Friends of Stradbroke Island Association Inc.
PO Box 167
POINT LOOKOUT, Q 4183
ABN: 37 521 315 877
3rd July 2020
Comments on Naree Budjong Djara Draft Management Plan
• Friends of Stradbroke Island (FOSI) welcomes the opportunity to make comments on this draft management plan. FOSI is supportive of the partnership between QYAC and the Queensland government to manage the Naree Budjong Djara national park and associated protected areas on Minjerribah. We acknowledge that the Native Title determination of 2011 underpins this partnership and we believe that partnership with the Native Title holders is the appropriate way to ensure the best management and outcomes for Minjerribah, its environment, its people and their culture.
• FOSI is generally supportive of the draft plan but does have concerns and suggestions about some aspects, as outlined below. We feel that the plan is quite general in its framing and would therefore like to be kept informed of details of the plan as they are developed
• We were disappointed that we were not consulted earlier. We were only alerted to it via two other organisations and so have had only a very short time frame in which to respond. We ask that you record us on your database and mailing list as a key stakeholder group who would like to be consulted in future.
• FOSI’s 140 members have expertise in a number of relevant areas, including identification, monitoring and conservation of birds and plants, heritage and land management, and we would like to contribute to research, data gathering and ongoing monitoring where possible.
• FOSI is finalising a research paper on the impact of off-road vehicles on the beaches and dunes of Minjerribah and South East Queensland and we publish the Nature Guide to NSI-Minjerribah.
Comments on Particular Issues
Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs)
A major concern of FOSI relates to the impact of recreational off-road vehicles (ORV) on the beaches, wildlife, flora and infrastructure of Minjerribah.
We strongly object to the use of the term ‘four-wheel drive beaches’ as a descriptor of Main and Flinders Beaches in the introduction to the plan as this devalues them as special ecosystems with highly vulnerable species and values that are in need of protection – they are not roads.
We realise that the beaches are not currently within Naree Budjong Djara or its associated protected areas, but they do adjoin them. Recreational ORV traffic along the beaches has major impacts on wildlife, vegetation and landforms, which are impacting the protected areas.
The beaches are key habitats for shore birds and also support large populations of marine invertebrates. The adjoining dunes provide habitat, nesting sites and outlook points for birds, and they form a barrier between the salt water environment of the beach and the fresh water environment of the 18-mile swamp.
Recreational ORVs destroy dune and coastal vegetation, fatally collide with and crush birds, turtles, crabs and other macroinvertebrates, repeatedly disturb and weaken shore birds, compress and rut fragile sand habitats and hasten erosion of dunes. In turn this weakens the ability of beaches to respond to weather events, provide the necessary breeding, feeding and nesting habitat for resident and migratory fauna, and protect inland coastal areas from erosion and salt water ingress. Research conducted on Minjerribah, K’Gari and other places with dune/beach ecosystems has demonstrated significant damage and defaunation of dunes and ocean beaches as a result of off-road vehicles (see references below).
Monitoring by FOSI members over recent years has noted a marked decrease in the number of Australian Pied Oystercatchers, Red-capped Plovers and Crested Terns using Main Beach for some time now. Nesting sea turtles have also been badly impacted.
Camping sites in the dunes create human waste and litter that can leach or blow into the 18-mile swamp, which is within the protected area, and domestic dogs that are currently allowed to accompany campers can chase and kill or injure wildlife, as well as leave their droppings to leach into the waterbodies. Many kangaroos and swamp wallabies have been mauled in the camping areas in recent years.
ORVs are also a threat to Quandamooka cultural sites, particularly middens, many of which are located on coastal dunes.
ORVs can also have negative impacts on other parts Naree Budjong Djara and its associated protected areas, as is recognised by the prohibition on motorcycles in the protected areas. Erosion and braiding of sand tracks and fire breaks is already evident in many places on the island and there is a risk of “canyoning” of heavily used tracks, as has occurred on Mulgumpin (Moreton) and K’gari (Fraser) Islands. The erosion can have negative impacts on vegetation, wildlife and water tables.
Minjerribah has a legacy of many mining-related tracks and it will take time to rehabilitate them. In the meantime, the tracks and the bush surrounding them will remain a mecca for recreational ORVs, and be subject to more damage unless there is some form of restriction on them.
1. Include the adjacent beaches and dunes within Naree Budjong Djara and its associated protected areas. Also, include sand tracks such as the ‘PEI’ track within the national park. Currently, it appears to be not in the protected area even though it has the national park on either side of it.
2. Aim, within a short time frame, to stop recreational ORV driving on all beaches and to restrict it on non-beach sand tracks. Until this occurs, act to minimise damage from ORVs and beach camping.
To achieve this, there should be a progressive implementation of a series of strategies, including:
• Limit the number of permits for beach access and beach camping for recreational ORVs.
