kangaroo island nrm region - Parliament of South Australia

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kangaroo island nrm region - Parliament of South Australia
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
LAID ON THE TABLE
PP184
18 Mar 2015
AND ORDERED TO BE PUBLISHED
KANGAROO ISLAND
NRM REGION
FACT-FINDING VISIT
5-7 NOVEMBER 2014
ONE HUNDREDTH REPORT
OF THE
NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Tabled in the House of Assembly and ordered to be published, Tuesday 17 March 2015
Second Session, Fifty Third Parliament
11
PRESIDING MEMBER'S FOREWORD
The Natural Resources Committee visited the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Management Region
in early November 2014. This was the committee's first visit to the island since 2009.
As with previous committee visits, vegetation management remained a source of debate. Kangaroo
islanders face a number of disadvantages compared to mainland South Australia. Higher transport costs
and times and difficulties attracting investment were mentioned many times by those to whom the
Committee spoke. It was clear there was some contrast between the Kangaroo Island Council and the
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR)/Natural Resources Kangaroo
Island, over what constitutes appropriate development on the island. The committee suggested that the
soon-to-be-appointed Kangaroo Island Commissioner was well placed to bring the two sides together.
Issues that concern the KI Council in particular were roadside vegetation clearance for improved road
safety, marine parks legislation and plantation forestry. The council suggested it needed greater control
of roadside vegetation and criticised the veto DEWNR have on development proposals which require
referral to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation. However the council should
be careful what it wishes for. While further development of the island is desirable to ensure its long
term future, it needs to be sensitive to the islands unique qualities. Maintaining biodiversity and the
integrity of native vegetation and habitat for native species is important for attracting tourists; in
particular high-value overseas tourists.
Members were impressed with the work of DEWNR's animal and pest plant control officers, who are
in the final stages of removing feral goats and deer, and are also attempting to tackle more difficult pests
including feral cats and feral pigs with very limited funding. Koala management is a continuing issue
for Kangaroo Island. Committee members were made aware again of the high recurring cost of the
sterilisation program and wondered whether it might be more cost-effective for a non-government
organisation (NGO) to do this work. However, committee members understood that it would perhaps
be unfair to compare the cost of managing feral animals with that of managing koalas given that culling
is not an option. Koalas and their negative impacts on vegetation needs to continue to be managed, with
consideration given also to their role as a tourist drawcard.
Committee members were also impressed with the efforts of two entrepreneurial landholders involved
in marron farming. They saw considerable potential for these enterprises to expand, building on the
island's 'clean green' reputation and relatively abundant water resources. There remain some hurdles,
particularly in the area of predation of marron by birds.
I wish to thank all those who gave their time to assist the committee with this inquiry. I commend the
members of the committee, Mr Peter Treloar MP, Mr Jon Gee MP, Mr Chris Picton MP, Hon Robert
Brokenshire MLC, Hon John Dawkins MLC, and Hon Gerry Kandelaars MLC, for their contributions
to this report. All members have worked cooperatively on this report. Finally, I thank the committee
staff for their assistance.
Hon Steph Key f\-4
Presiding Member
17 March 2015
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
iii
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The committee made the following comments/observations after undertaking a fact-finding visit of
the Kangaroo Island NRM Region:
•
Members did not want to take sides in any argument between the Kangaroo Island Council and
DEWNR. They expressed the view that given the recent passing of legislation in the Parliament
to provide for the establishment of a Kangaroo Island Commissioner, there was an opportunity
for that person to tackle the issue of development powers and control of road reserves (Page
17);
•
Members strongly recommended to fishers that they make a submission to the recently
announced Regional Impact Statement process for Port Wakefield, Ceduna and Kangaroo
Island. Their submission should include as much ‘hard data’ as possible to back up their claims
(Page 30);
•
The Natural Resources Committee has already tabled a report on the impact of New Zealand
fur seals on little penguins. Members did not believe there was anything to be gained by
revisiting arguments about culling seals. Indeed, there was general agreement at the meeting
with fishers that culling seals would be disastrous for Kangaroo Island tourism. The same
argument applies to koalas (Pages 31 and 36);
•
Members were impressed that DEWNR had come close to wiping out feral deer and goats on
Kangaroo Island and recommended that sufficient funding be provided to ensure the eradication
is completed (Page 49);
•
Committee members thought the proposed Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme had some
potential and should be discussed in the context of reforming the Native Vegetation Act and its
associated environmental benefits offsets policy. The issue of carbon farming is something that
needs to be addressed at the federal level. Members anticipated that the Commonwealth’s
proposed Direct Action Plan may include carbon farming and it would be premature to make
any recommendations at this point in time (Page 64); and
•
Members were concerned at the cost of the Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program in
relation to its benefit, particularly compared to other efforts of DEWNR staff in eradicating
feral animals (e.g. $7.5 million over the past 19 years for koalas [$395,000/year] compared to
$1 million since 2006 for goats [$125,000/year). However, they were aware of the fact that
these are very different programs, i.e. conservation as opposed to culling (Page 66).
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
iv
RECOMMENDATIONS
The Natural Resources Committee recommends that the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and
Conservation:
1. Reinstate the subsidy to farmers to purchase lime to improve soil pH in areas with acid soils;
2. Write to Yankalilla Council seeking more information about the signage proposed by Natural
Resources Kangaroo Island providing information about biosecurity matters on Kangaroo
Island to travellers entering Cape Jervis, and whether the council would be prepared to
reconsider the proposal;
3. Provide sufficient funding to Natural Resources Kangaroo Island to ensure that the
eradication of feral deer, goats and peacocks is completed; and
4. Establish a Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme based on that proposed by KI farmers.
The scheme should be linked to an upgraded ‘KI brand’, building on the existing ‘clean
green’ reputation of Kangaroo Island.
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
v
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRESIDING MEMBER’S FOREWORD ..............................................................................................ii
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...................................................................................................................iii
RECOMMENDATIONS .......................................................................................................................iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS........................................................................................................................ v
TABLE OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................................viii
THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE...................................................................................ix
FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE................................................................................................... x
STATUTORY OBLIBATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE.....................................................................xi
REFERRAL PROCESS........................................................................................................................xii
ITINERARY ......................................................................................................................................... 13
CONSIDERATION OF EVIDENCE ................................................................................................... 15
1.
Meeting with Kangaroo Island Council ........................................................................................ 15
1.1 Friction between the council and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural
Resources .......................................................................................................................................... 15
2.
3.
4.
1.2
Plantation forestry.................................................................................................................... 16
1.3
Water resource management.................................................................................................... 16
1.4
Fire management...................................................................................................................... 17
1.5
Roads and localised flooding ................................................................................................... 17
Meeting with Natural Resources KI staff at Native Plant Nursery ............................................... 17
2.1
History of nursery .................................................................................................................... 17
2.2
Community involvement ......................................................................................................... 18
2.3
Approach to re-vegetation........................................................................................................ 18
2.4
Importance of conserving roadside vegetation ........................................................................ 19
2.5
Weed management................................................................................................................... 19
2.5.1
One-leaf cape tulip .......................................................................................................... 19
2.5.2
Horehound....................................................................................................................... 20
2.6
Wild pig and cat traps .............................................................................................................. 20
2.7
Phytophthera ............................................................................................................................ 21
Cygnet Park revegetation project.................................................................................................. 22
3.1
‘Community of species’ approach to revegetation at Cygnet Park.......................................... 22
3.2
Fire management...................................................................................................................... 23
3.3
Progress since revegetation...................................................................................................... 24
Meeting with Kangaroo Island Fishers ......................................................................................... 25
4.1
Marine Park sanctuary zones ................................................................................................... 25
4.1.1
Consultation .................................................................................................................... 25
4.1.2
Local knowledge ignored................................................................................................ 25
4.1.3
Research based on catch logs used against fishers.......................................................... 25
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
vi
4.1.4
Flawed understanding of how fish breed ........................................................................ 25
4.1.5
Lost income..................................................................................................................... 27
4.1.6
Overlooked opportunities................................................................................................ 28
4.2
5.
Seagrass restoration program and little penguins.......................................................................... 31
5.1
6.
7.
New Zealand fur seals.............................................................................................................. 28
Western Cove seagrass loss ..................................................................................................... 31
5.1.1
Cause of seagrass loss ..................................................................................................... 31
5.1.2
Catchment to Coast Program........................................................................................... 31
5.1.3
Seagrass planting methods .............................................................................................. 31
5.1.4
Monitoring....................................................................................................................... 32
5.2
Shoal Bay................................................................................................................................. 32
5.3
Little penguins ......................................................................................................................... 33
5.3.1
Decline in little penguin numbers ................................................................................... 33
5.3.2
Land-based predators ...................................................................................................... 33
5.3.3
New Zealand fur seals ..................................................................................................... 34
5.3.4
Competition between fishers and Little Penguins........................................................... 34
Visit to Richard Trethewey’s property, Toomore ......................................................................... 35
6.1
History of the property............................................................................................................. 35
6.2
Marron enterprise..................................................................................................................... 35
6.3
Dam.......................................................................................................................................... 36
6.4
NRM support to landholders.................................................................................................... 37
6.4.1
Soil .................................................................................................................................. 37
6.4.2
Extension officer support ................................................................................................ 38
Natural Resources KI Weeds and Feral Animal Program............................................................. 39
7.1
Revegetation program at Grassdale ......................................................................................... 39
7.2
Biosecurity program................................................................................................................. 40
7.3
Weed control............................................................................................................................ 41
7.3.1
Bridal creeper .................................................................................................................. 41
7.3.2
African boxthorn ............................................................................................................. 42
7.3.3
Roadside weeds............................................................................................................... 42
7.3.4
Declared weeds ............................................................................................................... 42
7.3.5
Achievements.................................................................................................................. 43
7.4
Feral animal control programs ................................................................................................. 43
7.4.1
Feral goats ....................................................................................................................... 43
7.4.2
Fallow deer...................................................................................................................... 45
7.4.3
Feral pigs......................................................................................................................... 47
7.4.4
Feral peacocks................................................................................................................. 48
7.4.5
Feral cats ......................................................................................................................... 48
7.5
Staffing and funding ................................................................................................................ 48
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
vii
8.
Parks management ........................................................................................................................ 50
8.1
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail ........................................................................................... 50
8.1.1
Proposed policy for campsites......................................................................................... 52
8.1.2
Risk assessment—fire ..................................................................................................... 52
8.1.3
Bookings ......................................................................................................................... 53
8.1.4
Maintenance and promotion............................................................................................ 53
8.2
Funding, visitor numbers and services provided ..................................................................... 53
8.2.1
General Reserves Trust ................................................................................................... 53
8.2.2
Visitor numbers and cultural challenges posed by visitors ............................................. 53
8.2.3
Public land operational budget........................................................................................ 54
8.3
Holistic parks management...................................................................................................... 56
8.4
Major differences between Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula...................................... 57
9.
8.4.1
Aboriginal heritage.......................................................................................................... 57
8.4.2
Different species.............................................................................................................. 58
Visit to Andermel Marron Farm ................................................................................................... 59
10.
Meeting with landholders at Ella Matta................................................................................... 61
10.1
Kikuyu pasture..................................................................................................................... 61
10.2
Plantation forestry ............................................................................................................... 62
10.3
Revegetation ........................................................................................................................ 63
10.4
Transportation costs............................................................................................................. 63
10.5
Proposed Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme.......................................................... 63
10.6
Carbon farming supported ................................................................................................... 65
11.
Meeting at Duck Lagoon—Koala Program ............................................................................. 66
REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................................... 68
ABBREVIATIONS .............................................................................................................................. 70
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
viii
TABLE OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Natural Resources Committee meets with Kangaroo Island Councillors ............................ 16
Figure 2: Kangaroo Island Native Plant Nursery—NRC members with Michelle Haby ..................... 19
Figure 3: Weed wiper ........................................................................................................................... 20
Figure 4: Spraying for phytophthera .................................................................................................... 21
Figure 5: Heiri Klein explains the use of contour mounds in the revegetation process ....................... 22
Figure 6: Olearia microdisca – cumulative number of seedlings planted by Natural Resources KI
since 2002 (Klein 2014b) ...................................................................................................................... 23
Figure 7: Planting Festival volunteers at Cygnet Park. This was how the park looked before
revegetation commenced. (Klein 2014b) .............................................................................................. 24
Figure 8: Meeting with Kangaroo Island fishers.................................................................................. 26
Figure 9: Kangaroo Island Marine Park sanctuary zones ................................................................... 30
Figure 10: Martine Kinloch speaks to committee members about seagrass restoration at Western
Cove ...................................................................................................................................................... 33
Figure 11: Committee members, NRM board members and landholders at the Trethewey property,
Toomore, 6th November 2014................................................................................................................ 35
Figure 12: Trethewey dam, Toomore, Kangaroo Island, estimated to have a capacity of 1,000
megalitres.............................................................................................................................................. 37
Figure 13: Marine park sanctuary zone off Cape de Couedic.............................................................. 39
Figure 14: Kangaroo, wallaby, echidna and possum proof fence at Grassdale .................................. 40
Figure 15: Nick Markopoulos demonstrates the aerial tracking device used to locate the Judas goats
.............................................................................................................................................................. 45
Figure 16: John O’Malley (centre) and Alison Buck (right) speak to NRC Members Mr Peter Treloar,
Hon. Robert Brokenshire and Hon Steph Key at the commencement of their walk along a completed
section of the Wilderness Trail (Rocky River section), 6 November 2014. ........................................... 52
Figure 17: Caroline Paterson speaks to committee members at a stop on the wilderness trail
overlooking Rocky Creek, 6 November 2014........................................................................................ 55
Figure 18: Photograph of Andermel Marron Farm (Melbourne 2014) ............................................... 59
Figure 19: Proprietor John Melbourne shows committee members a particularly large marron; these
are popular with visitors from South East Asia .................................................................................... 60
Figure 20: Fenced off native vegetation at Ella Matta......................................................................... 61
Figure 21: Kikuyu pasture at Ella Matta. Property owner Andrew Heinrich speaks to committee
members ................................................................................................................................................ 62
Figure 22: Ella Matta On-ground works (Heinrich 2014) ................................................................... 64
Figure 23: Koalas in a suburban back yard at Blackwood, South Australia. The committee did not see
any koalas during its very brief visit to Duck Lagoon (S Gill 2014). ................................................... 67
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
ix
THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
The Natural Resources Committee was established pursuant to the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991
on 3 December 2003.
Its membership for the duration of this inquiry was:
The Hon Steph Key MP, Presiding Member
Hon Robert Brokenshire MLC
Hon John Dawkins MLC
Hon Gerry Kandelaars MLC
Mr Jon Gee MP
Mr Chris Picton MP
Mr Peter Treloar MP
Executive Officer to the Committee:
Mr Patrick Dupont
Research Officer to the Committee:
Mr David Trebilcock
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
x
FUNCTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
Pursuant to section 15L of the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991, the functions of the Committee are:
(a)
to take an interest in and keep under review—
(i)
the protection, improvement and enhancement of the natural resources of the State;
and
(ii)
the extent to which it is possible to adopt an integrated approach to the use and
management of the natural resources of the State that accords with principles of
ecologically sustainable use, development and protection; and
(iii)
the operation of any Act that is relevant to the use, protection, management or
enhancement of the natural resources of the State; and
(iv)
without limiting the operation of a preceding subparagraph—the extent to which the
objects of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 are being achieved; and
(b)
without limiting the operation of paragraph (a), with respect to the River Murray—
(c)
(2)
(i)
to consider the extent to which the Objectives for a Healthy River Murray are
being achieved under the River Murray Act 2003; and
(ii)
to consider and report on each review of the River Murray Act 2003
undertaken under section 11 of that Act by the Minister to whom the
administration of that Act has been committed; and
(iii)
to consider the interaction between the River Murray Act 2003 and other Acts
and, in particular, to consider the report in each annual report under that Act
on the referral of matters under related operational Acts to the Minister under
that Act; and
(iv)
at the end of the second year of operation of the River Murray Act 2003, to
inquire into and report on—
(A)
the operation of subsection (5) of section 22 of that Act, insofar as it
has applied with respect to any Plan Amendment Report under the
Development Act 1993 referred to the Governor under that subsection;
and
(B)
the operation of section 24(3) of the Development Act 1993; and
to perform such other functions as are imposed on the Committee under this or any
other Act or by resolution of both Houses.
In this section—
natural resources includes—
(a)
soil;
(b)
water resources;
(c)
geological features and landscapes;
(d)
native vegetation, native animals and other native organisms;
(e)
ecosystems.
