Inbox and Environment News Issue 252 

 February 21 - 27, 2016: Issue 252

Stakeholders Response to the publication of the RMS's Ballina Koala Plan

February 17, 2016

On Tuesday the NSW Road and Maritime Service’s (RMS) long awaited Ballina Koala Plan for Section 10 of the Pacific Highway upgrade appeared online, indicating that it had been submitted to Minister Hunt’s office for approval.

All stakeholders, including Save Ballina’s Koalas campaigners, Friends of the Koala, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), the local and indigenous community need adequate time to digest the 309-page document, including the critical population profile report which was completed months ago but not previously released to key stakeholders to review.

RMS has given a commitment to the community that the koala population will not be adversely impacted by construction of section 10. However, analysis of mortality data from Friends of Koala dating back 26 years proves that the population is already in dramatic decline, thanks to vehicle strike and domestic dog attacks. This fact is supported by the population study which also confirmed high rates of road kill.

What the government should be doing is putting in strong measures to either maintain or improve this significant population of koala which is the standard measurement for other conservation issues.’

Yet, the RMS seems to be intent on going ahead without any changes to its proposed route. This is despite previous data indicating that the current Section 10, Pacific Highway upgrade would exacerbate and increase the rate of decline towards a potential localised extinction of the Ballina 200 [the estimated remaining population of the colony].’

Lorraine Vass, President of the  Friends of the Koala said, "The plan’s sole purpose was to enable RMS to realise its decade-long investment in a route that’s in the wrong place. You only have to look at the scale of destruction, fragmentation and loss that’s already occurred at Halfway Creek and in other upgraded sections to know that Ballina’s koalas are doomed. You can’t mitigate against extinction – it’s forever."

Josey Sharrad, IFAW native wildlife campaigner says, "The Section 10 Pacific Highway Upgrade and the fate of the Ballina 200 has garnered world-wide attention and there are lots of people watching the process closely.

"Over the next few weeks all the stakeholders will be working together to closely review the plan with a view to passing on our input to the minister. "

Save Ballina’s Koalas spokesperson Jeff Johnson stated it was, "madness that the RMS ‘won’t even consider an alternative route that protects our critical koala populations and irreplaceable Aboriginal sites."

Ballina Koala Plan now available for Pacific Highway Upgrade

16 February 2016

Pacific Highway General Manager Bob Higgins today announced the Ballina Koala Plan and Population Viability Analysis (PVA) prepared for the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade has been endorsed by the Koala Expert Advisory Committee and is now available.

Mr Higgins said the plan and PVA had been submitted to the Federal Minister for the Environment and the Federal Department of the Environment for consideration and approval after months of careful research.

“As part of the conditions of approval, Roads and Maritime Services is required to complete the Ballina Koala Plan and PVA before major work can start on the section between Broadwater and Coolgardie,” he said. 

“Months of work, including a thorough review by independent experts has led to the preparation and submission of the documents.

“The PVA found extra mitigation measures on existing roads near the project would offset any impact of the upgrade on the local koala population and further proposed mitigation could improve the situation for koalas based on current predictions.

“The study found the Ballina koala population will decline with or without the upgraded highway due to disease, predators and koala deaths on roads other than the highway.

“The upgrade would be fully fenced to prevent animals from entering the road corridor and koala grids would be installed on interchange ramps to stop animal strikes from occurring.

“Additional fencing will also be provided on key sections of Wardell Road near the new highway and the existing Pacific Highway north of Wardell and Coolgardie where the risk of koala strikes is higher.

“About 26 wildlife crossings would also be installed as part of the upgrade, substantially increasing safe crossing points and about 130 hectares of koala feed trees will be planted to provide additional habitat.

“The koala feed trees will be planted early so there can be good growth before the highway opens in 2020.”

Meetings will be held with community groups to discuss the outcomes of the PVA and Ballina Koala Plan.

See the Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala page for more information.

Ballina Koala Plan January 2016 (309 pages; 13.2MB PDF)   

Title of report ' Ballina Koala Plan Koala Population Viability Analysis of the proposed Pacific Highway Upgrade near Wardell, NSW' Prepared for NSW Roads and Maritime Services January 2016 – by Niche Environment and Heritage

Shark Detection Technology Trial Off Sydney 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair has announced that a trial of the ‘Clever Buoy’ program has been deployed off Bondi Beach today. 

“This is a pre-commercial trial of new technology to detect sharks in Sydney – the testing of this sonar technology is a critically important part of the NSW Government’s $16 million Shark Management Strategy to reduce the risk of shark attacks on the state’s beaches,” Mr Blair said 

“When it comes to detecting sharks – sonar technology is the Holy Grail and the NSW Government is determined to do what it can to support getting new technologies, like Clever Buoy, off the ground.” 

Richard Talmage of Shark Mitigation Systems Ltd, the developer of Clever Buoy, said the smart ocean buoy uses new sonar technology with tailored software to detect shark-sized objects in coastal waters. 

“The Clever Buoy identifies large swimming objects, like sharks, and sends real-time valuable information to lifeguards on the beach,” Mr Talmage said. “The unit will be deployed approximately 500 metres offshore and will be trialed for an extended period to further test and confirm the system’s capabilities and information flow to Bondi lifeguards for dangerous sharks.” 

As part of the NSW Government’s $16 million shark strategy, the roll out of eight VR4G listening stations will begin with the deployment of the units on the north and mid north coasts to commence this week. They will be deployed off Coffs Harbour, Yamba and South West Rocks, Lennox Head, Kingscliff, Evans Head, Port Macquarie and Forster. Two are already situated off Sharpes Beach and Lighthouse Beach on the North Coast. An additional 10 listening will be deployed south of Forster at a later date

Draft Joint Management Agreement for the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program - Have Your Say

What's this about?

The Department of Primary Industries and the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have reviewed the 2009 Joint Management for the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) program and drafted a new agreement, which is now on public exhibition.

In accordance with the Joint Management Agreements, those agreements from 2009 have been reviewed after five years, which recommended numerous amendments to the agreements, including consolidating the two agreements into one draft agreement  and updating the Management Plan.

Before entering into a Joint Management Agreement, the Minister for Primary Industries and the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage must give the public an opportunity to make submissions on the draft agreement. All written submissions received before the closing date must be considered prior to finalising the Joint Management Agreement. The draft agreement may be amended to take into account any submissions received.

For more information visit the NSW Department of Primary IndustriesShark Meshing Page

Have your say

Submit your feedback by 5pm Thursday 31 March 2016 via email or post to:

JMA Review Submissions, NSW DPI, Locked Bag 1, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Reforms to Better Manage Our Coast

Planning Minister Rob Stokes today (13.11.2015) released draft reforms for consultation to make coastal management in NSW simpler, forward-thinking and easier to implement. 

“The NSW Government recognises the importance of our state’s saltwater economy and we want to see thriving, resilient communities living, working and playing on a healthy coast now and into the future,” Mr Stokes said. 

“We want to replace and improve on the outdated and complex web of laws managing our coast. The current Act is complex, difficult to navigate, and its one-size-fits all approach is no longer fit for purpose. 

“Since the original Coastal Protection Act was enacted in 1979 our understanding of coastal processes has improved dramatically. We know our coastline is not a fixed object, but a dynamic, ever-changing environment with a range of natural processes.” 

The reforms include:  

• A draft Bill for a new Coastal Management Act.

• Key elements of a new Coastal Management Manual.

• Proposals for a new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). 

The draft Bill redefines the coast as four distinct areas of coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests; coastal vulnerability areas; coastal environment areas and coastal use areas to identify each area’s unique management requirements. 

The manual will provide guidance to local councils and clear, step-by-step instructions to support them to manage their coast using the new Coastal Management Act. 

The new SEPP will help manage the legacy of existing coastal hazards and help plan to ensure new hazards are avoided. 

A three-month consultation period will run to ensure everyone has a chance to have their say. Go to 


Our future on the coast: NSW coastal management reforms

The public consultation package includes a draft Coastal Management Bill, an Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), and key elements of a draft coastal management manual.

Additional elements of the proposed new framework will be released later for public comment, including further components of the manual, maps of the coastal zone that will form part of the SEPP and proposals concerning the effects of coastal erosion on coastal boundaries.

Have your say

The public is invited to read the documents for consultation and provide feedback about the new approach.

Submit feedback by 29 February 2016 via consultation form or post to:

Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290 , Sydney South. NSW 1232


Would you like to know more about our local birds and explore our bushland reserves? Then join us on one of our bird walks:

28 February, Warriewood Wetlands

17 April, Deep Creek Reserve, near Narrabeen Lagoon

21 August, Chiltern Track, Ingleside (birds and wildflowers)

25 September, Irrawong Reserve, North Narrabeen

27 November, Warriewood Wetlands

Most walks start at 7.30 or 8am and last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. for details of each walk.

