You might remember last year, the plight of a small stand of native bushland outside the coastal town of Manyana, on the NSW South Coast. The 20-hectare parcel on the outskirts of town was the only bushland in the area to survive the ravages of the Black Summer fires and had become a refuge for a menagerie of local wildlife as a result, including several endangered species.
The land however was owned by a Sydney property developer, who was pushing ahead with plans to develop it as a 182-lot housing estate.
The move sparked outcry in the local community, themselves still recovering from the impact of the bushfires. Forming a campaign group, Manyana Matters they lobbied for the protection of the bushland, eventually gaining a win in August when the Federal Environment Minister stepped in, requiring the project be assessed under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act.
In the months since however, developer Ozy Homes has pushed on with plans to bulldoze the site, submitting their report on the environmental status of the land, which is currently open for public comment. The company has stated their intent to begin clearing the site as early as October.
Locals claim the report downplays the damage done by the fires to the surrounding bushland and the adjacent Conjola National Park. Further, it also downplays the ecological significance of the 20-hectares in question.
There are potentially 51 conservation-dependant species that either live in – or pass through – the bushland in question, including the critically endangered swift parrot, the endangered spotted-tail quoll and southern brown bandicoot. Other vulnerable species including the greater glider, the stuttering frog and the koala inhabit the area, as well as dozens of migratory birds like the glossy black cockatoo and the satin flycatcher.
“… it has become a refuge for the fauna that has escaped the flames.”
An open letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald summed up the feeling of locals. “The vestige of pristine unburnt native forest slated for the Manyana Beach Estate development in the Shoalhaven, South Coast NSW is a complete ecosystem and a biodiversity hotspot. It’s significance has been magnified by the 2019-2020 catastrophic bushfires. Many threatened species have been recorded on this site and it has become a refuge for the fauna that has escaped the flames. It is a vital source of regeneration for the surrounding incinerated Conjola National Park and a powerful symbol of hope and healing for the people of the south coast who were so badly traumatised by the Currowan Mega-Blaze.”
Public comment on Ozy Homes’ environmental submission closes this Friday, July 16. Comments can be sent to email@example.com (cc firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject: “Manyana Submission”.
Banner Caption: The last stand of forest that survived the Currowan mega-blaze is now under threat from development as a housing estate. Photo: Max Zappas.