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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cray logging buffer call

The Mercury: Cray logging buffer call [15dec05]

THE international scientific expert on Tasmania's unique species of giant freshwater crayfish has weighed into the controversy surrounding protection of the threatened species.

Premek Hamr, a scientist with of the Upper Canada College who studied the crayfish for many years while in Tasmania, has written to the State Government arguing that the small creeks and rivulets where the juvenile crayfish grows must be protected by 30m buffer zones.

This would be a considerable toughening of the regulations which protect creeks only from immediate logging where the crayfish larvae have been shown to live, not across the entire region of their known habitat.

Even then, on the headwaters of these permanent creeks where tributary rivulets are often very small and frequent, logging buffer zones need only be 10m wide.

Bur Dr Hamr's submission to the State Government's Draft Recovery Plan for the giant crayfish, calls for all streams and habitats to be protected from logging, agricultural activities, chemical use and disturbance.

"Based on international and Australian studies, it is recommended that the width of buffers should be kept at least 30m for all stream [sizes]," his submission argues.

"The reservation of habitat will have some negative impacts on resource harvesting.

"However the positive aspects of overall biodiversity preservation, water quality, preservation of habitat for native fish and trout fisheries which promote tourism, as well as the opportunities for eco-tourism based on [the crayfish's] high profile internationally must be taken into account as positive outcomes."

Greens environment spokesman Nick McKim said it was clear the Draft Recovery Plan was designed to protect forest industry profits rather than look after the freshwater crayfish.

He accused the State Government of pandering to the interests of logging companies such as Gunns and called on Environment Minister Judy Jackson to ensure Dr Hamr's recommendations were reflected in the final recovery plan.

"The choice is now clear for Mrs Jackson. She can either protect one of Tasmania's threatened species, or protect the profits of the woodchip industry," Mr McKim said.

"But she can't do both."


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