NSW WILDERNESS RED INDEX

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

NAME: Lost World
NOMINATED BY: Colong Foundation for Wilderness (10 May 1989).
LOCATION: 70km north of Lismore and 35km west of Tweed Heads.
SIZE: 8,747 ha (nominated NSW)
19,662 ha (identified NSW)
9,072 ha ("nominated" QLD)
9,072 ha ("identified" QLD)
28,734 ha (total indentified NSW and QLD area)
TENURE: Nominated Identified
Existing NPWS estate
(Oct. 1993)
Border Ranges National Park (NSW) 6,100 ha 15,986 ha
Limpinwood Nature Reserve (NSW) 2,647 ha 2,568 ha
Lamington National Park (Qld) 9,072 ha 9,072 ha

New NPWS Estate (Oct. 1993 to Sept. 1999)
Former Mebbin State Forest 0 ha 1,106 ha

Other tenure
Freehold land 0 ha 2 ha

Wilderness Declared (NSW):

Lost World Wilderness - Border Ranges National Park and Limpinwood Nature Reserve;

Size : 8,500 ha
Percentage of entire NSW and QLD identified area: 30%

Warrazambil Wilderness - Border Ranges National Park and Limpinwood Nature Reserve;

Size: 7,000 ha
Percentage of entire NSW and QLD identified area: 24%

Wilderness Not Declared (NSW):

Border Ranges National Park;

Size: 3,054 ha
Percentage of entire NSW and QLD identified area NSW: 11%

Mebbin National Park:

Size: 1,106 ha
Percentage of entire NSW and QLD identified area NSW: 4%

Freehold land:

Size: 2 ha
Percentage of entire NSW and QLD identified area NSW: <1%

Wilderness Declared (QLD):

None (but a ‘remote natural’ is proposed).

Wilderness not Declared (QLD):

Lamington National Park;

Size: 9,072 ha
Percentage of NSW and QLD entire nomination: 32%

DESCRIPTION:

The Border Ranges of NSW and QLD were formed by volcanic activity 20 million years ago, centred around Mount Warning and Mount Barney. The wilderness area within NSW is located largely on the Wiangarie Plateau and McPherson Range. It is part of the Mount Warning Caldera, that comprises eroded lava flows of rhyolite and basalt overlying the original mesozoic sediments, to a depth of up to 2,000m. On the Plateau itself deep gullies have been cut into the Mt Warning Shield by tributaries of the Richmond River. Waterfalls occur where the rhyolite cliffs have withstood erosion. The Plateau extends across the border and is contained within Lamington National Park.

Lost World incorporates all of the upper catchments of a number of streams, including Sheepstation, Brindle, Little Brindle and Grady's Creeks, all tributaries of the Richmond River, and parts of the upper reaches of the Logan River in Queensland. Grady's Creek is the last substantial undisturbed stream in New South Wales with a wholly rainforest catchment.

The area contains an extensive range of forest types. Rainforest is the dominant vegetation of Lost World, and various sub-types of rainforest occur. These sub-types are: lowland subtropical rainforest dominated by Booyongs (Heriteria spp.) and also containing Yellow Carabeen (Sloanea woollsii); cool subtropical rainforest, containing species with Antarctic affinities; warm temperate rainforest comprising such species as Crabapple (Schizomeria ovata), Corkwood (Ackama paniculata) and small pockets of Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum); dry rainforest of Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii), Yellow Tulip (Drypetes australasica), and Whalebone (Streblus brunonianus); and cool temperate rainforest dominated by Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) and Pinkwood (Eucryphia moorei).

Sclerophyll forests develop on drier sites, particularly where soil fertility is low and fires are not uncommon. Both wet and dry sclerophyll forest are found in the area. These forests include the southernmost occurrence of the Moreton Bay Ash (Eucalyptus tessellaris).

Sixty-one plant species which occur in Lost World are considered rare or threatened.

