The area proposed for reservation as Gardens of Stone 2 contains significant natural features and areas of high conservation value. Urgent mangement is required to preserve these important values.
Reservation as a conservation reserve would enable a management regime that preserves the wonders of the area for future generations:
- Rare landforms such as pagodas, montane sand dunes and highland swamps, cliffs, natural arches, waterfalls, slot canyons, gorges and large caverns.
- Threatened plants and animals and rare vegetation communities, including two critically endangered animals that are restricted to the swamps.
- Many Aboriginal rock art and other sites dating back thousands of years
The overriding principle guiding any activity in the area is that it does not negatively impact the natural environment. Each activity needs to be managed, and each visitor needs to be mindful of minimising their impact so that the natural wonders of the Gardens of Stone can be preserved for future generations.
Activities that are currently having an impact on the region are coal mining, development and high intensity recreation.
Coal mining for local power generation and export occurs in a number of highly sensitive areas, including under swamps, streams and waterfalls.
It is important that mining is managed to minimise impacts on scenic areas, water and biodiversity. After several years monitoring mining impacts, the Colong Foundation considers that in this area:
- open cut mining,
- mining under swamps or streams,
- mining under cliff lines, and
- mining methods that cause high levels of subsidence
are inappropriate for this region. The dumping of polluted water into local streams and un-screened, poorly engineered waste heaps are also not appropriate.
Former NSW Premier (and current Colong Foundation patron) The Hon. Bob Carr launched a report on the Impact of Coal Mining on the Gardens of Stone on 27 April, 2010 [transcript]. The report details the devastating impacts of coal mining on the Gardens of Stone, including the collapse of several hundred cliffs and the poisoning of nationally endangered swamps with mine effluent. The report also outlines what can be done to stop further damage and how critical it is to save the Gardens of Stone and afford it the protection it derserves.
- Pumping Newes Plateau Dry
- Coal Mining - the Problems
- Unenforceable Development Consent Conditions
- Monitoring the Death of Protected Swamps
- Cliff Damage and Locations
- Cliff and Pagoda Damage
The Gardens of Stone 2 reservation area is too precious to build an expressway through or use for sand mining. It is appropriate to manage urban impacts, in areas that abut residential properties and those which are not subject to private occupation.
Forestry in the region appears to be winding down and this could be an opportunity for biodiversity in some areas to be restored.
High Intensity Recreation
Recreation in the Gardens of Stone 2 should apply the principles of 'tread lightly' and 'leave no trace'. Recreation should be actively managed to minimise impacts and enhance conservation goals.