MERRY MAN: Landcare volunteer Derek Goodwin, at Duck Pond in South Lismore supports a Biodiversity Management Strategy.
MERRY MAN: Landcare volunteer Derek Goodwin, at Duck Pond in South Lismore supports a Biodiversity Management Strategy. Melissa Gulbin

Weed warrior fights for poor

65-year-old Derek Goodwin doesn't call himself a hero - or a folklore legend for that matter - but his efforts to save his neighbourhood from invasive weeds is renowned.

However, the Lismore born and raised Union Street resident doesn't know how he can afford to continue to restore 107 hectare 'Duck Pond' when his cleaning contract expires in May.

He has submitted a letter in support of Biodiversity Management Strategy to Council in a bid to help such projects.

"I've probably spent about $2000 on machine hire while restoring Hollingsworth Creek, but I can no longer afford to pay that sort of money here," he said.

Duck Pond, the flood prone area adjacent to Leycester Creek, bounded by Union Street, Casino Street and Ostrom Street, used to host Lismore's swimming carnivals in the 20s.

However in the last six years, coral trees have infested the site where bathing sheds stood and South Lismore Footy team practiced.

"I believe in doing as much as you can but there is a limit," he said.

Mr Goodwin is determined to avert what he sees is a potential exponential environmental crisis.

"I'm no expert but I've seen coral trees explode.

"They are fast growing and resilient. Every coral tree is a seed bank repository just waiting for flood," he said.

"A few weeks after the August floods there was a carpet of tiny coral trees growing. If I didn't pull them out they would all be trees by now.

"Camphors are going to be a lightweight weed compared to coral. At least Camphor makes for good timber. Coral just crumbles in your hand," he said.

In recent months Mr Goodwin has built a bridge over a gully, cleared a road, and with some help from kind local machinery contractors removed scores of coral trees on the eastern side.

Birds have since returned. Recently he has seen black cockatoos and a Jabiru.

But it's also about the humans, said Mr Goodwin.

Mr Goodwin has plans for a passive riparian area as well as a sports area.

"We don't have many places like this anymore -- where people can just sit and enjoy the river. Most of the green spaces are sports fields."

Kristen den Exter, secretary of the Wilsons Landcare Group, said "Landcare urgently needs local funding as state and federal small community grants have all but dried up.

"If we get this funding our local environment - not just Landcare - stands to benefit enormously.

"If we don't get funding we will carry on with our piecemeal approaches and our efforts will not be as effective. It is not OK to expect free labour and personal funds will turn 200 years of land degradation and weed invasion around.

"What that means is loss of habitat, loss of species and loss of biodiversity. We are talking long term ecological processes versus short term hip pocket pain.

"Surely 50c a week is nothing to spend for this?" she said.

Mr Goodwin supports the BMS.

"I feel you just have to do everything you can do for the future," he said.

A Facebook page has been created to engage locals with the work.

Search for South Lismore Duck Pond and make a friend request.

Have your say

The greater aim of the BMS is to restore native vegetation across all land in the Lismore LGA from the rainforests of the Nightcap Range through our urban and village centres right down to the Richmond River floodplain. The BMS promotes vegetation connectivity throughout the LGA as the basis for biodiversity management.

You can provide comment and feedback on the Draft BMS in the public exhibition period extended to February 24.

You can send submissions to the General Manager at PO Box 23A, Lismore NSW 2480 or email

For more information about the Biodiversity Management Strategy



THERE has been a lot of misinformation and miscalculation circulating in traditional and social media about the proposed cost of a Biodiversity Management Strategy.
The BMS rate rise is calculated on land value, not property value. The average residential land value in Lismore is $113,000. You could have a million-dollar mansion on the land but you would only be charged the rate rise based on your land value. Therefore, the assertion you would pay $112 for a property valued at $500,000 is incorrect. You would pay $112 if your land was valued at $500,000. The average residential ratepayer in Lismore will pay $25.43 per year.
The Draft BMS is based on a $594,000 annual budget that would be needed to implement key actions.
This funding is made up of the recurrent $94,000 that the council has already allocated towards biodiversity-related activities as well as a proposed $500,000 which may be achieved through this Special Rate Variation.

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