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
xi
STATUTORY OBLIBATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE
The Natural Resources Committee has the statutory obligation to examine a Region’s Natural Resource
Management (NRM) plans that contains a levy proposal.
Sections 80 and 81 of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 clearly state the circumstances
under which these plans are to be forwarded to the Committee.
80—Submission of plan to Minister
(8)
If a plan provides that the whole or part of the funds required for implementation
of the plan should comprise an amount to be raised under Chapter 5 (in this
section referred to as a levy proposal) the Minister must, within 7 days after
adopting the plan, refer the plan to the Natural Resources Committee of
Parliament.
Once the initial NRM plan (with levy proposal) has been considered by the Committee then in
subsequent years only plans in which the levy proposal is increased by an amount greater than the CPI
increase is referred to the Committee. Provisions of s81(10)(b)(ii) NRM Act as follows apply:
81—Review and amendment of plans
(10) If—
(b)
an amendment proposes—
(i)
that a levy under Chapter 5 Part 1 Division 1 or Division 2 imposed
in one financial year be again imposed in the next financial year; and
(ii)
that the amount to be raised or recovered by the levy in the next
financial year will be an amount that exceeds the amount raised for
the last financial year adjusted to take into account increases (if any)
in the CPI during the 12 months ending on 30 September in that last
financial year,
the procedures set out in section 80(8) to (16) must be followed when the
plan is amended.
The Committee must within 28 days of receipt of a NRM plan, consider the levy proposal in that plan,
as required under s80(9) the NRM Act as follows:
80—Submission of plan to Minister
(9)
The Natural Resources Committee must, after receipt of a plan under subsection (8)—
(a)
resolve that it does not object to the levy proposal; or
(b)
resolve to suggest amendments to the levy proposal; or
(c)
resolve to object to the levy proposal.
Other provisions of the NRM Act detail the process to be followed should the Committee decide to
proceed in accordance with s80(9)(b) or (c) but are not discussed further in this report.
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
xii
REFERRAL PROCESS
Pursuant to section 16(1) of the Act, any matter that is relevant to the functions of the Committee may be
referred to it in the following ways:
(a)
(b)
(c)
by resolution of the Committee'’ appointing House or Houses, or either of the Committee'’
appointing Houses;
by the Governor, or by notice published in the Gazette; or
of the Committee'’ own motion.
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
ITINERARY
Day One: Wednesday 5th November 2014
Time
7.05 am
7.45 am
9.30 am – 1.00 pm
1:00 pm
1.05 pm
1.55 pm
2.00 pm
2.30 pm
2.50 pm
3.00 pm – 5.00pm
6.00 pm
7.00 pm
Activity
Depart Adelaide Airport, arrive Kingscote Airport 7.40am
Drive to Kingscote.
Meet with KI Council (Elected Members and key staff)
Meet Natural Resources KI staff
Depart for KI Native Plant Nursery, Telegraph Road, Kingscote
Arrive KI Native Plant Nursery
Topics: NRM Board resources for community: Nursery, weed wipers, direct
seeder, pig pens. Coast and Marine program: Board
Depart for Cygnet Park, Ropers Road
Arrive Kangaroo Cygnet Park Sanctuary
Topics: Kangaroo Island Planting Festival, Seed bank nurseries, Eastern
Plains Fire Trial (Fire Ecology)
Afternoon tea at Cygnet Park
Depart for Ferguson Australia Pty Ltd Depot, Kingscote
Meet John Ayliffe and KI fishers to discuss impact on fisheries of marine
park sanctuary zones. Attending: Bevan Patterson, Michael Fooks, Lance and
Cherie Tyley, Tina Kleevan, Anton Jamieson, Peter Clements (Deputy
Mayor), Bernie Howard & Dean Wiles (The Islander).
Check in Ozone Hotel, Kingscote, SA
Dinner at Ozone Hotel (with Local Member, Mayor and key NRM staff)
Day Two: Thursday 6th November 2014
Time
8.00am
8.30 am
8:40 am
9:15 am
9:45 am
10.05 am
10.30 am
11:40 am
12.00 – 1.00 pm
1:00 pm
1.30 pm
3:00 pm
3:30 pm
3:45 pm
4:00 pm
Activity
Breakfast meeting at Ozone Hotel (NRC only)
Meet with DEWNR/KINRM at Ozone Hotel—Depart for Brownlow Beach
Arrive Brownlow Beach
Topics: Catchment to Coast program: Seagrass restoration, water quality,
community seagrass planting sites
Depart for Richard Trethewey’s property, Toomore
Arrive at Richard Trethewey’s property for Morning tea and meet with Board
members. Topics: NRM on KI, Sustainable production, diversification, water
resource management, biosecurity
Peter Treloar flies in to Kingscote airport; Michael Pengilly collects him from
airport. Travel together to Richard Trethewey’s property
John Dawkins flies out of Kingscote airport.
Depart Richard Trethewey’s for Rustic Blue
Lunch Rustic Blue South Coast Road, Cape Kersaint via, Vivonne Bay.
Depart Rustic Blue for Grassdale
Arrive Grassdale
Topics: Habitat restoration, wetlands, feral animal control, weed
management, heritage, phytophthera
Afternoon tea at Grassdale
Depart for Flinders Chase National Park
Arrive Flinders Chase Visitor Centre
Meet at Flinders Chase Visitor Centre
Topics: Wilderness Trail; visitor management, tourism
14
5.00pm
5.15pm
6.00pm
6.30 pm
7.00 pm
Depart for West Bay Road Bridge.
Arrive West Bay Road Bridge car park and walk Rocky River Hike section of
Wilderness Trail to lookout
Topics: Wilderness Trail; visitor management, tourism
Drive to Cape du Couedic
Cape du Couedic Lighthouse Keepers Heritage Cottages (near Remarkable
Rocks and Admirals Arch) in Flinders Chase National Park. Three cottages (9
rooms) booked.
Dinner meeting NRC at Cape du Couedic cottages – NRC only
Day Three: Friday 7th November 2014
Time
7:00 am
8.00 am
9.00 am
9.15-9.40am
9:55 am
10.00 am
11.00 am
12.00 – 1.00 pm
2:30 pm
4:00 pm
4:30 pm
5.30 pm
6.30 pm
7.05 pm
7.15 pm
Activity
Morning walk to Admirals Arch
Breakfast meeting at accommodation
Depart accommodation for Remarkable Rocks
Tour Remarkable Rocks
Arrive Flinders Chase Visitor Centre
Tour of Black Swamp
Topics: National Parks (resourcing) & Visitor Management
Depart Flinders Chase for Andermel Marron Farm
Lunch at Andermel Marron Farm (Harriet Road)
Arrive Andrew Heinrich’s property
Topic: Sustainable Production: Native Vegetation and Farming
Forestry
Depart for Duck Lagoon, Cygnet River
Arrive Duck Lagoon, Cygnet River
Koala Management
Drive to Kingscote Airport
Depart Kingscote Airport for Adelaide
Arrive Adelaide Airport
Taxis back to Parliament House or home
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
15
CONSIDERATION OF EVIDENCE
1.
Meeting with Kangaroo Island Council
The Natural Resources Committee met with members of the Kangaroo Island Council and key staff
members between 9.30am and 1.00pm on Wednesday 5 November 2014.
1.1
Friction between the council and the Department of Environment, Water and
Natural Resources
The Natural Resources Committee heard there is a conflict between environmental interests
championed by DEWNR, and social and economic interests championed by the council. While the
council understands and appreciates the unique status of Kangaroo Island as a pristine environment, it
has a deep antipathy to DEWNR and chafes against the strong powers the department has in being
able to veto major developments1.
Two issues in particular are the cause of friction between the council and DEWNR: native vegetation
management (particularly on roadsides) and marine parks. Councillors expressed the view that the
Native Vegetation Act is being used inappropriately to stop roadside clearing. Members were told the
council wants unfettered access to a suitable working road envelope (4m either side of trafficable road
carriageway edge) to clear roadside vegetation for road safety, drainage and maintenance reasons. A
‘living verge’ would remain and be maintained as such in these areas once a working platform is
established. The remainder of the road reserve (typically 50–70 per cent of the total width of the road
reserve) would remain untouched. With the support of the Native Vegetation Council, the Kangaroo
Island Council is working to develop a clear and appropriate plan going forward that negates the
opportunity for contest by DEWNR and addresses roadside vegetation management for all roads on
the island (state and local government).
The council recommended that the Natural Resources Committee undertake a review of DEWNR and
the public benefit it provides. Councillors expressed the view that the amalgamation of Natural
Resources Management boards and DEWNR should have resulted in improved advice,
communication and support to the KI NRM Board. However, funding cuts coupled with a ‘less-thencollaborative culture’ has seen the reverse occur, with junior DEWNR officers seemingly empowered
to make and communicate decisions without board involvement and approval. Members heard that
there is an immediate imperative to allow the NRM Board to participate in important decisions that
impact the island both socially and economically. Failure to do so would make the board ineffective,
unable to fulfil its role under the Act, and lead to disenfranchised board members.
The committee also heard that Native Title has been falsely claimed over Crown Land which has also
stopped developments going ahead.
Committee comment
Members did not want to take sides in any argument between the Kangaroo Island Council and
DEWNR. They expressed the view that given the recent passing of legislation in the Parliament to
provide for the establishment of a Kangaroo Island Commissioner, there was an opportunity for
that person to tackle the issue of development powers and control of road reserves.
1
Under Section 8 of the Development Regulations the Minister for Environment has power of direction with regard to
referred development applications.
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee
16
1.2
Plantation forestry
The committee heard that the failure of managed investment schemes during the global financial crisis
has left a major problem at the western end of Kangaroo Island2. A deep sea port is needed at Cape
Dutton to enable the export of wood chips and pine logs. However, this particular location is currently
in a Habitat Protection Zone (see Figure 9) and would require a special purpose zone to be created to
allow boats more than 80m in length to access the area. Another location on the east coast is suitable
but is a long way from the resource (increasing production costs and road wear) and is likely to face
strong local resistance to development.
According to the council, harvesting the trees over a 12–15 year cycle could directly employ 30–50
people and indirectly another 30 people. A second rotation could be achieved by coppicing the tree
stumps, requiring very low establishment costs and providing a 30-year economy. The timber is worth
$400 million but is becoming a fire risk. The forests also harbour feral pigs and koalas.
Figure 1: Natural Resources Committee meets with Kangaroo Island Councillors
1.3
Water resource management
The committee heard that the council opposed prescription of surface water resources (there are
virtually no underground sources) on Kangaroo Island some years ago when the NRM Board initiated
a discussion about water resource management in the context of preparing its Regional NRM Plan.
Due to excessive farm dam development in the past, surface water resources are overallocated in
nearly all catchments of the island. This problem is not unique to Kangaroo Island: surface water was
overallocated in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Clare Valley as well, and in these areas a decision was
made a decade or so ago to prescribe the water (i.e. issue licences) to address the problem. Kangaroo
2
Members were told there are 19,000 ha of blue gum and 5,500 ha of pine forest on the island.
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Island has been managing its surface water resources under the Water Affecting Activity Permits
regime (i.e. dams and other water affecting activities require a permit).
Plantation forestry has a major impact on surface water resources. This is a matter with which the
Natural Resources Committee is familiar due to past inquiries it has held (in particular Deep Creek).
Clearly Kangaroo Island will eventually have to confront the issue of overallocated surface water
catchments and probably the most efficient way do so will be to ‘go down the prescription road’. This
will allow water rights to be separated from land ownership and for water to be traded between
landholders. Harvesting of plantation forestry would allow surface water to be released to new users.
Prescription would also allow the NRM Board to gain additional funding through a Division 2
NRM levy.
1.4
Fire management
Fire management was another matter that the council felt DEWNR was failing to adequately deal
with. Councillors expressed the view that fire is a regular catastrophic event on the island and that
DEWNR is refusing to acknowledge there is a need to reduce fuel loads and allow more clearing
along roadsides.
By way of example, NRC members heard that the protection of glossy black cockatoos (a nationally
listed endangered species) was being used by DEWNR as a reason for refusing to allow the council to
undertake prescribed burning on its reserves in the American River area. Casuarinas, which are the
important habitat trees for the glossy black cockatoo, are a major fire risk in that area. Councillors
claimed there was an abundance of these birds in the area and that a well-managed prescribed burn
would not harm them.
1.5
Roads and localised flooding
Members were told that Kangaroo Island roads were originally constructed by local farmers and had
not been designed to allow water to drain away. However, DEWNR had apparently told the council
that if it undertakes such work, water-affecting activity permits would be required, and presumably
these would not be forthcoming due to the impact such work would have on native vegetation.
The council stated that past common practice was for landholders to dig drains allowing water to
drain into dams on their properties. However, apparently this practice would also require a permit
from DEWNR. Once again, the Council chafed against what it saw as obstruction and overblown
environmental sentiment on the part of DEWNR.
2.
Meeting with Natural Resources KI staff at Native Plant Nursery
The Natural Resources Committee met with key staff members of Natural Resources KI at the
DEWNR native plant nursery between 1.00 and 2.00pm on Wednesday, 5 November 2014.
2.1
History of nursery
The committee heard that the DEWNR native plant nursery was established in 2004 to support
landholders wanting to revegetate their properties. Orders are grown as seedlings. The Kangaroo
Island Nationally Threatened Plant Project3, which has been running since 2002, also grows seedlings
in this nursery after the threatened plant nursery was mothballed due to funding cuts.
3
See: http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/land-and-water/habitat-restoration
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2.2
Community involvement
Members heard that community members are heavily involved in the NRM Board’s revegetation
program and much of the funding comes from the federal and state governments (discussed further
below). Volunteers are involved in all stages of the program, from seed collecting and propagation to
planting.
Board staff commented that local support for the native vegetation restoration program is mixed.
Because Kangaroo Island has a large farming community, there are some people who disparage the
program. This is balanced by a reasonable number of residents who support the program. Members
were told that a lot of people come into the nursery to buy native plants for their gardens, including
farmers, some of whom are involved in quite large revegetation projects on their properties.
Trees for Life has member growers on the island, and people from that organisation regularly come to
Kangaroo Island to collect seeds. Staff and volunteers regularly liaise with State Flora, the Adelaide
Botanical Gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank to ensure valuable knowledge gained from
propagating certain threatened species is passed on.
2.3
Approach to revegetation
The committee heard that the Natural Resources KI nursery has been very successful with some
nationally threatened species that are notoriously difficult to propagate. The approach is to try to
restore a whole community of species i.e. 100 to 120 plants, rather than tackling only the threatened
target species. By way of analogy, there is no point in breeding pandas if there is no bamboo forest for
them.
The Kangaroo Island NRM Board prepared a recovery plan4 for nationally threatened plant species in
2012. One of the recommendations of the plan was large-scale habitat restoration to ensure those
plants can exist into the future. The preferred method was to look at the overall habitat rather than
each individual species.
Members heard that the program’s strength is its ability to create high diversity plantings. Normally
the difficult work of attempting to propagate threatened species is done in a laboratory. Doing the
propagation in a real world situation allowed the techniques to be used in other nurseries.
The committee heard that many plant species on Kangaroo Island are rare because they are fireresponsive. An example that was given was Olearia microdisca (small-flowered daisy-bush) which
grows only at the eastern end of the island, where mostly farmland has replaced native bush. The seed
will remain in the seed bank and will last for a long time, but if there is no fire it will eventually
disappear.
4
See:
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=recovery+plan+for+nationally+threatened+species+on+kangaroo+island
&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:IE-Address&ie=&oe=&safe=active&gws_rd=ssl
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Figure 2: Kangaroo Island Native Plant Nursery—NRC members with Michelle Haby
2.4
Importance of conserving roadside vegetation
Leionema equestre (Kangaroo Island phebalium) was given as an example of a nationally threatened
plant species that is endemic to Kangaroo Island. More than 90 per cent of these plants are found in a
small area in eastern Kangaroo Island (15–20km radius within the Hundred of Haines), with the
remainder of the worldwide population some 20 km further west, in the centre of the island. The plant
has a physical dormancy (its seed coat is impermeable to water) in addition to a physiological
dormancy (the right sequence of events is needed) and is not protected in any reserve system on the
island. Members heard that some individual plants have been planted in Beyeria Conservation Park
(not its original location). Every Leionema remaining on the island is on the roadside or in Heritage
Agreement areas within farmers’ properties.
Board staff explained that apart from this transplanted area, roadsides are the only remaining
strongholds where the plant has survived. DEWNR did not unreservedly support the Kangaroo Island
Council claim that it should have a greater role in roadside vegetation management:
“It only takes one or two badly managed activities by the council for these populations to be wiped out
and if they are the last remaining stands of these particular species then the result can be catastrophic.”
