It is intended that this Plan be implemented over a ten-year period

Habitat loss, modification and degradation – high priority

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Habitat loss, modification and degradation – high priority

Rainforest and related vegetation throughout the Planning Area has been significantly degraded and fragmented, particularly in lower elevation areas. The extent of decline at the landscape level makes it imperative that all remaining areas of rainforest and related vegetation are managed for their conservation values and, where possible, restored toward self-sustaining systems.

Current human-induced habitat loss within the Border Ranges region is mostly development-related. This is largely due to the effects of urban, industrial, rural, rural-residential and infrastructure development, and includes both the direct loss of habitat and the secondary consequences of development such as clearing for aesthetics and maintenance of asset protection zones. Habitat loss is also a result of other landuses in the Planning Area such as mining, agriculture, horticulture, native forestry and plantation forestry.

Habitat degradation occurs through landuse activities such as development, agriculture, resource use, including ground water extraction, and maintenance of assets. Many of the individual threat activities of this category are related to habitat loss; the difference being in the effect (i.e. stress) an individual threat has on biodiversity. Due to this interconnectedness, actions to address habitat loss and habitat degradation have been combined.

The interrelation of threats that cause habitat degradation is reflected in the fact that many of the identified threat categories contain individual threats that contribute to habitat degradation (e.g. weeds, fire, domestic grazing). Such threats have been assigned to distinct categories because they are considered to be significant in their own right and, therefore, require their own set of objectives and priority actions. It is recognised that actions undertaken to address one category may also assist in mitigating a threat identified in another category, and that where possible, integrated management of threats is preferable.

OBJECTIVE 3: To protect rainforest, related vegetation and species from clearing

OUTCOME 3.1: Statutory and other instruments used to their full extent by government planning agencies to protect rainforest and related vegetation from clearing

ACTIONS: Planning Area

  1. Promote compliance with state and Australian government legislation to prevent clearing and/or degradation of rainforest and related vegetation.

  2. Incorporate this Plan into the review or preparation of environmental planning instruments including regional strategies, regional conservation plans, NSW State environment planning policies, Queensland Integrated Planning Act 1997 planning schemes, settlement guidelines, the Biodiversity Banking and Offset scheme (BioBanking) and Biodiversity Certification.

  3. In NSW, undertake expert workshops to identify potential areas for critical habitat nomination.

  4. Where clearing cannot be prevented, implement a policy of net-gain of rainforest and related vegetation.

  5. Ensure that protection of rainforest and related vegetation is a priority when designing tourism infrastructure on public lands.

  6. Promote the benefits to local government of strategic accreditations and endorsement available (e.g. NSW biocertification, Queensland Integrated Planning Act 1997 planning and EPBC Act strategic assessment processes).

  7. Encourage and promote opportunities for conserving rainforest and related vegetation through land acquisition, private land covenants and conservation agreements.

OUTCOME 3.2: Improvements identified to current planning controls and assessment processes and changes encouraged to maximise the protection and management of biodiversity values

ACTIONS: Planning Area

  1. Ensure that adequate planning controls, such as environmental zonings and development control plans, are included in environmental planning instruments and schemes to protect areas of rainforest and related vegetation. Consideration should also be given to non-rainforest and non-vegetated areas associated with climate change linkages identified in this Plan.

  2. In NSW, ensure that biodiversity assessment and reporting for development applications are consistent with DECCW Draft Threatened Biodiversity Survey and Assessment: Guidelines for Developments and Activities (DEC 2004a) and DECCW Threatened Species Assessment Guidelines: The Assessment of Significance (DECC 2007c).

  3. In Queensland, ensure that the Biodiversity Assessment and Mapping Methodology (QEPA 2002) adequately incorporates rainforest biodiversity values and identifies areas of high conservation value within planning schemes.

  4. Ensure that the likely impacts of developments and activities adjacent to rainforest and related vegetation are fully assessed and appropriate buffers included.

  5. Ensure that asset protection zones for new developments are contained within the development proposal area and do not impact on, or require clearing of, adjacent rainforest or related vegetation.

  6. Ensure that the development of community land management plans and other local government management plans and strategies take into account rainforest and related vegetation and priority species.

  7. Encourage the use of tree preservation orders in NSW and Queensland planning instruments to protect significant remnant rainforest trees.

