MOONBI is the name given by the Butchalla Aborigines to the central part of their homeland, Fraser Island or "Kgari"
MOONBI is the newsletter of Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited, PO Box 70, BALD HILLS, QLD, 4036
FIDO's Home Web Page: www.fido.org.au — E-Mail: john @sinclair.org.au
FIDO, "The Watchdog of Fraser Island", aims to ensure the wisest use of Fraser Island’s natural resources.
FIDO's Registered Office: c/- Stephen Comino and Cominos, Equity House, Lang Parade, Milton, 4065 (ACN 0099-69-135)
ISSN 0311 - 032X Registered by Australia Post - Publication QBH2293 15 November, 1999
Since MOONBI 95
Management Plans Impasse:There has been less progress on Fraser Island since April than we would have wished. (p 2) Although a new CAC was appointed and met in July and identified fire management as the most critical issue facing Fraser Island, there has been no demonstrable progress towards even getting a Fire Management Plan. Worse more than 15 months elapsed between fires to protect the island's biodiversity. (p 3) The progress on both the Dingo and Camping Management Plan has been just as negative. Nothing has happened to achieve a Walking Track Management Plan for which all of the Federal funds of $27,000 provided in 1994-95 have been spent. (p7).
Roads: While there has been such disappointing progress on develop more positive policies to manage Fraser Island, the QPWS continues to pour more money into maintaining a road network which is damaging the World Heritage values (See pp 4-6) and achieving no advance in the conditions of the "roads". FIDO wants to break this futile spending cycle which is achieving negative results. (See p12)
Some Initiatives: FIDO's weeds working bee in July made some headway towards cleaning up Eurong but we have spent $650 which we can ill afford and we have only touched the tip of a menacing iceberg. (p 9) The Sinclair family concluded after walking the length of the island in July that it could be Australia's most desirable site for long distance hikes but there remains too much focus on catering for motorized recreation. (p 7) The positives as well as the negatives are reported in more detail within. (p10)
In This Issue
Victim of Accumulated Neglect 2
The Fraser Financial Pie 2
Firing a Failure 3
The Fatal Shore 4-6
Fraser Walks Worth $millions 7
Scientists Support FIDO, Bias to the North, Track praise 8
Fireweed Research, Dugongs, Wanting Weeds Out 9
$$s, Ramsar, The Fens, FIDO Projects progress 10
Some Visitor Perspectives (Backpacker Dilemma) 11
Kingfisher Road, Downwards Spiral Explained 12
Fraser Island — Victim of Accumulated Neglect
As a result of cumulative neglect the rate of environmental degradation on Fraser Island has accelerated faster during the term of the Beattie Government than at any time since Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Sediment washed from the roads is pouring into the lakes including Lake McKenzie, Boomerang, Allom, Boomanjin, Benaroon, Birrabeen and Jennings at an unprecedented rate to threaten the integrity of these World Heritage icons as well as their long-term future. Elsewhere roads are being widened and cuttings are being deepened by surface run-off and sand sluiced off the roads is burying surface vegetation at an accelerating rate. In Yidney Scrub, one of the most beautiful accessible rainforests on the island, heavy buses have broken through the surface root mat and now an ever enlarging black hole full of sludge appears at one of the most scenic spots as continuing through-traffic exacerbates the damage widening the road and splashing vegetation.
Since Mid August last year there has only been one management burn of 542 hectares on Fraser Island and no date has been set for a long promised workshop to define a Fire Management Plan. Other management plans languish while many more campsites are showing signs of increased degradation and unsustainable use.
In 1998-99 the Queensland Government contributed only $341,717 to the management of the island from its resources, much less than the Commonwealth Government. Further, in a mistaken allocation of political priorities, the Queensland Government spent twice as much money on maintaining the Orchid Beach airstrip open as it did on managing the island's natural resources. The removal of weeds, management of feral fauna and fire and the maintenance and monitoring of the biodiversity all come under natural resource management but this is one of the many areas being neglected while the obsession with catering for vehicle-based recreation seems to take precedence over all else. Absolutely no priority has been given to the finalisation of a Walking Tracks Management Plan for which the Commonwealth allocated $25,700 in 1994-95. The QPWS has stalled on closing a number of roads and beaches scheduled under the 1994 Management Plan to enlarge vehicle free areas.
Catering for conservation and the public interest comes a long way behind pandering to residents and property interests on the island (who make no financial contribution to island because they are exempt from paying access and camping fees). Fraser Island attracted 300,000 paying visitors last year who contributed $3,162,609.79, but their interests in seeing the biodiversity and wilderness values preserved are being neglected.
We believe the Queensland Government spends more than $341,000 (its Fraser Island contribution) on parks such as Carnarvon, Cooloola, Lawn Hill, Lamington, Girraween and probably Bunya Mountains.
Fraser Island deserves much better than it is getting from the Beattie Government. More money would help but much money has been misallocated. It requires no additional money but just a higher priority to achieve some results such as the draft of the walking track plan and the closure of roads. The Beattie Government is due for credit for some of its environmental achievements but it must be held accountable for failures on Fraser Island.
The Fraser Financial Pie
We respect that some QPWS Officers deems the Income and Expenditure on Fraser Island to be confidential. Because we cannot publicly reveal the amounts, we have analysed the data to at least show the proportions of the income which come from various sources and the proportion of expenditure on different aspects of Fraser Island management.
Income: Income to manage most of Fraser Island is drawn from three sources, access and camping fees collected under the Recreation Areas Management (RAM) Act, contributions from the Commonwealth Government for World Heritage values, and the contribution of the Queensland Government from consolidated revenue. Although we don't have a full history we can show the proportion of expenditure from each of these sources for 1998-99:
RAM access and camping fees 77.05%
Commonwealth Government 13.65%
Queensland Government 8.3%
Expenditure: In percentage terms it includes:
Cultural heritage management 0.0%
Natural resource management 0.8%
Recreation management 6.4%
Infrastructure, administrative support 13.2%
Wages and salaries 21.8%
Road and waste management operations 15.7%
Capital Works 23.0%
Natural disaster relief (Orchid Beach airstrip) 1.5%
Disparity: A more disturbing aspect of an analysis of the expenditure on Fraser Island management is that actual expenditure bears little correlation with the budget allocations. In fact the distribution of expenditure appears to have been done without any regard to the budget except for World Heritage where the Commonwealth Government money had to be accounted for on specific projects.
