April 18 - 24, 2021: Issue 490
The Sooty Oystercatcher pair are back at Turimetta Beach and North Narrabeen rock platform - photo by Joe Mills, April 7th, 2021

Avalon Golf Course bushcare needs you

We're so short of helpers we've had to cancel for the time being. Meanwhile the weeds will go gangbusters. 
We used to meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month. Could you come if we worked on another day or time? say a morning, or on a weekend day? 
Contact Geoff Searl on 0439 292 566 if you'd like to help. He'd love to hear from you. 

We have fun using the Tree Popper, here with our supervisor from Dragonfly Environmental. We can lever out quite big Ochnas, aka Mickey Mouse plant from Africa.  We want to bring back the bush, not let the weeds win!
   

Ochna or Mickey Mouse plant has yellow flowers in spring, then lots of green berries that turn black when ripe. Seedlings come up in hundreds. Ochna has a very strong taproot but the steady pressure of the Tree Popper lifts the plant out of the ground easily. The alternative control is repeated scraping and painting with Roundup, very slow and time consuming. If you have an Ochna you cant remove, you can enjoy the flowers, then PLEASE prune it so that berries can't develop.

Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment Bill: have your say

April 8, 2021: The Australian Government
The Australian Government has considered and endorsed an enhanced framework for decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure.   

We are now preparing to implement the framework through legislative and policy changes. An implementation plan is expected to be released soon.

As part of the implementation, the government is seeking feedback on the draft Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Titles Administration and Other Measures) Bill 2021.

The Bill aims to strengthen and clarify Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulatory framework.  

The proposed Bill will:
  • expand existing trailing liability provisions
  • increase oversight of changes in titleholder ownership and control
  • increase regulatory scrutiny of the suitability of companies operating, or looking to operate, within Australia’s offshore petroleum regulatory regime
  • expand information gathering powers to enable scrutiny
The Bill makes the legislative changes necessary to give effect to the enhanced framework. The Bill also gives effect to the relevant recommendations of the independent review into the circumstances leading to the administration and liquidation of Northern Oil and Gas Australia (the Walker Review).


Consultation closes on Friday 23 April 2021. 

Ant Lion

About 3cm long, this is an adult Ant Lion, near Avalon Beach. In its earlier life in its pitfall trap it fed on ants and other small insects. Using its strong jaws it could grip the prey, suck out its vital juices and fling the carcass up out of the trap.


The pitfall trap: cleverly constructed with very fine sand at the angle of repose. As soon as an ant steps onto it, down it slides into the jaws of the antlion, invisible jaws open at the bottom of the pit.


Photos and text courtesy Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)

Mona Vale Village Park Trees now 'unwired'


April 11, 2021 follow up
Wires on Mona Vale trees: going, going, GONE!!

Mona Vale Dunes Bushcare Restoration update + PNHA Autumn 2021 newsletter

April 15, 2021: Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
The first to be planted on our Mona Vale Dunes Australian Government Communities Environment grant project site: White Correas on the cleared area.  These were desperate to get out of their pots and into the sand. Lovely foliage and starry white flowers. Our big planting day on this site is coming up soon - May 2021 - watch this space if you want to help out.


White Correa

The most challenging weed here is Green Cestrum, a poisonous shrub with tufts of yellow flowers and then berries. It suckers when cut down, and is deep rooted. A real survivor but gradually disappearing here. The project has to be completed by end of June this year.

On the south side of the track to the beach from Golf Avenue, Northern Beaches Council and PNHA are providing funds for maintenance weeding. This is where in June 17 2006 PNHA and other volunteers planted 775 tubestock of local coastal natives donated by PNHA to the project (a NSW Environmental Trusts grant) to restore native vegetation on the dunes. The planting was a great success, but weeds now here are Turkey Rhubarb and Coastal Morning Glory.


Autumn Edition of PNHA Newsletter - Issue 87

PNHA Newsletter 87 is now on line. News: Grant projects and more, Caterpillars on Native Grape, (Pale Brown Hawkmoth Theretra latreillii is one),  more Trad biocontrol released along Narrabeen Creek. 

Our famous PNHA Cards are now available at Avalon's Beachside Bookshop shop 24, 11 Avalon Pde. Thanks very  much to Libby for kindly stocking these for us at only $2.00 each. Blank cards for every occasion, with photos of Pittwater landscapes, flora and fauna. Example: Plateau Park Waratah by Ken Hughes.

Membership of Pittwater Natural Heritage Association Landcare Group is open to all who share our aims of caring for the natural environment of the Pittwater area and working to enhance and protect it. You can find a Membership Application form on our website http://pnha.org.au/join/ or contact us on pnhainfo@gmail.com for one to be sent to you.
Cost $20 per year, $10 unwaged.


Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Next Forum + May Activities

Zoom Meeting- 7pm May 31st, 2021
Aboriginal Art and Occupation Sites of the Northern Beaches
Eric Keidge (Field Officer, NPWS) and Bob Conroy (formerly with NPWS) will be giving a presentation on their knowledge and experience in identifying, recording and protecting some of the Aboriginal art and occupation sites in the Northern Beaches area, including the Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment.

With due respect to those Aboriginal people past and present (and future) who identify with this area, the presentation will make reference to collaboration and special projects undertaken with the Aboriginal Heritage Office and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council\, There will also be information given about site dating and significance.

Register to participate in this Zoom session and you might find your future walks in Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment more interesting than before because you can see evidence of the rich Aboriginal heritage located here. When you register, you will be emailed a link by which you can join the Zoom session at 7pm on May 31. Don’t miss it! Register now by emailing: email@narrabeenlagoon.org.au
Find out more about FoNLC in: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment

May Activities
Paddle: Narrabeen Lagoon's Secret Creeks - Sunday May 9
From the Western Basin to the outlet to the sea, you'll see it all. On this leisurely paddle you can swim the lagoon from a clean, sandy beach or take a plunge in the ocean or nearby rock pool. Discover the unexpected creeks that flow into the lagoon, including astonishing Deep Creek, with its migratory birds from as far away as Russia. Visit an island, experience the exotic wildlife - pelicans, black swan, maybe a fish will jump in your boat! Hear about the Aboriginal history and what's being done to protect the remaining bushland.
Led by former president of Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Tony Carr. Kayak hire $108pp.
Full day. Easy, with lots of stops. Suit first timers, tuition given. Location Northern Beaches - good public transport connections. 45 mins from the CBD.
To register: Phone 0417 502 056 (Tony Carr)

Explorative Walk in Catchment: 10am Saturday May 15
Meet at 10am in Morgan Road and walk from there to the corner of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment.
Bookings essential: Contact Conny on 0432 643 295


Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: update

March 28, 2021 Clean at Narrabeen: 
The Narrabeen lagoon crew today picked up over 2000 items from the lagoon, including a lobster cage, a vacuum cleaner pipe, a bunch of plastic flowers, two sandwich board signs, ones petrol leaf blower, one battery charger, three chairs, one kayak paddle, one tennis racket, two bricks and lots of plastic bottles, glass bottles, food wraps, straws, plastic cutlery, Styrofoam and cigarettes. Thank you to everyone who came and gave up their Sunday morning to make this world a little nicer place to live in for all beings. We're forever grateful to all of you. We're all "The Crew".

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew meets the last Sunday of every month to clean up a beach or lagoon on Sydney's northern beaches. See our event tab for our next clean up spot. It's a family friendly and welcoming group and feel comfortable coming by yourself too - many friendships have started in this group. (Please leave political, religious and business messages at home, so the group can stay inclusive and welcoming towards everyone.) We provide you with buckets, gloves, bags and sunscreen. Please bring water in a reusable water bottle if it's a hot day. Hope to meet you soon!



Next Clean: 


Sculptural Trees: 100 year old angophora kept in local park

Here's an idea spotted during our Autumn School Holidays break while visiting Lane Cove/Greenwich. This tree is now Art as well as an adventure playground for local children. 







Avalon Community Garden

Avalon Community Garden’s primary purpose is to foster, encourage and facilitate community gardening in Pittwater on a not-for-profit basis.

The garden was started in 2010 by a group of locals who worked in conjunction with the support of Barrenjoey High School to develop a space that could be used by the local community, to grow

vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers, and practice sustainable gardening techniques to benefit its members and the community overall.

The garden has been very successful and has grown and developed since its inception, in terms of its footprint, infrastructure, variety of produce and diversity of members. The garden welcomes new members all year round. Levels of contribution range from multiple times a week, to once a month. Your contribution is always welcome, and it is acknowledged people will have varying levels of commitment. 

We encourage you to join and start enjoying the following benefits associated with community gardening:

They provide benefits for individuals and for the community as a whole. Community gardens provide education on gardening, recycling and sustainable use of natural resources.

They develop community connections and provide a means of engaging youth, children, the elderly and the disabled and otherwise marginalised individuals in mutually enjoyable and rewarding activities, thus helping to develop more functional and resilient communities.

People involved in community gardens say they improve wellbeing by increasing physical activity and reducing stress, providing opportunities to interact meaningfully with new friends, give time for relaxation and reflection as well as an opportunity to improve their interconnectedness with nature.

To get involved take a look around the site, join the Facebook group and come along and visit on a Sunday morning between 10 and 12 at the garden within Barrenjoey High School on Tasman Road, North Avalon.


