NSW WILDERNESS RED INDEX

Published by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd (September 1999)
2/332 Pitt St Sydney 2000 ph 02 9261 2400; fax 02 9261 2144
email keith@colongwilderness.org.au web site colongwilderness.org.au

NAME: Buckenbowra
NOMINATED BY: Colong Foundation, Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs and The Wilderness Society 23rd October 1996. An amendment to this nomination was made by the above groups and additionally the National Parks Association on 15th May 1997.
LOCATION: 40 km west of Batemans Bay.
SIZE: Approx. 25,000 ha
TENURE: Deua National Park 5,400 ha
State Forest 18,700 ha
Freehold land 900 ha

Wilderness Declared:

None

Wilderness Not Declared:

Deua National Park;

Size: 5,400 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 22%

State Forest;

Size: 18,700
Percentage of entire nomination: 75%

Freehold land;

Size: 900 ha
Percentage of entire nomination: 3%

DESCRIPTION:

The Budawang synclanorium is a prominent landscape feature of the area, the result of folding and uplift of Devonian sediments and volcanic flows. This feature outcrops over a length of 100 km south of the Corang trig. in Morton National Park. The highest point in the wilderness is Mount Milo at 1,050m. The Buckenbowra River on the eastern side of this escarpment, together with its tributaries, forms a series of deep V shaped gorges along the 800 metre escarpment. The northward flowing Mongarlowe River lies immediately west of the range in a more moderately sloping valley. The orographic effects of this perched valley atop the escarpment makes the Mongarlowe River area the wettest place in the region, receiving up to twice the annual rainfall of surrounding areas and being regularly shrouded in mist.

The area supports a diverse range of plant communities due to the varying topographical and geological features. Dry and wet sclerophyll forests predominate in the area with overstory species such as Eucalyptus sieberi, E. fastigata, E. cypellocarpa and E. agglomerata. Around Mount Milo are pure stands of White Ash (E. fraxinoides) There are also small areas of heath as well as wet and dry rainforest to be found. Some of the largest discreet stands of Pinkwood rainforest occur in the area. Most rainforest types occupy sheltered gullies in major linear patches, with a wide range of alliances and suballiances grading with decreasing altitude from cool temperate Eucryphia moorei, Doryphora sassafras types through mid altitude warmer associations of Elaeocarpus reticulatus, Acmena smithii, Notelalea spp., Ceratopetalum apetalum and Prostantera lasianthos, to warm temperate patches dominated by Citronella moorei, Rapanea howittiana, Dendrecnide excelsa, Synoum glandulosum and Schizomeria ovata. The wilderness also represents the only area where cool temperate rainforest contains a co-dominance of southern sassafras and pinkwood.

Buckenbowra wilderness contains 17 endangered species, including the Eastern Little Mastiff Bat also known as Eastern Freetail-bat (Mormopterus norfolkensis) and the nationally threatened Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica) on the Mongarlowe River. Six threatened species of bird, the Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl, Masked Owl, Gang Gang Cockatoo, Spotted-tail Thrush and Rufous Fantail are known to breed in the wilderness.

The 3,000 ha upper catchment of the Buckenbowra River is among the least disturbed old growth forest areas in the region, being entirely free from vehicular trails or other infrastructure. The main dividing range between the Buckenbowra and Mongarlowe Rivers is also free from roading and other disturbance that connects the Budawang National Park with the Deua National Park.

LAND USE HISTORY:

Aboriginal The area is situated in territory traditionally occupied by the Walbanja Aboriginal People.
Transport The Corn trail was established between the lower Buckenbowra Valley and the tablelands in 1830 as a bridle route for transporting produce. The route became disused by the 1920s but was re-established as a walking and bridle trail in 1987 for the Bicentennial.
World War II Sassafras removed from rainforest areas within Wandella-Dampier for rifle butts.

