Ancient Western Port Grass Tree Forest Stripped and Vandalised by Sand Miners

SAVE THE HOLDEN BUSHLANDS

Urgent intervention by Minister D’Ambrosio demanded

Sand Supplies Pty Ltd, a sand mining company operating in the remnant coastal forest that forms part of the Grantville Nature Conservation Reserve, has begun digging out and bagging ancient grass trees – many standing more than two metres high and likely pre-dating European arrival – to expand the mine’s operation.

More than 250 of the rare grass trees now sit in untidy piles – drying out and dying – on the edge of the pit. The local community is appalled at this destruction and is demanding the urgent intervention of the Victorian Andrews’ Labor government and the Minister for the Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio.

“We cannot understand how any government or government authority can stand by and allow such a significant grass tree forest to be destroyed by vandals with no appreciation for conservation, biodiversity or beauty,” Grantville local and community spokesperson Meryl Tobin said.

The Sand Supplies mine sits on a mining lease carved out of the Grantville Conservation Reserve.

“Many of the work orders allowing this vandalism in the Grantville forest corridor date back to the Kennet-era and earlier.

“The forest affected, running from the Adams Creek Nature Conservation Reserve (Lang Lang) to Grantville is the last significant stand of riparian coastal forest in the whole of Western Port and the only coastal forest remaining in the Bass Coast region,” Save The Holden Bushlands spokesperson Tim O’Brien said.

There are multiple quarries operating under historic sand mining leases in the environmentally-sensitive Grantville forest corridor. Many of the mine operators have plans to expand their operations.

“The Victorian Government is getting nearly every decision wrong when it comes to Western Port Bay and its environment.

“That it seems prepared to put the tourism industry at risk in this important region, the gateway to Phillip Island and its world-famous Penguin Parade, the gateway to the spectacular Bunurong coastline, and an area renowned for its rural amenity and distinctive landscapes, simply beggars belief,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Worse, that it is prepared to trade the extinction of fragile communities of endangered wildlife and ancient, rare, coastal flora, for carparks and bridges in Melbourne, is a gross failure of public policy.

“The evidence of populations of critically endangered wildlife like the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Swift Parrot, a host of rare orchids and magnificent stands of grass trees, should spur to action any Minister charged with their protection.

Preservation of the grass trees and protection of the coastal forest corridor that runs from Lang Lang to Grantville is now a flashpoint for community concern over the arrogance, lack of accountability, and the scale of the environmental damage being done by these miners.

The question for Environment Minister D’Ambrosio is: “When is a conservation area actually for conserving, and a biolink corridor actually for protecting, and not just a resource to be raped by sand miners?”

“To claim that such mining is ‘more environmentally sustainable’ (because of its proximity to Melbourne), as claimed in the SERA (Strategic Extractive Resources Area) Pilot Project Report 2020, would be laughable if it were not so obviously disingenuous, so anti-environment, so counter to climate science, and so at odds with commitments by this Victorian Labor Government to protect forests, to reduce vegetation loss and to protect wildlife habitat,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This Victorian government would appear to think that Western Port Bay and its coastal environment is expendable in the name of industry.

“At the end of the day, this mine is operating under a lease. The forest belt the miners are pillaging belongs to the people. The endangered flora and fauna – the ancient grass trees, the endangered wildlife in this biolink corridor – belong to the people,” he said.

“We insist that there be NO further expansion of ANY of the mines in this fragile forest corridor.

“We insist that this brutalising of this endangered ecosystem CEASE.

“We insist that ALL existing work orders in sand mining leases in this fragile forest corridor be reviewed, that the presence of endangered populations of wildlife and of endangered flora be considered in this review (and which historically did not inform the granting of the leases), and that the Victorian government begin a PROCESS OF EXTINGUISHMENT,” Mr O’Brien said.

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