BirdLife Australia Autumn survey time

Gazing at Gang-gangs, marvelling at Magpies or smiling at some Spinebills?

Join our Birds in Backyards surveys this Autumn and let us know who is visiting your garden. 20 mins and some information about your garden helps to understand our local birds and gives us invaluable insight into their daily lives.

Webinar

Register here for a free webinar on Wednesday March 10 at 7pm (AEDT). We will take you through how to do a survey as well as how to explore Birdata to learn more about your local bird life. We will also give you some tips and tricks on identifying birds in your garden. 

How do I take part?

To do a Birds in Backyards survey, spend 20 minutes in one spot where you can view birds - your backyard, local park, school, or other favourite outdoor place. Simply count how many you see of each bird species you see using that space and tell us about what the outdoor space is like. Then to enter your survey data, register your free Birdata account, read the instructions for the web or app or watch the video. If you download the Birdata app you can take your smartphone or tablet outside with you to do your count. 

What if I don't know much about birds?

If you are unsure where or how to start, or even feel like you don’t know the first thing about birds only that you love to see them, then fear not! The Birdata web portal and app automatically gives you a list of 30 birds from your region to get you started. 

What if I only have super common or introduced birds?

That is really useful! We want to know about the birds you don’t see just as much as the ones you do. So if your list is only small, all introduced birds or full of birds you don’t think are very ‘exciting’, that is still important information for us. All surveys are important so please give it a go. 

Why do these surveys?

Your surveys are used by BirdLife  Australia and the Urban Bird team to track the health of our urban birds, and to monitor the impact of our gardens, outdoor spaces and even our own behaviours on bird populations. We can learn a lot from Birds in Backyard surveys, like how different types of gardens can attract different types of birds, and which features birds may be avoiding or are negatively affected by. In 2021 your surveys will also be used in the very first Urban Bird Index for BirdLife Australia's State of Australia's Birds Report.

Importantly, your surveys contribute to the on-ground conservation work we undertake with our volunteers, branches and partners – from local planting and habitat improvement projects up to national advocacy and campaigns. We also use the survey data in seminars and workshops conducted by staff, or for our projects such as the Powerful Owl Project. Read about how the surveys you do in your gardens are helping in our post-fire conservation work here. 

How often should I survey?

Each quarter we launch a seasonal survey. By dividing the year up into seasons we can track changes in bird communities at the same four times each year. Our Autumn survey period runs throughout March and April - but you can still submit surveys at any time. You can do as many surveys as you like, as often as you like! Some people like to just participate once a quarter (or four times a year) in our seasonal surveys, while others like to count their birds more frequently. 

What else can I record?

There are a few important interactions you can share with us if you see them. Keep an eye out for:

  • Breeding behaviours - If you see a bird carrying nesting materials, sitting on a nest or feeding chicks, let us know. Select the option under 'Breeding Activity' that best matches your observation (remember to keep your distance though from birds who are breeding. We don't want to disturb any nests. Be sure to limit your observations and don't get close enough to scare a bird off it's nest.)
  • Aggressive interactions – Let us know if you have observed any species initiate interactions with other birds and whether this interaction could be classed as aggressive – you can do this in the sighting details tab using the specific species interactions option.
  • Have you seen any birds feeding on the native plants in your garden? If so – who was dining on what? – you can tell us in the notes section when you record the species you have observed under “sighting details”
  • Have any birds been dabbling in some Oscar-worthy acting? – tell us about the weird and wonderful things your backyard birds have been up to you using the notes section in the sighting details tabs.
Visit the survey instructions page for more info and FAQs.

Don't forget you can also win great prizes. We will be giving away Birds in Backyards prize packs and even some extra special goodies throughout 2021, but to win you have to enter your surveys. Follow us on social media for more details.


Four Corners reveals Morrison’s gas plan driven by ideology not logic

April 13, 2021
Lock the Gate Alliance has renewed its call for the Morrison Government to stop wasting public money to prop up polluting and dangerous gas projects following criticism of the plan by energy experts aired overnight.

Four Corners, in its April 12th edition 'Fired Up' has reported Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor and his department not only ignored the advice from the likes of the Australian Energy Market Operator, but that the independent experts may have been pressured to fall into step with the government’s ideologically driven gas-fuelled agenda.

“It is extremely concerning our elected politicians are not listening to the energy experts, and are instead pushing outdated and polluting gas and fracking onto the Australian public,” said Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Naomi Hogan.

“It’s galling that without an ounce of independent justification, the Morrison Government wants to sacrifice so much country to new gasfields, fracking, and pipelines, laying waste to farmland, water, and rural communities. 

“It’s high time Federal Government politicians dumped their flawed plan to waste public money on paying for the gas industry’s pipelines and fracking rigs, and they should start by dropping the proposed changes to NAIF that will enable public funds for gas.” 

Coonamble farmer Anne Kennedy said it was a travesty the Morrison Government was willing to sacrifice food and fibre growing land and the water beneath it for the polluting, temporary gas industry.

“The Morrison Government had so many other industries it could have funnelled money into if it wanted to help the nation recover from the Covid-19 crisis. Unfortunately, it chose one that harms our rural communities and our ability to produce food and access secure water, while actually harming our economy,” she said.

“I have given the government so much science and evidence over 12 years - really solid reports, and I naively thought they’d listen.

“Australians will be rightly shocked and appalled to learn there was not a shred of evidence supporting the Morrison Government’s ideological obsession with polluting gas.

“The government must back down from its diabolical coal seam gas and fracking plans before it is too late.”

Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck said “Farmers in our region are now being approached by a gas pipeline company who has stated publicly they are after federal funding in order to proceed to development.

“This pipeline is a threat to hundreds of properties across the region, and there is no way that we can accept the Federal Government throwing away public funds on a project that will do so much damage.

“We have suffered enough after years of drought. We are now experiencing the first good season in many years. We would like to be able to enjoy that without the constant threat of high pressure gas pipelines and coal seam gasfields being superimposed on our agricultural businesses. It is a direct threat to food security as it would hamper our ability to grow food and fibre for the nation and earn valued export income."

Barilaro can’t blow smoke over Upper Hunter eyes as Mangoola tries to expand

April 12, 2021
The latest planned coal project expansion to come before NSW's Independent Planning Commission is symptomatic of the State Government’s failure to address unacceptable cumulative impacts on the region’s air quality, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The IPC recently reopened submissions concerning the Mangoola Continued Operations Project, located in the Wybong Valley, in response to information received from government agencies about the cumulative trend of air quality and mounting community complaints in Muswellbrook.

The pending decision on the project comes at a time when numerous politicians from other regions of the state are descending on the Upper Hunter and making inaccurate and unhelpful comments as parties jostle for votes at the upcoming by-election.

Wybong Valley local and ex-coal miner Michael White said he was extremely disappointed by Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s comments dismissing Upper Hunter Valley locals’ concerns over air quality.

“It was like seeing someone deny the existence of climate change. The data is there, but Mr Barilaro is simply refusing to accept it,” he said.

“When you look at the data for 2018, before the bushfires temporarily made air quality worse, there were already eight locations in the Hunter, six of which were in the Upper Hunter, that had annual PM10 readings exceeding the national environmental standards for ambient air quality. 

“Coal mines have clearly contributed to this.”

Mr White also said, in its submission to the IPC the Department had to rely on an air pollution inventory from nine years ago when discussing PM2.5 levels and that no more characterisation studies had been undertaken despite several new mine expansions since. 

“Since 2012 there have been many new and expanded coal mines in the Upper Hunter, yet the department still expects us to believe the primary driver of air pollution in the region is woodsmoke for heating.

“The NSW Environment Protection Authority in 2015 found off road diesel emissions associated with coal mining to blame for a significant portion of PM2.5 in the Hunter Valley. 

“It is a great scandal that we do not have a federal or state off-road diesel emissions standard.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “Asthma rates are higher in Muswellbrook than the rest of the Hunter, and adolescent asthma and deaths from respiratory illness are significantly higher in the Hunter than elsewhere in NSW. 

“Is Mr Barilaro ignoring the health data because he’s shying away from taking a tough line with multinational mining companies?  

“We’re calling for the IPC to reject the proposed Mangoola expansion given the added air pollution it will produce, and for the government to overhaul its Draft Clean Air Strategy to clamp down on air pollution by coal mines.”

Draft NSW Clean Air Strategy: public consultation

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is seeking public comments on the draft NSW Clean Air Strategy until April 23rd 2021.

The aim of the draft NSW Clean Air Strategy is to support liveable communities, healthy environments and the NSW economy by reducing the adverse effects of air pollution on NSW communities.

Extensive consultation has previously been carried out including the Clean Air Summit in 2017 which was attended by more than 300 stakeholders. The Government is already delivering on actions to support clean air such as those announced at the summit.

What is the NSW Clean Air Strategy?
The draft NSW Clean Air Strategy presents the whole of NSW Government approach to improving air quality and minimising adverse effects on human health. The priorities in the draft Strategy are better preparedness for pollution events, cleaner industry, cleaner transport, engines and fuels, healthier households and better places. Under the Clean Air Strategy, the NSW Government will continue to lead by example.

Actions in the draft Strategy reflect the substantial and growing body of evidence on air pollution and its health impacts and costs in New South Wales. 

