A letter to the editor. Not published. Echo.


When Council sent contractors to spray herbicides along the drains where the jump-seed plant thrives, a few chemical free property owners were outraged. To start, spraying near water is a contributor to the Richmond River’s appalling F rating at Ballina. As well as destroying the vital life the poison touches, spray drift too could be smelt from some distance away.

The Great Barrier Reef sampling found herbicide and pesticides are contributing to the decline of the coral. (SMH editorial)

Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active Volunteers have stepped up into action every growing season since, removing scores of bags of the targeted plant with the help of a small mattock.

Our early Saturday morning efforts are amply rewarded with what we see and who stops to thank us but most of all what nature reveals and teaches us.

We carry road kill off the road after checking the pouch for joeys. We bag up the occasional cane toad and keep an eye out for snakes. We step well off the road when speeding drivers rush to where they are going. We view the half blocked under road pipes and drains that need Council attention. Areas where sensitive planting could prevent over flows onto the road which then go on to create pot holes. We see the need for manual labour efforts instead of machines. We pick up plastic, some from the barrier guards placed near a drain’s inlet into a creek. We remove rubbish, from vehicle hub caps to bottles and cans. Sometimes we come across toilet dumps from mobile accommodation.

We watch black cockatoo’s coaching their young in flight in camphor laurel trees high above us. Brown pigeons and white headed pigeons feast on the camphor seed. We laugh at brush turkeys as they lunge, in flight to a higher branch. A social network going about their day in a camphor laurel forest as we work beneath. Adaptation to climate change is playing out above us.

Why poison a tree that could be value added? How much wood locally available comes from overseas?

A tree can store up to 22 tons of carbon dioxide. ( Peter Wohlleben’s – THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES).

Scores of introduced plants thrive on the sides of our road, from privets, important erosions control, to the odd rain forests seedlings. Many of the rain forest seedlings could be removed to eroded slips where Coral trees have been poisoned on steep banks leading to a creek. Coral tree winter flowers provides nectar for many birds, as witnessed and photographed.

Veteran environmental writer Fred Pearce used to think that invasive species were interlopers which spoil pristine ‘natural’ ecosystems. In his book THE NEW WILD he rediscovers what conservation should really be about and patiently reveals that our idea about the balance of nature is now seriously out dated.

He explains that in the era of climate change and the widespread ecological damage humans have inflicted, he shows how the dynamism of introduced species, which fill the niches humans have created, and the different eco systems they create, is supporting nature to regenerate and presents the planet the best chance for the future.

So as the Huonbrook and Byron Herbicide Free Active Volunteers witness more herbicide poisoning of Coral trees ( an Indigenous man told me in Mullumbimby recently that poisoned Coral trees are killing platypus in the creeks) and hectares of camphor laurels, habitat to 100s of insects and butterflies, it is time to rethink what we are doing.

Recently too Koalas have been documented as adapting and feeding on the camphor leaf.

A very recent study from the University Of Canterbury found that Monsanto’s Roundup ( glyphosate) and Yates Common weed killer ( dicamba) are having a significant enabling impact on E Coli and Salmonella. Many independent studies from around the world are focusing on pesticides and herbicides used on our food, water, soil and air and what the real impact is. Their findings all contradict the chemical companies sales pitch.

In our green voting shire it is time we start to actually practice what we preach as suggested by our vote.

With rapid climate change a visible reality to many of us older humans, its time to let go of out dated gardening program ideas, get the spray packs off our backs and the injectors out of our hands and start to re respect and learn from the whole environment as we all start to adapt to an unknown climate future.

A morning physically active as a environmental volunteer could be a high light of your week in 2018.

Learn from observation while having fun.

Donald Drinkwater.
Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active Volunteers.

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Refreshing. Two better news stories.


