It is with pleasure that I welcome members and friends today.
In the 2016-2017 financial year we have held 6 Coastwatchers committee meetings. Though technically outside that in August, the Moruya Forest Forum was arguably a high point with an attendance of around 100 members and friends. This was a timely event in light of the recent renewed interest in logging the forests of Batemans Bay and Mogo. Our secretary, Richard Roberts, who masterminded the event is our representative on ‘SERCA’ the “South East Region Conservation Alliance” their aim being to end logging on the South Coast.
The Dargues Reef gold mine at Major’s Creek has again been the focus of protracted efforts over the year and to our consternation, was given final approval by the Commonwealth Government in April. We continue to be concerned at its possible impact on the Eurobodalla Water Supply and vulnerable and endangered species as well as the long-term care and maintenance of the site. We believe that security bonds for rehabilitation are inadequate both during mining operations and after mining ceases. We further believe that potential impacts of projects of this nature should be considered over whole catchments rather than localised areas surrounding mined sites. I would like to specifically thank Richard Roberts and Dr Emmett O’Loughlin for their invaluable contributions to our submissions.
The need to always look beyond the immediate locale of a project is demonstrated by the difficulties of the Shorebird Recovery Program within our region. Because the nesting sites for shorebirds are above Mean High Tide level, they have no protection under the zonings of Marine Parks. Coastal developments, uncontrolled dogs and predation by foxes and feral cats are our chief concerns. I would like to acknowledge the dedication of our President, John Perkins to this work which has become all- consuming especially over the nesting season.
With Climate Change concerns, in particular anticipated sea level rises, I wish to acknowledge the environmental advocacy of our long-time Committee member, Reina Hill, our representative on ‘CEMAC’, Eurobodalla Shire Council’s “Coast and Environment Management Advisory Committee.” Her voice is essential on this large committee where developer interests are strongly represented and often antagonistic to coastal management reforms.
On-going monitoring of Council’s agendas is an essential role for Coastwatchers especially in light of increasing pressures from tourism and developers. The Eurobodalla Rural Lands Strategy is an on-going consideration of what is best for the community. The proposed large residential subdivision around Bevian Road between Rosedale and Guerilla Bay is effectively a new suburb warranting close attention to ensure protection of wetland habitats and remnant vegetation while planning for inclusion of Open Space linkages for walkers and cyclists. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the value of providing a range of housing styles to meet changing community needs.
I wish to acknowledge the role of Committee member Joslyn van der Moolen in bringing us into the 21st century with the establishment of Social Media accounts and our Treasurer Mark Rote in re-vamping our Website to enable improved navigation and management.
And I especially wish to acknowledge the commitment and contributions of both Richard and Barbara Roberts since the inception of Coastwatchers in the early 1980’s. Along with Reina Hill they had the foresight to launch and nurture our Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens. It has been a long involvement with numerous ups and downs along the way.
Richard’s dedication to the professional production of our newsletters is exemplary. Nine newsletters have been produced this year covering not only local but wider environmental issues, many of global significance.
In spite of our relatively stable membership (from 125 at this time last year to currently 118), the difficulty of attracting younger members continues to be of concern. Our membership is ageing with some people moving on to meet their changed needs. Two long-serving members, Martin Phillips and Jim Baker passed away his year.
Has Society in general moved away from public interest groups that demand time and support? Has social media replaced these groups? In the not too distant future the picture may be much clearer.
The financial position of the Association remains very sound and I thank all members for their support in achieving this.
With unforeseen but much enjoyed grand parenting responsibilities in far North Queensland, I must relinquish my role with Coastwatchers. My hope is that the Association will continue to fulfil a most important function to the benefit of our community.
John Stowar, Acting President.