The area has a high species diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and is expected to also have a high species diversity of fish and invertebrates. There are two main reasons for the high species diversity of the area - a large number of distinct habitat types occurring within a relatively small area, and the area lies in the zoogeographically interesting transition between the Torresian (northern or tropical) and Bassian (southern or temperate) faunal regions.

Lost World wilderness contains 40 species of mammals, 170 species of birds, 33 reptile species and 29 amphibian species. One faunal survey indicates that the Border Ranges area has the highest concentration of marsupial species, and one of the highest concentrations of bird, reptile and amphibian species in Australia Species diversity of bats is surpassed by only one other region of comparable size in Australia.

Forty-five species of animal listed under either Schedules 1or 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 are recorded from Lost World. These include: one species, the Double-eyed Fig Parrot are in imminent danger of extinction. Other threatened species include the Eastern Bristlebird, Marbled Frogmouth, Southern Angle-headed Dragon, Steven's Banded Snake, Long-nosed Potoroo and Eastern Chestnut-mouse.

 

LAND USE HISTORY:

Aboriginal The Wilderness Area is contained within land traditionally used by the Gaibel Aboriginal People. Mt Durigan is the site of graves associated with tribal leaders. Lost World is known to have been used for ceremonial purposes and to have been invested with mythological values. It is possible that the forests of this area were selected for the higher level male ceremonies, but no location has been adduced from 20th century informants.
Logging Logging of Red Cedar began in 1790 in the Hawkesbury Basin and soon spread throughout rainforest stands in NSW. Logging of Hoop Pine, White Beech (Gmelina leichhardtii), Rose Mahogany (Dysoxylum fraseranum), Native Teak (Flindersia australis) and Coachwood followed later, with sawmills being established in most rainforest stands early this century.

After the establishment of the Forestry Commission (FCNSW, now known as State Forests) in 1916, extensive areas of previously unallocated Crown Land were dedicated as State Forest. In the Border Ranges large areas were dedicated along the border and abutting Lamington National Park. These became Wiangarie, Roseberry and Mt Lindesay State Forests. Selective logging below 1,000m continued for the next 50 years, with higher areas remaining inaccessible.

1917 Prior to World War II most logging was confined to Hoop Pine, which grew north of the Macleay River. By 1937, total production of all rainforest timber reached 140,000 cubic metres a year. Such high levels were brought about by mechanisation which enabled previously inaccessible areas to be logged.

Logging of Hoop Pine declined during and after the war, while logging of other species increased, in particular Coachwood, which was used for the construction of Mosquito bombers.

In 1953 the transition from "area allocations" to sawmill quotas led to substantial overcutting of the state's rainforests, as sawmills were no longer reliant on what was contained within their allocations. These quotas remained the basis of allocation until rainforest logging was abandoned.

1964-1971 Forestry Commission constructs Lynch's Creek Road and logs approximately 20% of Wiangarie and Roseberry State Forests in order to fulfil its commitments to local sawmilling companies: Standard (Murwillumbah); and Munro-Lever (Grevillia).
1972 Wiangarie Forest Way (now known as the Tweed Range Scenic Drive) completed, with a second access road constructed up Bar Mountain from the south. Conservationists discover Antarctic Beech trees over 2,000 years old felled to make way for the road. Logging of the area continued at a rate of 17,000 cubic metres per annum.
1974 Sawmilling company, Carricks, given an undertaking by Country Party Minister George Freudenstein that there would be "no diminution of the resource" available from the Border Ranges.
1975 Forestry Commission announces intention to construct a logging road onto Lever's Plateau.
1976 Country Party Committee recommends continued logging. Inter-departmental Committee (IDC) appointed by victorious Wran Labor Government after the election. Prevarication continues. Premier Wran signs letter to Colong Foundation agreeing to an investigation into the Border Ranges rainforest issue by the State Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).
1978 Labor Cabinet supports logging of Grady's Creek but, as a concession to conservationists agrees that timing of logging be determined jointly by the SPCC and FCNSW.

November: Media and public outrage continues. FCNSW insists on "immediate approval" for logging of Grady's Creek. SPCC refuses.