When will the NSW Clean Air Strategy be finalised?
At the close of the public exhibition period, we will consider all submissions on the draft Strategy and recommend changes to the Strategy as necessary. We will provide the Minister for Energy and Environment with the final strategy, all the submissions and the submissions report.

NSW Government will then consider the final strategy. Once approved, the final strategy will be published on this website, and stakeholders, including those who made a submission on the draft strategy, will be notified.

How can I comment on the draft NSW Clean Air Strategy?
Have your say
Public exhibition is from 18 March to 23 April 2021. 

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

Make a submission online by using the online form here.
Post your written submission to:
Manager Air Policy, EES-CCS
Locked Bag 5022
Parramatta NSW 2124
Email your submission to: Air.Policy@environment.nsw.gov.au
Make sure you include the following information at the top of your email or written submission:
  • first name
  • last name
  • organisation you represent (if applicable)
  • email address
  • postcode.
Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (the Department) is committed to transparent processes and open access to information. The Department may draw upon the contents of submissions and quote from them or refer to them in publications. The Department will treat submissions as public and may publish copies on the Department website (contact details will be redacted), unless you indicate that you wish your complete submission or certain content to remain confidential.

Inquiry into declining numbers of Macropods

Have your say now - submissions are now open for the Inquiry into declining numbers of kangaroos and other Macropods such as wallabies and wallaroos. 
Submissions close April 26, 2021
Make a submission here: www.bit.ly/kangaroo-inquiry

TERMS OF REFERENCE
1. That Portfolio Committee No 7 – Planning and Environment inquire into and report on the health and wellbeing of kangaroos, and other macropods, in New South Wales, and in particular:
(a) historical and long-term health and wellbeing indicators of kangaroos, and other macropods, at the local, bioregional and state levels, including the risk of localised extinction in New South Wales,

(b) the accuracy with which kangaroo, and other macropod, numbers are calculated when determining population size, and the means by which the health and wellbeing of populations is assessed,

(c) threats to kangaroo, and other macropod, habitat, including the impact of:
(i) climate change, drought and diversion and depletion of surface water sources,
(ii) bushfires,
(iii) land clearing for agriculture, mining and urban development,
(iv) the growing prevalence of exclusion fencing which restricts and disrupts the movement of kangaroos,

(d) current government policies and programs for kangaroo management, including:
(i) the method used for setting quotas for kangaroo culling,
(ii) the management of licences to cull kangaroos,
(iii) temporary drought relief policies and programs,

(e) current government policies and programs in regards to 'in pouch' and 'at foot joeys' given the high infant mortality rate of joeys and the unrecorded deaths of orphaned young where females are killed,

(f) regulatory and compliance mechanisms to ensure that commercial and non-commercial killing of kangaroos and other macropods is undertaken according to the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and other relevant regulations and codes,

(g) the impact of commercial and non-commercial killing of kangaroos and other macropods, including the difficulty of establishing numbers killed by landholders since the removal of the requirement for drop tags, and

(h) current and alternative measures to provide an incentive for and accelerate public and private conservation of kangaroos and other macropods.

2. That the committee report by the first sitting day in September 2021. 


A J Guesdon photo

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

BUSHCARE SCHEDULES 
Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Avalon     
Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Bayview     
Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

Bilgola     
North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Clareville     
Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Elanora     
Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday +3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Newport     
Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood     
Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon


Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

Pittwater Reserves

Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial


These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

Sydney's disastrous flood wasn't unprecedented: we're about to enter a 50-year period of frequent, major floods

Tom Hubble, University of Sydney

Last month’s flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River region of western Sydney peaked at a staggering 12.9 metres, with water engulfing road signs and reaching the tops of many houses.

There hasn’t been a major flood on the Hawkesbury-Nepean for more than 30 years, with the last comparable one occurring in 1990. Long-term Sydneysiders, however, will remember that 12 major floods occurred during the 40 years before 1990. Five of these were larger than last month’s flood.

So what’s going on? The long-term rainfall pattern in the region and corresponding river flow is cyclic in nature. This means 40 to 50 years of dry weather with infrequent small floods are followed by 40 to 50 years of wet weather with frequent major floods.

As river and floodplain residents take stock of the recent damage to their homes and plan necessary repairs, it’s vital they recognise more floods are on the way. Large, frequent floods can be expected to occur again within 10 or 20 years if — as expected — the historical pattern of rainfall and flooding repeats itself.

Living in a bathtub

Many of the 18,000 people who were evacuated live in and around a region known as the “Sackville Bathtub”. As the name suggests, this flat, low-lying section of the floodplain region was spectacularly affected.

The flooded Hawkesbury-Nepean River last month. Brown floodwater is evident between Penrith (right) and the Pacific Ocean (top left). The Sackville Bathtub is located left of centre. Digital Earth Australia Map, Geoscience Australia, Tom Hubble

The Sackville Bathtub is located between Richmond and Sackville. It’s part of the Cumberland Plain area of Western Sydney and formed very slowly over 100 million years due to plate tectonic processes. The bathtub’s mudstone rock layers are folded into a broad, shallow, basin-shaped depression, which is surrounded by steep terrain.

Downstream of Sackville, the Hawkesbury-Nepean River flows through sandstone gorges and narrows in width. This creates a pinch-point that partially blocks the river channel.

Just as a bath plug sitting half-way over a plughole slows an emptying bath, the Sackville pinch-point causes the bathtub to fill during floods.

How the bathtub effect in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley causes floodwaters to back up and lead to deep and dangerous flooding.

Will raising the dam wall work?

The NSW state government is planning to raise the wall of the Warragamba Dam to help mitigate catastrophic floods in the region. But this may not be an effective solution.

Typically, somewhere between 40% and 60% of the floodwater that fills up the Sackville Bathtub comes from unimpeded, non-Warragamba sources. So, when the Hawkesbury-Nepean River floods, the bathtub is already quite full and causing significant problems before Warragamba begins to spill. The Warragamba water then raises the flood level, but often by only a couple of metres.

Raising Warragamba Dam’s wall as a mitigation measure will only control about half the floodwater, and won’t prevent major floods delivered by the Nepean and Grose rivers, which also feed into the region. This represents a small potential benefit for a very large cost.

The timing of observed flood peaks during the August 1986 Hawkesbury-Nepean flood, in relation to the time when Warragamba Dam began to spill. The arrival of Warragamba water in the Sackville Bathtub increased the flood depth only by about a metre above the floodwaters delivered earlier during the flood from the Grose and Nepean rivers. Tom Hubble - Redrawn from data presented in Appendix One of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Study; Infrastructure NSW 2019.

A long flooding period is on our doorstep

The idea of drought-dominated and flood-dominated periods for the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system was proposed in the mid-1970s by the University of Sydney’s Robin Warner. Since the late 1990’s, it hasn’t been the focus of much research.


Read more: What is a 1 in 100 year weather event? And why do they keep happening so often?


He showed a century-long cycle of alternating periods of dry weather and small floods followed by wet weather and big floods is normal for Sydney. This means the March flood may not have come as a surprise to older residents of the Sackville Bathtub, who have a lived experience of the whole 40-50 year flooding cycle.

As a rough average, one major flood occurred every four years during the last wet-weather period between 1950 and 1990. The largest of this period occurred in November 1961. It filled the Sackville Bathtub to a depth of 15 metres and — like the June 1964 (14.6 metres) and March 1978 (14.5 metres) events — caused more widespread flooding than this year’s flood.

A photo of a flood that occured in Maitland in September 1950. Sam Hood/NSW State Library/Flickr, CC BY

We’re currently 30 years into a dry period, which may be about to end. Conditions might stay dry for another 10 or 20 years.

These cycles are likely caused by natural, long-term “climate drivers” — long-term climatic fluctuations such as El Niño and La Niña, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, which are driven by oceanic current circulations. These global phenomena bring both benevolent weather and destructive weather to Australia.

Eastern Australia experiences decades-long periods of wetter weather when these climate drivers sync up with each other. When they’re out of sync, we get dry weather periods.


Read more: A rare natural phenomenon brings severe drought to Australia. Climate change is making it more common


These long-term cycles are natural and have been operating for thousands of years, but climate change is amplifying and accelerating them. Dry periods are getting drier, wet periods are getting wetter.

The good news and bad news

The bad news is that 12-plus metre floods at Hawkesbury River (Windsor Bridge) are not all that unusual. There have been 24, 12-plus metre floods at Windsor Bridge since 1799.

The good news is meteorological forecasters are excellent at predicting when the storms that generate moderate, large and catastrophic floods are coming. We can expect several days’ to a week’s notice of the next big flood.

We can also prepare our individual and communal responses for more large and frequent floods on the Hawkesbury-Nepean. Residents of the area need to think about how they might live near the river as individuals. Decide what is precious and what you will fit into a car and trailer. Practice evacuating.

As a community, we must ensure the transport infrastructure and evacuation protocols minimise disruption to river and floodplain residents while maximising their safety. It’s particularly important we set up inclusive infrastructure to ensure disadvantaged people, who are disproportionately affected by disasters, also have a fighting chance to evacuate and survive.


Read more: Not 'if', but 'when': city planners need to design for flooding. These examples show the way


Upgrading the escape routes that enable people to evacuate efficiently is absolutely vital. As is rethinking whether we should continue urban expansion in the Sackville Bathtub.

