We’ve received a response from DELWP to our questions about the scalping of Fryers Ridge Road. You can read it by clicking here: Fryers Ridge Rd DELWP response
The key paragraph runs as follows:
‘Roadside scalping is sometimes used where the verge needs heavy vegetation and debris removed and the ground profile flattened to allow future maintenance to be carried out by slashing; to widen the mineral earth part of the road as part of planned burning preparation…; and if resource limitations have prevented an annual slashing program to be maintained causing an accumulation of heavy growth on the roadside.’
There are three reasons here, the first two of which do not apply to the Ridge Road. The third, however–the reference to ‘resource limitations’– confirms our suspicions: that scalping is used as a cheap method of achieving your ends when you’re short of cash. So, although it’s generally considered a bad way of going about things, managers are forced to use it anyway.
It’s clear also, from this letter, that roadside clearing often happens in ignorance of what might be getting scraped into oblivion: there’s no effective monitoring of its biodiversity effects. And although managers generally need to comply with clearing regulations, these only come into play if something ‘important’ is known to be in the relevant area. In the absence of detailed monitoring, this often comes down to the judgement of the manager in question.
We have serious disagreements about the decisions made to scalp the Ridge Road, and other tracks in the Fryers Ranges, and believe that in most areas there was no ‘heavy growth’ on the roadsides.
In another communication to us from the Environment Minister, we’ve been invited to discuss values of roadsides with the responsible Terrestrial Biodiversity Manager. We’ll take up this invitation.