NSW WILDERNESS RED INDEX
Published by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
2/332 Pitt Street Sydney NSW 2000 ph 02 9261 2400; fax 02 9261 2144
email firstname.lastname@example.org web site colongwilderness.org.au
|NOMINATED BY:||The Colong Foundation, 12 September 1988.|
|LOCATION:||85 km west of Sydney within Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd National Parks.|
|SIZE:||146,832 ha (nominated)
129,070 ha (identified)
Existing NPWS estate (Oct. 1993)
Blue Mountains National Park 70,058 ha 56,158 ha
Kanangra-Boyd National Park 63,297 ha 62,209 ha
Yerranderie State Recreation Area 700 ha 2,250 ha
New NPWS estate (Oct. 1993 to Sept. 1999)
Former Freehold land 453 ha 453 ha
Jenolan Karst Conservation Area 350 ha 350 ha
Jenolan State Forest 240 ha 240 ha
Freehold land 1,501 ha 110 ha
Sydney Authority lands 9,823 ha 7,300 ha
Other public lands 410 ha 0 ha
Blue Mountains and Kanangra Boyd National Park and Yerranderrie SRA;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||77 %|
Wilderness Not Declared:
Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd National Parks;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||15%|
Yeranderrie State Recreation Area;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||<1%|
Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Area;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||<1%|
Sydney Catchment Authority lands;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||7%|
Blue Mountains City Council lands;
|Percentage of entire nomination:||<1%|
Jenolan State Forest:
|Percentage of entire nomination:||<1%|
|Percentage of entire nomination:||1%|
The Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness is among the largest and most rugged wilderness areas in N.S.W. Situated to the south of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and the Kanangra-Boyd National Parks, this folded belt or "Rim Rock" area is markedly different from the Permo-Triassic sandstone dominated landforms which comprise the rest of the Blue Mountains. There are isolated residual cappings of Permian sandstone in a few places but here the Palaeozoic basement rocks, which are elsewhere buried well below the Permo-Triassic Measures, are on the surface as high land. Rock types include quarzite, diorite, Devonian rhyolites, rhyo-dacites, Silurian phyllites, slates, siltstones and tuff limestones. The Boyd Plateau comprises a dome of Devonian granite intruded into Devonian quarzites and sedimentaries. There are also intrusive igneous rocks from the Carboniferous period. Kanangra Tops at the south-eastern end of the Plateau is one of the Permian outliers. Its fringing faultline scarp - Kanangra Walls - comprises Permian sedimentaries of the Capertee Group which rests uncomformably on a Devonian Lambie Group Basement. Nearby Kanangra Gorge is cut 600-900m deep in rocks of the Lambie Group, and is one of Australia's deepest gorges. Cloudmaker and Guouogang are eroded remnants of Ordovician quarzite. Further East, in the Coxs River area, is the large Kanimbla granite batholith, implaced during the Carboniferous period. Colong Caves is another outstanding feature of the area. The main Upper Silurian limestone belt, in the Jenolan River valley to the north-west, is 300m thick, 8 km long and located in a valley 460m deep. This karst topography, created by the Jenolan and its tributaries, is one of the least understood in Australia.
The complex geology, climate, fire regime, and topography has enabled a wide variety of ecosystems to develop. Eucalypt forest with western plain species, such as Yellow Box and White Box, are found in areas of rainshadow. Forests of Mountain Ash are found on well drained soils and Blaxland Stringybark where soil is poor. Red Spotted Gum, Blakelys Red Gum, Red Stringybark and Forest Oak are also found. Kurrajong trees are found in abundance where limestone outcrops occur, and in sheltered gullies rainforest species (including Red Cedar) and Blue Gum are found. On the Boyd Plateau, the misty mountain forests of Brown Barrel, Messmate, Ribbon Gum, Black Sally, Snow gum and Mallee predominate. High altitude areas subject to strong winds generally support heath and closed scrub communities. In areas of impeded drainage, various swamps occur, dominated by sedges and scrubs such as Leptospermum and Baeckea species.