Bushcare in Pittwater 

January - February 2016 Pittwater Council Cooee Newsletter HERE

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                     8 - 11am 

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 

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                     3rd 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 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

Herpes outbreak, other marine viruses linked to coral bleaching event

February 11, 2016

A major coral bleaching event took place on this part of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Credit: Photo courtesy of Oregon State University

A study at Oregon State University has concluded that significant outbreaks of viruses may be associated with coral bleaching events, especially as a result of multiple environmental stresses.

One such event was documented even as it happened in a three-day period. It showed how an explosion of three viral groups, including a herpes-like virus, occurred just as corals were bleaching in one part of the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia.

The findings, reported in Frontiers in Microbiology, take on special significance as the world is now experiencing just the third incidence ever recorded of coral bleaching on a global scale, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Coral bleaching can occur when corals are exposed to stressful environmental conditions, such as warmer water, overfishing or pollution. This can cause them to expel symbiotic algae that live in their tissues and lose their color. The coral loses its major source of food and is more susceptible to disease. In severe or prolonged cases the bleaching can be lethal to the corals.

"People all over the world are concerned about long-term coral survival," said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor of microbiology in the OSU College of Science and corresponding author on the study. "This research suggests that viral infection could be an important part of the problem that until now has been undocumented, and has received very little attention."

In a natural experiment, an area of corals on the Great Barrier Reef was exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light at low tides during a period of heavy rain and high temperatures, all of which are sources of stress for the corals. At that time, viral loads in those corals exploded to levels 2-4 times higher than ever recorded in corals, and there was a significant bleaching event over just three days.

The viruses included retroviruses and megaviruses, and a type of herpes virus was particularly abundant. Herpes viruses are ancient and are found in a wide range of mammals, marine invertebrates, oysters, corals and other animals.

The findings, Vega-Thurber said, suggest that a range of stresses may have made the corals susceptible to viral attack, particularly high water temperatures such as those that can be caused by an El Nino event and global warming.

"This is bad news," Vega-Thurber said. "This bleaching event occurred in a very short period on a pristine reef. It may recover, but incidents like this are now happening more widely all around the world."

Last year, NOAA declared that the world was now experiencing its third global coral bleaching event, the last two being in 1998 and again in 2010. The current event began in the northern Pacific Ocean in 2014, moved south during 2015, and may continue into this year, NOAA officials said.

NOAA estimated that by the end of last year, almost 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs were exposed to ocean conditions that can cause corals to bleach. If corals die, there will be less shoreline protection from storms, and fewer habitats for fish and other marine life.

Viruses are abundant, normal and diverse residents of stony coral colonies, the researchers noted in their study. Viruses may become a serious threat only when their numbers reach extremely high levels, which in this case was associated with other stressful environmental conditions, scientists said.

Rebecca L. Vega Thurber et al. Viral outbreak in corals associated with an in situ bleaching event: atypical herpes-like viruses and a new megavirus infecting Symbiodinium. Frontiers in Microbiology, February 2016 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00127

Evolving coral reef conservation

15 February 2016: AIMS

Evolving coral reef conservation - Experts explore application of assisted-evolution to building resilience in corals

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), in partnership with the University of Hawai’i and the Paul Allen Family Foundation, will host a ground-breaking workshop this month. The event, “Building Coral Reef Resilience through Assisted Evolution” will bring together over 20 scientific experts in research areas relevant to (human)-assisted evolution (AE), to leverage lessons learned from biological systems other than coral reefs and provide direction to the emerging field of AE in corals.

”AE is the acceleration of naturally occurring evolutionary processes to enhance certain characteristic of organisms. In this case we aim to enhance the ability of corals to cope with climate change impacts, particularly ocean warming and acidification”, says Prof Madeleine van Oppen.

 “The methods we are using are commonly applied in agriculture, aquaculture and forestry for commercially important species, and are gaining traction in terrestrial restoration initiatives overseas. However, such approaches have not been previously explored in marine conservation”, she explains.

The three-day closed workshop will be held 23 - 25 February in Townsville and is organised by pioneering researchers Prof Madeleine van Oppen (AIMS/University of Melbourne), Dr Ruth Gates (Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology) and Dr Hollie Putnam (Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology). Participants include researchers from a range of career stages affiliated with both international and domestic universities and federal research and management organisations such as:  

State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, New York, USA

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service/Forage & Range Research Lab, Utah State University, Logan, USA

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration/Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, USA

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Additionally, a key aim of the workshop is to initiate a public discussion on AE in corals.

“Engaging in a public dialogue about the science of assisted evolution and how it can be used to enhance reef resilience is an important component of appropriately progressing research in this area,” stated Dr van Oppen.

In response, the workshop program includes a free Public Forum: “Unravelling the science behind climate-proof corals” to be held on February 24th at Rydges Southbank Convention Centre in Townsville from 5:30 – 6:30 pm. The forum will consist of four short presentations by workshop participants followed by a Q & A session with an expert panel facilitated by distinguished climate change researcher Dr Janice Lough. Event details are provided here.

 Call to environmental groups for grant applications

3 Feb 2016

The NSW Environmental Trust is calling on peak environmental groups to apply for a grant to support them in working with communities to conserve the environment as the Lead Environmental Community Groups (LECG) Grants Program opens for applications.

The Secretary of the Environmental Trust Terry Bailey said a total of $1.8 million in funding is available under the 2016 LECG Grants Program.

“This program is offering grants to support new or existing education or capacity building activities that develop the community’s knowledge and participation in protecting the environment and undertaking sustainable behaviour,” Mr Bailey said.

“The grants will deliver long-term funding to eligible groups over a three year period - 2016, 2017 and 2018 - reducing the need for applicants to apply each year.

“This Government investment aims to utilise the community reach of peak environmental organisations to develop and widen community environmental skills and knowledge and help them deliver activities that work to improve our environment.

“In the 2015 round of LECG funding, 15 projects were awarded a total of $600,000. This included grants to such organisations as Landcare NSW, Keep NSW Beautiful and WIRES to deliver a broad range of community education and engagement activities across NSW.”

The program offers grants under two funding streams for organisations of different sizes:

• Stream 1 for larger non-government organisations seeking funding between $20,000 and $80,000 each year (maximum of $240,000 in total over the 3 year funding period)

• Stream 2 for smaller groups seeking less than $20,000 each year (max $60,000 in total over 3 years).

Organisations that are eligible to apply must be a non-government, not-for-profit organisation, with a full-time presence in NSW, and have the protection and enhancement of the environment as one of their primary objectives. These organisations are usually either the peak community representative of a specific field of environmental activity across NSW or an umbrella organisation providing the full spectrum of activities expected of a peak environment organisation within NSW.

Further information and applications forms are available at Lead Environmental Community Groups Program: Call for applications. Visit: 

Applications close on Friday 11 March 2016.

Review of Cockatoo Island Management Plan - Invitation for Public Comment

February 10, 2016

Cockatoo Island’s National and Commonwealth heritage values are protected by the Cockatoo Island Management Plan, which was made in 2010 in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

In accordance with Sections 324W and 341X of the EPBC Act, the Harbour Trust is undertaking a periodic Review of the Cockatoo Island Management Plan. The public is invited to provide comments which will be considered as part of the Review.

Comments are invited on:

Whether the Cockatoo Island Management Plan is consistent with the National and Commonwealth Heritage management principles; and

The effectiveness of the Cockatoo Island Management Plan in protecting and conserving the National and Commonwealth Heritage values of the place.

It is noted that following the current Management Plan’s gazettal in 2010, Cockatoo Island was subsequently inscribed as a World Heritage place, and this will be addressed in the Review.

Comments are invited until 5pm, 8 March 2016, and should be addressed to:

Cockatoo Island Management Plan – Review

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, PO Box 607, MOSMAN NSW 2088 or by email to: 

Hard copies of the Cockatoo Island Management Plan are available during office hours at:

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust office, Building 28, Best Avenue (off Suakin Drive), Mosman; and

Cockatoo Island Visitor Centre, Building 164, Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour.

Electronic copies of the Cockatoo Island Management Plan areavailable here.

Persons with special needs (i.e. for whom English is a second language or who have vision impairment) may contact (02) 8969 2100 for assistance with accessing the documentation.

Community feedback sought for the Wilpinjong Extension Project

27.01.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A proposal to expand the Wilpinjong Coal Mine located approximately 40 kilometres northeast of Mudgee will be on exhibition from today for community feedback.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal which seeks to create a new open cut pit to the east of existing operations, extend various existing open cut pits and extend the life of the mine by seven years (to 2033). 

The project will be subject to a comprehensive merit assessment process and will include reviews by State government agencies and the Commonwealth Independent Expert Scientific

Committee. The Department of Planning and Environment will also be engaging a number of experts to provide independent advice on the project. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views. 

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback. 

Submissions we receive are taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

The Department will hold a community information session in the local area to assist residents in preparing their submissions and understanding the development assessment process.

Further details about the meeting will be provided shortly.

To make a submission or view the EIS, visit

Submissions can be made from Wednesday, 27 January 2016 until Thursday, 10 March 2016. 