Natural resource management 32% of allocation
Recreation management 61% of allocation
infrastructure, administrative support 172% of allocation
Wages and salaries 60% of allocation
Road and waste management ops 207% of allocation
Capital Works 97% of allocation
Natural disaster relief No allocation
Total actual spending 76% of allocation
Local Government: In the 1996 review of local government boundaries the Office of Local Government Commissioner said that the Maryborough City Council had "an estimated net excess revenue of $78,000 for its portion of Fraser Island" (after allowing 10% contribution to general administration). The Hervey Bay City Council had a net excess revenue from Fraser Island of $122,000.
Local government is responsible for health, waste management, town planning, building standards, provision of facilities such as toilets and weed control on public land within the township reserves as well as all freehold and leasehold land on Fraser Island. While between them the two Councils were pocketing $200,000 a year from Fraser Island these responsibilities are being neglected. Fraser Island is a valuable asset contributing significantly to the tourist economy of both cities. Both councils need to contribute more to island management instead of only milking it to subsidise their mainland constituencies. Mainland constituencies will lose while Fraser Island continues to be neglected.
Firing a Failure
Since mid-August 1998, the only management burning carried out on Fraser Island was the burning of a 542 ha block behind Dundubarrato encourage blackbutt regeneration. Officers blame high humidity throughout 1999 but have conceded that there have been other days when conditions were appropriate for conducting a management burn to protect the biodiversity.
Fire and Ecology
Poor fire management, particularly over the past three decades, has changed the ecological balance on the island. The absence of regular fire has encouraged an understory of woody plants at the expense of grasses and smaller plants and with a consequent loss of smaller mammals. This, in turn is affecting other fauna dependent on the balance which had previously prevailed in pre-contact time.
Impact on Fauna: Without more fires we will lose many species which require a more open environment. There has been a visible decline in the population of swamp wallabies. Wallabies need more grass which can't grow without fires burning off the understorey. Dingoes are thus denied a significant traditional food source. This is probably contributing to the dramatic decline in the dingo population and their dependence on human contact. Other small mammals such as rats and bandicoots numbers seem to have declined. One endangered mouse species living at Sandy Cape needs fire to maintain conditions for a viable population. This population is now deemed to be at risk. There are a number of birds which require periodic burning to ensure that they have a suitable habitat.
Plant communities: The current plant communities evolved in the context of the Aboriginal burning regime. Since this ceased there have been dramatic changes in the plant communities and the balance has been significantly altered. A proper balance needs to be restored.
Most of the 23 scientists who recently reviewed Fraser Island's World Heritage values identified the lack of appropriate burning as a threat to its biological values.
An Appropriate Fire Regime
FIDO wants a fire regime to preserve and maximise biodiversity. The timing and intensity of fires needs to be considerably changed from the past regime which was aimed only at protecting the commercial forests. We are not prescribing burn frequency nor the type of burns. We think that much more burning needs to be done. Most of all we believe that a workshop is long overdue as the first step towards agreeing on an appropriate Fire Management Plan. FIDO has been pressing for a workshop involving QPWS staff, ecologists, scientists and interested stakeholders. This is a pre-requisite to developing a plan to withstand any criticism. We can't see an acceptable plan evolving without a workshop.
A History of Promises: In August 1998, Regional Director Bill Fisher promised that such a workshop would be held. It was to have been held in April 1999. In January 1999 the promise was reiterated by Acting Regional Director, Mike Harris. Nothing happened.
Community Concern: In July the new CAC were unanimous that fire management has now become the number one threat to Fraser Island. Despite this, management burning has virtually come to a standstill and we have been advised not even a fire management workshop will be held this financial year.
On 25 October, current Regional Director, Cathy Skippington advised, "I agree that the fire management workshop is an important project but it cannot be funded this financial year. I am trying to redirect other resources within the Southern Region to assist in this project."
Another year lost: With next July seeming the earliest date for a workshop, it is improbable there will even be a Fire Management Plan developed before the end of 2000. Another whole year will elapse while the bureaucracy can't find even $10,000 to hold a fire management workshop.
Mis-allocated Resources: Only 8.4% of all 1998-99 Fraser Island expenditure went on natural resource management. That was only a third of the budget allocated about a third of the amount spent on repairing the Kingfisher Resort road or half of what was spent on maintaining the Orchid Beach airstrip for the elite.
Fraser Cinderella (or cinders): Fraser Island is at imminent risk of a catastrophic conflagration and both property and the resource are at an ever increasing risk from an inevitable wild fire. There was a wild fire in the Northern part of Fraser Island last December but it wasn't in an area which had a great build-up of fuel. However, 1999 has been one of the wettest years yet and the build-up of forest litter makes the island especially vulnerable when this body of combustible material dries out. It could well be a disastrous inferno.
While Rome Burns: The accumulating buildup of forest litter is increasing the risk to both property and life. Proper fire management is essential in the interests of public safety. The non-existent fire management on Fraser Island has now become the basis for alarm not just from conservationists who are alarmed at the impact on biodiversity but amongst tour operators and residents alike.
Fire containment impossible: In July, we were amazed to discover that the fire trails and fire breaks were not being maintained for management purposes. Worse many had disappeared and most were so overgrown that they could not even be located on foot. Worse still, some Rangers were even oblivious to the prior existence of these trails which had been maintained for many decades by the Forestry until the early 1980s. Many of these fire trails had doubled as walking trails and to allow management vehicles access to monitor the resource. Now most are so overgrown that they are incredibly difficult for walkers to locate and negotiate and there is no machinery toclear them.
Fire Fighting Equipment: What is more alarming FIDO has been advised that the equipment which is needed to open those old fire trails and fire breaks doesn't now exist on Fraser Island .
Fire is a disaster on Fraser Island just waiting to happen.
In the 1960's an English historian Michael Alexander wrote "Mrs. Fraser on the Fatal Shore". It now appears that the shores of Fraser Island remain fatal — particularly for wildlife as our anthropocentric management regime is more obsessed with managing "recreation' than it is with preserving biodiversity.
The Fatal Shore
by John Sinclair *
Fraser Island is recognised as one of the great natural wonders of the world. It should be one of the safest places for wildlife in Australia. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992. Since 1998, 99% of the island has been National Park. The whole of this diverse 168,000 hectares natural habitat island should be a sanctuary where all wildlife was protected and safe for all time.
Think again. A close examination shows the population of shorebirds continues to be decimated by the unchecked growth of four wheel drive traffic. Shorebird numbers continue to plummet despite the protection which both National Park and World Heritage status is supposed to afford.
