The Australian Rainforest Conservation Society (ARCS) will be in court tomorrow (February 27) seeking to protect World Heritage-listed Springbrook National Park on the Gold Coast from a water mining proposal.
The park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, one of only five World Heritage properties in Queensland, along with the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and Great Sandy.
In 2019, water mining company Hoffman Drilling asked Gold Coast City Council for permission to extract 16 million litres of water a year from aquifers connected to Springbrook National Park.
When the council refused, Hoffman Drilling appealed to the Queensland Planning and Environment Court. The hearings begin today and are expected to take up to eight days.
ARCS President Aila Keto said: “Given the world significance of these forests and their vulnerability to climate change, we believe mining of any volume of water is unacceptably risky.
“The ecosystems of Springbrook National Park and its surrounds are priceless refuges for a whole host of plants and animals, many of which have ancient lineages and exist nowhere else on earth.
“Australia and the world are in the midst of an extreme biodiversity crisis, which means we have a duty to protect all these refugia as best we can.”
ARCS is being represented in court by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), the Australia-Pacific region’s leading public interest environmental legal practice.
EDO Managing Lawyer Revel Pointon said: “This proposal would take groundwater that would normally flow into the beloved Natural Arch — home of incredible glow worms — and the iconic Twin Falls waterfall.
“The water mining proposal is particularly concerning to our clients because this World Heritage area is already vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, heatwaves, and bushfires of increasing frequency and intensity.
“These high-altitude rainforests have survived largely unchanged for millennia because of the wet climate, relying in dry periods on groundwater.
“Very little is understood about the impacts of groundwater mining on the ecosystems in rainforest like those in Springbrook National Park.
“That is why the Queensland Government put a moratorium on further water mining applications through Springbrook and Mount Tamborine.
“This application came in just before those moratoriums were put in place.”
The Australian Rainforest Conservation Society is a national, non-government, not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1982. Its mission is to protect, repair and restore the extraordinary rainforests of Australia through research, advocacy, public education, grass-roots support and on-ground ecological restoration.
ARCS prepared the successful World Heritage nomination for Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, of which Springbrook NP is a part. Originally listed in 1986 to cover remnant patches of rainforest in NSW, the property was extended in 1994 to include remnant rainforests on the Queensland side of the border.
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
Australian Rainforest Conservation Society | President Dr Aila Keto
Environmental Defenders Office | Managing Lawyer Revel Pointon
EDO | James Tremain | 0419 272 254 | [email protected]