(Klein, 2014a)
2.5
Weed management
2.5.1 One-leaf cape tulip
Natural Resources KI has two weed wipers that it lends out to landholders to help them control oneleaf cape tulip. One-leaf cape tulip is among the most widespread declared weeds on the land. There
are a number of infestations across the island, but there are still large areas of uninfested land.
Members heard that cape tulip was introduced into Australia as a garden plant and found in
waterlogged areas, wetlands and marginal country not subject to cropping. It is not always an
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economic weed for the landholder but it can be environmentally destructive. The weed wiper is
particularly suitable for grazing country; it relies on the typical situation where the weed is somewhat
taller than the pasture. Herbicide is dribbled into a carpet-like material suspended from the weed
wiper and coats the leaves of the weed as the device is driven over the top. Weed wipers cost around
$6,500 to construct, plus another $4,000 for a specially fitted trailer to carry them.
The committee heard that there is quite a narrow window of opportunity to control cape tulip, and
landowners are taking the weed seriously. Cape tulip can normally be knocked out through crop
rotation, but control is much more difficult in a grazing situation because of the risk of killing pasture
species at the same time.
Spot sprayers are also available for loan for small property owners who do not have their own
equipment for spraying weeds. Natural Resources KI also provides advice to landholders on how to
use the equipment and how best to go about the particular weeding program they wish to undertake.
2.5.2 Horehound
Members were told that horehound is not a significant issue on Kangaroo Island. The soil is
predominantly acidic (except in coastal areas), and horehound tends to grow in areas with alkaline soil
(i.e. clay or limestone base). The main issue with this weed is ensuring the seed is not carried on
equipment or in soil moved from one part of the island to another.
Figure 3: Weed wiper
2.6
Wild pig and cat traps
DEWNR staff explained that landholders may borrow pig traps, which consist of four mesh panels
attached to form a square enclosure. Pigs enter via a one-way gate, enticed by grain soaked in water,
and are then shot. Members of the public require a hunting permit together with permission from the
landowner to recreationally hunt feral pigs. The best time to trap is when food sources are scarce.
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Wild pigs breed very rapidly and have large litters. As soon as a pig gets to 25kg (generally after 6
months) it begins to breed, with three to four piglets in the first litter. A sow can have two litters per
year. Mortality rates are low because they have no predators (there are no wild dogs).
Pigs are mainly at the western end of the island due to the relative abundance of fresh water. Members
heard that many people believe wild pigs live extensively in forested areas. However, as they use a
range of land tenures for food, water and habitat, control needs to be on a whole-of-landscape basis,
requiring agreement and cooperation from neighbouring landholders. It is possible to provide fencing
that will keep them out.
The committee heard that wild pigs have been on Kangaroo Island since settlement, after escaping
from the first settlers. The ‘western strain’, as it is known, can be traced back to the old
Egyptian/African trading routes. There was a further deliberate release in the 1970s, when there was a
good market for pigs; it is understood some farmers released domestic pigs for hunting and
subsequent sale. This practice stopped when a stock agent was injured by one of the animals in
Adelaide during an auction.
The pig traps can be modified for use as peacock traps (with netting placed over the top to stop them
flying out). Cat traps are also available for loan to community members.
2.7
Phytophthera
Members heard that phytophthera is a fungal disease that attacks both commercial crops and native
species. As the disease is Australia-wide, a national plan has been created to reduce its spread. Strict
hygiene controls are used to try to abate the spread of the disease when Natural Resources KI staff
members and volunteers go into field locations. This involves treating footwear and car wheels using
a spray that is non-toxic to humans but toxic to the disease.
Figure 4: Spraying for phytophthera
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3.
Cygnet Park revegetation project
The Natural Resources Committee met with staff of Natural Resources KI at Cygnet Park between
2.00 and 3.00pm on Wednesday, 5 November.
3.1
‘Community of species’ approach to revegetation at Cygnet Park
Committee members had earlier heard about the ‘community of species’ approach Natural Resources
KI takes to its revegetation program. They were able to see this in action at Cygnet Park. Catchment
to Coast Program Manager Heiri Klein explained that the board tries to identify corridors of native
vegetation for restoration rather than an opportunistic approach (i.e. wherever land becomes
available). This is combined with an identification of locations where rare and threatened species are
already in existence and where other species are present to support them. Cygnet Park was in the right
location with regard to one of the identified corridors.
Restoration trials were started around 2006–07. The board worked with as many species as possible
including those local to the area and attempted to recreate as far as possible a mix of species that
would have existed originally, based on observations of remnant scrub elsewhere. ‘Coloniser species’
(species planted with the expectation they will die out after only two or three years) were included in
the mix. When such species die, their seeds ideally remain on the site ready to sprout after fire. The
new planting was designed to be very dense to stop the original pasture grasses from regrowing.
Figure 5: Heiri Klein explains the use of contour mounds in the revegetation process
Members heard that both direct seeding and planting were used for the 22 ha area restored at Cygnet
Park i.e. 80,000 seedlings planted over two days by 300 volunteers. In addition, direct seeding was
done over the top (seeds broadcast over the site).
Contour banks were made using a mechanical grader. Members heard that in a fertile topsoil that has
been treated with superphosphate it is very difficult for native plants to outcompete the former pasture
grasses and weeds. To get around this problem at Cygnet Park, the topsoil was removed using the
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grader and put into mounds, leaving the more barren subsoil in between. Direct-seeded and handplanted under-storey shrubs and grasses are able to establish in this more barren soil. The over-storey
vegetation was planted by hand in a sparse, random layout as close as possible to what would be
found naturally, using several key tree species. Members heard that the over-storey density needs to
be finely tuned to stop it outcompeting the diverse under- and mid-storey.
The committee heard that the reestablishment of small-flowered daisy-bush (Olearia microdisca) has
been particularly successful at Cygnet Park. In 2002, when the most complete survey was done for the
species, only seven subpopulations were found to be left on the island. After some experimentation it
was found that smoke was the best stimulant to propagation. The extent of the plant has doubled since
Cygnet Park revegetation has occurred.
Figure 6: Olearia microdisca – cumulative number of seedlings planted by Natural Resources KI since 2002
(Klein 2014b)
3.2
Fire management
In response to a question about prescribed burning, members were told that Natural Resources KI
does not intend to burn Cygnet Park. However, Heiri Klein explained that in the likely event that a
fire would occur at some stage in the future, the ‘final test’ for the success of revegetation would be
evidence of regeneration of plants like the nationally threatened Olearia microdisca (small-flowered
daisy-bush) that require fire to regenerate. He further explained that:
“The plant only grows in eastern Kangaroo Island where the presence of the Kangaroo Island narrowleaf mallee plant community and its associated soil and rainfall conditions are required to sustain it. All
native plants that are threatened in eastern Kangaroo Island are much worse off than in the west
because in the west there is a much greater buffer due to the greater extent of national parks. The main
threatening process in the west is bushfire which in most cases is beneficial for the endemic plants. In
eastern Kangaroo Island bushfires are relatively rare. When they do eventuate it is much easier to put
them out, which is good for infrastructure assets but in the long term detrimental for the senescing
vegetation in the east.”
(Klein 2014a)
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3.3
Progress since revegetation
Members heard that the seeds of most weed species at Cygnet Park have a viability of only a few
years whereas some native plants may have a seed viability of 70 years or more. Dense revegetation
in the park effectively eradicates weed species because they cannot re-establish within the replanted
area. Wallaby- and kangaroo-proof fencing was used to keep native animals out of the revegetation
area, allowing the plants to get established. Native grasses have partially re-colonised of their own
accord and are also re-establishing as a result of their initial planting and direct seeding. Dead wood is
intentionally allowed to remain on site to provide habitat for certain species (e.g. termites, which are
the main food of echidnas). Creating habitat for larger nest hollow-using animals takes a much longer
time period (e.g. for Glossy black cockatoos and possums).
Heiri Klein explained that there was some angst in the farming community that Natural Resources KI
might be attempting to revegetate land throughout the island. However:
“…to put it into perspective, the program has restored between 20 and 30 ha of land per year which
compared to the 200,000 hectares of land cleared originally (on average 2,000 ha/year for 100 years) is
very small. The part of the island in which Cygnet Park is located has 11 per cent of native vegetation
remaining, much of which is heavily fragmented, in poor condition and projected to further decline. If the
NRM Board wanted to increase the native vegetation cover from 11 per cent to 12 per cent for this
fragmented part of the island, at the current rate of revegetation it would take around 36 years to achieve
this…For the purpose of further illustration it would take more than 6,000 years to revegetate 50 per
cent of Kangaroo Island.”
“The current rate of revegetation carried out by this program (less than 30 ha per year) needs to be
viewed against the 18,000 ha of plantation forestry established and the 300 ha per year of land that is
lost to rising salinity due to historical clearing.”
(Klein 2014a)
Figure 7: Planting Festival volunteers at Cygnet Park. This was how the park looked before revegetation
commenced. (Klein 2014b)
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4.
Meeting with Kangaroo Island Fishers
The Natural Resources Committee met with Kangaroo Island fishers at Ferguson Australia Pty Ltd
Depot, Kingscote, between 3.00 and 5.00pm on Wednesday, 5 November 2014.
4.1
Marine Park sanctuary zones
The vast bulk of the meeting with fishers was taken up with the issue of marine park sanctuary zones
and their impact on fishers and the Kangaroo Island community and economy. The committee’s visit
took place only days after the legislation bringing in the new regime of sanctuary zones came into
force. Fishers’ anger was focused on the consultation process, the use of what they claimed was
flawed evidence and science, and a lack of understanding or appreciation of the impact that the new
regime has had on fishers and the fishing industry more generally.
4.1.1 Consultation
Fishers claimed that consultation on the proposed marine park sanctuary zones initially followed a
reasonable process, but in the end the outcomes were obviously predetermined. This has angered
those involved because much of the information provided to government was given in good faith and
used against the fishers. They feel let down by the new sanctuary zones which have had an impact on
their ability to earn a living.
4.1.2 Local knowledge ignored
Many of the fishers on Kangaroo Island have a long experience with their fishery and believe that
their local knowledge has been ignored. They also believe that the community at large does not
understand how the ocean works.
“They think that fishers can simply fish elsewhere. This is equivalent to asking the grape growers to
move from Padthaway or the Clare Valley to the Simpson Desert. The government is claiming it is only
taking 6 per cent of the ocean for reserves, but it went through the fishers’ logbooks and took the best
fishing areas for these reserves.”
(Tyley L, 2014)
4.1.3 Research based on catch logs used against fishers
Fishers claimed that Primary Industries and Regions SA research scientists relied purely on catch
statistics from the industry and did not do any proper marine surveying to see what is actually going
on under the water. They also claimed that PIRSA used the catch statistics against the fishers by
creating the no-take zones in the exact locations where they were catching most of their fish:
“KI fishers have not seen the PIRSA research scientist during the past winter season. He has gone to
ground. He is the person who has compiled all of the catch statistics for KI. Fishers have done pot
sampling using a small sample of approximately three pots spread through the lobster fishing fleet. The
fish caught in each pot is recorded for location (longitude and latitude). A particular recorded location
can be identified to within 10 metres. This means that PIRSA can identify exactly where fishers have been
catching fish in the past. PIRSA has therefore deliberately targeted the best fishing areas. It has locked
up 25 per cent to 30 per cent of some fishing areas. Those areas were highly productive. This will have a
devastating impact on the fishery and the number of fishers currently working in the industry will no
longer be sustainable. PIRSA is claiming that it has based its locations for marine park sanctuary zones
on the ‘best available scientific evidence’. It is simply ‘pandering’ to other interests.”
(Tyley L, 2014)
4.1.4 Flawed understanding of how fish breed
Other claims that the committee heard related to the manner in which fisheries regenerate. Fishers
claimed that PIRSA seemed to be caught up in a misplaced belief that by creating sanctuary zones or
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no-go areas this would allow fish and other marine life to build up, creating a ‘spillover’ effect and
allowing nearby areas to restock. They argued that this approach was fundamentally flawed:
“If there is a ledge where there is a large crayfish which produces offspring, that crayfish will eat its
own offspring and the offspring of other crayfish. If that large crayfish is caught the smaller ones will be
able to survive and grow meaning that someone will be able to catch them the next year or the year after.
Fishing actually sustains marine life, not the opposite. Locking up the resource and not catching the
catchable fish is not a good conservation measure.”
(Tyley, C 2014)
Similarly, members heard that abalone and crayfish will not move outside of their preferred habitats:
“Abalone will only live in certain areas. If you take the western end it goes out and there’s rock covered
with sand drift where they like to live. You go off the edge of it, it’s just a sand desert for miles and miles.
Abalone do not move. They hardly move at all on the island…the rocks have actually got an indent where
they have been sitting for years and years…and the crayfish are not happy to walk out without any
protection. They move a little bit on a real cloudy day… but otherwise they are staying close and
protected because the moment they get out on that area and they are vulnerable they are going to get
cleaned up by predators. So, the overflow effect on that western end is just going to be non-existent.”
(Jamieson 2014)
“This idea of a sanctuary with a spillover effect doesn’t work.”
(Tyley, L 2014)
Figure 8: Meeting with Kangaroo Island fishers
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4.1.5 Lost income
The committee heard that many fishers were not likely to survive the marine park legislation. Mike
Fooks5, a scalefish licence holder, told members that there are only two net fishers left in the area and
both are struggling to survive. During October–November, 99 per cent of his income came from Shoal
Bay. Technically he has been made insolvent.
Similarly, Anton Jamieson, an abalone diver, told the committee that he normally takes about 5 tonnes
(cold weight) of abalone each year. He has been diving at the western end of Kangaroo Island (where
a new sanctuary zone has been created) for 22 years. That area was worth $25,500 each year, and
there is nowhere else for him to dive. He went on to say:
“The west end of the island is one of the most productive and sustainable marine areas of the island. SARDI
has not done sufficient research to know what is actually there. It put together a big presentation about saving
the western blue groper. This fish cannot be found anywhere near the sanctuary zone. It certainly will not live
in a seal colony. There is plenty of groper around the island, but not in that area. The only reason the
government has closed down that particular area is because it can be relatively easily policed by National
Parks staff on the land. Cray fishers fish there all the time. I have been with them when they were pulling up
their craypots. Absolutely no damage was being done to the bottom of the ocean: a slight 1m swell would do
more damage to the habitat in that area than what they would do in a lifetime.”
(Jamieson 2014)
Tina Kleevan, who with her partner runs the wholesale company Kangaroo Island Fresh Seafoods,
told the committee that the sanctuary zones have impacted on the business community in general as
well as local clubs and charities that in turn rely on those businesses for donations:
“In the eight years since we’ve been on the island we’ve lost 13 commercial fishermen. That’s not
counting lobster fishermen or abalone fishermen. We set up the business because my partner was a
commercial fisherman and there was a need for a fresh fish shop on Kangaroo Island. Borrowing money
on Kangaroo Island is very, very hard so all our money is in that business. This time of year we’ve
normally got five or six staff. At the moment I’ve got three, and I cannot afford to put on another three to
cover us from now to Easter, let alone to supply everyone with fish that comes here during the
holidays…The fishermen are hurting, the public are hurting…and the public weren’t really aware that
this would have so much of an effect…It is really important that we get this sorted out because in the next
twelve months I can’t see us being there.”
(Kleevan 2014)
Cray fishers also claimed the impact on their industry would be devastating:
“…We’ve just started our fishing. They haven’t even come in yet…but I can say that…at least 30 per cent
of our area has been taken and that’s every lobster fisherman, so all of us are going to be out, as Lance
explained, in those other little sparse areas and they are going to be overfished.”
(Howard 2014)
The committee also heard that the value of fishing licences will be impacted by the sanctuaries:
“…Bernie’s husband’s a cray fisherman, I’m a cray fisherman…I’m talking about my industry, you go
and buy a cray licence and its worth millions. It’s not going to be worth millions in a couple of years’
time. The fishery is a managed fishery. We’re on quotas and if I’ve got a couple of million tied up in
those sort of assets I’m not going to wring its neck, but they’re going to wring its neck for me! They will
ruin us. It’s as simple as that!”
(Tyley, L 2014)
5
Mike Fooks gave further evidence to the Natural Resources Committee on garfish on 26 November 2014. This evidence
was incorporated into the committee’s report on sustainable fishery management.
