Inbox and Environment News - Issue 188
November 9 - 15, 2014: Issue 188
NSW TO HOST NATIONAL LAMB EXPO FOR THE FIRST TIME
The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP , Minister for Primary Industries
MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 6 November 2014
Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has today announced that the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has secured the rights to host the next LambEx – Australia’s premier lamb industry event – in 2016.
Ms Hodgkinson said LambEx – held every two years – attracts more than 900 delegates and 70 exhibitors.
“I am delighted that, for the first time, NSW will host LambEx,” Ms Hodgkinson said. “NSW is Australia’s prime lamb powerhouse – responsible for almost a quarter of the nation’s lamb output – and is an obvious location for the next LambEx.
“Earlier this year the NSW Department of Primary Industries pulled together a bid committee made up of key lamb producers and industry representatives, and I congratulate them on their vision and dedication in securing the rights to host the next event.
“LambEx presents a unique opportunity to attract new investment into the State’s $610 million lamb industry.
“The NSW Government has strongly supported the committee’s bid and I can’t wait to show off our world-class lamb industry to the rest of the country in 2016.”
Ms Hodgkinson thanked the NSW lamb industry for collaborating with the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government to support this strong bid.
“NSW’s successful bid was thanks to the hard work of the NSW lamb industry, consisting of 35 motivated producers, stakeholders, key industry representatives and backed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI),” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“The organising committee will now work with the industry in finalising the venue and event details and establishing the 2016 Conference organising committee.”
NSW LambEx 2016 bid committee member, Toby Scales, said he was delighted at the outcome of the bid and wished to thank all the companies and organisations who supported the bid.
“The success of the NSW bid was based on the strong support from the NSW Government and industry organisations,” Mr Scales said.
NEW FLYING FOX MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for the Central Coast, Assistant Minister for Planning
MEDIA RELEASE - Monday 3 November 2014
Environment Minister Rob Stokes today announced a new strategy to minimise the impacts of flying-fox camps surrounding populated areas.
Mr Stokes said human health must always be our first priority and this plan will empower councils to resolve issues within their communities and take appropriate local action at the earliest opportunity.
“Active management is needed where flying-fox camps are close to urban settlements, causing noise, odour and potentially putting health at risk,” Mr Stokes said.
Flying-foxes remain protected and under the new policy land managers will be able to get a five year license to:
• Create buffer zones by removing vegetation to create a separation from populated areas and to disturb animals at the boundary of the camp to encourage roosting away from human settlement;
• Carry out camp disturbance or dispersal by clearing of vegetation or dispersal of animals by noise, water, smoke or light; and
• Undertake camp management such as removal of trees that pose a health and safety risk, weed removal (including removal of noxious weeds), trimming of understorey vegetation and the planting of vegetation.
“The policy encourages councils to prepare camp management plans for sites where there is a high level of impact on the community.
“The Office of Environment and Heritage will provide ongoing support to land managers and communities, including a suite of online resources and advice for preparing camp management plans; and local contacts to assist councils.
Mr Stokes also announced the finalisation of ‘special circumstances’ that will allow orchardists to continue to be able to apply for shooting licenses in rural areas.
“While the orchard industry is moving towards netting as a long term solution, we recognise that in the short term, shooting licences will be needed in some circumstances to manage crop damage.
“Licences will continue to be available for existing orchardists who need to use shooting to manage flying-fox issues in rural areas for five years. “More than $4 million is also being made available orchardists who want to use netting as an alternative to shooting.”
NSW Health advises that the public should avoid direct contact with flying-foxes as there is always the possibility of being scratched or bitten and it leading to infection.
Anyone who encounters an injured bat should contact the local Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service (WIRES) network on 1300 094 737 or visit their website.
The Flying-fox Management Policy is now on public exhibition and can be viewed at:environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/flyingfoxcamppol
BREAKING NEWS: Spectacled hare-wallaby re-discovered!
November 8th, 2014 - Yawuru Country Managers and WWF staff have rediscovered the near-threatened spectacled hare-wallaby near Broome.
This near-threatened species has not been recorded in the region for almost a decade. Last month a pilot survey was conducted in the area to try and find them. Sensor cameras were used as part of the survey and captured the image you see below of this very secretive animal. WWF continues to work with Yawuru to determine how many are left on the Roebuck Plains, what their habitat requirements are, and ultimately address key threats like feral predators and inappropriate fire regimes to help this species thrive.
IUCN World Parks Congress Sydney 2014
The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 is a landmark global forum on parks and protected areas held once every 10 years. The Congress will be hosted in Sydney, Australia from 12 – 19 November 2014, on the theme Parks, Planet, People: inspiring solutions.
The Congress program consists of eight concurrent streams which are Reaching Conservation Goals, Responding to Climate Change, Improving Health and Well-being, Supporting Human Life, Reconciling Development Challenges, Enhancing Diversity & Quality of Governance, Respecting Indigenous & Traditional Knowledge and Culture and Inspiring a New Generation. One stream alone, the Improving Health and Wellbeing: Healthy Parks Healthy People will have over 150 speakers from around the world will contribute and between 3000 to 5000 delegates are expected to attend this very significant Congress. You will benefit from their expertise, practical lessons learnt and plans for positive change.
Attendees will range from world leaders in environment, health, tourism, education and urban planning fields and more, to young people with a passion and interest in creating a better future. As well as an incredibly informative week-long program there will be opportunities to network at social events, field trips around Sydney and Australia, and opportunities to be involved in groups taking specific action after the Congress to deliver on commitments for positive change.
For more information or to register go towww.worldparkscongress.org
NEW ERA FOR MARINE ESTATE MANAGEMENT: LANDMARK BILL PASSES NSW PARLIAMENT
Katrina Hodgkinson MP Minister for Primary Industries Rob Stokes MP Minister for the Environment
MEDIA RELEASE - Wednesday 5 November 2014
Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, and Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes, welcomed the passage of the Marine Estate Management Bill 2014 through the NSW Parliament tonight.
Ms Hodgkinson said the passage of the Bill heralds a new era in the management of the marine estate in NSW.
“When the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government was elected in 2011, we immediately set about righting the wrongs of the former Labor Government in relation to management of the marine estate,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“For three years a considered, sensible approach to marine estate management has been under development and the Bill is the fruits of that work.
“The Marine Estate Management Bill 2014 addresses community concerns about how the State’s six marine parks were established and managed by previous Labor governments.
“In the 16 years prior to the 2011 election, Labor applied a politically-motivated, non-strategic and imbalanced approach to management of the marine estate, leading to indiscriminate lines on maps being drawn via desktop.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has followed through on its commitment to apply a true triple-bottom-line approach to management, which considers economic, social and environmental outcomes.”
Mr Stokes said the Bill will guide the management of the NSW coast in a manner that promotes and recognises the environmental, social and economic importance of our beaches, headlands and coastal waters.
“We have an obligation to present and future generations to make sure we do not love the coast to death and that we conserve its many and unique values,” Mr Stokes said.
“This legislation reflects the NSW Government's commitment to effective integrated coastal zone management based on credible science.
“It also gives clear recognition to the central role that ecologically sustainable development must play to ensure development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Koala Count 2014
The Great Koala Count is back for 2014 from Nov 7-17! Citizen scientists can use the smart phone app Bio Tag or the Koala Count website to log information about sightings, where you went to look for koalas and other animals you saw during your walk.
Get on board below.
Coastal Environment Centre
The Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) is a multi-award winning regional community environmental learning centre, and Pittwater Council's environmental flagship. CEC is celebrating its 20th year this December
More at: www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/cec
Monthly Cooee Newsletter below. If you would like to receive Council's environmental newsletter via email, please firstname.lastname@example.org
November 2014 Cooee Newsletter includes information on: BushCare Planting Activities (volunteers needed), Workshops and Events, and great articles HERE
Demand justice for 150 wombats buried alive by a logging company
A logging company in New South Wales, Australia has buried at least 150 bare-nosed wombats while they were still alive.
About 150 burrows were marked with GPS co-ordinates in bright paint by the Wombat Protection Society in the Glenbog State Forest, so loggers could avoid the burrows. The NSW Environment Protection Authority confirmed the Forestry Corporation had agreed to ensure entrances to the burrows weren’t obstructed.