So remember, the next major flood is going to occur sooner than we would like. If you live in this region, you must start preparing. Or as a wise elder once said, “Live on a floodplain, own a boat!”


This story is part of a series The Conversation is running on the nexus between disaster, disadvantage and resilience. Read the rest of the stories here.The Conversation

Tom Hubble, Associate Professor, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Is Malcolm Turnbull the only Liberal who understands economics and climate science – or the only one who'll talk about it?

Darren England/AAP
Richard Denniss, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Yesterday, former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was unceremoniously dumped as chair of the New South Wales government’s climate advisory board, just a week after being offered the role. His crime? He questioned the wisdom of building new coal mines when the existing ones are already floundering.

No-one would suggest building new hotels in Cairns to help that city’s struggling tourism industry. But among modern Liberals it’s patently heresy to ask how rushing to green light 11 proposed coal mines in the Hunter Valley helps the struggling coal industry.

Coal mines in the Hunter are already operating well below capacity and have been laying off workers in the face of declining world demand for coal, plummeting renewable energy prices and trade sanctions imposed by China. The problem isn’t a shortage of supply, but an abundance.

The simple truth is building new coal mines will simply make matters worse, especially for workers in existing coal mines that have already been mothballed or had their output scaled back.

coal mine in the Hunter Valley
Turnbull has called for a moratorium on new coal mines in the Hunter Valley, such as the one pictured above. Dean Lewins/AAP

It gets worse. Once an enormous, dusty, noisy open cut coal mine is approved, the agriculture, wine, tourism and horse breeding industries – all major employers in the Hunter Valley – are reluctant to invest nearby. While building new coal mines hurts workers in existing coal mines, the mere act of approving new coal mines harms investment in job creation in the industries that offer the Hunter a smooth transition from coal.

The NSW planning department doesn’t have a plan for how many new coal mines are needed to meet world demand. Nor does it have a plan for how much expansion of rail and port infrastructure is required to meet the output of all the new mines being proposed.


Read more: Forget about the trade spat – coal is passé in much of China, and that's a bigger problem for Australia


That’s why my colleagues and I recently called for a moratorium on new coal mines in the Hunter until such plans were made explicit. Just as you wouldn’t approve 1,000 new homes in a town where the sewerage system was already at capacity, it makes no sense to approve 11 new coal mines in a region that couldn’t export that much coal if it tried.

But if there’s one thing that defines the debate about coal in Australia, its that it makes no sense.

Just as it made no sense for then-treasurer Scott Morrison to wave a lump of coal around in parliament in 2017, it makes no sense for right-wing commentators to pretend approving new mines will help create jobs in coal mining. And it makes no sense for the National Party to ignore the pleas of farmers to protect their land from the damage coal mines do.

Scott Morrison with a lump of coal to Question Time in 2017.
Scott Morrison took a lump of coal to Question Time in 2017. Lukas Coch/AAP

On the surface, Turnbull’s support for a pause on approving new mines while a plan is developed is old-fashioned centrism. It protects existing coal workers from new, highly automated mines, it protects farmers and it should make those concerned with climate change at least a bit happy. Win. Win. Win.

But there’s no room for a sensible centre in the Australian coal debate. And when someone even suggests the industry might not be set to grow, its army of loyal parliamentary and media supporters swing into action.

Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon said Turnbull “wants to make the Upper Hunter a coal-mine-free zone”. The Nationals’ Matt Canavan suggested stopping coal exports was “an inhumane policy to keep people in poverty”. The head of the NSW Minerals Council suggested 12,000 jobs were at risk.

But of course, the opposite is true. Turnbull’s proposal to protect existing coal workers from competition from new mines would save jobs, not threaten them. He didn’t suggest coal mines be shut down tomorrow, or even early. And, given existing coal mines are running so far below capacity, his call has no potential to impact coal exports.


Read more: Labor politicians need not fear: Queenslanders are no more attached to coal than the rest of Australia


Coal workers
Opening new coal mines won’t help save the jobs of existing coal workers. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Predictably, the Murdoch press ran a relentlessly misleading campaign in support of the coal industry and in opposition to their least favourite Liberal PM. But surprisingly, the NSW government rolled over in record time.

While the government might think appeasing the coal industry will play well among some older regional voters, they must know such kowtowing is a gift to independents such as Zali Steggall, and a fundamental threat to inner-city Liberals such as Dave Sharma, Jason Falinski and Trent Zimmerman.

The decision to dump Turnbull might have bought NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian some respite from attacks from the Daily Telegraph. But such denial of economics and climate science will provide no respite for existing coal workers in shuttered coal mines or the agriculture and tourism industry that is looking to expand.

No doubt the National Party are pleased with their latest scalp. But it must be remembered this is the party that last year wanted to wage a war against koalas on behalf of property developers. Such political instincts might help the Nationals fend off the threat from One Nation in regional areas but it does nothing to retain votes in leafy Liberal strongholds that deliver most Liberal seats.


Read more: Aren't we in a drought? The Australian black coal industry uses enough water for over 5 million people The Conversation


Richard Denniss, Adjunct Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

'Failure is not an option': after a lost decade on climate action, the 2020s offer one last chance

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Will Steffen, Australian National University

In May 2011, almost precisely a decade ago, the government-appointed Climate Commission released its inaugural report. Titled The Critical Decade, the report’s final section warned that to keep global temperature rises to 2℃ this century, “the decade between now and 2020 is critical”.

As the report noted, if greenhouse gas emissions peaked around 2011, the world’s emissions-reduction trajectory would have been easily manageable: net-zero by around 2060, and a maximum emissions reduction rate of 3.7% each year. Delaying the emissions peak by only a decade would require a trebling of this task – a maximum 9% reduction each year.

But, of course, the decade to 2020 did not mark the beginning of the world’s emissions-reduction journey. Global emissions accelerated before dropping marginally under COVID-19 restrictions, then quickly rebounding.

Our new report, released today, shows the immense cost of this inaction. It is now virtually certain Earth will pass the critical 1.5℃ temperature rise this century – most likely in the 2030s. Now, without delay, humanity must focus on holding warming to well below 2℃. For Australia, that means tripling its emissions reduction goal this decade to 75%.

Young girl holds sign at climate protest
The 2020s offer a last chance to keep warming within 2℃ this century, and leave a habitable planet for future generations. Shutterstock

Aim high, go fast

The Climate Council report is titled Aim High: Go Fast: Why Emissions Need To Plummet This Decade. It acknowledges the multiple lines of evidence showing it will be virtually impossible to keep average global temperature rise to 1.5℃ or below this century, without a period of significant overshoot and “drawdown”. (This refers to a hypothetical period in which warming exceeds 1.5℃ then cools back down due to the removal of carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere.)

The increasing rate of climate change, insights from past climates, and a vanishing carbon budget all suggest the 1.5℃ threshold will in fact be crossed very soon, in the 2030s.

There is no safe level of global warming. Already, at a global average temperature rise of 1.1℃, we’re experiencing more powerful storms, destructive marine and land heatwaves, and a new age of megafires.


Read more: Cyclone Seroja just demolished parts of WA – and our warming world will bring more of the same


As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned, the consequences of breaching 1.5℃ warming will be stark. Heatwaves, droughts, bushfires and intense rain events will become even more severe. Sea levels will rise, species will become extinct and crop yields will fall. Coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, will decline by up to 90%.

And perhaps most frighteningly, overshooting 1.5℃ runs a greater risk of crossing “tipping points”, such as the collapse of ice sheets and the release of natural carbon stores in forests and permafrost. Crossing those thresholds may set off irreversible changes to the global climate system, and destroy critical ecosystems on which life on Earth depends.

An ice sheet in Greenland
Climate tipping points, such as melting ice sheets, may set off irreversible changes in natural systems. John McConnico/AP

Every fraction of a degree matters

The outlook may be dire, but every fraction of a degree of avoided warming matters. Its value will be measured in terms of human lives, species and ecosystems saved. We can, and must, limit warming to well below 2℃. The goal is very challenging, but still achievable.

The strategies, technologies and pathways needed to tackle the climate challenge are now emerging as fast as the risks are escalating. And in the lead-up to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow later this year, there’s widespread momentum for international cooperation and action.


Read more: Seriously ugly: here's how Australia will look if the world heats by 3°C this century


Many of Australia’s strategic allies and major trading partners – including the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom and China – are starting to move on climate change. But Australia is standing still. This is despite our nation being one of the most vulnerable to climate change – and despite us having some of the world’s best renewable energy resources.

We must urgently grab these opportunities. We propose Australia radically scale up its emissions-reduction targets – to a 75% cut by 2030 from 2005 levels (up from the current 26-28% target). Australia should also aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2035. Doing so by 2050 – a goal Prime Minister Scott Morrison says is his preference – is too late.

A coal plant
Polluting industries such as coal will have to give way to cleaner industries. Shutterstock

A huge but achievable task

Such dramatic action is clearly daunting. There are political, technical and other challenges ahead because action has been delayed. But a 75% emissions-reduction target is a fair and achievable contribution to the global effort.

Australia’s unrivalled potential for renewable energy means it can transform the electricity sector and beyond. Electric vehicles can lead to carbon-free transport and renewably generated electricity and green hydrogen can decarbonise industry.

