Tuesday, 1 December 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 fact may not renew unless the Minister is satisfied of each of a number of factors - in particular that the public interest will not be adversely affected by renewal. (2)

Currently, mining leases cover 70% of the Island and the public is excluded under threat of prosecution.

Although damage has been done by mining, much of the island remains unravaged. But it is in danger and needs our collective assistance. It is time to save Straddie. These are some of the reasons for doing so:-

Ten compelling reasons to stop sand mining
1. Save old growth forests, woodlands and everything else in the path of the mines

Sand mining is extremely destructive. Almost everything in the mine path is completely destroyed.

Post-mining "rehabilitation" is a poor substitute for ancient dunes and the complex ecosystems which depend upon them remaining intact.

2. Preserve the island’s remarkable bio- diversity
The island is universally acknowledged as having incredible diversity in flora and fauna. This was reflected recently by Premier Anna Bligh –
“The Bligh Government recognises that Stradbroke Island is a valuable natural asset to the people of south east Queensland. The Bligh Government also recognises that this is an area that needs to be protected and preserved for future generations.” (3)

3. Hydrology – the extensive acquifer must be protected, not put at risk.
Stradbroke Island was formed by the deposition and erosion of dunes over thousands of years. The mechanism of water moving through these layers is not fully understood, nor the effect of this hydrological system on flora and fauna appreciated. Mining has already caused damage to freshwater lakes on the Island – further damage is a serious risk if mining continues.

4. Protect the unique Island koala
Island koalas are genetically different from mainland koalas, having been isolated for up to 8000 years. Genetic data indicates that Stradbroke Island has the only naturally occurring island population. Other island populations have been introduced. This means that the Stradbroke koala population is of very high conservation value. (4)

5. We need more National Parks The Bligh Government recognizes the acute need for more national parks and public open space. South East Queensland has 19% public open space compared to Greater Sydney's 49%! See http://www.thepremier.qld.gov.au/tomorr ow/environment/index.aspx and http://www.thepremier.qld.gov.au/tomorr ow/environment/land_conservation.aspx

6. Create an economy based on preservation not destruction

It's time to replace the temporary, ever-dwindling number of jobs in a destructive industry, with permanent jobs based upon National Parks and low impact, well-managed eco-tourism. There are opportunities for co-management of parks and jobs for the island's Indigenous land claimants. More mining puts these jobs at risk because tourists are attracted by intact ancient dunes and their complex ecosystems.

7. Citizens’ rights before miners’ rights
Our opposition to sand mining on Stradbroke is specific. We are not anti- mining per se. But, it is one thing to mine in outback Queensland. It is quite another to lock up 70% of NSI under mining leases and to mine a fragile coastal environment within a short distance of major population centres in need of more public open space.

8. Areas being mined are zoned ‘Conservation’
The Redlands Planning Scheme, approved and gazetted by the State Government in 2006, designates that most of the Island is zoned "conservation", including the areas being mined by CRL and Unimin. Ending mining and declaring the Island National Park is the only logical way to "conserve" the Island and put into effect the policy that the Island... "needs to be protected and preserved for future generations." (5)

9. The Global Context
In 1990, Darryl Briskey, the ALP member for Redlands, after announcing the Goss government‟s intention to declare 50% of the island National Park (which did not happen) - also said this...
“We must not forget that ultimately the environment sustains all life. If we do not act quickly to protect it, our quality of life will deteriorate and, eventually, continued environmental destruction will mean an end to humanity.” (6)
The responsibility and the need for government to take the lead here is now much more acute than it was in 1990. We must "think globally, act locally".

10. It’s Stradbroke’s turn
Despite the less acute global environmental and other reasons for doing so, the Liberal/ National Party Government under Malcolm Fraser stopped sand mining on Fraser Island in the 1970's. Similarly, sand mining has been stopped on Moreton Island, Cooloola and at Shelburne Bay in North Queensland by previous ALP State Governments. It is time for the Bligh Government to stop sand mining on Stradbroke Island.