However, the contractors ignored the markings, with some observers alleging they deliberately removed them, and buried the wombats alive by allowing debris to cover their burrows.
Wombat Protection volunteers found nine collapsed burrows, as well as four burrows that had been so compacted by machinery and logs that they couldn’t be re-opened. They also found a burrow where a road had been built right over the entrance.
Logging interests have tried to argue that bare-nosed wombats make various entrances to their burrows, however, wildlife experts say they just have one entrance in and out, so if it is ploughed over the wombats are subject to a slow death due to lack of food and water.
The callous disregard of the loggers is nothing less than animal cruelty – all of them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Please sign and share the petition to demand justice for 150 wombats buried alive by a logging company. At HERE
INAUGURAL ADVISORY BOARD APPOINTED TO REPRESENT LICENSED HUNTERS
The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP, Minister for Primary Industries
MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 4 November 2014
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has today announced the appointment of the inaugural Game and Pest Management Advisory Board.
Ms Hodgkinson said the Board – created as a result of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2013 – will represent the interests of licensed game hunters in NSW.
“The appointment of this Board is the final step in implementing the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s landmark reforms to the oversight and representation of licensed hunters in NSW,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“I have appointed seven members to the Board, whose combined experience, background and qualifications will provide me with balanced advice on game and feral animal hunting and pest management in NSW.
“We received great interest from people across the State and the successful members have been carefully selected, based on their varied skills and interests, in order to best reflect the views of licensed hunters in NSW.
“I am particularly interested to hear from this board about key game and feral animal control measures, as well as what it sees as key priorities for expenditure on research & development and any educational campaigns that would benefit NSW licensed hunters.”
The Board will be supported by the Department of Primary Industries Game Licensing Unit, and will hold its first meeting in December.
The inaugural members of the Game and Pest Management Advisory Board:
• Emeritus Professor Robert Mulley (Chairman) is an internationally renowned leader amongst wildlife management scientists, with expert knowledge in agriculture, vertebrate pest management, wildlife management and sustainable land use.
• Scott Atkinson is a former police officer with an excellent understanding of hunting issues and stakeholders. He has a special interest in hunter education, training, safety and compliance.
• Kathleen Clapham is a high-school teacher from the Blue Mountains passionate about outdoor education and healthy living. She has also been actively educating the community about firearms safety for the past 15 years.
• Dr Justin Clarke is a registered veterinary surgeon with particular interest in wildlife veterinary programs and research initiatives.
• Christine Hall is a regional landholder with a property bordering a NSW State Forest. She is highly skilled in pest animal management and education and uniquely placed to understand the needs of both landholders and hunters.
• Associate Professor Graham Hall is an internationally renowned consultant and scientist on wildlife and insect management, responsible for the development of the first ever game management university degree at the University of Queensland.
• David Voss is a project management professional, accredited workplace trainer and assessor; he is well versed in managing competing interests in a challenging environment.
For more information, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/hunting.
Central Coast Green Army teams hit the ground
Media release - 4 November 2014
Young locals on the New South Wales Central Coast are taking up the opportunity to be a part of the Australian Government's Green Army Programme to help communities deliver important local conservation outcomes.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Federal Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, today visited two Green Army teams involved in projects at The Entrance and the Wyong Shire to see the participants in action.
“Two of the first Green Army projects in the Central Coast region are now underway with young people working on a range of environmental activities to help them gain valuable skills and experience,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Entrance North Dunes and Tuggerah Lake Foreshore Restoration project will include dune rehabilitation at Karagi Reserve and weed control at the northern end of Terilbah Reserve.”
“Participants will propagate plants, remove invasive weeds, revegetate dunes, survey birdlife and install accessways and fencing to prevent dune and slope erosion.”
“Karen McNamara is a great local member and a strong supporter of the Green Army. Residents in Dobell will see great environmental gains as a result of the rollout of the Green Army.”
The Federal Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, said the West Tuggerah Lakes Landcare Support project would help to rehabilitate sections of the foreshore along the western side of the Tuggerah Lakes estuary.
“The Green Army team will extend the work undertaken by local Landcare groups. They will weed and plant to control erosion; remove litter; maintain a minor stormwater treatment device; and manage salt marsh,” Ms McNamara said.
“These activities will help improve the biodiversity of the foreshore, protect threatened species and their habitat, and improve community access within reserves where weeds currently inhibit access.”
These young men and women will not only be generating real environment and conservation benefits for this community, but they will be gaining valuable training and experience to help them prepare for the workforce or further training and improve their career opportunities.
Over the next four years, 1,500 projects will roll out across the country, mobilising young Australians in a range of activities to support environmental action.
The Green Army is a key Government commitment with $525 million budgeted over four years. The Programme will encourage practical, grassroots action to support local environment and heritage conservation projects across Australia.
This investment in the Green Army will bring the Government's total investment in natural resource management to more than $2 billion over four years.
Further details on the programme are available at the Green Army website www.environment.gov.au/green-army
EARLY WARNING ALGAL SYSTEM UNDER DEVELOPMENT
Kevin Humphries MP Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Minister for Western NSW MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday 29 October 2014
A revolutionary early warning detection system that will substantially reduce the risk of harmful blue-green algae algal blooms is currently being developed, Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water, Kevin Humphries, announced today.
Mr Humphries said a new $1.3 million project between the NSW Government and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been established in a bid to reduce the impact blooms have on human health, the environment and regional economies.
“Blue-green algal blooms are a major issue in NSW and Australia, as they can pose a substantial health risk for communities accessing affected water for drinking, irrigation and recreation,” Mr Humphries said.
“The programs to monitor blue-green algae and issue public warnings by the NSW Office of Water are some of the most advanced in the world, but the current system relies on collecting water samples and laboratory analysis, which can have a lag time of several days.
“While this method is reliable, the NSW Government and the CSIRO are developing new optical remote sensing techniques that will provide more expansive information about blue-green algae issues in water sources with near real-time access to information.
“The idea is that once a model is appropriately tested against on-ground water sampling, satellite imagery will be used to identify and track algal levels in water bodies, providing early warning of potential harmful algal blooms.”
Mr Humphries said the aim is to create a relatively inexpensive and fast method of identifying blue-green algal blooms, complete with accurate information on their size and location.
“The new warning system will be designed so that it can be used with a range of remote sensors - such satellites, planes, boats, bridges and buoys – and for different water sources,” Mr Humphries said.
“As there is no effective treatment for blue-green algal blooms, especially when across large areas; the first and most effective response is good information.”
The project will be delivered over two years and involves three stages: development of an algal bloom rapid identification index using historic satellite imagery and algal records; improvement of index algorithms using current blooms and near surface and underwater sensors and operational trials of the system for NSW water bodies; and software launch.
Birds, birds, and more birds at Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps
Media release: 6 November 2014
Thousands of birds have converged on the Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps near Leeton in what could become the biggest waterbird flocking to the area for 20 years.
Brolgas, bitterns and terns have been spotted after environmental watering provided the perfect conditions for feeding, foraging and - in some cases - breeding.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has worked with the Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetland Advisory Committee to initiate and manage the environmental water flow.
The spectacle should last into 2015, with the best bird viewing at dawn and dusk. Fivebough swamp has two bird hides which enable visitors to view the wetlands with minimal disturbance to wildlife.
Local bird enthusiast Keith Hutton said conditions were shaping up for a feathered frenzy, likely to peak in November and continue for some months.
“We’re seeing insect levels building, small fish emerging, and significant plant growth,” Dr Hutton said.
“Recently at Fivebough I saw two bitterns, eight Brolgas, two Gull-billed Terns, and a pair of Swamp Harriers displaying high over the cumbungi reeds, sky diving, spinning, looping and calling all the time – a spectacular show.
“At dusk, when 10 to 20,000 terns are settling for the night, it’s like witnessing a snow storm. As bird numbers rise, conditions should be perfect to support them.”
OEH Senior Environmental Water Management Officer James Maguire said approximately 400 megalitres of water had been allocated to Fivebough swamp with a further 240 megalitres for Tuckerbil. This allocation was made available through the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Sharing Plan.