Written submissions can also be made to: Department of Planning and Environment, Attn: Executive Director – Resource Assessments and Business Systems, GPO Box 39. Sydney NSW 2001

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at:

• Department of Planning and Environment, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney

• Mid-Western Regional Council, 86 Market Street, Mudgee

• Mid-Western Regional Council, 109 Herbert Street, Gulgong

• Nature Conservation Council, Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown


Direct link: 

Project Summary – retrieved from EIS:

ES3.2 PROJECT SUMMARY The main activities associated with the Project would include: • open cut mining (Plate ES-1) of ROM coal from the Ulan Coal Seam and Moolarben Coal Member in Mining Lease 1573 and in new Mining Lease Application areas in Exploration Licences 6169 and 7091; • open cut extensions (Figure ES-3), including: - approximately 500 hectares of incremental extensions to the existing open cut pits in areas of Mining Lease 1573 and Exploration Licence 6169; and - development of a new open cut pit of approximately 300 hectares in Exploration Licence 7091 (Pit 8); • continued production of up to 16 Mtpa of ROM coal; • extension of the approved mine life by approximately seven years (i.e. from approximately 2026 to 2033); • a peak operational workforce of approximately 625 people; • continued use of the approved Wilpinjong Coal Mine CHPP and general coal handling and rail loading facilities and other existing and approved supporting mine infrastructure; • rail transport of approximately 13 Mtpa of thermal product coal to domestic and export customers (within existing maximum and annual average daily rail limits); • relocation of a section of the TransGrid Wollar to Wellington 330 kilovolt electricity transmission line to facilitate mining in Pit 8; • various local infrastructure relocations to facilitate the mining extensions (e.g. realignment of Ulan-Wollar Road and associated rail level crossing, relocation of local electricity transmission lines and services); • construction and operation of additional mine access roads to service new mining facilities located in Pits 5 and 8; • construction and operation of new ancillary infrastructure in support of mining including mine infrastructure areas, ROM pads, haul roads, electricity supply, communications installations, light vehicle roads, access tracks, remote crib huts, up-catchment diversions, dams, pipelines and other water management structures; • ongoing exploration activities; and • other associated minor infrastructure, plant and activities.

NSW Container Deposit Scheme: Have Your Say

On 21 February 2015, the Premier, the Hon. Mike Baird MP, announced the implementation of a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 1 July 2017.

A container deposit scheme (CDS) uses rewards to encourage people to return their drink containers to a collection point. CDSs are a way to reward environmentally responsible behaviour, reduce drink container litter and increase recycling.

The NSW Container Deposit Scheme Discussion Paper is your opportunity to tell us what kind of CDS you would like to see in NSW.

This discussion paper has been prepared by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, on behalf of the Container Deposit Scheme Advisory Committee, appointed by the Minister for the Environment.

Have your say

Submit your feedback on the discussion paper by Friday 26 February 2016.

For more information, visit the EPA website.

Online Consultation

Date: Dec. 18, 2015 - Feb. 26, 2016Time: 10:30pm — 12:00pm

More Information or  (02) 9995 5555  Agency Website

Conservation groups withdraw from Mike Baird’s predetermined biodiversity reforms

19 February, 2016: NSW Nature Conservation Council

The Baird government’s biodiversity law reform agenda has suffered a major setback today with the state’s peak conservation groups withdrawing from top-level stakeholder consultations with the Office of Environment and Heritage, who are drafting the new laws.

The groups are now seeking direct talks with the Ministers for Environment, Planning and Primary Industries.

The groups have issued this joint statement about the withdrawal:

“We have provided detailed analysis and constructive feedback to help develop a conservation law that addresses the increasing threats to wildlife, soils and climate, but it is now clear that the government is on a course  to pursue development at high environmental cost.

“It has become clear that the broad outcomes of this process are being  predetermined by a minority of rural interests, and the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Act will fail to secure adequate protections for our wildlife, water and soils. It will also increase climate change risks by permitting the resumption of broadscale land clearing.

“We therefore refuse to legitimise a wind-back of protections for nature by participating in the current stakeholder consultations any further.”

The Baird government plans to repeal the Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Conservation Act and introduce a new conservation law this year. The groups’ analysis of the government’s proposals has concluded they would:

add extinction pressures to the state's 1000 threatened species;

threaten clean, reliable water supplies and degrade fertile farmlands through erosion and salinity;

put landmark trees and bushland in towns and suburbs at greater risk;

reduce tree coverage and undermine Australia's efforts to cut carbon pollution;

expand a flawed offsets scheme to try to recreate bushland cleared under the new laws in order to legitimize inappropriate development.

“Premier Mike Baird is putting our water, soils and climate at risk, and pushing our native animals to extinction with laws that will fast-track bushland destruction across NSW,” NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said. “Before the election, Premier Baird committed to ‘enhancing the state’s biodiversity to benefit current and future generations’. [1] Now he is buckling to the demands of big agribusiness and developers who want weaker nature protection laws to accelerate habitat destruction, the number one cause of wildlife extinctions. This legislation does not protect nature, it facilitates development.”

Total Environment Centre Director Jeff Angel said: “We are walking away from this process because it has become clear the government is focused on delivering a predetermined outcome for radicals in the National Party. We have no faith that the new system the government has been developing will protect our bushland and wildlife. We are calling on the Ministers for Environment, Planning and Primary Industries to intervene to get the reform process back on track. We are holding well attended community meetings across Sydney and along the coast and there is growing anger about the war on trees.  Without buy-in from the conservation movement, the government’s claim that its reforms will enhance environmental protection will lack all credibility.”

NSW National Parks Association CEO Kevin Evans said: “Nature in NSW is under extreme pressure, with almost 1000 species listed as threatened and bushland rapidly disappearing across the state. Without urgent action, koalas and many of our other iconic native animals will become extinct in our lifetime. This government has abandoned the building of the National Parks network, and now they are weakening biodiversity legislation across the state. They either don’t understand the crisis facing our wildlife and ecosystems or they simply don’t care. Either way, they’re out of touch. Thousands of farmers across the state are actively trying to restore habitat for native species, and these laws undermine all their good work.”

The Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders said: “The government will take conservation in NSW backwards 20 years if it implements its new conservation regime in its current form. People are fed up with the loss of precious bushland and wildlife and they are looking to Premier Baird to show leadership on this issue. He needs to stand up to radicals in his government who are driving these damaging changes.”

WWF-Australia National Manager Science, Policy and Government Partnerships Paul Toni said: “The government’s proposed new Biodiversity Conservation law takes a Disneyland view of the world. Well we are not in Disneyland. Lots of people don’t do the right thing. These new laws will allow people who don’t do the right thing to destroy our trees and bush, wildlife, water and topsoil. And pretty soon there won’t be much bush or wildlife left. If the government wants to improve the environment, which we think it does, it needs to start operating in the real world by passing legislation that stops and then reverses the destruction of bush.”

Humane Society International’s Australian Director Michael Kennedy said: “There is undeniable irony in proposed ‘biodiversity’ reforms that are set to result in weakened protections for threatened wildlife and their habitats across NSW. We engaged in the process from the outset with hopes of positive outcomes for species and ecosystems under increasing threat, however it has become apparent that the government is unwilling to negotiate on a range of elements with unacceptable consequences.”

While the groups will no longer participate in the government’s “targeted stakeholder consultation” on the reforms, they will make submissions, and support members in making submissions, to the public consultation process when that occurs.


[1] Before the 2015 NSW election, the Baird Coalition Government committed that:

“Our [biodiversity] reforms will … deliver an enhanced overall environmental outcome. … end[ing] the site by site incremental erosion of biodiversity overseen by Labor and apply consistently to all landholders … The reforms offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve landscape health, ecosystem function, land-use productivity and conservation outcomes across NSW.”

NSW Government response to biodiversity review, 26 March 2015.

Travel advice protects plants and people

17 February 2016

People travelling back home from interstate, visitors to NSW and businesses bringing fresh fruit, vegetables and plants into the state now have access to the latest online advice detailing what and how they can legally transport plant material.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has developed a comprehensive manual so travellers and businesses can easily check where and what produce they can transport.

DPI industry liaison officer, Bev Zurbo, said plant quarantine is protecting people, industry and the environment.

That lovely ficus from Queensland could harbour red imported fire ants in the soil – these pests are a threat to human health and adversely affect the environment,” Ms Zurbo said.

Your potted plant may carry diseases which could impact on our valuable fruit, vegetable and wine industries.

Seemingly innocuous leftover fruit from a camping holiday in Western Australia could be wriggling with Mediterranean fruit fly larvae – it is better to be safe than sorry and check the manual first.

Our commitment to maintaining biosecurity relies not just on government legislation, regulatory officers and inspectors – it’s up to everyone to help support our quarantine strategies.

Ms Zurbo said interstate businesses importing fresh fruit, vegetables and plants into NSW also need to meet requirements such as treating and certifying fruit, vegetables and plant material before it is permitted to be brought into NSW.

Movement of some plant material is not permitted within NSW to protect production areas of important crops including rice, potatoes and bananas.

It’s all about managing risk to ensure our valuable food production areas are kept free from unwanted pests and diseases that could devastate industry and our economy.

