Letters to the editor November 13

Free Camping

I've walked along the Kalang River at Urunga for some years. Imagine my joy at seeing the bank free from caravans and motorhomes. I've camped there too, but only for two nights, not two weeks! I'll gladly give up that privilege to see the riverbank restored to use by local people.

I read the letter from David Rickertt (Courier-Sun, Nov 6). The gist of it seems to be that because he's a pensioner he's entitled to free camping wherever he chooses to go. Sorry David, I disagree. Why not free camping for homeless people, or those with young families and large mortgages? If you want to camp you need to stay only one or two nights, pay for facilities, or stay home. I can see the need for cheap camping in Bellingen Shire. I do believe it should be strictly limited to one or two nights and not located in places used by people for recreational activities.

Many of the people free camping for extended periods on the Kalang foreshores had quite expensive self contained rigs. If they can afford that much money for a hobby then why not a bit more to help out the local shire. There are a couple of local people who visit regularly and live in their old vans because it's their only home. They should be have somewhere to stay as they are already disadvantaged by homelessness. Better to have places for them than for grey nomads who choose to travel, if we are taking about social justice.

I love to camp. I occasionally free camp. I don't stay long. I do believe that local people have the right to access the recreational areas in which they live.

Jennie Beswick


Jobs not free campers

Bellingen Shire needs to focus on job development, not pie in the sky ideas. Let's get more industry at the Raleigh industrial area and the sewerage project underway and that will cause more employment opportunities for locals. Also the subdivision development at Urunga will bring jobs and permanent residents, which will also increase business in areas like Urunga. A few hundred houses will trump a handful of free campers every day of the week. Rates for council and development bringing people to our area. Then the protesters will complain, but they need to look where they live, was it not all originally something else, who developed that piece of land, house, apartment etc. The population in Australia is growing and it is much better to spread the load to rural/regional areas. The council would be able then with that sort of rate base to increase the outside work crew, not the inside paperwork. Roads, rates, rubbish, water and the future of the shire and employment for locals. There are so many areas of this shire that require attention and the focus at the moment is not on important issues but would and should be described as side issues when you have completed what the ratepayers need

Trevor Williams


We Dare Not Question

Again an unqualified opinion, but I was always of the belief that the headwaters, or more specifically a water catchment, represented every square metre of land that sloped downwards to form a creek or river, such as for example the Kalang River. Obviously there are aquifers underground, water reserves such as the Great Artesian Basin. These reserves under pressure plus moisture stored in the soil is usually the reason that many of our rivers and creeks continue to flow during very dry times.

How is this for a set of credentials. Kevin Evans a board member of Connectivity Conservation Group, Great Eastern Ranges Ltd and President of the Coffs Coast branch of the National Parks Association of NSW. Speaking with authority and knowledge on the subject, he recently addressed council on the Kalang issue, and also contributed a lengthy letter to the editor (Courier-Sun, Oct 30).

I'm a little taken aback at Kevin's claim (if correctly reported) that the Kalang was the water supply for both Bellingen and Nambucca when it doesn't supply a drop to either of those town's water supply, Urunga North Beach or anywhere in the shire apart from the Kalang locals. Even more surprising that trees of the forest in dry times without rain, condensed moisture on their leaves which fell in drops and assisted in replenishing water to the river. Never have I or any bushman I know, on a dry non-rainy day experienced such an event. But just like the Irishman who always said to be sure, to be sure, I ventured out into the scrub, dry early morning, cloudless sky. And sure enough a few drips wandering about, but not a single drop falling to the ground.

Finally that quote from that famous Italian Scientist Galileo, centuries back who was the first to claim the earth was not flat, but indeed round. He claimed in questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. They reportedly locked him up.

Darcey Browning


Editor's Note:

1. Kevin Evans never said Bellingen and Nambucca relied on the Kalang for water and nor was this reported. He referred to the proposed Headwaters Reserve as safeguarding the Nambucca, Bellingen and Kalang catchments. The Headwaters Nature Reserve proposal includes areas of state forest in the Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers headwaters as well as in the Kalang headwaters.

2. As far as stream flow is concerned, Kevin responded: "I didn't suggest this happens always during hot dry conditions; however, in hot periods when moist air moves inland in the night/morning the moisture settles on cooler leaves and then condenses to form droplets that drip to the ground below."

Forestry lack transparency

Dear Melinda Pavey,

I have written to you with no response, so I now respond to your reiteration of Forestry's policy in our local paper (Courier-Sun, Oct 23).

Forestry may have scientists, but they are not supervising the contractors!

We have recent evidence of many, many breaches. Also their science is not independent. It conforms to Forestry's harvest requirements which are determined by unsustainable contracts with Boral.

These contracts mean that they are actually losing 7 million a year of taxpayer's money on native forest harvesting, according to the the independent scientists at The Australia Institute.

Forestry are not transparent. All this is hidden from the general public. It is interesting that profitability is not addressed by Forestry. Perhaps you could check this.

The sustainability of deforestation is not addressed either. Australia has earned a reputation for clearing forests faster than any other first world nation.

We are up there in the extinction stakes too. We are clearing faster than ever before. We are chopping down forests faster than they can grow back and employing less people than ever doing it.

Forestry are not transparent. What is the breakdown of the local employment numbers?

How does this compare to our nature-based tourism which earns $8000 a minute on the north coast of NSW and is increasing at around 10 per cent annually.

Tourists come here for our clean rivers, amazing wildlife and wilderness, as well as our 20 coffee shops.

What kind of jobs do we want for our children? Those in tourism and the many related industries, or working in a dangerous dirty mill for poor wages for a few years before the trees run out?

Forestry workers could be better employed in sustaining our forests and providing public access and planting trees in deforested areas.

This Kalang area is a biodiversity hotspot and the known habitat to many breeding colonies of endangered species, whom Forestry's pre-logging surveys have failed to acknowledge.

Most timber will go outside the area. Have you seen the harvest plans? Of the timber harvested 90 per cent is blackbutt, a high demand flooring timber, sold to countries like China for the wealthy.

Regeneration is unlikely, when the timber is being harvested on the steepest slopes possible, on the most erodible soils in NSW. Please check Forestry maps, it is all there.

What is likely is that we will only get weedy regrowth. Science has shown that areas logged increase bushfire risk. Logging these fragile slopes has caused huge erosion (88,000 tones in 1992 at Oakes SF) and may easily result in the river going underground and the aquatic species downstream, including Kalang river oysters, dying.

Most importantly, Melinda, are you failing to address the needs and concerns of the vast majority of your constituents, who have shown, in the recent street march and by many means, that they don't want this? A small short term view for the benefit of a few is just not fair.

Let's get an independent scientific and economic study done since these are what you say you value.

At a time of extreme drought, we are an oasis of green. Unlike many areas we still have our forests. Our forest provides water to our rivers and protects our catchment. Kalang Headwaters need protection permanently.

What is your long term water protection plan for these two rivers, the Kalang and the Bellinger, which will be affected if this goes ahead?

Louise Cranny



It was upsetting to see our natural Lido spoilt by an ugly steel infrastructure right in the middle of this beautiful environment.

It would have been better use of our money and achieved two outcomes to have widened the walkway that was already there (even if just the first part for now). This could have incorporated a ramp or workable solution to allow disability access.

Note: Reflections does not own our waterfront, our community does!

Sharon Grainger