Bunyip Swamp, a future in serious doubt - 3rd
November 2006
It seems that our expectations of a good news story in relation to Bunyip Swamp, at the Trenayr
Agricultural Research Centre, may have been premature.
Following last month's constructive meeting with the Centre's Manager, community members met
with a Catchment Management Authority (CMA) officer, to ascertain whether funding might be
available for development of a management plan for the wetland. Again the response was
encouraging, and we received an assurance that Bunyip Swamp was considered an important
wetland, and any funding application would receive serious consideration.
At the meeting some of us learned for the first time that the 63 hectare Swamp has a history, with an
acknowledged need for its protection, for some considerable time.
In 1969 the crown land was leased to the Department of Agriculture as a research centre, and three
years later approximately 120ha of forest was cleared adjacent to the swamp, with the swamp itself
retained as a wildlife sanctuary. In 1976, a management plan was prepared in consultation with the
National Parks and Wildlife Service, and an interim management program was developed by the
Trenayr Swamp Committee.
The key aspects of that 1976 interim management program included -
•
Zero grazing, and altered grazing regimes for specific areas.
•
Rearrangement of fencing over a period to make this management more practicable
•
Encouragement of timber growth along the swamp edges and portions of Bunyip
Creek.
•
No clearing to be undertaken.
Cattle grazing, lack of fencing, excessive clearing adjacent to the swamp, and the lack of vegetated
buffer zones, were all problems reported last month by the Clarence Environment Centre. At the
time the Centre was not aware of the existence of the previous plan of management,
which has
clearly been ignored for 30 years.
In 2001, Bunyip Swamp was listed in the Environment Australia Wetlands Unit 'Directory of
Important Wetlands in Australia' (Third Edition) because it represents a good example of a wetland
type; is an important habitat for animal taxa at a vulnerable stage in their life-cycles, and is a
wildlife refuge during drought.
Following that listing, Wetland
Care
Australia prepared the “Wetland Management Plan, Bunyip
Swamp, Grafton NSW" (2003), which recommended a number of actions, including:
•
Progressively complete fencing to restrict stock access to the swamp.
•
Restrict grazing during waterbird breeding and nesting seasons.
•
Nominate critical periods to exclude livestock, pesticide spraying and other
disturbances around Bunyip foreshores.
•
Fence and encourage natural regeneration in certain areas.
•
If natural regeneration does not occur after one season without grazing, then planting
may be required.
•
The research facility to assess timing of pesticide use to protect waterbirds during
breeding and nesting times.
•
Develop an interpretive nature trail facility.
Again these recommendations appear to have been largely ignored. In 2006, Forests NSW took over
the lease of most of the previous Agricultural Research Station's land from the Department of