The manual is a ready reference for regulatory staff who frequently provide market access information and advise people travelling or moving from interstate.

The NSW Plant Quarantine Manual is now available as a quick reference to help everyone better understand what produce can be brought into or moved within NSW and under what conditions this can occur.

Planning Assessment Commission to make final decision on modifications at Moolarben

15.02.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

The independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will make the final decision on two modification requests to the Moolarben Coal Mine about 40 kilometres northeast of Mudgee.

The Department of Planning and Environment has completed its assessment and has recommended that the PAC approve the applications. 

Moolarben Coal Operations is seeking permission to increase the size of longwall panels, extract an additional 3.7 million tonnes of coal and increase production at the mine from 14 to 18 million tonnes of coal a year. 

The Department placed the proposals on public exhibition for feedback in July last year and received 46 submissions, including seven from government agencies, eight from special interest groups and 31 from the community. 

Submissions focused on concerns about the cumulative impacts of mining associated with clearing of native woodland, dust and noise from coal trains, and impacts on water resources, especially the Goulburn River. 

The Department concluded that there would be limited change to the impacts of the approved mining operations, and any residual impacts could be effectively managed by ensuring compliance with the existing approvals. 

These approvals contain strict conditions for managing dust, noise, water and subsidence impacts. 

The PAC will now consider the Department’s assessment and community feedback and will hold a public meeting before making a final decision on the proposal.

“The Planning Assessment Commission is an important part of the NSW Planning system, ensuring that major developments are subject to expert, independent review and assessment.”

The Final Assessment can be found

Have your say on 

Proposal to convert oil at a facility in Rutherford

16.02.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

A modification request to enable the conversion of oils at the Cleanaway Waste Oil Processing Facility in Rutherford will be on exhibition from today for community feedback. 

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal which seeks to make additions to the existing facility to convert oil from Grade I to the higher quality Grade II by:

• installing a new Oil Polishing System

• installing a new multi-fuel burner to the existing Low Pressure Steam Boiler

• installing six new tanks

• increasing existing firefighting capabilities

• increasing the height of a fuel burner stack from eight metres to 14 metres.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

“Community consultation is an integral part of the planning process and the applicant will have to respond to the feedback we receive,” the spokesperson said

“This feedback is taken into consideration when we develop our recommendations.

“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

To make a submission or view the application, visit

Submissions can be made from Tuesday, 16 February 2016 until Tuesday, 1 March 2016. 

Written submissions can also be made to:

Department of Planning and Environment, Attn: A/ Director – Modification Assessments, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001

Direct link : 

Woodlawn Mine Modification 1

Proposed Modification to Project Approval 07 0143 For the Relocation of the Underground Mine Entry

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is available

Assessment Type Part3AMod

Project Type Mining, Petroleum & Extraction > Mining > Metals

Exhibition Start 17/02/2016

Exhibition End 03/03/2016

Direct Link:

Public invited to review Kosciuszko's carrying capacity

Media release: 17 February 2016

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is exploring ways to manage the environmental carrying capacity of Kosciuszko National Park's alpine resorts and is encouraging the community to have their say.

Mick Pettit, NPWS Regional Manager, said this timely review will look at the best ways to ensure the economic and social benefits continue to flow from visitation to the resorts without compromising the environment.

“Up until now the carrying capacity of the resorts has been guided by bed numbers and while they are an easily understood means to limit the number of people and their impacts in an area, sustainable visitation and environmental management needs a multifaceted approach,” said Mr Pettit.

“The review delivers on actions in the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management that recognises that bed numbers alone don't comprehensively reflect the environmental footprint of the resorts and their visitors.

“NPWS want to work with the community to develop a new way to manage environmental carrying capacity, one that may include thresholds for a range of parameters such as water quality, habitat condition, soil health and the quality of the visitor experience.

“The review commences this month and will initially involve scoping the views of the community, before moving to Stage 2 when a carrying capacity framework will be prepared for comment.

“The review will also take into consideration the impact of increasing summer tourism and day visitors, which are not adequately addressed under the existing carrying capacity limits.

“The unique economic and cultural values of the area require a robust framework that will sustainably manage the impacts of park visitors on the environment now and into the future,” Mr Pettit said.

Stage one of the review marks the release of a discussion paper.

“I invite all interested parties to participate in the review, to discuss and provide comment on alternative methods and approaches for establishing carrying capacity,” said Mr Pettit.

Further information on the review and how to have your say can be found at:

Kosciuszko National Park draft cycling strategy – public consultation

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is seeking comments on its draft cycling strategy for Kosciuszko National Park.

The draft strategy sets out  the objectives, vision and recommended actions for the future of cycling within the park, which includes road cycling and mountain biking.

There has been a significant increase in the popularity of cycling across Australia with Kosciuszko National Park becoming a leading cycling destination with outstanding cycling experiences and facilities available within the park and the surrounding area.

NPWS recognises the increasing demand for access and cycling in Kosciuszko National Park and hopes to increase visitation by providing high quality cycling experiences while ensuring that the natural and cultural heritage values of the park are protected. 

The draft strategy has been prepared with a round of community consultation and input from stakeholder groups including shire councils, resort operators, commercial tour operators and cycle clubs.

• Kosciuszko National Park Cycling Strategy: Consultation draft (PDF 2.5MB)

Related material:

• Kosciuszko National Park Overview map (JPG 7.6MB)

• Kosciuszko National Park Zoning Scheme map (JPG 2.5MB).

The community is invited to make a submission on the draft strategy with submissions closing on 15 March 2016.

Provide your comments in the following ways:

• by emailing

• by posting your submission to Project Manager, Kosciuszko National Park – Draft Cycling Strategy, PO Box 2228, Jindabyne NSW 2627

• by filling out the form below.


Government secures 38 hectares of endangered Mulgoa bushland for Cumberland Conservation Corridor

Joint Media Release: 16 February 2016 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment and Fiona Scott MP, Federal Member for Lindsay

The Australian Government has secured more than 38 hectares of endangered Mulgoa bushland as part of its commitment to establish a Cumberland Conservation Corridor in Greater Western Sydney.

The Mulgoa Road property will create an important link between the Cumberland Plains Woodland and Mulgoa Creek to help boost the resilience of critically endangered ecosystems.

“It is vital that we continue to protect our native bushland and create green corridors for the long-term survival of our native plants and animals, and to preserve urban green spaces in Western Sydney for future generations,” Minister Hunt said.

“The Mulgoa Road property contains intact native vegetation, including Shale Gravel Transition Forest (Cumberland Plain Woodland) which is listed as critically endangered under national environment law. The property also includes state listed threatened habitat and vulnerable species.”

“This announcement is part of the Government's commitment to restore or protect approximately 700 hectares of Cumberland Plains woodlands through future land covenants, land acquisition and activities under the Green Army and the 20 Million Trees Programme.”

“The Australian Government is delivering on its $15 million election commitment to establish a Cumberland Conservation Corridor through three actions.”

“First, applications have been opened for grants to plant one million trees and rehabilitate 400 hectares within the Cumberland Conservation Corridor as part of the 20 Million Trees Programme.”

“Second, fifteen Green Army teams will restore over 250 hectares of habitat in the Cumberland Conservation Corridor.”

“Third, the remaining part of the 700 hectares will be placed under conservation covenants through Commonwealth purchases and this land will be held in public hands forever. Today's announcement brings this goal one step closer.”

“I particularly want to thank Fiona Scott for her leadership, along with Wayne Olling and Lisa Harrold.”

Federal Member for Lindsay, Fiona Scott MP, said the Mulgoa Road property will make a significant contribution to conservation efforts in the Cumberland Plain Woodlands.

“The local community and I have a deep personal connection to this land. Preserving green urban spaces is an important step in connecting communities with the environment and making our growing cities more livable,” Ms Scott said.

The land will be managed by the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW and the Cumberland Land Conservancy.

This funding is part of a $15 million commitment over three years to protect the Cumberland Conservation Corridor under the National Landcare Programme and Green Army Programme.

More information is available is available online

The University of Melbourne working with the CEFC to accelerate clean energy goals

15 February, 2016

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is lending up to $9.1 million to the University of Melbourne to finance emissions and cost-saving initiatives that will reduce the University’s energy bills, while increasing productivity and sustainability.

CEFC Executive Director – Corporate and Project Finance, Paul McCartney, said the CEFC’s finance will enable the University of Melbourne to accelerate its implementation of innovative energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, including voltage optimisation, freezer upgrades, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal and micro-turbines. The University expects these to reduce its grid electricity use by some eight per cent, and deliver carbon emissions abatement of over 9,000 tonnes per year upon project completion.

“Australia’s 39 universities make a major contribution to the national economy and to the Australian community,” Mr McCartney said. “Yet they face the ongoing challenges of public budget restraint, intensifying global competition and the need to use cutting edge technologies to meet increasing student expectations.

“Clean energy installations like those being undertaken by the University of Melbourne can help universities meet these challenges through an investment that results in reduced environmental impact, higher productivity and stronger financial performance.”

