe. One less dune, Banksia or wallaby doesn't matter much to them!

We choose green space, bushland and intact ancient dune systems on the doorstep of a major urban area for generations of Queenslanders to enjoy.

They choose destruction of dunes and bushland, short-term jobs, profits for a private Belgian company and paltry royalty payments to the State.

What do you choose?

Newspaper exposes mining destruction

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The Courier-Mail newspaper used dramatic aerial photographs of gaping holes in the ancient dunes to expose the devastation being caused by sand mining on North Stradbroke Island.
The double-page spread published in August prompted an immediate and passionate response from readers.

Many people voted in an online poll, participated in blogs, wrote letters to the editor and the Government and their local members to express their dismay. Around 80% of voters in the paper‟s online poll opposed sand mining on North Stradbroke Island.

While most of the island, including recent rehabilitation and mining operations, remain out-of- bounds to the public it is easy for this issue to remain “out of sight and out of mind” for most people. So well done to the Courier-Mail and others involved for alerting the people of South-East Queensland to what is happening on Straddie.

Out of sight, out of mind no more: letter writers call for end to destruction on Straddie

The Courier-Mail's coverage of the destruction wrought by sand mining on North Stradbroke Island sparked a flurry of letter writing to the newspaper and the State Government.
Here are a few extracts:
One wonders what the late Oodgeroo Noonuccal would have to say about the extensive sand mining on her homeland... The aerial shots of areas being mined (C-M, Aug 15-16) were staggering Claire Jolliffe, Buderim. C-M 17 August 2009. 
...some of the mining leases have expired and are not yet renewed. What a golden opportunity for the Government to implement the ALP's long-held proposal to convert extensive areas into national parks. I defy anyone who has the long-term interest of the island at heart to justify the destruction of the continuing sand mining. Elinor Drake, Point Lookout. C-M 18 August 2009. 
The public debate about the future of NSI should not be about whether mining is good or bad per se. It should be about what use of the island's resources will best benefit Queensla…

In brief (Dec 2009)

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Illegal camping
People have been flouting the ban on camping on Deadman's and Frenchman's beaches and other areas of beach and reserve on the island.

While we understand the appeal of camping in these lovely places, the sheer number of island visitors means the environment does not have the chance to recover from the damage done by campers.

Illegal campers leave rubbish, human waste and toilet paper, trample vegetation and destroy trees. There is ample space for camping in island campgrounds.

Therefore, we urge the council to be vigilant in discouraging these campers and others to report them to island rangers on 1300 551 253.

Emergency
Local emergency services are concerned that the lack of house numbers on island properties could one day lead to a tragedy.

The police, ambulance and emergency services have asked residents to display their street number in a prominent place to help officers find properties easily in case of an emergency.

In loving memory

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Jani Haenke, 19 June 1940 – 6 September 2009
Our guiding light, Jani was FOSI'S only Life Member. She essentially founded Friends of Stradbroke Island in 1988, after the threatened construction of a concrete high-rise at Cylinder Beach on the site of Clayton's cottages. Jani organised and funded the initial court case and after losses then successes the proposal was defeated. Over the years Jani's determination for FOSI to dispute other developments on this site led to further objections, court proceedings and negotiations with developers until the acceptably low-impact buildings we see now were completed. We can thank Jani that Cylinder is still unspoilt and bears such a contrast to other major beaches in South-East Queensland. These battles set a precedent for the limited tone of development that we have experienced at Point Lookout.

Jani, as secretary then vice-president, kept FOSI alive and active for many years. She interested people with suitable skills in joining th…

On the mining lease: CRL tour

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Paul Vekselstein and Sue Ellen Carew attended the CRL Environmental Working Group (EWP) meeting and mine tour in August.Company spokespeople answered questions, gave an update on mining operations and showed community representatives around some of the mine operations.These photos were taken during the tour: 



Plan to privatise island campgrounds causes concern

A council proposal to lease island camping grounds to a private operator was met with fierce opposition when the proposal became public knowledge.

Many island residents and visitors were concerned about the proposed length of the leases, 30 years, and the lack of community consultation on the issue.

A petition was circulated by concerned residents and a flier, co-signed by FOSI and other groups, was distributed on the island protesting against the move.