Why we need to act now
We appreciate that this may be a long campaign. However, it can be successful.

North Stradbroke Island is on the doorstep of a large population which is increasing at a very rapid rate as a result of government policy. Most people are concerned about the decline in their quality of life in recent years and understand that it has been brought about by a combination of rapid population growth and a lack of infrastructure to support it. A related issue is the limited public open space. The Premier's website acknowledges that already there is an acute shortage of public open space. Our area has 19% compared to Greater Sydney's 49 %. If the Government does not correct the imbalance, it risks suffering at the ballot box in South-East Queensland for this reason alone.

In addition, now that the damage being caused on NSI has been exposed by the Courier-Mail and commercial television news, the Government's environmental credentials are at risk. People in the Greater Brisbane area and beyond generally are aware of and interested in the Island and most people have stayed on or visited the Island to surf, fish, enjoy the beaches, birdwatch or just relax in the peace and quiet. They care what happens and will take note of the decisions made that affect it.

The State already is the legal owner of the vast majority of land on NSI. By ending sand mining and, in consultation with native title claimants, dedicating this land as National Park, it will assist the Government to solve the public open space shortage. It will also demonstrate that it does care about the environmental destruction of the Island and has acted to save it from further damage. Refusal of all applications to renew expired mining leases is the first step.

More detailed reasons for ceasing sand mining and information about the relatively new category of National Park (recovery), which would be suitable for mined land in need of rehabilitation, are available from FOSI upon request. 

1 See list on page 5.
2 Mineral Resources Act, section 286A.
3 The letter was written on the Premier's behalf in March 2009 by her senior policy advisor and sent to those who emailed the premier about CRL‟s attempts to extend its sand mining operations to selling island sand for construction purposes. The letter also stated that the Bligh government supported the Redland City Council's rejection of CRL's proposal, but to date the Government has done nothing to actively support the RCC's decision.
4 Shown by research carried out under the direction of Frank Carrick of the University of Qld .
5 letter from the Premier sent to people a week before the March, 2009 State election – see footnote 2.
6 Hansard, 8/5/90, p. 1150

E-mail to Premier with Save Straddie message

Save Straddie email blast campaign.

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 (Fraser Island Defenders Organisation)

  • MIPC (Moreton Island Protection Committee)

  • CARP (Community Alliance for Responsible Planning Redlands). 

These groups are encouraging their members to send the e-blast to the Premier and to forward it to their friends, family and contacts so they can do the same. This will increase the pressure on the Government “to do the right thing”.

Miners brush off concerns

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.

It's not my backyard!... mining executives live in Melbourne and Europe, far from where the impact of their decisions is felt. 
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

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.

Couriermail coverage of Straddie sand mining.
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 Queenslanders. . . If we don't stop mining, quarrying and urbanisation on areas like this now... there will not be enough open space in the south-east for future generations.
Robert Magdics, Bardon C-M 22-23 August 2009. 

People don't realise that, over the past 50 years, nearly half of NSI has been clear-felled and mined. It can never go back to what it was but we have a chance to keep what is left intact.
David Hannan, Dunwich. C-M 17 August 2009. 

The Government could stop the devastation tomorrow. Some of the leases have been expired for quite some time yet the destruction of the island is being allowed to continue. 
Sue Ellen Carew FOSI. C-M 22-23 August 2009. 

Rejecting a proposed $1.5 billion resort development at Inskip Point of the Fraser Coast, Premier Anna Bligh said the ancient dune system had to be protected ... On Stradbroke, the miner doesn't even have to put the dunes back where they were before or in the same shape. 
Fran Quinn, C-M 22-23 August 2009. 

The Queensland Government has committed to a National Park target of 7.5 per cent by 2020, of which North Stradbroke Island is a key component. It is also recognised that mining is an integral component of the economy...
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy The Hon Stephen Robertson MP, 23/9/09.