The population of Pied oyster-catchers on Fraser Island's eastern beach has shrunk from in excess of 200 in 1971 to now less than 20. The Beach Thickknee has disappeared from the eastern beach altogether and has been reduced to only a couple on the western shore. The number of Red-capped plovers has been literally decimated. Now the tern numbers are suffering from the onslaught of four wheel drives and in August in one week one observer saw more than four dead terns and one with a broken wing which had been run over by four wheel drives.
What politicians have tried to protect through legislation and policy is being now degraded by the timidity of the bureaucrats who believe that their highest priority is to maximise recreation, particularly vehicle based recreation, rather than to protect the World Heritage island's amazing biodiversity.
Two critical issues for biodiversity require the exclusion of vehicles from significant areas of habitat particularly for shorebirds. A Management Plan was drawn up in 1994 to protect the outstanding natural assets of Fraser Island including its biodiversity. It was adopted by the State Government. Five years further on, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) officers responsible for the plan have not yet begun to implement some key aspects of this plan, including closing some roads and beaches.
The Service has resisted every demand to act on the vehicle free areas with obstinate obfuscation. Bureaucrats continue to capitulate to the four wheel drive lobby despite their obligations to implement the Management Plan. After 5 years not one centimetre of the entire eastern surfing beaches of more than 130 kilometres is vehicle free and proposals to double the 19 kilometres of vehicle free beach on the Hervey Bay side of the island continue to be ignored.
The results of this inaction and neglect have been tragic for all wildlife on Fraser Island, but particularly the shore birds.
Fraser Island is now one of the few national parks in Queensland or Australia which allows free range camping. Camps extend in a huge ribbon along the eastern shore and campers prowl over every inch of dunes trying to find solitude for their toiletries since there are no amenities.
Oyster-catchers: Pied oyster-catchers were once used as the logo for the Happy Valley Resort. Now the improbability that their guests will ever even see one has forced this enterprise to drop this once prevalent and conspicuous bird of the beach as its symbol. We know that many birds are killed by motor vehicles. The loss of birds to the motor traffic is compounded by the disturbance to the bird's nesting habitat.
This is continually disturbing nesting sites and so the breeding of the oyster-catchers is severely affected.
Red-capped plovers: The smaller, less obvious Red-capped plovers nest in the foredunes laying eggs which seem almost indistinguishable from casuarina nuts. Their number are also shrinking as a result of this unlimited access by four wheel drives and the ribbon of free range campers along the shore.
Beach Thickknees: From the time Fraser Island's East Coast beach became popular with four wheel drivers, the Beach Thickknee retreated from this beach to the western shore where four wheel drives were less frequent. Now this sanctuary is being invaded with ever greater frequency. The problem was recognised in the Management Plan.
While elsewhere in Australia the Beach Thickknee is under threat from feral animals, particularly pigs, Fraser Island is a sanctuary mercifully free of this scourge. Here intruding four wheel drives reduces the range of this shy bird. Fraser Island should be one area in Australia where the Beach Thickknee was safe to live and reproduce undisturbed but due to constant beach traffic they can find little peace and solitude.
Terns: The more recent observations of the impact of 4WDs on the terns is more disturbing. Yobbos currently a comprise a disproportionate number Fraser's fishing fraternity. For years yobbos have been reported to charge their vehicles at flocks of terns to make them take off leaving some vehicles splattered with blood and feathers when some terns failed to evade such onslaughts.
The constant disturbance of flocks of terns resting on the beach by the passing traffic weakens them. Now it seems that this has become even more critical and seasoned observers are calling for more constructive measures to protect the birds from such assaults.
Other wildlife: More than just the shorebirds are suffering on Fraser Island. Because catering for 4WDs takes precedence over protecting the environment, the forests are changing in composition. In 1998-99 the service spent 15.7% of its total expenditure on road and waste management operations and just 0.8% on natural resource management. Wildlife suffers while spending to cater for the all powerful 4WDs usurps most of the budget.
Catering for 4WDs is indirectly killing wildlife by diverting very limited resources away from the protection of the island's biodiversity and in accelerating environmental degradation. During every heavy downpour of rain thousands of tonnes of sand wash off the roads to fill lake basins and streams with sediment and smother many natural habitats.
The ecological balance in its once great forests has been upset by blatant neglect and the failure to adopt let alone implement a fire management plan. Since mid-August 1998, the only management fire carried out on Fraser Island was the burning of a 542 ha block behind Dundubarra. The biodiversity will be lost if it is going to take more than 300 years to cover Fraser Island with management burns. Accelerating ecological changes include reduction of habitat for most of the fauna and the island's floristic composition.
For tens of thousands of years the wildlife of Fraser Island evolved and adapted to the traditional Aboriginal burning regime. Since it has ceased the island has developed a dense shrubby understorey and the grass has been dramatically diminished with a consequent reduction in the population of kangaroos, wallabies and many small mammals and, as a result, dingos. The changing forest environment is also affecting bird populations.
Dingos: The Fraser Island dingo is regarded as the purest genetic strain in Eastern Australia. The dingo population was estimated to be between 1,000 and 2,000 in the 1920s. It has now been reduced to 100 by QPWS estimates. Despite this very small but pure population, some are killed by Rangers after each dingo attack on humans. Fraser Island has become a fatal shore for wildlife.
Silt: Fraser Island is renowned for the purity of the water in its lakes and streams. These attract more tourists than any other single feature but now they are being filled and clogged up with sediments being sluiced off the roads and camping grounds. Silt now freely washes off roads into many lakes and streams with alarming consequences. Fraser Island icons such as Wanggoolba Creek, Lake McKenzie, Lake Boomanjin (the world's largest perched dune lakes), Boomerang Lakes, (the world's highest perched dune lakes) and Lake Allom are all being invaded by thousands of tonnes of silt. The accelerating rate of sedimentation is placing all of these outstanding features at serious risk.
Fraser Island's World Heritage status has done nothing to improve its management. The number of visitors has increased but there are no plans to limit the visitation or to reduce the 4WD traffic, or to seriously address the rate of sedimentation which this traffic is generating or to reduce free-range camping. The Orchid Beach airstrip which was closed under the Management Plan was not only re-opened but has received hundreds of thousands of dollars which should have been spent on improving management.
Since the adoption of the Management Plan in 1994, Fraser Island has deteriorated. Most of the problems can be traced to the QPWS's obsession with catering for vehicle based recreation at the neglect of its other responsibilities. It has lost sight of its the main objective as the government nature conservation agency, protecting the biodiversity of this rare and precious natural resource. In 1998-99 sixteen times the amount spent on natural resource management was spent on road maintenance and removing garbage.