About 1,000 flowering plant species occur in the Blue Mountains, in some 40 plant communities. There are over 45 rare or endangered plant species in the wilderness. A unique form of tall open forest occurs in the Kedumba Valley, dominated by Camden White Gum, an endangered species limited to these populations.
The Blue Mountains National Park contains 46 species of mammals, including 27 marsupials and 2 monotremes. Over 200 birds and 98 reptile species have been recorded. Several species listed on Schedules 1 and 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 are found in the Wilderness Area including: The Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua), Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis), Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus volans), Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus), and Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata). A species of Peripatus, or Velvet Worm has been found on the Boyd Plateau is considered rare.
LAND USE HISTORY:
|Aboriginal||The available information suggests that Aboriginal people occupied the area for about 20,000 years before European settlement. The area constituted lands traditionally occupied by the tall and long-haired Gandangarra Aboriginal People in the southern part of the area, and the Dharuk tribe in the northern part of the area. The occupation of the upland areas was mainly seasonal, during spring and summer when game was more abundant. The major rivers would have been important routes between the tablelands and the lowlands.|
|Grazing||Cattle have been grazed in the Wilderness Area
since the 1820s.
1960: The flooding of Burragorang Valley, following the completion of Warragamba Dam, obliterated some holdings, led to the resumption of others and made some land isolated and uneconomic to manage. Now that so much of the land once used by graziers is national park, there can be no return to grazing for these marginal lands.
|Mining||The Southern Blue Mountains have been commercially exploited for shale oil, coal, gold, silver and lead. Coal mining commenced on the Katoomba Seam at the foot of the Katoomba Falls in the early 1870s. Both coal and shale (from the Megalong and Jamison Valleys) were ferried to the top of the escarpment by cable haulage. Shale mining ceased in the area in 1903, but coal extraction continued sporadically, with licences renewed in 1925 and 1939.|
|The other mining centre in the region was
Yerranderie in the south-west, situated just outside Blue Mountains National Park. Galena
ore containing gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc was discovered in 1871, with production
commencing in 1897. The town was home to over 2,000 miners by 1911, although the mine
ceased to be worked commercially by 1925, and was finally closed in 1950. During the
Depression prospectors, assisted by the government, moved into the wilderness in search of
alluvial gold deposits, particularly along Christy's and Lannigan's Creeks. This was
short-lived however, and by 1960, when Yerranderie was cut off from easy access by of the
Warragamba Dam, the town was dead.
The only recent mining activity within the Wilderness Area was a small prospecting operation continuing in the headwaters of Ruby Creek. The prospecting leases lapsed in 1994, and the area disturbed by mining should have been rehabilitated.
|Limestone Quarrying||Although Jenolan and Colong Caves were protected from mining in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, mining interests continued to push for exploration leases around Mount Colong, where a number of scenic caves were known to speleologists.|
|1956||Mining leases considered within Westmoreland County (including Colong).|
|1957||Three applications granted to Portland Cement, but not followed up.|
|1963||Some exploratory work undertaken, possibly by Theiss Bros.|
|1967||Minister for Lands, the Hon Tom Lewis (Member for Wollondilly, in which the Colong Caves are situated), grants lease to Metropolitan Portland Cement covering Church Creek and Mount Armour, situated at the northern end of the caves reserve. Rental was priced at $23.00 per annum and royalties at 5 cents a tonne. Portland, the world's biggest cement company, planned to remove the top of Mount Armour and transport the limestone in slurry form via a pipeline to the cement works at Picton.|
|1968||The Colong Committee (later The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd) created to oppose mining plans.|
|Logging||Small and isolated areas of the Blue Mountains were selectively logged in the nineteenth century, in particular for Red Cedar. The years following the Second World War saw the cutting of the remaining accessible stands in the upper Kowmung tributaries (eg. Gingra Creek). The mountain forests of Brown Barrel, Messmate and Ribbon Gum on the Great Divide and Boyd Plateau have been managed as state forests by the Forestry Commission (State Forests) for many years, during which they have been heavily logged, largely for pit props.|
|1940||Kanangra Tourist Road, crossing the Boyd Plateau to Kanangra Walls, completed. Despite its construction for tourists, local timber interests commenced using it as a logging road. The area's reservation for preservation of native flora and fauna in 1937 did not prevent the area being logged.|
|1957||Forestry Commission constructs an unauthorised logging road within the Reserve.|
|1970 - 1977||The Boyd Plateau is proposed to be cleared for a pine plantation. Logging and clearing for pine continued until 1977, when the vigorous campaign directed by the Colong Committee finally results in part of the Kanangaroo State Forest being added to Kanangra-Boyd National Park.|
|Warragamba Dam||Planning for the construction of Warragamba Dam commenced in the 1940s. Following the interruption of the war period the dam was constructed in the 1950s and the impoundment, Lake Burragorang, was flooded by 1960. The lake has a maximum storage level of 125 metres ASL, inundating the Coxs River and its tributaries upstream to approximately 1 kilometre below the junction with the Kowmung River.|
|1987-89||4 August 1987: Work starts to strengthen and
raise dam wall by five metres to protect the dam from 73% of potential extreme flood
events , in response to a review by the NSW Dams Safety committee. These works
were at a cost of 29 million dollars.
