No lease - Katoomba Airfield
Lease on Katoomba airfield knocked back
Blue Mountains Conservation Society
Our mission is to help conserve the natural environment of the Greater Blue Mountains
and to increase awareness of the natural environment in general.
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GBMWHA 2019-20 Bushfire Impacts
Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby (female) and joey
Wollemi National Park  (Ian Brown)
As of Monday 13 January, 78% of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) has been burnt, and an estimated 140 million native animals have been impacted.

This has been calculated by Peter Smith using the MapInfo program and Fires Near Me to obtain mapping of burnt areas.

These are preliminary estimates and will be updated when the final fire maps are available from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment after the fire season.

The burnt area of each of the eight reserves of the GBMWHA has been calculated.

Peter has also calculated the number of animals impacted by multiplying likely densities of animals* in unburnt habitat by the number of hectares burnt.

The densities are very rough estimates, but are the best available for NSW.

In any case, it is clear that huge numbers of animals have been impacted and most of them have died as a result of the drought, the fires and the shortage of food, water and shelter after the fires.

The unprecedented scale of the fires, leaving few unburnt refuges from which to recolonise, makes the recovery of the fauna highly problematic.

[* Density of mammals, birds and reptiles in NSW is based on C. Johnson, H. Cogger, C. Dickman and H. Ford (2007), Impacts of Landclearing: The Impacts of Approved Clearing of Native Vegetation on Australian Wildlife in New South Wales, WWF-Australia, Sydney.]


GBMWHA Burnt
GBMWHA Reserve
Area (ha) Burnt (ha) % Burnt
Wollemi NP
502,600 374,500 75
Yengo NP
167,600 146,700 88
Gardens of Stone NP
15,120 10,430 69
Blue Mountains NP
269,200 198,300 74
Kanangra-Boyd NP
71,600 61,400 86
Jenolan KCR
3,146 2,391 76
Nattai NP
50,660 44,810 88
Thirlmere Lakes NP
662 152 23
Total GBMWHA
1,081,000 838,700 78
GBMWHA Native Fauna Impacted
Fauna
Number impacted by GBMWHA fire
Mammals (excl. bats)
14,000,000+
Birds
17,000,000+
Reptiles
108,000,000+
Total GBMWHA
140,000,000+

Blue Mountains Bushfires & Air Quality
Ruined Castle Bushfire Ruined Castle Bushfire and Gypsy Lady
with the Three Sisters on the right  (Alan Page)
Bushfires in the Greater Blue Mountains now cover more than 830,000ha.

NSW bushfires can be tracked at Fires Near Me. This is the information residents should monitor and act on.

In addition, there's Digital Earth Australia Hotspots which is a national bushfire monitoring system that uses satellite sensors to detect areas producing high levels of infrared radiation.

Here's a user guide for the hotspots website gratefully prepared by Margaret and Nathaniel Baker.

Here's a more detailed map that shows the hot spots.

Zooming in shows the detail.  magic!

Here's a list of Neighbourhood Safer Places in the Blue Mountains provided by the Rural Fire Service.

Here's Neighbourhood Safer Places throughout NSW - including a map.

Here's NSW road closures.

Flight Radar 24 can be used to show aerial fire fighting activity.

Air quality.  The smoke from this and several other fires in the Greater Blue Mountains can be a health hazard.

Air quality stations were installed in Lithgow, Katoomba, Wentworth Falls and Springwood in May 2019. The project is known as KOALA Blue Mountains (Knowing Our Ambient Local Air-Quality) and shows the quality of air in those locations.


Wildlife Plight
Glossy Black-Cockatoo Glossy Black-Cockatoo  (Jill Dark)
It's estimated that more than one billion animals have been killed in these bushfires and the surviving wildlife face a dire future.

Over 140 million animals in the GBMWHA have been impacted - see Peter Smith's analysis above.

A local resident, the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, provides a clear picture of its post-bushfire plight. Its habitat is almost entirely within the bushfires footprint.

It will only be when our national parks are re-opened can we assess the real damage and develop recovery strategies.

An early estimate is that 75-80% of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area as been affected.

Please give some thought to donating to the Foundation of National Parks and Wildlife or WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service).

The following letter, from Debbie Andrew, former NPWS officer, appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 13 January -

This bushfire and climate emergency may go down as one of the greatest extinction events for Australian wildlife since European colonisation

An immediate moratorium on all logging and clearing of native forest and woodland across all tenures should be put in place and extended for at least the next five years.

This will allow wildlife authorities to take stock of our precious and unique wildlife and assess what habitat remains for population recovery and re-colonisation.

Surviving habitat should be given immediate protection. Forestry workers could be employed in habitat restoration.


Lease on Katoomba Airfield knocked back

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has knocked back an application for a lease at Katoomba Airfield at Medlow Bath after "overwhelming community opposition" to the idea.

Here's the Gazette's article.

Here's the Department's Report and Media Release.

Background.  The Katoomba Airfield is a public land inholding in the Blue Mountains National Park sitting above the Grand Canyon and Grose valley.

The Dept. of Industry considered granting a commercial lease over the airfield to a private aviation tourism company for activities such as helicopter scenic flights.