If Fraser Island is to be a heritage which future generations can enjoy as we have, there needs to be an urgent reassessment of priorities of how it is to be managed. It shouldn't be managed primarily to maximise its recreation potential even at the expense of its wildlife. This World Heritage island needs visionary management which will find alternative forms of recreation which are compatible with preserving its great biodiversity.
Without more active public support the relatively small vehicle free area proposed for Fraser Island under the Management Plan will not be achieved. Without more public support other urgent aspects of management such as fire management will be ignored while most of the budget is spent catering for the ubiquitous four wheel drives. Unless there is loud and vociferous cry of outrage from the Australian conservation movement, then the unnecessary death of wildlife will continue and the environmental degradation of Fraser Island will continue.
Fraser Island is the fatal shore where wildlife is no longer safe and where populations are starving and shrinking as a result of human mismanagement and neglect. What should be one of Australia's jewels may become a millstone unless urgent action is taken soon. Every month's delay in coming to terms with the situation exacerbates the problems as wildlife populations continue to plunge.
What can be done
Every concerned citizen and conservation group in Australia and should be writing to the Queensland Government demanding an immediate and full implementation of the 1994 Great Sandy Region Management Plan. We can't let 4WD's continue to kill Fraser Island's wildlife through our inaction. Unless a cry of outrage is heard from throughout Australia, Fraser Island will continue to be sacrificed for vehicle based reaction.
Concerned citizens and conservation groups should express their concerns to the Queensland Premier, Hon Peter Beattie, Executive Building, George Street, Brisbane, Qld, 4000, Hon Rod Welford, Environment Minister, PO Box 456, Brisbane Albert Street, Qld 4002 and Dr. Ian McPhail, Executive Director, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 155, Brisbane Albert Street, Qld 4002. Also express your concern to the Federal Environment Minister, Hon. Senator Robert Hill, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600. This is not only a matter of Queensland Government responsibility. The issues to address are:
1. Beach closures: There are more than 200 kilometres of beaches on Fraser Island. Currently all but 19 kilometres is accessible by 4WDs. This is clearly far too much. All requests to close beaches has been steadfastly resisted. The 1994 Management Plan, which would only increase the length of vehicle free beaches to 38 kilometres, must be fully implemented before it is too late.
2. Traffic controls: Speed limits on the beach need to be reduced. Rules to enforce stand off distances and speeds when passing pedestrians and flocks of terns are needed. The current beach speed limit of 80 kph is regularly exceeded. There are no rules on how close vehicles can approach wildlife or people. Police presence is curbing the behaviour of the inevitable yobbos, but this on its own is not enough.
3. Limit Free-range camping: Free range camping is having a devastating impact on the reproduction of shorebirds such as the oyster-catchers, plovers and thickknees. The draft camping management strategy now being considered entrenches camping along almost all of the eastern part of the island. This will reduce suitable nesting habitat for shorebirds. Free-range camping must be phased out and the spread of new formal camp grounds north of Waddy Point stopped.
4. Alternative transport: The Queensland Government should call for expressions of interest to construct a light rail as an alternative people mover on Fraser Island as a matter of urgency. For 25 years FIDO has advocated the introduction of this alternative transport. This would allow money now spent on road maintenance to be spent better managing the biodiversity. Plans and studies have shown that this is a feasible alternative to the existing transport pattern. A light rail will significantly reduce beach traffic and reduce the sedimentation of the lakes.
5. Fire Management Plan: Express your strongest concern about the need to protect the biodiversity of Fraser Island by adopting a well conceived Fire Management Plan. Fraser Island is now an ecological disaster waiting to happen if a wildfire were to occur now. No burning was carried out in the 1998-99 period and little controlled burning has occurred for decades. Most of Fraser Island has not been burnt for more than 20 years and significant areas have been fire free for over 40 years.
Most of the above actions will cost relatively little, though they do require WILL.
New CAC Appointed for Fraser
Stalemate broken: After six months of stalemate, Federal & Queensland Environment and Heritage Ministers, Senator Robert Hill and Rod Welford agreed on the membership of the re-formed Fraser Island World Heritage Community Advisory Committee which comprises a good representation of community, recreation, indigenous, conservation and commercial interests.
Members: The 13 member Committee is now chaired by Noosa Shire Councillor and former Mayor, Noel Playford OAM, who has an excellent track record in local government administration. Others are Mr George Haddock (National Parks Assoc.), Mr Wolf Wiegand (Fraser Coast 4WD Club), Mr Sid Boshammer (Sunfish), Mr Shane Boyd (Fraser Island Top Tours), Mr Eric Parups (Residential Landowner), Ms Rhonda Cook (Conservation), Mr Garry Smith (Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village), Ms Angela Burger (Eurong Beach Resort), Mr Mike West (Fraser Island Safaris), Mr John Sinclair (Fraser Island Defenders Organisation), Ms Frances Gala (Indigenous Interests) and Mr. Noel Mathison (Residential Landowner).
Ministerial Input: The first meeting on 23 July was attended by Rod Welford, who said: "I look forward to the Committee making a positive contribution to the preservation, protection and management of this marvellous World Heritage area. ... Implementing the recently released Camping and Dingo Management Plans show we've got a lot of work to do together. Fraser Island is one of Queensland's most important tourist destinations and preserving and protecting its unique values is one of the key tasks for the new committee. Visionary management of Fraser Island is now more important than ever, and more than ever community involvement is needed."
Harmonious: The meeting was the most constructive and harmonious for three years. The meeting agreed that the most urgent and critical issue facing Fraser Island is the implementation of a Fire Management Plan for the island which would both protect the resource and the biodiversity of the island. Unfortunately the only visible progress before the next CAC meeting on 29 October was the burning of a 542 ha block. At this rate it will take 300 years to cover Fraser Island with management burns.
Slow consultation progress: The CAC has not yet had an opportunity to have any collective input into the Camping Management Plan or the Dingo Management Strategy. The public responses to those are still being evaluated by the QPWS. The QPWS had submitted a set of proposed spending priorities to Canberra for Federal funding before CAC had an opportunity to comment. At the October meeting the priority of some of these which had been considered as faite accomplis were revised.
Fraser walks worth $millions
After completing a 170 kilometre - 10 day walk down Fraser Island with his four sons to mark his 60th birthday, FIDO Honorary Project Officer, John Sinclair, declared that Fraser Island has the potential to become Australia's most popular bushwalking destination. Sinclair's route differed from his 1976 walk down Fraser Island and he concluded that the potential for a variety of routes was one of Fraser Island's great attractions.
