Wingham Brush Nature Reserve Vegetation Management

LETTER TO PAUL DeSZELL – Director Liveable Communities Yalawanyi Ganya, Taree.

“This morning at 10:20, my wife and I were driving from our residence into town and noticed two Council vehicles parked near the Isabella Street entrance to the Wingham Brush Nature Reserve (closed due to flood damage) with a pole-chainsaw being used to cut branches, with a large pile of vegetation already having been cut.  This corner is outside the floodplain and is Dry Rainforest (Floyd’s Suballiance No. 28), unlike the majority of the reserve, Subtropical Rainforest (Floyd’s Suballiance No. 3) which grows on the basalt-enriched alluvium.  This is a very challenging area and the trees are very slow growing here. 

The Brush has suffered a lot of damage on its riverine edge, which is another rainforest type again, Floyd’s Suballiiance No. 26, but Suballiance No. 26 is necessarily adapted to flood battery, but I digress here to illustrate the vegetational complexity within the Wingham Brush Nature Reserve.  

Ideally (and the goal) is to produce a rounded verandah edge around the remnant.  Sheer lines are to be avoided because they allow light to penetrate within the forest which not only promotes dessication, but also encourage environmental weed invasion.  

I woke up feeling pleased we’d mostly got on top of the flood damage here at home.  Although I have picked up a large number of environmental weed propagules (clumps of Anredera tubers and sprigs of Tradescantia were strewn across my property), I haven’t completed this on my steep(er) riverbank as it is yet too slippery.  So I was looking forward to a quiet morning’s shopping with my wife who just finished three weeks radiotherapy Friday week ago with a 200 km daily round trip back and forth to Port Macquarie.  

When I saw what was happening, I turned around and approached the workers.  I asked the short man who seemed to be in some sort of authority whether he had consulted with NPWS.  He answered that he hadn’t.  I asked him who had directed him to do this work, but he refused to tell me.  I told them to get out of my town and I’d had quite enough of Council vandalizing it.  I asked them if they even knew what kind of tree they were cutting, but nobody did.  I asked them if they knew this was an Endangered Ecological Community and a Nature Reserve.  No response.  I was told they were doing this work “so little school kids wouldn’t hit their heads on the branches”.  I tried to imagine little kids seven feet tall running right alongside the fence line and not the sidewalk, but even then I couldn’t make any sense of the explanation, except as a feeble attempt to fob me off.  

Don’t misunderstand me, I firmly support managing the vegetation on the fringe but trimming it back where needed, but this is not where it was needed.  Of all the things that need doing in our town, why damage our major tourist drawcard and irreplaceable natural heritage instead?  I understand these workers were “only doing what we were told”, but Eichmann said the same thing at Nuremberg.  

The vegetation further towards the Isabella entrance to Wingham Brush is slowly growing out towards the fence after the dead exotic Jacarandas were removed from inside the fence there in 2016; hopefully it will be allowed to form a verandah edge without ignorant workers trimming it back knife-edge to the fence line.  

When are we going to get a Heritage Master Plan for our town and its irreplaceable assets?  When is Council going to consult and work with NPWS and knowledgeable community residents constructively about the Wingham Brush?  

After the desecration of the Bight Cemetery, the felling of an exceedingly slow growing 70+ year rainforest tree by staff who believed it to be a Large-leaved Privet (and then poisoned), one would hope that things would be better, but they’re not better. 

When and where will Council strike next?  That’s becoming a real concern for me and other residents.  This threat of impending Council vandalism makes Wingham an unliveable community, Paul.  

Who has directed these workers to damage our Brush this morning?  Who directed the debacle at the Bight Cemetery?  Who directed the removal of the Flintwood in our town square?  Has anyone been cautioned, disciplined or sacked?  

I look forward to your response.


John Stockard DDS OAM

Recipient of the Australian Association of Bush Regenerator’s Inaugural Award for Major Pioneer in Bush Regeneration (21 July, 2016)”

(Reprinted with permission. Ed)

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