CRC/Camphor Laurel Research Centre PO Box 105 The Channon 2480
Media Release 6th December, 2001 Terania Creek Catchment & Protestors Falls: now a Threatened Ecosystem.
Popular green sentiment in the period 1970-1990 was that Camphor laurels could be left in place, on the assumption that this feral tree's chemistry was pretty much the same as most native laurels (family Lauraceae) of which there used to be at least 15 species growing in the NSW Northern Rivers.
Botanical surveys of remnant native laurels in The Big Scrub region now show that there are only 3 to 5 species of native laurels still surviving in the last rainforest remnants; most roadsides have no laurels represented, yet show clear domination by Camphor and privet etc. for all to see.
In 1998-99 the NSW NPEWS decided to invoke the environmental law known as The Precautionary Principle, and stop swimmers/walkers entering the creek pools below our community's majestic Protestors Falls.
The decision to bar swimming was taken out on the basis of fear, concerning the apparent demise of a rare frog species Mixophyes fleayi that were once commonly sighted in the huge rock pools; legal and direct action, with signage, was taken out within months of walkers and backpackers sighting 'oil slicks' and of smelling insect repellent and sunscreens on the fresh water stream surface.
However, could the decision/s have been hasty. Apparently so.
Both teachers and students from Dorroughby Field Studies Centre, as well as the Director of the Weeds Council at Casino, testify that their field trips verify the spreading infestations of Camphor laurel into the Upper Protestors/Terania Creek Catchment, including now some middle age trees.
The Director of the FNCC Weeds Council is quoted as publicly stating that: "the reason frogs are dissappearing at Protestors Falls is most likely the Camphor extracts in the water, washing downstream from up at elevation, to the north of Whian Whian."
This news effectively reverses green thinking, on the assumed historical value of Camphor laurel in our fragile, non-East Asian environment; not only that, Australian wildlife, or a sizeable range of it, appears to be detrimentally impacted by Camphor laurel, eg koala and possums eating bark, birds eating fruits, bandicoots apparently eating root-tips, all of which, especially native pigeons, are known to be dying out in Camphor laurel infested districts.
Recent scientific news (2001) from NPEWS Ranger, Damien Hoffmeyer, is that the rare frogs at Tuntable Falls are 'doing OK', but are still declining or 'not improving' as a population at Protestors Falls pools.
A direct correlation exists in this case between the presence of Camphor laurel infestations in the upper level Protestors Catchment (North of Whian Whian) and the now Camphor infested catchment to the north of Tuntable Falls.
Extrapolation of three years of data and knowledge of the loss of frogs and all other native fauna from Camphor-infested tributary creeks (to Terania Creek) near The Channon tends to lead to the inevitable conclusion that the entire Terania Creek catchment is now threatened by the spread of toxic, more adapted chemical chemotypes of Camphor laurel from 'the East'!
Joe A. Friend