Inbox and Environment News: Issue 254 

 March 6 - 12, 2016: Issue 254

Hollows as Homes Citizen Scientist Project: Sydney and NSW

Launched March 3rd, 2016: Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and University of Sydney

With the help of the community this project aims to assess the availability of tree hollows and their use by wildlife across the Sydney region. The Hollows as Homes team wants you to report tree hollow(s) in your backyard, street, park and/or paddock through

Find out more and Register at:

Facebook page

Participants will take measurements of the hollow-bearing tree and periodically conduct monitoring and report wildlife using the hollow(s). Training is available through workshops and the website.


Around 300 animal species rely on tree hollows in Australia, including birds, possums, gliders, microbats, frogs, lizards, snakes, insects and spiders. Changes to the landscape from urbanisation and agriculture not only reduce the amount of trees and homes for animals, but also create big gaps between the remaining trees and bushland. In New South Wales, of terrestrial vertebrate species that are reliant on tree hollows for shelter 40 species are listed as threatened with extinction.

Why does tree hollow loss matter?

Tree hollows are so important to our native wildlife, that their loss has been classed as a Key Threatening Process to biodiversity in New South Wales. It can take decades for a tree hollow to form. In Australia, there are no animals that are able to create tree hollows (e.g. wood pecker), thus hollow creation is a slow process that relies on fungus to eat away at the tree. What can we do to help?Cities and agricultural areas provide habitat for endangered animals and plants. We can encourage animals to share our cities, suburbs and farms by retaining:

Large, hollow bearing trees

Remnant patches of bushland that surround these trees which make it easier for them to move through the environment

Dead trees which provide important habitat whether they are standing or on the ground.

Top: Lorikeet in Angophora, McKay Reserve, Palm Beach

Pittwater Councils Environment Newsletter - Cooee March/April 2016

A Compilation of current local Environment News and upcoming Events issued bi-monthly

HERE (PDF - 2.65 MB) - Subscribe to receive HERE

A few Important Extracts from the Current - March/April edition:


Native to tropical America and member of the Asteraceae family, Singapore Daisy (Sphagneticola trilobata) is a vigorous ground cover with lush glossy green leaves in pairs up the stem, usually three lobed (hence the species name) but mostly with irregular toothed margins. Yellow to orange-yellow single daisy flowers about two centimetres across are produced from spring to summer and although variable amounts of seeds are produced, it is mainly spread vegetatively by cuttings via slashing and pruning.

Singapore Daisy colonises rapidly with stems rooting at the nodes, forming thick spreading mats up to two metres in length and 70 centimetres high that smother native groundcover, shrubs and seedlings.

Sphagneticola trilobata - photo by Wedelia

This garden escapee is already a declared Class 3 noxious weed in Queensland and well established in a variety of different environments including riparian areas, drains, roadside, wetlands and rainforest edges. However, in NSW Singapore Daisy has only recently been documented in a drainage area in Wyong Council and most recently in Pittwater, colonising a section of native groundcover in the Bush to Bay reserve, Careel Bay. This first known local incursion is highlighted for control as soon as funding is available to halt spreading.

If you think you have seen Singapore Daisy and certainly before commencing weed control, please contact Council’s Noxious Weed Officer on 9970 1111 to ensure that you have correctly identified this new weed as there are a few similar native daisy plants includingEnhydra fluctuans and Melanthera biflora that may be mistaken for this aggressive weed species. 


This year Earth Hour, Saturday 19 March, is encouraging switching off at 8:30pm for one hour to protect the Places We Love! Our natural environment makes Pittwater unique and Earth Hour wants us to celebrate our bush, beach and water, while recognising the impact of climate change will have on the places we love.

To help you celebrate, Council is hosting two free events to raise awareness of our unique natural environment.

During the week of Earth Hour come along to a Citizen Science presentation to hear about our local waterways, marsupials, birds and marine life. On Earth Hour night join the adventure in the Wetlands Night Stalk, a unique night time encounter.

Citizen Science Q&A

Thursday 17 March, 7 – 9pm

Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen

Come and learn more about our local waterways, marsupials, birds and marine life. Four expert speakers will give short presentations on their fields of interest followed by light snacks and a Q & A session.

Learn more about your local area and get involved in our range of Citizen Science projects.

Wetlands night stalk

Saturday 19 March, 7:30 – 9:30pm

AND Friday April 22nd 6:00 - 8:00pm

Meeting point available on booking.

Come along and experience a unique night-time encounter with some of the Warriewood Wetlands’ nocturnal native animals as a part of our Earth Hour celebrations.

Using torches to light the way, the night stalk explores the natural habitat of possums, bandicoots, owls and flying foxes.

The tour is suitable for families with children over eight-years-old; places are limited so those interested are encouraged to book early.

Bookings essential for all events!

Online -

In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232



Come along and give the local community volunteers a hand to restore the coastal heath at the northern area of Bilgola Beach. This project is part of a Federal Government funded Salty Communities Grant for the ‘Biodiversity Protection of Bilgola Creek Catchment’.

The aim is working to restore and repair weed infested coastal bushland to a healthy viable state. Bush regeneration and weed control works are being undertaken along the walkway from Allen Avenue up to the Serpentine.

The morning event will help to replace weed infestation with local native coastal heath species. Can you give an hour or two on this morning? Want some more information about the project? Please contact the Bushland Management Officer on 9970 1390.

When: Monday 21 March, 8 – 11am

Where: Meet at the end of Allen Avenue, Bilgola Beach (northern end).



Sunday 3 April, 9 – 11:30am

Come and join us for a walk through Ingleside Chase Reserve, Pittwater’s largest continuous piece of bushland that contains many beautiful plant communities and threatened fauna.

The walk will commence at Irrawong-Epworth Reserve and climb to Ingleside Park. At the park we will have a morning tea break and then head back down.

The track is 1.5km one-way and is a little steep in parts so although we will be taking it at a gentle pace, a reasonable level of fitness is required.


Sunday 10 April, 7 – 9am

Come for a morning with the birds. We will take you for a fantastic guided walk to learn more about our feathered friends. Our birding mornings are guided by local experts and are a great opportunity to get a better look at our local bird life. A great activity for those people interested to learn more as well as passionate birdwatchers. It’s a great morning out for everyone!


Saturday 23 April, 9 – 11am

Come and join us for a tour of the headlands of Narrabeen and Warriewood. This is a spectacular walk suitable for the whole family. Discover new places and secret beaches.


Saturday 14 May, 9 – 11am

Avalon. Meeting point provided on booking.

Join us for a relaxing morning walk taking in the beautiful views and coastal bushland of Bangalley Head.

Bangalley Head stands as the highest point and one of Pittwater’s largest bushland reserves on its clifftop coastline. This – together with the great variety of native plants and beautiful ocean views – makes Bangalley Head a haven for bushwalkers and wildlife alike. Native birds and marsupials – such as ringtail possums, honeyeaters, spinebills, finches and wrens – feed, breed and shelter among the dense thickets of coastal scrub and pockets of rainforest plants.

This is a fun walk for all the family and a great opportunity to learn more about our amazing flora and fauna!

Bookings essential for all events!

Online -

In person: Coastal Environment Centre, Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen Phone: 1300 000 232

Ecological Thinning Trial set to commence

Media release: 28 February 2016 - Page last updated: 29 February 2016

The trial of ecological thinning in the Murray Valley National Park is set to commence in March after being given the green light by the Commonwealth Department of Environment.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Head Michael Wright said the trial was based on scientific principles.

