Hanging Swamps - Endangered?
HOW MANY MORE HANGING SWAMPS MUST WE LOSE BEFORE THEY WILL BE PROTECTED?
Thank you to those members who provided information on hanging swamps they know of which have been totally or partially damaged.
Blue Mountains Swamps look as if they will get no legal protection. The NSW Scientific Committee has been assessing our nomination to have this community listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
The Scientific Committee "recognises the conservation significance of Swamps" but did not believe that there is a risk of extinction. It implied that this community was "vulnerable" and stated that there is no provision for vulnerable ecological communities under the Act.
It does not make sense to wait until the swamps are irretrievably degraded before they are given some legal protection. If this community could satisfy the criteria of being under threat of risk of extinction, it would be too late and too expensive to restore.
The Management Committee is approaching Bob Debus as our local member as well as the Minister for the Environment to change the Act to give hanging swamps some legal protection. We would like to see a new category which allowed for the listing of "vulnerable ecological communities" just as individual plant species can be listed as either "vulnerable" or "endangered".
It would strengthen our case considerably if there was proof of a high level of community support to make this change to protect our swamps. You can help by writing a simple letter to Hon Bob Debus, Member for Blue Mountains, 3/107-109 Macquarie Road, Springwood 2777.
Hanging swamps are a very complex community and vital to the functioning of our Upper Mountains creeks and waterfalls. There is a need for protection now, before they become degraded and just an item of scientific interest.
Blue Mountains Hanging Swamps
(from the Hanging Swamp Working Group)
A nomination of "Blue Mountains Swamps" as an endangered ecological community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act was submitted on 12 November 1999.
Haydn Washington has put in a great deal of effort in preparing various drafts and seeking comments on these from a range of experts as well as Society members. Whilst many people made contributions, particular thanks should go to Lyndsay Holme of NPWS who prepared the maps, and to Peter and Judy Smith, Mike Eades (BMCC), Van Klaphake and Linda Thomas for their comments.
The most difficult aspect to resolve has been whether this nomination should attempt to cover the range of swamps known as both 'shrub swamps' and 'sedge swamps' or just try to narrow it down to the 'button grass swamps'. Whilst the value of the nomination would be the greatest in protecting our swamps if we tried to cover a broad range, it was considered more risky than nominating a particular type of sedge swamp. However it was found that swamps did not neatly fit into categories.
The maps available on the extent of swamps have not separated out the various types. In the end it was decided to cover all swamps under the name 'Blue Mountains Swamps'. This community was defined by 30 core species. Whilst not all 30 species occur on all sites they comprise the majority of the biomass.
Our approach will be to see if the Scientific Committee is satisfied with this broad definition, but if it is not we will narrow down the definition during the process. (We understand that this is possible rather than commencing a new nomination.)
The nomination has devoted considerable attention to demonstrating that although 58.8% of our swamps may be in the National Park (of those that remain) that these are not adequately protected.
Any further evidence of swamps outside the Park which have been destroyed or those inside which are in danger would be very useful.