Monday, 24 September 2012

Heron Island Membrane Protein Workshop

....emphasis on Workshop, of course.

Seriously one of the best conferences i've ever been to, both in terms of location and quality of speakers, and have I mentioned the snorkeling?

Heron Island lies about 75 km off the coast of Gladstone, measures some 800 by 300 meters, although the "island" bit (max elevation 3 m above sea level) is in effect the crown of a reef many times its size.  At low tide the reef is exposed, whilst at high tide it is a few meters under. 

The island was settled back in the 1800s, initially for the purpose of harvesting turtles (these ran out fast), then as a whaling outpost, before being bought for tourism in the 1900s.  It boasts accommodation for some 300 people, and about 100 000 black noddys, and about 1/4 of the island is set aside as a scientific research station.  The emphasis is now very much on eco-tourism, with a strict "no-take" policy.  Well worth a visit even if you've no conference to lure you there.  I think i can say with confidence that i'll be back.

Vandalism NPWS style

Well, the "control burn" alluded to a few posts back has been inflicted.  The fears i had about the outcome were unfortunately realized.  The weed-encrusted river was basically left untouched, as was land directly adjacent the M2 corridor, but all the (former) top notch native stuff in the middle, which was mostly only 2-4 meters tall, was annihilated, along with all the mammals (bandicoots, echidnas etc), lizards, and the habitat of endemic nesting honeyeaters.  Now the weeds are even better poised to continue moving on in.  It boggles my mind what possible good this achieved.

I can rationalize the treatment of the bush within 50 meters of the townhouses being dealt with (most was clear-felled then torched), but the purpose of roasting the shallow-soiled sandstone plateau eludes me (incendiaries dropped by helicopter, apparently).  I suppose it stems from NPWS's fear of the litigious should the inevitable mega-fire claim a few townhouses, as has happened in the past.  Makes a mockery of adjacent "Re-Vegetation - Keep Off" bush signage, and of NPWS's insistence that mtb single-track be strictly prohibited.  What a bunch of tosh.

Grumble grumble grumble.

Weed-dominated river frontage

 sandstone plateau

and the M2 corridoor