While we were fighting Nestlé’s in Michigan last year, we received some great news that we have yet to celebrate — you helped secure a win against Nestlé in Oregon!
Nestlé’s had plans to pump fresh water out of Cascade Locks, Oregon to bottle and sell for massive profits — but it fell through after a nine-year battle with local activists.

Bowing to the pressure of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, local residents, and thousands of SumOfUs members like you, Governor Kate Brown ordered state officials in October to stop an exchange of water rights that Nestlé needed to seal the deal.
It took major community power to stop Nestlé’s water grab, which would have had the brand drain some of Oregon’s cleanest water for only one cent per 40 gallons. Then, it would sell the same water back to the public for $2.63 per gallon — a literal steal.
It didn’t matter that Oregon was facing a devastating five-year drought: Nestlé’s plan was about profit and nothing more — never mind Native American treaty rights or local access to cheap, clean water. But community members and activists wouldn’t let Nestlé rob them without a fight. In May 2016, a massive voter outreach campaign passed a Hood River County measure to ban large water bottling operations like Nestlé’s plan.

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The 16.3 million coffees Australians collectively gulp down on average each day have a lot to answer for. As one of the planet’s most traded commodities, coffee is big business. But it is problematic.

Major production starts in some of the world’s poorest nations, where coffee plantations are linked to rainforest clearing. Farms often rely on cheap labour. Multiple investigations have uncovered evidence of human trafficking, forced labour and child labour on plantations – kids as young as five were common employees on Honduras farms, a study in 2016 by Finnwatch found.

As an added problem, too many of us choose to consume our caffeine hit in ways that create tonnes of rubbish each year.

But if you can’t live without your morning coffee, our guide offers the best options for consuming it as ethically as possible.


My harvest here is modest coming in at 2 kilos of green beans last harvest. Below a photo of Simon sorting the husks from the bean.

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Nadia, leader of the Byron/Brunswick Chemical Free Active Volunteers Group.

We all agree that Byron Shire should do an audit of the quantity of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides being used on our flora and fauna and in our gardens. The Green hue we cloaked ourselves with has suddenly turned a very weak yellow according to a comment to the Byron Echo.

Dismal week news ways.


Shame the Christmas break is over when the politicians, local, state and federal, were speechless.




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Its all about endurance until these poisons are withdrawn from sale.

Did you know that SumOfUs members around the world chipped in to defend the strongest ban to date on bee-killing pesticides?
And it worked!
When Dow Chemical tried to undermine France’s historic ban on neonics — the class of pesticides known to pose a deadly risk for bees and other pollinators — our partner in France, Générations Futures, was ready to sue.
With the help of thousands of SumOfUs members chipping in to cover the legal costs, they stopped Dow Chemical in court.
Dow’s move: The chemical giant tried to get around the French ban by pushing for a new kind of neonicotinoid — Sulfoxaflor — not to be counted as a neonic so they can go on selling bee-killing pesticides.
But thanks to our partners and SumOfUs members like you, the authorization of Dow Chemical’s dangerous sulfoxaflor pesticides is now on ice.
We have proven yet again that together, we can hold even the biggest corporations to account.



99% of koala habitat can be bulldozed if it’s on private land in NSW under new land-clearing laws.
Now, read that line again.
99% of koala habitat can be bulldozed if it’s on private land in NSW under new land-clearing laws.
Are you outraged? I am. So I can imagine, like me, you’d want to do something about it. don, will you sign our urgent petition to call for habitat for koalas to be off limits to clearing?
This is out of control. Our Environment Minister signed off on new land-clearing laws that make it easier to bulldoze koala habitat. Even though she knew that 99% of koala habitat could face the axe.
This is yet another reason we’ve taken the NSW Government to court – to challenge some of the worst elements of its dangerous land-clearing laws.


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My comments in the Guardian.


When I removed some camphor trees years ago, by chopping them down, I followed up for a year after, to snip off any new shoots. The camphor succumbed and red cedars, pencil cedars had already established as seedlings. It is not a one off commitment. It depends on regular follow ups where you really begin to see how nature rebounds.