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4.1.6 Overlooked opportunities
At the meeting fishers also mentioned missed opportunities for preserving marine habitats. Fishers
were at pains to point out to the committee that they are not opposed to marine parks. They support
them, but they want them to be in the right locations. At a meeting of the Local Advisory Group
(LAG) set up to facilitate consultation on marine parks, Bevan Patterson questioned the process the
Department for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was using to get information from local
fishers on where the important marine areas were:
“When I asked: ‘why are we marking where people want to fish? These are supposed to be marine parks
to protect the environment. Shouldn’t we as local residents of KI with a knowledge of the island be
putting down on that map areas that we believe should be protected?’ The response was: ‘yes, but we
will do that later. At this stage we want to know where you fish so we don’t close your fishing grounds’.
At no stage after that did DENR do the same exercise to find out areas that people in the local
community knew that were worth protecting.”
(Patterson 2014)
Members heard that Mr Patterson suggested that a no-take zone be established outside of Shoal Bay
where dolphins breed:
“Local people at that location would probably have had no objection to this location. It is shallow,
people could dive there and see the dolphins in their natural environment, and there is abalone for
viewing. A little further around the coast at that location there is a 30,000 year old fossil bed. DENR did
not even know it existed.”
(Patterson 2014)
Committee comment:
Members strongly recommended to fishers that they make a submission to the recently announced
Regional Impact Statement process6 for Port Wakefield, Ceduna and Kangaroo Island. Their
submission should include as much ‘hard data’ as possible to back up their claims.
4.2
New Zealand fur seals
The possible impact of increasing New Zealand fur seal numbers on the Kangaroo Island fishery was
discussed in the context of marine park sanctuary zones. Hon Robert Brokenshire asked whether
fishers thought the removal of fishing would result in seals having access to even more fish.
Bevan Patterson responded:
“Where the seals are basically there are no sea lions. There are no fish left now and they are just going
further and further [to get food]. I lived over at North Cape for 60 years. That area, up to 20 years ago,
you never saw a seal. You go down there in the winter now and there’s a seal colony on each point and
you can go down there any day through the winter seals and they’re basking on the rocks. There is no
doubt that the population of seal on Kangaroo Island is…I think there were reports by the department
two years ago that the population was 40,000 and they’re increasing about 12 per cent a year. Now, if
they’re eating reputed…four to five kilograms of fish a day…which I think comes out at about 70-odd
thousand tonne a year, where the commercial fishermen are taking I think overall including pilchards
something like 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes…
…Where it’s all going I don’t know, but it does worry me. The fish stocks out there that traditionally
supported Kangaroo Island’s industry are being taken away by predators in one hand and if I can be
very blunt, marine parks in another.”
6
See Appendix B
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(Paterson 2014)
Hon Gerry Kandelaars responded to this comment:
“Yes, but on that issue of seals, let’s be honest, there are potential solutions to that, but I think they’d be
political disasters. E.g. a seal cull might be finishing tourism on the island pretty quick. It’s a bit like the
koala stuff. There’s no simple solution. You can go down that path and think about what would sound
like a common sense solution, but the political reality is that it may well cause more damage than it
cures.”
(Kandelaars 2014)
Mr Paterson responded:
“But we are never going to go anywhere with that something like that unless you admit there is a
problem. You are not going to solve a problem unless you admit you’ve got one.” We’ve got a problem.”
(Patterson 2014)
John Ayliffe pointed out that there were clear signs that fish stocks had declined:
“As a resident pelican feeder for twenty years I’ve been collecting fish scraps from the various fish
processors. Most years I would take home each month a couple of hundred kilos of fish to put on a salt
scald. This last twelve months we imported two tonnes of fish to Kangaroo Island to keep the pelican
feeding going. I think it’s the impact of seals, the loss fishermen – things are actually getting pretty
serious.
You’re talking about ecotourism - you quite often hear about people coming over with their fishing boats
now say it is not worth coming to Kangaroo Island with a fishing boat because by the time you pay for
the ferry fare and all your costs you’re not getting enough fish to justify it. So we’re actually having a
negative on tourism. There’s not enough fish to meet the market…
(Ayliffe 2014)
Deputy7 Mayor Peter Clements had the final word:
“I believe the natural predation on seals has reduced due to the large reduction of shark species in the
ocean and the abolition of seal harvesting, this could account for the growing numbers today. It was only
fifty to sixty years ago that seal numbers were harvested to very low levels for seal pelts used for fashion
purposes. It may be that fur seals are returning to normal levels after the era of Kangaroo Island's
seal culling for profit. There has been a lot of study in this area but without a satisfactory explanation as
to what has allowed the increased numbers. It is imperative that DEWNR disclose this information for
public digestion. I think Robert’s point is that if an abundance of fish species proliferates in the [marine
park] zones, does that actually increase the number of seals? We don’t know. Is there a natural
balancing of seal numbers based on availability of food and habitat? I do know this; DEWNR rely a lot
on seals, both Australian Sea Lions and NZ Fur Seals, for a lot of income that goes back into
state general revenue. The island is very jealous about that since it is a natural resource of the Island not
the State, as such, they are very protective of seals in general. The point is that if we try to do anything in
terms of a cull (such as the ongoing program of neutering koalas) we are really committing suicide for
our tourism industry from an international perspective".
(Clements 2014)
7
Deputy mayor at the time of the meeting, now mayor
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Natural Resources Committee
Figure 9: Kangaroo Island Marine Park sanctuary zones
5.
Seagrass restoration program and little penguins
The Natural Resources Committee met with Martine Kinloch, acting regional manager of Natural
Resources KI, at Brownlow Beach near Kingscote between 8.40 and 9.15am on Thursday,
6 November 2014.
5.1
Western Cove seagrass loss
Martine Kinloch informed the committee that she started the coast and marine program 10 years prior
to the committee’s visit, when she first moved to the island. Natural Resources KI is the only NRM
region in South Australia that has an operational marine program: it has dive gear, boats and
underwater cameras, and undertakes marine surveys to assess and monitor biodiversity and habitat
condition.
5.1.1 Cause of seagrass loss
The traditional reasons for seagrass loss are too many nutrients and too much sediment entering
inshore marine waters from the land and river systems. The finger was pointed very strongly at the
Cygnet River, the largest watercourse on the island. The Cygnet River drains predominantly
agricultural catchment which has been 80 per cent cleared. The use of fertiliser such as
superphosphate was identified as the main source of nutrients, but a secondary source was septic tank
effluent (there is no sewage treatment plant on the island).
In addition, livestock has had unrestricted access to the watercourses, leading to erosion, damage to
riparian vegetation and effluent entering the rivers. The nutrients act as a fertiliser for the (epiphytic)
algae that grows on the seagrass. Normally that process is not problematic for the seagrass, but when
there are too many nutrients coming into the system they favour the algae over the seagrass because it
can take the nitrogen up more quickly. The seagrass starts to look increasingly ‘furry’ and eventually
the light no longer reaches the seagrass blades. The seagrass can no longer photosynthesize and it
dies.
5.1.2 Catchment to Coast Program
Members heard that the seagrass monitoring and restoration program is part of the broader Catchment
to Coast Program. This program has a three-pronged attack: on-ground works in the Cygnet River
catchment (e.g. fencing of riparian vegetation, installing stock crossings and revegetation), seagrass
replanting, and improvements to septic tank effluent treatment.
The Kangaroo Island Integrated Catchment Management Committee lobbied very hard in the 1990s
for a monitoring program for a seagrass assessment and rehabilitation program to monitor and
improve seagrass condition by implementing actions to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff into
Western Cove. The Cygnet River catchment program was coupled with a water monitoring program
and a large scale seagrass monitoring program to evaluate the benefits to seagrass meadows in the
cove. In recent years direct restoration of seagrass meadows through spring transplantation and
sowing of seeds has augmented these efforts to restore marine habitat.
5.1.3 Seagrass planting methods
The genus of seagrass used is Posidonia. It takes decades for Posidonia meadows to recover from
disturbance because the plant is very slow growing. Two seagrass planting methods have been trialled
by Natural Resources KI: hand planting of seeds and transplanting using harvested rhizomes.
Hand planting (sowing)
The first method requires that volunteers collect seeds from the seagrass during its flowering stage
using a snorkel or scuba. The seeds are ‘dehisced’ in the laboratory (the seed cover peels off with
soaking) after which they are ‘sown’ (buried) in the sand inside a hessian bag. The bags are placed on
32
the sea floor and the seeds sprout. The sand-filled hessian bags provide a substrate for the seedling to
take root and become firmly established before the bag rots.
Transplanting
The second method used to restore seagrass is a transplant method; the plants have an underground
rhizome (like kikuyu) which is why they are so important in stabilising the seabed. The rhizomes are
harvested from the growing edge of the seagrass meadow and transplanted into the bare sand. They
are initially anchored with a tent peg but eventually, as they grow, they will anchor themselves.
Members heard that Western Australia is a leader in this technique. It has restored many thousands of
hectares of seagrass on its beaches (e.g. Prince William Sound). A seagrass restoration program in
Western Australia has been running for a long time and the Western Australian government has put a
lot of money into it. In the case of Prince William Sound the company dredging the seabed was
required to provide the money to fund the program as a condition of approval for its dredging licence.
5.1.4 Monitoring
The committee heard that at Western Cove there has been mixed success with the seagrass program.
The transplant method seems to have worked better than the sowing method but there is still some
time to go before the survival rate is known. Natural Resources KI has been monitoring the seagrass
using on-board video; an underwater video camera is suspended over the side of the boat for 30 or
40 metres. The footage is analysed in the laboratory on a television screen; freeze frames are taken
and the percentage of seagrass cover recorded for each frame. Ten to twelve frames are recorded for
each transect. Transects are recorded in a grid pattern across the bay and the data on seagrass cover
can then be mapped. Data from sequential years can be overlaid to produce a change map that allows
a clear visual representation of the increase (or decrease) in seagrass cover geographically, as well as
a numeric statistic documenting total loss or gain over the whole area.
The same program has been carried out at other parts of Kangaroo Island including the Bay of Shoals
(where one of the recently enacted sanctuary zones exists) and Emu Bay. The program is done on a
rotational basis, but Natural Resources KI does not have sufficient resources to monitor each site
every year. Martine Kinloch explained that long-term data is needed to determine trends in the health
of the seagrass: there is a lot of inter-annual climate variability which affects the seagrass.
While the seagrass restoration is still in its early stages, at this point in time the board can say that it is
not actually losing any more seagrass at Western Cove. The situation is stable and there is very good
seagrass cover at other areas around the island.
5.2
Shoal Bay
The committee heard that Shoal Bay has very good seagrass meadows. It is however a much more
complex environment; different types of attached algae grow there, and different kinds of substrate
from sand to grit. That favours it for being a nursery area for many different fish species. The
complexity provides structure, refuge and food sources for a diversity of invertebrate species which in
turn provides food for fish and crustaceans.
In addition to Shoal Bay being an ecologically complex area, it is also relatively sheltered and
protected from storms and ocean currents. This provides all the requirements for the larvae, juvenile
fish and eggs for species such as scallops and King George whiting.
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Figure 10: Martine Kinloch speaks to committee members about seagrass restoration at Western Cove
5.3
Little penguins
5.3.1 Decline in little penguin numbers
The Committee heard that little penguins once inhabited a long stretch of coastline in the Kingscote
region. There were a couple of burrows at Brownlow Beach and further along the coast where there is
a suitable soft substrate in the cliffs or under the roots of trees, but these have since disappeared. Most
of the beaches and headlands of the island are suitable habitat for little penguins. Temperature
regulation is an important factor in relation to their eggs and chicks (protection from both heat and
cold). They also need to be above the high-tide mark.
Natural Resources KI has been doing an annual census of the penguins since 2006, and this has
confirmed the widely held view that the population is declining. The decline has been occurring at a
number of other locations in South Australia, including Granite Island.
A number of research projects are underway looking at penguins, fur seals, diets and predation. Work
is being done by SARDI aquatic scientist Professor Simon Goldsworthy as well as Flinders University
looking at predation by rats, cats and goannas. In addition, an honours student who has been working
on the island for some time on the coast and marine program is collecting fur seal scats and analysing
them with DNA techniques to determine the relative percentage of different prey in their diet.
Preliminary evidence from earlier studies suggests that Little Penguins may form up to 20% of the
diet of fur seals. This research will improve the knowledge gained from that work.
5.3.2 Land-based predators
Natural Resources KI has set up motion-sensitive cameras overlooking penguin burrows and recorded
instances of cats and dogs predating penguins and their eggs. Flinders University uses ink traps to
mark the presence of rats and cats via their footprints. This has shown without doubt that rats, cats and
dogs are getting into penguin colonies. Following a rat trapping program on Granite Island it was
found that little penguins had a much improved breeding success.
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The committee heard that Flinders University has also been looking at the impact of parasites on
penguins. Even from its preliminary study the university has determined that breeding success in
colonies with high parasite infestations is significantly lower. The Antechamber Bay colony at the
eastern end of Kangaroo Island is an example of such a colony.
5.3.3 New Zealand fur seals
Martine Kinloch explained that the New Zealand fur seal population has been increasing
exponentially over the past 20 to 30 years, but it can be expected at a certain time for population
expansion to slow down or even stop when the natural carrying capacity has been reached. Fur seals
are regularly seen at Kingscote just beyond the tidal pool and around the jetty.
According to Ms Kinloch, Matthew Flinders did not record penguins around Kangaroo Island when
he chartered the coastline:
“Western Cove was once called Seal Bay. New Zealand fur seals were hunted almost to extinction in the
1800s. There is a distinct possibility that there is now a ‘reset’ to the situation a couple of hundred years
ago when fur seals were in abundance and penguin numbers were relatively low, and there was also not
the concentration of penguins in small discrete, densely-packed colonies. There would probably have
been a more dispersed population.”
(Kinloch 2014)
Members heard that a further argument against fur seals being the main threat to penguins was
evidence of penguin colonies and fur seal colonies adjoining each other. This is not to say that New
Zealand fur seals do not eat penguins: Ms Kinloch explained that fur seals generally feed on fish and
squid and they forage right on the edge of the continental shelf, i.e. 100 to 150 km offshore. They will
take penguins from time to time, potentially older and sicker individuals.
5.3.4 Competition between fishers and Little Penguins
The committee heard that another possible cause of the decline in little penguin numbers is the growth
of the pilchard and anchovy fisheries. Given that penguins feed almost exclusively on anchovies and
pilchards, increased catch by fishers may be reducing the amount of food available to penguins.
Martine made the point that marine ecosystems are a complex interactive system and the causes of
penguin deaths could be manifold.
Committee comment:
The Natural Resources Committee has already tabled a report on the impact of New Zealand fur
seals on little penguins8. Members did not believe there was anything to be gained by revisiting
arguments about culling seals.
8
Report no. 59: “Away with the fairies” tabled 28 September 2011
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6.
Visit to Richard Trethewey’s property, Toomore
The Natural Resources Committee met with landholders and Kangaroo Island NRM Board members
at NRM Board Presiding Member Richard Trethewey’s property between 9.45 and 11.00am on
Thursday 6th November 2014.
6.1
History of the property
Richard Trethewey explained to committee members that he purchased his property at Toomore in
2006. One reason for the purchase was to stop its being sold to a company involved in plantation
forestry, which had recently been the fate of an adjoining property. Mr Trethewey was an opponent of
managed investment involving Tasmanian blue gum plantation forestry.
The committee heard that an attempt to grow and export vegetables had not been successful due to the
high costs of transporting the produce to the mainland, despite having access to a plentiful supply of
water due to an existing dam on the property. However, seed potatoes and marron were progressing
well. In addition, sheep and cherries, which were already in existence on the property, were
continued.
Figure 11: Committee members, NRM board members and landholders at the Trethewey property, Toomore, 6th
November 2014
6.2
Marron enterprise
Richard Trethewey has a very large system of ponds and tanks for producing marron, but the business
is hampered by the need to gain access to capital to construct nets to keep predatory birds (mostly
cormorants) from taking marron:
“A shag can eat two kilograms of fish a day. Two kilograms of those little sprats…there could be
anywhere between a hundred and two hundred of them. A hundred of them there’s ten thousand a day of
them being eaten…”
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“We got a couple of guys in to give us a quote to cover one third of our ponds in nets….just one third of
them would cost around $590,000, so for us to cover our total pond area we would be looking at around
a million and a half…with the help of KI Futures, we’ve currently just put out in the market place a
prospectus where we’re looking to try to encourage some outside investment. The figures are actually
pretty good after the first three years – getting somewhere in the order of thirty per cent return on your
investment so we think it’s quite an exciting opportunity…We’re hoping we can get that going because
we see it as a real opportunity. We’ve got the capacity here to do a huge amount of marron. Total
production out of Western Australia is somewhere between 45 and 55 tonnes, and after three years we
think we could be pushing somewhere in the order of 100 tonnes on this property here…
(Trethewey 2014)
Members heard that the marron take three years to grow large enough to be harvested (200 and 300
grams). The marron are generally fed on lupines, but some are fed a mixture of canola and lupines as
well as marron pellets where there is control over the ponds (i.e. protected from birds).