“The ecological response so far is promising,” Mr Maguire said.
“We’ve seen Sea Eagles and a number of threatened species take advantage of the environmental water and hope to see more, including migratory shorebirds.
“Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps traditionally attract birds from as far afield as Siberia, Japan, Korea and China.
“As the watering event progresses, we hope to see even more threatened species making use of the site, including a number of migratory shorebirds,” he said.
The Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps are listed on the Ramsar Convention for wetlands of international importance. The swamps support a significant population of the threatened Australasian Bittern and provide refuge for several waterbird and migratory shorebird species. As such, they are a priority for environmental watering.
Above: Photo courtesy NSW Office of Environment and Heritage - Birds aloft at Tuckerbil Swamp environmental water flow in October 2014 - Photo: James Maguire
Increase in ozone-destroying substances, but Montreal Protocol on track
November 5, 2014 - Research from the University of Leeds and an international team of scientists has shown a recent increase in atmospheric hydrogen chloride (HCI), a substance linked to destruction of the ozone layer.
It was anticipated that there would be a decline in HCI under the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances.
Dr Emmanuel Mahieu from the University of Liège in Belgium, who led the research, explained: "It's important to say that the Montreal Protocol is still on track, and that this is a transient reversal in the decline of HCl, which can be explained through a change in atmospheric circulation, rather than rogue emissions of ozone-depleting substances."
The study, published today in the journal Nature, explains that the unexpected increase is caused by a temporary but prolonged anomaly in atmospheric circulation, changing the balance between chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and their breakdown product HCI.
Professor Martyn Chipperfield from the University of Leeds, who led the modelling work for the study, said: "The expected deterioration of ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere is certainly more complex than we had imagined. Rather than a steady decline, these findings have presented a rather more complicated picture.
"Through comparison with detailed computer models, we have identified this decline as temporary due to changes in upper atmospheric wind patterns, so we remain optimistic that the ozone layer will recover during the second half of the century."
The recent increase in HCl concentrations was only observed in the Northern Hemisphere, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere, HCI continues to decrease, as expected, in line with the Montreal Protocol.
Professor Chipperfield added: "There are natural differences in the atmosphere between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, due to the influence of the Earth's surface topography and slight variations in the Earth's orbit around the Sun during the year. While atmospheric chlorine levels remain high we may see cases of large ozone depletion, especially over the polar regions."
The findings are based on measurements by a network with stations in Spitsbergen, Greenland, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Tenerife, Australia and New Zealand. These are backed up by satellite observations and model simulations.
Professor Peter Bernath, from the University of York, who was also part of the international team of scientists, added: "Atmospheric variability and perhaps climate change can significantly modify the path towards full recovery and, ultimately, it will be a bumpy ride rather than a smooth evolution.
"The recovery of ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere is a slow process and will take many decades. During this time the ozone layer remains vulnerable."
1. E. Mahieu, M. P. Chipperfield, J. Notholt, T. Reddmann, J. Anderson, P. F. Bernath, T. Blumenstock, M. T. Coffey, S. S. Dhomse, W. Feng, B. Franco, L. Froidevaux, D. W. T. Griffith, J. W. Hannigan, F. Hase, R. Hossaini, N. B. Jones, I. Morino, I. Murata, H. Nakajima, M. Palm, C. Paton-Walsh, J. M. Russell III, M. Schneider, C. Servais, D. Smale, K. A. Walker. Recent Northern Hemisphere stratospheric HCl increase due to atmospheric circulation changes. Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 104 DOI:10.1038/nature13857
by CSIRO - Published on 5 Nov 2014
A visit to the bare white hills of tailings from a mine site inspired Dr Miao Chen to think about environmentally friendly ways of extracting metals from ores. She works with naturally occurring micro-organisms which digest mineral ores, leaching metals in a process which saves water and energy. She and her team have also developed solid-state sensors for use in streamlining mining processes, and also for environmental monitoring.
This research was carried out as part of the Office of the Chief Executive (OCE) Science Leader program.
GRANTS FOR COMMUNITY RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS
Thursday 30 October 2014 - Environment Minister Rob Stokes today announced applications are now open for $700,000 of funding for community owned renewable energy projects.
Consistent with the Renewable Energy Action Plan, these grants will support local communities to set up their own renewable energy projects.
“These grants will minimise the upfront administrative costs of community energy projects, and unlock the potential that small-scale renewable energy has to offer,” Mr Stokes said.
“This funding will open up the benefits that decentralised electricity can provide to local communities. Projects that benefit low income families will receive priority.
Mr Stokes today joined Kiama MP Gareth Ward at Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club to open their 99kW solar panel system, capable of meeting the power needs of 30 households, which was set up by not-for-profit community organisation RepowerShoalhaven.
Mr Ward said Repower Shoalhaven received $10,000 from the NSW Government to help develop community renewable energy models that can be used across the Shoalhaven region and surroundings.
“This project is Australia’s largest community owned commercial solar power system and I congratulate the bowling club and Repower Shoalhaven on this extraordinary achievement,” Mr Ward said.
“This project shows how we can meet the needs of today, without jeopardising the needs of future generations. That’s the power of renewable energy.”
For more information visit:www.environment.nsw.gov.au/communities/clean-energy-projects
Comment on Threatened Species listing assessments
You are invited to provide public comment on the below items to assist the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) with its assessment of whether the items are eligible for inclusion in an EPBC Act list of threatened species, key threatening processes or ecological communities and, if eligible, the category in which they are eligible to be included.
Listing Assessments open for public comment
Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) - until 14 November 2014
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) - until 14 November 2014
Antechinus bellus (fawn antechinus) NT until 18 November 2014
Callistemon megalongensis (Megalong Valley bottlebrush) NSW- until 18 November 2014
Eucalyptus aggregata (black gum) NSW, ACT, VIC until 18 November 2014
Ecological community nominations
Central Hunter Valley eucalypt forest and woodland complex EndangeredNSW until 29 October 2014
Posidonia australis seagrass meadows of the Manning-Hawkesbury ecoregion Endangered NSW until 5 November 2014
* The Australian Government has partnership agreements with the states and territories to share information and align threatened species lists where appropriate. Through these agreements, species that are endemic to (i.e. only found in) a particular state or territory are assessed first in that state, prior to them being assessed nationally under a streamlined assessment process.
If you wish to comment on any of the above nominations, please send your comments, by mail, fax or email to the appropriate address listed here:www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations
Common Myna Control Campaign
Have you noticed myna birds invading your neighbourhood?
Do you want to do something about them?
The Pittwater Natural Heritage Association is seeking expressions of interest from members who would like to be involved in setting up a Pittwater Myna Control Group.
There are a number of strategies that can be employed to control the spread of these pests and a number of towns and cities around Australia have been able to reduce the numbers of myna birds in their localities.
If you are interested please email David Palmer email@example.com
Calling all Landcare and Bushcare Groups!
Did you know that Landcare NSW provides a space for individual Landcare and Bushcare groups to have their own webpage? You can use the page to provide information on your group, share photos and provide updates on current works. It’s a great way to show the rest of the New South Wales, Australia and even the world all the amazing work you do.
Find out more at: www.landcare.nsw.gov.au
On My Agenda - The Message About Your Future They Don’t Want Seen
By 1 Million Women
The billboard pictured above was set to appear at Brisbane International Airport as world leaders and diplomats arrive for the G20 meeting. But Brisbane Airport has refused the image permission to go up – simply because it talks about climate change.
The billboard is part of a joint campaign by 1 Million Women and eight other leading civil society groups, calling on G20 leaders to place climate change on the agenda. The billboard at the airport may have been banned, but the campaign is going ahead - and now we’re relying on you to spread the word.
On 15 -16 November, leaders from the major 20 economies of the world will meet in Brisbane at the G20 summit. Climate change has been removed from the agenda, despite it being one of the biggest threats to global economies.
But this week, a breakthrough seems possible. For the first time in months, we’re seeing signals in news reports suggesting that world leaders may discuss climate change at the G20, but at this stage it’s a mere footnote.
That’s why it’s so crucial – now more than ever – that G20 leaders see our message. After all, G20 countries represent more than 85% of all the money in the world, and 80% of all the world’s carbon pollution.