"All these forests covered the Spotted Gum (E. maculata) type, which were logged to the near-exclusion of all others. Over cutting of Spotted Gum during the timber shortage which followed the Second World War resulted in a decline in its availability by the 1950's. As a consequence, areas carrying species other than Spotted Gum were investigated".

1981 Harris-Daishowa begins receiving "heads and butts and reject logs" from Narooma Management Area. This represents an average yield of 28,000 cubic metres, or 3% of total annual export volume and 4% of their Eden mill export volume.
1986 Narooma Management Plan produced. Directly related employment is claimed to be 124 with 11 new jobs coming from Harris-Daishowa pulpwood increases.
1996 Interim Forestry Assessment leaves large areas of the Buchenbowra State Forest available for logging in the Provisionally Identified Wilderness that was recognised during the process. Much of the available area is too steep to log under current logging prescriptions.

HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:

Early 1960's National Parks Association prepares and submits its Deua-Tuross National Park Proposal to the NSW Government.This extends from the proposed southern boundary of an extended Morton National Park around Clyde Mountain to include the Buckenbowra catchment.
1992 10,000 ha of Monga and Buckenbowra State Forests are listed on the register of the National Estate in recognition of their important undisturbed vegetation communities, habitat value and other natural features.
1996 June: The draft Interim Forestry Assessment Report recognises a 18,863 ha Buckenbowra Provisionally Identified Wilderness.

July: Close of public submissions on proposed deferred forest areas for the eastern forestry regions of NSW. Around 16,000 submissions in support of the conservation movement’s Forest Reserve Plan which recommends protection of the Monga-Buckenbowra area.

September: Government announces its interim forest decision which creates National Park additions in the north-east and Eden regions but largely overlooks the southern region.

1998 Government advises that the completion of the Southern Region Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) will not be complete until July 1999. This will delay the determination of the Buckenbowra Wilderness assessment which is incorporated into the forest assessment process.
1999 19 March: The Carr Government presents its wilderness policy to environment groups. The Government commits to complete and exhibit the Buckenbowra assessment by the end of 1999 and determine the area for declaration by the end of 2000.

31 May: The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) undertake an assessment of wilderness values in the southern forest regions. This includes the nominated Buckenbowra wilderness assessment study area of 25,000 ha.

THREATS:

Logging The environmental impacts of logging are well documented. Logging results in: soil compaction and erosion; water pollution and excessive runoff; escaped regeneration burns and excessive production of CO2; introduction of noxious weeds and dieback; loss of biomass; destruction of flora and fauna and general ecosystem degradation.

A number of forestry related fire trails and logging roads are within the wilderness area, including the Merricumbene, No name Mountain and River roads. The environmental impacts of trails on wilderness areas are well known. These include: soil compaction and erosion; rubbish dumping; weed invasion and dissemination by motor vehicles and horses; encouraging the ingress of feral animals; assisting arsonists to set wildfires in remote areas; and other adverse environmental impacts related to off-road vehicle use and horseriding.

Recommendations: NPWS identified wilderness should be automatically protected during the Southern Region CRA process and added to the National Park estate.

Logging should cease upon formal identification as wilderness, prior to addition to the NPWS estate. Areas affected by logging should be rehabilitated.

The protection of wilderness values in fire management plans needs to be a priority. 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. Other forestry roads and other trails should be allowed to revegetate and vehicular use excluded from the wilderness. No fire trails should be constructed in this wilderness, especially along one of the few sections of the eastern escarpment not already roaded.

CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

The Wilderness Society Canberra
P O Box 188
CIVIC SQUARE ACT 2608
Contact: Andrew Wong Ph: (wk) 02 6249 6491
FAX: 02 6249 1002
e-mail awong@netinfo.com.au
South East Forest Alliance
C/- National Parks Association
P O Box A96
SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235
Contact: Noel Plumb Ph: 02 9233 4660
FAX: 02 9233 4880
Mob: 0412 975 575
e-mail npansw@bigpond.com

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