Valuable Big Scrub remnants saved

Big Scrub Landcare president Tony Parkes says weeds are the biggest immediate threat to local rainforest, such as this area near Lumley Park in Alstonville.
Big Scrub Landcare president Tony Parkes says weeds are the biggest immediate threat to local rainforest, such as this area near Lumley Park in Alstonville. David Nielsen

VALUABLE sections of the North Coast’s Big Scrub have been saved as part of Australia’s biggest rehabilitation project to protect endangered lowland rainforest.

The $736,000 project, covering rainforest remnants between the Tweed and Clarence rivers, hastaken a year to complete.

But Big Scrub Landcare president Tony Parkes said it was worth it. He said the project focused on ‘the priceless biodiversity of the rainforests in our region’.

It took more than 1800 days of work at 83 sites of endangered lowland rainforest.

But Dr Parkes said there was still a lot more work to be done.

“This is something we’ve really been doing for the last 12 years,” he said.

“We want to save the last remnants of the Big Scrub and this project really represented the latest efforts to do that.

“It’s fantastic to get all that work done.

“It was a lot. In the past we have done lots of little projects, but this was on another level and it’s these big projects which make the difference.

“These were some really valuable rainforest sites. They are valuable not only nationally, but internationally as well.”

Although Dr Parkes said issues such as climate change were important considerations, he said weeds posed the biggest immediate threats.

“Climate change is a long-term threat. The best way we can combat that is to ensure our rainforests are in the best health possible,” he said.

“Weeds are a major problem – things like madeira vine and cat’s claw are some of the worst ones.

“There are some seriously big problems.”

Dr Parkes hopes the Big Scrub Landcare Group can get moregovernment funding this year to continue its work.

He said it would be good to get three years of funding to keep projects running smoothly.

“We are now world leaders in rainforest rehabilitation,” he said.

“We can’t afford to lose the skilled people that we’ve got working with us.”

The rehabilitation project involved 12 different organisations, including Big Scrub Landcare; EnviTE; Department of the Environment, Climate Change and Water; Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Tweed councils; Rous Water; Richmond, Tweed, Brunswick Valley and Tuckombil Landcare groups; and 50 landholders.

Half of the money was supplied by the Federal Government’s Caring for our Country program. This funding was matched by contributions from the project partners, other landholders and volunteers.

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