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Environmental consultancy industry


 
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Garry Daly, based in the Shoalhaven town of Nowra, on the south coast of New South Wales, explains how the environmental consultancy industry started and outlines some features of his work.     
Environmental consultancy started in earnest in the early 1990s following a ruling in a Land and Environment court case that found logging in a state forest would have a significant impact on native animals.
This finding meant that an environmental assessment industry was virtually created overnight.
Several years later the Federal government instigated a comprehensive regional assessment of forests in the country. The comprehensive regional assessment had an immediate impact, with a large area added to reserved land across the country.

 
Garry Daly now works in the private sphere for people wishing to lodge development applications for anything from subdivisions to the building of houses, roads, dams or mines. He also works for the State Department of Environment and Climate Change who carry out systematic fauna surveys, creating inventories of species and monitoring programs.    
Garry is presently surveying remnant eucalypt and rainforest areas in the Illawarra region. He is careful to use certain methods which are repeated at every location, creating a standard that can be repeated by him or others at a future date. He sets out traps to capture animals, does daytime surveys to find reptiles and birds and goes back at night, spotlighting for arboreal mammals such as the yellow-bellied glider.
In a trapping line known as a transect, Garry sets out a line of ten Elliot traps. These are small aluminium traps baited with a mixture of peanut butter, rolled oats and sardines and left at 20 metre intervals. Beside Elliot trap 1 and Elliot trap 5 one cage trap (with similar bait) is also set for the larger omnivores like bandicoots, brush-tailed possums and carnivores such as quolls. The traps are left for three consecutive days and checked every morning, when the animals are identified prior to release.

 
An early morning bird survey lasting 20 minutes is also carried out, along with an hour-long reptile search which involves the lifting of rocks and logs.

He also sets harp traps (shown right),which are aluminium contraptions with fishing line between the top and bottom plates, designed to trap small insectivorous bats. While they navigate using sonar, the bats can’t detect the fishing line and so become entangled when trying to fly through trap.

The bats drop into a suspended canvas bag underneath the fishing line and then crawl under a plastic sheet. Each bat is identified, measured and weighed before release.

Another part of Garry's work is monitoring the population of animals. For example heath frogs Litoria littlejohni are monitored at 13 sites in Shoalhaven national parks.

 
At a frog site, Garry will walk for 30 minutes along a creek (see left), spotlighting and recording numbers, including those that call. The heath frog sites have been monitored for several years, providing data such as the effects of fires.
Garry has also prepared management plans, for several key populations of green and gold bell frog Litoria aurea, an endangered species. There is a strong conservation element in his work, with the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act acting as a species yardstick.

 
The consultancy work helps planning at local and state level and in some cases leads to additional reserved land.     
He does not however, come across many feral pests, most of which, he says, prefer to inhabit disturbed landscapes. Foxes though are the smartest of these pests and have been known to turn traps over to get at the bait or the trapped animal. Once a fox pulled out the metallic pin that went through an Elliot trap to eat what was caught inside.

Environmental consultancy performs an important part of the development applications process, often placing constraints on the proposal. Garry states that the Shoalhaven as a biodiverse landscape where people have not cleared massive areas and nearly 70% of the shire is within national parks making it one of the best places to live. He does cede, however, that compliance can well be a problem, as there is a lack of resources to implement the checks needed on the conditions of consent.

Some papers that the author has prepared include:
Daly, G. (2004). Surveys of reptiles and amphibians on the south-west slopes of NSW. Herpetofauna. 34(1): 2-16.
Daly, G. (2006). Mapping glider songlines: development of a landscape management policy for the yellow-bellied glider Petaurus australis (Shaw 1791) in the Eurobodalla Shire on the south coast of New South Wales. Australian Zoologist 33(2): 180-187.
Daly, G. (2006). Reptiles and frogs in the region of Morton National Park on the south coast of NSW. Herpetofauna. 36: 5-24.
Daly, G. (2007). Reptiles and frogs in the region of Wadbilliga National Park on the south coast of NSW. Herpetofauna 37: 45-62.
Daly, G. and Craven, P. (2007). Monitoring populations of Heath Frog Litoria littlejohni on the south coast of NSW. Australian Zoologist. 34: 165-172.
Daly, G. Johnson, P.; Malolakis, G.; Hyatt, A. and Peitsch, R. (2008). Reintroduction of Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea to Pambula on the south coast of New South Wales. Australian Zoologist 34(3): 261-270.
Daly, G. and Craven, P. and Hyatt, A. (2008). Surveys for the Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea at Meroo National Park on the south coast of New South Wales. Australian Zoologist 34(3): 303 -313.

Images from Garry Daly Text: V.B. May 2009

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