"The aim of the trial is to test whether thinning improves the ecological health of the red gum forest and also to improve our knowledge of the best way to manage conservation outcomes in these forests," Mr Wright said.

"Ecological thinning involves the selective removal of trees to reduce forest density, with the aim of improving forest health. It is based on the scientific concern that some areas of river red gum forest may have an "unnaturally" high density of trees due to altered flooding regimes, and that this is impacting on their ecological values.

"The object of this trial is to measure the impact of ecological thinning on key forest health indicators such as biodiversity, habitat and canopy condition. By comparing the values between thinned and un-thinned sites over time, we will be able to determine whether thinning can deliver beneficial impacts.

"Recommended by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) in December 2009, the trial has been reviewed by an expert panel of scientists and has now been determined by the Commonwealth as not impacting on matters of national significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act."

The trial and associated monitoring program has been developed and reviewed by scientists and an independent biometrician.

"This was the final stage in approval of the trial, which is now set to begin," Mr Wright said.

"The ecological thinning work will be carried out by local Moama contractor Barberosa Pty Ltd, who was the successful tenderer following an open procurement process.

"Thinning will be undertaken at 44, nine hectare plots in Murray Valley National Park at Millewa in NSW. A total of 396 hectares will be thinned, which accounts for around 0.9% of the total extent of River Red Gum forests and woodlands within the Millewa Group of Murray Valley National Park.

"Safe guards are in place to ensure protection of the park during the trial. Known threatened species, large trees and hollow-bearing trees will be protected through careful selection of sites and trees.

"Trees will be thinned from defined plots and will not involve clear felling. Subject to good weather, the thinning works should be completed over a nine week period while the research component of the work will run over five years.

Detailed scientific monitoring will occur over the next five years as detailed in the Experimental Design and Monitoring Plan. After five years, a review of this plan will occur to determine the effectiveness of this monitoring and to assist in planning future monitoring needs.

"The aim is to address key gaps in knowledge about how to manage river red gum trees for maximum forest health," Mr Wright said.


More information: on OEH page 'Ecological Thinning Trial in NSW River Red Gum Forests: Public environment report'

Ecological Thinning Trial in NSW River Red Gum Forests: Public environment report - OEH, Revised November 2015 (PDF- #MB)

McCarrs Creek Mona Vale and Bayview Flood Study

The draft McCarrs Creek, Mona Vale and Bayview Flood Study (2015) will be on exhibition for public comment from Monday 29 February until Friday 1 April. 

The draft study can be viewed online or at customer service centres and libraries at Avalon and Mona Vale and at the Coastal Environment Centre, North Narrabeen. For more information visit

Draft McCarrs Creek, Mona Vale and Bayview Flood Study Report and Map

Full Report - McCarrs Creek, Mona Vale and Bayview Flood Study - Download (40mb pdf)

Report and Appendices as individual downloads

Main document excluding appendices   Download  (8.5mb pdf)

Appendix A Note: All maps have windows A, B and C 

Peak Flood Depths - Figures A1 to A8 Download (10mb pdf)

Peak Flood Velocity, Provisional Flood Hazard, Hydraulic Categorisation - Figures A9 to A15 Download (9.5mb pdf)

Climate Change Mapping - Figures A16 to A23  Download (8.8mb pdf)

Development Control Mapping - Figures A24 to A25    Download (2.8mb  pdf)

Appendix B

Community Consultation Information Download (239kb pdf)

Appendix C 

Design Hydrographs Download (337kb pdf)

Community information sessions

You may book a 15 minute appointment with a flooding specialist to discuss what the draft study means for your property. You may choose in person or over the phone during these times: 

In Person                                          

Tuesday 8 March       1 - 3pm

Tuesday 8 March       4 - 8pm

Tuesday 16 March     1 - 3pm

Tuesday 16 March     4 - 8pm

Thursday 17 March    1 - 3pm

Thursday 17 March    4 - 8pm

Over the Phone

Wednesday 9 March 2pm - 4pm

Wednesday 9 March 10am - 12 noon

Wednesday 16 March 10am - 12 noon

Wednesday 16 March 2pm - 4pm

Note - The in person appointments are held in the Mona Vale Conference Room. It is located above Mona Vale Library, 1 Park Street, Mona Vale and is accessed via Council’s Customer Service office.

Book an appointment

You will need to provide your name, email address and a contact phone number. You will also need to supply the property address that has been identified as subject to flooding risk under the draft study.

Visit: www.mccarrs_creek,_mona_vale_and_bay_view_flood_stud

 Call to environmental groups for grant applications

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.


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

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.

Coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef now declared widespread

Tuesday 1 March 2016: AMCS

Coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef now declared widespread: the Federal and Queensland government must rapidly shift from coal to renewables

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today called on the Federal and State Governments to do their utmost to protect the Great Barrier Reef from global warming and coral bleaching by making a rapid and urgent shift to clean renewable energy.

Imogen Zethoven Great Barrier Reef campaign director for AMCS said coral bleaching has now been found throughout the length and breadth of the Reef. Although the bleaching is not yet severe, the next 2-3 weeks are going to be critical.

"Coral bleaching is becoming an increasingly dire problem for coral reefs around the world. We have seen severe bleaching followed by a category 5 cyclone in Fiji in the last month. Those reefs will have suffered severe damage and probably significant mortality.

"Reefs in Hawaii have also bleached severely, in what is now considered a global mass coral bleaching event.

"It is critical that we recognise why reefs around the world, including our own Great Barrier Reef, are suffering bleaching. The reason is that the ocean is warming as a response to global warming, and the leading contributor to global warming is the mining and burning of coal.

"Right now, we are on the verge of a potentially severe coral bleaching event. We hope this doesn’t happen.

"The waters of the world have warmed, and coral is the first in the line of global warming’s fire. We’ve seen outbreaks of coral bleaching in the past on the Reef.  

"The tourism industry faces a huge crisis if we do not address the causes of global warming. Tourism in Queensland relies on a healthy Reef. It provides 70,000 jobs and billions to the State’s economy.

"If we want a sustainable tourism industry and a healthy Reef, we will have to urgently cut pollution caused by mining and burning coal.

"The only way we can protect Queensland’s biggest tourism attraction is to stop approving new coal mines, stop the Abbot Point coal port expansion and end fossil fuel subsidies and to start to invest in renewable energy as if the Reef depended on it, because it does," said Ms Zethoven.

NSW Government Protects South Coast Koalas and Local Timber Industry

Tuesday, 1 March 2016 - media release

Environment Minister Mark Speakman, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair and Member for Bega Andrew Constance today announced the establishment of four new Flora Reserves on the NSW Far South Coast, which will provide protection to the last known local koala population.

To ensure the future viability of the local timber industry, the NSW Government will also provide a $2.5 million grant to facilitate the sourcing of timber from alternative South East NSW State Forests and work with industry to manage a longer-term transition to high quality regrowth forests.

“Almost 12,000 hectares will be added to the NSW forest reserve system and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which will significantly boost habitat connectivity and management consistency throughout the South East coastal forests,” Mr Speakman said.

“Flora Reserves afford similar protections to National Parks and can only be revoked by an Act of Parliament. These reserves will support the last known far south coast koala population and 25 threatened species, including the long-nosed potoroo, the yellow-bellied glider and the powerful owl.