Our climate change message may have been shut out of Brisbane airport, but you can make sure G20 leaders and their press secretaries see it on their social media accounts every time they check their phones and computers.
The banned billboard showcases the real story from Australian farmer David Bruer who had $25,000 worth of grapes “cooked” in one day last year when temperatures reached 46 degrees at his South Australian vineyard. Climate change is squarely on the agenda of people like David – and we suspect it’s on your agenda too. Help climate change be more than a footnote at the G20 by contacting world leaders at www.onmyagenda.org
As the campaign kicks and news of the banned billboard spreads, you’ll likely see #onmyagenda in your Facebook and Twitter feed. Join the conversation using the hashtag, and follow all of the posts as they are aggregated on www.onmyagenda.org
Thank you for all that you do,
The 1 Million Women Team xx
The 1 Million Women Campaign is a registered charity. Launched in June 2009 we have over 135,000 joined, almost 90,000 on Facebook and over 10,000 on twitter. Our goal is to inspire 1 Million Women to take practical action on climate change through the way we live and through the choices we make every day. It's easy. We will show you how. www.1millionwomen.com.au
We are daughters, mothers, sisters, grandmothers inspiring climate action.
NEW RECREATIONAL FISHING RULES NOW COMMENCED
The Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP Minister for Primary Industries - MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday 4 November 2014
Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has reminded recreational anglers that changes to NSW recreational fishing rules have commenced this week.
Ms Hodgkinson said the changes are now in place, after taking into account feedback from thousands of recreational fishers.
“These changes, supported by a majority of people who made submissions, include modified bag and size limits and gear usage rules,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government remains committed to ensuring rules reflect the recreational fishing community’s needs and expectations, while maintaining quality recreational fishing for the future.”
Key changes include:
• bag limit reduced from 20 to 10 for Flathead species (other than Dusky Flathead), Bream and Tarwhine, Tailor, Blue Swimmer Crab, Trevallies and Luderick. The possession limit of 20 will remain for these species;
• spawning closure for Australian Bass and Estuary Perch extended to four months to protect early migrating bass. Catch and release will be permitted during the closure;
• number of witches hats/hoop nets/lift nets is reduced from five to four and the number of crab traps is increased from one to two in saltwater.
• change of marking requirements of recreational nets and traps to specify trap type, fisher’s initial and surname, year of birth and postcode;
• five hoop nets are permitted to be used to take yabbies in Lakes Lyell, Lake Wallace and Googong Dam; and
• revised Murray cod minimum size of 55cm and a maximum size of 75cm.
Ms Hodgkinson said of the 16 changes, five include minor rule adjustments to reduce red tape and streamline fishing rules.
“The NSW Government is proud to support our recreational sector, which contributes more than $1.6 billion to the State’s economy each year,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“A three-month advisory period will be in place to allow recreational anglers time to adjust to the new rules.”
To view a video explaining the changes, and for more information, visit www.dpi.nsw.gov/au/fisheries/recreational
Squirrel Glider Local Area Management Plan
Find out more at: www.wirraminna.orglamp-for-threatened-squirrel-glider/
A fraction of the global military spending could save the planet's biodiversity, say experts: Only one in four protected areas is well managed
November 5, 2014 – A fundamental step-change involving an increase in funding and political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas deliver their full conservation, social and economic potential, according to an article published today in Nature by experts from Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).
The paper, The performance and potential of protected areas, comes ahead of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 - a once-in-a-decade global forum on protected areas opening next week in Sydney, Australia.
According to the authors, allocating US$45 - $76 billion to protected areas annually - just 2.5% of the global annual military expenditure - could help adequately manage those areas, ensuring their potential contribution to the well-being of the planet is fully met.
Many threatened species, such as the Asian elephant, the tiger, and all rhinoceros species, as well as numerous plants, reptiles and amphibians, survive thanks to protected areas. Well-managed marine protected areas contain more than five times the total large fish biomass and 14 times the shark biomass compared with fished areas.
"Protected areas offer us solutions to some of today's most pressing challenges" says Dr James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and The University of Queensland and lead author of the study. "But by continuing with 'business as usual', we are setting them up for failure. A step-change in the way we value, fund, govern and manage those areas is neither impossible nor unrealistic and would only represent a fraction of what the world spends annually on defense."
According to the latest data, protected areas cover around 15% of land and 3% of oceans. Experts warn, however, that despite the significant increase in their coverage over the past century, this is still short of the global 2020 targets to protect at least 17% of land and 10% of oceans. Many ecosystems remain poorly conserved because protected areas do not always encompass the most important areas for biodiversity.
In addition, the vast majority of existing protected areas that are well placed do not have sufficient resources to be effective, with some studies finding as few as one quarter of them are being effectively managed. Growing threats from climate change and the escalating poaching crisis place additional pressures on protected areas globally.
"Some of the most iconic protected areas, such as Ecuador's Galapagos National Park, are undergoing significant degradation, partly due to an inability to manage them effectively," says Professor Marc Hockings of The University of Queensland,co-author of the study and member of the IUCN WCPA. "But governments cannot be solely responsible for ensuring that protected areas fulfill their potential. We need to find new, innovative ways to fund and manage them, actively involving government, business and community groups."
The paper also highlights an alarming increase in governments -- in both developing and developed countries -- backtracking on their commitments through funding cuts and changes in policy. A recent global analysis has documented 543 instances where protected areas saw their status downgraded or removed altogether.
For example, recent cuts to the Parks Canada budget have reduced conservation spending by 15%¬. In Uganda, active oil exploration and development is occurring inside many protected areas, including Murchison Falls National Park. In Indonesia, in 2010, mining permits were issued inside 481,000 hectares of protected areas and in the Virgin Komi Forests in Russia, significant boundary changes have been made to reserves such as the Yugyd Va National Park to allow mining. The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman was removed from the World Heritage List after the government reduced the size of the reserve by 90% to allow for oil and gas extraction.
"There is a fundamental need for an increase in support of global protected areas, including better recognition, funding, planning and enforcement" says Nigel Dudley, co-author of the paper, from Equilibrium Research and The University of Queensland, member of the IUCN WCPA. "It is government's responsibility to step up but there is also the need for the wider community to take collective responsibility for protected areas."
Protected areas conserve biodiversity and sustain a large proportion of the world's poorest people by providing them with food, water, shelter and medicine. They play a key part in climate change mitigation and adaptation and bolster national economies through tourism revenues. In Rwanda, for example, tourism revenue from visits to see mountain gorillas inside Volcanoes National Park is now the country's largest source of foreign exchange, raising US$200 million annually. In Australia, the 2012-2013 budget for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was approximately AUS$50 million, but tourism to the reef was worth more than A$5.2 billion annually to the Australian economy.
"The growth of the modern global protected area movement over the last 100 years is arguably the greatest conservation achievement," says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. "It is also increasingly important for livelihoods and global security. The key now is for countries to recognize the return on investment that protected areas offer and realize that those places are fundamental to the future of life on earth. This is exactly what we hope to achieve at the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress."
Effective management of protected areas, the threats they face and the solutions they offer to today's global challenges will be discussed at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney from 12 to 19 November 2014.
1. James E. M. Watson, Nigel Dudley, Daniel B. Segan, Marc Hockings. The performance and potential of protected areas.Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 67 DOI: 10.1038/nature13947
This image shows Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. A fundamental step-change involving an increase in funding and political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas deliver their full conservation, social and economic potential, according to an article published today in Nature by experts from Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). Credit: Julie Larsen Maher, copyright WCS
$3.3 million boost for Tuggerah Lakes
Media release - 4 November 2014
Tuggerah Lakes on the New South Wales Central coast will benefit from a $3.3 million boost as part of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Federal Member for Dobell, Karen McNamara, today visited the Tuggerah Lakes estuary on the New South Wales Central Coast to inspect progress on infrastructure to improve water quality.
“The Australian Government is delivering on its election commitments to take action and improve the health of this beautiful region and protect it from the impacts of pollution, weeds and urban population growth,” Minister Hunt said.
“Karen McNamara is passionate about the Tuggerah Lakes and this funding has come about as a result of her strong advocacy.”