In brief (Dec 2009)

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.

Pig sty... rubbish left by campers on Deadman's Beach. 
Campfire on Frenchman's Beach during a total fire ban. 
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.

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

Jani Haenke, 19 June 1940 – 6 September 2009
FOSI Vice-President the late Jani Haenke (Photo: Angus Martin). 
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 the group and imbued them with her true conservationist principles.

Around 1993 she encouraged Michael Kennedy, an architect with a strong preservationist perspective to join FOSI and continue the work of the group in controlling the nature of the inevitable changes to the built environment that popularity was bringing to a sleepy coastal hamlet. Together they joined with architects Peter O'Gorman and Brit Andresen to lobby the Redland Shire Council to control development, resulting in the introduction of the Development Control Plan for Point Lookout.

This plan embodied the principles of lightweight low-rise building and protection of the brush box canopy and native vegetation. Jani was in fact the driving force behind the preservation of Point Lookout's character as a unique coastal village.

Over the years of course it has been a struggle to have the council and developers maintain the vision. She wrote many development objections and numerous courts cases were run and financed with Jani always a leading figure. If ever questions were raised in committee meetings about whether FOSI should challenge a particular development proposal, Jani always quietly and determinedly put the affirmative position. She knew you had to stick to your guns.

But it was not her commitment to Point Lookout's built environment that was her strongest suit, Jani placed conservation of the natural world of the island and its surrounding waters as paramount and crucial. However, she always took a global perspective and maintained many other environmental interests and involvements.

Jani was always keen to take up any opportunity to halt the devastation caused by sand mining. I remember her submission condemning the Enterprise Mine plans. She wrote of the damage that would be caused to the ancient dune system upon which grew beautiful old forest and complex vegetation communities. This is the mine that is intended to continue for many more years and which we have recently seen in aerial photos in the Courier-Mail.

Jani was really gratified that the recent construction sand proposal was rejected by the Redland Council and keen to support the court case in which FOSI and other islanders are supporting the council against CRL's appeal. She may not have seen the recent photos but she understood full well the destruction caused by sand mining.

The FOSI committee would like to dedicate our future campaign to bring an end to mining to Jani.

We also hope, like many people, that the wonderful Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival organised by Jani and Rachel Smith will continue. I'm sure Jani must have enjoyed the festival more that any other musical experience since it occurred in the magnificent natural setting of Cylinder Beach.

Sue Ellen Carew

On the mining lease: CRL tour

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: 

Now you see it – now you don’t ... (left) mining operations devour bushland at CRL’s Yarraman mine. 
Moonscape ... (right) drains like this have replaced creeks and gullies formed over thousands of years.

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 working with council to investigate the possibility of a community-based management group for the grounds.

Council has given the local groups a good hearing and has asked them to present a business plan. Some groups in the community are interested in taking up management of the campgrounds. FOSI supports their endeavours and congratulates them on their determination and on the hours of work they have put into their proposal..

Kate Campbell

New book on North Stradbroke Island native plants

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. 

Plant natives... blossoms in an Island garden. 
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 extinction of other populations in southeast Queensland.

The book is on sale at the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, at the Point Lookout Newsagent, through the Elders and at the Herbarium.

Barney Hines

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 Steering Committee was formed, and it was agreed that meetings be sought with the various State Departments involved, and that a media campaign be commenced.

The Steering Committee called a meeting in early September to report some positive news. Preliminary plans for the pontoon were discussed at the meeting, and the Committee advised that the location of the proposed pontoon structure is acceptable to the Environmental authorities because it will not require further dredging. The majority of the funding for the project has been promised from various departments, and construction should commence in early 2010.

Koala count – how you can help our furry friends!