Economic and recreational potential: FIDO believes that within a decade with better management, there will be a "Kgari Trail" down the length of Fraser Island which could become even more famous and more popular than Australia's best known bushwalking trail, Tasmania's Overland Track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair. The Overland Track is worth millions of dollars in the tourist traffic it annually draws to Tasmania but Fraser Island offers a more pleasant climate, a greater choice of routes, greater length and is suitable for walking all year round. Fraser Island can match the rugged mountain scenery of Tasmania and has the bonus of not being plagued with snow and slush . If properly promoted Fraser Island could attract at least as many walkers as the Overland Track and be worth even more to the local economy.
Attracting Overseas Walkers: During the 170 kilometre walk the Sinclairs were surprised to encounter international visitors walking in the remote Lake Bowarrady area. Already the attractions of walking on Fraser Island is rapidly spreading by word of mouth.
Fraser walks now being left behind: Despite the potential to rival Hinchinbrook Island, Lamington National Park, the Australian Alps, or the Blue Mountains as a destination for long distance walkers, it could be left behind as other areas are actively developing walking trails. For example, the Douglas Shire Council is exploring the development of a challenging long distance trail in the Wet Tropics from Cape Tribulation to the Roaring Meg falls. In contrast, walking trails established on Fraser Island in the early 1980s have been left to go to rack and ruin, the two local Councils were milking Fraser for rate revenue and giving almost nothing back and the QPWS have failed to finish the Draft Walking Track Management Strategy which has been gathering dust in the Maryborough office for years.
QPWS responsibility: The QPWS has not looked at the draft walking track management plan which was completed using Commonwealth Government funding more than two years ago. Some evidence of this incredibly serious omission is the fact that current QPWS officers on Fraser Island were unaware of the existence of the walking trail established under the 1978 Management Plan. This track has now so overgrown that even walkers can't negotiate this route without unnecessary ordeal. Elsewhere on the island former fire trails which doubled as walking trails have also been allowed to become overgrown which further reduces the walking options. The Sinclair party could average only one kilometre per hour navigating the thickets and barbed wire vine which have grown up on the Eastern Break and Markwell's Break due to the neglect of fire trail maintenance. Most firebreaks are now unwalkable and risky to use in the event of a wild fire.
Local Benefits: While other local authorities recognise that because walkers spend longer in the district than vehicle based visitors they contribute much more per capita to the local economy, they are prepared to invest in creating new walking trails within National Parks and World Heritage area. However on Fraser Island the Councils have only used Fraser Island as a milking cow to add to the Council coffers to spend on the mainland. The other problem is then that the QPWS neglects walking tracks in favour of roads. This means that the full potential of the bushwalkers dollars are by-passing the Fraser Coast.
Fraser Island Walkers Neglected
Fraser Island walking trails are being seriously neglected in favour of motorised tourism. The Commonwealth Government 1994-95 grant of $25,700 to develop a Walking track Management Plan has long been spent but we still have not seen even a draft plan. The Manager, Great Sandy said that the draft wasn't up to scratch and needed more work on it. The report continues to languish on the desk of the Senior Conservation Officer. The lapse of more than two years with no progress even on the Draft Plan, seems to indicate that the QPWS doesn't want a plan which might indicate priorities.
On 7 October, the Manager, Great Sandy advised that the QPWS will seek to use some of the remaining $830,000 from the Structural readjustment package for "Walking track upgrade, maintenance and realignment construction and completion of the walking track management plan. ..."
The draft walking plan which has been kept from public view for years. But it is also proposed to spend this $830,000 on works as part of the Camping Management Plan and the Dingo Management Strategy, neither of which have progressed beyond the "Draft" stage or been to the CAC or the Management Committee.
Public participation in Fraser Island planning appears to be no more than tokenistic. QPWS managers are going to do what they want to do with or without public endorsement.
Scientists Support FIDO
Experts assemble:In early November a group of scientists and experts on Fraser Island and Cooloola assembled in Brisbane to review the World Heritage values of the two parts of the Great Sandy Region. John Sinclair was there to make a contribution. The purpose was twofold. In the case of Fraser Island it was to review the values of the island in the light of better knowledge and to identify the threats to those values with the view to focussing management on the need to better protect them. In the case of Cooloola it was with the view of reviewing its values against the revised World Heritage criteria with a view to renominating it for the World Heritage List.
Strong Consensus for Renomination: There was a strong consensus that both Fraser Island and Cooloola did meet all four criteria for inscribing on the World Heritage List as a natural property. (Currently Fraser Island only is inscribed and in 1992 was only judged on the basis of the assessment then to meet two of the criteria.) There was also a strong agreement that there was a case to be made that both areas also met the cultural criteria. Although it seems that their Aboriginal heritage is more of national than international significance, there is a stronger argument that these two sites in their present condition are the result of prolonged conservation campaigns which are of undoubted international significance.
Timetable: On this basis it seems most probable that following the publication review and refereeing of the final report, a new World Heritage nomination will be considered by Fraser Island Ministerial Council before next July. It seems unlikely that UNESCO could inscribe the new area before late 2001 even if there is no delay in the process.
Values Threatened: Apart from reinforcing the values of the two areas it was interesting to hear the scientists quite independently assert the need to improve the management of both areas. There was an extremely strong case made out that the fire regime was inappropriate and being seriously neglected. There was strong view that the current focus on recreation was threatening many of the region's World Heritage values. The archaeologists brought to light that for years they had been urging the restriction of free range camping along the beach front because of the damage that this is causing to cultural sites. (Curiously none of this data was presented in the Draft Camping Management Plan.)
It was refreshing to know that FIDO's views are not without strong support from the most respected experts in their respective fields. We hope that more notice will be taken of these views and that in particular more resources will now be allocated to the management of natural and cultural resources. As the story on the Fraser Financial Pie in this MOONBI (p.2) indicates, the Queensland Government's allocation of a mere $341,000 or just 8.3% to the management of Fraser Island in 1998-99 is an appalling indictment of neglect of the highest order.
On August 18 there were 431 camps just between Eli Creek and Corroboree Beach. (This excludes the Dundubarra and Cathedral Beach campgrounds). There were 101 camps + 11 backpacker groups at Indian Head. On 20 September there were 505 camps between Eli Creek and Corroboree Beach and 63 camps + 7 backpacker groups at Indian Head.
The QPWS has been extremely tardy yet again in completing its Report on the Toyota Fishing Expo.
