Extracted from article entitled ” Southern Sydney Branch – 44 years of community education, walking and activism” by Gary Schoer and Peter Vaughan in the Autumn 2017 issue of “Nature New South Wales” a National Parks Association of NSW publication:
“The Sutherland Sub Branch (of Sydney Branch) of the NPA was established in 1972. Bob Spencer was the first Convenor. In 1973 Gary Schoer was encouraged by Bob to step into this role. On the 6th of August 1986 a meeting was held to elect office bearers and establish a full Southern Sydney Branch of NPA; 27 members attended the meeting at Gymea Community Centre.
After the 1986 election, Bob Crombie, a ranger at Royal National Park, spoke on the issues threatening the Hacking River and Royal National Park, especially the proposed Helensburgh urban development. NPA joined the Total Environment Centre and lical groups in fighting to prevent a major expansion of urben development in the catchment of Royal National Park. This success provided the momentum for the Branch to be a key group for advocating the “The Royal” and southern Sydney’s natural areas ever since.
Regular slide show nights have educated locals about the natural wonders of this region and the continuing threats. This has helped to create a broad network of friends who have been ongoing allies as we have fought the ‘forces of darkness’ continually threatening southern Sydney.”
“Some of the Branch’s notable achievements in cooperation with other groups, and especially Sutherland Shire Council, Total Environment Centre and Sutherland Environment Centre (which has mostly worked hard to conserve areas not earmarked for urban expansion), include:
- Preventing Menai tip expanding into Mill Creek and north of present boundary. (NPA worked with Menai Progress Association to convince ANSTO to use degraded lands in one mile exclusion zone rather than move operations into pristine river valley).
- Conserving bush in Upper Hacking Valley (Helensburgh).
- Adding lands to Heathcote National Park, Georges River National Park and Towra Point Nature Reserve.
- Stopping sand mining off Royal National Park.
- Conserving significant remnant bushland areas at Menai and Gymea.
- Making significant contributions to Macarthur Branch’s campaign which resulted in gazettal of Dharawal National Park.
Our Branch is now commonly consulted by National Parks management on issues such as bike riding in in Royal NP, deer management strategies and precinct planning, and we have regular meetings with management to explore opportunities for mutual support. The of Southern Sydney’s bushland and waterways in 50 years time will be one indication of the success of efforts to conserve ou patches of bush.
Our Branch is currently contributing to NPAs efforts to crate a Sydney Marine Park, and regularly engages with lical politicians and national parks management to advocate for diverse local state-wide issues in cooperation with multiple groups. Our precious Royal National Park and other major natural areas are under more threat then ever from would-be developers and increasing visitation pressures.”