In response Redlands City Council conducted some “retro community consultation” and called a meeting of interested community groups, which included FOSI, SIMO, Amity Progress Association, Quandamooka and others.

At this meeting FOSI voiced its concerns that the campgrounds retain their bush settings and new development should be environmentally-sensitive. FOSI also stated that bush camping on Flinders and Main beaches should be managed carefully to protect these sensitive and beautiful areas.

A number of community groups are now workin…

New book on North Stradbroke Island native plants

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The Flora of North Stradbroke Island is a new book that documents the tremendous diversity of plants on Straddie. It provides an excellent reference to all 599 species native to the island, which occur in a variety of habitats, ranging from coastal dunes, tidal wetlands, fresh water wetlands, heathlands, eucalypt forests, rainforests and rocky headlands. 
Kathy Stephens and Donovan Sharp of the Queensland Herbarium wrote the book, which was sponsored by CRL and supported by the Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders in Council. It contains keys, botanical description, and photographs to each of the species. Aboriginal uses for specific plants as related by Auntie Margaret Iselin are also included and are of great interest.

Straddie contains 14 species of plant that are listed as Rare and Threatened under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Two of these are endemic to the island. In addition, the strikingly beautiful yellow swamp orchid Phaius bernaysii only survives on Straddie after the extinct…

New floating pontoon for One Mile

The Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) organisation on North Stradbroke Island has a fully-equipped vessel ready for medical evacuations at any time.

Until recently, patients who required medical evacuation on a trolley boarded the vessel via the pontoon at the Little Ship Club at One Mile. Workplace Health and Safety have now stopped this practice as the pontoon becomes too steep at low tide.

For more than 10 years, representations have been made to State and Local Governments requesting the construction of a new floating pontoon at One Mile. This would allow safe medical evacuations by the VMR, and would also provide access to the Stradbroke Flyer Water Taxi for disabled passengers and passengers in wheelchairs. Promises of imminent construction followed these representations, but no action had been forthcoming.

In July, a FOSI representative attended a meeting to support the North Stradbroke Island Local Ambulance Committee in its efforts to generate some action on this issue. A Steerin…

Koala count – how you can help our furry friends!

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A study of North Stradbroke Island‟s koala population is underway and you can help! If you see a koala you can note down some vital details and send them to the study team.

Island resident Jan Aldenhoven is collecting information to send to the Redlands City Council and the State Government‟s endangered species unit.

“We hope to build a picture of the number of koalas on the island, their range and habitat, as we don‟t know what the local population is doing, if it is increasing or in decline,” Jan said.

When you see a koala note the following information and send it to jan@wildlifefilms.com.au or PO Box 255 Point Lookout.
Date and time of sitingYour name and contact details Koala's location - Be as precise as possible, you can even include GPS coordinates Tree type - If you don‟t know the species note the exact tree so someone can identify it later. Sex - Males have a brown stain in the crease of their chest and sometimes testes can be seen. Maturity - Can be difficult to know. …

Moreton Bay water quality – don’t blame the weather

The recent release of the 2009 Healthy Waters Report Card revealed a very unhealthy Moreton Bay (down to a D rating from a B). The State Government's only response seems to be to blame the weather‟. (C/M p.5, 21.10.09).

Instead the Government should recognize the obvious - Greater Brisbane's rapid growth and resulting inevitable increase in pollution levels are to blame. To blame the weather is to completely miss the point and throw in the towel without a fight.

The area's population is forecast to almost double over the next 20 years or so

in accordance with current government policy. Unless we act now, the health of our waterways will decline further.