The University of Melbourne, with some 47,000 students, has the energy requirements of a town the size of Warrnambool. This highlights the significance of its commitment in seeking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The University is one of the leading universities across the sector working to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, cut use of energy, and adopt more renewable and sustainable energy sources as it develops its campuses for a sustainable future.

University Vice-Principal, Administration & Finance, and Chief Financial Officer, Allan Tait, said the technologies being installed would provide a practical demonstration of the University’s strengthening commitment to sustainability.

“As a public-spirited university, Melbourne is committed to promoting sustainability through our operations, as well as in our research and education programs, particularly as the University has an obligation to show leadership in critical global issues such as those relating to climate change and sustainability,” Mr Tait said. “We are taking significant steps to reduce our environmental impact with the aim to move to zero emissions electricity and ultimately achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”

As part of its Investment Mandate, the CEFC has a  focus on financing emerging and innovative renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency for cities and the built environment.

Mr McCartney said universities consume significant amounts of energy in the delivery of their services to students and their communities, through operating large campuses and facilities, as well research facilities.

“The CEFC is looking to work on similar innovative projects with other Australian universities to help them achieve increased sustainability through energy efficient and renewable technologies that reduce energy costs,” Mr McCartney said. “The CEFC’s finance can be structured over a longer term than traditionally offered by banks, tailored to match the cost savings delivered through the reduction in grid energy usage.”

Mr McCartney said around half of the energy consumption on a typical university campus is directly related to heating, ventilation and air conditioning requirements, with about one third relating to equipment and almost 20 per cent relating to lighting.

“These are all areas where the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficient equipment can really drive down energy usage and therefore significantly reduce energy emissions and costs. We see enormous potential for this important economic sector to increase its productivity and economic impact while reducing emissions through the introduction of clean energy technology.” 


The University of Melbourne was established in 1853 and is regarded as one of Australia’s leading research institutions.  It is a research-intensive comprehensive institution of 47,000 students, ranked by the Times Higher Education Supplement as first in Australia and number 33 in the world. The University’s Sustainability Plan for 2016-20 will set pathways for the University’s longer term sustainability objectives, including a transition to zero emissions electricity over coming years and to carbon neutrality by 2030. Since 2006 the university has implemented an environmental sustainability strategy for its operation that has so far reduced energy usage per floor area by around 24 per cent. A key focus will be on further energy reduction and transitioning its energy supply to renewable energy sources. 

Residential battery storage in Australia gets big boost

10 February 2016: ARENA Media Release

A USD $36.5 million investment in Sunverge Energy’s world-leading technology is set to advance the uptake of residential energy storage in Australia.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the new round of financing included a USD $20 million commitment from AGL Energy Limited (AGL) and was a clear signal of confidence in Sunverge’s smart storage systems.

“This USD $20 million commitment from AGL will see one of Australia’s largest energy companies join other investors – ARENA, SBCVC, Siemens Venture Capital and Total Energy Ventures – to bring new residential storage technology to the Australian market,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This new investment will build on more than USD $7 million that ARENA and SBCVC have already invested through the Southern Cross Renewable Energy (SXRE) Fund to help Sunverge establish operations in Australia and overcome barriers to the widespread deployment of storage systems.”

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA and SBCVC had first invested in Sunverge Energy through the SXRE Fund in 2014 and had played a critical role in the success of Sunverge Australia.

“The company has continued to grow and this latest success will allow it to employ more staff in Australia and explore options for locally manufacturing its systems in the future,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Residential battery storage is currently in its infancy in Australia. While only a small number of systems are currently installed, there is a lot of interest in the technology.

“The partnership between AGL and Sunverge will accelerate the roll out of a state-of-the art grid integrated battery storage solution to Australia’s large household storage market.

“As storage becomes more commonplace in Australian homes, we expect to see energy retailers firm up business models for selling new products and work through some of the regulatory constraints facing Australia’s emerging storage market.

“Solving these challenges will ultimately allow consumers to get more value from their rooftop solar systems and increase the supply of renewable solar power in our electricity networks, contributing to grid stability and reducing peak load stress.”

Sunverge’s Solar Integration System combines advanced lithium batteries with a sophisticated control platform that allows power flows to and from the grid to be controlled as part of a Virtual Power Plant.

 K-Axis voyage reaches half-way point

Pulling the Rectangular Midwater Trawl net in behind the ship. (Photo: Christina Schallenberg) 

17th February 2016

Krill are spawning and the ocean is teeming with life as scientists on the Aurora Australis complete the first half of their program aboard the Kerguelen Axis Marine Science voyage.

The ship has reached the location known as the Kerguelen Axis, known to be a highly productive region for polar plants and animals, and valuable toothfish, icefish and krill fisheries. Scientists are seeing a remarkable diversity of fauna including birds, many pods of humpback whales, minke whales, crabeater seals and Adelie penguins. Fur seals have also been spotted, likely from Heard and Kerguelen Islands, which was gratifying for scientists who had tracked them to this area in a 2004 study.

The Science Technical Support team orchestrated a historic moment for the Aurora Australis' capability, switching on live feeds from two video cameras mounted on a Rectangular Midwater Trawl (RMT) net at 200 metres depth. The video feed makes it possible for the crew to see how the net is flying through the water in real time, and the fibre optic cable also transmits conductivity, temperature and depth information as it goes. There are many applications for this technology including the ability to see if the net is functioning correctly, what’s going in and whether certain creatures are actively avoiding it.

The RMT net was deployed to sample an enormous krill swarm on one of the scientific stations. The acoustic instruments on board have detected many small swarms but the biggest observed to date left the net dripping with krill, allowing the team to collect buckets of live krill for experiments on board. Many females carrying fertilised eggs have now begun to spawn in the on-board laboratory. The eggs will be used in an experiment to test how ocean acidification affects their development.

An interesting transect took the ship from east to west on the southern foothills of the Kerguelen Plateau. In terms of scale, the submarine Kerguelen Plateau is a similar size to the Tibetan Plateau, rising from 3500 metres depth to 1000 metres depth with many canyons and ravines fracturing its margins.

Scientists saw a clear separation of the eastern and western areas, delineated by an amazing blue water strip, in which they found very little algae. Satellite data shows that the blue water seemed to be part of a 'jet' of water forging north from the Antarctic continent to the east side of the plateau.

This phenomenon was first analysed by Australian scientists in 2008 from satellite sea ice data, and it was great to see it in action. The catch from this area will be keenly analysed to see if there is a separation in the types of plants and animals found on either side of the jet.

The source of iron to areas of production is one of the important questions of the voyage, and it is thought this jet may also be an important conveyor of iron from the continental margin to the areas of algal growth and production further north. Iron is in short supply in the Southern Ocean and controls the growth and productivity of algae.

A change of focus is imminent, as preparations for the Mawson resupply ramp up. Watercraft operators, refuellers and plant operators are putting aside their newly developed skills in marine science to finalise plans for resupply. A busy schedule of cargo and refuelling operations will begin later this week when the Aurora Australis pulls up into Horseshoe Harbour.

More information

Kerguelen Axis Marine Science Voyage Blog  

Australian Childhood Exposure to Environmental Lead Linked to Aggressive Behaviours and Death by Assault

17 February 2016: Macquarie University Media Release

Australian children who are exposed to higher levels of environmental lead are more likely in early adulthood to show increased aggressive behaviour and commit an assault that results in death, a new study led by Macquarie University researchers has found.

Lead exposure is known to increase impulsivity, and crimes of aggression are typically related to impulsive actions. In this study, the first of its kind in Australia, the researchers investigated these relationships in Australian communities at suburb, state and national level.

To look at how air lead exposure levels in Australia during childhood were related to rates of assault 15-24 years later, the researchers first adjusted for socio-demographic factors that are also known to affect criminal behaviours, such as age, secondary school completion, and household income. They then compared the results among six NSW suburbs and found that environmental lead level exposure during childhood was actually the strongest predictor of assault rates later in life.

“When comparing results between suburbs in New South Wales we found that for every additional microgram of lead in the air, assault rates 21 years later rose by 163 assaults per 100,000 persons,” lead author Professor Mark Taylor explained.

“The analysis revealed that after taking into account relevant socio-demographic variables, concentrations of lead in the air accounted for 29.8% of the variance in assault rates that we see 21 years after childhood exposure.”

At the state level, the results were echoed in New South Wales and Victoria, the states with the largest populations, highest population densities and petrol lead emissions. In these states, 34.6% and 32.6% of the variance in the rates of death by assault 18 years after exposure were revealed, respectively.

“While the correlation is weaker at state and national levels, there is still an observable correlation in the rate of assault. Overall, the data shows that at the more detailed suburb level, these relationships are very strong and are highly consistent even across different lead sources, social and demographic communities, and also timeframes,” said Professor Taylor.

When the researchers compared the suburb results to the link between lead exposure and fraud, a non-impulsive and non-aggressive form of crime, they observed that only 5.5% of the variance in assault rates 15 years after exposure was due to this form of offence.