The emerging new economy is bringing jobs to regional Australia and building cleaner cities by reducing fossil fuel pollution. There is staggering potential for a massive new industry built on the export to Asia of clean energy and products made from clean hydrogen.


Read more: Scott Morrison has embraced net-zero emissions – now it's time to walk the talk


State, territory and local governments are leading the way in this transformation. The federal government must now join the effort.

The transition will no doubt be disruptive at times, and involve hard decisions. Industries such as coal will disappear and others will emerge. This will bring economic and social change which must be managed sensitively and carefully.

But the long-term benefits of achieving a stable climate far outweigh the short-term disruptions. As our report concludes:

The pathway we choose now will either put us on track for a much brighter future for our children, or lock in escalating risks of dangerous climate change. The decision is ours to make. Failure is not an option.


Climate Council researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw contributed to this article.The Conversation

Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor, Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Seriously ugly: here's how Australia will look if the world heats by 3°C this century

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Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, The University of Queensland and Lesley Hughes, Macquarie University

Imagine, for a moment, a different kind of Australia. One where bushfires on the catastrophic scale of Black Summer happen almost every year. One where 50℃ days in Sydney and Melbourne are common. Where storms and flooding have violently reshaped our coastlines, and unique ecosystems have been damaged beyond recognition – including the Great Barrier Reef, which no longer exists.

Frighteningly, this is not an imaginary future dystopia. It’s a scientific projection of Australia under 3℃ of global warming – a future we must both strenuously try to avoid, but also prepare for.

The sum of current commitments under the Paris climate accord puts Earth on track for 3℃ of warming this century. Research released today by the Australian Academy of Science explores this scenario in detail.

The report, which we co-authored with colleagues, lays out the potential damage to Australia. Unless the world changes course and dramatically curbs greenhouse gas emissions, this is how bad it could get.

A spotlight on the damage

Nations signed up to the Paris Agreement collectively aim to limit global warming to well below 2℃ this century and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5℃. But on current emissions-reduction pledges, global temperatures are expected to far exceed these goals, reaching 2.9℃ by 2100.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent, and already has a highly variable climate of “droughts and flooding rains”. This is why of all developed nations, Australia has been identified as one of the most vulnerable to climate change.

The damage is already evident. Since records began in 1910, Australia’s average surface temperature has warmed by 1.4℃, and its open ocean areas have warmed by 1℃. Extreme events – such as storms, droughts, bushfires, heatwaves and floods – are becoming more frequent and severe.

Today’s report brings together multiple lines of evidence such as computer modelling, observed changes and historical paleoclimate studies. It gives a picture of the damage that’s already occurred, and what Australia should expect next. It shines a spotlight on four sectors: ecosystems, food production, cities and towns, and health and well-being.

In all these areas, we found the impacts of climate change are profound and accelerating rapidly.


Read more: Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse


Perth residents at an evacuation centre during a bushfire
Perth residents at an evacuation centre during a bushfire in February this year. Such events will become more frequent under climate change. Richard Wainwright/AAP

1. Ecosystems

Australia’s natural resources are directly linked to our well-being, culture and economic prosperity. Warming and changes in climate have already eroded the services ecosystems provide, and affected thousands of species.

The problems extend to the ocean, which is steadily warming. Heat stress is bleaching and killing corals, and severely damaging crucial habitats such as kelp forests and seagrass meadows. As oceans absorb carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere, seawater is reaching record acidity levels, harming marine food webs, fisheries and aquaculture.

At 3℃ of global warming by 2100, oceans are projected to absorb five times more heat than the observed amount accumulated since 1970. Being far more acidic than today, ocean oxygen levels will decline at ever-shallower depths, affecting the distribution and abundance of marine life everywhere. At 1.5-2℃ warming, the complete loss of coral reefs is very likely.


Read more: The oceans are changing too fast for marine life to keep up


A clownfish
Heat stress is killing corals and marine animal habitat. Shutterstock

Under 3℃ warming, global sea levels are projected to rise 40-80 centimetres, and by many more metres over coming centuries. Rising sea levels are already inundating low-lying coastal areas, and saltwater is intruding into freshwater wetlands. This leads to coastal erosion that amplifies storm impacts and affects both ecosystems and people.

Land and freshwater environments have been damaged by drought, fire, extreme heatwaves, invasive species and disease. An estimated 3 billion vertebrate animals were killed or displaced in the Black Summer bushfires. Some 24 million hectares burned, including 80% of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and 50% of Gondwana rainforests. At 3℃ of warming, the number of extreme fire days could double.

Some species are shifting to cooler latitudes or higher elevations. But most will struggle to keep up with the unprecedented rate of warming. Critical thresholds in many natural systems are likely to be exceeded as global warming reaches 1.5℃. At 2℃ and beyond, we’re likely to see the complete loss of coral reefs, and inundation of iconic ecosystems such as the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

At 3℃ of global warming, Australia’s present-day ecological systems would be unrecognisable. The first documented climate-related global extinction of a mammal, the Bramble Cay melomys from the Torres Strait, is highly unlikely to be the last. Climate change is predicted to increase extinction rates by several orders of magnitude.

Degradation of Australia’s unique ecosystems will harm the tourism and recreation industries, as well as our food security, health and culture.

There are ways to reduce the climate risk for ecosystems – many of which also benefit humans. For example, preserving and restoring mangroves protects our coasts from storms, increases carbon storage and retains fisheries habitat.


Read more: Click through the tragic stories of 119 species still struggling after Black Summer in this interactive (and how to help)


orange-bellied parrot
Climate change will accelerate species extinctions. Pictured: the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Shutterstock

2. Food production

Australian agriculture and food security already face significant risks from droughts, heatwaves, fires, floods and invasive species. At 2℃ or more of global warming, rainfall will decline and droughts in areas such as southeastern and southwestern Australia will intensify. This will reduce water availability for irrigated agriculture and increase water prices.

Heat stress affects livestock welfare, reproduction and production. Projected temperature and humidity changes suggest livestock will experience many more heat stress days each year. More frequent storms and heavy rainfall are likely to worsen erosion on grazing land and may lead to livestock loss from flooding.

Heat stress and reduced water availability will also make farms less profitable. A 3℃ global temperature increase would reduce yields of key crops by between 5% and 50%. Significant reductions are expected in oil seeds (35%), wheat (18%) and fruits and vegetables (14%).

Climate change also threatens forestry in hotter, drier regions such as southwestern Australia. There, the industry faces increased fire risks, changed rainfall patterns and growing pest populations. In cooler regions such as Tasmania and Gippsland, forestry production may increase as the climate warms. Existing plantations would change substantially under 3℃ warming.

As ocean waters warm, distributions and stock levels of commercial fish species are continuing to change. This will curb profitability. Many aquaculture fisheries may fundamentally change, relocate or cease to exist.

These changes may cause fisheries workers to suffer unemployment, mental health issues (potentially leading to suicides) and other problems. Strategic planning to create new business opportunities in these regions may reduce these risks.


Read more: Australia's farmers want more climate action – and they’re starting in their own (huge) backyards


Farmer with sheep on dusty farm
Under climate change, drought will badly hurt farm profitability. Shutterstock

3. Cities and towns

Almost 90% of Australians live in cities and towns and will experience climate change in urban environments.

Under a sea level rise of 1 metre by the end of the century – a level considered plausible by federal officials – between 160,000 and 250,000 Australian properties and infrastructure are at risk of coastal flooding.

Strategies to manage the risk include less construction in high-risk areas, and protecting coastal land with sea walls, sand dunes and mangroves. But some coastal areas may have to be abandoned.

Extreme heat, bushfires and storms put strain on power stations and infrastructure. At the same time, more energy is needed for increased air conditioning use. Much of Australia’s electricity generation relies on ageing and unreliable coal-fired power stations. Extreme weather can also disrupt and damage the oil and gas industries. Diversifying energy sources and improving infrastructure will be important to ensure reliable energy supplies.

The insurance and financial sector is becoming increasingly aware of climate risk and exposure. Insurance firms face increased claims due to climate-related disasters including floods, cyclones and mega-fires. Under some scenarios, one in every 19 property owners face unaffordable insurance premiums by 2030. A 3℃ world would render many more properties and businesses uninsurable.

Cities and towns, however, can be part of the climate solution. High-density urban living leads to a lower per capita greenhouse gas emission “footprint”. Also, innovative solutions are easier to implement in urban environments.

Passive cooling techniques, such as incorporating more plants and street trees during planning, can reduce city temperatures. But these strategies may require changes to stormwater management and can take time to work.


Read more: When climate change and other emergencies threaten where we live, how will we manage our retreat?


People photograph pool fallen onto beach after storm
Extreme storms will continue to violently reshape our coastlines. David Moir/ AAP

4. Human health and well-being

A 3℃ world threatens human health, livelihoods and communities. The elderly, young, unwell, and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are at most risk.

Heatwaves on land and sea are becoming longer, more frequent and severe. For example, at 3℃ of global warming, heatwaves in Queensland would happen as often as seven times a year, lasting 16 days on average. These cause physiological heat stress and worsen existing medical conditions.