1979 FCNSW concedes logging moratorium until 1984, but presses for access instead to Toonumbar State Forest (recommended as a Flora Reserve by the District Forester).

Due to the August Terania Creek blockade, in the Goonimbar and Whian Whian State Forests of the Nightcap Range, rainforest logging receives national media coverage. Forced into action, Premier Wran appoints retired Judge Simon Isaacs to conduct an inquiry.

1980 Relative impasse. FCNSW refuses to revoke State Forest areas while Grady's Creek cannot be logged.

Identification of alternative timbers for veneer manufacture (Scribbly- and Flooded Gum) was rejected by the Plywood Association until all Coachwood was exhausted - virtually sanctioning the logging of Washpool's Willowie Scrub.

Botanist, Professor David Bellamy, strongly supports anti-logging stance in a visit to Australia.

June: Colong Committee lobbies Premier on establishing a Rainforest Fund to compensate sawmillers. This was introduced as a Bill and passed in August.

October: Isaacs determines that logging should proceed at Terania Creek.

Due to the intervention of Premier Wran, logging did not recommence at Terania. The judgement of Mr Justice Cripps of the Land and Environment Court confirmed the logging moratorium on October 22, pending the production of an Environmental Impact Statement by the Forestry Commission.

1982 January: Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and National Trust (NT) release poll that indicates 69% of the population is opposed to any rainforest logging, 87% if compensation packages are provided to those affected in the timber industry.

FCNSW decides to obtain quota from Urbenville State Forest. This recommendation had been made to the SPCC by Dr Neville Schaefer in 1978, but rejected by FCNSW as impractical.

Hardwood logging for poles continues in the Mebbin State Forest for a further 16 years, damaging wilderness and old growth values within these Rose Gum forests.

HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:

1896 Robert Collins and Romeo Lamey start a campaign to protect, in a proposed Lamington National Park, a large portion of Queensland's Border Ranges sub-tropical rainforests.
1915 Lamington National Park of 19,000 ha gazetted.
1948 Queenslander, Arthur Groom, advocates protection of rainforest on the NSW side of the Border from Springbrook to Wilson's Peak. Groom extracts promise from Commissioner for Forests, E F Swain, that all areas above 3,000 ft would be protected in National Parks.
Groom's help is sought by John Lever of Munro and Lever timber mill to reserve Lever's Plateau.
1952 National Parks Association (NPA) of Queensland's submission to the NSW Liberal Premier for a Border Ranges National Park refused.
1966 Sheepstation Creek Forest Reserve No 79945, of 162 ha, declared.
1969 Second attempt to obtain park by Kyogle Community Development Association and Kyogle Chamber of Commerce falls on deaf ears as FCNSW begins allocation of forest to local sawmillers.
1973 Border Ranges Preservation Society formed. Colong Committee undertakes to support campaign. Grady's Creek Flora Reserve No 79983 of 1,500 ha declared.
1975 Colong Committee undertakes an identification and photographic study for a National Park Proposal including whole of Wiangarie, Roseberry and Mt Lindesay State Forests. The campaign was subsequently supported by NPA and ACF.
1978 Border Ranges listed on the Register of the National Estate Inter-Departmental Committee recommends thin "snake park" hugging NSW/QLD border having bought out Standard's concession ($750,000 tax free) and Carrick's "rights" on Lever's Plateau ($1.5 million pine planting project for alternate softwood resource). After acrimonious split in Committee, SPCC recommends protection of Lever's Plateau but also accedes to Forestry Commission "swap" to log Grady's Creek Flora Reserve for ten years. In 1973 FCNSW had claimed Grady's Creek would be "preserved for all time".
1982 May: In a meeting with Cabinet members, conservationists produce seven "non-negotiable" areas: Border Ranges, Murray Scrub, Washpool, Black Scrub, Forbes River, Nightcap and Barrington Tops.

Government prevarication continues as Premier lacks numbers in Cabinet.

