This Plan constitutes the regional recovery plan for species and ecological communities that occur within the Planning Area that are subject to the listings under the relevant state and Commonwealth nature conservation legislation identified in Table 1. The Plan covers 58 fauna species, 134 flora species and 25 ecological communities associated with rainforest or related vegetation that are listed as threatened at either a national or state level. Additionally, the Plan includes 49 fauna (including freshwater fish and invertebrates) and 33 flora species of conservation significance, making a total of 107 rainforest-related animals and 166 rainforest-related plants. Of these, 21 fauna species and 69 flora species are endemic to the rainforests or related vegetation of the Planning Area. The species and communities covered by this Plan are listed in Appendix 2 and are referred to as ‘priority species and ecological communities’ hereafter.
During the Plan’s ten-year duration, it can also provide management guidance for the recovery of any additional species, populations and communities that may be listed under the legislation in Table 1 that meet the criteria for inclusion in the Plan.
Legislation relevant to threatened species and communities
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Fisheries Management Act 1994
Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
Nature Conservation Act 1992
Fisheries Act 1994
Vegetation Management Act 1999
1.5Recovery plan preparation, consultation and implementation
Legislation at Commonwealth and state levels provides the framework for the protection and recovery of threatened species, populations and communities. The Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW TSC Act) and NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 include specific requirements for matters to be addressed by recovery plans, and the process for preparing recovery plans. This Plan satisfies the provisions of both the EPBC Act and NSW TSC Act. Queensland legislation does not require the development of recovery plans.
Potential contributors to the implementation of actions identified in the Plan will include the Australian Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), regional natural resource management bodies, local governments, conservation groups and the community. State agencies will include DECCW and DERM.
Nationally, the EPBC Act requires a recovery plan to identify the ‘areas of habitats that are critical to the survival’ of the species or community concerned, and the actions needed to protect those habitats. In order to satisfy this requirement, all rainforest and related vegetation has been identified and mapped along with areas of high conservation or restoration priority (see Sections 2 and 3). Moreover, where possible and relevant to actions, key populations and sites have also been individually identified (see Section 4.5).
The NSW TSC Act makes provision for the identification and declaration of ‘critical habitat’. Critical habitat may be identified for endangered species, populations and ecological communities, or critically endangered species and ecological communities in NSW. Once declared, it is an offence to damage critical habitat (unless the action is specifically exempted under the provisions of the NSW TSC Act) and a species impact statement is mandatory for all developments and activities proposed within declared critical habitat. There is currently one NSW critical habitat declaration within the Planning Area: Stotts Island Nature Reserve declared critical habitat for Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail Thersites mitchellae (NPWS 2001a). Any future declarations in NSW will be identified on the critical habitat register on the DECCW website.
In Queensland, the Vegetation Management Act1999 delineates ‘essential habitat’, which are areas of vegetation where a species that is endangered, vulnerable, rare or near threatened has been known to occur. These areas are mapped by DERM and are used to regulate vegetation clearing in such a way as to prevent the loss of biodiversity. Requests for essential habitat maps for an area can be made through the DERM website. An example of such a map can be found in Appendix 3 (on the enclosed CD).
1.5.2Key threatening processes
Under the EPBC Act a process can be listed as a key threatening process if it threatens, or may threaten, the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of a species or ecological community. The NSW TSC Act and NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994 have similar provisions for listing of key threatening processes, for which threat abatement plans can be prepared. There are no provisions under Queensland legislation to list threatening processes. A table of key threatening processes relevant to this Plan is provided in Section 3.
1.5.3Consultation with the Border Ranges community
The EPBC Act and NSW TSC Act require that adequate levels of community consultation are undertaken as part of the preparation of any recovery plan. To achieve meaningful and effective consultation, the planning team incorporated several key elements into the consultation process. The Plan also provided an opportunity to explore innovative approaches to engage Indigenous community groups in biodiversity planning and management.
Several approaches were used during the Plan’s development to encourage community input. Firstly, the Border Ranges Integrated Biodiversity Project steering committee oversaw the preparation of the Plan. Secondly, a community consultation working group developed and implemented the communication strategy. Working group members included the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA), South East Queensland Catchments Ltd (SEQC), DERM, Queensland biodiversity natural resource facilitator, and DECCW.
The aim of the communication strategy was to inform the wider community of the preparation of the Plan and to:
increase awareness of the significance of rainforest and related vegetation in the region, its values and threats
provide opportunities for land-holders and other stakeholders to gain more detailed information on the Plan’s development
initiate a consultation network and begin effective two-way communication (SEQC 2008).
The working group members agreed to undertake separate consultations in NSW and Queensland and to coordinate content and process through regular communication. Specific consultation with the Indigenous and traditional owner communities was undertaken by DECCW (see below).