Bias to the North
The disproportionate orientation towards spending in the Northern part of Fraser Island is evident from the reports of recent developments on Fraser Island. It is exacerbated by the division of the island between two local authorities and the inter-city rivalry which has demanded that at least as much be spent in the northern half controlled by Hervey Bay as in the southern half controlled by Maryborough. This is despite this clear recommendation from the Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management and Use of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region: "Consideration be given to including in any plan of management provisions to: (a) direct future development away from Fraser Island to the mainland; and
(b) direct future development on Fraser Island to the eastern seaboard in the southern half of the island, especially south of Eurong;
An example of the bias to the north in contravention of the Fitzgerald recommendations has been the expenditure on the new toilets at Ocean Lake and Middle Rocks and now plans for a new campground near Ocean lake. All members of the CAC had assumed that the new boardwalk at Middle Rocks was part of the Growth & Development money which had to be spent in the Hervey Bay half of the island. All were astonished to learn that this money had been from new project money which none were aware of.
The QPWS unilaterally decided to spend $115,000 on a new one way road at Middle Rocks without referral to the CAC. This wasn't a priority of the CAC or Fitzgerald.
Praise for QPWS Track Workers
MOONBI has gained the unfortunate reputation of being critical of bad management on Fraser Island but not dishing out enough praise for good works of which we approve. While there have been many things needing to be addressed, there has been more criticism than praise. We are about to correct that now by praise for some really good work undertaken by the QPWS through a small team of three workers.
They were used to rapidly respond to the erosion at Lake Boomanjin. They constructed a new balcony overlooking the magnificent Knifeblade Sandblow (just off the Woralie Track). They did a good job upgrading the walking track around Lake Allom. Elsewhere their work is evident in the maintenance and upgrade of walking tracks such as leading to Wabby Lakes. Good work, fellows. Many similar projects await such careful attention.
Welford Funds Fireweed Research
MOONBI 95 reported on the mysterious toxic cyanobacteria, Lyngbya majuscula, commonly known as "fireweed", which is becoming increasingly prevalent on Fraser Island. MOONBI 95 said, "FIDO wants to know why this problem which was virtually unknown from Fraser Island until the 1990s, has now become a much more common occurrence, and what are the environmental factors contributing to it."
That is now in hand. Environment Minister, Rod Welford, has acted quickly and in early July announced that the Queensland Government will provide the University of Queensland with $40,000 to research and monitor fireweed. This is a mysterious toxic bacteria causing ill-health among fishers and swimmers and extensive environmental damage along Queensland's coastal waters.
He announced the program saying: "Seasonal blooms of cyanobacteria, called Lyngbya, have increased in severity and extent and we have to find out why. We've had major outbreaks in southern Pumicestone Passage and northern Deception Bay with severe blooms in waters off Fraser Island. Lyngbya is known to cause asthma, severe dermatitis and eye irritation and to date more than 1000 fishers and 1300 swimmers have been affected. It's also killing seagrass, including the last remaining beds in Deception Bay, and is affecting crabs and fisheries.
"I've asked the University of Queensland to determine what triggered the growth and proliferation of the Lyngbya bacteria and to develop strategies to control and mitigate the blooms. As Lyngbya dies and decays, it fouls beaches with putrid smelling, rotting detritus and releases nitrogen into the water. We want to know the geographical extent of Lyngbya blooms and their impacts on human and ecological health, as well as raising awareness of the bacteria and ways of avoiding and minimising irritations. The study will also look at the toxins present in the bacteria, whether iron stimulates the growth of Lyngbya, the health risks to humans and ecology and possible prevention and controlling mechanisms."
Dugongs Get Greater Protection
In July Rod Welford also announced the Beattie Government's commitment to achieving greater protection and recovery of threatened dugong by endorsing an overdue Dugong Conservation and Management Plan. First suggested in 1992 and presented in draft form in 1997, the upgraded Plan puts greater emphasis on determining threats, and how to lessen them, over the next five years.
This new commitment is very timely given the growing concern about the continuing number of dugong deaths. Mr. Welford said: "While we understand that natural mortality accounts for many stranded dugong carcasses, there have been too many unexplained deaths of late. Direct threats to dugongs include set mesh fishing nets, shark nets, boat strike, illegal hunting and possibly in one recent instance, underwater explosion. The Dugong Protection Areas seem to have been successful in reducing threats from fishing activities but they now need to be formally assessed covering all threats to dugong and their habitat. Population declines in the southern Great Barrier Reef and Hervey Bay since the 1980's, however, give real cause for concern."
Although dugong distribution spans 40 countries, its estimated Australian waters support up to 100,000 animals, with about half found in Queensland waters.
FIDO Wants More Weeds Out
More than 12 truckloads of weeds were removed from Fraser Island's Eurong village during FIDO's July working bee as a part of a renewed "War on Weeds". The working bee involved volunteers from south east Queensland and as far away as Adelaide and an off-duty ranger, but there was nobody from the Maryborough or Hervey Bay communities.
FIDO spent more than $500 to assist volunteers with transport and accommodation on the island doing work which is a council and landholder responsibility and has resulted from council negligence. We have only touched the tip of an enormous problem.
More remain: Although thousands of weeds were removed from public lands, there remain thousands more weeds (particularly on private land) which still need to be urgently eliminated before they spread outside the township areas to invade the Great Sandy National Park.
Pernicious: Most of the weeds removed were cassia, sisal, lantana and groundsel but new weeds identified which pose an even greater danger to the integrity of the Fraser Island World Heritage area are Singapore Daisy and asparagus ferns which are being cultivated in some gardens.
Control Urgently Needed: Because birds disperse seeds of asparagus ferns easily, they spread quickly and become hard to eliminate. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent annually attempting to control these garden escapees in the Iluka and Lord Howe Island World Heritage areas . We need to get the weeds on Fraser Island under control now before they get out of hand. This requires a concerted effort by both Maryborough and Hervey Bay City Councils to control weeds in the areas under their jurisdiction,.
While the QPWS is responsible for removing weeds in the National Park, it isn't responsible for cleaning up Council land. The weeds are smothering some very vulnerable native vegetation and threatening the integrity of a World Heritage area.
The two City Councils which control the freehold land, the main sources of the weeds, had a net excess revenue of $200,000 from Fraser Island after allowing 10% contribution to general administration. Fraser Island contributes enormously to the tourist economies of both Maryborough and Hervey Bay but if the Councils want to continue to control their respective territories on this World Heritage area they have to show much more responsibility in how they manage it, and that includes helping to bring weeds problem under control promptly.
