Sunday, January 27, 2008

survival day - belgrave celebrates indigenous culture

What a great way to spend Australia Day 2008, at the Survival Day celebrations at our very own Cameo Outdoor Cinema in Belgrave.

It was terrific to see so many people in our community come out to celebrate indigenous culture and heritage. There were local musicians, bush food, but particularly special were the guests, Aunty Dot and Nigel Wilkes and his dancers. Both spoke of being aboriginal and what that means in 2008.

There is no doubt that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a unique relationship with the land and could teach us much about looking after the special environment we all enjoy in Australia.
As a society we need to:
- improve standards of health of indigenous people
- support indigenous young people
- protect cultural heritage
- ensure an indigenous voice is heard on indigenous issues
- build better relationships and partnerships between the indigenous and wider community.

Congratulations to the organisers of the event; Natalie, Davey, Jane, Jo, Erin and Anna, you all did a great job bringing this initiative to our community. I look forward to attending many more.

Congratulations to all who attended as well, there was a myriad of events you could have gone to on Australia Day. In the true spirit of reconciliation and cooperation you chose to come to Survival Day in Belgrave on what was a very hot and blustery day - well done!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

logging vs water, tca resorts to blackmail

It has come to light that Timber Communities Australia (TCA) are considering a ban on firefighting by contractors in the Shire of Yarra Ranges during the height of the 2008 fire season.

As quoted in this week's Lilydale Leader, (full article here - news) Scott Gentle (TCA Manager) said "if we can't make any headway with the shire then we might have to do something like that just to get heard. Timber contractors form a vital part of firefighting efforts, helping to clear fire breaks and containment lines with their equipment".

I will not be blackmailed by TCA or Scott Gentle. I am not impressed by someone who threatens the lives of people in the shire. This is about the long term security of Melbourne's water. The water catchments were set aside to protect the pristine quality and supply of Melbourne's water. We are very fortunate that past generations had the foresight to protect great tracts of forest for our water. Logging in catchments undermines this good fortune and to continue to log in catchments destroys their investment in our future.

Mountain Ash forest in Cambarville, water catchment country in Yarra Ranges.

There is a wealth of science linking logging in catchments with poor water quality and diminishing water supplies. Council's direction is not a 'feelgood' decision as the logging industry would believe, it is based on concern for Melbourne's water supply. There is nothing sustainable about logging in water catchments, this is not good practice or policy and we need to say 'hands off' to logging in catchments, our water future depends on it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

the sugarloaf pipeline, no ees for yarra ranges

I was greatly disappointed to learn that an Environment Effects Statement (EES) will not be required for the Sugarloaf Pipeline, as announced by Planning Minister Justin Madden in late December, 2007.

Having reviewed all the information from Melbourne Water I have concluded that an Environment Effects Statement is not required for the Sugarloaf Pipeline,” Mr Madden said.

The flexible alignment of the pipeline means potential environmental effects can be avoided or mitigated as has been the case with the construction of other pipelines in Victoria including the Goldfields Superpipe and the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline which didn’t require an EES.”

The study area through the Shire of Yarra Ranges for the project covers a north/south corridor between 2 and 4 kilometres wide from Mt Slide to Sugarloaf Reservoir. The region is characterised by:
> High value conservation areas including the Toolangi State Forest, waterways, wetlands and stands of significant indigenous vegetation.
> High quality agricultural land.
> Yarra Valley tourism including vineyards and bed and breakfast style accommodation.
> Townships including Yarra Glen, Dixons Creek and Steels Creek.
> Cultural and heritage values.

I hope the Minister is true to his word and the alignment of the pipeline does avoid any environmental impacts in the Shire. From the information given to council I have fundamental concerns about the short and long term impact of this project on the region. The construction phase incorporates a disturbance corridor some 20 to 30 metres wide, which will have an immediate and detrimental impact. Restrictions on the future use of the easement will reduce the opportunity for rehabilitation and alter the way the land can be used in the longer term thereby permanently affecting the character of the region.

Threats in terms of damage to waterways and further fragmentation of remnant vegetation and fauna habitat cannot be mitigated with rehabilitation and offset planting. The short term disruption and the impact of the restricted use of easements will have a long lasting impact on the agricultural, wine production and tourism activities in the region.

Council has no control of the planning process, it has been taken out of our hands. As the level of government closest to the community I have a high degree of concern about the project as does our community. Given the sensitivity of our precious environment in Yarra Ranges I hope that the Minister reconsiders the alignment, it is paramount that the pipeline's flexibility avoids any environmental impacts rather than mitigate them

It is unfortunate that the state government is taking this direction to secure water for Melbourne, there are many other ways to secure our water future; like embracing water sensitive design principles, capturing stormwater, providing better incentives to retrofit existing buildings, meeting water efficiency targets and reusing storm water.

Pipelines, Desal plants, logging our precious water catchments are not the long term solution to water supply for Melbourne.

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