“The results indicate that measures need to be taken to lessen exposure to lead in areas where environmental air levels remains high, so as to avoid any long-term neurodevelopmental consequences,” Professor Taylor concluded.

Taylor, Mark P; Forbes, Miriam K; Opeskin, Brian; Parr, Nick; Lanphear, Bruce P. The relationship between atmospheric lead emissions and aggressive crime: an ecological study .Environmental Health. February 2016.

Australia’s Population reaches 24 million

15 February 2016 : Australian Bureau of Statistics Media Release

Australia's population will reach 24 million, at about 12:50am (AEDT) tomorrow (16 February 2016), according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) population clock.

"The population clock is an indication of the current population, based on a projection calculated using births and deaths data (from the ABS) and migration figures (from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection)," said ABS Director of Demography, Beidar Cho.

"We do not know who the 24 millionth Australian is: it could be a newborn or a migrant.” 

Journey to 24 million

How did Australia reach 24 million? 

At Federation in 1901, Australia's population was 3.7 million. From then, it took Australia 58 years to reach a population of 10 million. 

By 1964, the population was increasing by a million every 4-5 years. 

Since reaching 20 million in late 2003, there have been around three years between each million person increase, with the population reaching 21 million in 2007, 22 million in 2010 and 23 million in 2013.

Since 2006, net overseas migration has been the driver of Australia's annual population growth. This peaked in 2009, with 66 per cent of our growth being attributed to migration. Our most recent data (June 2015) indicates net overseas migration contributing 53 per cent to Australia's total growth, with the remaining 47 per cent due to natural increase. 

State by state

Where do the 24 million people live? 

In 1901, only two states had a population of over one million people: New South Wales (1.4 million), and Victoria (1.2 million people). 

By 1968, Queensland and South Australia also had over a million people (1.7 million and 1.1 million respectively), whilst New South Wales and Victoria had reached 4.4 million and 3.3 million respectively.

Western Australia experienced high growth from the 1970s, overtaking South Australia's population in 1982 and reaching a population of 2 million in 2005. 

In 2015, New South Wales remained the state with the largest population (7.6 million), followed by Victoria (5.9 million). Greater Sydney made up 64 per cent of New South Wales’ population and Melbourne 76 per cent of Victoria’s. 

Population composition

What does 24 million people look like? 

The structure of Australia's population has changed significantly between the 1970s and today. In 1971, 28.7 per cent of the population were children (0-14 years), 63 per cent were working age (15-64 years) and 8.3 per cent of the population were aged 65+. There were 2.9 children born per woman, the median age of the population was 27.5 years and life expectancy was 68.3 years for males and 74.8 years for females. 20.2 per cent of the population was born overseas.

In 2015. 18.8 per cent of the population were children, 66.2 per cent were working age and 15 per cent were aged 65+. There were 1.8 children born per woman, the median age of the population was 37.4 years and life expectancy was 80.3 years for males and 84.4 years for females. 28.1 per cent of the population was born overseas. 

International comparisons

How does Australia's population compare with other countries? 

The world population reached 7.3 billion in 2015. China and India are the most populated countries, each with a population of more than 1 billion. 

Looking at Australia's close neighbours, New Zealand's population was 4.5 million in 2015, while Indonesia had a population of over 250 million. 

While Taiwan's land size is smaller than Tasmania's, they had a similar population to Australia with 23.5 million in 2014. 

A number of megacities in the world have reached the 24 million milestone before Australia. In 2015, Shanghai had a population of 24 million and the Greater Tokyo had a population of approximately 37 million.

For population estimates at the regional level, please see Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2013-14 (cat. no. 3218.0) and Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 3235.0), available for free download from

Better water management could halve the global food gap

February 15, 2016

Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.

"Smart water use can boost agricultural production -- we've in fact been surprised to see such sizeable effects at the global level," says lead-author Jonas Jägermeyr from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. In a water management scenario the scientists call ambitious, global kilocalorie production could rise by 40 percent, while according to UN estimates roughly 80 percent would be needed to eradicate hunger by the middle of this century. But even in less ambitious scenarios, results show that integrated crop water management could make a crucial contribution to filling the plates of the poor, says Jägermeyr. "It turns out that crop water management is a largely underrated approach to reduce undernourishment and increase climate resilience of smallholders."

Large yield increase potential in China, Mexico, Australia

The scientists have run comprehensive biophysical computer simulations, constraining these in such a way that croplands do not expand into forests and no additional water resources are needed. As it is a global study, it provides detailed vegetation dynamics and water use effects in river basins -- certainly too coarse to simulate farm-level conditions but suited to identify regional hotspots. For example, the yield increase potential of crop water management is found to be particularly large in water-scarce regions such as in China, Australia, the western US, Mexico, and South Africa.

"Assessing the potential is tricky: If upstream farmers reroute otherwise wasted water to increase irrigation and production, less water returns to downstream users and consequently this can affect their production," says co-author and team leader Dieter Gerten. "Below the line, we found that the overall production increases. Still, this of course poses quite some distributional challenges. Also, a lot of local government regulation and incentives such as-micro credit schemes are needed to put crop water management into large-scale practice."

Mulching and drip systems to counter climate change impacts

The scientists took into account a number of very different concrete water management options, from low-tech solutions for smallholders to the industrial scale. Water harvesting by collecting excess rain run-off for instance in cisterns -- for supplementary irrigation during dry spells -- is a common traditional approach in some regions such as the Sahel region in Africa, but is under-used in many other semi-arid regions such as Asia and North America. Mulching is another option -- the soil gets covered either simply with crop residues left on the field, reducing evaporation, or with huge plastic sheets. Finally, a major contribution to the global potential is upgrading irrigation to drip systems.

It is especially under ongoing climate change that water management becomes increasingly important to reduce food risks. The reason is that global warming is likely to increase droughts and change rainfall patterns, so water availability becomes even more critical than before. Assuming a moderate CO2 fertilization effect -- plants take up CO2 and could hence benefit from higher concentrations in the air, but the magnitude of this effect is still under debate -, the study shows that in most climate policy scenarios water management can counterbalance a large part of the regional warming impacts on farming. Yet if greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are not reduced at all, in a business-as-usual scenario, water management will clearly not suffice to outweigh the negative climate effects.

Given the planetary boundaries, decision-makers should look into water use

"Water management is key for tackling the greater sustainability challenge," says Wolfgang Lucht, co-author of the study and co-chair of PIK's research domain Earth System Analysis. "It has been an issue in many local and regional studies and its effects on farm level have been well demonstrated, but on the global level it has been somewhat neglected. The renewed Sustainable Development Goals -- while stipulating sustainable agriculture among all nations -- need to be based on more evidence on how to achieve it; they do not focus on water use very much. Since we're rapidly approaching planetary boundaries, our study should indeed draw the attention of decision-makers of all levels to the potential of integrated crop water management."

J Jägermeyr, D Gerten, S Schaphoff, J Heinke, W Lucht, J Rockström. Integrated crop water management might sustainably halve the global food gap. Environmental Research Letters, 2016; 11 (2): 025002 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/2/025002

Gene technology to help healthy skin in Aboriginal Australians

February 12, 2016

Australian researchers have used cutting-edge genome technologies to reveal the genetic makeup of a widespread skin parasite causing serious health problems in Aboriginal communities.

The research team identified the genetic 'map' of the human parasitic scabies mite, accelerating research that could lead to new ways of preventing and treating scabies infestations and prevent lifelong complications for people in remote Aboriginal communities.

Scabies is a contagious and extremely itchy skin infestation caused by scabies mites. Scabies is rife in many remote Aboriginal communities in Australia, affecting one in two children and one in four adults each year.

Scabies infestations often become infected, causing serious -- even lifelong or fatal -- complications, such as bacterial blood infections (sepsis), and are associated with serious kidney and heart diseases.

The research was led by Associate Professor Tony Papenfuss from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Dr Katja Fischer from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland, and was published today in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Genomic technologies are critical for finding ways to prevent and control scabies, Associate Professor Papenfuss said. "A shocking seven out of ten children in remote Aboriginal communities will contract scabies before they reach one year of age," he said.

Scabies wounds often become infected by Group A streptococcus bacteria, which can cause rheumatic fever, acute kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. These infections have dramatic effects on life quality and expectancy.

"Genomic technologies have revolutionised how we treat many diseases, such as cancer," Associate Professor Papenfuss said. "We are excited that we can now apply these technologies to tackle a major, yet neglected, health problem in Indigenous Australians."

To get the first insight into the genetic makeup of scabies mites, the team analysed DNA from the cellular 'energy factories' called mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA evolves slowly compared with other types of DNA, making it useful for examining the relatedness of different parasite strains.

Dr Fischer said the team compared DNA sequences from human scabies mites with those from domestic pigs, which commonly have scabies. "One of the unexpected things we found was that one patient was infected with mites that were genetically more similar to pig mites than to human mites," she said. "This suggests it may be possible for certain animal strains of mites to infect humans, which we did not previously know was possible. If subsequent studies confirm this finding, it could have major implications for disease control programs."