“The reserves are also significant to the local Aboriginal community. The NSW Government will work with the Aboriginal owners of the neighbouring Biamanga National Park to ensure they have a proper say in how these reserves are managed.”

Mr Blair said the $2.5 million government grant would support the future of the local timber industry.

“Sustainable timber harvesting practices in NSW mean that the renewable timber resource in our state forests can be extracted responsibly while maintaining a healthy forest and habitat for koalas and other animals,” Mr Blair said.

“The unique nature of these forests means they will be managed for conservation as part of the state forest estate, utilising evidence-based and scientific landscape management principles and rigorous monitoring of outcomes.

“These forests contain some of the largest quantities of high-value timber on the Far South Coast – which was part of the renewable timber resource committed to industry – so it is appropriate that funding has been provided to source alternative timber.”

Member for Bega Andrew Constance welcomed the announcement, saying the government had achieved a win-win by protecting an important koala population and supporting the local timber industry, which directly employs 278 people in the Bega Valley.

“Costs associated with sourcing timber from further afield will be covered by the $2.5 million grant to minimise the impact on supply agreements and timber industry jobs, especially in Eden,” Mr Constance said.

New climate study argues for carbon fee

March 1, 2016

A new study reports that current rising temperatures already noticeably load the 'climate dice', with growing practical impacts. As a bottom line, the lead author, Dr James Hansen, argues that a carbon fee is needed to spur replacement of carbon fuels with clean energy.

The findings are reported today, 2nd March 2016, in the journalEnvironmental Research Letters.

The researchers plotted the shift in the "bell curve" describing seasonal mean local temperatures for both summer and winter in many regions around the globe. They found that the bell curve shift is becoming important in many places.

"We see that climate change is becoming noticeable at mid-latitudes, especially in summer" explains Hansen. "And we can already see large effects at tropical and subtropical latitudes."

The summer bell curves for the United States and (North and Central) Europe are shifted by more than one standard deviation.

"This means extreme events -- more than two standard deviations higher than the mean temperature -- are now more frequent" continues Hansen. "We're talking about a change from about 1% of the time to more than 10% of the time."

Changes are harder to notice in winter, because winter temperature has high natural variability. Large winter variability is caused by the strong north-south temperature gradient and fluctuations of the upper air jet stream location that alter the direction of surface winds.

Hansen believes that these findings have implications for the 2°C (3.6°F) target for global warming discussed at the recent United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris.

"Warming of 2°C would shift the bell curves three times more than the shift that occurred over the past 50 years" he explains.

Warming that large would make it difficult to work outdoors in subtropics such as southern U.S., the Middle East and Mediterranean during a lengthening summer season, and year round in the tropics.

Increased warming in these regions would also have economic effects, because half of the employment, including agricultural and construction activities, occurs outdoors.

"Our analysis shows that 2°C is not a safe guard-rail. What the science actually tells us is that fossil fuel emissions must be phased out as rapidly as practical."

The study also notes that warming allows disease-carrying vectors such as blood-sucking mosquitoes and ticks to expand their range to higher latitudes and greater altitudes.

Hansen believes that the way to stop global warming lies in a rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies with the money distributed to the public.

"Emission targets and caps that COP talked about have been tried before and found to be ineffective" he continues. "For me, it is as sure as the law of gravity -- as long as fossil fuels seem to be cheap, people will keep burning them."

"The economically sensible approach is for the price of fossil fuels to include their full cost to society -- the costs from air and water pollution, and climate change."

"The way I see to achieve this is by introducing a carbon fee -- something COP didn't address. I'm not talking about a tax -- it's a tax if the government keeps the money. A tax depresses the economy. But the fee spurs the economy if the money is distributed uniformly to the public, rewarding the person who does better than average in limiting his fossil fuel use."

James Hansen, Makiko Sato. Regional climate change and national responsibilities. Environmental Research Letters, 2016; 11 (3): 034009 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/3/034009

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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

Sydney Wildlife's Wallaby and Kangaroo Rehabilitation Facility at Waratah Park

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

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water.

Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. 

Find out more at:

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

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

Find out more at:

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

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

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice.

Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

This is the first time RIDonline has been opened to the public. Since September last year, the EPA, councils, RID squads and public land managers have used it to report more than 20,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste across more than 70 local government areas.

The NSW Government has allocated $58 million over five years to tackle illegal dumping as part of its $465.7 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative. NSW Premier Mike Baird has also committed to reducing the volume of litter by 40%, by 2020 to help keep NSW's environment clean.

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

Spotlight On Sustainability Of Pittwater Estuary

29 February 2016

Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes today announced the NSW Government is commencing consultation on the future of commercial fishing within the Pittwater estuary.

The NSW Marine Estate Management Authority has put forward a range of management initiatives to help improve marine conservation and maximise community benefits in key coastal areas.

The Pittwater estuary has been identified due to evidence of resource-use conflict between commercial net fishing and other user groups and the threats posed to the estuary’s long-term environmental sustainability and social value.

“The Pittwater estuary is our community’s most valuable natural asset,” Rob Stokes said today.

“Boating, fishing, kayaking, sailing and swimming are key parts of our community’s lifestyle and are all supported by this incredible waterway.

“Countless marine based businesses, tourism operators and retail providers also heavily depend on the estuary’s attractiveness and sustainability.

“Managing risks and conflicts is vital to help protect this valuable community asset and the continuation of commercial netting is now squarely under the spotlight.

“Various controls such as closures to commercial netting on weekends have been implemented but concerns still remain.

“For the first time an extensive threat and risk assessment has been undertaken and our community is now being asked to have our say on the future of commercial netting and the best ways forward.

“Community feedback will help inform further evaluation of the management responses and final recommendations to the NSW Government later this year.

“Copies of the report, and details on how to provide feedback, are available by visiting .

“Submissions close on 24 April – so I encourage everyone who uses and enjoys the Pittwater to get involved and have their say,” Rob Stokes said.


Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment

Have your say

The NSW Government is inviting your comments on suggested management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity in the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion while achieving balanced community outcomes, including opportunities for a wide range of recreational and commercial uses. These initiatives are described in the Marine Estate Management Authority’s Discussion Paper.

The Discussion Paper (4.8 MB, PDF) summarises the outcomes of community engagement, the findings of the threat and risk assessment and presents eight suggested management initiatives being considered to address the priority threats.

Supporting the discussion paper are seven background reportsincluding the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Threat and Risk Assessment (TARA) Report. A series of frequently asked questions are also available.

The feedback you provide will help inform the final package of management initiatives that MEMA will present to the NSW Government in mid-2016.

You can also provide new evidence about the threats that affect your use and enjoyment of the bioregion. New evidence could include scientific data, research outcomes or reports, including unpublished data.

Online submissions are welcome from 28 February 2016 until Sunday 24 April 2016.

Hard copy submission forms are also available at NSW DPI Fisheries offices and completed forms can be posted to:

Submission - Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion initiatives

NSW Department of Primary Industries, Locked Bag 1, Nelson Bay NSW 2315

If you would like to receive newsletters or notifications on the project, please email with your name, email address and postcode to be included on our mailing list.