A second stage of response is also proposed, to provide dam safety in maximum probable flood conditions. Options included: mitigation dams in the catchment area, including one on the lower Kowmung River; tunnels to transport flood waters around the dam; a side spillway on one or both sides of the dam; or raising the dam wall to enable storage of major floods. The last of these options was also under consideration as a means of augmenting Sydneys water supplies.
|1994||An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is prepared for the augmentation of Warragamba Dam for flood mitigation purposes. This proposal involves raising the wall by 23 metres and other strengthening work, to enable short or indefinite storage of water above the present full storage level.|
|1995||August: The Carr Government rejects the proposed mitigation project and instructs Sydney Water to commence planning for an auxiliary spillway to safeguard the dam without increasing storage capacity.|
|1998||December: Tendering of the Warragamba spillway
is awarded to Abigroup for $90 million with work to commence in late February 1999.
The State Opposition remain committed to raising the dam and this policy becomes part of its March 1999 election strategy.
|The Proposed Badgerys Creek Airport||14 December, 1979, Major Airport Needs Study examines alternative sites for a major second airport and recommends Badgerys Creek as the preferred site.|
|1985||Badgerys Creek becomes targeted as the preferred site for a second Sydney airport by a site selection process, based on an environmental impact statement funded by Department of Aviation.|
|1991||Construction of a Badgerys Creek airport, with a single 1,800 metre runway, announced as a "sop" to the noise affected inner Western Suburbs when the decision is made to construct the 3rd runway at Kingsford Smith Airport.|
|1996||May: The Howard Government announces it will build a second major airport for Sydney, and a draft second airport EIS is commissioned. The "Claytons choice" between a very rugged bush site at Holsworthy Military Base or the flat semi-cleared Badgerys Creek are examined by the EIS. The Holsworthy site is rejected before the EIS processes are completed.|
|1999||4 May: Dr Jim Thorsell, field assessor for the
Blue Mountains World Heritage nomination area, considers that the impacts of Badgerys
Creek are worse than he originally thought, damaging the chances of World Heritage
30 June: Final Environmental Impact Statement for a second Sydney airport is completed. The proposed airport will generate 360,000 aircraft movements a year. Maximum use will be made of airspace to the west, threatening the natural quiet of the Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai and Grose Wilderness Areas. The Federal Governments EIS, however, fails to consider impacts on wilderness users and other park visitors or any reasonable measures to mitigate these impacts.
HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:
|1866||Dedication of Jenolan, Kanangra, Dungalla, Morong, Mouin, Colong and Tuglow Recreation and Cave Reserves.|
|1870||Head of Jamiesons Creek reserved.|
|1891||Kanangra Tourist Resort established.|
|1898||Camping Reserves established at Sawpit Gully
and Budthingeroo Creek.