October 26: Cabinet finally agrees to halt logging of most of NSW's Rainforests. Premier Wran announces no logging of Grady's Creek as the first item in his media conference.

Border Ranges National Park, of 30,129 ha to include the whole of Wiangarie, Roseberry and part of Mt Lindesay State Forests, with Gradys Creek. This was practically the same area as the Colong Committee proposal of 1975.

1986 The Sub-tropical and Temperate Rainforest Parks of Eastern Australia, including Lost World Wilderness, are given World Heritage listing.
1989 May: In order to implement a recommendation contained in its submission of May 1986 on the Draft Plan of Management for the Border Ranges National Park, the Colong Foundation submits a nomination for the Lost World Wilderness comprising the upper catchment of Gradys Creek, the northern catchment of Middle Gradys Creek, the Wiangarie section of the park and the Limpinwood Nature Reserve. Also included in the wilderness nomination is most of the Lamington National Park (although the Queenland section cannot be formally assessed under the NSW Wilderness Act).
July: National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) release Caldera Parks and Reserves Plan of Management, covering Border Ranges National Park, Nightcap National Park, Numinbah Nature Reserve, and Limpinwood Nature Reserve. The Plan of Management identifies two Remote Natural Areas: The McPherson Remote Natural Area, which covers the northern part of the wilderness nomination, embracing the catchments of Limpinwood Nature Reserve and Gradys Creek; and the Paddy's Mountain Remote Natural Area covering most of the catchments of Lynchs, Warrazambil and Collins Creeks.
1991 National Parks and Wildlife Service release The Lost World Wilderness Area Assessment Report. In addition to the nominated area, the report identifies as wilderness the southern part of the Wiangarie Plateau and the adjoining part of Mebbin State Forest.

The report, however, excludes approximately 2,000 ha from the south west portion of the nominated area. Although the NPWS identifies this area as wilderness, it recommends it not be declared wilderness at the present time. This area was excluded because, unlike the rest of the nomination, it is in a "disturbed natural" condition and will require between 200 and 400 years to recover.

1992 Terry Metherell MLA (Ind), holding joint balance of power in NSW with non-aligned independents, announces on 13/2/92 his Wilderness (Declaration of New Areas) Bill 1992 which includes Lost World, less any freehold or Crown leasehold land, for protection as wilderness under existing legislation.

Metherell's Bill is a crucial factor in triggering the decision by the Minister for Environment, Tim Moore, to announce on 9/4/92 a public reexhibition and submission process from 4/5/92 to 4/9/92 for an NPWS assessment report of the nominated wilderness (and similarly with different dates for twenty two other wilderness areas in NSW). The Metherell Bill is shelved at the close of 1992 following Metherell's resignation from Parliament but the wilderness assessment reports were eventually published in a manner similar to the timetable laid out by Mr Moore and the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Act T(IP)P Act.

1993 23 December: Fahey Government announces 14,843 ha to be declared as Lost World Wilderness including part of Mebbin State Forest. The decision is opposed by Coalition backbenchers.
1994 9 September: Premier Fahey announces his final determination of new areas to be gazetted as wilderness. Lost World reduced to 8,500 ha and no State Forest is transferred to the park.

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.

1995 March: ALP commits to 9 additions to wilderness areas, and 7 new declarations if elected. This commitment includes the Lost World additions abandoned by the Fahey Government.

May: Labor Government ceases logging in all identified wilderness areas.

November: Lost World proposed additions exhibited for 4 week period. Colong Foundation and other groups submit that the southern part of the Tweed Range Scenic Drive be closed to link with the declared wilderness along the Tweed Escarpment to the east (including parts of the Mebbin State Forest) and proposes that these southern wilderness additions be named the Warrazambil Wilderness.

1996 April: Government announces the Warrazambil Wilderness of 7,000 ha to the south west of the Tweed Range Scenic Drive. The drive is left open as a through road, excluding the eastern escarpment from wilderness declaration. The identified section of Mebbin State Forest is not added to NPWS estate at this stage. This is despite a State Forests agreement obtained during the public exhibition of the assessment report that this would happen.
1998 December: The Forestry and National Park Estate Act 1998 is passed by State Parliament. The whole of Mebbin State Forest is revoked and Mebbin National Park of 3,760 ha created effective 1/1/99. Some 1,106 ha of this area is identified wilderness but separated from it by the Tweed Range Scenic Drive.