Wild Things Talk At Warriewood: Get Native Bee Hives, Nest Boxes For your Own Backyard

Thursday 21 April, 7:15pm

Nelson Heather Centre, Banksia Room, 5 Jacksons Road, Warriewood

If you are passionate about our wildlife and their presence in our local areas – why not get help in your own backyard?

The Wild Things program, based at Ku-ring-gai Council, aims to protect urban wildlife and create suitable habitat in our backyards to encourage the return of wildlife. Wild Things work with Permaculture Northern Beaches and supply native bee hives. They also supply native fish, nest boxes as well as promote swimming pool conversions to aquaponics.

For more information please contact

Sydney Marine Park one step closer for marine life and coastal communities

NPA of NSW: February 29, 2016

The Government has released the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment report which looks at ways to enhance the health of the marine environment between Newcastle and Shellharbour, including Sydney Harbour and beaches.

The report identifies a number of threats to our marine environment, including climate change, shipping, over-fishing, coastal development and pollution. It recommends a number of initiatives to address these threats.   

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Campaigns Director Daisy Barham said, “The report makes clear that Sydneysiders love our beaches and marine life and the coastal lifestyle in and around Sydney but we’re at risk of loving it to death. 

“Unsurprisingly people want to see cleaner water and more abundant and diverse marine life. The report identifies a number of factors which threaten the health of our estuaries, beaches and seas, including climate change, over-fishing, inappropriate coastal and foreshore development and pollution. 

“A science based marine park with protected sanctuaries for Sydney is one of the fundamental tools in the toolbox of ocean conservation. It is wonderful to see this option recognised as a way to respond to a large number of the environmental and social threats identified in the report.

CEO of the National Parks Association Kevin Evans said, “The need for a marine park in the Sydney region has been established for many years. 

“It is reassuring to see this document recognise that the current network of aquatic reserves across the region don’t meet the internationally recognised principles for conservation planning and are not comprehensive, adequate nor representative. 

“There is huge public support for marine parks and sanctuaries in NSW. Polling and surveys consistently show that around 90% of people, including fishers, support marine parks and sanctuaries where marine life is protected from fishing. So a Sydney Marine Park option is both great for the health of the marine environment and is popular.” 

Marine Parks Campaign Manager from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Fiona Maxwell said, “If done right, a marine park for Sydney offers a bright future for the region’s sea life and economy. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that marine parks with sanctuaries rebuild our marine wildlife. Marine parks and sustainable fisheries deliver an environmental and economic win-win.

“What is needed now is a science based process that engages the community to create a marine park that protects our marine life and benefits all ocean users. 

“Sydney is renowned for our spectacular beaches, lagoons and of course the Sydney Harbour which is loved by all. A marine park will help protect marine life and continue to provide a playground to fish, snorkel and surf.” 

The assessment is open for public comment until 24 April 2016, more information can be found at:

Federal Government strengthens efforts to tackle plastic waste

Media Release - 29 February 2016: The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

The Australian Government is taking further steps to tackle the detrimental impact of plastics on our environment.

Last December, Commonwealth, state and territory Environment Ministers announced plans to achieve a voluntary phase out of microbeads by no later than July 2018.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the Federal Government is taking a stronger stance on this important environmental issue,” Minister Hunt said.

“We will continue to work with companies towards a voluntary phase out of microbeads. However, if by 1 July 2017 it is clear that the voluntary phase out will not achieve what is effectively a widespread ban on microbeads, the Federal Government will take action to implement a ban in law.”

“We are also committing $60,000 of priority funding under the National Environment Science Programme (NESP) to kick-start research into the major sources of marine plastic waste and determine the most cost-effective options to reduce its volume.”

“I am aware of concerns about biodegradable plastics being used as a substitute for regular microbeads. Some companies are instead using natural alternative products due to concerns that biodegradable plastic microbeads do not break down in water.”

“The NESP will undertake research into this and I look forward to hearing about their findings.”

“I will discuss the Federal Government’s announcement at the Ministerial Roundtable being held at Taronga Zoo in Sydney today.”

The Ministerial roundtable brings together State and Commonwealth governments, representatives from industry, retailers, environment groups and scientific experts. The roundtable will review the experiences of Australian jurisdictions who have implemented plastic shopping bag bans.

“Like microbeads, plastic shopping bags have a devastating impact on the environment,” Minister Hunt said.

“Australians consume billions of plastic shopping bags each year, which are often only used for a few minutes before being thrown away.”

Many are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, which break down into smaller pieces of plastic and can exist in the environment for hundreds of years.

Plastic bags and plastic fragments easily make their way across our land as litter, eventually entering our waterways and oceans with harmful effects on our wildlife and marine life.

It is estimated that around eight million tonnes of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year.

“I’m looking forward to discussing options at the Ministerial Roundtable on how best to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags,” Minister Hunt said.

“What’s most important to me is that we get the best possible outcome for the environment.”

“I would like to thank the New South Wales Government for the significant role they have played in examining options for how best to deal with the problem of plastic bags.”

New South Wales Environment Minister Mark Speakman welcomed the Federal Government’s stance on microbeads.

“The NSW Government is proud to have been the first state to have led the push for a national ban on microbeads,” Mr Speakman said.

“We’re so fortunate to enjoy rich aquatic ecosystems in Australia, and yet personal care products can cause significant damage to our marine life, and scientists are also worried that this may have implications further up the food chain.”

DoSomething founder Jon Dee has played a major role in campaigning for companies and retailers to phase out microbeads from their products and shelves. He has also led the National Plastic Bag campaign since 2002 and co-organised Australia’s first ban on single use plastic shopping bags in the Tasmanian town of Coles Bay.

He has also played a leading role in the phaseout of single use plastic bags in South Australia and Tasmania and will be speaking at today’s Ministerial Roundtable.

“For the sake of the marine life who mistake plastic bags and plastic microbeads for food, we must act decisively and nationally on these issues,” said Jon Dee.

“When it comes to plastic microbeads and plastic bags, we need an outcome where we achieve the best possible result for the environment.”

“Given that we also have billions of plastic microbeads ending up in our waterways, we welcome Minister Hunt’s announcement that if the voluntary phase out is not working by 1 July 2017, the Federal Government will take action to implement a ban in law. This is a very welcome move.”

Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association Inc v Warkworth Mining Limited and NSW Minister for Planning

February 29, 2016: EDO NSW

Our client Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association Inc is challenging the PAC’s 2015 decision to approve the Warkworth coal mine expansion near the village of Bulga in the Hunter Valley.

The case will be heard in the Land and Environment Court later this year. This expansion is very similar to the project that was refused by the Land and Environment Court in 2013 and then that refusal was upheld by the NSW Court of Appeal in 2014.

The community group says that in granting the approval this time, the PAC breached the law by failing to consider what would happen if the Warkworth Sands Woodland, an endangered ecological community becomes extinct as a result of the project. The group also says that both the Office of Environment and Heritage and the PAC failed to apply the NSW Government’s Offsets Policy for Major Projects in accordance with the law.

The approval lets Warkworth extract an additional 230 million tonnes of coal from the mine over the next 21 years, and will bring the mine closer to Bulga village. Controversially, the approval lets Warkworth mine part of a biodiversity offset that the company was originally required to protect as a condition of a former approval from 2003. As well as providing habitat for threatened plants and animals, the offset area acts as a buffer between the village of Bulga and the mine. The offset area is ecologically significant, as it contains a unique and endangered ecological community, Warkworth Sands Woodland, and is home to threatened squirrel glider and speckled warbler. This Warkworth Sands Woodland is unique to the area and only 13 per cent of the original forest remains.