Cave Preservation Reserve established at Tuglow.
|1899||Boyd Creek Crossing reserved for camping and travelling stock.|
|1900||Jigger Creek reserved for camping and Whalans Creek crossing also reserved.|
|1901||Jenolan Caves Reserve established.|
|1909||Extension of Jenolan Caves Reserve gazetted.|
|1910||Part of Hollanders Creek reserved for camping.|
|1912-13||Public Recreation Reserves established at Chardon Canyon, Tuglow Falls and Box Creek Canyon.|
|1922||Kanangra Tourist Resort extended (with further extensions in 1937).|
|1928||Colong Caves reserved for preservation and proclaimed as a bird and animal sanctuary.|
|1932||National Parks and Primitive Areas Council (NPPAC) founded, largely through the efforts of Myles Dunphy, to campaign for the creation of a large national park extending across the Blue Mountains (first considered by Dunphy from 1922 onwards).|
|1934||Park proposal submitted to Blue Mountains Shire Council. This Greater Blue Mountains National Park covered 453,000 ha from the Wirraba Range in the north to the Wombeyan road in the South.|
|1937||Sydney Water Board reserves 38,870 ha as part
of Warragamba catchment. Although this did not directly serve the interests of
recreational use, and effectively blocked moves for the Greater Blue Mountains National
Park Southern Section, it nevertheless protected a considerable area of native flora. By
1942 the catchment had been extended to Kanangra Tops.
Reserve No 67062 For Preservation of Native Fauna and Flora declared over the whole of the southern and eastern portions of the Boyd. Of the 38,400 ha declared, 22,288 ha were to eventually be included in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
|1943||Central section of the Blue Mountains National Park proposal exempted from timber leases and reserved from settlement.|
|1946||A National Park Committee appointed by Premier McKell.|
|1959||62,000 ha gazetted as Blue Mountains National Park, and a Trust appointed. These area was added to in 1977, 1985, 1986 and 1987, to total 245,716 ha by the end of the 1980s.|
|1968||39,748 ha Kanangra-Boyd National Park founded.|
|1968||Colong Committee established by a meeting of conservation societies at Sydney University to protect Mt Armour and Colong Caves in southern section of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park.|
|1969||At the second reading of the National Parks and Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, 1,640 ha of R. 67062 placed in newly established Kanangra-Boyd National Park (est. 1968). However, neither the Boyd nor Colong were included.|
|1970||State Government gazettes 6,000 ha of Boyd Plateau to Konangaroo State Forest for logging. More than 2,000 ha of this came from R. 67062. The Forestry Commission announces plans to clear the area of native flora to establish a pine plantation to feed a planned softwood pulp mill. The Colong Foundation launches its campaign to protect the area in addition to its Mt Armour campaign.|
|1974||Portland cement drops plans to mine Mt Armour.|
|1975||Due to the State Pollution Control Commission (SPCC) investigations (1974) and its endorsement of the Colong Committee's submission, Minister for Lands and Forests, Milton Morris, drops support for the Boyd Plantation.|
|1977||Logging ended on Boyd Plateau and 5,000 ha of Konangaroo State Forest added to Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Additions to the park in that year total 10,424 ha.|
|1987||October: Unsworth Government adds 8,750 ha of Gurnang, Banshea and Mount Werong State Forests to Blue Mountains National Park.|
|1988||Proposed Mount-Piper/Marulan power line re-routed to avoid passing through Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Graziers unsuccessfully challenge route in Land and Environment Court. Their aim was to route the line through "public lands" i.e. the park.|
|January: National Parks and Wildlife Service
(NPWS) produces draft plan of management for Blue Mountains National Park. 51,000 ha are
mapped as Wilderness Area, with the Jamison Valley excluded. The NPWS advises that the
Kanangra Wilderness in Kanangra-Boyd National Park will be addressed under the plan of
management. As yet no draft plan of management for Kanangra-Boyd National Park has been
released for public comment (October, 1993).
September: Colong Foundation submits nomination for Kanangra-Boyd wilderness.
|1989||Colong Foundation for Wilderness release "Blue Mountains for World Heritage", proposing 897,661 ha of the Blue Mountains be inscribed onto the IUCN World Heritage list of properties.|
|1991||National Parks and Wildlife Service releases Kanangra-Boyd
Wilderness Assessment Report. This report finds that most of the nominated area is
suitable for identification as wilderness.
