Submission

To: NSW River Red Gum Forest Assessment

Made: September 2009

EFN represents farmers in Southeast Australia interested in sustainable farming in a social, environmental and economic sense. We represent mostly commercial farmers very concerned about the impact of climate change on farms, people and landscapes, loss of farm biodiversity and the loss of farmland and relatively natural areas to urban expansion. Our policies are available at www.environmentalfarmersnetwork.net.au.  In particular, we encourage strong greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation to climate change. We strongly support State and Federal Governments developing market mechanisms that reward those landholders providing ecosystem services such as retention and protection of biodiversity on farms and carbon sequestration.

Our submission calls for the protection of Red Gum Forests and associated wetlands, biodiversity, endangered species and water quality and quantity in the study area.

River Red Gum Forests are uniquely Australian and occur mostly in a small area of Southeast Australia. They are currently under massive stress from climate change, drought, over allocation of irrigation water, forestry, stream flow regulation and grazing.

EFN believes the best way to protect these highly endangered forests and associated biodiversity is by declaring new National Parks and securing adequate water resources to begin rehabilitation of the associated ecosystems.

Environmental water
*Strongly support the integrated use of this water reserve to maximize environmental outcomes in tributaries, key wetlands and of course the Red Gum Forests.
*Environmental water should have tradable and carryover characteristics to maximize outcomes to the environment and also other water users.

Indigenous Involvement in Management
*We support the involvement of Indigenous communities in the management of Public Land and look forward to the co-operative management of Public Land.

Recreation and Tourism
* We believe restrictions on the use of solid fuel campfires is required during declared fire seasons and the protection of fallen timber from firewood collection protect both public safety and biodiversity. Restriction of fire wood collection should be introduced in conjunction with the incentives to heat-seal houses, in order to reduce heat wastage and so the need for timber. For the longer term, planting timber suitable for firewood should also be started on areas of public land close to towns by restrictions.
*The strategic placement of public camping grounds on the edge of National and State Parks on private land would encourage walking and horse riding trails the length of the Parks and seem a reasonable replacement for many current overcrowded or unsuitable camping areas.

Domestic Stock Grazing.
*We strongly support the removal of stock from State Forests and declared National Parks. We note the commitment to greater long term funding of National Parks that is required by the enlargement of our National Parks register. An unfunded National Park, with uncontrolled weeds and pests, will aid the arguments of critics of a new National Park.
On other classifications of Public Land, the grazing of stock for improved ecological outcomes could be considered, on a contractual arrangement but only for a maximum of one or two weeks on any area, with high stocking rates, and only with a minimum of seven months recovery.
*We believe the current style of grazing of Public Land with river and stream frontages to be damaging to water quality, bank stability, biodiversity and the health of our natural waterways and should not be allowed to continue.
* The grazing of river and stream frontages poses an unacceptable risk to public health, and the health of stock on downstream farms.
National and International Quality Assurance Programs could be compromised.

National Parks.
* We strongly support National Parks as the best means of ensuring flora and fauna protection.
* These Parks would complement the Victorian River Red Gum National Parks and become an important foundation for future Bio-Links allowing threatened species facing climate change migration routes to Southern Victoria. Protecting and enhancing this vegetation is essential.
* We believe the number of farmers affected by the cessation of grazing in red gum forests is relatively small. The (short term) costs will be small compared with the (long term) public benefits from declaring the forests to be National Parks.

John Pettigrew
Chair

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