World Heritage Values Workshop
About 50 island residents attended a workshop hosted by Magnetic Island Nature Care (MINCA) on Saturday at the Magnetic Island Bowls Club in Arcadia.
President of MINCA Gethin Morgan began with a small history of the World Heritage area, declared in 1981, and a map showing the border between the WHA and the mainland and showing that the island and the shipping channel were included, but were not part of the marine national park. He also explained the difference between this section and the rest of the coast because of the dryness of the climate.
He discussed the importance of the lowlands, where most of the settlement is, as birds and animals who live on the lowlands cannot survive on the hilly national park.
He mentioned the importance of the council owned land between the tip and the golf course and revealed that the Council, State government and Defence department were striking a deal on the Defence Land on the Geoffrey Bay headland in which the Defence dept would cede the land it owns to National Parks, retaining just the two house blocks lower down which it would sell. Gethin was not happy with this as he envisaged a developer buying them and creating something he didn’t like.
He discussed the hydrology at Horseshoe Bay saying that none of the natural drainage was operative due to development and urgent work was needed at the mouth of Endeavour Creek.
He said that he expected news on the Council’s legislation preventing any new cats coming to the island in September or October.
He claimed as a success the prevention of upgrading the West Point Road, saying it would be good for the wildlife along the road.
He also said that MINCA was investigating obtaining some cane toad traps for use by residents.
MINCA member Peter Hansen then took the stage, remarking that the Nelly Bay harbour made him sad, and talked about MINCA’s plans for an information package for residents and visitors to help them identify various weeds and imported animals.
He emphasised the importance of maintaining the lowlands as that ground is essential for some species.
He talked about the tendency of those wanting to sell a block of land to completely clear the block of all trees and plants. He suggested that the vegetation should be left for the new owner to choose what needed to go.
He deplored the overplanting of palm trees, saying while they were good for currawongs they didn’t accommodate smaller species, leading to an overpopulation of one and underpopulation of the other.
If trees fall, he said, they should be left on the ground where possible to provide habitat for wildlife.
He showed a picture of the tarred hill at Picnic Bay, saying it was a travesty and should be removed.
The matter of rubbish was discussed and he urged all to do what they could to pick it up and dispose of it properly.
He said there were too many septic tanks on the island, but did not suggest a solution to increasing the number of connections to the existing waste water plant which is restricted by the inability of the various groups to agree on what should be done with the clean water produced.
He urged people not to plant and fertilise lawns of buffalo grass and the like, but instead opt for native grasses. Any fertilisation should be done after the wet so that the fertiliser is not washed into the sea.
He would like to see Magnetic Island herbicide free and cited the fact that Round Up is said to cause cancer in humans and other animals. He said the Bayer company had recently paid $15 billion in the USA to customers and a class action was pending in Australia. However the Council and the National Parks are still using it. When asked how to get rid of guinea grass and lantana without herbicide, he insisted that they should be pulled out.
He then went on to discuss killing of wildlife by speeding cars, and recommended that the speed limit be lowered across the island.