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Kathryn Maxwell (SHASA) - 12 June 2018

Kathryn Maxwell made the below comments at the Ordinary Council Meeting 12 June 2018.

SHASA CONCERNS WITH THE PROPOSED RURAL LANDS STRATEGY

  • Good morning, my name is Kathryn Maxwell, I am the chair of SHASA., the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance.
  • SHASA was set up 4 years ago with the goal of achieving a resilient Eurobodalla community. We have over 300 on our mailing list.
  • In addition to being the SHASA chair for the last 15 months, I have worked for 10 years as one of the administrators of the National Landcare Program for the Australian Government.
  • This work has exposed me to the impact of poor land management decisions and the attendant degradation that comes with them. Land that is badly damaged by high levels of clearing, salinity, soil acidification, erosion, and loss of estuaries and waterways.
  • It has also exposed me the heartache, loss of income and the high cost of fixing land degradation.
  • SHASA is very concerned about the proposed significant and widespread sub-division of privately owned agricultural and bush land in the Eurobodalla. In some cases from 1000 ha lots to lots of 10 to 40ha in size.
  • Conventional wisdom is that farmers need more land, not less land to operate a profitable agricultural enterprise.
  • With a more variable climate, we can anticipate hotter summers and reduced rainfall. Treed areas produce more rainfall than cleared areas so clearing wooded areas will only exacerbate this problem.
  • Dividing up highly productive agricultural land for rural residential blocks will result in many more hobby farmers. It will result in much more clearing, more pet animals, more roads, more decimated wild life, more polluted run-off, more mess.
  • With the current rural land arrangements we are so fortunate in the Eurobodalla to have excellent native vegetation cover, particularly on our hill sides and around our estuaries and successful agriculture. With the help of current protections we have healthy catchment assets in many areas of the shire.
  • The proposed rural lands strategy would remove the current sensible land management protections and replace them with lower level protections.
  • Just as all fishing operators benefit from the marine protected areas, our farmers benefit from the current healthy terrestrial landscape in the Eurobodalla, one of the best in Australia.
  • To illustrate SHASA's concerns I would like to focus on the land south west of Tuross Lakes -Area's 25 and 25a in the draft proposal maps.
  • This land is heavily vegetated and goes right up to the southern edge of Tuross Lake - one of the most iconic locations in Eurobodalla, and to the eastern edge of Borang Lake, an important oyster lease. This land also borders Eurobodalla National Park.
  • It is proposed that 1000 ha blocks are to be sub-divided into 40 and 20 ha lots.
  • If this happens there will be extensive clearing of intact native vegetation (contiguous forest) in an area described by the Office of Environment & Heritage as a biodiversity hotspot with High Conservation Values and known aboriginal cultural heritage.
  • The Office of Environment and Heritage also points out that it's a protected catchment area and a high fire risk area.  Fire risk mitigation, by itself requires extensive clearing around dwellings built in those areas.
  • Clearing for such subdivision will result in habitat fragmentation, increased erosion, and damage to the water catchments of both lakes.
  • Not only will this damage existing rural land, but it will also likely damage the oyster leases nearby.
  • SHASA does not believe that the proposed Rural Lands Strategy will enhance agricultural production in the Eurobodalla, rather the opposite.
  • SHASA knows you have been working on this for a long time, but a bad, irreversible strategy should not be adopted