Water temperature and quality are critical. Even in Western Australia (where marron are endemic) the
temperature is only suitable for a short period during the year and the rest of the time the marron are
dormant. It is only between September and February that the water temperature on Kangaroo Island is
ideal (11–12°C) and they do all their breeding and moulting. From 6 to 7 months of the year the water
temperature is too low and the marron remain dormant. During the 10 years prior to the committee
visit, there were several years with unusual temperature regimes. This made the enterprise very
difficult to manage.
When the marron are ready for harvest they are taken out of the ponds and stored in tanks under cover
for 48 hours to clean them out. The water temperature in those tanks is at 11–12°C, sufficient to slow
their metabolism to ready them for transport.
6.3
Dam
The committee viewed the dam, which was constructed on the property prior to Mr Trethewey
purchasing it. The capacity of the dam is approximately 1,000 megalitres, which is extremely large by
farm dam standards. Members heard that if Mr Trethewey were to attempt to build that particular dam
at the present time it would not be possible because it is located in the creek. The dam was
constructed before the current policy in the Regional NRM Plan was developed by the NRM Board.
Mayor Bates, who was present at the meeting, informed the committee that the Trethewey dam is
bigger than the Middle River dam, which is the main water supply for the island (managed by
SA Water). This dam has a capacity of approximately 600 ML. While the Middle River dam has a
smaller holding capacity, it has a much larger catchment. The Trethewey dam fills only once during
the year, and only when there has been very heavy rain and the ground is flooded. It is located much
higher up in its catchment than the Middle River dam.
Members heard that the Middle River dam is filled by a running stream. The Trethewey dam is
usually empty by the end of summer, after water has been taken for irrigation, and hardly ever
overflows. In dry years the dam only half fills. The rainfall is close to 32 inches (812mm—high by
SA standards). However, the rainfall drops off towards the south of the property.
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Figure 12: Trethewey dam, Toomore, Kangaroo Island, estimated to have a capacity of 1,000 megalitres
6.4
NRM support to landholders
6.4.1 Soil
Mr Trethewey told the committee that the pH of the soil on his property is ‘too acid’ (i.e. in the ‘low
fives’) for a lot of the things he would like to do. Acidic soils are common for Kangaroo Island (see
Figure 1, Appendix A, p. 14), with its ‘very lateritic’ soil type. To address this issue, lime (sourced
from Little Sahara and other naturally occurring lime sand deposits) is added to the soil. The quality
of the lime sand on Kangaroo Island from that source is not particularly good (average neutralising
value of around 75–80%) but there is plenty of quantity available. According to Natural Resources KI,
Kangaroo Island soils are becoming more acidic over time and the Regional NRM Plan recommends
that farmers apply lime to improve the pH. However, despite subsidies being available for some time
there appears to be some resistance to the practice.
The Natural Resources Committee made contact with PIRSA about this issue and found that the
subsidy was set at $10/ha and expired in 2008-09. At that time the cost to the farmer would have been
$50 to $60 per ha. While there was a good uptake of the subsidy by landholders overall application
rates are still below optimum, and there is still a need to encourage greater application of lime on acid
soils on the island (see Table 1):
‘Whilst there has been a significant increase in lime sand sales in the last five years it still falls well
below the amount that should be applied annually (25,000 t) just to balance soil pH (refer to page 18 in
the attached report [Appendix A]).’
(Dohle 2014)
Financial Year
2009–10
2010–11
2011–12
2012–13
2013–14
Sales of lime on Kangaroo Island (tonnes)
7,200
9,196
8,830
11,110
15,820
Table 1: Sales of lime by financial year on Kangaroo Island (Dohle 2014)
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Recommendation 1:
The Natural Resources Committee recommends that the Minister for Sustainability, Environment
and Conservation reinstate the subsidy to farmers to purchase lime to improve soil pH in areas with
acid soils.
6.4.2 Extension officer support
The committee heard that the current structure of the NRM boards does not suit the needs of
landholders on Kangaroo Island. Under the former model, the catchment boards provided extension
officers with specialist skills to support farmers, e.g. soil extensions officers, pest animal and weed
officers etc.
In particular, members heard some criticism of the way funding is matched to particular projects
rather than to specific needs:
“We don’t have adequate funds to employ anyone other than our animal and plant control officer. We
virtually spend all our money just employing him. Anything else that we need to have done here we have
to find the capacity in staff in the office employed in project based employment to do some of the
stuff…they have the skill sets and the science-based knowledge to be able to fulfil the job that we need
done, but they’ve committed themselves to projects and theoretically their wage is being paid by the
project...Now that project may not have one hundred per cent relevance to the issue that we’re trying to
resolve in the community and we need them to come out and work around that…”
(Trethewey 2014)
Another associated problem pointed out was that staff are employed only on specific projects over
specific time periods, so continuity and corporate knowledge are lost because they leave to take up
new positions.
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7.
Natural Resources KI Weeds and Feral Animal Program
The Natural Resources Committee met with staff of Natural Resources KI at Grassdale, Kelly Hill
Conservation Park, between 1.30pm and 3.00pm on Thursday, 6 November 2014. Staff members
spoke about the weeds and feral animal program.
7.1
Revegetation program at Grassdale
Catchment to Coast Program Manager Heiri Klein explained that DEWNR has about 130,000
hectares of protected area on Kangaroo Island, the majority of which is located at the western end of
the island, comprising 90,000 hectares:
• Kelly Hill Conservation Park (approx. 2,000 ha)
• Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area (approx. 5,000 ha)
• Flinders Chase National Park (approx. 35,000 ha)
• Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area (approx. 40,000 ha).
There are also adjacent marine parks, including the one abutting Cape du Couedic which was the
source of considerable complaint by fishers (see Figure 13).
Figure 13: Marine park sanctuary zone off Cape de Couedic
The committee heard that a considerable amount of revegetation has been carried out at Grassdale
since it ceased being a farm many decades ago. An area of approximately 10 hectares was fenced off
several years ago with a kangaroo, wallaby, echidna and possum proof fence. The construction of the
fence required a considerable investment9 due to the scale of the kangaroo grazing problem in
9
The cost of fencing the 10 ha area was $25,000. The fence is designed to be removed; it will be relocated when it is no
longer needed and used elsewhere. An ordinary fence of this length would cost around $6,000. This method of protecting the
vegetation is much more effective than tree guards.
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particular (hundreds of kangaroos visit the location due to its good grass cover and secure water
supply).
Members heard that the most recent re-vegetation program took place just 15 months prior to their
visit. They observed that outside the fence the grass looks more like lawn, due to the grazing of
animals (see Figure 14).
Figure 14: Kangaroo, wallaby, echidna and possum proof fence at Grassdale
The planting observed that day was described as ‘infill planting’ and included species such as
Dodonaea viscosa (sticky hop bush), acacias and melaleucas. Heiri Klein explained that over-storey
eucalypts were also included in the program; the nationally listed Eucalyptus paludicola (Mount
Compass swamp gum, aka marsh gum) was planted in riparian areas. Members heard that there are
fewer than 1,000 of these trees in the world; it is found over the southern Fleurieu Peninsula and
western KI. Marshlands and swamplands were cleared in the past and wildlife prevents any natural
regeneration. Once a few hundred individuals are established at Grassdale the species should be safe
on the island.
7.2
Biosecurity program
Biosecurity Liaison Officer Andrew Triggs explained that due to its geographic isolation, Kangaroo
Island does not have some of the agricultural pests that occur on the mainland. However, this places a
much greater importance on ensuring these pests are not allowed to gain access. Creating awareness
in the community (including the primary producer and tourist sectors) of the importance of
biosecurity is a large part of his job. The board’s current campaign is ‘Kangaroo Island—too good to
spoil’. This relates to a range of areas including feral animals, weeds and marine pests.
Members heard that one of the island’s ‘big ticket’ items is bees. There has been a bee sanctuary on
the island since 1885. Kangaroo Island bees are disease free, and a honey industry has been created
around that special status. There is a high level of awareness among residents and travellers of the
need to stop any bees getting to the island i.e. not bringing any bee or honey products in.
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Another industry that is of great importance to the island and requiring biosecurity protection is the
seed potato industry, which is relatively free of diseases and pests. Andrew Triggs’ role is the
promotion of this awareness through SeaLink and Rex (the sea and airline companies bringing tourists
and residents to and from the island).
Natural Resources KI has put a proposal for Kangaroo Island schools to include biosecurity in their
curricula as either part of a subject or a subject in its own right. The committee heard that some work
was done at the Kangaroo Island Show on the weekend prior to its visit. Members commented on the
importance of involving school children in such programs because they are renowned for being good
advocates of environmental awareness, often inspiring major changes in thinking among their parents.
Andrew Triggs mentioned that Natural Resources KI had attempted to have signage relating
biosecurity installed on the roadside leading to the ferry terminal at Cape Jervis, but this was not
approved by the local council.
Recommendation 2:
That the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation write to Yankalilla Council
seeking more information about signage proposed by Natural Resources KI providing information
about biosecurity matters on Kangaroo Island to travellers entering Cape Jervis and whether the
council would be prepared to reconsider the proposal.
7.3
Weed control
Animal and Plant Control Operations Officer Rory Wiadrowski explained to the committee that a
team of four officers is employed by the board to deal with pest plants and animals on the island.
Funding is provided under the Division 1 NRM levy (approximately $130,000, including a top-up
through state appropriation), $40,000 through Caring for Our Country10 for the Protecting Kangaroo
Island program (including weeds and vertebrate pest control), and $30,000 from the state government
to manage Crown land.
The Protecting Kangaroo Island project focuses on weeds of national significance (WONs). There are
three in existence on the island at a low level: Montpelier broom, gorse and blackberry. The
committee was told that the long-term goal for these three WONs is eradication. The board is well on
its way to achieving this goal because it is managing its infestations and is really treating only
seedlings and regrowth: there are no adult plants left the board knows of. The board maintains
community awareness of these weeds just in case some plants have been overlooked—from time to
time the odd report is received.
The other main weeds the board deals with are the asparagus weeds bridal creeper and bridal veil.
Both are well-established on the eastern end of the island and eradication there is no longer feasible.
There are some outliers on the western end of the island, and with external funding the board is able
to protect the biodiversity asset of its parks and conservation areas there. There is a minor infestation
at Grassdale and a more significant one within forestry and grazing land nearby. Getting rid of the
infestations is a combined effort with forestry and farmers. DEWNR funding alone would not have
been sufficient to tackle the weeds, particularly given the financial state of the forestry enterprise.
7.3.1 Bridal creeper
Rory Wiadrowski explained that Heiri Klein’s team, in addition to planting new vegetation, has been
removing bridal creeper at Grassdale. The seeds from this plant were transported downstream along
10
Federal Government
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the creek which passes through the property from agricultural areas upstream. In addition, contractors
have been spraying to the north of Grassdale in plantation forestry areas, and Natural Resources KI
officers have been removing the weed at Kelly Hill Conservation Park near Edwards Cottage.
Members heard that several different biological control agents are being used on bridal creeper; rust
has been very successful and has made inroads into the infestation on the eastern end of the island
where there are high-density populations. At the western end where there is a low density, rust has
been less effective. The disease is present, so if the spraying is not successful it can serve as a backup.
A smaller infestation of bridal creeper in Flinders Chase National Park has been successfully
controlled. Members were told that this infestation was tackled earlier than the outbreaks at Grassdale
and Kelly Hill conservation parks.
7.3.2 African boxthorn
The other WON that the board tackles through the Protecting Kangaroo Island project is African
boxthorn. This weed is also widespread on eastern Kangaroo Island, particularly coastal locations.
Rory Wiadrowski explained that the extent of African boxthorn along the north and south coasts is not
well known; at the time of this writing, investigations were just commencing to determine where to
start working on the outliers. The terrain on those coasts is steep and inaccessible, making
investigation and control difficult. There are some new treatments now available, e.g. delivering
controls via paintball guns from helicopter (not currently within the board’s budget).
7.3.3 Roadside weeds
Committee members were familiar with the issue of roadside spread of weeds. This was a matter the
NRC dealt with in its Invasive Species Inquiry11. Rory Wiadrowski explained that in addition to
human/vehicle transmission, animals also spread the weeds through eating the berries and carrying
them further into the parks, forests and farmland.
Most of the Crown land reserves are coastal parks, generally at the eastern end because at the western
end they were absorbed into parks. African boxthorn is a major problem in those locations. The
widespread nature of the weed has meant that the board has had to prioritise the areas it works on:
areas with good biodiversity and/or adjoining intact native vegetation, areas of high public amenity,
areas providing access to beaches, and areas where public safety is a concern. Such locations include
Penneshaw, Pelican Lagoon, Kingscote and Emu Bay (including Italian buckthorn).
7.3.4 Declared weeds
Cape tulip is treated using the board’s weed wipers. Bio-controls are being used to treat Salvation
Jane, crown-boring weevils, fruit-boring weevils, a pollen beetle, a flea beetle and a moth.
Unfortunately, populations of bio-controls were wiped out or badly affected by bushfire in 2007 and
have since had to be reintroduced.
Horehound will not grow in acidic soils (most of the island), but members heard that there are alkaline
soils around the north coast and Pelican Lagoon where treatment is required (spraying). The board
does a small amount of control around roadsides in those locations.
Rory Wiadrowski explained that what the island does not have in its environmental weeds (not
declared, hence without restriction on control or movement) it makes up for in state-declared weeds.
Of growing concern to the board is the potential for drought-tolerant garden plants (e.g. succulents
and exotic grasses) to escape and become a problem. The board has a planting guide that encourages
gardeners to use local endemic plants rather than exotic drought-tolerant plants that have a potential to
escape.
11
Natural Resources Committee Report No. 57, “It’s not over until the cat lady sings”, tabled 6 July 2011.
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7.3.5 Achievements
In addition to managing the weeds discussed above, the board has been very successful in controlling
olives and Italian buckthorn on the Dudley Peninsula and around Pelican Lagoon. It has been working
with landholders and olive harvesters to ensure that it is not removing trees that are being managed (if
the fruit is being picked it will not be spread by birds or possums). The Board has been very
successful in stopping the further spread of olive trees:
“What we’re trying to do there is stop the Dudley Peninsula looking like the Adelaide Hills, or the
Adelaide Face Zone at least.”
(Wiadrowski 2014)
Members heard that another success story over the past ten years is fennel management on Hog Bay
Road near Pelican Lagoon. Fennel was present on the roadside and moving into private land on either
side. Once the mature seeding plants were removed the plant was effectively eradicated because it is
highly palatable to sheep and kangaroos and they assist with the ‘mop up’. The odd plant ‘crops up’
occasionally in the middle of a prickly acacia where it is inaccessible to animals.
Rory Wiadrowski ended his presentation to the committee by mentioning services to the community
including plant and weed identification. The board also identifies new weed invasions (‘alert species’)
at a regional level.
7.4
Feral animal control programs
7.4.1 Feral goats
Feral Animal Project Officer Nick Markopoulos spoke to the committee about the goat eradication
program on the island. Committee Members had previously been briefed about the program and were
aware of the great success that the Board has had with removing the animals from the island.
Members heard that the Board received funding in 2006 to undertake goat eradication. The western
end of the island was broken down into management units (there are no goats at the eastern end12) and
a trial site established in one unit. Eradication focused on one unit at a time. A “Judas goat”13
technique was used; an aerial tracking device was strapped to the goat with a collar. Initially local
goats were intended as the Judas, but it was found that these were too difficult to catch, particularly
along the northern coast. Eventually mainland goats were brought in14. It was found that the ideal goat
for this task was about two years of age and white in colour (to allow easy spotting). Despite being
desexed, the female Judas goats maintained a fertility cycle of 21 days making them attractive to
males. Goats are sociable animals, and the Judas goats would join them enabling easy tracking of their
movements.
Eradication commenced in national parks and reserves and moved to private land later (some owners
were not supportive of the program initially). Members heard that another reason for starting on
DEWNR land was because landholders have a tendency to accuse the government of poor
management and being the source of problems, not themselves. Once success had been achieved here
and on a few large private landholdings where owners were supportive, other landholders came on
board.
12
The main reason the goats did not spread to the eastern end of the island was habitat; there are many fresh water springs at
the western end and the goats like the inaccessible steep terrain. Historically there were some goats at the eastern end but
they were hunted out by farmers long ago.