Court proceedings commenced by Kedumba Valley property owner seeking permission to develop 24 lots for residential use.
13 December: Yeranderrie State Recreation Area (SRA) is gazetted with 2,250 ha in the identified Kanangra Wilderness. The SRA is reserved to the full storage level of Lake Burragorang over schedule 1 catchment lands owned and controlled by the Sydney Water Board.
|1992||Kedumba Valley property of 1,526 ha adjoining Lake Burragorang, and including an important stand of Camden White Gum, acquired by the Water Board.|
|1993||21 September: Ministers for the Environment
Ros Kelly (Federal) and Chris Hartcher (State) support "Blue Mountains for World
23 December: Fahey Government announces 350,000 ha of wilderness within 7 of the 10 areas nominated by environmental groups, only to back down and declare less than one third of this area 12 months later. Consideration of Kanagra-Boyd is deferred on account of matters concerning dam safety and the flood mitigation works at Warragamba.
|1994||A preliminary assessment of the Colong
Foundations 1989 Blue Mountains for World Heritage proposal by the National
Herbarium identifies most of the Sydney Basin sandstone National Parks and adjoining areas
as suitable for inclusion in a nomination boundary.
May: The Kowmung Committee is established by the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs and other conservation groups to actively campaign against the raising of Warragamba Dam wall that was proposed by the Fahey Government.
22 September: Bob Carr, Leader of the Opposition, censures the Premier for breaching his promises on wilderness and commits NSW Labor to the declaration of twelve new wilderness areas, including Kanangra.
|1995||February: The Labor Opposition undertakes to transfer the Sydney Water lands in the Kedumba Valley to the NPWS and requires Sydney Water to fund the management of the area.|
|15 March: The ALP Wilderness policy for the
March State election is released. The Carr opposition commits to declaring 7 new
wilderness areas, including Kanangra, along with additions to 9 other areas.
August: The Kanangra Wilderness is placed on public exhibition for a second time. Also in August, the Carr Government rejects the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall and instead adopts the side spillway option supported by the Kowmung Committee.
|1996||April: The Government announces that a
Kanangra Wilderness of 125,000 ha will be declared. This includes the Sydney Water lands
of the lower Coxs, Kowmung and western foreshores of Lake Burragorang. The southern part
of the Boyd Plateau is excluded from NPWS identification, including the Kanangra Road and
associated visitor facilities. This enables the development of off road vehicle access
across the Boyd, past the Uni Rover Track, to link with the Kowmung River Track and hence
to the Kowmung River. However, the wilderness north of the Kanangra Walls road is
reassessed, becomes NPWS identified wilderness, and is proposed by the Government for
23 September: The Government makes an interim decision on forest protection (IAP), announcing a number of new reserves and wilderness extensions. The 240 ha of Jenolan State Forest within the Kanangra Wilderness was rejected for addition due to State Forests insistence of a fire buffer being required for adjacent pine plantations.
Also on this day the Government announces the Dunphy Wilderness Fund of 5 million dollars over 5 years for the acquisition of private lands within identified wilderness.
|1997||17 January: A 320 ha inholding on the Jenolan
River is acquired by the NPWS using the new Dunphy Wilderness Fund.
February: The Environment Minister, Pam Allan, declares 110,983 ha of Blue Mountains and Kanangra Boyd National Parks as the Kanangra Wilderness. The transfer of Sydney Water freehold lands, announced in April 1996, are not declared due to the Corporations resistance. Joint management arrangements for the catchment areas are to be entered into with the NPWS but Sydney Water Corporation is unwilling to adequately fund catchment management.
|1998||February: Planning Minister, Craig Knowles,
approves the construction of a side spillway on Warragamba Dam with work to commence in
10 June: the NPWS acquires a 25 ha property on Kanangra Creek under the Dunphy Fund.
June: Sydney Water releases a sewerage overflows EIS which aims to reduce the discharge of raw sewage during wet weather.
