Inbox and Environment News: Issue 336

November 5 - 11, 2017: Issue 336

Aussie Bird Count Statistics Nationally And Locally: 2017

By Birdlife Australia

Checklists submitted: 60,175
Species sighted: 642
Birds sighted: 2,022,941

With over 2 million birds counted, the #AussieBirdCount is over for another year - thank you for making every bird count!

The app and website will be open until the end of Sunday 5 November,  so you can submit any backdated counts.

Then the next steps are to vet and analyse the data, and with so many records this is going to be a big job! We hope to have the results out late November.

BirdLife Australia's Aussie Backyard Bird Count and Birdata programs show a possible decline in Laughing Kookaburras.

Data collected from heavily urbanised areas during the Aussie Backyard Bird Count suggests we are seeing a decline in this iconic species in the eastern capitals. Likely reasons for this are the loss of nesting hollows and possibly reductions in the availability of prey as we increasingly modify our urban landscapes.

We appreciate everyone taking time out of their busy lives to submit counts to the #AussieBirdCount. Thanks to citizen scientists like you BirdLife Australia is able to track large-scale biodiversity trends like these.

Below is an overview of Birds spotted locally compiled by postcode earlier this week - this has yet to be ratified and some birds spotted, usually those that live in arid inland areas, may have been added to the local count by mistake.

The by postcode Stat.s show a lot of birds in places you'd expect - Warriewood wetlands for example, and every postcode reported Brush-Turkeys, among others we find just about everyday in our own backyards!

Draft Environment SEPP

The Explanation of Intended Effect for the Environment SEPP is on exhibition from 31 October 2017 until the 15 January 2018.
The NSW government has been working towards developing a new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for the protection and management of our natural environment. These areas are important to communities in delivering opportunities for physical health, economic security and cultural identity.
This consolidated SEPP proposes to simplify the planning rules for a number of water catchments, waterways, urban bushland, and Willandra Lakes World Heritage Property. These environmental policies will be accessible in one location, and updated to reflect changes that have occurred since the creation of the original policies.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on the proposed SEPP to update and improve the planning framework in regards to these environmental issues. This is discussed in the Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the proposed Environment SEPP.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following seven existing SEPPs:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50 – Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2 – Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20 – Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1 – World Heritage Property.
Changes are also proposed to the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan. Some provisions of the existing policies will be transferred to new Section 117 Local Planning Directions where appropriate.
The EIE outlines changes to occur, implementation details, and the intended outcome. It considers the existing SEPPs proposed to be repealed and explains why certain provisions will be transferred directly to the new SEPP, amended and transferred, or repealed due to overlaps with other areas of the NSW planning system.
Download the EIE document (PDF: 6.215 MB)

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 15 January 2018

We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and encourage you to have your say.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001

Major Changes: State Environmental Planning Controls  

The Berejiklian government has just announced changes that propose to repeal and replace the following State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) with a single Environment SEPP:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19—Bushland in Urban Areas - [Manly, Warringah, Pittwater; pages 28 to 32]
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50—Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2—Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20—Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997) [*Pittwater and Warringah]
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1—World Heritage Property.

Aimed at reducing 'red tape' and 'streamlining' NSW's planning system, some changes are commended such as protecting Sydney Harbour's natural assets by prohibiting new canal estates.

However other changes will enable development in sensitive areas that are currently protected.

Designed to marry up with other planning instruments, such as the controversial Biodiversity Act 2016, the changes also give greater effect to Ministerial Directions.

The changes also propose to revise the term ‘bushland zoned or reserved for public open space purposes’ to ‘public bushland’. This includes all land that is zoned non-rural, and owned or managed by a council or a public authority, or reserved for acquisition for open space or environmental conservation by a council or a public authority, and that has vegetation which meets a clear definition of bushland.

Critically the current SEPP (no 19) SEPP 19 extends 'beyond the protection of environmental values of bushland by identifying 'the need to protect the aesthetic and community values as well as the recreational, educational and scientific values of this resource'.

The proposed SEPP also enables the Roads and Maritime Services, to undertake the subdivision of foreshore lands in order ‘to lawfully reclaim Sydney Harbour land’ and redefine the ‘heads of consideration for consent authorities when assessing Development Applications on Foreshore lands.

The changes also include amending the aim of the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan that ensures Sydney is a ‘working harbour’ to enable a range of recreational, transport, tourism and commercial uses. Greater flexibility to 'mooring pens' is also proposed, which are currently prohibited.

Other changes include transferring heritage provisions to the relevant local environmental plan, thereby reducing the protection of heritage assets.

In addition, concerns have been flagged that moving the prohibition of extractive industries in parts of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment to the SEPP for Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries - and moving the Sydney Opera House provisions in the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan to SEPP (State Significant Precincts) effectively reduces the current protections.

The changes are on exhibition for public comment until the 15 January.

*page 26:
Provisions to be updated and moved to Ministerial Directions
Provisions within the Hawkesbury Nepean Regional Environmental Plan related to local plan making will be updated and are to be moved to a new Ministerial Direction.