Its all about labor.

Many young people are seeking direction. Give them guardian ship of what is called degraded environments, work from the soil up and within weeks many will realize nature is the best teacher of all.

22 Recommend

Caring for our wild-life and nature is beyond most Australians. Our cities sprawl, our houses are too big, modern media is full of ads urging us to buy more rubbish or renovate every couple of years.

Most people who do want to do something think applying a poison to an ‘invasive’ species on our flora is the cure.

Few have bothered to look at how many birds ect have adapted to our changing environment which gathered pace as soon as Europeans set foot on this land.

We work methodically here with a brush hook and machete slashing and mulching lantana. Slowly, because we witness what we see and gradually so adaptation for the creature who uses the so called invasive can relocate. Getting the right worker is the problem. Physical activity is more likely to be watched on a screen or played out in a gym.

I see how our efforts here over 20 years have brought more birds, more wallabies, more snakes, lizards ect to occupy this end of the valley.

When the introduced Coral trees were poisoned down our valleys I watch many more honey eaters, lorikeets flock into my remaining Coral trees for the winter flowering.

Now the camphor is being targeted with glyphosate poisoning despite the camphor now being a major source of food and habitat for many birds, butterflies and insects.

Short sightedness, easy short term feel good approaches and funds, which favor herbicide use, is a major contributor to our environments rapid decline.

I recommend Fred Pearce’s THE NEW WILD where he documents the niches and evolution introduced plants are playing in the niches human activity has provided.

And it can be done as we witness here but it will depend on real on the ground physical labor as it was done when the first red cedar worker came and removed all the hard wood a century ago.


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What some of us witness at ground level.

More than 1,800 plant and animal species and ecological communities are at risk of extinction right now
• Interactive: Wombats, sharks, possums, frogs: Australia’s animals at risk of extinction

Lisa Cox
‘As a society, we should be caring more for our nature, and we’re not,’ says Prof John Woinarski. The Christmas Island pipistrelle, pictured, is now extinct.
Global warming wiped out the Bramble Cay melomys – the first mammalian extinction in the world to be caused by climate change – but a straightforward plan that could have rescued the little rodent was thwarted by red tape and political indifference.

“It could have been saved. That’s the most important part,” says John Woinarski, a professor of conservation biology who was on the threatened species scientific committee that approved a 2008 national recovery plan for the species, endemic to a tiny island in the Torres Strait.

Extinction is entirely avoidable. We can turn the trend around but it needs meaningful government intervention
James Trezise, ACF policy analyst
The fate of the melomys is symptomatic of the failures in Australia’s management of threatened species, which has seen the country lose more than 50 animal and 60 plant species in the past 200 years and record the highest rate of mammalian extinction in the world over that period.


I comment as Jakonne.

From Byron Shire chemicalfreelandcare.

I wanted to thank you for the pesticide information you have put together on your web page: http://byronshirechemicalfreelandcare.org/links/ …The other morning I found a hurt owl in my yard, rolling around on the ground. I called animal control and once they took the owl, they called me about a day later to let me know the owl had suffered from pesticide poisoning. (I was so sad!) After finding out what happened to the beautiful creature, and seeing first hand how dangerous these pesticides really are, I was pretty scared. I decided to go on line and look up some information to make a guide for my students/faculty in hopes to educate others. (I have since thrown out anything in my garage that contains toxic ingredients!)

Your page led me to some helpful information on pesticide poisoning. I had also found this page (https://www.angieslist.com/articles/effects-gardening-pesticide.htm) that covers all the negative aspects of gardening with pesticides, like how harmful pesticides are for your water/food, the dangers towards humans lives and wildlife, and a lot more! I think it would be a great addition to include on your page, if you wanted to add it! I really hope I can teach people how bad this stuff really is and help keep the wildlife alive!!
Kate Carpenter

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