Stradbroke needs your help now

From Dear SIMO members and friends

We must let the State government know urgently there is wide support for national park on North Stradbroke Island and for ending mining. If you have already sent in a submission, we’re asking you to send another and to ask your colleagues, friends and family to write as well. Maybe even print out letters and ask people to sign them?

Each submission counts.

Go to the following for more information:

The government has extended the consultation period to 30 September.  Send a simple, quick message:

I want to register my support for the Queensland government’s decision to make 80 per cent of North Stradbroke Island (NSI) national park.

  • The island will be a great national park, so close to Brisbane.
  • Protect all its rich diversity of flora and fauna, including koalas.
  • Gazette as much national park as possible this term of government (more than 56 per cent).
  • Make remaining untouched or lightly disturbed land national park before it’s mined, not after.
  • End mining as soon as possible: it’s had 60 years, and Stradbroke cannot withstand any more destruction.
  • Start the island’s economic transition now to low-impact, nature-based tourism.
  • Ensure mine workers and their families are given due consideration as the mines close.
  • Implement joint management of the national park with the island’s traditional owners.

Add a personal note too if you want. Include your name and contact details.

Send to:, cc the Premier: premier

or mail to: North Stradbroke Island Vision Team
c/o Tim Ellis
Department of Environment and Resource Management
GPO Box 2454
Brisbane QLD 4001

Please ask your friends, family and colleagues to send in a note.

If ever there was a time to ensure the national park happens, and in the best possible way, it’s now.

Thank you.


Stradbroke Island Management Organisation
PO Point Lookout QLD 4183
07 3409 8944

One thought on “Stradbroke needs your help now

  1. Dr Carla Catterall says:

    Dr Carla Catterall Telephone 61 737357499 Fax 61 737357459
    27 May 2010

    Dr Jan Aldenhoven SIMO,
    PO Box 255, Point Lookout, QLD, 4183 Australia
    Griffith University, Nathan,
    Qld 4111, AUSTRALIA

    Re: Ecological success of post-mining rehabilitation, with comment on North Stradbroke 15.

    Dear Dr Aldenhoven

    Please find below a statement of my professional opinion relating to the above issue. I base this opinion on around 35 years’ experience as a university-based ecological scientist, 25 of these spent working in the field of biodiversity and conservation in Queensland, and the past ten years as a leader of commonwealth-funded research programs and projects in ecosystem restoration.

    The field of ecosystem restoration is currently in its infancy, something like the state of medical practice in the eighteenth century – attempts are being made which vary in their’ success but whose outcomes have not been subject to the kind of scientific scrutiny that is needed in order to be even moderately confident of a successful outcome.

    Furthermore, even in the most promising of situations, there is an extremely high risk that restoration will fail to produce the hoped-for outcomes within the expected time frame (ie within a decade or two).

    Over longer periods, we simply don’t know as the work has not been done. For example early revegetation of sand-mined areas in eastern Australia involved the widespread planting of Bitou Bush, which then became a significant weed species invading natural areas along much of the east coast.

    Thankfully, post-mining practices have improved during the past three decades (for example, they focus on establishing locally native rather than introduced plant species), but they would still fall a long way short of being able to replace the ecosystems that were present before mining. Restoring an ecosystem requires the reinstatement of the full complement of pre-impact biodiversity. This encompasses both species diversity (including species of plants, worms, insects, birds, mammals, etc.) and the ecological processes which enable these species to persist in the longer term while maintaining resilience to natural disturbances (such as fire, storms and climate variation).

    Such processes include dispersal, nutrient cycling, pollination, food-chain maintenance and many others. A scientific review of past attempts at restoring biodiversity and ecosystems (Hilderbrand et al. 2005) concluded that there is a very high risk that restoration projects will fail to achieve their objectives. Common reasons for this include the following.

    1. The “field of dreams” fallacy. For example, it is incorrect to assume that initial success in growing a limited number of plant species will eventually result in colonisation of the area by most of the other desired species (the plants, animals and microbes of the original ecosystem). Many species lack the movement and dispersal capabilities to move to these areas in sufficient numbers for restoration of their populations.

    2. The “carbon copy” myth. For example, it is not possible to copy an original ecosystem in situations where the physical properties of an area have’ changed (e.g., where soil nutrients or hydrological processes have been altered, as is the case in sand mining).
    3. The “fast forward” myth. For example, natural forest ecosystems take centuries to redevelop after large-scale disturbance, and there is no proof that restoration actions will be able to significantly accelerate this.

    My own recent research into the use of replanted rainforest sites by birds, reptiles and insects has shown that, while ecological development looks encouraging in the first decade (with apparently around 50% recovery after 10 years), there is a substantial risk that many sites may never regain the other 50% of biodiversity, and at best it will require many further decades (e.g., see Catterall et al. 2008).

    In the case of post-mining restoration of natural ecosystems to sand deposits of coastal south-east Queensland, the failure risk is far higher, due to the unusual soil nutrient requirements of many plant species and the relatively poor ecological understanding of the fauna and flora.

    If the restored ecosystem only partially resembles the original, there is a further risk that it may lack resilience to fire, storms and climate change. In mainland regions, where large areas of land are currently degraded as a result of previous land uses, there are various useful attempts currently under way at restoration, and these are likely to produce a net ecological benefit in spite of their uncertainty of full success.

    However in areas which currently support important natural or near-natural vegetation, the most likely outcome from removing the vegetation and soil structure, and then attempting to restore them, is a large net loss of ecological value, because this restoration will fall short of the previous natural community.

    With respect to North Stradbroke Island in particular, there is currently a spatial mix of substantial areas of intact native habitat with other areas that were previously sand-mined and partially restored.

    This mix retains the potential to sustain the island’s biodiversity in the longer term: the large intact areas can provide a source of species to progressively recolonise the partly-restored areas areas. However, if the total area of intact vegetation is reduced, together with further mining of other areas, there is a considerably greater risk that the island’s ecological values will be irreversibly degraded over time.

    Yours Sincerely
    Dr Carla Catterall
    Associate Professor (Ecology),
    Griffith School of Environment and Environmental Futures Centre,
    Griffith University; current President, Ecological Society of Australia.

    References cited

    ‘Hilderbrand, R.H. et al. 2003. The myths of restoration ecology. Ecology and Society 10: 19. (online at

    Catterall, C.P., et al .. 2008. Biodiversity and new forests: interacting processes, prospects and pitfalls of rainforest restoration. Pp 510-525 in: Stork, N. and Turton, S. (eds.) Living in a Dynamic Tropical Forest Landscape. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.

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