Photo: Dick Marks Australian Koala Foundation
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 siting
  • Your 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. Whether the animal is small or large can be helpful. Also record a mother with young in her pouch. 
  • Condition. e.g. healthy, sick (red eyes, wet bottom, skinny), injured, dead. 
Report injured, dead or sick koalas to the local animal rescue team on 0407 766 052.

Kate Campbell

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 the island National Park.

Island life (Dec 2009)

It’s mine! I got it first!. . . a pair of Kookaburras plays tug of war with a large caterpillar. 
Strolling. . . Sooty Oyster Catchers on Deadman’s Beach. 
Fox tracks on Frenchman‟s beach.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Seen around the shore (June 2009)

A Kiwi visitor... this gannet was found on Deadman’s Beach, it carried a leg band (below) from White Island, off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. 

The leg band of the gannet from New Zealand found on Deadman's Beach (above).

Taking a breather ... An osprey on Deadman’s Beach (below).

Native plants for Stradbroke Island gardens

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.
Pig face, a great native garden plant.
Suitable native trees 
  • Lophestemon confertus (box tree) - canopy tree for big gardens or pruning
  • Banksia integrifolia – (coastal banksia) - attracts birds

  • Banksia aemula or serrata (wallum banksia) – attracts birds
  • Elaeocarpus 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 flowers
  • Hibbertia scandens (yellow snake vine)
  • Myoporum acuminatum
  • Viola 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 bottlebrush)

  • Leptospermum polygolofolium (yellow tea tree)

  • Austromyrtus dulcis (midyim, white edible berries)

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 
  • Umbrella tree 
  • Easter cassia 
  • Glory lily 
  • Brazilian cherry 
  • Ochna
  • Indian Hawthorn 
  • Purple succulent 
  • Mother of millions 
  • Agave/sisal

Bushcare anniversary: still making a difference 10 years on

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.

Caring for the bush ... Bushcare volunteers have been removing weeds, replanting natives and educating the public at Point Lookout for 10 years. 
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 sales of plants from its nursery and is run by volunteers The group received the Education Award in the recent Bushcare awards for the Redlands Council region for its work teaching the public about native plants and the damage done to native bushland by weeds.

Off to work ... Bruce Johnman is ready to start replanting natives along the Gorge Walk. 
Read on to find out how you can lend a hand to Bushcare, learn more about the island’s native plants and what to plant in your garden to help the local environment.
Native seedlings ... Bushcare replaces weeds like asparagus fern with native seedlings grown in its nursery. 
Current Bushcare projects
Working bees are held on the first Saturday of the month from 8am. The group has recently planted 5000 natives on the Southern Headland overlooking Main Beach. The council is helping by employing contractors to poison weeds, such as asparagus fern, that were choking the area.

Ten years of bush care makes a difference! 

Bushcare workers planting casuarinas at the access to Main Beach about ten years ago 

The same area today 
The dune area around the Lily Walk in front of the Whale Watch complex is also being replanted. 

Planting on the Southern Headland. 
Profits from the stall are used to fund Bushcare initiatives such as a new brochure on local plants and gardens that will be distributed to ratepayers.

So why not pop by for a chat and pick up something for your garden? Upcoming market days at the Point Lookout Hall are: 28 June and 5 July.
Member Jan Johnman said education was probably the most important part of Bushcare’s work. “Making information available about weeds and which plants to plant, helps local gardeners develop their own patch of Point Lookout bush,” she said.
Working bee ... volunteers at work. 
The market stall

The Bushcare stall at the Point Lookout markets is the place to go to buy local native plants for your garden. You can choose from a selection of plants from the Bushcare nursery and learn more about the group and its conservation work from volunteers manning the stall.

Judy Hines waters newly‐planted seedlings. 
The nursery

From 10am to 12pm each Thursday the Bushcare nursery, in the old campground near the Gorge Walk, is a hive of activity. The group collects seeds from local native plants and propagates and grows the seedlings. 