The PAC approved  a very similar expansion to the mine in 2012. Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association challenged this approval, and won, with the Land and Environment Court finding that the project would have significant and unacceptable impacts on biodiversity, as well as unacceptable noise and social impacts. The Court considered that the proposed conditions of approval were inadequate and would not allow the project to achieve satisfactory levels of impact on the environment, including the residents and community of Bulga. The Court found that these matters outweighed the substantial economic benefits and positive social impacts of the project on the region, and that the extension project should not go ahead.

When Warkworth appealed the Land and Environment Court’s disapproval of the mine, the community was again victorious.

The expansion project approved by the PAC in 2015 is very similar to the project that both the Land and Environment Court and the Court of Appeal ruled could not go ahead. The community’s appeal now in the Court is not the same as the appeal it won in 2013. This time the community has identified a legal error made by the PAC. The community does not have merit appeal rights in the Land and Environment Court this time round as merit appeal rights are extinguished where a public hearing about the project is held. There were two public hearings held into the project.  

Overfishing increases fluctuations in aquatic ecosystems

March 2, 2016

Fish are often at the top of the food web in the aquatic ecosystem, so changes in fish, prompted by overfishing, can have broader consequences which involve the entire ecosystem. 

Intense fishing of primarily larger fish not only makes fish populations smaller, it changes the remaining fish. When the fish which have a chance to reproduce before being caught are smaller and have reached sexual maturity earlier, these characteristics are passed down to future generations. In many fish populations targeted by intense fishing, e.g., Atlantic cod across the west coast of North America, the sizes of fish have been observed to have decreased and the age of sexual maturity to have reduced.

Fish are often at the top of the food web in the aquatic ecosystem, so changes in fish can have broader consequences which involve the entire ecosystem.

Together with her American and German colleagues, Academy of Finland Research Fellow Anna Kuparinen from the University of Helsinki studied how fishing changes the ways aquatic ecosystems function. The researchers used computer-generated simulations to help them model the interactions between species and the flow of energy through the food web as well as the overall dynamics of the ecosystem. The research focused on the fishing of perch and whitefish in Lake Constance, which borders Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Simulations describing the development of the ecosystem targeted by fishing indicated that once intense fishing causes fish to become smaller and reach sexual maturity earlier, the production of plankton in the lake becomes unstable. Similarly, the sizes of the fish populations and their production of offspring fluctuate greatly from one year to the next.

"If the changes in fish are genetic, the stability of the fish populations and the lake ecosystem cannot be regained even if fishing was permanently ended. The study demonstrates how important it is to consider the entire ecosystem and indirect impacts on other species when the impact of fishing is evaluated. For example, the production of offspring among perch is more dependent on the fluctuations of the production of plankton in the lake than the number of female fish producing eggs," says Anna Kuparinen.

"The many food chains leading to fish form complex food webs. The better we understand this complexity, the better we understand how fishing impacts fish and the environment," says Professor Neo Martinez from the University of Arizona, US.

Anna Kuparinen, Alice Boit, Fernanda S. Valdovinos, Hélène Lassaux, Neo D. Martinez. Fishing-induced life-history changes degrade and destabilize harvested ecosystems. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 22245 DOI: 10.1038/srep22245

Eastern quolls finally return to the mainland

March 2nd, 2016: JCU

A senior James Cook University academic is helping catch eastern quolls in Tasmania as part of a project to bring the animal back to the mainland after more than 60 years of extinction.

Professor Iain Gordon, JCU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, said the animals will be released into the Mulligans Flat woodland sanctuary near Canberra.

“These first individuals will form part of a long term project to restore the native small mammal community that used to thrive in this area,” he said.

Quolls were once widespread in south-eastern Australia, but were wiped out by introduced foxes and cats, disease, habitat loss and human intervention. Tasmania is now the only place the animal can be found in the wild.

Professor Gordon said Australia holds the dubious honour of having lost many of its small mammal species from the mainland since European settlement. “We’ve been involved in restoring many species into a protected area in the ACT; now it’s time to reintroduce the quoll, a small predator that is in effect at the top of the food chain, when cats and foxes are kept at bay.”

Eastern quolls were last seen in the Sydney region in 1956. They have not been seen in the Canberra region for 80 years.

Professor Adrian Manning from the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society said it was the first such translocation of wild eastern quolls on the Australian mainland.

“Our aim is not just to establish a healthy and diverse population of eastern quolls but also to undertake critical research to understand the best way to introduce the species to improve success in future reintroductions on the mainland,” he said.

The quolls are fitted with radio-tracking collars to allow researchers to do regular health checks and monitor their breeding and habitat requirements.

The eastern quoll reintroduction is part of a $1.8 million Australian Research Council Linkage Project Bringing back biodiversity - a research partnership between the ACT Government, ANU, CSIRO and James Cook University.

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and the Environment and the Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre are major partners in the translocation project. The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is managed in partnership between the ACT Government and the Woodland and Wetland Trust.

Public invited to review Kosciuszko's carrying capacity

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.


Community feedback sought for the Wilpinjong Extension Project

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.

Award-winning Urban Pinboard App to create a smarter Sydney

March 1st, 2016: UNSW

Award-winning: Urban Pinboard is a new digital platform designed to raise the “urban IQ” of Sydneysiders by making building and planning information publicly accessible. 

A new digital platform designed to raise the “urban IQ” of Sydneysiders, by making building and planning information publicly accessible, has won an Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW award.

Platform collaborators UNSW Built Environment and Cox Richardson Architects and Planners say the Urban Pinboard App aims to address the lack of shared information between the public, private and community sectors on urban issues.

As the winner of the Connected Cities strand of the UDIA’s City Life project,  the Urban Pinboard is one of only three submissions selected to each receive $50,000 from the UDIA NSW as part of the organisation’s CityLife project which aims to tackle issues of affordability, livability and connectivity within Sydney, Australia’s biggest city.

The winning proposal was announced during an address by Sarah Hill, CEO of the recently formed Greater Sydney Commission.

Project leaders, Hank Haeusler, from UNSW’s Bachelor of Computational Design and COX Director Philip Graus, say the fragmented components of Sydney’s building industry need to be encouraged to collaborate so that talent, ideas and potential can be realised.

“Urban Pinboard is a data and knowledge rich resource that has the ability to raise the urban IQ of the city and as a result, produce more informed decision making and smarter city transformation,” says Haeusler.

Haeusler says the App will be a tool for government agencies to engage and communicate with other sectors, while providing communities with access to neighbourhood data, and developers, professionals and consultants with extra insight and knowledge.

“By giving all sectors an equal voice and the ability to share ideas, this platform will unlock the latent talent and knowledge in our city allowing it to be utilised for more innovative and efficient outcomes,” says Haeusler.

Graus, who is UNSW Built Environment’s first conjoint professor, says the partnership with UNSW allows Urban Pinboard to combine industry knowledge with academic rigour.

“COX is a multidisciplinary design practice and UNSW is a world-leading research university that is also dedicated to interdisciplinary collaborations that more strongly engage research with practice to the benefit of both,” he says.

Stephen Albin, UDIA NSW's CEO, says he is thrilled with the response to the competition, which received more than 60 entries from around the world.