10 July: the NPWS acquires an 83 ha portion of the Green Gully property on Carlon and Galong Creeks under the Dunphy Fund. Part of this acquisition is within the wilderness, with the remainder being substantially modified pasture and containing a number of dwellings utilised for accommodation.
|December : The Sydney Water Inquiry Final Report (the McClellan Report) into a contamination of Sydney drinking water with the organisms Cryptosporidiumand Giardia recommends to the Government that all of the Sydney Water special area catchment lands should be managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service for both water quality and broader ecological considerations and declared as national parks or nature reserves. The report also recommends that the NPWS should be adequately resourced to manage the Special Areas.|
|1999||August: The former Jenolan River inholding is
added to the park and wilderness.
December: South Katoomba sewage treatment plant is taken off line and effluent diverted to the new Winmalee plant, greatly improving the water quality of the Kedumba River.
29 January: The former inholding on Kanangra Creek is gazetted as part of the National Park and Kanangra Wilderness.
26 February: Environment Minister Pam Allan declares 1,400 ha of Yerranderie State Recreation Area north-east of the Tonalli River as an addition to the Kanangra Wilderness. This is the first area of Lake Burragorang foreshore to be given wilderness protection, which is a significant safeguard against possible future moves to increase the storage capacity of Warragamba Dam.
20 March: The Carr Government commits to fund the Dunphy Wilderness Fund beyond its anticipated expiry in 2001.
1 July: The Sydney Water Catchment Management Act is proclaimed and places the former Sydney Water owned catchment lands under the new Catchment Authority. These lands may not be disposed of other than to the Minister administering the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 at no cost.
3 September: The Sydney Catchment Authority and National Parks and Wildlife Service release the final draft Strategic Plan of Management for the water supply catchment areas. The McClellan Report recommendations for management of the special areas as national park estate is not addressed in the plan, leaving a duplication of management which was not favoured by McClellan. Upon launching the report, the Minister for the Environment, however, states that all the McClellan recommendations will be adopted and the Authoritys lands transferred to the NPWS.
The wilderness, due to its close proximity to Sydney, and easy accessibility, is particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
|Sewage Pollution and stormwater
|Run-off from the Blue Mountains townships
affects about 45 per cent of streams in the Blue Mountains.Within the nomination itself a
large camping site near Boyd Creek is causing sewage seepage from ineffective drop pits.
Sewage effluent from the Jenolan Caves precinct pollutes the Jenolan River.
The Blue Mountains Local Environmental Plan of 1991 allows for an unassessed population increase, several thousands above the present level, much of which will be beyond the sewerage scheme. The pollution of the Kedumba and Cox's Rivers, and the Warragamba Dam impoundment, were significantly reduced when these wastes were transferred to the Nepean River by Sydney Waters waste transfer scheme in 1998. The sewage overflows reduction program will further diminish this pollution.
The Upper Blue Mountains Sewage transfer scheme, however, does not adequately address the issues of: septic tank seepage; stormwater run-off; and the increased pollution impacts on the Hawkesbury-Nepean River.
Recommendations: Blue Mountains residents should all be connected to Sydney Waters reticulated sewage system. In order to adequately contain sewage and stormwater pollution problems, the Blue Mountains urban areas must be limited to the existing town boundaries instead of spreading out across narrow ridges where sewage services are not available. Stormwater runoff ponds should be constructed within existing urban areas to reduce major particulate loads which contain most of the pollutants.
The Winmallee sewage treatment plant should be upgraded to effectively remove nitrogen and phosphorous and the effluent water provided at low cost to the farmers of the Hawkesbury Valley, provided they agree not to pump from the river.
|Trails, off-road vehicles,
horseriding and inholdings
|Trails are the principal impediments to
upgrading wilderness quality in the Kanangra-Boyd area. The Kanangra Walls Road is a major
intrusion from the west into the nomination and provides access to numerous 4WD trails to
the south. The use of 4WDs in wilderness areas is highly detrimental to the environment.
Such vehicles: introduce weeds; degrade walking tracks; damage fragile ecosystems; and
leave trails that destroy the aesthetic qualities of wilderness. Recovery takes years.
Such vehicles often carry generators, firearms and dogs, which are incompatible with
wilderness qualities due to the level of noise created and the destruction of wildlife.