A petition with over 12,000 signatures was presented to state parliament and was discussed on 1 August 2019.

Public submissions closed on the 4 August 2019 with over 1,500 submissions being received by the Dept.

At its 27 August 2019 meeting, the Blue Mountains City Council voted against a commercial lease.

More information will be added when available.


Great Western Highway Duplication - Blackheath

Double B Coming our way?
Proposals for the duplication of the Great Western Highway (GWH) have now been released by the Roads & Maritime Services (RMS).

The Transport for NSW website's Have Your Say Facility has closed.

As reported in the Gazette plans to duplicate the highway between Katoomba and Lithgow have been revealed and involve tunnels, bridges and no encroachment on the National Park.

Under the proposals released by the RMS on November 7:

Here's a statement from the Blackheath HWY Action Group website

None of the NSW State Government's four options are acceptable to Blackheath. All of them would destroy forever the village atmosphere of our town. Their short term strategy would allow for monstrous vehicles on a four lane (plus) highway to move through/under Blackheath and all the towns and villages of the Blue Mountains.

We need to shout this out!

For more information, go to the Blackheath HWY Action Group website.


Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
by Judy, Peter and Kate Smith
Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
This new book describes the World Heritage Area’s environment and fauna habitats.

The status, local distribution and ecology of each of the 432 native fauna species recorded in the area since European settlement are detailed. This remarkable fauna includes 68 mammal, 254 bird, 74 reptile and 36 frog species. A checklist summarises the local distribution of each species.

Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area contains over 200 colour photographs taken by Peter and over 20 illustrations of selected animals by Kate.

A few animals are now gone from the Greater Blue Mountains and are known only from the writings of early explorers and travellers or from traces left in skeletal remains.

A growing number of local fauna species, at last count 73 species, are considered to be threatened. See the Society's Threatened Species webpage.

This 172 page book is available from the authors (smitheco@ozemail.com.au) or from bookshops throughout the Blue Mountains.

Here's more information.


Leave Radiata Plateau Wild

Radiata Plateau has been bought by the NSW Government

Radiata Plateau Radiata Plateau from the Megalong Valley  (Alan Page)
The NSW Minister for the Environment, Matt Kean, has announced the NSW Government’s purchase of Radiata Plateau for incorporation into the national park system.

Here's -

  * Minister Kean's media release

  * Sydney Morning Herald article

  * Blue Mountains Gazette article

We are absolutely delighted by this news and would like to congratulate Minister Kean on his decision to purchase the Plateau for inclusion in the national park system, thus safeguarding its future.

This landmark decision is a major win for the environment, and for the Blue Mountains community.

It has been the strong community and environmental support that has maintained the pressure on the Minister and we would like to thank everyone who participated in Leave Radiata Plateau Wild: writing letters, attending rallies, participating in videos, hanging banners and placards, and so much more, to advocate for the protection of this unique area. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.

Thank you!

For more information visit our Leave Radiata Plateau Wild website.


Site clearing on Bodington Hill
for ‘Flora and Fauna Park’
Land Clearing Land Clearing  (courtesy Blue Mountains Gazette)
Earlier this year, up to 4ha of native vegetation and trees was clear-felled on Bodington Hill, Wentworth Falls (next to Dillinger’s Nursery).

This is the site of the controversial ‘Flora and Fauna Park’ which was the subject of a major community campaign opposing the development 30 years ago. "The Croc Park".

The developer told the Blue Mountains Gazette that the plan is for a $30 million dollar "five to six star" wildlife park development with 40 hotel rooms,

Here's more information on this, the "Zombie DA" that underpins it and the Society's actions.


Destination Pagoda
Lost City Lost City  (Henry Gold)
Our Destination Pagoda movie was shown to a full house at Mount Vic Flicks on 2 July.

We are now reviewing options for the next screening.

To support the Destination Pagoda vision for a Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area, write a letter to the Hon. Paul Toole, Member for Bathurst and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, seeking his support for our detailed reserve establishment plan called Destination Pagoda. Mr. Toole’s electorate includes the Gardens of Stone unprotected area.

Here's how to send a letter.

It's very important that Mr. Toole hears from supporters on this proposal. The proposal is at a critical time.

Destination Pagoda proposes a world class tourism and conservation reserve on Lithgow’s doorstep. A new reserve, called the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area, will complete Myles Dunphy’s visionary 1932 Blue Mountains National Park scheme.

A key design element of Destination Pagoda is the creation of low-key visitor opportunities close to Lithgow beside upgraded existing road access linked to the town. The gentle plateau terrain with its distinctive pagoda rocks contain many sites for a variety of family-suitable, low-key visitor facilities that combine to give Lithgow’s Gardens of Stone great potential to attract visitors interested in experiencing nature.

The beauty of the Destination Pagoda scheme is that new visitor facilities can be established beside pagoda landscapes of great scenic beauty around Lithgow that are need of restoration and rehabilitation, while more remote, pristine landscapes are protected.

The forests next to Lithgow are amongst the most diverse in NSW and contain 84 threatened plant and animal species, including the Blue Mountains Water Skink and Giant Dragonfly, as well as 16 rare and threatened communities. They deserve effective conservation management by the NPWS.

Visit our Gardens of Stone webpages.