“An urban population explosion is leading to a number of issues that, if not addressed now, will lead to a looming crisis in affordability, transport and our health in the future,” Mr Albin says.

“The CityLife project is putting responsible and innovative plans in place now, to build more liveable cities in our greater urban city future.”

The two other CityLife Project winners are business management consultants, Macroplan Dimasi, whose research will address the potential of employment-based urban development in non-CBD centres, and Hames Sharley/UTS, whose project will enable future cities to be founded on a network economy, not just traditional land economics and planning.


Hep C cures available today for as low as $6.20 a prescription

1 March 2016

Hepatitis C sufferers will today get access to publicly-subsidised breakthrough cures that could eradicate the deadly and debilitating disease within a generation, thanks to an investment of more than $1 billion by the Turnbull Government. 

Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced Australians with Hep C would now pay just $6.20 a prescription if they were a concession card holder or $38.30 a prescription as a general patient for four different cures listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme today – saving patients as much as $100,000 for treatment.

Ms Ley said that when taken as prescribed, the four breakthrough medicines listed today had a cure rate of over 90 per cent and worked faster and with fewer side effects than anything else previously subsidised on the PBS. 

“Australia is one of the first countries in the world to publicly subsidise these cures for every one of our quarter-of-a-million Hep C suffers, no matter what their condition or how they contracted it,” Ms Ley said. 

“This is a watershed moment in Australian history and we are hoping to eliminate one the great disease challenges facing Australia in the 21st century.

Hepatitis C is an infectious blood borne virus that attacks the liver, causing its inflammation, and may lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and, in some cases, death. It has six different genotypes.

Ms Ley said there were about 700 deaths attributable to chronic Hep C infection each year, with thousands more suffering a variety of serious liver diseases and conditions.

As a result deaths from primary liver cancer, for which untreated Hep C is a major driver, are rising faster than for any other cancer, with Ms Ley describing today’s PBS listings as a “game changer”.

“Essentially one in every 100 Australians has Hep C, with another 10,000 people diagnosed every year, and they come from all walks of life,” Ms Ley said.

“With this announcement there is great hope we can not only halt the spread of this deadly infectious virus, but eliminate it altogether in time.

“It’s therefore important we tackle this disease head on, and that includes providing these medicines to all Australians, particularly vulnerable populations where rates of infection are high.”

Ms Ley said today’s announcement would see the listing of multiple drug combinations to ensure cures for all types of Hep C were made available to the entire patient population through the PBS from March 1 2016. The medicines are: Sofosbuvir with ledipasvir (Harvoni); Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi); Daclatasvir (Daklinza); and Ribavirin (Ibavyr). 

Ms Ley said in the majority of cases the medicines would be taken orally, with treatment duration as short as 8 to 12 weeks. 

Ms Ley said the cures would be administered in line with the Australian Government’s broader 4th National Hepatitis C Strategy. 

Ms Ley advised people with Hep C to consult their doctor about the best course of treatment for them. 

These Hep C cures were part of $1.6 billion the Turnbull Government invested in its recent MYEFO update. 

“The Turnbull Government is committed to listing medicines recommended by the PBAC without fear or favour, unlike Labor, who tried to halt listing new drug recommendations until it returned budget to surplus,” Ms Ley said. 

“As such, the Coalition has now approved over 900 new and amended listings to the PBS since coming to office – nearly triple the 331 new listings in Labor’s final term.

“Every dollar spent on inefficiency in the health system is a dollar we cannot invest in new breakthrough cures like this one.”

Ms Ley said like access to all PBS medicines, funding was demand driven and the Government would account for any potential variations in spending accordingly. 

Study finds dancing halves chance of death from cardiovascular disease

March 1st, 2016: UWS

A world first study has found people over the age of 40 who participate in dancing almost halve their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney studied 48 thousand people without cardiovascular disease over a decade to determine how exercise affected their health outcomes.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is the first to track the impact of dance on mortality from heart disease. It found those who participated in dancing had 46% lower risk of cardiovascular death over a decade compared to those who rarely or never danced.

These outcomes were achieved by people who were at least slightly out of breath or sweaty while dancing, but not for those whose dancing was at a light intensity.

"The Bee Gees said it best- you should be dancing," says lead author Associate Professor Dafna Merom, from the Western Sydney University School of Science and Health.

"Our study shows that dancing is one of the best ways to protect from cardiovascular disease death."

"For example, the study found that, compared to fast walking, dancing further reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 21%."

Senior author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health said the social nature of dancing plays an important role.

"We should not underestimate the playful social interaction aspects of dancing which, when coupled with some more intense movement, can be a very powerful stress relief and heart health promoting pastime," he says. 

Associate Professor Merom said the health benefits could be due to the very physical nature of dance.  

"Some styles of ballroom or folk dancing almost mimic the short bouts of vigorous intensity we see in interval training, and that we know has proven heart health benefits, so it is like exercise in disguise," said Associate Professor Merom.

"Furthermore dancers are often dancers for life, so we don't see the drop in and out as much as we do in regular exercise classes."

The study draws on data from 48,390 Great Britain residents recruited between 1994 and 2008.

Recipients of the 2016 Science and Innovation Awards announced!

March 2nd, 2016

The recipients of the 2016 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry have been announced at the ABARES Outlook 2016 conference dinner on 1 March. The Science Awards recognise big ideas from young rural innovators that contribute to the success of Australia’s agriculture sector.

Congratulations to Giana Bastos Gomes who was awarded the ultimate honour with the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Award for her project - New on-farm device for pathogen detection in aquaculture systems.

We congratulate all the recipients of the industry category awards:

Giana Bastos Gomes, Recipient of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Award

Yvonne Chang, Recipient of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation Award

Dr Jake Dunlevy, Recipient of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Award

Jock Graham, Recipient of the Meat & Livestock Australia Award

Dr Cindy Hauser, Recipient of the CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Award

Dr Lauren Hemsworth, Recipient of the Australian Pork Limited Award

Joanne Hughes Recipient of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Award

Dr Jatin Kala, Recipient of the Grains Research and Development Corporation

Dr Yujuan Li, Recipient of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Award

Amy Lockwood, Recipient of the Australian Wool Innovation Award

Dr Edward Narayan, Recipient of the Meat & Livestock Australia Award

Dr Nadeeka Wawegama, Recipient of the Dairy Australia Award

Recipients have each been granted funding to undertake a project on an emerging scientific issue or innovative activity over the next twelve months. The recipient of the Minister’s Award receives additional funding for an extended research project. The Awards aim to encourage science, innovation and technology in rural industries and help to advance the careers of young scientists and innovators through national recognition of their research ideas. The Science Awards have already helped more than 200 young Australians make their ideas a reality and showcase their talent to the world.

Small dragonfly found to be world's longest-distance flyer

March 2, 2016

The body and wings of the dragonfly Pantala flavescens have evolved in a way that lets the insect glide extraordinary distances on weather currents. Credit: Greg Lasley

A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world's most prolific long distance traveler -- flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent -- according to newly published research.

Biologists at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) who led the study -- which appears in the journal PLOS ONE -- say the evidence is in the genes. They found that populations of this dragonfly, called Pantala flavescens, in locations as far apart as Texas, eastern Canada, Japan, Korea, India, and South America, have genetic profiles so similar that there is only one likely explanation. Apparently -- somehow -- these insects are traveling distances that are extraordinarily long for their small size, breeding with each other, and creating a common worldwide gene pool that would be impossible if they did not intermingle.