Get involved: how you can help
Bushcare member Judy Hines said the group was looking for more volunteers. “Working with Bushcare is a great way to meet other locals and learn more about the island enviroment,” she said. “What’s more we really enjoy ourselves! We are pretty easy going - people can do as little or as much as they like. You can help in the nursery, on the working bees or at the market stall.”

If you would like to get involved call Jan Johnman on 3409 8687 or Judy Hines on 3409 8567 or visit the market stall or the nursery between 10am and 12pm every Thursday.

Also read more about weeds to avoid and suitable native trees, ground cover and shrubs for Stradbroke Island gardens.

Oil spill update: Straddie fisheries safe

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.

Fisheries safe ... a trawler off Point Lookout. 
Overloaded? ... containers are stacked high on a ship off Point Lookout. 
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

A Nankeen Night Heron shelters in a Zulu fig tree on Samarinda Way.
Bella Vista...
Dead trees reveal a magnificent view down Home Beach...
Dead trees reveal a magnificent view down Home Beach (inset).
Stripped bare...
The east end of Deadman’s Beach
A big sand blow after the wild weather in late May.

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 industry and trucking it through Dunwich. We feel strongly that this is inappropriate as it would extend the life of extractive industries on the island for many decades to come and otherwise conflicts with preserving the island for future generations. The other case was that of a development application for residences in Mooloomba Road that did not comply with the Redlands Planning Scheme for Point Lookout. Both cases have involved a huge commitment of time by our legal team , and in the planning case by our town planning advisors. We thank all of them for their generous contributions.

The sand case
After Redland City Council unanimously rejected mining company CRL’s sand export development application in a dramatic council meeting where many members of the public were able to speak, CRL launched an appeal in the Planning and Environment Court. FOSI, SIMO and others have joined the Council as co- respondents in defending the decision. Just prior to Easter preliminary points, including a Native Title issue, were heard in the court. The points were argued by our legal representatives in the court with a large number of our supporters in the gallery. This matter is ongoing and we may not receive a decision for a couple of months.

During the election campaign FOSI and SIMO wrote to our local member to raise a number of issues surrounding this case such as the State Government’s granting of a permit under the Forestry Act to sell the sand to CRL.

This permit was granted without any public consultation, although dependent on Planning Approval by the RCC. After no response was received from our sitting member, Mr Weightman, FOSI and SIMO and Quandamooka distributed a jointly-signed flyer to members and residents to garner some help in writing to the government. Quite a few members emailed and faxed strong letters to Mr Weightman and Premier Bligh. The permit became a minor election issue and we eventually received responses from both politicians expressing views that were encouraging, although making no definite commitments.

What we want is for the State Government to withdraw the permit and not amend any leases to facilitate storage and loading of the sand onto barges. We are still pursuing this as there would be no need for a court case if this original decision to grant the permit was rescinded, or the government announced that it will not amend the Dunwich leases. 

The Mooloomba Road Appeal
The Mooloomba Road Appeal has been adjourned after an agreement was reached with the developers. They will submit fresh plans, which comply with the Redlands Planning Scheme’s set back and landscaping requirements. Provided that occurs, we will withdraw the appeal. 

Paul Vekselstein has attended CRL’s EWG (Environmental Working Group) meetings as FOSI’s representative. His technical understanding has been invaluable to FOSI and also to SIMO. The landform criteria continued as an issue this year. Last June a meeting was held where CRL explained the landform criteria on the EPA’s behalf. These criteria are the framework that CRL and the EPA have used to approve re-contouring of the dunes post-mining. FOSI believes these new landforms are inappropriate, as they have little resemblance to the original dunes and cut across natural drainage lines. The criteria may have been poorly explained but reasons why the EPA did approve it were not given. We have continued communication with the EPA on the issue only to receive what we consider unsatisfactory responses. It has been suggested to FOSI that the criteria will be unenforceable by the EPA down the track.