Past use of off-road vehicles has damaged traditional walking tracks, such as the Black Range section of the Six Foot Track from Jenolan Caves. Horseriding is also causing damage by trampling vegetation, encouraging weed invasion and track degradation. Past use of the Wild Dogs area by a horseriding outfitter has caused substantial damage, particularly at Mobbs Swamp. Apparently illegal track construction on Blue Dog Ridge by these outfitters had damaged the areas wilderness quality by cutting saplings and damaging traditional walking routes.
The continued presence of private freehold land within the wilderness provides opportunities for inappropriate tourism and other incompatible uses. These inholdings can become a major impediment to wilderness enjoyment and cause loss of wilderness values (e.g. Konangaroo clearing and associated horseriding activities).
Recommendations: All roads within the declared wilderness should be closed and revegetated. The Kanangra Walls Road should be reduced in width and made accessible to mini buses and management vehicles only. Horse riding within the park should be discontinued. Private inholdings should be voluntarily acquired, in accordance with the provisions of the Wilderness Act, 1987 and using the Dunphy Wilderness Fund.
|Pest Species||Riparian weeds including willows, and pest animals such as pigs, horses, goats and cows are an increasing problem in this sensitive catchment area. Weeds and willows can choke up previously open water ways and provide feed to pest animals which increase soil disturbance and pollution problems.|
Recommendations: The Sydney Catchment Authority should adequately fund NPWS management, including for pest species control as recommended by the December 1998 McClellan Report. The voluntary efforts of the members of conservation groups, such as the Kowmung Committee and the Colong Foundation, in eradicating willows along wild rivers, should continue to be supported by the NPWS.
|Stock routes||Use of the Oberon stock route by off road vehicles, and its extension terminating at the end of Scotts Main Range, adversely effects the wilderness. Stock can still be driven along this route despite the national park status of adjoining lands. The route also encourages off road 4WD use within the Wilderness Area and facilitates the release of pest species, such as pigs and deer, to stock park areas for illegal hunting activities.|
Recommendations: The stock route should be revoked and added to Kanangra-Boyd and Blue Mountains National Parks. The public road should become an internal park road and maintained at its current standard. It should terminate at Batts Camp, then, in the long term, a large area in the vicinity of Yerranderie and Jooriland Creek could be returned to wilderness.
|The use of Yerranderie airstrip adds to the general noise pollution in this wilderness.|
Recommendations: Yerranderie township should be voluntarily acquired and, along with the adjoining Yerranderie State Recreation Area, incorporated into the Blue Mountains and Nattai National Parks. Flights to Yerranderie should cease.
|Joy flights in environmentally sensitive areas
such as National Parks and Wilderness Areas are subject to operator self regulation
through Fly Neighbourly Agreements (FNA's). The operators claim they are improving
environmental quality as the FNA's raise the minimum flying height from 500 to 1,000 feet.
As flying height is measured from the lowest point in the landscape, in many instances,
planes and helicopters can still fly below the cliff lines under this code The increase in
flying level is through a voluntary code of practice, therefore tour operators are not
required to comply. The Civil Aviation Authority introduced a FNA for the Blue Mountains
National Park without environmental impact assessment, or adequate public comment, on
August 18, 1994.
The natural quiet of the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness will also be seriously compromised if Badgerys Creek airport is constructed. The residents of Western Sydney will seek to push flight paths over wilderness to help mitigate their noise impacts. Aircraft on take off will spread a lawn mower equivalent racket of 69-79 decibels over the wilderness.
|Recommendations: The only way to
effectively solve the aircraft noise problem is to construct a replacement airport outside
Sydney, away from urban settlement and environmentally sensitive lands. This should be
connected to the city by fast rail.
The Commonwealth Department of Transport is responsible for protecting the environment from aircraft. To effectively protect the natural quiet of declared Wilderness Areas, the Minister for Transport should establish a minimum fight ceiling at 10,000 feet. Helicopters movements over wilderness should be restricted to essential management and emergency operations.