• Increase enforcement of the current regulation limiting driving on beaches to within two hours either side of the low tide.
• Establish and enforce low speed limits on beaches (30km/hr) and sand tracks (15km/hr).
• Install temporary toilets at all campsites.
• Prohibit all domestic animals from campsites.
• Close access to beaches in the turtle nesting and hatching season.
• Engage with recreational ORV users to educate them and seek their cooperation.
• Establish a hierarchy of tracks on the island, including ‘no-go’ areas, and provide improved signage and mapping to inform recreational ORV drivers where they can and cannot travel.
• Develop alternative camping sites accessible from existing roads and tracks and allow access to camping sites on Flinders Beach only via tracks behind the dunes.
• Close camping sites along Main Beach that are only accessible via the beach.
The rutted and disturbed state of Main Beach, Minjerribah following a typical busy day of off-road driving – ugly and threatening to wildlife and humans alike.
FOSI welcomes the identification of the conservation status of the various vegetation communities on Minjerribah and of the strategies to protect them. We also appreciate the priority in the plan given to protecting the Ramsar listed wetlands.
The management plan mentions a number of endangered and at-risk species and references the Nature Conservation Act and the EPBC but it does not reference the extinction risk rating of these species.
Ten of the thirteen Minjerribah plants that are listed as rare or threatened occur in freshwater wetlands. Other plants such as the Wallum Boronia, which we accept is important for cultural reasons, appear to be declining, and the island has already probably lost its endangered Christmas Bells (Blandfordia grandiflora), probably as a result of over harvesting for sale and excessive fires.
3. We would like the plan to include more recognition of the vulnerability of island species to extirpation (local extinction).This is of especial concern for the distinct island koala population, its special isolated agile wallaby population (thought to be in serious decline as the result of fox predation), acid water adapted frogs, dragonflies, and fresh water long-necked turtles (at risk from fox predation) etc.
4. In the threatened mixed microphyll/notophyll rainforest at Myora, we recommend that the invasive vine that is becoming rampant there be controlled.
5. We would like to see the island wetlands in Naree Budjong Djara to be included in regular surveys of fauna and flora.
• Swan Bay appears to be a significant site for migratory shorebirds but there have been no regular surveys of Swan Bay and it would contribute greatly to the understanding of the distribution of these birds in Quandamooka/Moreton Bay if this site could be included in the regular national data monitoring conducted by the Queensland Wader Study Group. There are FOSI members and others who would volunteer to assist with these surveys.
• The water level in the 18-mile swamp appears to have been falling in recent years so it is important to know whether this is affecting the ten threatened plants of wetlands.
6. Besides the focus on migratory shorebirds, we would like to see a greater focus on the protection of resident shorebirds / seabirds which live/ utilise and/or nest on the sandy beaches and dunes, such the quite rare Beach Stone-curlew, Australian Pied Oystercatchers, Crested Terns, and Red-capped Plovers.
7. We would like the plan to include the intention to develop special plans for endangered animals, such as the Glossy Back Cockatoo, the Dune Ringtail, Coastal Petaltail and Brownwater Skimmer dragonflies, the Wallum Froglet, Cooloola Sedgefrog, Wallum Sedgefrog and Wallum Rocketfrog, and the Koala, and for the thirteen listed rare and threatened plants, particularly those in freshwater wetlands.
8. We support very limited harvesting of Wallum Boronia for cultural reasons, but it must not be commercialised. We also suggest that Christmas Bells could be re-introduced.
Pest and Weed Management
FOSI supports the focus on control of pests and is pleased that the current fox control efforts have led to an obvious increase in Northern Brown Bandicoots. We are hoping the Agile Wallaby population, which appears to have been badly impacted by foxes, will also recover.
We also welcome the focus on managing invasive grasses and other weeds.
9. An articulated goal for pest management should be to eradicate foxes, wild dogs and feral cats from the island.
10. The threat to the island’s two species of freshwater long necked turtles, the Eastern Long-necked Turtle and Broad-shelled River Turtle, from predation by foxes should be recognised and managed. Studies have identified foxes as a major predator of the nests of these turtles (see study reference below).
11. The threat of invasive gambusia and cane toads to the wetland ecosystems should be recognised and strategic management directions developed.
FOSI welcomes the acknowledgement of the impacts of climate change. We acknowledge that an appropriate and properly managed fire strategy can help minimise greenhouse emissions from wild fires and that good post mining rehabilitation can sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
12. In keeping with Principle 9 of Gudjundabu Marumba Gubiyiyanya: Tourism for a Glad Tomorrow, namely “Promote caring practices and behaviours to eliminate waste and emissions on Quandamooka Country”, the management plan should also include strategies to minimise emissions from National Park operations and to facilitate the provision of low emission transport choices for visitors.