Now some information from the EWG meetings: CRL has completed its perched lakes investigation into the possible effects of mining and related activities on all the lakes that it has mined close to. The results are preliminary and dictate that additional work, such as modelling, needs to be undertaken. More lakes may have been damaged. The repair of the drained Lake Kounpee is currently being tested with the availability of more water and all indications are that it is not leaking. The final test results will be available mid-year.

The Yarraman mine has passed the Yarraman Valley and is heading towards Fisherman’s Road and Point Lookout. Yarraman Valley is still being constructed. CRL is evaluating the Enterprise North resource to determine if it will move the Yarraman rig there after Yarraman is completed in a few years time. According to CRL , Enterprise North is CRL’s last viable resource.

The latest EWG meeting dealt with the Koala Study results. The island Koalas are interestingly genetically different from those found on the mainland. However, their survival is not seen to be under the same dire threat as those on the mainland in the Redlands region. 

Unimin’s activities have been under greater scrutiny in the past year. The Commonwealth and the EPA found a number of deficiencies in the company’s draft Environmental Studies Report, which Unimin took most of last year to properly address. This resulted in improved protection, and a much improved monitoring and reporting regime. The first Community Consultative Committee meeting was held in late April and was attended by FOSI representatives. 

Redland City Council
FOSI has attended a number of consultations with the Mayor and council officers on issues such as the Holiday Letting Code, litter and rubbish collection and the Point Lookout Reserve.

FOSI had the reserve listed under the Queensland Heritage Act some years ago. We also commissioned a study on the reserve, which we provided to Council. Little action has come from this. Although Bushcare has greatly improved many areas in its 10 years of hard work, the council has yet to complete a management plan for the reserve as required by the Act. We hope this will be achieved soon.

A Weed Management Study was recently completed. This is a welcome advance as now as well as providing a guide for Bushcare and council workers, it will provide guidance for a team of young people from the indigenous community who will soon begin a training program involving restoration work in the reserve.

Other issues that have been raised with council include the community hall, a new sewage treatment plant and the inconsistent enforcement of the planning scheme.

Cylinder Beach is however back on the council’s agenda and FOSI needs to resume examination of the latest moves to redo the car park there. 

Chamber Music Festival
The Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival was held for the second time last year with FOSI’s sponsorship and the great musical talents and organising abilities of member Rachel Smith. Thank you to Rachel and also Jani Haenke for their contributions towards the success of this wonderful addition to the cultural life of the island. We hope it will be an annual event. 

FOSI newsletter Our last two newsletters have been distributed electronically, which has enabled us to circulate some wonderful colour photographs to members. Thanks to Janita Cunnington for her editorship.

Thank you
Thank you to all the committee for their work in the past year. Particular thanks to Edith McPhee for keeping the organisational cogs turning and for keeping in touch with members. Also thank you to a number of members who made generous donations to help finance our court cases which included the employment of a landscape architect on the planning case. Few community environment groups have the resources of expertise and financial backing that FOSI has been able to call on.

Latest island news in brief

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 dry mining on NSI (Photo: CRL Image Library). 
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 Look café in Mintee St. 
The owners of the Mintee Street café have applied to the State Department of Environment and Resource Management to build a deck over a section of vegetated road reserve next to the footpath.

FOSI believes this is inappropriate as it would adversely affect pedestrian access and the vegetation it contains is important to the character of the precinct.
A sign about the expansion. 
Imagine what will happen to the amenity of the Point if other private land owners were permitted to extend their homes into adjacent road reserves!

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 damaged and vast tracts of the island locked away in mining leases preventing other recreational and conservation uses.

Expired mining leases should not be renewed

Mining leases on NSI were granted in a bygone era –

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

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

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.

Dredge Mine, concentrator (CRL image library).
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. 

Sand mining on North Stradbroke Island (CRL image library).
Is it time to end sand mining on Stradbroke Island?