"This is the first time anyone has looked at genes to see how far these insects have traveled," says Jessica Ware, an assistant professor of biology on the faculty of RU-N's College of Arts and Sciences and senior author of the study. "If North American Pantala only bred with North American Pantala, and Japanese Pantala only bred with Japanese Pantala," Ware says, "we would expect to see that in genetic results that differed from each other. Because we don't see that, it suggests the mixing of genes across vast geographic expanses."

But how do insects from different continents manage to meet and hook up? These are not large birds or whales that one would expect to travel thousands of miles. Ware says it appears to be the way their bodies have evolved. "These dragonflies have adaptations such as increased surface areas on their wings that enable them to use the wind to carry them. They stroke, stroke, stroke and then glide for long periods, expending minimal amounts of energy as they do so."

Dragonflies, in fact, have already been observed crossing the Indian Ocean from Asia to Africa. "They are following the weather," says Daniel Troast, who analyzed the DNA samples in Ware's lab while working toward his master's degree in biology, which he earned at the university in 2015. "They're going from India where it's dry season to Africa where it's moist season, and apparently they do it once a year."

Moisture is a must for Pantala to reproduce, and that, says Ware, is why these insects would be driven to even attempt such a perilous trip, which she calls a "kind of suicide mission." The species depends on it. While many will die en route, as long as enough make it, the species survives.

Flight patterns appear to vary. The hardiest of the dragonflies might make the trip nonstop, catching robust air currents or even hurricane winds and gliding all the way. Others may, literally, be puddle jumpers. Pantala need fresh water to mate and lay their eggs -- and if while riding a weather current they spot a fresh water pool created by a rainstorm -- even on an island in the middle of a vast ocean -- Ware and Troast say it's likely they dive earthward and use those pools to mate. After the eggs hatch and the babies are mature enough to fly -- which takes just a few weeks -- the new dragonflies join the swarm's intercontinental and now multi-generational trek right where their parents left off.

For the moment, the details of this extraordinary insect itinerary are an educated best guess, as are specific routes these migrations might take. Much more work is needed to bring many loose ends together. But now that their work has established a worldwide population of intermingling dragonflies, Ware and Troast hope that scientists can work on plotting those routes in earnest. They would need to be innovative, because tracking devices that can be attached to larger animals are far too big to put on insects.

What the Rutgers scientists have discovered puts this dragonfly far ahead of any identified insect competitor. "Monarch butterflies migrating back and forth across North America were thought to be the longest migrating insects," traveling about 2,500 miles each way, says Troast, "but Pantala completely destroys any migrating record they would have," with its estimated range of 4,400 miles or more. It also exceeds Charles Lindbergh's celebrated solo flight from New York to Paris by at least several hundred miles.

Pantala leaves many of its fellow dragonflies even farther behind. The mysteries of evolution are such that while Pantala and its cousin the Green Darner (Anax junius) have developed into world travelers, Ware says that by contrast, other members of the family "don't ever leave the pond on which they're born -- traveling barely 36 feet away their entire lives."

Daniel Troast, Frank Suhling, Hiroshi Jinguji, Göran Sahlén, Jessica Ware. A Global Population Genetic Study of Pantala flavescens. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (3): e0148949 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0148949

Surf For Life Project

Surfing Australia TV: Published on 28 Feb 2016

Surfing Australia is undertaking fundraising for the Surf For Life Project and has the ambitious target of putting a further 2000 underprivileged kids through the national Weet-Bix SurfGroms program in 2016.

Australia Post joins with largest data innovation group in Australia, Data61

29th February 2016

Australia Post is continuing its transformation to an eCommerce and eGovernment services company, today announcing a new partnership with the country's largest data innovation group Data61.

Over the next two years Australia Post will leverage its trusted Post Office and digital network to partner with CSIRO's Data61's unmatched digital and cyber expertise across three priority areas:

1. Trusted services

Making it easier and safer for customers to use services online and in-store by building easy to use services backed by advanced cyber capabilities

2. Digital government services

Improving how Australian citizens can access and utilise government services when and where they need, with in market trials of new technology that transforms how citizens can access government services in regional, remote and metropolitan areas

3. The future of logistics

Applying expertise and insight to the data from our trucks and parcel deliveries, to drive advances in supply chain management and methods of delivery

Australia Post Managing Director and Group CEO Ahmed Fahour said this partnership will allow Australia Post to maximise its eCommerce expertise by collaborating with some of Australia's best data and innovation experts.

"We are continuing to directly invest in ideas that will improve the lives of our customers and our partnership with Data61 further demonstrates this," Mr Fahour said.

"This business-driven approach will bring short-term teams together to understand what does and doesn't work for our customers.

"Our first trial will allow us to deliver a range of eGovernment services to customers in up to 20 areas of isolation or social disadvantage, resulting in improved convenience without having to travel to other service centres.

"As a major eCommerce business, innovation is part of our future. We need to continue to respond quickly to the ongoing shift in consumer behaviour towards digital channels."

Data61 CEO, Adrian Turner, said that they will use their extensive experience to identify and apply technology that supports business transformation.

"Australia Post is one of the country's largest supporters of eCommerce – working together will give us the ability to unleash the potential in Australian industry by establishing a stronger local and global presence and delivering solutions that contribute to the nation's economic growth and prosperity," he said.

"This is a strategic digital transformation process of national significance, and we are focused on delivering high impact outcomes that will boost Australia Post's offering as an eCommerce and eGovernment service provider."

This partnership builds on Australia Post's recent announcement of a $20 million innovation fund where Australia Post directly invests in great eCommerce businesses with ideas that will improve the lives of customers.

Moving Powerhouse the first step towards addressing investment inbalance: expert

March 2nd, 2016: UWS

Relocating the Powerhouse museum to Parramatta is an important step in redressing the massive imbalance of investments directed towards those with power, influence and red-carpet appeal, according to an urban researcher from Western Sydney University.

Professor Paul James is the Director of the Institute for Culture and Society and former Director of the Cities Programme of the United Nations.

He says moving the Powerhouse is a necessary way to get the whole of Sydney talking in practical terms about how to support cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney.

"It is true that moving cultural facilities around cities like icons on a monopoly board is not the best way to redress past imbalances," he says.

"But given we need a new museum in the West, and considering the government's funding priorities, financing the new establishment by the sale of the existing site is necessary."

Professor James says we must abandon the idea that cities are central business hubs with dispersed housing.

"Around the world, the emphasis is now on transport-oriented redesign with intense cultural-economic precincts that are organized around transport nodes," he says.

"Sydney, for all its visual attraction around the harbour, has been an uneven failure, with many opportunities missed and numerous mistakes made. This is slowly being addressed, but we need to work harder and more sensitively on all our cultural precincts, not just those in the CBD."

"Moving the Powerhouse is a step towards redressing the massive imbalance in investment that still sees most of our resources directed towards those with power, influence and red-carpet appeal."

Professor James says there's also a disconnect in the amount of government expenditure on roads, as opposed to precinct development.

"For all the talk of vibrant cultural precincts, the vast bulk of government investment is going towards travelling between them," he says.

"It's time we started thinking about developing these cultural precincts themselves, and not just the roads that will one day link them."

Fish farm innovator receives national award

March 2nd, 2016: JCU

A James Cook University researcher is developing a device to detect parasites in farm water before it makes fish sick.