Bushfire-related health impacts are increasing, causing deaths and exacerbating pre-existing conditions such as heart and lung disease. Tragically, we saw this unfold during Black Summer. These extreme conditions will increase at 2℃ and further at 3℃, causing direct and indirect physical and mental health issues.

Under 3℃ warming, climate damage to businesses will likely to lead to increased unemployment and possibly higher suicide rates, mental health issues and health issues relating to heat stress.

At 3°C global warming, many locations in Australia would be very difficult to inhabit due to projected water shortages.

As weather patterns change, transmission of some infectious diseases, such as Ross River virus, will become more intense. “Tropical” diseases may spread to more temperate areas across Australia.

Strategies exist to help mitigate these effects. They include improving early warning systems for extreme weather events and boosting the climate resilience of health services. Nature-based solutions, such as increasing green spaces in urban areas, will also help.


Read more: How does bushfire smoke affect our health? 6 things you need to know


Smoke shrouds Parliament House
Air quality in Canberra was the worst in the world after the Black Summer fires. Lukas Coch/AAP

How to avoid catastrophe

The report acknowledges that limiting global temperatures to 1.5℃ this century is now extremely difficult. Achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050 is the absolute minimum required to to avoid the worst climate impacts.

Australia is well positioned to contribute to this global challenge. We have a well-developed industrial base, skilled workforce and vast sources of renewable energy.

But Australia must also pursue far more substantial emissions reduction. Under the Paris deal, we’ve pledged to reduce emissions by 26-28% between 2005 and 2030. Given the multiple and accelerating climate threats Australia faces, we must scale up this pledge. We must also display the international leadership and collaboration required to set Earth on a safer climate trajectory.

Our report recommends Australia immediately do the following:

  1. join global leaders in increasing actions to urgently tackle and solve climate change

  2. develop strategies to meet the challenges of extreme events that are increasing in intensity, frequency and scale

  3. improve our understanding of climate impacts, including tipping points and the compounding effects of multiple stressors at global warming of 2℃ or more

  4. systematically explore how food production and supply systems should prepare for climate change

  5. better understand the impacts and risks of climate change for the health of Australians

  6. introduce policies to deliver deep and rapid cuts in emissions across the economy

  7. scale up the development and implementation of low- to zero-emissions technologies

  8. review Australia’s capacity and flexibility to take up innovations and technology breakthroughs for transitioning to a low-emissions future

  9. develop a better understanding of climate solutions through dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – particularly strategies that helped people manage Australian ecosystems for tens of thousands of years

  10. continue to build adaptation strategies and greater commitment for meeting the challenges of change already in the climate system.

We don’t have much time to avert catastrophe. This decade must be transformational, and one where we choose a safer future.

The report upon which this article is based, The Risks to Australia of a 3°C Warmer World, was authored and reviewed by 21 experts.


Read more: Climate crisis: keeping hope of 1.5°C limit alive is vital to spurring global action The Conversation


Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor, The University of Queensland and Lesley Hughes, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Like the ocean’s ‘gut flora’: we sailed from Antarctica to the equator to learn how bacteria affect ocean health

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Eric Jorden Raes, Dalhousie University

Aboard an Australian research vessel, the RV Investigator, we sailed for 63 days from Antarctica’s ice edge to the warm equator in the South Pacific and collected 387 water samples.

Our goal? To determine how the genetic code of thousands of different micro-organisms can provide insights into the ocean’s functional diversity — the range of tasks performed by bacteria in the ocean.

Our research was published yesterday in Nature Communications. It showed how bacteria can help us measure shifts in energy production at the base of the food web. These results are important, as they highlight an emerging opportunity to use genetic data for large-scale ecosystem assessments in different marine environments.

In light of our rapidly changing climate, this kind of information is critical, as it will allow us to unpack the complexity of nature step by step. Ultimately, it will help us mitigate human pressures to protect and restore our precious marine ecosystems.

Why should we care about marine bacteria?

The oceans cover 71% of our planet and sustain life on Earth. In the upper 100 meters, the sunlit part of the oceans, microscopic life is abundant. In fact, it’s responsible for producing up to 50% of all the oxygen in the world.

A whale breaches the ocean
Marine bacteria provide the energy and food for the entire marine food web, from tiny crustaceans to whales. Shutterstock

Much like the link recently established between human health and the human microbiome (“gut flora”), ocean health is largely controlled by its bacterial inhabitants.

But the role of bacteria go beyond oxygen production. Bacteria sustain, inject and control the fluxes of energy, nutrients and organic matter in our oceans. They provide the energy and food for the entire marine food web, from tiny crustaceans to fish larvae, whales and the fish we eat.

These micro-organisms also execute key roles in numerous biogeochemical cycles (the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and iron cycles, to name a few).

So, it’s important to quantify their various tasks and understand how the different bacterial species and their functions respond to environmental changes.

Fundamental questions

Global ocean research initiatives — such as GO-SHIP and GEOTRACES — have been measuring the state of oceans in expeditions like ours for decades. They survey temperature, salinity, nutrients, trace metals (iron, cobalt and more) and other essential ocean variables.

Only recently, however, have these programs begun measuring biological variables, such as bacterial gene data, in their global sampling expeditions.

The author smiles in front of a blue and white ship, with 'Investigator' written on the side.
On board the RV Investigator, we departed Hobart in 2016, beginning our 63-day journey to sample microbes in the South Pacific. Eric Raes, Author provided

Including bacterial gene data to measure the state of the ocean means we can try to fill critical knowledge gaps about how the diversity of bacteria impacts their various tasks. One hypothesis is whether a greater diversity of bacteria leads to a better resilience in an ecosystem, allowing it to withstand the effects of climate change.

In our paper, we addressed a fundamental question in this global field of marine microbial ecology: what is the relationship between bacterial identity and function? In other words, who is doing what?

What we found

We showed it’s possible to link the genetic code of marine bacteria to the various functions and tasks they execute, and to quantify how these functions changed from Antarctica to the equator.

The functions that changed include taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, bacterial growth, strategies to cope with limited nutrients, and breaking down organic matter.


Read more: Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters. History tells us this could trigger a mass extinction event


Another key finding is that “oceanographic fronts” can act as boundaries within a seemingly uniform ocean, resulting in unique assemblages of bacteria with specific tasks. Oceanographic fronts are distinct water masses defined by, for instance, sharp changes in temperature and salinity. Where the waters meet and mix, there’s high turbulence.

The change we recorded in energy production across the subtropical front, which separates the colder waters from the Southern Ocean from the warmer waters in the tropics, was a clear example of how oceanographic fronts influenced bacterial functions in the ocean.

Dark blue water meets light blue water under a cloudy sky.
An oceanographic front, where it looks like two oceans meet. Shutterstock

Tracking changes in our ecosystems

As a result of our research, scientists may start using the functional diversity of bacteria as an indicator to track changes in our ecosystems, like canaries in a coal mine.


Read more: Half of global methane emissions come from aquatic ecosystems – much of this is human-made


So the functional diversity of bacteria can be used to measure how human growth and urbanisation impact coastal areas and estuaries.

For example, we can more accurately and holistically measure the environmental footprint of aquaculture pens, which are known to affect water quality by increasing concentrations of nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus – all favourite elements utilised by bacteria.

Likewise, we can track changes in the environmental services rendered by estuaries, such as their important role in removing excessive nitrogen that enters the waterways due to agriculture run-off and urban waste.

With 44% of the world’s population living along coastlines, the input of nitrogen to marine ecosystems, including estuaries, is predicted to increase, putting a strain on the marine life there.

Ultimately, interrogating the bacterial diversity using gene data, along with the opportunity to predict what this microscopic life is or will be doing in future, will help us better understand nature’s complex interactions that sustain life in our oceans.


Read more: Humans are polluting the environment with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and I'm finding them everywhere The Conversation


Eric Jorden Raes, Postdoctoral researcher Ocean Frontier Institute, Dalhousie University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Marine life is fleeing the equator to cooler waters. History tells us this could trigger a mass extinction event

Shutterstock
Anthony Richardson, The University of Queensland; Chhaya Chaudhary, University of Auckland; David Schoeman, University of the Sunshine Coast, and Mark John Costello, University of Auckland

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Ecologists have assumed this global pattern has remained stable over recent centuries — until now. Our recent study found the ocean around the equator has already become too hot for many species to survive, and that global warming is responsible.

In other words, the global pattern is rapidly changing. And as species flee to cooler water towards the poles, it’s likely to have profound implications for marine ecosystems and human livelihoods. When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90% of all marine species died.

The bell curve is warping dangerously

This global pattern — where the number of species starts lower at the poles and peaks at the equator — results in a bell-shaped gradient of species richness. We looked at distribution records for nearly 50,000 marine species collected since 1955 and found a growing dip over time in this bell shape.

A chart with three overlapping lines, each representing different decades. It shows that between 1955 and 1974, the bell curve is almost flat at the top. For the lines 1975-1994 and 1995-2015, the dip gets progressively deeper, with peaks either side of the centre.
If you look at each line in this chart, you can see a slight dip in total species richness between 1955 and 1974. This deepens substantially in the following decades. Anthony Richardson, Author provided

So, as our oceans warm, species have tracked their preferred temperatures by moving towards the poles. Although the warming at the equator of 0.6℃ over the past 50 years is relatively modest compared with warming at higher latitudes, tropical species have to move further to remain in their thermal niche compared with species elsewhere.

