• North Coast Environment Council

    Formed in 1976, we are the peak umbrella environment group in northern NSW. We cover the area from the Hunter to the Tweed and west to the New England Highway. We also actively support other campaigns further afield. We receive no government funding and have no paid staff or central office. Our members and office-bearers work around the region, often travelling large distances to assist others as we organise in our defence of the environment and the communities it sustains. We rely on donations and the efforts of our members and volunteers, to remain effective. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist us with our work, we guarantee plenty of bang for your buck. Post us a message to this site and we will get back to you.
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The Long Paddock

With the approaching impacts of climate change, scientists and environmentalists are combining to
call for the protection and preservation of the country’s traveling stock routes (TSRs) and camping
reserves as natural wildlife corridors, to facilitate natural migration of fauna as their habitat
disappears.
This issue has surfaced because of the current review into the future of the TSR network, and
suggestions that some uneconomic routes should be returned to the NSW Department of Lands.
According to environmental scientist, Professor Hugh Possingham, the NSW and Queensland State
governments have quietly divested themselves of two thirds of the stock route network since the
1970s, amounting to a loss of some one and a half million hectares of publicly owned land.
Fears that remaining stock routes may also be sold or leased for permanent grazing is a major
concern, not only to scientists and environmentalists, but to farmers who still use the long paddock
during drought times, and see rising oil prices as something that might force them to return to
droving as a means of moving stock to market.
Statements that Government has no intention of selling the TSR asset fail to calm these fears. In
recent years the Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB), the body responsible for the management of
stock routes, has completed massive fencing projects across the State. The vegetation loss that has
occurred as a result of this work is significant, and regrettable, given that habitat loss is the major
factor in the decline of many native animals.
Levies on the movement of stock are supposed to pay for the maintenance of TSRs. The RLPB now
gives their reduced use as a reason for the current review, which brings into question why so much
was spent on fencing in the first place, and on other activities such as ring-barking of native trees.
Government is also using the escalating costs of maintaining these fences as another reason to
question the need to retain this network of corridors, which has resulted in over 500 scientists
signing a petition to the NSW and Queensland governments urging for stock routes to be protected
for the long term conservation of wildlife.
John Edwards

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