Showing posts with label Manly Dam. bushland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manly Dam. bushland. Show all posts

Monday, 8 January 2018

This War Memorial Park Is Under Siege.

  Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is a living monument of national heritage listed bushland –a tribute to Australians who have served in times of war..

The fragile mantle of rare biodiversity surrounds a body of water known as Manly Dam (originally acting as the water supply for the settlement of Manly). What makes it even more significant is that this beautiful and sacred place, rich also in Aboriginal heritage, is only 5 km's from central Sydney's concrete heart.

At the beginning of this century there was a momentous, but losing, struggle to save some of the bushland catchment from being bulldozed for a housing development. Check out a short video history here:

  Sadly...fifteen years later the sanctity of this special area is again being threatened on four fronts .

1/  Primary School expansion threatens threatened species.

 The Department of Education has lodged a Development Application with Warringah Council (now Northern Beaches Council) (View Documents Here - to build a new school in bushland behind the current Manly Vale school in Sunshine St. There are currently 400 plus students at the school..this would be expanded to over 1,000. The on-line documents show that the school's "footprint" would grow five fold and that 4.37 hectares would be "removed" primarily for Fire Asset Protection Zones. This bushland is a mixture of "Coastal Sandstone Heath Mallee, Sandstone Gully Forest and Sydney Sandstone Woodland  and is rated "very high" conservation value on Warringah Council maps). To comply with fire regulations the bushland would need to be cleared across the boundary into the Manly Warringah War Memorial Park and also into Condover Reserve, these are both natural places which are much valued by the community. The online documents show amazingly that the Eastern Pygmy Possum has been located on site (this unusual creature doesn't even appear as existing in the current Manly Warringah War Memorial Park Plan of Management!)  The Dept of Education's environmental consultant (Kleinfelder) has listed 327 trees which are planned for 'removal' as part of the development. These include Blackbutts, Silvertop ash, Bloodwoods, Grey Gums, Sydney Peppermint, Stringybark..all the beautiful endemic species that make the McComb Hill escarpment so special. Of course innumerable smaller shrubs will also be cleared and, in the process, the unique biodiversity of the hilltop- which is re-emerging after ecological burns, will be trampled and lost. (Many native trees have already been removed around the current school building for fire safety purposes) Check out the Final Species Impact Statement from Klienfelder and the response from Warringah Council's Natural Environment Unit. Keinfelder's report notes that the majority of potential habitat for the Eastern Pygmy Possum in the study area is considered to be of "high relative condition". It also notes that "No recovery plan has been prepared for this species. However, OEH is developing a targeted strategy for this species under the Saving Our Species program. This species has been assigned to the ‘landscape species management stream’ under the program as threats to this species are generally at the landscape scale (e.g. habitat loss and degradation)." The report admits that "potential deaths of resident individuals could occur during vegetation clearing".

 Adult Eastern Pygmy Possum 
(photo Gavin Smith)
In addition to this, at least four other endangered fauna species ( the Powerful Owl, the Eastern Bentwing Bat and the Grey Headed Flying Fox). Other iconic species animals such as Swamp Wallabies, Lace Monitors and Bandicoots also call this ridge-top location home. In fact surveys conducted (after a prescribed burn) have located 44 fauna species and 131 native plant species on site. Flora and Fauna Consultants, Total Earth Care conclude that  the proposal is "likely to have a 'significant impact' on the following threatened species:  Prostanthera marifolia  Tetratheca glandulosa  Pimelea curviflora var. curviflora  Red-crowned Toadlet  Southern Brown Bandicoot. The Consulting Company 'Kleinfelder' in its Preliminary Species Impact Statement remarks that the proposal would "contribute to ongoing incremental loss and degradation of habitat for (the listed endangered species) in the Warringah LGA".  Importantly, Keinfelder's survey somehow failed to detect the presence of the Red Crowned Toadlet which is listed as "vulnerable" and has been recently recorded by others (more than once) in the "asset protection zone" and logged on the NSW Office of Environment website

Check this link for rare and endangered animals in Warringah going going....