The Member for Dobell, Ms Karen McNamara, said she welcomed the announcement that Wyong Shire Council will receive $3.3 million over the next three years to help improve the water quality of the Tuggerah Lakes estuary.
“This funding will help upgrade stormwater treatment zones and gross pollutant traps including the removal of sediment and other organic matter and reprofiling the Canton Beach foreshore to recreate the natural beach shoreline,” Ms McNamara said.
“This is vital work that will be of benefit to both the environment and the local community.”
“The people of New South Wales’ Central Coast region care deeply about the Tuggerah Lakes. This project builds on the great work previously undertaken by both the council and community groups in and around the Tuggerah Lakes area.”
Tuggerah Lakes is one of five iconic waterways across Australia to share in more than $9 million of Coastal River Recovery funding.
In addition to this funding, there is potential for other National Landcare Programme and Green Army projects to deliver practical, grass-roots action to further improve the environmental health of our rivers and lakes.
Support for our iconic rivers is an important part of the Government’s commitment to a healthier environment.
Coexist or perish, new wildfire analysis says: Changing wildfire paradigm from fighting to coexistence
November 5, 2014 - Many fire scientists have tried to get Smokey the Bear to hang up his "prevention" motto in favour of tools like thinning and prescribed burns, which can manage the severity of wildfires while allowing them to play their natural role in certain ecosystems. But a new international research review led by the University of California, Berkeley, says the debate over fuel-reduction techniques is only a small part of a much larger fire problem that will make society increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic losses unless it changes its fundamental approach from fighting fire to coexisting with fire as a natural process.
The paper, "Learning to Coexist with Wildfire," published in the Nov. 6 issue of the journal Nature, examines research findings from three continents and from both the natural and social sciences. The authors conclude that government-sponsored firefighting and land-use policies actually encourage development on inherently hazardous landscapes, amplifying human losses over time.
"We don't try to 'fight' earthquakes -- we anticipate them in the way we plan communities, build buildings and prepare for emergencies. We don't think that way about fire, but our review indicates that we should," said lead author Max Moritz, Cooperative Extension specialist in fire at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources. "Human losses will only be mitigated when land-use planning takes fire hazards into account in the same manner as other natural hazards, like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes."
The analysis looked at different kinds of natural fires, what drives them in various ecosystems, the ways public response to fire can differ, and the critical interface zones between built communities and natural landscapes. The authors found infinite variations on how these factors can come together.
"It quickly became clear that generic one-size-fits-all solutions to wildfire problems do not exist," Moritz said. "Fuel reduction may be a useful strategy for specific places, like California's dry conifer forests, but when we zoomed out and looked at fire-prone regions throughout the Western United States, Australia and the Mediterranean Basin, we realized that over vast parts of the world, a much more nuanced strategy of planning for coexistence with fire is needed."
Planning for co-existence
If humans choose to live in fire-prone regions, fire must be managed on par with other naturally occurring hazards, the authors argue, and research must seek to understand what factors and outcomes we can and cannot affect.
One common tool is applicable to the vast array of ecological and social science interactions at the critical wildfire/urban interface: more effective land-use planning, along with the regulations that guide it.
The authors recommend prioritizing location-specific approaches to improve development and safety in fire-prone areas, including:
• Adopting new land-use regulations and zoning guidelines that restrict development in the most fire-prone areas;
• Updating building codes, such as requiring fire-resistant construction to match local hazard levels and encouraging retrofits to existing ignition-prone homes;
• Implementing locally appropriate vegetation management strategies around structures and neighborhoods;
• Evaluating evacuation planning and warning systems, including understanding situations in which mandatory evacuations are or are not effective;
• Developing household and community plans for how to survive stay-and-defend situations; and
• Developing better maps of fire hazards, ecosystem services and climate change effects to assess trade-offs between development and hazard.
As an example of positive steps, the report cites new fire danger mapping efforts, including an existing fire hazard severity zone map that guides building codes in California. Produced by the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the current map does not explicitly incorporate locally varying wind patterns, which influence the worst fire-related losses of homes and lives, but future iterations will include these data.
Fire ecology and climate
The authors underscore that wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems and can have a positive long-term influence on the landscape, despite people labeling them as "disasters." They can stimulate vegetation regeneration, promote a diversity of vegetation types, provide habitat for many species and sustain other ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling.
Around the world, the numbers, sizes, and intensities of fires vary greatly. In some ecosystems, big, severe wildfires are natural events and more climate-driven -- by drought or high winds -- so fuel reduction is not a very effective tool in these locations. By contrast, many ecosystems that would naturally experience frequent lower-severity fires may respond to vegetation management aimed at both reducing fire hazard to humans and restoring crucial ecosystem processes. But, the authors agree, where fuel reduction is an appropriate goal, it would ideally be achieved by letting wildfires do their job.
A changing climate will complicate management strategies.
"How should future fire patterns compare to this historical variability? That's the big question," Moritz said.
Describing wildfire as "one of the most basic and ongoing natural processes on Earth," the authors call for a paradigm shift in the way society interacts with it, changing to an approach that achieves long-term, sustainable coexistence that benefits the planet's ecosystems on the landscape scale, while minimizing catastrophic losses on the human scale.
"A different view of wildfire is urgently needed," said Moritz. "We must accept wildfire as a crucial and inevitable natural process on many landscapes. There is no alternative. The path we are on will lead to a deepening of our fire-related problems worldwide, which will only become worse as the climate changes."
1. Max A. Moritz, Enric Batllori, Ross A. Bradstock, A. Malcolm Gill, John Handmer, Paul F. Hessburg, Justin Leonard, Sarah McCaffrey, Dennis C. Odion, Tania Schoennagel, Alexandra D. Syphard. Learning to coexist with wildfire. Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 58 DOI: 10.1038/nature13946
Above: The lightning-sparked Castle Rock Fire burned nearly 50,000 acres in 2007 in the Sawtooth National Forest and adjacent state and private lands surrounding Ketchum, Idaho, in the Smoky Mountains region of the Rocky Mountain range. Credit: Kari Geer, courtesy of the National Interagency Fire Center
Painting by Joel Rea
See more wonderfulness at: www.joelrea.com.au
How livable are our cities? New measure developed
November 5, 2014 – An international study has devised a new measure for the "livability" of major cities across the world. The Global Liveable Cities Index (GLCI) takes into account the sensibilities of ordinary working people from 64 cities, balancing work and play, environmental awareness, localism, globalism and many other factors. Details are published in the World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development.
According to Tan Khee Giap of the National University of Singapore and colleagues at University of California, Davis, and Curtin University, in Bentley, Australia, existing major city indices can be divided into two groups. The first includes those that put a higher value on cities based on economic-financial prowess, and strong global agenda-setting power in political and cultural matters. The second ranks cities based on their having a pleasant living environment, a mild climate and a scenic locale. However, such measures ignore the multidimensional nature of what makes a city liveable.
The team suggests that a combination of all those factors and several others should provide a much more balanced perspective on a city's "value" to its citizens from the economic, aesthetic, environmental and other perspectives. Moreover, the team asserts that, "The implicit ethical values of a balance between work and play, and of a balance between thinking globally and acting locally are values which we are comfortable in advocating to any city, and which we think most people could accept." The factors they take into account in their measure include (in no particular order of merit): economic vibrancy and competitiveness, domestic security and stability, socio-cultural conditions, public governance, environmental friendliness and sustainability. These factors, each given equal weight, provide a conceptual framework for a concept of liveability in the team's index.
In the 1950s about one third of the world's population lived in cities, by the second decade of the new millennium this proportion had risen to about one half and it is projected that by 2050, almost three-quarters of us will live in urban, rather than rural or other, areas. It is important for the comfortable and sustainable development of cities and the quality of life of their citizens that we define and understand what makes a city liveable.
From the economic perspective, liveability is a key characteristic that attracts people with talent and money leading to putatively self-fulfilling economic growth and resilience and power on the global scale. But, city dwellers are not all rich and talented and their growing populations must have available to them opportunity for personal growth and a good quality of life too.