It is essential that the Bay islands, with their natural cleansing attributes, are protected and preserved to help counter the increasing pollution coming from the mainland. This is another reason why FOSI is determined to encourage the Government to stop sand mining on North Stradbroke Island and declare the majority of th…

Island life (Dec 2009)

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Seen around the shore (June 2009)

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Native plants for Stradbroke Island gardens

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Stradbroke gardens
In this edition we have seen the difference 10 years of bush care can make and some weeds to watch out for.  Below is some advice as to suitable trees, ground cover and shrubs to plant in your Stradbroke garden. Suitable native trees Lophestemon confertus (box tree) - canopy tree for big gardens or pruningBanksia integrifolia – (coastal banksia) - attracts birds
Banksia aemula or serrata (wallum banksia) – attracts birdsElaeocarpus reticulatus (blue berry ash)Pandanus pedunculatus (pandanus/ screw palm)
Cupaniopsis anacardioides (tuckeroo)

Suitable ground cover Carpobrotus rossii (Pig face)Lomandra longifolia
Dianella caerula (edible purple fruit)Jasminum didymum – yellow flowersHibbertia scandens (yellow snake vine)Myoporum acuminatumViola banksii (native violet)

Suitable shrubs Banksia robur (swamp banskia)
Banksia oblongifolia (dwarf banksia)Melaleuca thymiIfolia (thyme honey myrtle) or nodosa (prickly leaved paperbark)
Melaleuca pachyphyllus (red flowering swamp bottl…

The problem with weeds: bushland intruders

Many hardy garden plants that grow well in island conditions can easily become weeds. They invade the bush and muscle out native species. We’ve all seen the suffocating asparagus fern, which probably arrived in someone’s hanging basket in the 70’s.

The colourful autumnal display of yellow and red behind Frenchmans beach is actually easter cassia and umbrella trees both weeds and spread by feeding rainbow lorikeets. This lush scene, which certainly appeals to the eye, however needs to be transformed to the silvery greys of the banksia, pandanus and casurina -the aesthetic of the native bush.

Grass clippings and garden rubbish, often including those rampant but fashionable succulents, should not be dumped in bushland. Native bushland thrives in low-nutrient sandy soils and does not need this extra mulch. Dumping garden rubbish just spreads weeds. Put it in your rubbish bin instead!

Weeds to watch out for These weeds invade our gardens too!
Basket asparagus fern Broad leaf pepper Umbre…

Bushcare anniversary: still making a difference 10 years on

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Every friend of Stradbroke Island cherishes its bushland. Pandanus and pigface, casuarinas and crinum lilies — these and a host of other plants adapted to sand and salt wind are a living part of the island’s charm. But they are menaced by weeds. Take the section of the foreshore reserve bordered by Kennedy Drive, for example. For years now the original banksias have been succumbing to old age and the prevailing winds, but the seedlings that should replace them don’t stand a chance — they’ve been crowded out by a rolling carpet of asparagus fern, dotted with the inglorious gloriosa lily.

Ten years ago, Jan and Bruce Johnman and Judy and Mike Hines resolved to make a concerted effort to “Fight the Blight”. They rounded up like-minded locals, enlisted the support of the Council, and founded Point Lookout Bushcare.

Now, with its nursery, its working bees and its market stall, Bushcare is an established feature of the island scene. The group is funded by Redland City Council and from the …

Oil spill update: Straddie fisheries safe

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Stradbroke Island fisheries are healthy and oil and toxin free following the devasting oil spill off Moreton Island. 
In March MV Pacific Adveturer dumped 250 tonnes of oil, which washed up on the Sunshine Coast, Bribie Island and Moreton Island.

Despite the damage to Moreton Island, the fishing industry based aroud Point Lookout, including local oyster leases, has not been affected.

Local fishermen say they are thankful their livelihood has been spared and hope the public will keep supporting them by buying local seafood.

More than 2500 people worked to clean up Moreton Island’s beaches, which were re‐ opened in May.

An independent review of the spill and the authorities’ response has been set up. We hope any recommendations it makes will be implemented to stop this from happening again.


Results of the 2009 AGM

The meeting on Easter Saturday was well attended.

New committee elected
President - Sue Ellen Carew
Vice-President - Jani Haenke
Secretary - Angela McLeod
Treasurer - Edith McPhee
Committee - Paul Vekselstein Kate Campbell Barney Hines.

At the meeting members expressed FOSI’s increased concern about the destruction caused by sand mining on the island.
Two motions passed
Two motions, which make clear our stance on this important issue, were proposed and passed.

They were:
FOSI supports the cessation of sandmining and quarrying on North Stradbroke Island. FOSI supports the creation of industries and employment based on preservation of the natural environment and indigenous cultures.