  8. Ensure that landuse objectives for local environment plan environmental zones (for the types of activities permissible) are compatible with the long-term protection and management of rainforest and related vegetation, including corridors, buffers, and ecological restoration activities.

OUTCOME 3.3: Incentive schemes to protect rainforest and related vegetation from clearing promoted

Local governments and regional natural resource management bodies are well positioned to promote incentive schemes that encourage private landowners to implement sustainable land management practices and conserve biodiversity through education and training, property agreements, partnerships and, where possible, financial assistance (Bateson 2000, 2001; Byron Shire Council 2004). Incentives can work to integrate planning, regulation and education, and encourage community participation between land-holders and government.

ACTIONS: Planning Area

  1. Promote uptake of voluntary conservation agreements, market-based instruments and other incentives available in NSW and Queensland (see Appendix 13 on the enclosed CD). Focus efforts in priority areas (see Table 11), particularly in corridors and high priority Conserve Priorities and Precincts.

  2. Promote partnerships between government and non-government agencies to deliver combinations of incentive options.

  3. Encourage local governments and regional natural resource management bodies to develop partnerships with non-government conservancy groups that offer voluntary incentive schemes.

  4. Encourage local governments to introduce a reduced differential rate for lands managed for rainforest and related vegetation conservation purposes (including the seeking of external funding to cover costs where reduced rates are offered).

  5. Investigate and promote options for grants to private land-holders for rainforest and related vegetation protection and rehabilitation in priority areas.

  6. Encourage local governments to establish voluntary land acquisition trust funds.

  7. Promote the introduction of non-financial motivational incentives including the provision of resources such as trees, fencing materials and materials for weed control, the delivery of biodiversity-related training and extension advice, and adoption of local awards schemes.

  8. Encourage local governments to negotiate and implement conservation agreements on local government lands.

  9. Encourage local governments to seek funding for a Land for Wildlife Officer.

  10. Encourage the engagement of non-government conservancy groups to provide covenants and to acquire or provide incentives to private land-holders whose land supports high conservation value rainforest and related vegetation.

  11. Public land managers should seek opportunities for partnerships with neighbours to protect rainforest and related vegetation, particularly where it occurs across land tenures.

OBJECTIVE 4: To protect rainforest and related vegetation from fragmentation, modification and degradation

OUTCOME 4.1: Active management of threats associated with degradation and rehabilitation undertaken across private and public tenure

ACTIONS: Planning Area

  1. Implement rehabilitation and restoration actions in priority areas according to:

  • Repair priority areas identified in this Plan (see Table 11).

  • Priorities identified in local government biodiversity strategies (e.g. Byron Shire Council 2004), Northern Rivers CMA and SEQC investment strategies, Queensland NatureAssist statewide incentive program, Draft South East Queensland Back on Track Biodiversity Action Plan (QEPA 2008a), Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, DECCW plans of management, restoration plans and strategies, and other relevant strategic plans including the National Strategy for Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity (Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories 1996).

  • Areas identified as having high stakeholder engagement in existing rehabilitation and restoration programs.

  1. Undertake revegetation of cleared land within priority areas and corridor linkages using best practice methods.

  2. Investigate the inclusion of priority areas in rehabilitation schemes for BioBanking, local government biodiversity strategies, NSW and Queensland planning instruments, settlement guidelines and carbon credit or carbon trading schemes.

  3. Support community groups seeking funds for rehabilitation and restoration projects in rainforest and related vegetation.

  4. Promote the rehabilitation and management of rainforest and related vegetation on public land through plans of management, pest strategies and restoration and rehabilitation plans.

  5. Ensure that buffers are included in approvals for new developments or activities that occur in close proximity to rainforest or related vegetation.

  6. Where appropriate, ensure local provenance flora is selected for revegetation and rehabilitation projects.

  7. Encourage preparation of restoration plans prior to commencement of restoration activities. These should consider potential impacts on priority and threatened species present at a site.

  8. Support provision of extension advice, training and support to land-holders outside of identified priorities of the Planning Area.

ACTIONS: Flora Group 1 species in lowland and midland landscapes

Flora Group 1 species (refer Appendix 2 or Appendix 7) within the lowland landscape (see Figure 9) require special consideration with regard to habitat loss and modification due to their restrictive dispersal mechanisms. Species from this group are particularly at risk of being removed or lost from fragments as a result of clearing or habitat modification and associated effects from climate change.