CRL sand case update (mid 2009)

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 members emailed the Premier, Anna Bligh, endorsing a leaflet authorised by FOSI, SIMO and the Quandamooka Land Council, which called for her assistance in preventing the sand export proposal. Members should have received a copy of this by email (if you did not please advise us of your email address for future contact).

Premier supports Redland Council decision

The response sent on Premier Bligh’s behalf by her senior policy advisor on 16 March, 2009, included these statements:
“The Bligh Government supports Redland Shire Council's decision to refuse Development Approval to remove and sell sand from Stradbroke Island” 
“The Bligh Government recognises that Stradbroke Island is a valuable natural asset to the people of south-east Queensland. The Bligh Government also recognises that this is an area that needs to be protected and preserved for future generations.”
The Premier’s response also supported the development of eco-tourism and the creation of more national park on the island. The Bligh government has yet to act on its support for the Council’s decision.

Government support for decision to reject CRL’s proposal
The Bligh government support for the Council decision is hardly surprising. There are five key reasons which explain both the unanimous council decision and the Bligh Government’s support for it. They are:-

1. The unacceptable loss of amenity in Dunwich resulting from the hundreds of extra truck trips. Even on CRL’s figures, there would be an additional 134 truck movements passing along the route through Dunwich each day. That is, additional to the mineral sands operation, which generates 62 truck movements per day on the same route. However, if smaller than 30 tonne trucks were used (which many suspect), there would be about 200 extra truck movements per day – more than a 300% increase in trucks!

2. The land from which it is proposed to take the sand is zoned ‘conservation’ in the Redlands Planning Scheme, approved and gazetted by the State Government in 2006. The proposed activity, not surprisingly, is listed as ‘an inconsistent use’ in this Scheme;

3. This land is not designated as a sand resource extraction area in state government regional plans which are intended to set aside areas of land for various purposes in a planned and rational way, having regard to the needs of the wider community.

4. The same land is subject to an unresolved native title claim in the Federal Court of Australia and the sand export application to Council was not even supported by the consent of the registered native title claimants.

5. The proposed use of the CRL Dunwich special lease on Moreton Bay to store the sand and load it onto barges would deter tourists and others because of the resulting unacceptable increases in noise and dust levels and the chaotic traffic conditions caused by the vast increase in truck movements. This loading dock lease is located immediately adjacent to the ferry and barge terminal where the vast majority of tourists arrive, along with residents and others. 

Government steps which will result in withdrawal of appeal
The state government can demonstrate its support for the council decision and in the process bring about a speedy end to the appeal case in one of 3 ways –

(a) Treating the sand sale agreement/permit issued by then DNR Forestry department in October, 2007 as terminated.

(b) Indicating that it will not amend the two state government leases at Dunwich to allow the land to be used for construction sand purposes.

(c) Declining to renew two expired mining leases 1117 and 1121, where the sand proposed to be taken is situated.

If the state government communicates its intention to support the council decision in any one of these ways, CRL’s subsidiary will have no alternative but to withdraw its appeal.

Mineral sand stock piles on the island ... sand miners want to shift the focus of their NSI operations from high value/low volume mineral sand mines to high volume/low value construction sand quarries – at the island’s expense. 
None of these issues forms a part of the Council decision and therefore are not issues in the appeal before the Planning and Environment Court. They are all solely within the jurisdiction of the State Government and outside the Court’s powers. Only the State Government can make a decision on each of these – decisions which need to be made soon in the interests of all concerned. Otherwise, if the preliminary points are decided in favour of the mining company, the case is scheduled to proceed to a full hearing, resulting in all parties devoting scarce resources to a very expensive and potentially lengthy court appeal.

Available steps
The available steps will now be addressed in some more detail:

(a) The Forestry Act sand sale permit
The State Forestry Department entered into an agreement with the CRL subsidiary in October, 2007 authorizing the mining company, subject to Council approval, to take and sell the sand (which is owned by the state under the Forestry Act), in return for the princely sum of $1 per tonne for royalties. This paved the way for the application to council for development approval.