MOONBI Got the $s Wrong Again
MOONBI 95 apologised for statements in MOONBI 94 about the Commonwealth Government and the 1991 Growth and Development Package. It appears that we were more right than wrong. Of the $1 million promised in the Federal Election campaign none of it has yet flowed through to Fraser Island. Spending the remaining $870,000 awaits the agreement of Senator Hill on how that money should be spent. Worse we discover now that in the 1998-99 budget only $70,000 was actually allocated to Fraser Island. While we have not been short changed we have been forced to queue with our begging bowl to receive this long promised money for an inordinate time.
Fraser's Ramsar Recognition
On World Environment Day, 5 June, Federal Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill announced that Great Sandy Strait had been listed as a wetland of international significance recognised and protected under the international RAMSAR Convention.
"Among other major Ramsar commitments Australia has fulfilled, we have made great progress on the development of a multilateral Migratory Waterbird Agreement for the Asia Pacific region with the support of countries such as Japan, China, Russia and the Philippines."
Senator Hill described Great Sandy Strait as "a sand passage estuary located between the mainland and the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. The Strait is the least modified of three such passages in Queensland and consists of intertidal sand and mud flats, extended seagrass beds, mangroves and saltmarshes. Covering an area of over 93,000 ha, it's an important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds. The Strait is also important for a wide range of other species, including seabirds, fish, crustaceans, dugong, sea turtles and dolphins."
The Oddities of the Fens
Ever since the 1995 Ramsar post-Conference safari to Fraser Island identified our now famous fens, we have been fascinated by these geomorphological oddities which are mainly found in low lying land just behind the littoral zone along the western side of the island.
Gathering no moss: In a recent report from Richard Lindsay who has studied these recently recognised features he advises that the strangely colourless "moss" forming the peat is actually the massed rhizome rootlets of Empodisma minus. A New Zealand scientist suggests that it is not a "saprophytic moss", but Empodisma minus. While this may solve one riddle there are still lots of very unexpected and exciting things to be discovered about Fraser's fens.
New Values: In reviewing Fraser Island's World Heritage values in November, the Scientific Advisory Committee identified the fens as having special significance. Contributors reported: "The fens of Fraser Island and Cooloola are the only know patterned fens in subtropical wetlands. Normally they are found in elevated lands or cool temperate to cold climates. 2/3 of the patterned fens are on Fraser Island. They may be up to 6000 years old. Some are reticulated and some are linear. The pH is generally under 3.5 but can be as low as 2.7 and can make cuts sting. Acid frogs are very common. Another curiosity are the earthworms which inhabit this very acidic environment. They are near the older dunes with a high freshwater flow. There is a 1 to 4 metre depth of peat in the fens. These are the only patterned fens in the world known to support fish and crustacea.
Progress on FIDO's ProjectsLight Rail
MOONBI 95 reported on the $5000 grant which we received to produce an alternative recreation transport plan for Fraser Island. This is now more urgent than ever as the roads on Fraser Island degrade and deteriorate at an ever accelerating rate. The whole grant is being devoted to exploring the option of building a light rail on the Bogimbah track.
FIDO has received the first draft of the "pre-feasibility" report from Gutteridge Haskins and Davey which is most impressive. It defines the route and the problems and gives more background to the project. We are expecting the final report by January. As soon as this report is available it will be posted on FIDO's Internet site: www.fido.org.au.
"Then and Now"
The project to develop a photographic archive to safeguard the history and the visual record of Fraser Island's past is progressing solidly thanks to the devoted application of Gold Coast based amateur photographer, Harry Gentle. Harry has spent countless hours in a darkroom pouring over negatives and old photos and making copies which will be available in the public domain through the QPWS or from FIDO. We may also place a selection on the Internet.
Some Visitors Perspectives
Following his first visit to Fraser Island with his father in August, 1999 prior to setting off to studying at Harvard, Paul Kromwyk wrote a lyrical 8 stanza verse about his impressions of Fraser Island. The first 6 stanzas of "Serenity of Fraser Island" were lyrical but the final two stanzas echo frequently made observations:
Despite the island's natural serenity and sense of isolation
Only a thin channel guards it from the mass population.
The rare privilege of partaking in what mother nature has made
Has steadily fallen victim to a burgeoning tourist trade.
Convoys of four wheel drives race each other for the best camping site,
It is simply a hazard to use the beach either day or night.
And generators drown out the calming sound of the ocean;
The tides of change to preserve our island need to be set in motion.
Not isolated: If such views were isolated opinions we would not give them such prominence. It is interesting that in considering the World Heritage values of Fraser Island a number of scientists with divergent backgrounds and interests echoed the sentiments that some of Fraser Island values in human welfare terms are being eroded by poor management which is destroying the sense of isolation which Fraser Island once possessed.
Backpackers Pose Dilemma
Expatriate Complaint:FIDO has received a copy of a letter sent to the QPWS by an ex-patriate Australian who visited Fraser Island with her German husband following their hiking trip in January:
Our trouble started when we camped at Lake McKenzie on Day 2. Arriving in plenty of time to find a good camping spot within the "Hikers Only" area, we set up camp and went for a swim (about) 3 p.m. ... people were throwing their cigarette butts around .. drinking beer while swimming ... By 6 p.m. car loads of people were ignoring the "Hikers Only Camping Area" sign and setting up camp in this area. ... One lot set up so their tent was actually hanging over ours. The area was so crowded that when some hikers turned up at 8.00 pm they found it hard to find enough space to set up their tent.
Next morning the ranger made these people pack up within 1/2 hour, otherwise imposing a fine.
The following night was twice as bad. I counted 13 tents with some people camping outside the boundaries. Fire pits were dug; people broke off branches in the "regeneration area" ; drinking until approx. 2 a.m.; extremely loud talking by totally drunk people; people going to the toilet right beside our tent. Next morning the ranger did .. exactly the same as the day before. "Just please pack up and leave within 1/2 hour.
Why do you allow so many visitors into this fragile environment? Why are people with no 4WD experience allowed to rent and come across and further damage the environment? Why are there no heavy fines imposed on offenders? You are allowing people, mostly foreigners to destroy the environment for a totally ridiculous amount of money per head camping cost.
QPWS Reply: We have the benefit of the reply from the Manager, Great Sandy: Cigarette butt littering has become a particular problem at Lake McKenzie. ... It is hoped that education message (in brochures) will change people's attitudes to this form of littering. ... It is intended to close the camping ground at Lake McKenzie within the next 5 years ... (but) it is hoped that these actions could be commenced within 1-2 years. ... The unruly behaviour of some campers is indeed a problem. Behavioural problems occur most frequently at the busiest times (when) staff are most severely stretched and rely most on visitors obeying signs and regulations. ...
