Focus on Cessnock biodiversity

Great photo of Colin Fitzsimons at Bow Wow Creek Gorge.  The wealth of biodiversity in Cessnock is amazing and must be protected.

James Ryan

Focus on Cessnock biodiversity  Colin Fitzsimons at Bow Wow Creek 2.6.13

By DAMON CRONSHAW

July 2, 2013, 10:18 p.m.

CESSNOCK local government area contains almost half the land area of the Lower Hunter but little is known about its biodiversity, a new report says.

“Biodiversity is what makes our Australian landscapes unique,” Cessnock City Council’s draft biodiversity strategy said.

“It underpins our quality of life and our livelihoods.”

Councillors will consider the report at a meeting today.

Greens councillor James Ryan said the strategy would “map the areas that are valuable”.

“Once we know where they are and what they are, then we have to shape how we want our community to develop around that,” Cr Ryan said.

“It will allow development to be supported by the whole community and which doesn’t create conflict and division because we’ve properly identified constraints.”

Liberal councillor Rod Doherty said red tape was already making development too onerous, including for standard residential blocks.

“I’m concerned the strategy will place severe restrictions on future developable land,” Cr Doherty said.

The council report said the strategy’s objective was “improved biodiversity protection and resilience for future generations”.

“It is equally important to recognise the value of agricultural production and other land uses in the Cessnock LGA,” it said.

Mount Vincent resident Colin Fitzsimons, who has a conservation agreement with National Parks and Wildlife Service on his 98-hectare property, said the strategy would be good for the area.

“People have forgotten that oxygen comes from trees,” Mr Fitzsimons said.

“Cessnock council is very lucky it still has a lot more bush than Maitland or Newcastle.”

Cr Doherty said 70 per cent of the Cessnock area would never be developed because it was forested.

“That’s the Watagan Mountains, Mount Sugarloaf range and Mount Vincent – it’s pure forest and mountains,” Cr Doherty said.

Cr Ryan said biodiversity in the lowlands was much different to the mountains.

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