The agreement was entered into without any public consultation – a totally unacceptable and undemocratic arrangement. Its terms were kept secret and a copy of it was not provided by the mining company to the Council nor our legal representatives, despite the general obligation to disclose all relevant documents, until our lawyers threatened a court application to force its disclosure in March, 2009. Minutes before the deadline for the court application, it was finally disclosed.

In the light of the pre-election, pro- council decision statements made on the Premier’s behalf, it is possible that the Forestry Department was on a frolic of its own when it entered into this secret agreement with the mining company. Given the sensitivities – the area is zoned ‘conservation’, the unresolved native title claim, the fact that NSI is almost universally acknowledged for its splendid bio-diversity and in need of protection etc, it is surprising the agreement was made. Fortunately, it was expressed to be subject to development approval by the Council with no mention of any appeal rights. So all the government has to do is rely on the council rejection decision (which it says it supports) and treat the agreement as terminated. Inevitably, that would result in the appeal being withdrawn.

(b) The two Dunwich state government leases
CRL proposes to use the Moreton Bay lease (next to the ferry and barge terminal) to store and load the sand onto barges. It also proposes to use the Dunwich leased land, which houses its offices and weighbridge, for its construction sand plans.

The written terms of each lease restrict the land’s use to ‘mineral sand’ purposes. The Land Act prohibits use for any other purpose than that specifically stated in the lease. The mining company realises that it cannot proceed with its plans, even if successful in court, unless the State government agrees to amend the leases. It has made an application to the government to amend the wording of the lease terms to include ‘construction sand’ purposes as a permitted use. The Redland Council, as the responsible planning authority, has been consulted by the government as to its views and, unsurprisingly, consistent with its rejection of the proposal, the Council has given notice that it opposes the amendment of these leases. Naturally it expects its decision rejecting CRL’s plans to be respected and supported by the State Government. There is only one way for the government to do that – refuse the application to amend the terms of the leases. Once that occurs, CRL would have no alternative but to withdraw its appeal, resulting in substantial savings, particularly to Redland ratepayers, who may otherwise be required to expend up to half a million dollars in legal costs defending the council’s decision.

(c) The two expired mining leases
There are two expired mining leases 1117 and 1121 which are particularly relevant because the sand which CRL proposes to remove and sell is located on these two expired leases. CRL has lodged applications with the government to renew these leases and FOSI and others have indicated that their renewal is opposed. Put simply, if the Government declines to renew those leases, as it should, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Mineral Resources Act, then that will end the construction sand proposal and open the way immediately for a new era for North Stradbroke Island - national parks and eco-tourism and the resulting greater number of permanent jobs, as opposed to mining and its temporary and ever-dwindling number of jobs. 

It is to be hoped that the Bligh government will act soon on its support for the council decision. If the mining company is successful in the preliminary

legal points stage – judgement of the court is currently reserved – the case will be scheduled to proceed to a very expensive full hearing. Assuming the Bligh government intends to honour its support for the Council’s decision, it needs to communicate its intentions without delay. If it does so, CRL will have no alternative but to withdraw the appeal.

Shrinking dunes ...if the State won’t act to stop CRL’s construction sand operations, many millions of tonnes of sand will be removed from the island (above). Photo: CRL. 
This is an unusual case. The court appeal relates only to the decision of the Council refusing its approval of CRL’s application. A success in court for the mining company does not translate into its plans proceeding, as is usual with court successes. The Planning and Environment court has no role to play in the State government’s decision on the applications to renew the expired mining leases, nor the State government’s decision on the applications to amend its leases at Dunwich, nor its decision on treating the sand sale agreement as at an end. All three are solely within the State government’s jurisdiction. The unanimous decision of the Redland City Council and the Bligh government’s support for that decision, logically leads to only one outcome.

In these circumstances the government does have a duty to bring what would be wasteful disputation to a speedy end. We hope this occurs soon.