Bimblebox at the IUCN World Parks Congress

Paola Cassoni
Paola Cassoni

Dear World Parks Congress delegates and visitors, you are welcome to visit the Bimblebox and Protect The Bush Alliance exhibition at booth 58 at the IUCN Conference in Sydney (12th-19th Nov 2014). Our poster will be presented in Stream 6: Enhancing the Diversity and Quality of Governance of Protected Areas.

Paola Cassoni and volunteers will screen The Bimblebox Documentary  twice at the WPC at Southee South on Friday the 14th.

As the World Parks Congress will be ‘setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come’, here is a very brief summary of our efforts to date to protect the Bimblebox Nature Refuge since we learnt of the threat to its existence. An exploration company was interested in the resource riches beneath Bimblebox and current legislation did/does not provide any protection for the ecological riches above.

Waratah Coal planned to develop a massive open cut and underground thermal coal mine; they began exploratory drilling in 2007.

With our daily workload and the likely struggle ahead, we were grateful that friends of Bimblebox came to the rescue.

2007:  Summaries requested from scientists who had conducted research on Bimblebox; letters then written to the Queensland Premier and relevant ministers.

2008:  A letter written to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett; submission prepared for Waratah’s first EPBC referral; local media contacted; a petition planned; contact made with many NGOs.

Documentation  began of the damage from the first 20 exploration holes on the Nature Refuge.

2009: Preparation of a comprehensive submission for Waratah’s second EPBC referral, more letters to ministers and to newspaper editors; petition launched; website developed; information posters distributed; media interviews; contact made with other affected landholders and interested organisations; website revamped; letter written to the IUCN alerting of a possible breach of Australia’s commitments under the Convention of Biological Diversity; an article written for Oceania’s World Commission on Protected Areas newsletter (we are on page 7); complaints lodged with the environment department regarding the impact from the initial 20 drill holes, especially in light of the extra 100 approved; article printed in National Parks Association newsletter; postcard designed and printed for Woodford folk festival and other community events. Ms Patricia Julien from the Mackay Conservation Group delivered the one and only public talk in Alpha to present some of the environmental, health and social concerns of transforming the Galilee Basin into the ‘new Saudi Arabia’ of fossil fuel dependence; Birds Australia volunteers visited Bimblebox, the first of many visits, to help in the survey of bird species; a rally held outside the fossil fuel focussed Major Projects Conference in Brisbane; a public presentation made in Brisbane; a meeting to present concerns to Minister Hinchliffe; a meeting with the Minister for Sustainability Kate Jones.

2010: Developed Google alert and monitored daily media, commenting online whenever the mining project was mentioned; ongoing connection with NGOs.  Meeting with concerned people in Southern Qld, attendance at a Mine Developers’ Breakfast in Bowen, a tour of the port development area and visit to Abbot Point and Caley Valley wetlands which will be impacted by the proposed massive coal stockpiling and now the onshore dumping of the dredging required for the port expansion; engaging with ecologists, surveyors and hydrologists employed by Waratah at the Nature Refuge (some were asked to leave); visits to more affected landholders; initiation of filming of the documentary ‘Bimblebox’ by Mike O’Connell; attendance at mining information sessions.

2011 Submissions made to both state and federal governments to consider not to mine Bimblebox;; trip to Canberra to talk to National Reserve System  representatives.

2012 More submissions and media; documentary released nationally and internationally; we speak at many national screenings.

2013: epic work by Maureen Cooper, another nature refuge owner, who edited, published and financed  the book Bimblebox: A Nature Refuge under Siege.

Photo by Mark Doye
Photo by Mark Doye

Mine approved by State and Federal Governments by the end of the year.

2014: Our resolve: “Ten years ago our family put every available last dollar into buying the property to save it from bulldozers. Then in securing it as a Nature Refuge, we were charged by both federal and state governments with the responsibility to restore and preserve.
That’s our brief and we intend to keep it. If government and industry cannot recognise the value of Bimblebox, then we who do must show them this place means as much to us as coal does to them.”

Ian Hoch, 2010

See you all at exhibition booth 58

Lee Curtis, who attended the IUCN World Parks Conference on behalf of Protect the Bush Alliance and The Bimblebox Alliance, wrote a Final Report to DAF (funding body), revealing some disappointing aspects of not only the meeting but also the operations of the IUCN  itself.