Madi Maclean, Senior Vice President, Blue Mountains Conservation Society
The 2,300 ha Wollemi State Conservation Area (SCA) was gazetted in August 2019 and announced along with other park additions to Wollemi National Park
This little known new SCA is made up of formerly private land. It abuts Wollemi NP to the north, Commission Road and Putty State Forest (SF) to the west and part of the south then extends east just past Mt Poppong. There are two inholdings to the north and one for the radio towers on Mt Poppong. It does not abut that part of the Putty SF that is earmarked to be a Flora Reserve for koalas. The land was previously used for grazing, possibly seasonally. It is mostly well vegetated except for Mt Poppong, though it was impacted by the 2019-20 fires.
The SCA land was part of the biodiversity offset lands that were transferred to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in association with the planning approval for the Huntlee New Town development near Cessnock. Thus, it became ‘Part 11 land’ under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. The Huntlee offsets came with a developer financial contribution to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to use in the management of the resulting conservation offset reserves. A Nature Conservation Council report into biodiversity offsetting in NSW stated that the Huntlee development would clear approximately 421 ha of endangered ecological vegetation.
It is understood that the Huntlee offset land parcel has been added to the national park estate as a state conservation area because of its potential for mining. More specific information on the Wollemi SCA’s particular conservation values as a stand alone SCA should be available from NPWS soon.