"flood mitigation" and other dam schemes
|Delta Electricity owns three large storage
reservoirs on the Coxs River, upstream of the wilderness, which are used to provide
cooling water for Mount Piper and Wallerawang Power Stations. These dams have reduced the
flow in the Coxs River to 2.6 ML/day. The loss of adequate flows to the Coxs River reduces
aquatic diversity and increases riparian weed infestations .
The proposal to raise the wall of Warragamba Dam is supported by the conservative political parties in NSW. It would flood the Lower Kowmung Gorge and a considerable section of the Coxs River above its junction with the Kowmung. The rare Camden White Gums would also be inundated.
Recommendations: Sydney Water should encourage water saving and recycling, and institute a more effective "user pays" scheme for both water consumption and sewerage disposal. Water reuse should also be encouraged by pricing and other mechanisms. Rather than raising the dam wall, or building a new dam 43m higher, the full supply water level of the dam should be lowered. This would provide some air space for flood water storage and avoid an unnecessary expenditure of $300 million for additional storage. Recommendations for alternative ways of meeting Sydney's water supply needs are given by Grunmuller and Bacher (1991) and Macquarie University Graduate School of the Environment Report No 126 (1992).
Flows to the Coxs River should be increased by an equivalent of 14Ml/day if an environmentally acceptable way is found to treat and divert mine drainage effluent pollution from the Clarence Colliery. The polluted water currently discharges to the Wollangambe River but could be pumped into the Farmers Creek catchment and hence to the Coxs River by Lake Lyall. The electricity for the pumpage and adequate treatment of the water should be provided by Delta Electricity at no cost to Centennial Coal as part payment for the water they currently use at their power stations.
|Fire Management||In December 1997 a major wildfire in the
Kowmung Valley occurred. A control line was bulldozed along the previously unroaded
Karkinellar Ridge to the Middle Kowmung. The NPWS undertook to rehabilitate the line as a
priority, however the area has been degraded and vehicle access along the route remains a
medium term risk to wilderness integrity.
Overburning causes severe damage to rugged wilderness catchments. The ground cover that binds the soil is burnt leading to massive sheet erosion, as the next rains will strip away the thin soils of these areas. Streams then fill with gravel and silt Fires also a wipe out fauna populations and destroy the old growth vegetation. Often it is these very oldest plants that provide most of the nesting and roosting places. The assertion that Australias forest lands were once all some sort of grassland, and that they should be burnt more often to mirror Aboriginal burning practices, is incorrect. Dr John Benson is adamant that "most forests and woodlands of Australia would not have been subject to frequent (less than ten-year) burns".
Recommendations: The protection of wilderness values in fire management plans needs to be a priority. A fire policy for wilderness areas should be adopted, with priority given to manual construction of control lines. Park regulations should be gazetted to prohibit public vehicular access to rehabilitating control lines following firefighting activities.
Effective firefighting in wilderness requires constant aerial or satellite surveillance in bushfire danger periods, to enable rapid detection and response. Such an approach eliminates the need for fire towers in wilderness areas. To effectively tackle fires in remote areas while they are still small, more fire fighters need to be trained as smoke jumpers and helicopter crews.
During fire emergencies bulldozers should not be allowed to scar the scenery by cutting fire control lines on steep slopes. All too often these measures fail to contain a wildfire. Decisions on damaging suppression practices should be addressed during management planning, not in a fire crisis. Except for fire trails in perimeter areas, trails constructed during fire fighting operations should be closed and rehabilitated immediately following the operation.
Councils and volunteer fire brigades must ensure local residents of nearby townships and rural districts protect themselves from fire by removing combustible material from around their homes. The main danger is caused by the building of inflammable dwellings in inflammable bushland. Local government must prohibit all residential development in these areas.
Fuel-reduction burns should be undertaken where it is most effective, that is close to the assets being protected (eg. towns and rural districts). Most wildfires burn into parks, not the other way around, and broad-area control burns of wilderness are ineffective in controlling such external fires.
CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS
The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
2/332 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: Keith Muir (Director) Ph: (w) 02 9261 2400
FAX: 02 9261 2144
The Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs
Box 2090 GPO
Sydney NSW 1043
Contact: John Macris (Conservation Officer) ph (h) 02 9526 7363
Return to NSW Wilderness Index