What is Bimblebox?
Bimblebox Nature Refuge is a peaceful 8000 hectare sanctuary in central-west Queensland.
Bimblebox is a wonderful example of remnant semi-arid woodlands with an understorey largely made up of native shrubs and grasses, and is home to a rich diversity of birds, reptiles and other animals.
In May 2011 a flock of endangered Black Throated Finch (Poephila cincta cincta) was sighted on Bimblebox, which has been confirmed by Birds Australia.
|The Black-throated Finch is a small (up to 12cm), sleek and stocky bird. It has a thick, black bill and a black eye line which makes them appear to be wearing wrap-around sunglasses. They have a pale blue-grey head, cinnamon-brown body, black tail and black bib which extends down to the breast, earning them the nickname Parson Finch. Photo: Annette and Ray Sutton. Source: http://www.blackthroatedfinch.com|
Bimblebox threatened by a plan to build largest open cut mines on earth
The peaceful refuge that is Bimblebox is threatened by a plan by mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal to build the Galilee Coal Project (formerly known as ‘China First’).
The Environmental Impact Statement outlines a proposal to extract 40 mega-tonnes of coal per year.
The coal would be transported on a yet-to-be-built 468km rail line up to Abbot Point and shipped through the Great Barrier Reef on its way to China where it will be burnt for energy generation.
The ambitious and polluting plan has not yet received formal government approval, which means there is a still a chance to stop it.
It is outrageous and absurd that in the 21st Century, with all that we know about Australia’s biodiversity crisis and the threat of climate change, that a protected area rich in biodiversity and with carbon stores intact could be sacrificed for the sake of producing more climate changing coal.
The endangered black-throated finch
Bimblebox Nature Refuge is home to some 145 species of birds, and appears to contain the last substantial population of the southern subspecies of Black-throated Finch.
Yet the environmental assessment for the mine failed to locate the finch.
The reality of clearing good quality suitable habitat at Bimblebox Nature Refuge for coal mining is that it will decrease the quality and availability of the Black-throated Finch’s breeding habitat.
The SEWPac Resource Recovery Plan for the black-throated finch states that this species will sometimes utilise the abandoned nests of the grey-crowned babbler to use as their own nests.
The grey-crowned babbler is abundant within Bimblebox NR but is rarely seen elsewhere today in the Desert Uplands.
The grey-crowned babbler also nests in this refuge so Bimblebox NR is providing quality habitat for the black-throated finch.
Removal of habitat for the babbler will also adversely impact this endangered finch species.
The proposed mines within the Galilee Basin all have known or potential habitats for the black-throated finch as do the proposed rail corridors to Abbot Point and Dudgeon Point.
None have been adequately surveyed to detect the presence of this species and other bird species of conservation significance for the bioregions let alone gather enough information to understand and manage environmental impacts of large-scale coal mining for these mines and their infrastructure in the Bowen and Galilee Basins.
Adequate surveys should have been a part of state planning prior to the release of mining permits and leases which now cover the entire range of this species.
These basins cover most of the remaining range of the black-throated finch species and mining should not proceed until a fully funded recovery plan for at least this species is in place with ongoing monitoring and analysis and reporting program.
A Recovery Program should also ensure a stable population in these regions.
The history of Bimblebox
Bimblebox was secured in 2000, an era when Queensland’s land clearing rates were amongst the highest in the world.
The land was purchased with contributions from a number of concerned individuals, as well as funding from the Australian National Reserve System program.
In 2003, the Bimblebox Nature Refuge Agreement (category VI IUCN protected area) was signed with the Queensland state government to permanently protect the conservation values of the property.
Tragically, Nature Refuges and the protected areas that make up the National Reserve System are not automatically protected from mineral exploration and mining, which in Australia are granted right of way over almost all other land use.
9 May 2013 Gratton, Lockyer and Brisbane Valley Star Thousands of letters sent to protest creation of mine