Camphor laurel harvest a problem
INCREASING camphor laurel clearing across the Northern Rivers is threatening endangered plants and animals according to conservationists and ecologists.
Lorraine Vass from Friends of the Koala said she has seen a dramatic increase in large-scale camphor harvesting in the past three months and believes much of it is being used to fuel the co-generation power plants at Broadwater and Condong sugar mills.
Camphor laurel was always earmarked to supplement an expected shortfall in the cane bagasse and trash required to fuel the co-generation plants, but recent droughts and floods have adversely affected the supply of cane refuse.
“It’s happening all over the place. Since September we’ve seen a tremendous increase in clearing,” Ms Vass said.
“It’s becoming very obvious and we are deeply concerned about damage to biodiversity, habitat for significant species, soil erosion and the risk of further weed infestation.
“Harvesting is in full swing in Tweed, Byron and Lismore with virtually no regulation. Contractors were also working in Ballina until that council insisted on a development application.”
Camphor laurel is listed as a noxious weed across all Northern Rivers local government areas and therefore falls outside general tree preservation orders.