With regard to the enforcement of the regulations, rangers can and do issue infringement notices for offences. In several more serious cases the matters were prosecuted through the courts. I would be disappointed if no enforcement action was taken against visitors found deliberately damaging vegetation. In cases of offensive behaviour an infringement notice is frequently given if witnesses are available. Any groups repeating the same offence after being warned and/or fined would normally be issued and infringement notice and ordered to leave the National Park.
This was hardly reassuring to the visitors who were effectively terrorised. They were visiting at a time when the same Manager had deemed that it was quiet enough to allow supervised beach landings by aircraf because it was not a "busy-period". In John Howard style, there was no apology only a "Sorry", and no acceptance of the fact that the ranger should have issued an infringement notice and ordered the offenders out of the park.
Backpacker Problem: Behavioural problems from "backpackers" (a short-hand term for young international visitors) has become a major problem on Fraser Island.
Difficulties with transients: Some QPWS Officers have deemed that fines of such offenders are futile because these visitors are transitory and can ignore any infringement notices because they will be out of the country before any action can be taken. Many rangers avoid issuing infringement notices to such people when they are observed making an offence believing that it is a waste of time. They believe that the best they can do is to issue verbal reprimand. As a result networks at backpackers hostels advise of this apparent immunity to others before they set off to the island. 4WD hire firms get around the problem by ensuring that there is a compliance in the event of vehicular damage by holding the passports of the hirers until the vehicles have been returned in good order.
Enforcement needed: If "backpackers" can get away with outrageous behaviour with apparent immunity (and the word spreads like wildfire through the hostels) then the behaviour observed on Fraser Island will continue to adversely impact on the experience of other visitors.
The Kingfisher Road Debacle
Sworn of the Bible:During the 1987 Local Government Court hearing of FIDO's appeal against approval to construct the Kingfisher Resort sworn testimony was given that if the project went ahead the proponents would build and maintain the road from the resort to Fraser Island's Ocean Beach via Cornwall's Break. The reality has been quite the contrary. Kingfisher has shirked this responsibility. The road is maintained by the QPWS at public expense. Over 9 years since Kingfisher Resort opened a vast amount of taxpayers dollars have been spent maintaining the resort's access to Lake McKenzie and the Ocean Beach.
The road up the steep hill on the resort's boundary which enables the resort vehicles to access the rest of the island washed out during the heavy rain earlier this year. To enable the resort to host two ecotourism conferences, Kingfisher successfully demanded that the road be rebuilt. $95,000 (3 times what was spent on natural resource management in 1998-99) was spent rebuilding this road. Kingfisher Resort has contributed nothing to this work.
Contrary to ecotourism: The 8 core principles of the National Ecotourism Accreditation Program defines operator's responsibilities to "practice ecologically sustainable tourism" and making a "proactive contribution to the conservation of natural areas". We don't believe that Kingfisher is upholding these principles and we believe that their current operations are unsustainable.
A Promise is a Promise: Somehow the Queensland Government has not enforced the condition of the approval for Kingfisher to proceed but this doesn't and shouldn't absolve Kingfisher from its moral obligation. It cannot continue to do a Pontius Pilate because some bureaucrat failed to enforce an agreement Kingfisher entered into. FIDO is calling on Kingfisher to abide by its promises and stop externalising its obligations.
RAM creates recreation bias
77% of all money spent on Fraser Island is raised by fees under the Recreation Areas Management (RAM) Act. This act specifies that all money raised by such fees to go to Fraser Island be spent on catering for recreation needs on the island. FIDO believes that a narrowly defined view of "recreation" by some QPWS Officer has resulted in almost all of this money being spent on "roads" and rubbish removal and other aspects of motorised recreation. This has been to the neglect of nature conservation and protection of the island's resource.
The RAM Act is being revised but while FIDO is not opposed to fees collected to assist in the management of Fraser Island, we are appalled that RAM revenue has been used so blatantly to scale back the state government's contribution from consolidated revenue.
Descending Spiral Explained
A Black Hole:Roads on Fraser Island have proven to be a black hole and money keeps being spent on "maintaining" them, mainly at the behest of the tour operators with the very large buses without even knowing or attempting to establish the environmental impacts of the larger vehicles (or even the volume of traffic on the roads.
$$$ Don't help: A disproportionate amount of the island discretionary budget is spent on road repairs, providing firewood and removing garbage. Despite this expenditure the state of the roads continues to deteriorate and even greater demands are made to spend more money on roads.
No residual: Expenditure on roads is contributing the island's degradation and consuming the money urgently needed for other major management problems. Little of the budget remains to manage natural resources and bio-diversity. There's no budget to organise a fire management workshop or for machinery to manage controlled burning. At the current rate of management burning, it will take 300 years just to burn Fraser Island once!!! The Walking Track Management Plan has been in abeyance for 4 years.
Self-exacerbating: The more money spent on roads the more the whole position is exacerbated.
* Grading the surface accelerates sand sluicing.
* Graded roads attract more traffic and degrade quickly.
* Sand sluiced from road surfaces fills lakes / depressions.
* Sluiced sand is burying the original substrates, suffocating vegetation, and creating deep artificial cuttings and high embankments.
* The roads are continuing to deteriorate at a now accelerating rate now that the root mat is broken.
* The budget bleeds to repair "roads" for no positive traffic results but adverse environmental impacts.
* Road maintenance uses funds which should be implementing the adopted Visitor Management Strategy and the Camping Management Plans.
* The Fraser Island budget must ensure adequate funds to manage the island's biodiversity. Much money currently spent on roads needs to be diverted to manage both biodiversity and cultural resources.
* Alternative modes of transport and visitation must be fully explored as a matter of the highest priority to develop a more ecologically sustainable pattern for visitation to Fraser Island.
* Either improve Fraser Island's "carrying capacity" through management or cut visitor numbers.
* Roads must be managed better. Roads need to be closed to traffic during wet condition. Axle loading limits need to be enforced as they are on conventional roads. (A study on axle loading impacts is long overdue).
* The budget must be cut to ensure that all aspects of Fraser Island management are being adequately addressed.
* Some road spending should be diverted to explore options to introduce more sustainable people movers such as a light rail as an alternative to the existing transport pattern. (A $60,000 study would enable the Queensland Government to call for Expressions of Interest to build a light rail.)
* Other patterns of recreation including the walking tracks need a much higher priority.