Environmental Action & Conservation
The Ginninderra Falls Association (GFA) was formed in 2011 to advocate for public access to the Ginninderra Falls by creating a national park along both the Murrumbidgee River and Ginninderra Creek corridors. It promotes the following principles being employed in this area:
- Protect the ecological integrity and flora/fauna.
- Protect and respect Aboriginal and European heritage.
- Preserve the aesthetics and sightlines.
- Apply ecological reserve design principles to meet ecological, educational, cultural and recreational goals.
- Ensure no development will compromise natural heritage values.
Both of these waterways have been eroded into the landscape leaving steep slopes that generate dynamic fire behaviour, resulting in extreme/catastrophic fires under the right conditions. The rural land surrounded by these waterways in West Belconnen (ACT) and Parkwood (NSW) now form part of the urban development project known collectively as “Ginninderry”. The ACT portion is well underway with the Estate Development Plans for Stages 1 and 2 being approved on land used by the Little Eagle for foraging during the nesting season. Significant land clearing has already occurred in these areas.
The NSW portion is currently in private ownership. Much of this is zoned Environmental Management (E3), along with all similar land along the eastern side of the Murrumbidgee River in Yass Valley Shire. At present, the application to rezone the Yass Valley portion to (R1) Residential has been approved by the NSW Government subject to the need for a comprehensive Fire Management Plan. If this is finally approved by Yass Valley Council, then it will set a precedent for removal of all environmental zoning of the eastern side of the Murrumbidgee.
One excuse for rezoning the portion known as Parkwood is that it is quite separate from the rest of the shire since the gorges prevent direct access from NSW and, thus, leave residents dependent on access through the ACT. This also means that services necessary for urban development, such as electricity, water and sewerage, will have to be provided by the ACT Government subject to a cross-border agreement. There is a likelihood that this will prove to be a future drain on ACT taxpayers due to the financial arrangements involved.
The steeper gorge areas, especially in the NSW portion, have protected species to a certain extent from human impact and introduced species. Given the continued spread of ACT urban development over the past century, it is now essential that greater concern be exhibited in preserving the habitats of species that dwell in remaining areas potentially suitable for housing. Planning should follow the precautionary principle, acknowledging the fragmentation and loss of habitat inevitably created by urbanisation.
The current conservation corridor proposal is for a long, narrow reserve with a high ratio of edge to internal area. This extensive, irregular border will increase exposure of native animals to the effects of urbanisation (through increased likelihood of inappropriate access, light and sound pollution, roadkill, domestic pets) and exposure of human residents to the effects of firestorms via ember attack.
GFA supports the following outcomes:
- a reserve designed to protect native species and their habitats – the currently-proposed reserve is smaller than the home range of a single Rosenberg’s Goanna so it is insufficient for a single threatened species, let alone a complex ecosystem and all the biodiversity that comes with it;
- the inclusion of open areas for species that will use and traverse these open areas;
- connectivity corridors for mobile and migratory species – particularly for Ginninderra Creek where decades of records show vagrant and unusual species utilising the creek's resources whilst moving from and to the ranges in the west;
- public access to the Falls and gorge precinct controlled to ensure the least possible visual impact and other impact on the flora and fauna of the area.
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