In NSW, a community representative undertook the consultation with assistance from Northern Rivers CMA and DECCW (Morrison 2007a). In Queensland, a consultation team comprising the Queensland biodiversity natural resource management facilitator, DERM and WWF-Australia, supported SEQC in undertaking the consultation (SEQC 2008).
The existing community networks of Northern Rivers CMA and SEQC were used for distribution of material such as newsletters and media advertising. Three newsletters, a community consultation flyer, poster, PowerPoint presentations, newsletter articles and a number of other fact sheets were distributed amongst community networks whilst the draft Plan was in preparation. To enable continual and informal feedback from the community, background documents, maps and discussion papers were made available on a community-based website. A separate project-based web server was also established so Plan contributors could access large datasets, maps and information.
Community meetings were held across the Border Ranges region. In NSW, the community representative, Northern Rivers CMA and DECCW staged meetings at Urbenville, Woodenbong, Bangalow, and the PRIMEX Agricultural exhibition. In Queensland, SEQC and DERM held events at West Burleigh Heads, Upper Tallebudgera, Boonah, Beaudesert, Killarney, Allora, Boonah, Springbrook and Rathdowney, as well as a display as part of Tamborine Green Domain Day. A total of 183 people (65 in NSW and 118 in Queensland) attended the meetings.
A range of local and state government agencies and stakeholder organisations were also contacted in NSW and Queensland (Morrison 2007a; SEQC 2008) and presentations made at a number of conferences and forums. In NSW, the Mayor of Byron Shire Council also held a Local Government Councillor’s forum on behalf of the planning team.
As a result of the community consultation, a number of species of conservation concern, management issues and individual sites and areas were identified. These include locations where, for example, important populations of priority species occur, specific threats are active, or restoration activities are being undertaken by community groups and individuals. Specific locations include rainforest in gullies along the lower Richmond Range in the Mallanganee – Upper Mongogarie area, the Springbrook Plateau where a rainforest acquisition and restoration program is being undertaken, and the high conservation value areas of Nicholls Scrub and Bahrs Scrub in south-east Queensland. Section 3.3.2 provides a more detailed discussion on the community-identified priority areas in the Planning Area.
Indigenous community engagement
The Indigenous peoples of north-east NSW and south-east Queensland have strong cultural and spiritual connections to the biodiversity in their Country. Within the Border Ranges region, the main Indigenous organisations with a particular interest in biodiversity management fall into the following categories:
NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils
Native Title Groups
Traditional Owner Natural Resource Management Groups.
Ten areas within the NSW reserve system are now part of the recently signed Githabul Indigenous Land Use Agreement between DECCW and the Githabul People. The 2001 Arakwal Indigenous Land Use Agreement between the former NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Arakwal Aboriginal Corporation resulted in the creation of, and funding for, Arakwal National Park. These agreements allow for the joint management of areas between DECCW and traditional owners.
Partnerships Queensland and NSW Two Ways Together are the state governments’ primary policy initiatives for Indigenous communities, providing advice and support to local government in establishing successful partnership arrangements.
The Indigenous engagement process was coordinated in NSW and Queensland (on behalf of DERM), by DECCW. Two DECCW project officers from the Culture and Heritage Division and Biodiversity Conservation Section collaborated to develop a range of engagement mechanisms and coordinate trialling approaches with Indigenous communities.
Based on previous experience in engaging Indigenous communities on threatened species recovery (e.g. Baker et al. 1993; Baker 1996; Nesbitt et al. 2001; Robinson et al. 2003; English & Baker 2003; Baker 2004), it was considered that undertaking a broad consultation process was unlikely to be effective and that more engaging, practical mechanisms should be investigated. To assist in designing this approach, a south-east Queensland-based Aboriginal organisation was engaged to develop a scoping document which would identify the Indigenous groups within the Border Ranges region, determine their interest in biodiversity management, and assess their capacity to become involved in biodiversity projects.
The resulting ‘Indigenous Engagement Strategy’ (Eastern Yugambeh Ltd 2006) provided guidance for establishing partnerships between Aboriginal organisations, knowledge holders’ groups and government agencies. The strategy identified a number of key points to assist with engaging Indigenous communities in biodiversity conservation. These were:
identify an activity that engages the community
identify organisations with an interest in participation
identify the aspects of interest of those organisations in that project
identify the capacity of each interested organisation to facilitate involvement of their members
structure the activity or target to ensure that it meets the needs of the government agencies and other stakeholders.
Based on these key points, a ‘toolkit’ was developed to provide a range of opportunities to involve Indigenous groups in biodiversity planning and management. The key to the toolkit was the recognition that integrating protection and enhancement of culture and biodiversity creates opportunities for Indigenous education, training and employment, and increases the recognition and integration of Indigenous knowledge of Country into biodiversity management.
