GEPS submission to Draft Community Strategic Plan

This submission will focus on the need to give greater emphasis in the Plan to environmental issues, including biodiversity protection and climate change.

With regard to community priorities for the CSP, for some reason our group was unaware of the scoping process and didn’t have an opportunity to have an input. We regard protection of biodiversity and planning for climate change adaption as important community issues that should be included in this plan.

  1. Protection of Biodiversity

The Environment section of the DCSP (page 18) understates the extraordinarily rich biodiversity of the Kiama Municipality.  It doesn’t recognize the link between community health and well-being and the environment.

Kiama’s biodiversity is dependent on:

  1. The significant subtropical rainforest associated with the volcanic soils of Saddleback Mountain. (This rainforest has been described by Dr. Kevin Mills as the largest subtropical rainforest in SE Australia and it is one of only 5 major subtropical rainforests occurrences in NSW. It supports a major Endangered Ecological Community.)
  2. The remnant vegetation assemblages associated with the huge freshwater wetlands behind Seven Mile Beach; Coomonderry Swamp (Shoalhaven) and the cleared and drained Foys Swamp and drainage basin to Crooked River (Kiama). Also the beach/dune/littoral rainforest/wetland vegetation profile at the northern end of SMB. (This ecosystem supports at lease five Endangered Ecological Communities and an Endangered Greater Glider population.)
  3. The rare vegetation associated with the volcanic bluestone hills to the north Jamberoo Valley. This unusual ecosystem supports two Endangered Ecological Communities)

These ecosystems support an unusually rich biodiversity and rare association of EECs that supports a high number endangered plants and animals.

The local community and Council are poorly informed about the significance of these ecosystems so acknowledgement of their significance in the Plan would encourage a better understanding of their scientific values and assist in their protection.

The DCSP refers to 4 Endangered Ecological Communities in the municipality, we are aware of at least eight EECs in Kiama LGA (appendix 1).

It would be fair to say that Kiama has a highly diverse environment that supports an unusually rich biodiversity that is worthy of protection.

The strategic plan should aim to better inform the community about these values and identify strategies to engage residents in their protection and enhancement

With greater awareness, naturalists, bushwalkers, birdwatchers, tourists and local residents would increasingly enjoy and respect this unique environment and this would contribute to better community health and well-being.

These values could be recognised in the Plan through amending ‘Our Strategies’ to include:

Well Planned and Managed Spaces, Places Environment:

  • Amend3, sustainable development to ecologically sustainable development. (The term ‘sustainable development’ really doesn’t mean anything, it could mean sustaining the rate of development).
  • Add an additional dot point 2.6: Our community appreciates the natural environment and is engaged in its protection and enhancement. This would recognize the role land care and environment groups play in caring for the environment.  It would also highlight the role of council in planning to protect these values and informing the community about the extraordinary environmental values.
  1. Climate Change

The CSIRO/BOM State of the Climate Reports 2014[1] and 2016[2] and the Australian State of the Environment Report 2017[3] outline facts about how our climate is changing.

The State of the Climate Report 2014 and Australia State of the Environment Report 2017  make conservative predictions about climate changes expected in the future.

These Reports state that:

  • Sea levels have risen more than 200mm and are currently rising by at least 2.5 to 3mm a year. Worst-case scenario predictions estimate an SLR of nearly a meter by 2100 with sea levels rising at a possible rate of 12mm per year by the end of the century.
  • Temperatures have already increased by nearly 1 degree and could rise by as much as 1.5 to 5 degrees by 2100.
  • Sea surface temperatures have increased by 1 degree and increased sea surface heat may influence the frequency and intensity of coastal storms.

It really is astonishing that the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology have clearly identified the climate change that we have already experienced and made cautious predictions as to what the future holds, yet this information is not being incorporated into Council community strategic planning.  Councils usually underpin planning decisions with informed advice but this doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes the threats associated with Climate Change.

Kiama is a coastal/rural community that is being impacted by climate change yet the DCSP makes no mention of how Council will assist the community to adjust to climate change impacts. There is also no acknowledgement of the role council and the community can play to mitigate these impacts at a local level.

It appears that Council and the community are not well informed about how the climate will impact on Kiama’s infrastructure, tourism, environment, rural industries and community health.

This Plan provides a great opportunity to promote community and council awareness and address these CC threats through community strategic planning.

CC is already impacting on our beaches.  Higher sea levels will increase flooding risks.  CC will lead to wetland retreat and changes in biodiversity. Hotter days will impact on community health and lead to increased bushfire risk . CC also poses serious infrastructure threats along the coast. So CC will impact on almost all components of this Plan.

To address this failure Council needs to acknowledge these threats and propose strategies to mitigate and adjust to these impacts. This could be addressed through a separate CC objective, or by incorporating CC strategies into objectives 1, 2 and 3.

Again I would like to stress that our group was not involved in the community consultation process for this plan. As the peak environmental group in Kiama we   feel that we have a level of local knowledge to contribute meaningfully to council environmental planning.

Howard H Jones
Secretary GEPS

Appendix 1

The Endangered Ecological Communities found at Seven Mile Beach in the Kiama LGA listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, include:

  1. Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest of the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions 
(also occurring at Minnamurra and Werri wetlands)
  2. Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains of the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions 

  3. Littoral Rainforest in the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions

  4. Bangalay Sand Forest of the Sydney Basin and South East Corner bioregions
  5. Coastal Saltmarsh in the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions (also occurring at Werri wetlands)

Endangered Ecological Communities found in the Kiama and Jamberoo include:

  1. Illawarra subtropical rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion – (Illawarra Bush occurring at Saddleback Mountain, Foxground and northern Jamberoo)
  2. Melaleuca armillaris Tall Shrubland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (occurring at northern Jamberoo)
  3. Freshwater Wetlands on Coastal Floodplains of the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions
(Spring Creek)

The Greater Glider Population in the Seven Mile Beach area was recently listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act as an Endangered Population.