(Australia has undergone an extraordinary rate of mammal fauna decline in the last 200 years, with over 10% of our endemic terrestrial species lost forever and a further 21% of fauna currently threatened. This is a stark comparison
to the world’s modern day extinction rate of 1.5%. 28 Australian mammal species that have gone extinct since 1788

The development plans also include substantial excavations for stormwater ponds, pipes and roads in a fragile catchment area that drains ultimately into Manly Creek via Mermaid Pool the site of an important ongoing restoration project Mermaid Pool Restoration Blog   

Kleinfelder’s own SIS report details numerous other adverse effects that the proposed development will have on this ecologically sensitive site:-Sediment, pollutant and nutrient run-off; Soil erosion, Habitat fragmentation/isolation; Altered hydrology regimes;Weed invasion;  Introduction and spread of pathogens (e.g. Dieback Fungus (Phytophthora) and Myrtle Rust (Uredo rangelii);  Noise;  Dust; Light pollution; and Increased human activity adjacent to sensitive vegetation/habitat. Their report also  says that "it is assumed that all native vegetation within the proposed development site would be removed, including all vegetation strata".

What makes this matter worse is that the community managed to save much of this same land in 1995 when a plan by Landcom to build a medium density housing project here was rejected and the land was ultimately incorporated into
Manly Warringah War Memorial Park.  This is in an area currently earmarked for  the fire buffer zone clearing. Development across the site has the potential to  also disturb  Aboriginal cultural heritage items.

The irony is that this school was once designated as a NSW “Centre of Excellence in Environmental Education”. Even their own designated "conservation" area is scheduled for destruction ! Despite this the school's website proclaims that "the school has maintained an ongoing commitment to environmental education which is integrated into daily life" Surely there is a better way to improve this facility without sacrificing an area of such high natural values!  Why can't the school use their current building footprint and build up instead of out
Google Map

[NB Apparently alternatives were explored through a feasibility study: Manly Vale Public School Upgrade - Gateway Business Case (2014). But this document is considered classified information and is not available for public view].

This is the environmental Education Bill as introduced by Dr Terry Metherall (NSW Liberal Government) in 1992 Hansard

Below is a link to a short film clip and some images of the fragile bushland that borders the school grounds and Manly Warringah War Memorial Park.

And below is another short video by David Sawyer which highlights the habitat values of the area.

On 29th March 2016.Warringah Council voted unanimously NOT to willingly agree to a request from the Department of Education to acquire crown land in Manly Warringah War Memorial Park and Condover Reserve to enable a massive fire break to be established. Mayor Michael Regan said this in the Manly Daily on2.4.16 " Manly Vale Public School desperately needs an upgrade and the precious bushland of Manly Dam War Memorial Park (sic) needs to be protected. I was proud of Councillors this week who unanimously voted to oppose the sale of 16,000 sqm of Manly Dam wildlife corridor to the Department of Education for its school redevelopment plans. But why did we have to fight in the first place? Why can't the Department of Education find a design for the school that preserves the environment? Surely an investment in good design now, would reap enormous benefits for all in the long term-including teachers and students. Councillors and I call on the Department to rethink its plans. 

Sadly moves to compulsorily acquire (and clear) land in Manly Dam Reserve and Condover Reserve are now proceeding.

(Sept 2016) After intense community and Council pressure the Department of Education is now modifying the plans and a new D.A. will be submitted soon. There are fears that the redesign will be of a minor and superficial nature.  If the new school was built on the original footprint as was originally conceived, then the environmental destruction would be kept to a minimum. 

(Nov 2016) I turns out that the modified plans will save only 0.35 hectares of bushland and will intensify the impact on the School's Outdoor Learning area.  In fact new buildings will sit on top of the Eastern Pygmy Possum habitat !  Lobbying against this damaging proposal continues as we await a date for the Joint Regional Planning Panel review.

(Dec 2016) On 19.12.16 at the Northern Beaches Council Chambers in Dee Why, the Sydney North Planning Panel ruled 3 to 2 in favour of the Department of Education's destructive expansion plan for Manly Vale School. There were 28 speakers against the proposal (inc Council Administrator, Dick Persson) and 3 speakers for. The wheels are now in motion for ongoing land clearing, tree felling and habitat destruction in this area of rich natural heritage.