Seen around the island

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Hideway...
Bella Vista...
Stripped bare...


FOSI President’s Report (mid 2009)

In the last year the global economic crisis together with new scientific predictions of the rapid escalation of global warming are factors that have radically altered most people’s world view. I am sure most FOSI members consider the island much more in a global context than we did only a year ago.

The implications for North Stradbroke Island, already suffering environmental harm from inappropriate development, sand mining and water extraction, and very nearly an oil spill, become ever more unpredictable.

Sea level rises, extreme weather events, mining companies ever more fixated on the bottom line and searching for profitable activities, and developers with the same problem, a larger population in Redlands drawing on the aquifer – all these are potential impacts on our poor island.

FOSI’s activities over 2008 included involvement in two legal cases. One involved CRL’s attempts to quarry huge volumes of sand from the island (around 500,000 tonnes per annum) for the construction ind…

Latest island news in brief

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New owner for CRL
Stradbroke silica sand miner Unimin Australia, subsidiary of a Belgian-based private mining company, is the new majority shareholder of island sand miner CRL (Consolidated Rutile Ltd). 

CRL’s previous majority owner Iluka (51%) agreed to sell its holding to Unimin, which already owned 19% of CRL’s shares.

The Foreign Investment Review Board approved the transaction. Unimin’s plans for CRL are unknown. 
Facelift for hall
The Point Lookout Hall is set for a facelift.

The State Government recently announced it would provide $284,000 to Redlands City Council to help renovate the hall.

Council had previously allocated significant funds to the project.

Thanks to Councillor Craig Ogilivie and former State member Phil Weightman for their help in securing this funding.
Café land grab?
FOSI has opposed moves by the owners of the Look café to expand its floor space onto public land.
The owners of the Mintee Street café have applied to the State Department of Environment and Res…

CRL’s future mine plan: downsizing & job losses

Prior to its takeover by Unimin, Consolidated Rutile Ltd (CRL) announced major changes to its North Stradbroke Island sand mining operations.

In a May release to the stock market the company said it anticipated the mining operation at Yarraman would be completed in 2013 and its rig dismantled and taken off the island.

The Enterprise Mine would remain and mining of this resource would be extended by four years to 2027.

The company said it expected employee numbers would halve by 2014 as a result of these changes. CRL said should the Unimin takeover be successful, these changes would be subject to review by the new owner.

Friends of Stradbroke Island (FOSI) sees these changes as an indication of the marginal nature of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island.

They provide further evidence that the small gains in terms of jobs, royalties, input to the economy and local purchasing provided by mining is not worth the cost: plants and animals destroyed, dune systems, lakes and creeks dam…

Expired mining leases should not be renewed

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Mining leases on NSI were granted in a bygone era –

Politically by a Bjelke-Petersen national party Government with very different attitudes to the environment than the current Government.

Culturally when public perception of and attitudes to mining in fragile environments were quite different.

Geographically when NSI was much further from the major population centres. Redlands was still a rural area yet to undergo urbanisation and Brisbane was of much smaller dimensions. Now it is on the door step of a substantial population which is ever increasing.
Now a unique opportunity for the government to act!
There are a large number of mining leases that have expired and FOSI and others are opposing the renewal of all such expired leases. The ALP Governments have been proposing to develop extensive National Parks on NSI since 1990. In that time, the population of greater Brisbane has more than doubled, creating a much greater need for green space and more National Parks. 
Is it time to end san…

CRL sand case update (mid 2009)

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In our last newsletter we reported the unanimous decision of the Redland City Council in August, 2008, to reject a proposal by a Consolidated Rutile Ltd subsidiary to take sand from the island and sell it to the construction industry. Such sand is not a ‘mineral’ under the Mineral Resources Act. The application involved the establishment on the island of a significant new extractive industry, which on the figures provided by the mining company could last for 98 years. The mining company claimed in its application to the Council that up to 10 extra jobs would be created if its proposal was approved.

CRL has appealed the decision. In early April, there was a two-day hearing of several preliminary points of law which could bring the appeal to an end. The court has reserved its judgement.
However, there has been another development, which will become very significant if the court decides the preliminary points in CRL’s favour. Prior to the State election on 21 March, several FOSI and SIMO…