The following current provisions contain plan making guidance suited to a Ministerial Direction:
• Clause 3 ‘Aim of This Plan’
• Part 2 ‘General Planning Considerations, Specific Planning Policies and Recommended Strategies’
• Clause 6(3) ‘Water Quality’
• Clause 6(10) (a) ‘Urban Development’ - rezoning or subdivision of land
• Clause 6(11) ‘Recreation and Tourism’.

Other aspects of Clause 6, such as water quality, total catchment management, biodiversity and environmentally sensitive
areas will be transferred to the proposed new SEPP.

Primary Production And Rural Development
Draft SEPP And Planning Reforms

The agricultural sector is vital to the NSW economy as it provides food and other products for local consumption and export, and is a major employer in regional areas. The NSW Government is proposing changes to the planning system to further support sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and rural development. These changes will help ensure planning proposals affecting rural land are properly assessed and provide greater certainty to farmers on the types of activities that will require development consent.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on a package of reforms to update and improve the planning framework for primary production and rural development. These are discussed in the Primary Production and Rural Development - Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE).
The proposals outlined in the EIE will help industry and the community respond to existing challenges. Simpler and more streamlined processes will allow us to adapt to emerging economic opportunities as they arise. They also support commitments in the NSW Right to Farm Policy.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following five existing SEPPs:
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Rural Lands) 2008 (Rural Lands SEPP)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 30 - Intensive Agriculture (SEPP 30)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 52 - Farm Dams and Other Works in Land and Water Management Plan Areas (SEPP 52)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 62 - Sustainable Aquaculture (SEPP 62)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas (SREP 8)
The EIE outlines provisions to be included in a new SEPP. It also highlights proposals to transfer existing plan making requirements to the Ministerial Planning Directions under section 117 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and to amend the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan.
• Part 1 – Executive summary
• Part 2 – The new SEPP
• Part 3 – Proposed amendments to other planning legislation
• Conclusion
• Attachment A – Planning framework
• Attachment B – Summary of key policy proposals
• Attachment C – Existing SEPPs
• Attachment D – Existing clause analysis and proposed action
• Attachment E – Outline of revised definitions and clauses
Download the whole EIE document
Download the FAQs
Planning guidelines for intensive livestock agriculture development
Draft guidelines have been prepared to support the proposed planning reforms. These are intended to assist applicants and planning authorities to understand the assessment requirements for new intensive livestock developments, such as feedlots, poultry farms and pig farms.
Download the draft guidelines

Have your say until 18 December 2017
We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and draft planning guidelines and encourage you to make a submission.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001
Published submissions will include your name and the organisation on whose behalf you may be writing. Contact details such as email and postal addresses, and telephone numbers are not published. The Department reserve the right to not publish selected submissions (in full or part).
Please read our privacy statement.

Where can I find out more about the Draft Primary Production and Rural Development SEPP reforms package?
• For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions, or phone 1300 305 695.
• If you require translation assistance, please call 131 450.
You can also subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates from the Department.

Repeal Of Two Operational SEPPs

By NSW Dept. of Planning
Exhibition Commences 27/10/2017
Exhibition Concludes 22/12/2017
The Department of Planning and Environment is reviewing State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) to simplify and modernise the planning system by removing duplicated, redundant and outdated planning controls. 

The Department proposes to improve and simplify NSW development standards by repealing SEPP No. 1 - Development Standards and SEPP (Miscellaneous Consent Provisions) 2007 (MCP SEPP). The planning provisions contained in these two policies will be incorporated in local planning controls. 

Both SEPPs now only apply to lands which have been deferred from the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan. Councils that have adopted the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan already have the equivalent measures in place within their areas. This means local controls will essentially replace the function of the repealed SEPPs. 

The Department of Planning and Environment will work with affected councils to manage the transition of planning provisions into their Local Environmental Plans. 

The Repeal of two operational SEPPs package is currently on exhibition until 22 December 2017. 

EP&A Regulation Review

Review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

The Department has recently commenced a review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (the Regulation).

This review follows proposed changes to the Regulation’s parent Act, theEnvironmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).  While the EP&A Act provides the overarching framework for the planning system in NSW, the Regulation supports the day-to-day requirements of this system.

This review affords an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive look at the Regulation and remove any unnecessary complexities or outdated rules which make the system hard to use. 
As a first step, the Department is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the current Regulation. 
The Department has prepared an issues paper that outlines the key operational provisions of the Regulation and seeks:
• Stakeholder views on known issues with the current Regulation
• Stakeholder feedback to help identify other issues, including suggestions for updating and improving the function of key operational provisions and reducing unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.

What does the Regulation address?
The Regulation contains key operational provisions for the NSW planning system, including those relating to:
• Planning instruments, including requirements and procedures for planning proposals and procedures for making and amending development control plans
• Procedures relating to development applications and complying development certificates 
• Existing uses and designated development
• Requirements for environmental assessment under Part 5 of the EP&A Act and applications for State significant infrastructure
• Environmental impact statements 
• Building regulation and subdivision certification 
o Note: the review of the Regulation will not examine these building and certification provisions, as broader building regulation reforms are being fast tracked through a separate process.