Giana Gomes, a PhD candidate at JCU’s Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, received a 2016 Science and Innovation Award last night (March 1).

The awards, which were announced during the ABARES Outlook 2016 conference dinner in Canberra, encourage young scientists and researchers to pursue innovative projects that help keep Australia’s rural industries sustainable and profitable.

Ms Gomes is developing a device to be used by fish farmers for the early detection of waterborne pathogens and to prevent disease outbreaks.

“Aquaculture is the fastest growing agribusiness on the planet, worth more than US $100 billion a year. However, about 40 per cent of the world aquaculture production is lost due to disease outbreaks,” she said.

“I strongly believe that prevention is better than cure. This device will improve the response capability of fish farmers to manage disease risks.”

Ms Gomes said the $44,000 award ($22,000 for the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation award and $22,000 for the overall Minister’s award) will help her develop and test the device on farms.

“A DNA-based point-of-care (PoCT) digital device will detect and quantify the genetic material - in this case fish parasites - using a low cost, portable and simple technology.

“Traditional diagnostic methods can take several weeks to provide results; by then it is too late for farmers to implement the appropriate management response to outbreaks.”

The device will detect both freshwater (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) and saltwater (Cryptocaryon irritans)ciliate parasites, which cause fish White Spot disease.

Ms Gomes said PoCT technologies have been extensively researched and used in human medicine particularly for the detection of diseases in remote areas.

“Aquaculture farms generally are located in remote areas which makes this kind of technology ideal to be used in farms.

“Having this early detection tool on farm will accelerate farmers’ response to possible fish infections, and reduce consequent economic loss.”

Ms Gomes said in the first instance, it would be tested in farmed barramundi.

“But once the technology has been developed, then it will be possible to detect pathogens from many other aquaculture species.”

Ms Gomes hopes to have a prototype to be tested on farms within the next three years.

'A load of old rot': Fossil of oldest known land-dweller identified

March 2, 2016

Filaments of Tortotubus. Credit: Martin R. Smith

A fossil dating from 440 million years ago is not only the oldest example of a fossilised fungus, but is also the oldest fossil of any land-dwelling organism yet found. The organism, and others like it, played a key role in laying the groundwork for more complex plants, and later animals, to exist on land by kick-starting the process of rot and soil formation, which is vital to all life on land.

This early pioneer, known as Tortotubus, displays a structure similar to one found in some modern fungi, which likely enabled it to store and transport nutrients through the process of decomposition. Although it cannot be said to be the first organism to have lived on land, it is the oldest fossil of a terrestrial organism yet found. The results are published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

"During the period when this organism existed, life was almost entirely restricted to the oceans: nothing more complex than simple mossy and lichen-like plants had yet evolved on the land," said the paper's author Dr Martin Smith, who conducted the work while at the University of Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences, and is now based at Durham University. "But before there could be flowering plants or trees, or the animals that depend on them, the processes of rot and soil formation needed to be established."

Working with a range of tiny microfossils from Sweden and Scotland, each shorter than a human hair is wide, Smith attempted to reconstruct the method of growth for two different types of fossils that were first identified in the 1980s. These fossils had once been thought to represent parts of two different organisms, but by identifying other fossils with 'in-between' forms, Smith was able to show that the fossils actually represented parts of a single organism at different stages of growth. By reconstructing how the organism grew, he was able to show that the fossils represent mycelium -- the root-like filaments that fungi use to extract nutrients from soil.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when life first migrated from the seas to the land, since useful features in the fossil record that could help identify the earliest land colonisers are rare, but it is generally agreed that the transition started early in the Palaeozoic era, between 500 and 450 million years ago. But before any complex forms of life could live on land, there needed to be nutrients there to support them. Fungi played a key role in the move to land, since by kick-starting the rotting process, a layer of fertile soil could eventually be built up, enabling plants with root systems to establish themselves, which in turn could support animal life.

Fungi play a vital role in the nitrogen cycle, in which nitrates in the soil are taken up by plant roots and passed along food chain into animals. Decomposing fungi convert nitrogen-containing compounds in plant and animal waste and remains back into nitrates, which are incorporated into the soil and can again be taken up by plants. These early fungi started the process by getting nitrogen and oxygen into the soil.

Smith found that Tortotubus had a cord-like structure, similar to that of some modern fungi, in which the main filament sends out primary and secondary branches that stick back onto the main filament, eventually enveloping it. This cord-like structure is often seen in land-based organisms, allowing them to spread out and colonise surfaces. In modern fungi, the structure is associated with the decomposition of matter, allowing a fungus colony to move nutrients to where they are needed -- a useful adaptation in an environment where nutrients are scarce and unevenly distributed.

In contrast with early plants, which lacked roots and therefore had limited interaction with activity beneath the surface, fungi played an important role in stabilising sediment, encouraging weathering and forming soils.

"What we see in this fossil is complex fungal 'behaviour' in some of the earliest terrestrial ecosystems -- contributing to soil formation and kick-starting the process of rotting on land," said Smith. A question, however, is what was there for Tortotubus to decompose. According to Smith, it's likely that there were bacteria or algae on land during this period, but these organisms are rarely found as fossils.

Additionally, the pattern of growth in Tortotubus echoes that of the mushroom-forming fungi, although unambiguous evidence of mushrooms has yet to be found in the Palaeozoic fossil record. "This fossil provides a hint that mushroom-forming fungi may have colonised the land before the first animals left the oceans," said Smith. "It fills an important gap in the evolution of life on land."

The research was supported by Clare College, Cambridge.

Martin R. Smith. Cord-forming Palaeozoic fungi in terrestrial assemblages. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2016; DOI:10.1111/boj.12389

Australia Council Honours Leading Artists with 2016 Awards 

01 March 2016

The 2016 Australia Council awards will honour eight distinguished Australian artists who have made an exceptional contribution to the arts over many years.   

Now in its second year, the Australia Council Awards ceremony will be held in Sydney on Thursday, 10 March. These prestigious national awards combine long-standing lifetime and outstanding achievement awards in music, literature, community arts and cultural development, visual arts, theatre, dance, and emerging and experimental arts.

Australia Council Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski said the awards were the highest honour the Council could give, and it was a great pleasure to publicly acknowledge the diverse work and achievements of the eight pioneering artists.

 “These artists are widely respected by their peers and have each played an important role in the national development of their art form,” Mr Grybowski said.

 “Many of them spend considerable time working internationally and are wonderful ambassadors for Australian arts.

 “The Australia Council Awards are an important part of our commitment to recognising the achievements and contributions of Australian artists.

 “The 2016 recipients join a group which includes some of Australia’s most esteemed artists. Artists who delight and challenge audiences across the country and around the globe.”

The 2016 Australia Council Award recipients are:

• David Malouf AO (NSW) – Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature

• Brett Dean (Vic) – Don Banks Music Award

• Richard Bell (Qld) – Australia Council Visual Arts Award

• Kelli McCluskey (WA) – Australia Council Emerging & Experimental Arts Award

• Lucy Guerin (Vic) – Australia Council Dance Award

• Yaron Lifschitz (Qld) – Australia Council Theatre Award

• Lily Shearer (NSW) – Ros Bower Award (Community Arts and Cultural Development)

• Nathan Stoneham (Qld) – Kirk Robson Award (Community Arts and Cultural Development)

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.