21 November 2008

The Great Bettong Fence of Forde

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The ABC local news has just posted this:

    “When the 1.8 metre fence is completed it will run for 11.5 kilometres and enclose 484 hectares of rare yellow box redland forest on the doorstep of the new suburb of Forde.

    It will also provide protection to the endangered burrowing bettong by keeping out the foxes and cats that have decimated its population.”

Which is delightful.

The weirdness is twofold:

  1. the Burrowing Bettong has been extinct in mainlaind Australia since the 1960s [according to the CSIRO] and the Heirison Prong Threatened Species Project [which started with the CSIRO] suggests that the Bettong has never been indigenous to the Forde locale and reintroduction to the mainland has only occurred in WA and SA;
  2. what invaluable recreation space is going to be created by a 11.5 kilometre fence given the enclosed space MUST provide a haven for endangered flora and fauna? Sounds to me that Canberrans are going to have be excluded from the space.

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The Bettong is a kind of kangaroo, so should taste like subterranean Skippy.

It’s not the money, CSIRO says we don’t have any burrowing bettongs, and it looks like we may never have had any burrowing bettongs.

At least when the Government spends money on street art, we can all get bicker for weeks as to what constitutes art.

This media release seems to be that the Government is going to protect something we don’t have (although the yellow box trees will probably appreciate it) AND we are being told it will be an invaluable recreational asset.

Unless the fence is one of those solid colorbond jobbies and the residents of Forde use it as a practice wall for tennis, I don’t see how we get any recreational benefit at all – the whole point would be to keep us all out.

If these natural assets are there and worthy of such extreme protection, why didn’t everyone get excited when the EIS for Forde was released?

Odd – we don’t seem to have any bettong, if you believe this article. It has a map of former burrowing bettong distribution, sites of remnant populations and a fencing example in SA. Even in bettong boom times they don’t seem to have been in the area.


Maybe the fence is more about the yellow box trees?

300k isn’t excatly millions

there will be another announcement when they build the fence for sure

I think we should have an ‘Ode to the Bettongs of Forde’ songwriting competition.


It looks like we’re going through a phase of being seen to do feel-good environmental projects. This week it was millions of dollars on a demonstration project for the Murrumbudgee River (ie the only merit is that people will see it), and now this.

While fencing off areas has been shown to be a good idea, I’ll be interested to see if those poor little endangered bettongs manage to find their way back here, sneak through the fence, and then survive all the onserving, poking and prodding they’ll get from delighted TaMS staff and pollies.

By the way, this is but a reannouncement from about August (from memory). Once is fine, twice is pushing it. Let’s hope this is the last one.

Probably a bit like chipmunk, I should think.

Granny said :

Let’s all go on a bettong expedition in the wilds of Forde!

I wonder what they taste like 😉

Pommy bastard11:20 am 22 Nov 08

Anyone taking betting on the bettong?

Let’s all go on a bettong expedition in the wilds of Forde!

Canberra does, in fact, have its own Bunyip, trevar, and his name is Alexander! Let this not be forgotten!!

I vaguely remember a town in Queensland (somewhere near the peanut town NW of Brisy) having a bunyip reserve. Methinks someone was inspired to provide Canberra with its own mythical creature… somehow I don’t think the bettong is ever going to achieve the same status as the bunyip and the tasmanian tiger though… cute just doesn’t cut it!

Why is my comment awaiting moderation? What have I posted to be so controversial?

From what I know of the Mulligan’s Flat reserve, it is more likely the bird species that this fence will protect.


With Forde being a 24 hour a day cat restricted suburb, there is a strong chance that these bird species WILL be protected with this fence. (Or at least given a better chance for survival with a suburb so close.)

One can live in hope ….


Come on, I learnt about the Edge Effect in first-year ecology. You can’t have a protected ecosystem in that small an area of land just by running a fence around the place. Regardless of whether there are Bettongs there (or whether they exist at all), you can’t just protect a small area of land like that by the relatively small cost of putting a fence around the place. The logical and obvious solution to species like these becoming extinct is too expensive, so the news is being propagated to placate people who couldn’t give a shit about the animals anyway, to give them a warm fuzzy feeling.

I cannot understand why they would bother. I really wonder whether this will go ahead.

I love that empty block on National Circuit just opposite the Realm that is kept as a reserve for those celebrated moths. Whatever bit of the bureaucracy that looks after the site ran the motor mowers over the place a couple of months ago.

What cute little critters! I hope there are some actually lurking in deepest darkest Forde. Surely there must be good reason to suspect they are there?

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