The team describes their index as a work in progress, but posits a liveability list of the 64 cities studied, which includes many of the most populace cities. The ranking of the top ten is as follows: Geneva, Zurich, Singapore, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Luxembourg, Stockholm, Berlin, Hong Kong, Auckland. New York City does not appear until number 17, despite being ranked number 1 by economic indicators and other ranking schemes. Tokyo is number 18. London is number 22. Moscow close to the bottom of the rankings at number 62 and Jakarta bottom of their list at number 64.
However, the team has simulated new rankings based on how environmental, political and economic change to improve liveability might alter the order and shown that Singapore could rise to joint #1 with Geneva while Chicago, Shanghai, Amman and Abu Dhabi could jump from relatively low-ranking positions to much higher up the team's urban league table. "The rank of a city today is not necessarily a good indicator of its rank in the future," the team suggests. Environmental restoration and transport infrastructure improvements already underway in many Asian, and specifically Chinese cities, could see the higher liveability today of European cities outstripped as those developing cities develop further.
The team's ongoing work involves assessing 200 global cities including 100 from Greater China, 30 from South East Asia, 20 from the Middle East and 50 from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America.
TAN Khee Giap, WOO Wing Thye & TAN Boon Seng. A New Instrument to Promote Knowledge-led Growth: The Global Liveable Cities Index. World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.176%u2013196
History Week 5- 13 September 2015 – War, Nationalism and Identity
We are delighted to announce the new theme for History Week 2015 - War, Nationalism and Identity. Registrations for events and speaker connect will open in early November, 2014.
How does war shape ideas of nation and identity? Is baptism on the battlefield a prerequisite of nationhood and a sense of national identity? What are the roles of ideas and political movements in creating and shaping nation states? In 2015 the theme of History Week will focus on the history of nation building, nationalism and national identity as the products of both peaceful and violent processes, focussing on generals and politicians, constitution makers and revolutionaries.
History Week will take place between 5- 13 September 2015.
It is often argued that the Australian was born of War, on the slopes of Gallipoli to be precise. But historians have also suggested that the cost of the war was so great- the country was left internally divided, a generation of men was lost on the battlefields of the Western Front and the economy was left shattered- that in 1919 Australia was a broken nation.
The Second World War was also seen as a nation building exercise, especially in the dark days of late 1941, early 1942, when invasion seemed imminent and political leaders argued that Australia’s capacity for resistance would be a measure of the strength of nationhood. But World War II proved less costly both in economic and human terms, and this time the country was not left divided by sectarian or political issues. In 1945 Australia was better prepared for growth and prosperity than at any time in its history.
How then does war shape ideas of nation and identity? Is baptism on the battlefield a prerequisite of nationhood and a sense of national identity? What are the roles of ideas and political movements in creating and shaping nation states? In 2015 the theme of History Week will focus on the history of nation building, nationalism and national identity as the products of both peaceful and violent processes, focussing on generals and politicians, constitution makers and revolutionaries.
Find out more at: www.historycouncilnsw.org.au/history-week/
Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.
ADHD-air pollution link: Breathing dirty air during pregnancy raises odds of childhood ADHD-related behavior problems
November 5, 2014 - Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, a component of air pollution, raises the odds of behavior problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, at age 9, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health. Results are published online in the journal PLOS ONE. The researchers followed 233 nonsmoking pregnant women and their children in New York City from pregnancy into childhood, and found that children born to mothers exposed to high levels of PAH during pregnancy had five times the odds of a higher-than-usual number and degree of symptoms that characterize ADHD -- specifically inattentive-type ADHD at age 9 -- compared with children whose mothers did not have high PAH exposure. The study is the first to explore the connection between prenatal PAH and ADHD in school-age children over time.
"This study suggests that exposure to PAH encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood ADHD," says lead author Frederica Perera, DrPH, PhD, director of the Center and professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School. "The findings are concerning because attention problems are known to impact school performance, social relationships, and occupational performance."
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that around 10 percent of American children ages 4 to 17 have ADHD in one of three types: inattentive ADHD, in which children have a hard time focusing and are easily distracted and disorganized; hyperactive and impulsive ADHD; or a combination of the two. Little is known about what causes ADHD, but, in addition to genes, environmental factors are known or suspected to play a role.
PAH are toxic air pollutants generated by many sources, such as traffic, residential boilers, and electricity generating plants using fossil fuel. Researchers measured levels of maternal PAH exposure using PAH-DNA adducts in maternal blood obtained at delivery. Childhood PAH exposure was measured by PAH metabolites in urine at ages 3 or 5 years. ADHD behavior problems were assessed using the Conners' Parent Rating Scale.
The current findings build on the Center's previous studies linking prenatal PAH exposure with behavioral and cognitive issues, including associations with developmental delay at age 3, reduced IQ at age 5, and symptoms of anxiety/depression and attention problems at ages 6 and 7.
The mechanism by which PAH exposure increases the likelihood of ADHD is not fully understood, but the paper lists several possibilities, including the disruption of the endocrine system, DNA damage, oxidative stress, and interference with placental growth factors resulting in decreased exchange of oxygen and nutrients.
Although more research is needed to fully understand this relationship, the researchers say these results are of concern since children with ADHD are at greater risk for risk-taking behaviors, poor academic performance, and lower earnings. Moreover, ADHD imposes large annual costs to society, estimated between $36 and $52 billion in the U.S. and to individuals, estimated to be $12,005 to $17,458.
Frederica P. Perera, Hsin-wen Chang, Deliang Tang, Emily L. Roen, Julie Herbstman, Amy Margolis, Tzu-Jung Huang, Rachel L. Miller, Shuang Wang, Virginia Rauh. Early-Life Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and ADHD Behavior Problems. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e111670 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0111670
First amphibious ichthyosaur discovered, filling evolutionary gap
November 5, 2014 – The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China by a team led by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The discovery is the first to link the dolphin-like ichthyosaur to its terrestrial ancestors, filling a gap in the fossil record. The fossil is described in a paper published in advance online Nov. 5 in the journal Nature.
The fossil represents a missing stage in the evolution of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles from the Age of Dinosaurs about 250 million years ago. Until now, there were no fossils marking their transition from land to sea.
"But now we have this fossil showing the transition," said lead author Ryosuke Motani, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. "There's nothing that prevents it from coming onto land."
Motani and his colleagues discovered the fossil in China's Anhui Province. About 248 million years old, it is from the Triassic period and measures roughly 1.5 feet long.
Unlike ichthyosaurs fully adapted to life at sea, this one had unusually large, flexible flippers that likely allowed for seal-like movement on land. It had flexible wrists, which are essential for crawling on the ground. Most ichthyosaurs have long, beak-like snouts, but the amphibious fossil shows a nose as short as that of land reptiles.
Its body also contains thicker bones than previously-described ichthyosaurs. This is in keeping with the idea that most marine reptiles who transitioned from land first became heavier, for example with thicker bones, in order to swim through rough coastal waves before entering the deep sea.
The study's implications go beyond evolutionary theory, Motani said. This animal lived about 4 million years after the worst mass extinction in Earth's history, 252 million years ago. Scientists have wondered how long it took for animals and plants to recover after such destruction, particularly since the extinction was associated with global warming.
"This was analogous to what might happen if the world gets warmer and warmer," Motani said. "How long did it take before the globe was good enough for predators like this to reappear? In that world, many things became extinct, but it started something new. These reptiles came out during this recovery."
1. Ryosuke Motani, Da-Yong Jiang, Guan-Bao Chen, Andrea Tintori, Olivier Rieppel, Cheng Ji, Jian-Dong Huang. A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13866
Picture: Fossil remains show the first amphibious ichthyosaur found in China by a team led by a UC Davis scientist. Its amphibious characteristics include large flippers and flexible wrists, essential for crawling on the ground. Credit: Ryosuke Motani/UC Davis
Anti-terror laws undermine democracy
03 November 2014 -
OPINION: October 2014 will go down as the month in which the federal Parliament made some of its greatest ever inroads into freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Ironically, this occurred only weeks after our politicians extolled the virtues of these freedoms in the debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
It is disturbing that our political leaders have moved so quickly from this to anti-terror measures that impose lengthy jail terms for journalists and others who speak about matters of public importance. It reveals a shallow adherence to freedom of speech, and an unwelcome, authoritarian streak on behalf of the government and the opposition when it comes to restricting democratic freedoms.