  1. Provide advice to decision-makers that outlines why Flora Group 1 species are particularly at risk and should therefore be assessed appropriately.

  2. Identify sites supporting Flora Group 1 species and target these as priorities for habitat rehabilitation and restoration.

ACTIONS: Flora Group 3 species in lowland and midland landscapes

Some Flora Group 3 species (refer Appendix 2 or Appendix 7) are considered susceptible to grazing, clearing of understorey (underscrubbing) and modification of understorey habitat through disturbance and weed invasion.

  1. Provide advice to relevant natural resource management organisation and agencies outlining why Flora Group 3 species require protection from agricultural activities that disturb the understorey in remnants and riparian areas.

  2. Provide advice to decision-makers outlining why Flora Group 3 species should be protected and ways this can be achieved.

ACTIONS: Flora Group 4 species in lowland and midland landscapes

Flora Group 4 species (refer Appendix 2 or Appendix 7) are frugivore- and wind-dispersed. The distance between remnants can be an impediment to effective dispersal of Group 4 species across remnants.

  1. Create guidelines identifying preferred minimum distances between remnants to assist in selecting rehabilitation sites, particularly with regard to the potential for pollination and dispersal.

  2. Provide advice to decision-makers outlining why Flora Group 4 species should be protected and ways this can be achieved.

  3. In areas where Camphor Laurel is already established (i.e. is not actively invading native vegetation), encourage its staged removal. This will ensure food, shelter and breeding resources are retained to support frugivores in remnants and encourage native species recruitment.

ACTIONS: Flora Group 5 species in lowland and midland landscapes

Flora Group 5 species (refer Appendix 2 or Appendix 7) includes plants that reproduce through cloning or resprouting. Clonal species can be severely impacted by major infrastructure projects that remove individuals or populations, such as highway upgrades.

  1. Provide advice to decision-makers on how to determine the presence of, and assess impacts on, Flora Group 5 species when conducting environmental assessments for infrastructure and development projects.

ACTIONS: Species-specific and key habitat features

Tree hollows

Tree hollows provide critical roost and nesting habitat for hollow-dependent fauna. Hollows are a depleted resource throughout much of the Planning Area. It is therefore important to retain and protect mature and old growth sclerophyll forest adjacent to rainforest, as well as individual hollow bearing trees.

  1. Identify areas that contain high densities of hollow-bearing trees as areas of high conservation value in planning instruments and land management negotiations.

  2. Ensure retention of existing hollow-bearing trees. Also encourage the protection of recruitment trees that will ensure hollow resources are available into the future.

Flying-fox camps

Three species of flying-fox utilise the rainforest and related habitats within the Planning Area: Grey-headed Flying-fox Pteropus poliocephalus, Black Flying-fox Pteropus alecto and Little Red Flying-fox Pteropus scapulatus. Although only two of these are identified as priority species, all three play a critical role in pollination of rainforest flora and dispersal of rainforest seeds. Food sources for these species are widespread and vary considerably over different seasons and although provision of year-round food sources is vital, the most important habitat component for flying-foxes are the camps where the species roost during the day. Camps that are used as maternal sites where flying-foxes congregate to mate, give birth and raise young are of paramount importance.

  1. Protect flying-fox camps by providing appropriate zonings and buffers in relevant environmental planning instruments to help minimise landuse conflicts.

  2. Prevent disturbance in and adjacent to active flying-fox camps, in particular known maternity camps.

  3. Protect and rehabilitate flying-fox camps through revegetation and weed removal. Works should not be undertaken during the breeding season or during extremely hot or cold weather.

  4. Undertake community and neighbour awareness programs on the importance of camps to the long-term survival of the species and the importance of flying-foxes in maintaining healthy rainforest communities.

  5. Undertake monitoring of flying-fox camps to provide data on seasonal use, which can assist in managing public concern and identify anomalies in camp use that may indicate habitat conservation issues.

  6. In NSW, encourage and support wildlife carer groups in assisting distressed flying-foxes during extreme weather events.

Rainforest invertebrates

  1. Promote restoration and rehabilitation of priority invertebrate species' habitats (see Appendix 2), particularly in the lowland landscape and in Stotts Island critical habitat.

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