Prior to this study, little was known about the genetic makeup of the scabies mite. Understanding the genetic makeup of the scabies mite would help identify how it becomes resistant to certain drugs and could suggest new strategies for development of novel therapeutics.

Associate Professor Papenfuss said that analysing the scabies mite was a challenge due to their tiny size. "We analysed thousands of mites to get sufficient DNA for sequencing and developed bespoke analysis methods to overcome DNA contamination from the host animal and bacteria in the wound."

Ehtesham Mofiz, Torsten Seemann, Melanie Bahlo, Deborah Holt, Bart J. Currie, Katja Fischer, Anthony T. Papenfuss. Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Scabies Mite Provides Insight into the Genetic Diversity of Individual Scabies Infections. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2016; 10 (2): e0004384 DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0004384

Gravitational waves: A three minute guide

Nature Video: February 2016

It's almost exactly a century since Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves. In this Nature Video we find out what they are, and how scientists are searching for them, in an attempt to prove Einstein right.

Aussie innovation helps hunt down gravitational waves

12 FEBRUARY 2016

The discovery, announced today in Washington, was made by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the USA, which comprises two giant detectors that are four kilometres long and 4000 kilometres apart, housing the most sensitive equipment ever made.

Scientists from Australian universities and CSIRO are celebrating their part in the discovery of the waves, which were predicted by Einstein 100 years ago and open a new window into the cosmos.

In order to aid the hunt for gravitational waves, LIGO recently received $200 million worth of upgrades. One of the major components of this was the installation of ultra-high-performance optical mirrors, many of which were coated by researchers from CSIRO.

According to Dr Cathy Foley, Science Director of CSIRO Manufacturing, the upgrade of the LIGO detectors increased the sensitivity of the system by around tenfold.

"Through the use of interferometry, which is the merging of two sources of light, LIGO is designed to measure changes between the two arms of each detector. The two giant detectors, which are located on opposite sides of the US, are then compared to confirm the findings," Dr Foley said.

"The interferometer system includes a series of mirrors which are coated with multiple, precisely-controlled layers of optical materials to give the required reflective properties, and lastly a top layer of gold, designed for thermal shielding.

"The coatings, which were developed and applied at CSIRO, are among the most uniform and precise ever made.

"This precision ensures that LIGO's laser remains clean and stable as it travels through the detectors.

"We really are world leaders in this area, and are thrilled to play a part in this discovery," she said.

Predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, scientists have long suspected gravitational waves were real, however this is the first piece of direct evidence that proves they exist.

Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole.

According to Dr Simon Johnston, Head of Astrophysics at CSIRO, this is an immensely important discovery for physics and astronomy.

"Gravitational waves exert a powerful appeal. Back in 1915 Einstein proposed that space-time is a four-dimensional fabric that can be pushed or pulled as objects move through it.

"If you run your hand through a still pool of water waves will follow in its path, spreading throughout the pool.

"Now that we've caught these waves, we can use them to see the Universe in entirely different ways to what was previously possible."

The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

The Australian Partnership in Advanced LIGO was led by Australian National University. Scientists from CSIRO, the University of Adelaide, The University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, Monash University and Charles Sturt University, also contributed to the discovery.

Photo: LIGO optics coated by CSIRO.

Boats gifted to AC Endeavour kids

Oracle Racing Team: February 2016

ORACLE TEAM USA has teamed up with AC Endeavour to get 15 Optimist dinghies into the hands of recent Endeavour 'graduates'. The Optimists were old and disused boats, donated by the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club in Bermuda, and restored to 'as new' condition by ORACLE TEAM USA boatbuilders. While 15 boats have been recycled to date, hopefully this is just the start and more yacht clubs and sailing programs around the world take on this kind of recycling project to get more kids out on the water.

Crowdsourcing research assistants;Citizen Science Project Ideas Needed for 2016 Science Week

15 February 2016: Media Release

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced a $930,000 funding package to get more people of all ages and background to become more involved in science and research.

A call for project submissions from Australian scientists for the National Science Week ABC Citizen Science project 2016 was announced during a visit to the Innovation Factory – Invent and Play travelling exhibition at the University of South Australia.

The ABC Citizen Science Project will be run as part of National Science Week as an Australia-wide science experiment.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce this funding building on the contribution that citizen science activities can make to getting people of all ages and backgrounds more involved in science,” Mr Pyne said.

“The 2016 Citizen Science project will enable any Australian with a computer and internet connection to help scientists and researchers with interesting small tasks like processing hundreds of thousands of photos or observations, or completing surveys, that would otherwise take a research assistant many months or even years.”

Project ideas should involve a simple process task that can be done by anyone who is 15 years and over with access to a computer and internet. These tasks or data should feed into a genuine scientific research project with clear aims and outcomes.

Last year’s Citizen Science project, Galaxy Explorer, saw 18,000 Australians assist with the classification of 995,000 images of galaxies for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Western Australia.

The $930,000 Citizen Science package comprises the online Citizen Science project, and two Australian Museum initiatives – the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science, and the new Australian Citizen Science Association.

“Funding to the Australian Museum will also acknowledge and grow the work that is already being done within our country to encourage more people to see and engage with the science around them,” Mr Pyne said.

During his visit, Mr Pyne presented Playford International College student Kit Saisaard with a Raytheon Scholarship recognising his high achievement and motivation in STEM studies at the college in Elizabeth.

The Innovation Factory exhibition, developed by Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre, with support from its major partner, Raytheon, enabled students to bring their ideas to life through the use of basic machinery.

“This is the first interactive science exhibition the University has hosted at our City West campus but when our new Science, Creativity and Education (SciCEd) gallery is completed, we will be hosting regular exhibitions that foster public engagement with science and innovation,” Professor David Lloyd, Vice Chancellor and President of UniSA said.

The exhibition was a hit with visitors during its three-month stint at UniSA, with almost 4,000 people filing through the doors since it opened in mid-December 2015.

Find out more at: 


Do you have an idea for an online citizen science project?

We’re looking for a great new idea for the 2016 National Science Week citizen science project. The chosen project will be built and produced by the ABC and promoted across their TV, radio and online channels.

If you are a scientist working in Australia and have a citizen science idea that suits the criteria below then we’d like to hear from you. It’s a great way to get help with your research – the last project, Galaxy Explorer, received the equivalent to a research assistant working for 13 years.

Selection criteria

• Must be a citizen science project that can be done entirely online (no field work).

• Is part of a scientific research project with clear aims and outcomes.

• Is of wide general appeal and not restricted to a small interest group or a small geographical area.

• Can be undertaken by non-science-trained people from around 8 years and older. The skills needed should be able to be taught through an online tutorial.

Project Timing

The project can run for approximately six weeks from August 1, 2016.

Register your interest

Please send us an email that covers the following details:

• Your name, position and institution.

• Your idea – a brief synopsis of the idea, including why this research is interesting and important; the questions it hopes to answers; and how the citizen scientists might be involved in providing or processing data for your research.

Please email your ideas to Kylie Andrews, Citizen science project producer at ABC Science Online, on

Application Due Date

We’d like to receive ideas by 15 March, 2016.

NLA Makes Digital History  

17 February, 2016

Tom Keneally at Napoleon's house St Helena

Today Tom Keneally attained a rather different honour: his latest novel Napoleon’s Last Island became the first ebook to be collected by the National Library of Australia.

The historical novel, which tells the story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on the island of St Helena through the eyes of 13-year-old Betsy Balcombe, made its own history when it was received as the first ebook collected under Australia’s new legal deposit legislation.

The new amendments to the Copyright Act allow the NLA to collect everything from ebooks to blogs, websites to social media. Under the new provisions, Australia will protect the digital record in the same way as it always has for print.

Keneally, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1982 for Schindler’s Ark, said he was proud that his ebook paved the way for this new era of digital collecting—a significant moment for Australian authors, publishers and readers.

‘This is a wonderful symbol that writing and stories old and new still belong in the digital age,’ Keneally said.

‘A digital book is a book doubled, tripled or quadrupled and a book given to the future.’

At the same time as Napolean’s Last Island was embarking on its new electronic journey, the NLA’s web crawler headed out to capture the public Australian web domain.

Publishers and authors can now upload electronic books, journals, magazines and newsletters through the NLA’s website.

Visitors to the National Library in Canberra will be able to access the collection of digital publications later this year. 

Head OnAwards 2016: Open For Submissions  Categories: 

Portrait Prize - Landscape Prize - Mobile Prize - Student Prize

Over the years, Head On Photo Festival has awarded over $500,000 worth of photography equipment and cash prizes through the Head On Awards and exhibited 170 finalists overseas.

Closes February 28th


Gas producing tiny red crystals could reduce need for new coal seam wells

17 February, 2016:  DEBORAH SMITH – UNSW

Crystals of neutral red that can dramatically increase the amount of methane gas emitted by naturally occurring microbes living in coal seams and on waste food.

UNSW Australia-led researchers have discovered a way to produce a tenfold increase in the amount of methane gas emitted by naturally occurring microbes living in coal seams and on food waste.