Most of the attention has focused on section 35P of the first anti-terrorism bill passed on October 1. This provision says: "A person commits an offence if the person discloses information and the information relates to a special intelligence operation." The penalty is jail of up to five years, or 10 years if, for example, the disclosure prejudices a special intelligence operation.
As Attorney General George Brandis has said, section 35P "applies generally to all citizens". It does not discriminate between people who seek to harm our security by revealing secret information, and journalists and whistleblowers who shine a spotlight on government wrongdoing, incompetence or even the death of an Australian citizen at the hands of an intelligence officer.
It is not easy for journalists to know whether they are complying with this law. Special intelligence operations are by their nature covert, and the information that cannot be disclosed covers these operations and anything that "relates to" them. This means that the ban extends to other, connected operations by ASIO and agencies such as the Australian Federal Police.
All this can create doubt in the mind of a journalist about whether they can publish a story. They may decide not to do so on the basis that it is better to be safe than sorry. Governments and agencies can exploit this zone of uncertainty by warning off journalists so as to prevent the publication of compromising information.
Brandis has defended section 35P by saying that it is not intended to apply to journalists. If this is the case, it is easy to fix the provision. He should sponsor an amendment that exempts the disclosure of information that is part of a media report in the public interest.
Instead, the Attorney General will direct federal prosecutors to consult with him on any charges laid against journalists. He has said that prosecutions against journalists will only proceed with his consent.
This is far from satisfactory. The scope of the law should be certain, and not subject to executive discretion. This is a basic facet of the rule of law.
Brandis has highlighted a problem, rather than solved it. Journalists must be free to report on matters of public interest without seeking the permission of the government. They should not operate under the shadow of a jail term that can only be lifted at the discretion of a minister.
In any event, Brandis' concession is a frail shield. Although he has made this commitment, will his successors? And will Brandis or future Attorneys General exercise their discretion when a media story is deeply embarrassing to them? After all, what a government may wish to see suppressed can be exactly the sort of information that the community needs to hear.
Brandis' response also assumes that the government and the media have the same concept of what journalists ought to be reporting. He has said that section 35P is directed primarily at a "Snowden" type situation. Does that mean he would refuse to shield journalists who report on such revelations?
Unfortunately, this problem is not limited to section 35P. It is one among several measures in the new anti-terror bills that compromise freedom of speech, and freedom of the press in particular. Further problems are contained in the foreign fighters bill, which was rushed through Parliament last week.
That Bill has a clause similar to section 35P that imposes jail for revealing information relating to delayed-notification search warrants. These enable the authorities to search a person's home without notifying them that this has occurred until a year or more has passed.
The bill extends ASIO's questioning and detention regime, which can subject journalists to five years jail for not revealing their sources to ASIO. Journalists can be jailed for a further five years for reporting on the operation of this regime.
Freelance journalists and documentary makers can also be imprisoned for 10 years for entering parts of the world declared by the government to be no-go zones. Jail is also imposed for revealing information about preventative detention orders, and even for certain items of news connected to the recruitment of foreign fighters.
The government is right that a very high level of secrecy is justified in many of these areas. Sensitive national security matters should not be reported routinely in the media. On the other hand, there is no evidence that this is occurring now, and no government activity should be immune from investigation and exposure.
Sometimes, the secret activities of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies must be subjected to public scrutiny. A blanket prohibition upon disclosure may be good for the government of the day, but it is dangerous for our democracy.
George Williams is the Anthony Mason Professor of Law at UNSW.
This opinion piece was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Animator receives Antarctic Arts Fellowship
Media release - 2 November 2014
Australian animator and producer Jilli Rose is the 2014 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow.
Each year, the Australian Government awards an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship to enable those with a non-science focus to experience Antarctica first-hand so they can communicate this unique experience and understanding to other Australians.
The recipient of this year's Fellowship, Jilli Rose, from Castlemaine in Victoria, will travel to Casey station in Antarctica in December, for two weeks.
Ms Rose has 18 years' experience creating animations for clients around the world, and work featuring in many major natural history museums, on television, in cinemas and film festivals.
She has won a number of national and international awards for her work, including the title sequence for the Discovery Channel series Mythbusters, and her recently released short animated documentary Sticky, about the Lord Howe Island stick insects.
Ms Rose will use her Fellowship to produce a series of science-themed short animated films, with segments created for television, film, the internet, educational apps and arts festivals.
These animations will be particularly aimed at children, using stories, imagery and emotion to encourage them to engage with science.
Ms Rose will use her experience in Antarctica, including conversations with scientists, to inform her work.
She also aims to produce a film and sketchbook documentary about the making of the animations for an adult audience, focussing on the communication between scientists and artists.
The Fellowship and its predecessor, the Antarctic Humanities program, have been running since 1985. Other previous Arts Fellows include writer Tom Griffiths, visual artists John Kelly and Stephen Eastaugh, sound artist Philip Samartzis, and children's authors Coral Tulloch and Alison Lester.
More information about the Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship is available at: http://www.antarctica.gov.au/art
UNSW tops the country in ARC funding
05 November 2014
UNSW researchers have won the highest amount of Australian Research Council funding in Australia – with $45.3 million across three funding schemes announced today.
The grants, starting in 2015, cover fields such as evolutionary biology, medicine, engineering, physics, the environment, economics, education, history, psychology, technology, mathematics and law.
The university secured:
• $31.5 million for 84 ARC Discovery Projects, the highest in dollar terms in Australia.
• 23 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) worth $8 million, which are given to the best and brightest young researchers – the equal highest number of awards in Australia.
• 12 Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grants worth $5.8 million – the highest in Australia by number and dollar amount.
Today’s announcement places UNSW as the leading Australian university for ARC funding this year with a total of $68.3 million.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Les Field welcomed the result.
“This impressive result in ARC grants recognises the calibre of research underway at UNSW. Our position as number one in the country this year is a testament to the importance and impact of the work we are doing,” he said.
“In particular, we have seen terrific results in grants for Science projects, up $5.5 million compared to last year, and Engineering projects, which are up $3.5 million.
Professor Field said that while it was pleasing that UNSW had increased its overall share of ARC funding, it was disappointing that the total size of the grant pie available to Australian researchers had shrunk this year.
Among UNSW’s successful new Discovery project grant recipients was a team led by Professor Ricardo Cavicchioli from the Faculty of Science, which received the largest grant of $835,200 over five years to provide fundamental insight into the processes that control which life forms colonise the planet.
The second largest grant went to Associate Professor Virginia Wiseman from the Faculty of Medicine, who will lead a team evaluating equity in health care financing in Cambodia. The results of the Discovery project – which received $683,700 over three years – could enable donor countries such as Australia to more effectively target aid investments to promote social and economic stability in the region.
Meanwhile, Scientia Professor Mark Bradford from the Faculty of Engineering landed $664,300 over five years to investigate the capacity of high-strength steel beams, with a view to contributing to the production of an advanced design standard.
Announcing the ARC funding, Federal Minister for Education Christopher Pyne said the Government “deeply values the need for a robust and thriving research sector that drives the future development of our industries”.
A full list of grant winners can be found on the ARC website.
THE DICTIONARY OF SYDNEY LAUNCHES GEORGES RIVER PROJECT
View on Georges River, 1947, image courtesy of SLNSW
The Dictionary of Sydney is proud to launch eighteen new online entries on the history of the Georges River on the Dictionary of Sydney website!
Funded by the Federal Government’s Your Community Heritage grant scheme, the new entries are laced with colourful characters and curious facts with stories of publicans and mill owners, encounters with sharks and cockatoos, and tragedies caused by flood.
