Draft Biodiversity Strategy for Kempsey Shire lacking practical and measurable steps, concerned locals say


CONCERNED locals have described a draft Biodiversity Strategy that is currently available for viewing and public feedback on Kempsey Shire Council’s Your Say Macleay website as “full of feel-good platitudes” but lacking in practical and measurable steps to protect the region’s flora and fauna.

“Council could be proactive in protecting and restoring habitat for rare species.

“For example, work with the State Biodiversity Conservation Trust to acquire wetland areas within the Shire to protect bird species such as the critically endangered Eastern Curlew mentioned in the draft strategy,” local environmental scientist Michael Jones said.

“Platypus numbers along the Macleay River and at Five Day Creek have plummeted and Council could take action to protect and enhance habitat for this iconic species at relatively low cost.

“Effort could be made to encourage more landowners to enter conservation agreements for land of high conservation value.”

The draft strategy mentions future mapping of wetlands and forest vegetation, which Jones said “would provide more work for Council staff” but is “unnecessary as adequate mapping has already been undertaken”.

Another interested and concerned local, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the draft strategy “has no teeth”.

Two pages of detailed notes that the local resident has submitted to council as suggested inclusions or amendments to the draft include: adopting recommendations laid out in state biodiversity acts and planning policies; adding greater acknowledgement of cultural heritage and Indigenous land management principles; committing to action items around Dunghutti community engagement, employment and consultation; and creating measurable targets for ecological communities and a timeline for reporting and reviewing achieved goals.

Kempsey Shire Council Environmental Planning Officer Megan Jones said the vision for the strategy is to manage biodiversity values in Kempsey Shire for current and future generations.

“The strategy sets a clear direction for managing local biodiversity, drawing on the key biodiversity concepts of ‘protect’, ‘maintain’, ‘restore’ and ‘connect’.

“Once adopted by Council, the strategy will guide Council’s actions and decision making and help coordinate environmental planning responses with the state government,” she said.

“The Biodiversity Strategy sets out Council’s biodiversity priorities, the actions we will take, timeframes and required funding.

“Among the key priorities with a real and lasting impact are: biodiversity values and threats to those values are identified, spatial information is generated for use in future land use planning, and biodiversity knowledge is available to support decision making.”

Council considered the results of the 2019 community survey on the Biodiversity Strategy Discussion Paper and formal submissions from the community while drafting the strategy, Jones said.

Additional formal submissions made by the community before the September 13 deadline will be considered and used to update the draft strategy before it’s presented to Council for adoption.

“Once the strategy is approved by Council, its actions will be integrated into Council’s four-year Delivery Program and implemented in practical steps through our annual Operational Plan,” Jones said, adding that the document is one of many actions Kempsey Shire Council is taking to address climate change, sustainability, environmental management and biodiversity.

“As well as the Biodiversity Strategy, we’re engaging with the community on a number of strategies under Council’s Your Future Environment policy suite.

“These policies will help inform the development of Council’s upcoming 20-year plan.”

The draft Biodiversity Strategy will be available for public viewing and community feedback via Kempsey Shire Council’s Your Say Macleay website until September 13.


By Brooke LEWIS

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