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Member Group Spotlight: Manyana Matters

When was your group formed and why?  

Manyana Matters was started by a group of locals as a Facebook group in 2018, focusing on environmental issues.  The Manyana Matters Environmental Association incorporated early in 2020, when, immediately following the Black Summers bushfires, a developer called Ozy Homes announced their intention to commence clearing a 20ha block of bushland in the town to build 182 houses.  The site was one of the few areas of bushland NOT destroyed by the bushfires, in which approximately 96% of the surrounding Conjola National Park was devastated.  The forest had become like a species ark, providing food and habitat to those animals that survived the fires, including threatened and vulnerable species including the Grey-headed Flying Fox, Glossy-black Cockatoo, Gang-gang Cockatoo, Swift Parrot and the Scrub Turpentine.  The plan to destroy this bushland was shocking to the local community, who came together, in the middle of the pandemic, determined to save the forest.  This led to the land being declared by the then Federal Minister for the Environment as a Controlled Action under the EPBC Act, a process that is now coming to a head.

We call this bushland the Manyana Special Conservation Reserve, which reflects our vision that the land be incorporated into the Conjola National Park and protected in perpetuity.


How many members do you currently have? What are the key skillsets and areas of experience across your group? 

Manyana Matters has over 130 paid members, several hundred subscribers and over 5,600 followers of our Facebook page. We draw from a skillset of amazingly diverse people who bring creativity, passion, leadership, advocacy, academic and business experience to our work.  We live by our Code of Conduct, which is to respect people, animals and the environment.


Manyana Matters members join other coastal communities in a delegation to NSW Parliament, calling for an end to damaging ‘Zombie DAs’, which are leading to the destruction of precious coastal habitats from the Far South Coast to the Far North Coast of NSW.


How are you predominantly involved with NCC? 

We are grateful for the support of the NCC in our work. NCC has been with us since we started. They have coordinated our efforts with other peak bodies to create communications and support our campaigns. NCC has also recently written to the Federal Environment Minister as part of our current appeal for her to refuse the Controlled Action regarding the Manyana forest. 

Manyana Matters is a member of Coastal Residents United (CRU), which NCC is coordinating.  CRU is an alliance of organisations along the coast of NSW who are all seeking to protect sensitive environments and species from the impact of aging (zombie) DAs. These are DAs that were approved often decades ago under outdated environmental laws, approvals that never expire and that would not be allowed today. Developers have land-banked or on-sold properties with these old DAs attached and now they threaten to destroy remaining habitats and the coastal communities that are trying to protect them.


What projects are you focusing on currently?  

Right now, our focus is on protecting Manyana and the surrounding villages that make up the Red Head Villages from the immediate threat posed by zombie DAs. There are two active battles:

Inyadda Drive, Manyana – a 76ha block of bushland comprising several Endangered and Critically Endangered Ecological Communities, including one classed has having Significant And Irreversible Impact (SAII) if it is destroyed. It is also located in a flood zone and development on the site will endanger species that use the downstream ICOLL as habitat. A second Land and Environment Court hearing is expected in April this year.  Shoalhaven Council is opposed to the development.

Manyana Special Conservation Reserve – the four year battle to save this forest is coming to a head, with a decision by Minister Plibersek on the Controlled Action under the EPBC Act due by 28th March. Manyana Matters is working tirelessly to mobilise the community and explain to the Minister and the Federal Department of the Environment why this forest must be saved.

We urgently need your help - please make a short submission here.


What are the biggest challenges you face as a group in achieving your goals at the moment?  

While resources are always stretched, at critical times (such as now) our members rise to the occasion. We find that our biggest challenge is an inadequate regulatory framework. Regarding Controlled Actions, the current EPBC Act places numerous nonsensical limitations on the Minister when making decisions to protect nature. Also, we think that development proponents have many more resources than the public and the government and can deliver half-truths and worse in justifying their proposals.


What are you most excited about at this current time?  

The support of our community and of people far and wide (celebrities, scientist, artists and advocacy bodies) who have stepped up with us to champion the environment.  

We hope to be able to show the way for other environmental groups about how a grass-roots community organisation can bravely and respectively create change for the better.


Are there any opportunities for collaboration for the NCC network that you’d like to put forward?  

We would like NCC to become more involved in ending zombie DAs and putting an end to native forest logging.


What inspires/moves you to keep doing the work to protect nature? 

The need is so great and time is short. Only people can protect the animals, plant communities and habitats from the actions of other people. We see thousands of people like us all over the country volunteering their time and skills on behalf of Nature.  

The natural environment around Manyana and the supportive community are so special, and it is home to the plants and animals, including many that are at risk of extinction. We feel the obligation to preserve it for the whole of the nation. 


Public meeting we held in conjunction with the Red Head Villages Association to inform the community about the status of the Zombie DAs in Manyana on 24 Feb 2024. Over 80 people turned up on a Saturday afternoon! It was awesome.



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