13 The “Judas” technique involves capturing, desexing, radio-collaring and strategically releasing animals to associate with
and reveal the location of other feral animals in the control area: http://www.feral.org.au/judas-technique-for-feral-goatcontrol/ (accessed 2 March 2015).
14
See ABC’s Landline program: http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2010/s2925803.htm (accessed 5 December 2014).
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The committee heard that slightly more than $1 million has been spent on the goat eradication
program since 2006. Every single goat, except for a small pocket of eight goats at the Western River,
has been removed. Motion sensing cameras (40 in total) are used for monitoring and detection at low
densities. They are also used if there has been a fox or rabbit sighting. The cameras can stay out in the
field for up to three months.
When the goats have been tracked down they are shot. The board was able to get some good
recreational hunters to assist with tracking and shooting the last few animals. Members heard that the
impact of goats on the island was not really appreciated until after most of the animals had been
removed:
“We’ve got these beautiful big caves on this western end of the KI, and they just looked like bared-out
caves. No one knew any difference because the goats had been there for two hundred years and on one’s
seen any different. Since we’ve taken the goats out these caves have just come back – curtains of
vegetation hanging over them now. What we’re finding, we didn’t really know, but the Rock parrot is
starting to come back a bit along this coast here and they do nest behind curtains of vegetation in
caves.”
(Florence 2014)
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Figure 15: Nick Markopoulos demonstrates the aerial tracking device used to locate the Judas goats
7.4.2 Fallow deer
Feral Animal Project Officer Brenton Florence spoke to the committee about the fallow deer
eradication program. Deer escaped from a deer farm in 1999 after the enterprise became non-viable.
Because deer are known to carry brucellosis, a disease deadly to cattle, there was an urgent need to
deal with the problem, and landholders successfully lobbied the government in 2004 to provide
funding for the program.
Members heard that a manager was employed to develop the program and Kangaroo Island was used
as a trial site for the eradication of the fallow deer. (There are other infestations in the Mount Lofty
Ranges in SA.) Control commenced in 2006, when Nick Marcopolous and Brenton Florence
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commenced their employment. Consultation was initially undertaken with landholders and hunters.
Most were in favour of eradication because the deer had not been present for very long on the island.
Many of the local hunters who had been involved before were brought back into the program.
Before hunting commenced, a monitoring program was developed. Brenton Florence explained that it
was intended that footprint checks around both farm and forestry dams would be used to monitor the
presence of deer during summer. However, because it is very difficult to tell the difference between
the footprints of deer and sheep, and because deer were known to hide in the plantation forested areas
(and there are no other hoofed animals in the forestry areas besides pigs), monitoring was undertaken
only in the latter.
The island was divided into forestry blocks and monitored by an independent consultant in February
(the hottest and driest time of the year) in 2006. Five hundred forestry dams were sampled in total
over a five-day cycle. The consultant also checked for the presence of pigs and goats and any other
animals. The map that resulted from this monitoring was used by the board to track down the deer
until 2012 when their numbers started to radically decline (due to the success of the cull). Members
heard that initially a deer was shot every two hours, but at present one deer is shot only every 700
hours on average. However, as the remaining deer have become much more wary of humans it has
become increasingly difficult to locate the few remaining animals:
“The deer have got smarter and have got less on the ground and it’s a lot of ground out there to cover.
They tend to hang out in the habitat with a lot of forestry. It’s very quiet, a lot of feed and good cover and
they’ve learnt to use those areas very well.”
(Florence 2014)
The committee heard that legislation was passed requiring that anyone wanting to keep deer must
apply for a permit. A risk assessment must be prepared that investigates the likelihood of escape
together with a specification of proposed fencing. There is also a preference for certain species of deer
that are more easily managed. Fallow deer (the species of feral deer on the island) are not in that
category. Members heard that this legislation has made what was already a very difficult enterprise
even less viable: the cost of getting the animals off the island, having the fences checked twice a year
and all the required health checks is prohibitive. Brenton said that one farmer with a quantity of
fallow deer sold them and transported them off the island apart from one red deer stag. A wildlife park
near Parndana also had more than 140 fallow deer and 15 red deer. The park has changed hands and
officers have spoken to the new owners. The herd is now a non-breeding herd and down to 14 deer.
Once those animals have passed away the park will no longer have any fallow deer. The likelihood of
another infestation occurring is low.
Brenton reported that the Kangaroo Island community has been very supportive of the program, and
the board has an ongoing ‘dob in a deer’ campaign. However, capturing the final few animals is made
difficult by the fact that the Judas technique cannot be applied to deer. Dam print checking has been
abandoned in favour of motion-activated cameras: four cameras are installed per kilometre grid square
and are checked every 14 days (the average property will have 20–24 cameras). The cameras use
infrared technology and do not glow at night. Other species such as pigs and goats are also picked up
on the cameras. The camera images have shown that most of the remaining deer are old females.
Members heard that it is just a matter of time before fallow deer are eradicated from Kangaroo Island:
“I reckon we’ve got sixty left on the island, roughly. They haven’t bred for about two to three years.
Their breeding cycle is very close—there’s a short window and if they don’t find each other it doesn’t
happen. We’ve targeted the males for the last four years because every year in the mating season they
grow big antlers, they forget about how to think property and think about girls and they let you know
where they are and you can destroy them very quickly...We haven’t had any mature males on the island
for three years now. Up until about six weeks ago we were starting to think we didn’t have any males left,
but one young one has popped up. So he’s on the target list now. Most of the deer we’ve got left…they’re
all old females. They got one yesterday which happened to be one of the original escapees – still had the
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ear notches. I made her out to be between 14 and 16 years of age. They normally wouldn’t go that long
in captivity, but she’s out, got plenty of feed, she probably hasn’t had a fawn for about three years, so
she’s in good condition—very smart. We hope we can keep the funding there so we can finish it. We’re
that close…If we can finish it off, some of the techniques we’ve learnt here could be used around South
Australia, and as we all know now – deer are the next rabbit.”
(Florence 2014)
Committee comment:
Members were impressed that Natural Resources KI had come close to removing feral deer and
goats on Kangaroo Island and recommended that sufficient funding be provided to ensure the
eradication is completed.
7.4.3 Feral pigs
Feral Animal Control Officer Nick Markopoulos spoke about the board’s work with feral pigs. There
is no ‘silver bullet’ for dealing with them: the board has trialled 15 different types of bait as well as
delivery systems. However, with baiting there are too many ‘off-targets’. During one baiting trial a
possum, 10 goannas, 12 kangaroos and four pigs were killed. In addition, certain bird species (e.g.
currawongs) will carry the baits off and drop them elsewhere, affecting other animals. An attempt to
use the equivalent of the “Judas goat” technique for pigs also did not work, but it did provide some
good data on their movement, showing they were staying within a 5 sq. km range.
Members heard the biggest challenge posed by pigs is their rapid breeding (in contrast with deer
which have only one offspring every year). Estimates of pig numbers on the island vary from 800 to
5,000. In a wet year, breeding females can drop four piglets, thereby increasing the population
fourfold. Pigs are found anywhere where there is good water and shelter (scrub) and a good food
source. They eat cape weed, grass, clover, worms (the pigs dig up the ground after the opening rains
of the season, causing a mess) yabbies (along the river banks when the water levels drop), marron,
mushrooms and fungi (there are 300 identified species of native fungi at the west end of Kangaroo
Island including truffles). They will also eat the carcasses of other animals.
The board aims at a community-coordinated approach to culling pigs, with trapping across property
boundaries. This is important because if one landholder is attempting to shoot pigs and another is
attempting to trap them, the two are not compatible (i.e. the latter are scared off).
At Grassdale the board has worked with forestry and private landholders using a quieter, passive
approach. With a mixture of shooting, stalking and trapping, pigs have largely been wiped out at
Grassdale, and members heard that 2014 is the first year that limited digging by pigs has been.
However, there are some older pigs that are clever and the only way to get rid of them is by shooting
at night (without having to get a full gazetted closure of the park which takes a lot of time 15).
Funding for the pig program is currently being taken from the goat and deer allocation. The
committee heard there is currently a limited commitment to do coordinated control across private
land, and the board does not have the time and means to do all the work required. It can help
landholders set up the traps and provide some grain to get them started.
Cooperation from landowners is crucial to the success of pig eradication. Until all landowners agree
to work with each other and with Natural Resources KI, it will not be possible to wipe them out. If
landholders tackle the problem only on a property scale, the pigs will simply move elsewhere. There
has to be a consideration of what people want to protect (from pigs) and what they are willing to
15
Gazetted closure of parks to undertake shooting is very time consuming. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to go through the process of
getting permission and advertising the closure. Opportunistic shoots can be done with only a section of the park closed for a
very short period of time, but in the high-visitation areas it is not possible.
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invest to do so (e.g. boundary fencing, exclusion fencing, traps or shooting). The second step is to try
to coordinate that with the adjoining landholders. That is where the government, as a major landholder
on the western end of the island, can help out, by communicating and working with them when they
have problems, by doing some trapping on the parks as well.
7.4.4 Feral peacocks
Feral Animal Control Officer Brenton Florence told members that peacocks were brought to the
island by the early settlers and, because there are no foxes, their numbers have increased to the point
where they are estimated to number in the hundreds16. While the birds are popular with some people
because of their beautiful appearance, they damage crops, trees, watercourses and dams; spread
diseases that impact on poultry; and are noisy during mating season. Peacocks are very territorial:
they attack other birds that attempt to nest in their area, and kill other birds’ chicks and eat their eggs.
In response to community consultation, Natural Resources KI decided to trial several eradication
techniques. It developed a technique based on the Judas goat approach: a peacock was caught and a
radio tracking device attached via a collar together with a piece of reflective ribbon to enable
identification at night, when they are shot.
Members heard that during the day it is very difficult to find and shoot peacocks. If there is sufficient
food the birds will remain within scrubland and not come out into the open. They are very easily
frightened off and can fly up to one kilometre if necessary. Hunting is therefore best done at night,
with culling carried out on an ad hoc basis once or twice per month. Since the program began, 120–
150 peacocks have been culled. Brenton Florence stated that with sufficient funding and time he is
confident the board could eradicate them from the island.
7.4.5 Feral cats
Kangaroo Island Council has relatively strict laws regarding domestic cats, requiring them to be
registered and microchipped in addition to sterilised, but as is the case with feral pigs, there is no
‘silver bullet’ for feral cats. Once again, there are huge off-target problems with baits. Cats are found
across the whole island. They spread disease to sheep and attack little penguins. The board has
worked closely with the Kangaroo Island Council to undertake trapping, particularly around
Kingscote and Penneshaw.
There is political support to do something about feral cats. The board would like to trial new
techniques such as the ‘cat tunnel’17, but at present there is no funding available for this. Members
heard that there was a program at Dudley Peninsula where cats were marked and recaptured to study
different trapping techniques. The results of that work indicated that the trapping effort involved in
removing enough cats was very high: more cats would need to be taken out than are able to breed in
the wild. The mark and recapture program indicated that the trapping effort was not successful on a
landscape scale. At a property scale it could work as long as every landholder participated, but when
attempting to manage the animal across the whole island it would not work. There needs to be another
solution.
7.5
Staffing and funding
The committee heard yet again that staffing is an issue for Natural Resources KI. Its two feral animal
control officers (Brenton and Nick) are funded only through the Federal Government’s Caring for Our
Country program, and this will run out in two years. There are another three years of funding under
that program, but the situation is unknown beyond that time. The board is confident it will get more
16
The board estimated there were between 100 and 200 peacocks at Dover Farm near Kingscote. Others are known to live
around Emu Bay.
17 The cat triggers a device which sprays a toxin onto its fur which it ingests during grooming.
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funding from the Commonwealth for deer and goats and will seek a new funding stream for cats if
that issue gets some traction at the federal level.
The committee heard that it is important to finish the eradication of deer, goats and peacocks. If
numbers of these animals were allowed to increase again, the work of the past few years would be
wasted and they will start spreading again.
Recommendation 3:
That the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation provide sufficient funding to
Natural Resources KI to ensure that the eradication of feral deer, goats and peacocks is completed.
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8.
Parks management
The Natural Resources Committee met with Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (Natural Resources
KI) and DEWNR staff between 4.00 and 6.00pm on Thursday, 6 November 2014 at Flinders Chase
National Park. Discussion focused on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and general visitor
management of parks on the island. The committee met again the following between 10.00 and
11.30am (Friday, 7 November 2014) at Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre. Discussion
focused on funding planning in relation to endangered species.
8.1
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
John O’Malley (DEWNR), who is managing the tendering process for the construction of the trail,
spoke to the committee together with Natural Resources KI’s Alison Buck, sites manager, and
Caroline Paterson, ranger in charge. The committee watched a video presentation on the proposed
wilderness trail. A summary is provided below:
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
The wilderness trail takes five days to complete. It features dense vegetation and follows
spectacular rivers, imposing cliff tops and past wind-sculpted rock formations. It also features
amazing wildlife and incredible scenery.
Day 1 begins at the Flinders Chase Visitor Centre and takes the walker to the Rocky River Platypus
Waterhole. From there the walker navigates thick native scrub filled with abundant birdlife before
arriving at the Rocky River Lookout. The trail then goes past the Rocky River Cascades before
arriving at Snake Lagoon. Surrounded by ancient old-growth gum trees, the lagoon is a peaceful
setting for the first night’s rest.
Day 2 heads west along the Rocky River until the walker meets the Southern Ocean in spectacular
fashion. This coastline was both admired and feared by many seafarers, and the remnants of many
shipwrecks remain. The walker then continues on to the Cape de Couedic Lighthouse (the location
of the second campsite).
Day 3 starts with the stunning Admirals Arch and historic Weirs Cove before heading east to
Sanderson Bay and dense coastal mallee country. The trail then breaks through to the coast once
more to reveal the awesome sight of the iconic Remarkable Rocks. This is where the walker truly
experiences the rugged and isolated wilderness of the south coast of the island.
Day 4 takes the walker from Sanderson Bay to the spectacular coastal scenery of Cape
Younghusband. It is here that the trail traverses behind the Southern Ocean Lodge and nearby
Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and down to beautiful Hanson Bay, where it crosses the Southwest
River marking the gateway to the Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area. From here, the walker
follows the route to the Kelly Hill Conservation Park and the historic Grassdale area. This area was
settled by the Edwards family, pioneers in the early settlement of the western end of the island. The
original cottage is now heritage listed and is only a short walk from the campsite.
Day 5 is somewhat more leisurely, as the trail passes by spectacular freshwater lagoons that
provide a habitat for a diversity of woodland and wading birds. The Kangaroo Island Wilderness
Trail concludes at the magnificent Kelly Hill Caves.
Members heard that DEWNR aims to have the trail opened by June 2016, with the official opening
scheduled for around September 2016. Minister Hunter recently launched the start of the construction
phase and officially named the trail. One section has been completed (Rocky River to Snake Lagoon,
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part of which committee members walked later in the afternoon). DEWNR is open to a quicker
timeframe if the contractor is agreeable. However, that will require ‘stacking’ the various parts of the
contract. The Kangaroo Island Futures Authority (KIFA) is anxious to the get the project completed
as soon as possible because of the expected economic returns it will deliver.
Construction work for the project was out to tender at the time of the committee’s visit. John
O’Malley told the committee that as many as nine contractors had expressed an interest in submitting
a tender—a very good result for Kangaroo Island given its relative isolation. DEWNR is also about to
call for tenders for a design superintendence contract including tent platforms, toilets, rainwater tanks,
and food preparation shelters. Private investment opportunities are also being considered at the ‘high
end’ such as cabins, eco cabins, and high-end exclusive tent-type removable accommodation.
Expressions of interest have been received from two South Australian companies. Campsites will
involve only minimalist construction.
Mr O’Malley explained that two sections of the trail will be for day visitors: the first section, which is
currently open, and the Hanson Bay Hike, which is currently open and will be upgraded. Overnight
stays will not be allowed until the whole walk is opened.
The intention is to create an ‘exclusive’ experience:
“At any one time there will be a maximum of 24 persons: 12 free and independent walkers and 12
associated with commercial tour operators. The idea is we don’t want to create Rundle Mall. Walkers
that pay to walk, travel the world, they like the wilderness, they like the exclusivity of it. So we’re trying
to create that, but we understand there is a large interest in this so we have to get that balance right.”
(O’Malley 2014)
Members heard that the price required to break even is $150 for a walk on the trail for the five days.
National Parks will need to make the price higher to make a profit. However, it will ultimately depend
on marketplace response; the product being created should attract a price of between $200 and $250.
It was explained that when going to the high end of the market (e.g. Tasmania) the target group will
pay $1,500 to $1,800, though it does also depend on the accommodation being offered.