Local historian Beverley Donaldson explores life in the internment camps at Holsworthy and Liverpool during World Wars I and II. Eminent historians Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow look at Aboriginal communities along the Georges River from the 1820s, with fascinating profiles of Biddy Giles, Lucy Leane, Gogi and Ellen Anderson. Roger Robertson and Andrew Allen follow early attempts at farming and industry; from the ill‐fated attempts of wine grower Georges Frere to the thriving oyster farms of Oatley’s Neverfail Bay. Gary Darby and Rodger Robertson examine the history of swimming baths at Sans Souci and Jew Fish Bay and Oatley Park. Catie Gilchrist traces the transformation of the Casula Powerhouse from picnic pleasure ground to industrial landscape to thriving centre for arts and culture in western Sydney. Greg Jackson, Pam Forbes and Brad Duncan took to the water in nineteenth century rivercraft to explore how the maritime landscape of the river and its tributaries sustained the transport of wheat, flour and manpower between the Woronora and Brisbane Water mills. Karen Pentland traces the lives and legacy of the many publicans who ran the now demolished Prince of Wales Hotel on Sandringham Point. Then there is the extraordinary story of ‘Cocky Bennett’, a legendary cockatoo whose long life at sea was followed by many years on the bar of the Sea Breeze Hotel at Tom Ugly’s Point entertaining locals and raising money for charity. River advocate Sharyn Cullis looks at the history of encounters between swimmers and sharks in the river from the early days of the colony, as well as examining the consequences of urbanisation alongside one of the most flood‐prone rivers in NSW.
The Georges River Project places these histories within the wider picture of Sydney’s past. Both familiar and unexpected, they enrich our understanding of Sydney as both a place and a community.
Oceans arrived early to Earth; Primitive meteorites were a likely source of water, study finds
Earth is known as the Blue Planet because of its oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the planet's surface and are home to the world's greatest diversity of life. While water is essential for life on the planet, the answers to two key questions have eluded us: where did Earth's water come from and when?
While some hypothesize that water came late to Earth, well after the planet had formed, findings from a new study led by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) significantly move back the clock for the first evidence of water on Earth and in the inner solar system.
"The answer to one of the basic questions is that our oceans were always here. We didn't get them from a late process, as was previously thought," said Adam Sarafian, the lead author of the paper published Oct. 31, 2014, in the journal Science and a MIT/WHOI Joint Program student in the Geology and Geophysics Department.
One school of thought was that planets originally formed dry, due to the high-energy, high-impact process of planet formation, and that the water came later from sources such as comets or "wet" asteroids, which are largely composed of ices and gases.
"With giant asteroids and meteors colliding, there's a lot of destruction," said Horst Marschall, a geologist at WHOI and coauthor of the paper. "Some people have argued that any water molecules that were present as the planets were forming would have evaporated or been blown off into space, and that surface water as it exists on our planet today, must have come much, much later -- hundreds of millions of years later."
The study's authors turned to another potential source of Earth's water -- carbonaceous chondrites. The most primitive known meteorites, carbonaceous chondrites, were formed in the same swirl of dust, grit, ice and gasses that gave rise to the sun some 4.6 billion years ago, well before the planets were formed.
"These primitive meteorites resemble the bulk solar system composition," said WHOI geologist and coauthor Sune Nielsen. "They have quite a lot of water in them, and have been thought of before as candidates for the origin of Earth's water."
In order to determine the source of water in planetary bodies, scientists measure the ratio between the two stable isotopes of hydrogen: deuterium and hydrogen. Different regions of the solar system are characterized by highly variable ratios of these isotopes. The study's authors knew the ratio for carbonaceous chondrites and reasoned that if they could compare that to an object that was known to crystallize while Earth was actively accreting then they could gauge when water appeared on Earth.
To test this hypothesis, the research team, which also includes Francis McCubbin from the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico and Brian Monteleone of WHOI, utilized meteorite samples provided by NASA from the asteroid 4-Vesta. The asteroid 4-Vesta, which formed in the same region of the solar system as Earth, has a surface of basaltic rock -- frozen lava. These basaltic meteorites from 4-Vesta are known as eucrites and carry a unique signature of one of the oldest hydrogen reservoirs in the solar system. Their age -- approximately 14 million years after the solar system formed -- makes them ideal for determining the source of water in the inner solar system at a time when Earth was in its main building phase. The researchers analyzed five different samples at the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility -- a state-of-the-art national facility housed at WHOI that utilizes secondary ion mass spectrometers. This is the first time hydrogen isotopes have been measured in eucrite meteorites.
The measurements show that 4-Vesta contains the same hydrogen isotopic composition as carbonaceous chondrites, which is also that of Earth. That, combined with nitrogen isotope data, points to carbonaceous chondrites as the most likely common source of water.
"The study shows that Earth's water most likely accreted at the same time as the rock. The planet formed as a wet planet with water on the surface," Marschall said.
While the findings don't preclude a late addition of water on Earth, it shows that it wasn't necessary since the right amount and composition of water was present at a very early stage.
"An implication of that is that life on our planet could have started to begin very early," added Nielsen. "Knowing that water came early to the inner solar system also means that the other inner planets could have been wet early and evolved life before they became the harsh environments they are today."
A. R. Sarafian, S. G. Nielsen, H. R. Marschall, F. M. McCubbin, B. D. Monteleone.Early accretion of water in the inner solar system from a carbonaceous chondrite-like source. Science, 2014; 346 (6209): 623 DOI:10.1126/science.1256717
Education Minister launches first Nature Partner Journal in Australia
04 November 2014 - A new scientific journal focusing on the rapidly developing areas of quantum research that promise to revolutionise the processing and transmission of information has been launched today at UNSW by the Federal Minister for Education Christopher Pyne.
npj Quantum Information http://www.nature.com/npjqi/ is an international open-access journal and the first Nature Partner Journal based in Australia.
Professor Michelle Simmons, Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at UNSW, has been appointed to the prestigious role of Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
npj Quantum Information will combine research at the forefront of quantum computing, quantum communication and quantum information theory, covering topics including optics, atomic physics, semiconductor physics, superconducting physics and computer science.
Recent advances in instrumentation mean matter can be manipulated at the smallest scales – at the level of single atoms of matter or single photons of light. Scientists predict these areas of research will bring dramatic increases in computational power, and the ability to transmit information absolutely securely.
Professor Simmons said: “The 21st century will be the quantum information century, as the properties of quantum physics are exploited to develop powerful new, secure technologies for transmitting and processing information. New commercial and intellectual opportunities are emerging for nations that are able to discover, patent and exploit technologies in these areas.”
She highlighted the importance of the open access model for scientific journals: “While discovery is converging across fields, advances are still reported in disparate journals.
npj Quantum Information aims to change that, providing an open-access home for all aspects of this rapidly developing discipline.”
“The ARC plays an important role in the global research effort – the race to develop the quantum computer could be the space race of the 21st century,” said Federal Education Minister, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, who toured the ARC Centre of Excellence laboratories at UNSW.
“Australia has a reputation for excellent research of international standing. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology is strengthening this reputation and the new Nature Partner Journal will provide an important focus on this rapidly changing and exciting area of research,” he said.
David Swinbanks, Managing Director of Macmillan Science and Education, Australia and New Zealand said: “This launch is particularly exciting because it is our first partner journal partnered with an Australian institution.
“npj Quantum Information will be open access, free immediately upon publication for anyone who wants to read it. The open access model is especially important in the field of quantum information where the research is growing rapidly but has historically been fragmented. Our hope is that open access will stimulate sharing of ideas across these communities. Additionally, it will facilitate knowledge transfer to up and coming entrepreneurial businesses that are springing up in this area,” Mr Swinbanks said.
npj Quantum Information is now accepting submissions. Professor Simmons anticipates that the journal willpublish papers from both fundamental and applied areas, which could include reports about the fundamental relationship between quantum mechanics and information, the practical steps that are being taken to realise a quantum computer, algorithms opening new pathways for quantum information processing, exquisitely sensitive quantum sensors, the development of secure quantum communications across a global scale and emerging applications of quantum entanglement such as teleportation.
Professor Simmons is a world leader in the field of quantum computing and holds an ARC Laureate Fellowship at UNSW. She has published more than 350 papers in refereed journals including Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Physics, Nature Materials and Nature Communications. In 2012, her research group developed the world’s smallest transistor, marking a technological achievement 10 years ahead of industry predictions. Her laboratory is the only one in the world able to make atomically precise devices in silicon, including the thinnest conducting wires yet produced, which are 1000 times narrower than a human hair. A member of the Australian Academy of Science since 2006, she was named NSW Scientist of the Year in 2012. In 2014, she became an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.