South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania
1. Three lichens identified on the South Sister
(close to the coupe) by esteemed Herbarium Lichenologist Gintaras
Kantvilas were nominated for listing on the Threatened Species List
earlier this year. Despite the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)
recommending the three be listed as 'rare', the Minister failed to
list the lichens. The Minister's decision was based on the premise
that he was '... not able to determine whether these species
are at risk ...' This was despite the lichens being
recommended by SAC to be listed under the criteria stating
... 'species subject to stochastic risk ... because of naturally
small population size(s).'
The Minister's decision came as a huge shock to many Tasmanian scientists as the Scientific Advisory Committee consists of esteemed scientists who perform their tasks methodically and scientifically.
An appeal has been made challenging the Minister's decision to RMPAT which was initially granted and a Direction's Hearing set for November 24, 2006. However, the Minister has challenged this and questions whether there is a right of appeal in relation to this matter!
The issue should be resolved in the next two weeks during which time it will be apparent whether a Direction's hearing will indeed proceed.
2. Despite Ralph Rallings providing information in the form of a Review Paper to RMPAT, Ombudsman, Forestry Tasmania, the former Minister of Forests, Bryan Green and most recently the Premier (who has taken over the Forest portfolio) for the past twelve months, none of the above are interested in investigating the false and misleading evidence provided by McIntosh and Weldon to RMPAT last year. Read the review and see for yourself how the conclusions reached by FT's experts remain in doubt by SOS experts.
3. St Marys will celebrate its sesquicentenary in 2007 therefore Save our Sisters is keen to have both North and South Sisters included in an area that would become a reserve. A botanist is soon to survey the area and finalise an area that will link existing reserves. It is hoped that the State and Federal Governments may accept the proposal and the area may be saved from future logging.
4. Various scientists continue to work on the
South Sister and build up the expanding knowledge we have of the
area. Peter McQuillan, invertebrate specialist from University of
Tasmania continues to add species to his moth collection as well as
other species such as spiders, ants, beetles etc. Shelley Lachish a
PhD student working on Devil Facial Tumour Disease recently spent time
in the area of Nicholas Range and trapped 31 devils (of which 10
suffered from the disease). She also trapped 11 Spotted Tailed Quolls
and 11 Eastern quolls which is the largest number of quolls recorded
in the area. Fungi specialists also spent a short time on the coupe
during the year and found a large array of fungi. It is hoped they
will return to do more work.
Other scientists and experts have worked on the area in the past, many of whom consider the area to be a bio-diverse hotspot. Due to the unique qualities of this area which may in part be due to the effects of South Sister being a 'cloud mountain', SOS plans to organise a Biodiversity Conference early in 2007. This will give the opportunity for scientists studying the area to meet and collaborate further as well as give the community the opportunity to hear about the many special features of the South Sister that are currently not well publicised.
5. A wedge tailed eagle's nest was recently found by a local community member some 350m from the coupe despite apparent searches by Forestry in the past. It is likely however that this won't alter the forest practice plan for the coupe. FPA and DPIWE have been informed
6. The area is currently looking spectacular with many flowers on display including the rare Euphrasia collina ssp. deflexifolia which can be seen in various shades of white, pink and purple.
For those of you who are able, make the effort and come for a bushwalk. Forestry Tasmania confirmed only two weeks ago that they still plan to log South Sister although a date is yet to be set. We live in hope that they will reconsider and the South and North Sister will remain as they are.
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