The project has a budget of $5 million over two years funded by the DEWNR annual program and the
sale of Crown lands. This, together with private investment if it can be attracted, will allow something
world class to be created.
Committee members were concerned about how Natural Resources KI staff would stop people who
have not paid from accessing the trail. They also questioned why National Parks is seeking to make
the walk exclusive and not to encourage the public to use the trail. Caroline Paterson explained:
“They can use it. It’s just the camping areas that will remain exclusive. For example, at Snake Lagoon
we’ve already got a campground there for the public that is well used. We will put in a separate area for
this wilderness trail that we are providing. That’s the exclusive bit. It’s not the Snake Lagoon site and it’s
not the actual trail that is open now, and there’s another section to the Rocky River mouth that’s open
now. There’s nothing to stop people from actually camping at Snake Lagoon in the existing campground,
organising a mate to pick them up at Cape de Couedic, and walking the Maupertuis section.”
(Paterson 2014)
“We wouldn’t be encouraging that, because as I said we don’t want Rundle Mall, but we wouldn’t be out
there policing it.”
(O’Malley 2014)
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8.1.1 Proposed policy for campsites
The committee heard that to ensure privacy of Wilderness Trail campgrounds and facilities, they will
be located discretely so that people who have not booked are unlikely to find them. People who have
paid will receive information and maps that enable them to navigate to the sites.
“There’s nothing to stop people walking any one section of the trail, and people will be able to ‘bush
camp’ if they wish—this currently occurs on a small scale. There will be access tracks put in to the new
camping nodes so that the commercial tour operators can get access to service their clients and for
Natural Resources KI for emergency purposes. Independent walkers who are only doing a day walk will
not be able to get their cars in and get picked up from one end, unless currently accessible to park users
(e.g. Cape de Couedic, Snake Lagoon, Hanson Bay and Kelly Hill Caves...
(Paterson 2014)
Figure 16: John O’Malley (centre) and Alison Buck (right) speak to NRC Members Mr Peter Treloar, Hon.
Robert Brokenshire and Hon Steph Key at the commencement of their walk along a completed section of the
Wilderness Trail (Rocky River section), 6 November 2014.
8.1.2 Risk assessment—fire
The Committee heard that one of the critical issues coming out of the risk assessment was evacuation
during a bushfire. Members also heard that Natural Resources KI carries out fuel load assessments on
each of its campsites and establish places of last resort along the trail. It will also provide satellite
phones and spot tracking systems—things that independent walkers can hire and use during the five
days of their walk. The commercial operators will need to take on that responsibility for their
customers.
Members were informed that the trail may be closed during the high fire season but open to
commercial tour operators that have fire management plans and emergency plans as part of their
packages. They will be required to keep in communication with Natural Resources KI headquarters at
Flinders Chase. Members heard that this is another reason for promoting private operators over
independent walkers (i.e. the ability to keep in communication with walkers at all times and enable
speedy evacuation).
Park closures generally occur on a days of catastrophic fire danger risk and may occur on days of
extreme fire danger (as declared by the CFS based upon forecasting from the Bureau of Meteorology).
Forecast catastrophic fire days occur when the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) reaches 100. Park
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closures on these days are a state-wide requirement made through discussion with the Kangaroo
Island CFS Region. A park closure requires the park to be evacuated, including anyone staying at its
accommodation, campgrounds and rangers’ residences. The region may also recommend park
closures on days of extreme fire danger (FFDI 75–99), and the chief executive has the discretion to
determine whether a park will close in this circumstance.
8.1.3 Bookings
The committee heard that there will be an online booking system for campsites on the wilderness trail.
Walkers will only be allowed to book for all four nights and when campsites are booked out they will
need to search other times. Single-night bookings would not be allowed because this would be too
difficult to manage on the system. Members heard that there will be no priority for overseas or
interstate guests: it will be a ‘first-in, best-dressed’ situation. However, the managers expect that the
majority of users will be overseas and interstate visitors in any case, because Kangaroo Island locals
will have probably already done the walk, or sections of the walk.
In response to a question from members about the level of difficulty of the wilderness trail, Natural
Resources KI stated that the majority of the walk will be Class 3 (‘hike’) with some sections classified
as Class 4 (‘hard hike’). Information about walk difficulty will be provided on the website and other
publications when people make their bookings or seek information. Members were told that the
maximum gradient of the trail would be 5 per cent with an average gradient of about 3 per cent. The
most difficult section will be Maupertuis Bay with its soft sand.
The independent walkers will need to carry all their requirements over the five days of the walk
(water will be provided at campsites). Those with commercial operators may need to take only a day
pack and their water for that day. The commercial operators will provide their own level of
experience, and may cook their meals and provide other requirements.
8.1.4 Maintenance and promotion
Sites Manager Alison Buck will have responsibility ongoing for the wilderness trail after it has been
set up. She stated that the current estimate for maintaining the trail is $300,000 per annum. To attract
as many walkers as possible from the ‘elite’ target group, there will be a marketing campaign
developed in association with KIFA and the South Australian Tourist Commission (SATC). DEWNR
is working on branding and logos and the SATC will assist with national and international
advertising. The committee heard that a two-year lead time is needed to promote international
wilderness walks of the type being developed at Flinders Chase. Much of this is related to the
advertising requirements of international walking and wilderness magazines, to which it is estimated
850,000 people subscribe worldwide.
8.2
Funding, visitor numbers and services provided
8.2.1 General Reserves Trust
John O’Malley explained that the General Reserves Trust, which was created in 1987 by then-director
of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Chris Lee, established the ‘user pays’ policy for DEWNR
park usage, with money paid to access national parks and campsites staying within the parks. A major
difference between national parks funding in Australia and overseas (particularly the US) is the lack
of any significant philanthropic investment. The state government has approximately $7 million each
year to maintain parks infrastructure, visitor centres etc. but the actual requirement is more like
$20 million. This means that additional funding must be found from general revenue. There is
insufficient money available for large infrastructure development which is why the government has to
find private sector sources.
8.2.2 Visitor numbers and cultural challenges posed by visitors
Alison Buck expressed the view that it is very difficult for parks in South Australia to get the return
that some of the famous national parks around the world get (e.g. Yellowstone in the U.S., Kruger in
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South Africa). This is because visitor numbers are just not in the same category: Flinders Chase has
approximately 120,000 visitors each year, whereas Kruger National Park visitor numbers are
estimated at well over 1 million18 and Yellowstone National Park tops 3 million.19
Visitation after the 2007 bushfire declined because of the extremely negative publicity about the
extent of destruction, particularly in Europe. Members heard that approximately 25% of visitors to
Flinders Chase National Park are from Europe. The global ginancial crisis was an additional factor in
deterring tourists from visiting Kangaroo Island.
However, during the last three years, visitor numbers have been growing. The committee heard that
Flinders Chase National Park has the highest rate of visitation on Kangaroo Island. The total number
of visitors for all parks on the island combined was said to be about 250,000 per year. 25% of visitors
come from South Australia, 23% from interstate, 20%–25% from Europe, 6% from the US, 6% from
UK and approximately 10% from Asian countries. Japanese tourists are no longer a big market,
though they were in the past.
Alison informed the committee that Seal Bay (one of the most popular destinations on the island due
to the presence of sea lions and seals which can be approached on foot) has ‘hit a turning point’ since
guided tour fees were increased significantly. This change occurred at the same time as the 2007
bushfire, so the impact was twofold. The entry fee for an adult is somewhere around $32 (by way of
comparison, entry to Flinders Chase National Park per day is $10 per person20). At Seal Bay there is a
limit on available car parking. The maximum number of people allowed on the beach is 100 at any
time: the aim is to get people to do the guided tour, do the boardwalk, then leave immediately.
Flinders Chase, by contrast, is a site where people are encouraged to linger.
A Kangaroo Island Parks pass can be purchased from a range of outlets in South Australia21. Island
residents are entitled to a discounted pass and commercial tour operators 20%. The largest percentage
of visitors remains the general public (independent travellers) and about 36% are commercial tour
participants. At Seal Bay the mix is a bit different because that location has a larger proportion of
people coming to the island on a day tour (44% commercial tour participants).
The committee heard that some international tourists pose a challenge to National Parks staff due to
cultural differences with regard to how they treat parks and open spaces at home. For example, in
some countries, tourists do not perform “menial” tasks like litter collection.
In some cases there is also a reluctance to pay entry fees and take orders from a person in a uniform.
The sorts of attitudes that have become accepted in Australia are not always reflected in other visitor
groups and this is causing some problems not just for Natural Resources KI staff but tourism
operators and accommodation providers as well. Overseas visitors travelling with commercial tour
groups tend to be less of a problem than those coming on their own because they usually have an
interpreter who explains the need to pay an entry fee and pick up rubbish etc. Where groups of tourists
hire a minibus they have a tendency to avoid paying entrance fees; they simply drive past the pay
station, because there is no gated entry as such. Providing gated entry points is not something Natural
Resources KI would like to consider at this stage because it has its own set of problems; however, it
may have to be considered in the future.
8.2.3 Public land operational budget
Ranger in Charge Caroline Paterson explained that the land and visitor management operational team
delivers a broad range of services provided at Flinders Chase including:
18
http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-southafrica.net-the-kruger-national-park (accessed 2 March 2015)
http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/visitationstats.htm (accessed 2 March 2015).
20
Flinders Chase is one of the few parks where entry is on a per person basis (usually per vehicle).
19
21
http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Park_Entry_Fees/Parks_Passes/Kangaroo_Island_Tour_Pass
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
fire management
fixed asset management
visitor management compliance and enforcement over a number of Acts of Parliament
project management
plant equipment operation and management
pest plant and animal control—working closely with NRM Board staff
disease mitigation e.g. phytophthera
recreation management (camping, roads, accommodation, walking trails, signs and
interpretation)
heritage building management
abundant species management
lease management (a concessionaire operates the shop and café at Flinders Chase Visitor
Centre)
risk management and emergency response
human resource management and
budget management
Figure 17: Caroline Paterson speaks to committee members at a stop on the wilderness trail overlooking Rocky
Creek, 6 November 2014
Natural Resources Committee members heard that resourcing is a major issue for Natural Resources
KI. Two years prior to the committee’s visit the operational team consisted of seven rangers including
a graduate ranger on a six-month placement and six field officers. This has been reduced to six
rangers, including the graduate, and four field officers. There has also been a loss of administration
positions. Caroline Paterson explained that the workload of the missing positions has to be picked up
by the remaining staff members or can no longer be delivered.
The public land operational budget for salaries and wages is $720,000 and the operating budget for
goods and services is $170,000. The latter has to cover vehicle fleet hire, fuel, registration, insurance,
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repairs, maintenance and tyres for plant and vehicles, gas and electricity, waste management,
chemicals, pest control, minor assets, equipment hire, freight, hardware, software, telephones,
stationery, advertising, consumables, protective clothing, workplace health and safety, sundries,
uniforms, training and accommodation. There is no discretionary funding.
Natural Resources KI rangers work with other regional staff on threat abatement, weeds and feral
animal control. They take a lead role in the management of wildlife across the landscape and have
delegations under the National Parks and Wildlife Act for the issue of permits to keep, sell and rescue
protected species. This includes destruction permits for over-abundant native species to reduce their
impact on agricultural pursuits.
Members heard that rangers provide advice to the public, care for injured wildlife, and are responsible
for marine mammal interactions. They are also responsible for ‘law enforcement’ including education,
on-the-spot fines and prosecutions for more serious offences. Prosecutions can require a lot of time
collecting evidence, taking statements and maintaining a chain of evidence. Sometimes they can
involve court attendance.
Until recently staff enjoyed a reasonable level of support from DEWNR’s investigation and
compliance unit, but more of these responsibilities are being delegated to the region. They can access
Crown law advice and they liaise with investigators based in Adelaide. Members heard that there is a
preference to follow the expiation process to save time, but this can depend on the nature of the
offence. For example, if molestation of a protected or threatened species has occurred, or someone
were to shoot a species such as a sea eagle or osprey, that would involve a prosecution under the Act.
There are only a certain number of offences under the Act for which an on the spot fine can be issued.
Money received from major visitation spots like Seal Bay goes into the General Reserves Trust
(discussed above in 8.2.1). If a park is being redeveloped the trust can be sought as a potential source
of funding. The money does not go into consolidated revenue as often claimed (see Section 4.2).
Natural Resources KI is able to access an additional resource for trail maintenance. This revenue
source is used to maintain the 18 walking trails within the parks of western Kangaroo Island in
accordance with their classification (level of difficulty) and Australian Standards.
Natural Resources KI staff participate in threatened species programs even through DEWNR is not
the lead agency for these programs. However, they get involved in some of the New Zealand fur seal
surveys, glossy black cockatoo monitoring and hooded plover counts. They also coordinate volunteer
activity across the region e.g. Friends of Parks and campground hosts and deliver educational
programs to local schools.
8.3
Holistic parks management
In response to criticism from some quarters that DEWNR and Natural Resources KI are antidevelopment, Caroline Paterson used the example of the sea eagle, an endangered species declared
under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, to
explain how difficult it is to find a balance between providing sustainable tourism and the protection
of natural and cultural assets.
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Case study: white-bellied sea eagle (Caroline Paterson)
There are a total of 19 nesting territories for white-bellied sea eagles at the western end of
Kangaroo Island. The threat to the species was upgraded in 2008 from ‘vulnerable’ to
‘endangered’. Nineteen pairs of eagles is equivalent to 38 individuals, representing 25% of the total
population in South Australia.
As predators, sea eagles sit at the top of the food chain. Their health as a species is a good indicator
of environmental health generally.
White-bellied sea eagles nest only along coastline, in areas often characterised by cliffs with low
vegetation. Hence instead of nesting up the top of tall trees, they normally nest below the cliff line.
As apex predators, sea eagles are very easily disturbed by helicopters, planes, people driving past
and most particularly walkers (because they move slowly and remain in the area for a long time).
When sea eagles are building their nests they are at their most vulnerable. If they are disturbed they
may abandon their whole year’s breeding effort. If disturbed from above after they have laid their
eggs they will abandon them or even chicks after they have hatched.
Unfortunately the most popular places to visit for people are the coastal areas. On Kangaroo Island
there is an abundance of fantastic coastline. Only 50% of the sea eagle nesting area is within
protected areas. Some of those already suffer a high level of disturbance, because when the
facilities were established the impacts were not realised.
Members heard that one of the things that the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail planning has had to
take heed of is working around sea eagle territory. The territories of Osprey have also had to be taken
into account. Recommendations for the precautionary protection of their nests include a two-kilometre
buffer zone (one kilometre from the male’s daytime ‘guard roost’ and one kilometre line of sight in
low coastal vegetation). The committee was told that Terry Dennis22, an expert in sea eagles, travelled
to the island and assisted with planning the route for the Wilderness Trail to mitigate disturbance of
the birds. It was reported that he is happy with selected route.
The committee heard that beach nesting birds are another example of the need to balance the needs of
the species and the desires of visitors. Hooded plovers and pied oyster catchers nest only on the beach.
Their nests cannot be seen by walkers or drivers, and dogs can very easily crush nests located above
the high water mark or the base of sand dunes. They are now listed as a vulnerable species under the
EPBC Act.
8.4
Major differences between Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula
8.4.1 Aboriginal heritage
Caroline Paterson explained that Kangaroo Island was separated from the mainland between 7,000
and 9,000 years ago, but there is evidence of the presence of Aboriginal people on the island. At that
time the sea level was lower and it was possible to walk across from Fleurieu Peninsula. There are
registered cultural sites on the island even though there is no further evidence of people on the island
until 250 years ago when sealers first came. Members heard that the Ngarrindjeri People regard
Kangaroo Island as ‘the island of the dead’ (as told in the Ngurunderi dreaming story). There are also
stories from different Aboriginal language groups including the Ramindjeri (Encounter Bay),
Narungga (Yorke Peninsula) and Kaurna (Adelaide).
22
http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/news/131022-conference-hears-sea-eagle-research
58
8.4.2 Different species
Some curious differences between Kangaroo Island and the mainland include the absence of tree
creepers (there are plenty on Fleurieu Peninsula but none on Kangaroo Island), sleepy lizards,
kookaburras and dingoes. The committee was told that many of the animals that have become
naturalised on Kangaroo Island were introduced from the mainland (e.g. koalas, platypus, marron).
Furthermore, fossil records show that Tasmanian devils, thylacines (Tasmanian Tigers) and Kangaroo
Island dwarf emus (which became extinct not long after European settlement) once lived on the
island. The introduction of pigs may have had something to do with its demise.
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9.