The toolkit identified four mechanisms for participation which can be implemented separately or in combination: 1) Indigenous property biodiversity restoration and management plans and their implementation; 2) community self-consultation; 3) ethno-ecological survey; and 4) cultural landscape mapping. Examples of where these mechanisms have been implemented are provided below.
Due to the geographic overlap of Country between the Border Ranges region and the area covered by the Northern Rivers CMA, the toolkit was developed to address Indigenous participation in biodiversity conservation for both of these areas. The toolkit continues to be tested and expanded, and the results of trials are discussed in detail in the Draft Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (DECC 2009a).
Taking into account the recommendations of the ‘Indigenous Engagement Strategy’, negotiations were undertaken with Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council to participate in a trial biodiversity restoration and management plan on a community-owned property. A property planning contractor with connections to the community was engaged to work with community members on preparing the plan. The plan identified the biodiversity and cultural assets of the property, threats to those assets, and management recommendations and costings (Morrison 2007b). The contractor then assisted the community to access natural resource management funding to implement the plan and has continued to provide on-ground support through the implementation process.
Following the success of this trial, the Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council agreed to participate in the preparation of another three property management plans (Morrison 2007c, 2007d, 2007e) and the Jubullum Aboriginal Community participated in the preparation of a plan for the Jubullum Flat Camp Aboriginal Area (Morrison 2007f). Other Indigenous community groups have since become actively engaged in the process and the rate of preparation of the management plans is now dictated by available funding and contractor time.
Another component of the toolkit included contracting Indigenous community groups to collate knowledge on particular threatened species. Community self-consultation provides community groups with an opportunity to undertake their own biodiversity-based consultation. Community groups are contracted to undertake oral history and ethno-ecological interviews with their Elders and knowledge-holders and prepare a report relating to knowledge and management issues for species or groups of species. For example, the Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council prepared a report on the cultural significance of three threatened species covered by this Plan: Davidson’s Plum Davidsonia jerseyana, Smooth Davidson’s Plum D. johnsonii and Small-leaved Tamarind Diploglottis campbellii (Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council 2007). Other projects have provided information and recommendations on Headland Zieria Zieria prostrata, endangered Coastal Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae populations, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Brush-tail Rock Wallaby Petrogale penicillata and Beach Stone-curlew Esacus neglectus.
Opportunities to work with Indigenous communities on ethno-ecological surveys have also been explored. Koala Phascolartos cinereus surveys undertaken with Glen Innes Local Aboriginal Land Council in NSW have helped facilitate preparation of a property fire plan and the successful application for an Indigenous Protected Area and associated Plan of Management.
A project to explore opportunities for cultural landscape mapping was undertaken in Bandjalang Country (Hofmeyer & McDermott 2006). The project aimed to assist in protecting and understanding the cultural landscape of the Bandjalang people. DECCW officers worked with Bandjalang Elders to map their cultural landscape within ten DECCW reserves. Biodiversity, including threatened species and natural resources, were recorded as a component of the cultural landscape and management of these assets was considered as part of the management of the cultural landscape.
1.5.4Other conservation measures
Much of the public land within the Planning Area is declared conservation reserve under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the Queensland Nature Conservation Act1992 and must be managed in accordance with the provisions of these Acts. Some of these reserves are also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area (WHA) or included on the National Heritage List and must be managed in accordance with international obligations under the relevant provisions of the EPBC Act. Additionally, some areas within NSW conservation reserves are declared as wilderness and must be managed in accordance with the provisions of the NSW Wilderness Act 1987.
Currently a relatively small area of private and public land (less than one per cent) within the Planning Area is protected to varying degrees under a range of voluntary conservation covenants including Land for Wildlife, wildlife refuges, nature refuges or local government environmental protection zoning arrangements.
1.5.5Additional NSW and Queensland legislation
There is additional state-based legislation that is relevant to the conservation and management of biodiversity within the Planning Area. In NSW, this includes:
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
Local Government Act 1993
Rural Fires Act 1997
Rural Fires and Environmental Assessment Legislation Amendment Act 2002
Catchment Management Authorities Act 2003
Native Vegetation Act 2003
Natural Resources Commission Act 2003.
In Queensland, this includes:
Forestry Act 1959 and Regulations 1998
Acquisition of Lands Act1967
State Development and Public Works Organisation Act1971 and Regulations 1999
Public Safety Preservation Act1986
Soil Conservation Act1986
Mineral Resources Act1989
Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 and Regulations 2001
Queensland Heritage Act1992
Environmental Protection Act 1994 and Regulation 1998
Land Act 1994
Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995
Integrated Planning Act 1997 and Regulation 1998
Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act2002