The innovation could benefit the environment by extending the lifespan of coal seam gas wells, as well as improving the economics of using woody crops and left-over food as commercial sources of biogas.

The needle-like crystals help the methane-producing microbes grow faster. "It’s simple. If the microbes grow faster, they fart more methane."

The technique involves the addition of small amounts of a synthetic dye that forms previously unobserved needle-like crystals to help the methane-producing microbes grow faster.

“It’s simple. If the microbes grow faster, they fart more methane,” says study senior author UNSW Associate Professor Mike Manefield.

Biogas emitted by microbes will be vital for meeting the world’s future energy needs and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of other fossil fuels, Associate Professor Manefield says.

“Our research in the lab and in coal boreholes near Lithgow has shown that the crystals can lead to a massive leap in methane production – a tenfold increase from coal, and an 18-fold increase from food waste.

“This is very exciting and likely to be a game changer. We also expect our approach will work with renewable feedstocks for methane-producing microbes, such as woody plant material and the by-products of municipal wastewater treatment.”

The study, by an international team spear-headed by UNSW’s Dr Sabrina Beckmann, is published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science. The five-year-long research project was supported by the Australian Research Council and industry partner Biogas Energy.

The researchers studied a small synthetic molecule called neutral red that has been used for more than 150 years as a textile dye, or for staining cells under a microscope.

“We knew it was able to shuttle electrons about and we wondered if it could deliver them directly to the microbes that produce methane. Usually these ancient critters get electrons from hydrogen gas,” says Associate Professor Manefield.

“When we added neutral red in the laboratory to a mixture of coal and naturally occurring groundwater microbes, in the absence of oxygen, we discovered it formed crystals that had never been seen before.

“The crystals act as electron sponges, harvesting electrons from minerals and bacteria in the mixture and then transferring them with a lot of power to the methane-producing microbes, boosting their growth.”

The patented technology was also tested in a real-life environment in coal boreholes near Lithgow.

Small amounts of neutral red were injected 80 metres underground at three sites into the water-saturated coal seam. A fivefold to tenfold increase in methane production was observed during a 12-month period.

“Coal seam gas wells usually have a short lifespan and spent ones litter the countryside. Enhancing their methane production could reduce the need to build new ones,” Associate Professor Manefield says.

Noise Exposure Study Seeks Community Volunteers 

16 February, 2016

As the outdoor music festival season begins, researchers from Macquarie University’s Hearing Hub are continuing to recruit volunteers who have lived, worked, and enjoyed noisy environments for their study looking at how everyday noise exposure affects people’s hearing.

The study is looking into why it is that a proportion of people who report difficulty with everyday listening, particularly understanding speech in background noise, are found to have clinically normal hearing when tested. There is evidence to suggest that this type of hearing loss could be due to loud noises damaging the small hair cells that carry sound signals from the ear’s cochlear to the brain. In light of this, researchers will test volunteers for this particular type of hearing loss, in the hope of understanding more about how the condition occurs.

“We are looking for people with a history of noise exposure from work and/or leisure. For example, fire fighters, factory workers, bar staff, pilots, transport workers, landscapers, and builders are all examples of people who may have experienced noise exposure on the job. Also, people with substantial leisure noise exposure could include clubbers, motorbike riders, or motorsports enthusiasts,” explained Dr Elizabeth Beach, from the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) located in the Hearing Hub.

Participants need to be between 30 and 55 years of age, and will be asked about their lifetime noise exposure history in an online survey that will take about 20 minutes. They will then be asked to attend a 3.5 hour lab appointment at the Macquarie University Hearing Hub (North Ryde campus), where the researchers will run a series of listening tasks to determine whether there is a correlation between a participant’s noise exposure and their auditory functioning. Participants can be provided with a written report about their hearing (including the results of their audiogram), and will also receive $40 for their involvement.

“If this study does find that these small hair cells are damaged by exposure to loud noise, it will have important implications for noise policy at public events, entertainment venues and the workplace,” concluded Dr Beach.

The study will continue until June 2016.

If you would like to be involved please express your interest via email to the researchers at this

Sydney academic helps Shakespeare's Globe pop up in Auckland

17 February 2016

A University of Sydney academic's research into the second Globe theatre has led to the world's first faithful reconstruction in New Zealand.

Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the Globe. Image: Yale Center for British Art, courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

Tim Fitzpatrick, Honorary Associate Professor from theDepartment of Theatre and Performance Studies, has spent years studying the second Globe theatre, which was built by William Shakespeare and his company on the ruins of the first Globe in 1614.

Unlike earlier research on the Globe theatres, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick's reconstruction model was based on a reinterpretation of a sketch by renowned Czech panoramist Wenceslaus Hollar – the only known contemporary image of the Globe.

Using this sketch and a new interpretation of the Globe’s archaeological remains found in 1989, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick was able to develop a structural rationale for how and why the various components shown by Hollar would fit together.

Associate Professor Fitzpatrick collaborated with Russell Emerson, Technical Director of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, to build a computer-aided design (CAD) and then 1:50 scale card model of the theatre.

"Our reconstruction has revealed many new insights into the Globe – including that it was significantly smaller than previously thought, featured only two (not three) entrance points to the stage, and had a stage that was a different shape to that favoured by other reconstructions," Associate Professor Fitzpatrick says.

"All of these differences are the result of structural features of our modeling, which we believe are validated by, and in turn validate, Hollar's sketch."

A sketch by Wenceslaus Hollar of the view from St Mary's, Southwark, looking towards Westminister. Image: Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the Globe. Image: Yale Center for British Art, courtesy Tim Fitzpatrick.

Following the publication of his research in a number of international journals, Associate Professor Fitzpatrick was approached by Auckland-based theatre festival Pop-Up Globe with a proposal to bring his research to life.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year, Pop-Up Globe have utilised Associate Professor Fitzpatrick’s research to build a full-scale working replica of the second Globe which will host a theatrical season of some of the Bard’s best-known plays.

Comprised of a round three-storey steel frame 'skinned' in plywood, the recently finished reconstruction reflects all the original design features – including a 100sqm stage and 'onion dome' top – and can seat audiences of up to 900 people.

Though there have been many modern attempts to reconstruct the first Globe – most famously Shakespeare’s Globe in London – this is the first time a replica of the second Globe theatre has been constructed anywhere in the world.

"This reconstruction also differs from previous attempts because it is a temporary structure, which means it can potentially ‘pop up’ in other locations in the future," Associate Professor Fitzpatrick says.

Immortal love story Romeo and Juliet will be the first Shakespearean play staged in the Pop-Up Globe theatre, which will welcome audiences from February to April.

Giant iceberg decimates Antarctic penguin colonies

12 February 2016:  UNSW MEDIA

Adélie penguin numbers at Cape Denison in Antarctica have crashed from more than 160,000 birds in 2011 to just a few thousand following the grounding of a giant 97km iceberg in Commonwealth Bay. 

New research published in the journal Antarctic Science and co-authored by UNSW's Climate Change Research Centre reveals that until 2010 Commonwealth Bay was rarely covered by sea ice, making it an ideal place for Adélie penguin colonies. An extensive area of open water existed close to the shore, kept open by the strong winds that travel off the Antarctic ice sheet.

It was this area of open water that made it an ideal location for Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911-1914 research station during his original Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Conditions changed dramatically in December 2010 when the giant iceberg B09B, with an area of around 2900 square kilometres, grounded in Commonwealth Bay after colliding with the Mertz Glacier Tongue. Interestingly, the collision also broke off a huge chunk of ice from the tongue that has now formed a 73km-long glacier, which is now floating around Antarctica.

“Over the past five years the regional changes triggered by iceberg B09B have led to an order of magnitude decline in Adélie Penguin numbers and catastrophic breeding failure in comparison to the first counts undertaken by Mawson a century ago,” says lead author Dr Kerry-Jayne Wilson of the West Coast Penguin Trust.

The decline can be directly related to fast ice expansion (floating sea ice that is permanently attached to the land)  in the region due to the grounding of B09B in 2010. The grounding of B09B means Adélie penguins now have to walk more than 60km to find food.

“It was heart wrenching to see the impact of the fast ice on the penguins,” says Dr Wilson. “The normally noisy and aggressive Adélie penguins were so subdued they hardly acknowledged our intrusion into their realm. It was sad to walk amongst thousands of freeze-dried chicks from the previous season and hundreds of abandoned eggs.”

In contrast, an Adélie colony on the eastern fringe of Commonwealth Bay just 8 km from the fast-ice edge was thriving, indicating the arrival of B09B and fast-ice expansion was responsible for the observed population decline.

“Over the last year the fast ice associated with B09B has begun to break up in Commonwealth Bay, which is great news for the penguin colonies,” says co-author Dr Chris Fogwill of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre.

“However, the effects of the changes over the past five years we have observed on the ecosystems in and around Commonwealth Bay will help us better understand the impacts of such large scale events on the fragile Antarctic ecosystem.”

The survey was undertaken during the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-14.

Giant iceberg decimates Adélie penguin colony at Cape Denison

Video by Intrepid Science

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.