FOSI welcomes the acknowledgement that changes to the water table associated with water extraction from Minjerribah are a threat to and we also welcome the commitment to monitor water levels, but we are not happy that there is no mention of actions to limit or control water extraction.
13. Develop a plan to respond to the threat to groundwater-dependent ecosystems from water extraction.
Cultural landscape values
FOSI supports the focus on cultural landscape values of Quandamooka people and country, including improving visitor knowledge of cultural protocols and reducing inappropriate visit behaviour in relation to Kaboora (Blue Lake) in particular.
Foxes and freshwater turtles
Stuart J. Dawson, Heather M. Crawford, Robert M. Huston, Peter J. Adams, and Patricia A. Fleming “How to catch red foxes red handed: identifying predation of freshwater turtles and nests,” Wildlife Research 43(8), 615-622, (12 December 2016).https://doi.org/10.1071/WR16066
Studies concerning the impacts of off-road vehicles on dune/beach ecosystems.
Erosion and Vegetation Loss
Kelly, J. F. (2014). Effects of human activities (raking, scraping, off-road vehicles) and natural resource protections on the spatial distribution of beach vegetation and related shoreline features in New Jersey. Journal of coastal conservation, 18(4), 383-398.
Defeo, O., McLachlan, A., Schoeman, D. S., Schlacher, T. A., Dugan, J., Jones, A., … & Scapini, F. (2009). Threats to sandy beach ecosystems: a review. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 81(1), 1-12.
Anders, F. J., & Leatherman, S. P. (1987). Disturbance of beach sediment by off-road vehicles. Environmental Geology and Water Sciences, 9(3), 183-189.
Schlacher, T. A., Dugan, J., Schoeman, D. S., Lastra, M., Jones, A., Scapini, F., … & Defeo, O. (2007). Sandy beaches at the brink. Diversity and Distributions, 13(5), 556-560.
RICKARD, C.A.; McLACHLAN, A.; and KERLEY, G.I.H., 1994. The effects of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on dune vegetation in South Africa. Ocean & Coastal Management, 23, 225-247.
Godfrey, P.J. and Godfrey, M., 1980. Ecological effects of off-road vehicles on Cape Cod. Oceanus, 23(4), 56-67.
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Schlacher, T. A., & Thompson, L. M. (2008a). Physical impacts caused by off-road vehicles to sandy beaches: spatial quantification of car tracks on an Australian barrier island. Journal of Coastal Research, 24(sp2), 234-242.
Liddle, M.J., Grieg-Smith, P., 1975. A survey of tracks and paths in a sand dune ecosystem. II. Vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology 12, 909–930.
James, R. J. (2000). From beaches to beach environments: linking the ecology, human-use and management of beaches in Australia. Ocean & Coastal Management, 43(6), 495-514.
Houser, C., Labude, B., Haider, L., & Weymer, B. (2013). Impacts of driving on the beach: Case studies from Assateague Island and Padre Island National Seashores. Ocean & coastal management, 71, 33-45.
Thompson, L. M., & Schlacher, T. A. (2008b). Physical damage to coastal dunes and ecological impacts caused by vehicle tracks associated with beach camping on sandy shores: A case study from Fraser Island, Australia. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 12(2), 67-82.
Anders, F. J., & Leatherman, S. P. (1987). Effects of off-road vehicles on coastal foredunes at Fire Island, New York, USA. Environmental Management, 11(1), 45-52.
Brodhead, J. M., & Godfrey, P. J. (1977). Off road vehicle impact in Cape Cod National Seashore: disruption and recovery of dune vegetation. International Journal of Biometeorology, 21(3), 299-306.
Watson JJ, Kerley GIH, McLachlan A (1997) Nesting habitat of birds breeding in a coastal dunefield, South Africa and management implications. J Coast Res 13:36-45
Stephenson G (1999) Vehicle impacts on the biota of sandy beaches and coastal dunes: A review from the New Zealand perspective. Science for Conservation 121 University WC (2012)
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Austin, T. (2016). Effects of 4-Wheel Drive Vehicles on Beach Sediment Transport. Science Education Resource Center Carelton College. Retrieved from https://serc.carleton.edu/vignettes/collection/35397.html
Weston, M. A., Schlacher, T. A., & Lynn, D. (2014). Pro-environmental beach driving is uncommon and ineffective in reducing disturbance to beach-dwelling birds. Environmental management, 53(5), 999-1004.
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Schlacher, T. A., Carracher, L. K., Porch, N., Connolly, R. M., Olds, A. D., Gilby, B. L., … & Weston, M. A. (2016). The early shorebird will catch fewer invertebrates on trampled sandy beaches. PloS one, 11(8), e0161905.
Taylor, I. R., Newman, O. M. G., Park, P., Hansen, B., Minton, C. D., Harrison, A., & Jessop, R. (2014). Conservation assessment of the Australian Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris. The Conservation Status of Oystercatchers around the World, 116-128.
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