Visit to Andermel Marron Farm
The Natural Resources Committee met with John Melbourne at the Andermel Marron Farm between
12.00 and 1.00pm on Friday, 7 November 2014.
The committee heard that Andermel Marron Farm comprises 1,200 acres including a vineyard. It has
70 dams used for both water storage and growing marron and the annual rainfall is 80–85mm. One
large turkey nest dam (storage dam with no catchment) is used to feed the other dams (i.e. water
pumped from it into them). Most of the water on the property is sourced from runoff, but there is also
a small spring.
The property has six breeding ponds for the marron. One square meter of pond space is provided per
animal. Marron have only one offspring each year and the ratio of males to females required for
breeding is 1:4. They hatch early December to late January. As the marron grow they moult at a rate
of about three times per year. They cannot increase in size unless they do this. The marron stay in
small breeding ponds for a few months.
The water temperature of the breeding ponds goes down to about 8°C in winter. When the
temperature goes below 12°C the marron ‘shut down’ (go into hibernation). If the water temperature
goes above 25°C the marron die due to oxygen starvation. Maintaining water temperature and the
right range is very important for their survival.
Figure 18: Photograph of Andermel Marron Farm (Melbourne 2014)
The following additional information was sourced from the Andermel website23:
‘Some 40 odd years ago marron were introduced to the creeks of Kangaroo Island from South West
Western Australia where they are indigenous. They have bred and multiplied on Kangaroo Island ever
since. They were subsequently stocked into farm dams and most recently have been more intensively
farmed by a few growers.
23
See: http://www.andermel.com/marron.aspx
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Andermel is one of these growers and has one of the largest best practice marron farms in Australia. It
has constructed and installed the full range of facilities from water supply dams, to breeding ponds, to
grow-out ponds and a final processing and holding facility largely based on the Western Australian
Fisheries best practice. There are 52 grow-out ponds, all netted against birds and aerated by paddle
wheels. They are fed a manufactured pellet from a quad bike ridden around the pond edge. The ponds are
harvested by draining down and picking up the marron all resulting in the production of tonnes per year
of the freshest marron.’
Figure 19: Proprietor John Melbourne shows committee members a particularly large marron; these are
popular with visitors from South East Asia
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10.
Meeting with landholders at Ella Matta
The Natural Resources Committee met with farmers and members of the Kangaroo Island NRM
Board at Ella Matta, the property of Andrew Heinrich, between 2.30 and 4.00pm on Friday,
7 November.
Figure 20: Fenced off native vegetation at Ella Matta
10.1
Kikuyu pasture
Andrew Heinrich’s property supports 8,500 white suffolk sheep on an area of 700 hectares in the
centre of the island. He grossed $900,000 from his farm in 2013–14. Members heard that all creeks
and areas of remnant native vegetation had been fenced off to protect it from being grazed by sheep.
Mr Heinrich has been experimenting with kikuyu as a perennial pasture, in addition to the clover that
normally grows only in winter when conditions are favourable. This has proved to be quite successful
allowing a stocking rate of 12 to 15 DSE (dry sheep equivalent, a measure of feed requirements of
different classes of stock or comparing carrying capacity to potential productivity of a farm or area of
grazing land).
Prior to planting kikuyu, Mr Heinrich was having problems with soil erosion. Since planting this
pasture the problem has declined considerably. There were some concerns about the use of kikuyu as
it is known to be quite invasive, however, he has found that the plant will not grow in shaded areas
and does not invade the native vegetated areas he has protected and planted.
One quarter of the property is now covered with kikuyu pasture and Mr Heinrich aims to cover half
the property. He uses urea and ammonium sulphate to stimulate growth of the kikuyu. This is done
after rain to get good take-up of the additives.
During winter Mr Heinrich keeps the kikuyu down to ‘golf course level’ to allow the clover to come
up (any higher than that and the kikuyu will suppress the clover). This also allows weeds to be
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controlled. The sheep keep the kikuyu at this height and need to be moved about to maintain the right
level. The roots of the kikuyu break up the soil and allow microbes to get down and build up soil
fertility. The roots of the kikuyu also assist in holding the soil together, which is what stops the
erosion.
Kikuyu has to be planted in spring and is planted by seed. The land parcels comprising the farm have
been divided up into manageable areas to allow efficient rotation of stock to maximise the health of
the pasture. Electric fencing divides the parcels.
Andrew Heinrich has also previously experimented with contour banks, but found they did not work
as effectively as kikuyu because the sheep tended to break them up.
Figure 21: Kikuyu pasture at Ella Matta. Property owner Andrew Heinrich speaks to committee members
10.2
Plantation forestry
Andrew Heinrich told the committee he fought against plantation forestry on Kangaroo Island. His
opposition was vindicated when in the aftermath of the GFC the forests became non-viable. He has
heard that it will cost $8 million to move the timber off the island, and there is no port or related
road/rail infrastructure to facilitate the removal. This view concurred with that of the Kangaroo Island
Council, which the committee had met with two days before.
A large pine forest borders Ella Matta. The committee heard that the forest has become a haven for
wild pigs and is not being properly managed by the new owner, New Forests, which has recently
taken ownership of all the plantation forests on the island (including both Tasmanian blue gum and
radiata pine). Andrew Heinrich’s view is that the forests tie up land that could otherwise be used for
productive farming. According to him, Kangaroo Island has the highest proportion of young farmers
of any region in South Australia and there is a shortage of productive land available for farming.
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The committee heard that it would cost $1,000 per hectare to restore the forests to farming, including
felling and burning or chipping the trees, digging up their roots and adding fertiliser to the soil. If
farmers could be subsidised to do this work they would be able to return the forests to productive use.
10.3
Revegetation
After the 2006–07 drought Andrew Heinrich concluded that his farm dams were in the wrong place.
The committee heard that he had to cut down trees to build a new dam and was required to purchase
an offset by the Native Vegetation Council, costing $250. This was despite fencing off his creeks (e.g.
Figure 20) to protect native vegetation from sheep and planting new vegetated areas and retaining
24% coverage of his property by native vegetation (see Figure 22). He was somewhat angered that his
work had not been recognised, but the Native Vegetation Council did eventually reduce the amount
required.
10.4
Transportation costs
The committee had previously heard that transportation costs are a significant barrier to development
on Kangaroo Island, making it more expensive both to bring goods and services into the island and to
export produce. Members heard that it costs $45 per tonne to transport urea from the mainland to the
island. According to Mr Heinrich it costs just as much to transport lambs to Launceston (in Tasmania)
as it does to transport them to the abattoir at Murray Bridge. Competing with mainland farmers is very
difficult for Kangaroo Island farmers given these additional costs.
10.5
Proposed Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme
Andrew Gilfillan, a neighbouring landholder, spoke to the committee about a meeting he had with the
Native Vegetation Council and the Kangaroo Island Council about roadside vegetation and road
safety. The issue of isolated remnant vegetation clearance came up and there was a discussion and
acceptance that there should be recognition for landholders who have done the right thing by the
environment when an application for clearance was being reviewed.
Mr Gilfillan expressed the view that some people perceive farmers as anti-environmental despite their
efforts in relation to land care. He believes there would be clear advantages to food and wine
producers if they could substantiate their environmental credibility with hard facts, and proposed a
Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme that would complement the recently produced KI brand.
The scheme would back up the brand with honest data that is independently verified and audited by
Natural Resources KI. It would offer an incentive for landholders to continue with on-ground
environmental works at a time when financial support is diminishing.
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Natural Resources Committee
Figure 22: Ella
Matta On-ground
works (Heinrich
2014)
The following information was supplied by Mr Gilfillan following the meeting and explains the
proposal in more detail (Gilfillan 2014):
Proposed Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme
10.6
•
Property owners who are undertaking works such as tree planting, remnant vegetation
fencing, weed control, invasive species control, controlling acid and non- wetting soils,
fencing off watercourses, providing habitat for native animals, planting perennial plants,
dealing with salinity, managing heritage bush, and carbon sequestration could qualify.
•
The benefit for the property owner is that they could in time have the opportunity to use
their status to market their own produce at a higher price. Also it would be envisaged that
the native vegetation authority may look more favourably at an application if the property
has a high level of environmental initiatives.
•
The scheme would not be an accreditation system; there would be a running points system
that could be up to a maximum of 8 units (stars/ticks); those farmers with a low unit could
feel motivated to continue more environmental work despite a diminishing return for NRM
funding nationally.
•
It is critical to have Natural Resources KI involved in this for it to be successful. Natural
Resources KI has most of the data and has signed off on most of the on-farm work carried
out on the island over the last few years, of course there will be work that the farmer has
done that has not been funded or is ineligible but should be considered.
Carbon farming supported
Graham Flanagan, another neighbouring landholder present at the meeting, expressed the view that
there should be incentives for farmers to undertake carbon farming to recognise the good work that
farmers are already doing in protecting native vegetation (nearly 19,000 hectares of native vegetation
exists on farmland on the island). He felt that existing vegetation conserved on farmland should be
included for the purposes of carbon trading.
Committee comment:
Committee Members thought the proposed Farm Environmental Stewardship Scheme had potential
and should be discussed in the context of boosting and updating the ‘KI brand’. The issue of carbon
farming is something that needs to be addressed at the federal level. Members anticipated that the
Commonwealth’s proposed Direct Action Scheme may include carbon farming and it would be
premature to make any recommendations at this point in time.
Recommendation 4:
That the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation establish a Farm
Environmental Stewardship Scheme based on that proposed by KI farmers. The scheme should be
linked to an upgraded ‘KI Brand’ building on the existing ‘clean green’ reputation of Kangaroo
Island.
66
11.
Meeting at Duck Lagoon—Koala Program
The Natural Resources Committee met with Robyn Molsher, DEWNR, between 4.00 and 5.00pm at
Duck Lagoon near Kingscote on Friday, 7 November 2014.
Members heard that koalas were introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1920s: 18 individuals were
introduced at Flinders Chase National Park and have since been translocated to the Cygnet River area
where they now exist in one of the highest densities anywhere on the island.
In 1996 the Koala Management Program was established due to rapidly increasing numbers of koalas
and their impacts on native vegetation. Culling was assessed to be the most effective option for
addressing this impact, but this caused widespread concern on an international basis and had to be
abandoned. Koalas as native animals are a protected species. They are also of great importance as an
Australian icon. Culling really is not an option for the island as it would damage its image and
probably result in loss of tourism.
Surgical sterilisation and translocation to the South East of South Australia (near Mount Gambier—
the only place in South Australia where they are endemic) commenced in 1996. However,
translocation costs $4,000 per plane trip with 40 koalas being moved each time. Members heard that
there really is no ideal location for them to be translocated and none of the original habitat areas
welcome them.
The koalas that have bred on Kangaroo Island are twice the size of those on the mainland that have
remained in their original habitats. Translocation has not been terribly effective because the animals
suffer badly from being moved and those that are able to be relocated are a threat to the existing koala
due to their large size. In addition, the Kangaroo Island koalas are all related to each and consequently
are a very narrow genetic strain.
Contrary to common understanding, the Kangaroo Island koalas are not disease free. They are simply
not showing any symptoms of disease, probably because they are not suffering any distress (unlike the
koalas in South East Queensland whose habitat is being lost to suburban growth).
The committee heard that the koala population has declined since the program commenced:
• 27,000 in 2001 (high point)
• 16,000 in 2006
• 13,000 in 2010
There is a need to continue getting koala numbers down across the island; 50% of monitoring sites are
above ideal density and pockets of high breeding are a problem. The current population estimate is
awaiting the most recent count and is due very soon. The target of the program is to reduce the density
of koalas in their habitats to 0.75 koalas per hectare. At present the density is more like 8/ha
(approximately 13,000 in total).
Budget cuts are having a negative impact on the program. The koala program is one of the betterfunded projects of DEWNR, but it is resource hungry. The money comes from the chief executive’s
fund and has to be reapplied for every year.
The target for sterilising female koalas is 400 per year. In 2006 this cost $1 million. Currently around
1,200 koalas are being sterilised per year, including both females and males, at a cost of about $250
per koala. Eight staff members work for five months per year catching the koalas. They are also
micro-chipped and their ears tagged (left ear for females right ear for males).
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Over the past 19 years $7.5 million has been spent on the program. Robyn Molsher emphasised the
importance of the program’s continuing to stop the koalas breeding up again. If the program is
discontinued, or insufficient funding provided, past expenditure and effort could be wasted.
The committee heard that recently DEWNR advertised for koala field assistants. The department
received 109 applications including one from a person from Queensland with a PhD qualification in
koala management. Clearly there is a lot of interest in koalas and a willing workforce, particularly
given the relatively modest wage offered ($46,000 per annum pro rata).
Committee comment:
Members were concerned at the cost of the Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program in
relation to its benefit, particularly compared to other efforts of DEWNR staff in eradicating feral
animals (e.g. $7.5 million over the past nineteen years for koalas [$395,000/year] compared to
$1 million since 2006 for goats [$125,000/year). However, they were cognisant of the fact that
these are very different programs i.e. conservation as opposed to culling.
Figure 23: Koalas in a suburban back yard at Blackwood, South Australia. The committee did not see any
koalas during its very brief visit to Duck Lagoon (S Gill 2014).
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68
REFERENCES
Ayliffe, John (2014) Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre, Committee recording, 5 November 2014
Clements, Peter (2014) Deputy Mayor, Kangaroo Island Council, 5 November 2014,
(verified/amended by the interviewee and used with his permission)
Dohle, Lyn (2014) Senior Consultant, Land Management Rural Solutions SA, email dated 26
November 2014 enclosing Report on Condition of Agricultural Land on Kangaroo Island (copy
attached - Appendix A)
Florence, Brenton (2014) Feral Animal Control Officer, Natural Resources KI, Committee
recording, 6 November 2014
Gill, Simon (2014), photograph taken in suburban back yard at Belair, November 2014
Gilfillan, Andrew (2014) Kangaroo Island landholder, email to Natural Resources Committee 19
November 2014
Jamieson, Anton (2014) Abalone fisher, Kangaroo Island, Committee recording 5 November 2014
Heinrich, Andrew (2014) Ella Matta property owner, map provided to Committee Members during
their visit, 7 November 2014
Howard, Bernie (2014) Crayfish fisher, Committee recording 5 November 2014
Kandelaars, Gerry (2014) Committee Member, Natural Resources Committee
Kinloch, Martine (2014) Acting General Manager, Natural Resources Kangaroo Island, Committee
recording 6 November 2014 (verified/amended by the interviewee and used with her permission)
Kleevan, Tina (2014) Fish wholesaler, Kangaroo Island, Committee recording 5 November 2014
Klein, Heiri (2014a) Catchment to Coast Program Manager, Natural Resources KI, Committee
recording 5 November 2014 (verified/amended by the interviewee and used with his permission)
Klein, Heiri (2014b) email received 20 November 2014
Melbourne, John (2014) owner of Andermel Marron Farm, map displayed at the premises and
viewed by Committee Members during their visit, 7 November 2014
O’Malley, John (2014) Senior Project Manager Wilderness Trail Project, Committee recording 6
November 2014
Paterson, Caroline (2014) Ranger in Charge, Natural Resources KI, Flinders Chase National Park,
Committee recording 6 November 2014
Patterson, Bevan (2014) Retired Fisher and member of Local Advisory Group for Marine Parks
community consultation, Kangaroo Island, Committee recording, 5 November 2014
Trethewey, Andrew (2014) Presiding Member Kangaroo Island NRM Board, Farmer/Landholder
Toomore, Committee recording, 5 November 2014 (verified/amended by the interviewee and used
with his permission)
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Tyley, Cherie (2014) Investor in the Crayfish industry, Kangaroo Island, Committee recording, 5
November 2014
Tyley, Lance (2014) Investor in the Crayfish industry, Kangaroo Island, Committee recording, 5
November 2014
Wiadrowski, Rory (2014) Animal and Plant Control Officer, Natural Resources KI, Committee
recording, 6 November 2014
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ABBREVIATIONS
GFC
Global financial crisis
KIFA
Kangaroo Island Futures Authority
DENR
Department for Environment and Natural Resources (now DEWNR)
DEWNR
Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources
FFDI
Forest Fire Danger Index
EPBC
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (Act)
Natural Resources KI
Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (former National Parks and Wildlife
Service combined with KI NRM Board and DEWNR staff members)
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hectares
MLC
Member of the Legislative Council
MP
Member of Parliament
NRM
Natural Resources Management
NRM Act
Natural Resources Management Act 2004
NRM Board
Natural Resources Management Board
SEB
Significant Environmental Benefit
WON(s)
Weed(s) of National Significance
Parliament of South Australia
Natural Resources Committee