As ocean warming has accelerated over recent decades due to climate change, the dip around at the equator has deepened.

We predicted such a change five years ago using a modelling approach, and now we have observational evidence.


Read more: The ocean is becoming more stable – here's why that might not be a good thing


For each of the 10 major groups of species we studied (including pelagic fish, reef fish and molluscs) that live in the water or on the seafloor, their richness either plateaued or declined slightly at latitudes with mean annual sea-surface temperatures above 20℃.

Today, species richness is greatest in the northern hemisphere in latitudes around 30°N (off southern China and Mexico) and in the south around 20°S (off northern Australia and southern Brazil).

school of tuna fish
The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life, including large aggregations of tuna fish. Shutterstock

This has happened before

We shouldn’t be surprised global biodiversity has responded so rapidly to global warming. This has happened before, and with dramatic consequences.

252 million years ago…

At the end of the Permian geological period about 252 million years ago, global temperatures warmed by 10℃ over 30,000-60,000 years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from volcano eruptions in Siberia.

A 2020 study of the fossils from that time shows the pronounced peak in biodiversity at the equator flattened and spread. During this mammoth rearranging of global biodiversity, 90% of all marine species were killed.

125,000 years ago…

A 2012 study showed that more recently, during the rapid warming around 125,000 years ago, there was a similar swift movement of reef corals away from the tropics, as documented in the fossil record. The result was a pattern similar to the one we describe, although there was no associated mass extinction.

Authors of the study suggested their results might foreshadow the effects of our current global warming, ominously warning there could be mass extinctions in the near future as species move into the subtropics, where they might struggle to compete and adapt.

Today…

During the last ice age, which ended around 15,000 years ago, the richness of forams (a type of hard-shelled, single-celled plankton) peaked at the equator and has been dropping there ever since. This is significant as plankton is a keystone species in the foodweb.

Our study shows that decline has accelerated in recent decades due to human-driven climate change.

The profound implications

Losing species in tropical ecosystems means ecological resilience to environmental changes is reduced, potentially compromising ecosystem persistence.

In subtropical ecosystems, species richness is increasing. This means there’ll be species invaders, novel predator-prey interactions, and new competitive relationships. For example, tropical fish moving into Sydney Harbour compete with temperate species for food and habitat.

This could result in ecosystem collapse — as was seen at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods — in which species go extinct and ecosystem services (such as food supplies) are permanently altered.

The changes we describe will also have profound implications for human livelihoods. For example, many tropical island nations depend on the revenue from tuna fishing fleets through the selling of licenses in their territorial waters. Highly mobile tuna species are likely to move rapidly toward the subtropics, potentially beyond sovereign waters of island nations.


Read more: Tropical fisheries: does limiting international trade protect local people and marine life?


Similarly, many reef species important for artisanal fishers — and highly mobile megafauna such as whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles that support tourism — are also likely to move toward the subtropics.

The movement of commercial and artisanal fish and marine megafauna could compromise the ability of tropical nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals concerning zero hunger and marine life.

Is there anything we can do?

One pathway is laid out in the Paris Climate Accords and involves aggressively reducing our emissions. Other opportunities are also emerging that could help safeguard biodiversity and hopefully minimise the worst impacts of it shifting away from the equator.

Currently 2.7% of the ocean is conserved in fully or highly protected reserves. This is well short of the 10% target by 2020 under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Manta ray with other fish
Manta rays and other marine megafauna leaving the equator will have a huge impact on tourism. Shutterstock

But a group of 41 nations is pushing to set a new target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030.

This “30 by 30” target could ban seafloor mining and remove fishing in reserves that can destroy habitats and release as much carbon dioxide as global aviation. These measures would remove pressures on biodiversity and promote ecological resilience.

Designing climate-smart reserves could further protect biodiversity from future changes. For example, reserves for marine life could be placed in refugia where the climate will be stable over the foreseeable future.

We now have evidence that climate change is impacting the best-known and strongest global pattern in ecology. We should not delay actions to try to mitigate this.

This story is part of Oceans 21
Our series on the global ocean opened with five in-depth profiles. Look out for new articles on the state of our oceans in the lead-up to the UN’s next climate conference, COP26. The series is brought to you by The Conversation’s international network.


Read more: Australia's marine (un)protected areas: government zoning bias has left marine life in peril since 2012 The Conversation


Anthony Richardson, Professor, The University of Queensland; Chhaya Chaudhary, , University of Auckland; David Schoeman, Professor of Global-Change Ecology, University of the Sunshine Coast, and Mark John Costello, Professor, University of Auckland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Climate change is a security threat the government keeps ignoring. We'll show up empty handed to yet another global summit

Cheryl Durrant, UNSW

Climate change is a hot topic in Australian security circles, as it poses an emerging threat to our national resilience and way of life. As a new report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) last week warned, the federal government is unprepared to meet these challenges.

The report, authored by Dr Robert Glasser, said the government has largely overlooked the security threat posed by rising seas, climate-induced famine, extreme weather events, mass migrations and other climate change damage in Southeast Asia. Australia is sitting on the frontline of this vulnerable region.

Glasser’s report focuses on Southeast Asia, but in the bigger picture, climate security is an existential global risk which the Australian government is yet to fully grasp. It is this global aspect of climate and security which will be on the agenda in two weeks time at the Biden Leaders Summit in the US.

Why should we be worried?

The global risk is broader than traditional security threats, such as the rise of China, terrorism and separatist movements. As the ASPI report emphasises, there is a relationship between climate security and other sectors such as food, health and environmental security.

Unlike traditional national security threats, climate threats have no respect for national or sector borders and cannot be solved with missiles.

The threat is urgent. With the end of the Donald Trump presidency, climate change is back on regional and international security action agendas. The penny has dropped on how little time is left to take action to prepare for the worst of consequences.

This is especially the case when there are long lead times to implement action, such as infrastructure development and military capability development.


Read more: Climate change poses a 'direct threat' to Australia's national security. It must be a political priority


ASPI’s key recommendations to the government include:

  • improving understanding of climate change risks through a broad whole-of-government process

  • building capacity in government agencies to assess ongoing risks

  • identifying opportunities for regional aid and investments.

These make sense, as the first step of preparedness is understanding the risk.

Security risks go beyond natural disasters

The ASPI report notes Southeast Asia “has the world’s highest sea-level rise per kilometre of coastline and the largest coastal population affected by it”. The region is a hot spot for cyclones, with some nations vulnerable to catastrophic heat or fires.

The ASPI report notes:

Those hazards will not only exacerbate the traditional regional security threats […] but also lead to new threats and the prospect of multiple, simultaneous crises, including food insecurity, population displacement and humanitarian disasters that will greatly test our national capacities, commitments and resilience.

The report focuses on Southeast Asia and natural disasters, but the risks and the affected regions are bigger than that.

The Indo-Pacific region may see the displacement of millions of people due to climate change-related extreme weather events, heatwaves, droughts, rising seas and floods. We’re already seeing this occur in Bangladesh and small island developing states.

We could also see conflict arise as climate change affects global food or water resources. A particular concern is the potential geopolitical tensions between India and China over dwindling Tibetan water resources.

Australia is getting left behind

Urgency and risk are central to an executive order from President Joe Biden in January. The order requires a US national security estimate on the economic and national security impacts of climate change by June. The US Department of Defence must also complete an analysis of the security implications of climate change in the same timeframe.


Read more: Biden says the US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement in 77 days. Then Australia will really feel the heat


Most tellingly, the US is taking an integrated approach to climate security. Foreign policy, defence and economic risk analysis are being conducted in a joined-up, systemic way.

In contrast, the Australian Defence Strategic Update 2020 was conducted in isolation from foreign policy and economic reviews. Taking a narrow military perspective, it does mention climate change, but only once, as a subset of human security threats.

Australia risks being left behind as other countries follow the US lead. Across the Tasman, our Kiwi friends are already well advanced in turning risk awareness into action. The New Zealand government completed its first national climate risk assessment last year, with a national adaptation plan to be completed by August 2022.

What are the consequences?

Being left behind has consequences for Australia’s international standing, national resilience and economic position.

From a diplomatic perspective, Australia’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region is diminished, relative to other actors, especially in states where climate change risk is a top priority, such as Vanuatu or Kiribati.

Risks offer opportunities as well. For example, Australia has an abundance of critical minerals and rare earths needed for modern communications, space technologies, and renewable energy generation and transmission. These are key for business, as well as critical for defence forces.


Read more: Critical minerals are vital for renewable energy. We must learn to mine them responsibly


However, processing and manufacturing is largely conducted offshore — in countries vulnerable to climate risks such as Malaysia — before returning to Australia as finished products.

This puts Australian defence and space and energy sectors at risk of disruption, and Australian businesses at risks of economic loss.

What needs to happen next?

ASPI’s report echoes the earlier recommendation from a 2018 Senate inquiry into the implications of climate change for Australia’s national security. The inquiry also called for a coordinated whole-of-government response to climate change risks.

Three years later, the federal government has yet to act on its recommendations.

The Australian government now needs to have a greater sense of urgency to act on the growing national and international calls to act on climate risk. But first, our leaders need a changed mindset. They must accept that climate change is an immediate threat to Australia.


