Readers of The Orchadian will be aware of the Heritage Estates near Vincentia in New South Wales. On March 13th this year the Federal Environment Minister, Hon. Peter Garrett refused a request to re-zone the estate to permit residential development. This was not well received by land owners or the Shoalhaven City Council. However, in early August a local resident noted a significant increase in activity throughout the estate which is serviced only with a series of bush tracks, some of which are suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles. It appears the local trail bike riders have declared these tracks are now available to them and significant damage is being done with erosion likely to be a serious problem. It has also been noted that a number of large trees have been cut down and the indications are this has been perpetrated by disgruntled landowners. My concerns, as would be expected, are not only the two threatened orchid species in situ but the other 50 plus orchid species considered to also exist on the estate. Unfortunately the local Council has a single ranger available at weekends to monitor over 4,500 square km of territory and cannot possibly cover even a small section. Now that the damage has been featured in the local paper I trust more locals will watch the area. Even though the estate has been saved from residential development it is still not secure as in this difficult financial climate, no authority seems willing to purchase the land for inclusion in the Jervis Bay National Park.
On a brighter note it appears some state government departments are more willing to be consulted than others. The Corrective Services Department is currently constructing a 600 bed prison in Nowra and following an approach to the local office with inquiries regarding in situorchids I was given a guided tour of the site to show the officers the location of some epiphytic orchids about which I had expressed some concern. I was pleased to be told the host trees would not be removed and would serve as part of the vegetative barrier to the highway about 200 metres distant. These officers were most accomodating and I wish others could learn from them.
Another situation with a good ending was the removal of a small colony of a noxious weed from a site containg threatened orchids. The weed is Bryophyllum delagoense (Mother of Millions) as was on land alongside a rail line bordering this site. A letter to NSW RailCorp saw the weeds removed in a short space of time. Some plants had invaded the orchid site but were removed prior to flowering two months ago during normal weeding of Lantana camara.
I would like to present more good news stories but have found the real world can be rather mercenary.