Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves (TSRs) in NSW need to be protected against a range of threats. NPA campaigns for increased resources to be allocated for managing these threats. Our members are also on the lookout for proposals or activities that might threaten local TSRs, and write submissions and letters opposing them.
Exploitation of TSRs and misuse or poor management of these delicate areas results in damage to their cultural and environmental values, or prevents people from using them for a range of shared purposes. Key threats include:
Coal seam gas activity and infrastructure
Construction of pipelines for coal seam gas along Travelling Stock Routes, as well as construction of other infrastructure, has been proposed and even encouraged by the NSW government. This poses a major threat to TSRs, because it requires significant clearing of vegetation along the routes. In the case of some narrow routes, clearing would result in the removal of almost all vegetation. For more information, see NPA’s submission to an Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas impacts in 2011, and this fact sheet by the Nature Conservation Council about the impacts of gas and mining on public lands.
Many TSRs were traditionally grazed intermittently as stock was moved along them to market. Some TSRs still have carefully managed grazing as part of their management and use. In some cases, however, TSRs are being treated as additional paddocks and being grazed year-round. This can lead to overgrazing and associated damage to fragile ecosystems, especially around water and stock camping areas.
Industrial logging and illegal firewood collection TSRs are Crown Timber Lands, which gives Forests NSW the right to cut and sell the timber on them. This has been particularly frequent in the Riverina forest districts, and can lead to destruction of the vital habitat that TSRs provide.
Firewood collection is allowed on TSRs with a permit from the local Livestock Health and Pest Authority. However, collecting firewood removes key shelter and breeding sites for many animals, and illegal firewood collection in particular can be a serious problem on some TSRs. Similarly, illegal tree felling for fence posts and firewood removes vital habitat, such as tree hollows, and disturbs the vegetation understorey.
Weeds and feral animals
Weeds such as Coolatai Grass can be spread by moving stock and vehicles, and this can cause major problems by dramatically changing the ecosystem of a TSR. Native grasses and understorey plants are often driven out by invasive species, and feral animals can threaten wildlife and domestic stock.
In some cases, community groups are working with managing authorities to help protect local TSRs and eradicate weeds. One example of this is the “Friends of Klori TSR” group.