 

THREATS:

As the wilderness is contained with National Park and Nature Reserves, most threats to the area's integrity come from inappropriate management.

State Services Access A number of government organisations occupy or use lands reserved as National Park. These works, facilities and operations affect the wilderness integrity of the nomination. The fences maintained by the Moreton-Darling Downs Rabbit Board (Qld) and Department of Agriculture (Board of Tick Control) along the NSW-Qld border are partly contained within the wilderness area. These fences necessitate burning off and slashing to keep them clear and allow access by management vehicles.
Recommendations: In accordance with the Plan of Management, tracks not marked on the Plan, such as those along Mount Hutley Ridge and to Jackson Rest, should be ripped and allowed to revegetate. Burning, clearing and associated vehicular access is incompatible with wilderness management, as well as encouraging the colonisation of the area by weeds. Removal of stock from the park will result in the decline of tick populations. The Boards’ fences are an anachronism and ineffective in controlling rabbit numbers. The rainforest itself is a more effective barrier to these pests. Regeneration of rainforest along the border would provide the most effective impediment to exotic fauna. No extension of vehicular access tracks should be permitted in the Wilderness Area.
Grazing Grazing leases within and adjoining the National Park are of concern because of the direct physical damage stock cause and because of the indirect fire threat. Wandering cattle, as well as cattle and goats from adjoining properties, could also lead to feral populations establishing themselves within the wilderness area.

Recommendations: Current phasing out of leases within the park, should have been finished by 31 December 1993. Stock exclusion should be closely monitored by the NPWS. Stock straying into the wilderness area should be treated as feral animals and dealt with accordingly by the NPWS.

Weeds Parts of the rainforest understorey in the area are infested with Lantana (Lantana camara). This species, which is able to arrest forest regeneration for decades, is generally confined to areas below 700m altitude.

Recommendations: The NPWS should undertake bush regeneration and regularly release biological control agents in those areas affected by weeds.

Roads Access from the Sheepstation Creek entrance to the park provides the easiest and fastest access to visitor attractions of the Tweed Range. The road south of the Brindle Creek loop is too narrow, and easily degraded, to function as a through route. It also directs traffic through neighbour’s land on poor quality unsealed roads. This road divides the two areas of declared wilderness and effectively excludes declaration over the former Mebbin State Forest.

Recommendations: The Tweed Range Road should be closed south from the Tweed Range Valley Lookout and the southern section used as a 5km walking route to Bar Mountain, south of the principle lookouts.

CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Shop 2, Gloucester Walk
Level 2, 332 Pitt Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Contact: Keith Muir (Director) Ph: 02 9261 2400
FAX: 02 9261 2144
keith@colongwilderness.org.au

Byron Flora and Fauna Conservation Society
1 Tyagarah St
MULLUMBIMBY NSW 2482
Contact: A R Maslen

National Parks Association
Far North Coast Branch
P O Box 503
ALSTONVILLE NSW 2477
Contact: Hazel Bridgett Ph 02 6629 5010
Fax: 02 6629 5492

RELEVANT ARTICLES:

Colong Bulletin 142 January 1994 p10, "Forest Minister Ignores Premier over Wilderness Logging".

Colong Bulletin 147, November 1994, p5, "The Fahey Government’s Wildernesses".

Colong Bulletin 151, July 1995 p6, "Labor’s Wilderness Moratorium".

Colong Bulletin 156, May 1996 p8, "Wilderness Protection - Navigating the way forward".

Colong Bulletin 157, July 1996 p3, "Wilderness Protection Scheme".

There is an extensive bibliography of articles found in the Colong Bulletin contained in Appendix 2 of How the Rainforest was Saved (op cit).

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