Read more: Senate report: climate change is a clear and present danger to Australia's security The Conversation


Cheryl Durrant, Adjunct Associate Professor, UNSW

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.


Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format: http://www.birdlife.org.au/documents/Shorebird_ID_Booklet_V3.pdf

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/counter-resources for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit: http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/shorebirds-2020-program

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.


Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Warriewood
Please email for address - lespatflood@gmail.com
Jodie Streckeisen
Balgowlah
Please email for the address - streckeisenjodie@gmail.com

Surfers for Climate

A sea-roots movement dedicated to mobilising and empowering surfers for continuous and positive climate action.

Surfers for Climate are coming together in lineups around the world to be the change we want to see.

With roughly 35 million surfers across the globe, our united tribe has a powerful voice. 

Add yours to the conversation by signing up here.

Surfers for Climate will keep you informed, involved and active on both the local and global issues and solutions around the climate crisis via our allies hub. 

Help us prevent our favourite spots from becoming fading stories of waves we used to surf.

Together we can protect our oceans and keep them thriving for future generations to create lifelong memories of their own.

Visit:  http://www.surfersforclimate.org.au/

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

The Green Team is a Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon, Sydney. Keeping our area green and clean.

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

Over 50 Pittwater households have already pledged to make a difference for our local wildlife, and you can too! Create a habitat stepping stone to help our wildlife out. It’s easy - just add a few beautiful habitat elements to your backyard or balcony to create a valuable wildlife-friendly stopover.

How it works

1) Discover: Visit the website below to find dozens of beautiful plants, nest boxes and water elements you can add to your backyard or balcony to help our local wildlife.

2) Pledge: Select three or more elements to add to your place. You can even show you care by choosing to have a bird appear on our online map.

3) Share: Join the Habitat Stepping Stones Facebook community to find out what’s happening in the natural world, and share your pics, tips and stories.

What you get                                  

• Enjoy the wonders of nature, right outside your window. • Free and discounted plants for your garden. • A Habitat Stepping Stone plaque for your front fence. • Local wildlife news and tips. • Become part of the Pittwater Habitat Stepping Stones community.

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out! www.HabitatSteppingStones.org.au

No computer? No problem -Just write to the address below and we’ll mail you everything you need. Habitat Stepping Stones, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University NSW 2109. This project is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust

Newport Community Gardens

Anyone interested in joining our community garden group please feel free to come and visit us on Sunday at 10am at the Woolcott Reserve in Newport!


Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newportcg/

Avalon Preservation Association


The Avalon Preservation Association, also known as Avalon Preservation Trust. We are a not for profit volunteer community group incorporated under the NSW Associations Act, established 50 years ago. We are committed to protecting your interests – to keeping guard over our natural and built environment throughout the Avalon area.

Membership of the association is open to all those residents and/or ratepayers of Avalon Beach and adjacent areas who support the aims and objectives of our Association.

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

The RIDonline website lets you report the types of waste being dumped and its GPS location. Photos of the waste can also be added to the report.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice. Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

The Green Team

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This Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative has been attracting high praise from the founders of Living Ocean as much as other local environment groups recently. 
Creating Beach Cleans events, starting their own, sustainability days - ‘action speaks louder than words’ ethos is at the core of this group. 

Australian Native Foods website: http://www.anfil.org.au/

Avalon Boomerang Bags


Avalon Boomerang Bags was introduced to us by Surfrider Foundation and Living Ocean, they both helped organise with the support of Pittwater Council the Recreational room at Avalon Community Centre which we worked from each Tuesday. This is the Hub of what is a Community initiative to help free Avalon of single use plastic bags and to generally spread the word of the overuse of plastic. 

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

Community Gardens bring people together and enrich communities. They build a sense of place and shared connection.

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Avalon Community Garden is a community led initiative to create accessible food gardens in public places throughout the Pittwater area. Our aim is to share skills and knowledge in creating fabulous local, organic food. But it's not just about great food. We also aim to foster community connection, stimulate creative ideas for community resilience and celebrate our abundance. Open to all ages and skills, our first garden is on the grounds of Barrenjoey High School (off Tasman Road)Become part of this exciting initiative to change the world locally. 

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

Sydney Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. From penguins, to possums and parrots, native wildlife of all descriptions passes through the caring hands of Sydney Wildlife rescuers and carers on a daily basis. We provide a genuine 24 hour, 7 day per week emergency advice, rescue and care service.

As well as caring for sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife, Sydney Wildlife is also involved in educating the community about native wildlife and its habitat. We provide educational talks to a wide range of groups and audiences including kindergartens, scouts, guides, a wide range of special interest groups and retirement villages. Talks are tailored to meet the needs and requirements of each group. 

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Found an injured native animal? We're here to help.

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water. Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. Find out more at: www.sydneywildlife.org.au

Southern Cross Wildlife Care was launched over 6 years ago. It is the brainchild of Dr Howard Ralph, the founder and chief veterinarian. SCWC was established solely for the purpose of treating injured, sick and orphaned wildlife. No wild creature in need that passes through our doors is ever rejected. 

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People can assist SCWC by volunteering their skills ie: veterinary; medical; experienced wildlife carers; fundraising; "IT" skills; media; admin; website etc. We are always having to address the issue of finances as we are a non commercial veterinary service for wildlife in need, who obviously don't have cheque books in their pouches. It is a constant concern and struggle of ours when we are pre-occupied with the care and treatment of the escalating amount of wildlife that we have to deal with. Just becoming a member of SCWC for $45 a year would be a great help. Regular monthly donations however small, would be a wonderful gift and we could plan ahead knowing that we had x amount of funds that we could count on. Our small team of volunteers are all unpaid even our amazing vet Howard, so all funds raised go directly towards our precious wildlife. SCWC is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Find out more at: southerncrosswildlifecare.org.au/wp/

"I bind myself today to the power of Heaven, the light of the sun, the brightness of the moon, the splendour of fire, the flashing of lightning, the swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the compactness of rocks." -  from the Prayer of Saint Patrick

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday of the month

Newport Community Gardens Inc. is a not for profit incorporated association. The garden is in Woolcott Reserve.

Objectives
Local Northern Beaches residents creating sustainable gardens in public spaces
Strengthening the local community, improving health and reconnecting with nature
To establish ecologically sustainable gardens for the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and companion plants within Pittwater area 
To enjoy and forge friendships through shared gardening.
Membership is open to all Community members willing to participate in establishing gardens and growing sustainable food.
Subscription based paid membership.
We meet at the garden between 9am – 12 noon
New members welcome

For enquiries contact newportcommunitygardenau@gmail.com

Living Ocean


Living Ocean was born in Whale Beach, on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, surrounded by water and set in an area of incredible beauty.
Living Ocean is a charity that promotes the awareness of human impact on the ocean, through research, education, creative activity in the community, and support of others who sustain ocean health and integrity.

And always celebrating and honouring the natural environment and the lifestyle that the ocean offers us.

Our whale research program builds on research that has been conducted off our coastline by our experts over many years and our Centre for Marine Studies enables students and others to become directly involved.

Through partnerships with individuals and organizations, we conceive, create and coordinate campaigns that educate all layers of our community – from our ‘No Plastic Please’ campaign, which is delivered in partnership with local schools, to film nights and lectures, aimed at the wider community.

Additionally, we raise funds for ocean-oriented conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd.

Donations are tax-deductable 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

BUSHCARE SCHEDULES 
Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Avalon     
Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Bayview     
Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

Bilgola     
North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Clareville     
Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Elanora     
Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Newport     
Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood     
Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon
Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

Do you like to enrich the earth as much as benefit from it?

Find out more here:

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What Does PNHA do?

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About Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
With urbanisation, there are continuing pressures that threaten the beautiful natural environment of the Pittwater area. Some impacts are immediate and apparent, others are more gradual and less obvious. The Pittwater Natural Heritage Association has been formed to act to protect and preserve the Pittwater areas major and most valuable asset - its natural heritage. PNHA is an incorporated association seeking broad based community membership and support to enable it to have an effective and authoritative voice speaking out for the preservation of Pittwater's natural heritage. Please contact us for further information.

Our Aims
  • To raise public awareness of the conservation value of the natural heritage of the Pittwater area: its landforms, watercourses, soils and local native vegetation and fauna.
  • To raise public awareness of the threats to the long-term sustainability of Pittwater's natural heritage.
  • To foster individual and community responsibility for caring for this natural heritage.
  • To encourage Council and the NSW Government to adopt and implement policies and works which will conserve, sustain and enhance the natural heritage of Pittwater.
Act to Preserve and Protect!
If you would like to join us, please fill out the Membership Application Form ($20.00 annually - $10 concession)

Email: pnhainfo@gmail.com Or click on Logo to visit website.

Think before you print ; A kilo of recycled paper creates around 1.8 kilograms of carbon emissions, without taking into account the emissions produced from transporting the paper. So, before you send a document to print, think about how many kilograms of carbon emissions you could save by reading it on screen.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment : email@narrabeenlagoon.org.au

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

Pittwater Environmental Foundation was established in 2006 to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Pittwater local government area through the application of tax deductible donations, gifts and bequests. The Directors were appointed by Pittwater Council. 

 Profile

About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There are two endangered populations (Koala and Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. To visit their site please click on logo above.