(DEC 19th 2016)

The Sydney North Planning Panel (ina public meeting at Northern Beaches Council Chambers Dee Why)..voted 3-2 to approve the contentious Manly Vale School Development.


(Jan 2018)

On 7th Sept 2017 (Threatened Species Day and World Outdoor Classroom Day)..developers moved in to clear the site.  Rare biodiversity was bulldozed away, a frog filled pond was torn assunder, ancient grass trees (some over 200 years old) were removed.  It is assumed that the small colony of Eastern Pygmy Possums are now locally extinct. Swamp Wallabies, displaced from their sanctuary have been found dead on local roads. One was located highly stressed in the centre of Manly. Much of the fragile McComb Hillside has been carted away in semi trailors. Later on this year, a huge swathe of the new Manly Vale Public School's woodland surrounds will be cut down for a massive fire break. 

Dillwynia Retorta
Epacris Longiflora
Xanthorrhoea (Grass Trees)
Lambertia Formosa (Mountain Devil)
Lobelia Dentata
Woollsia Pungens
Rocky Overhang
Sundew (Drosera Binata) Carniverous Plant
Xanthorrhoeas (Grass Trees)
Views Looking West Across to Manly Dam
(Manly Warringah War Memorial Park)

2/ Sydney Water land belongs in park

 A parcel of Sydney Water bushland at Kirkwood St, Seaforth was deemed surplus to requirements and consequently advertised for sale and subsequent development. This former Crown land had inexplicably been zoned R2 (low density housing) by Warringah Council (despite being surrounded by the park on three sides. After a flurry of protests, the land has currently been withdrawn from auction. The community is asking the NSW Premier and the Minister for Land and Water to transfer this land for incorporation in the War Memorial Park. Below is the property as advertised by Blackleys Estate Agents:- 

A newspaper article,31.5.16, reports that the sale of this land has been put on hold "indefinitely" .Manly Daily   The community will continue to work towards ensuring that the land is encompassed within the War Memorial Park. 

3/  Will Council compromise the catchment?

  Warringah Council has (very questionably) withdrawn the entire Warringah Aquatic Centre precinct from the War Memorial Park Management Plan and has an elaborate 'Master Plan" to develop and commercialise the area.  At this stage there seems to be no consideration of the fact that this land is at the top of the sensitive Manly Dam catchment and that expansive areas of rare vegetation would need to be cleared to comply with modern fire safety regulations. It is also believed that this is still technically Crown land, and therefore, outside the jurisdiction of council to sub lease it. Council has now concurred that a much needed environmental impact study needs to be instigated before further action is taken  (surely the high conservation value of the area has already been well documented)  More details here:-

The new Northern Beaches Council is currently assessing tender submissions.

This area is now being earmarked for Frenchs Forest school..which would mean more extensive land clearing for fire safety.

4/ Massive New Roadways are Destroying Wildlife Corridors.

Check out the plans for immense new freeways past the new French's Forest Hospital (which in itself has replaced a site of incredibly high ecological significance. 

Another 6.1 hectares of bushland is earmarked to be flattened here, important wildlife corridors are being replaced by increased roadkill and the fragile Manly Dam Catchment will be exposed to increased siltation and stormwater pollution.

View the Biodiversity Assessment Report.
Must the community have to continually strive to protect Manly Warringah War Memorial park from assault or can government step in and provide the long term conservation it deserves?

Manly Warringah War Memorial Park is the largest single area of bushland managed by a local council in Sydney’s northern beaches. It is a valuable natural area for the protection of native flora and fauna. Linkages to other reserves (both Council managed and National Parks) through bushland corridors, provides an important genetic exchange and contributes to a more sustainable biodiversity for the wider region. Its role in the region is unique and its attributes are highly valued by the community and visitors to the Park.

(From MWWMP Plan of Management)

Check out this Guardian article on habitat loss and extinction