• Fees and charges, including fees for development applications, building certificates and other planning services 
• Development contributions, including the preparation of contributions plans
• Planning certificates, which provide information about land
•Other miscellaneous matters, including amounts for penalty notices (or fines) that may be issued for breaches of the EP&A Act and the Regulation, provisions for planning bodies (the Planning Assessment Commission and Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels), development by the Crown, and record keeping requirements for councils.

What are the objectives of the review?
The review of the Regulation presents an opportunity to build on the proposed changes to the EP&A Act and further improve the architecture of the planning system.

The objectives are to undertake a comprehensive review of the Regulation in order to:
• reduce administrative burden and increase procedural efficiency (e.g. by removing any outdated rules which make the system hard to use)
• reduce complexity 
• establish a simpler, more modern and transparent planning system.

Have your say until 24 November 2017
The NSW Government welcomes your feedback on the EP&A Regulation Review issues paper. Feedback received in response to this issues paper will be used to inform the preparation of a draft regulation, which will be released for consultation in 2018.
You can provide your feedback by:
• Writing to:
Director, Legislative Updates
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39 Sydney NSW 2001

Your feedback can play a vital role in the review of the Regulation. 
Where can I find out more?
• Call us on 1300 305 695
• Email:
• If English isn’t your first language, please call 131 450. Ask for an interpreter in your language and then request to be connected to us on 1300 305 695.

Birds In Careel Creek This Week

The Birds Are; Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) with a Bakers Dozen (13) ducklings, White Faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) and Little Pied Cormorant, little shag or kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos) - AJG pics.

UNESCO recognises our colossal images of Sydney Harbour

OCTOBER 31ST 2017: State Library of NSW
The world’s largest glass plate negatives of Sydney Harbour, held in the State Library of NSW’s collection, have just been added to International Memory of the World Register.

Captured in 1875, the three giant views of Sydney Harbour – the largest measuring over 1.6 metres wide – document the future site of the world‐heritage listed Sydney Opera House, with the developing city beyond still surrounded by virgin bush.

State Librarian Dr John Vallance says these remarkable images represent the best in 19th century creative photographic technology, and he is thrilled that they have been recognised as unique documents of international significance by UNESCO.

The giant negatives join only five other inscriptions from Australia on the World Register.

The images of Sydney Harbour were created for an ambitious 1870s publicity campaign to sell the wonders of the Australia to the world. The campaign was spearheaded and funded by the German‐born entrepreneur, Bernhardt Otto Holtermann (of Holtermann nugget fame), who made his fortune at Hill End.

Holtermann worked with the young Australian‐trained professional photographer Charles Bayliss to design a 23 metre (87 foot) high purpose‐built tower, turning the three metre‐square (10 foot) room at the top into a giant camera. It was there that they created the world’s largest images of the time by the wet‐plate process, and then toured them across the globe.

“It’s quite extraordinary that these colossal images were created in Australia, far from the great global centres of progress and invention, and less than 40 years after the invention of photography,” says State Library curator Margot Riley.

The entire Holtermann collection includes some 3,500 glass‐plate negatives which capture gold rush towns (incl. Hill End & Gulgong) townspeople in NSW and Victoria, from 1870 to 1875. This unrivalled collection was inscribed on the UNESCO’s Australian Register in 2013.

“The survival of the giant wet plate negatives defies belief due to their fragility, and were nominated separately from the larger Holtermann collection to claim their rightful place in the global history of photography,” says Ms Riley.

The giant negatives are the first listing for the State Library of NSW on the World Register. The Library also has five inscriptions on the Australian Register: the Library’s First Fleet journals, World War I diaries, the Holtermann photographic collection, Dorothea Mackellar’s poetry notebook ‘Verses 1907‐1908’ and a collection of internment papers from 1914–1919.

Read about the re-construction of the largest of the three giant negatives here.

Two of the the three Giant Glass Plate Negatives of Sydney Harbour:
Restored panorama of Sydney from the Holtermann collection - frame 1(?).

For capture our Digitisation and Imaging team used a 50 mega-pixel Hasselblad camera, and to maximise resolution, each of the six sections was digitised in overlapping frames, then stitched together. 

The Library also collaborated with University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Big Global Data Technologies Centre. Using artificial intelligence mapping techniques, images from a large contact print taken before the plate was broken, replaced the areas of the negative that had been shattered. 

The team at UTS developed Artificial Intelligence methods to map the broken areas of the glass plate and align them with the high resolution image. 
The resulting image is a massive 20,000 pixels long, weighing in at about 3 gigabytes. The Library was also finally able to calculate the size of the original negative, measuring it at 151.7cm x 96.5cm, and confirm it is indeed one of the world's largest collodion glass-plate negatives.

The resulting image is a miraculous restoration of what was thought to be lost.
The painstaking process, which took incredible precision, will be described in the upcoming edition of SL magazine.

From: Three glass plate negatives of Sydney Harbour from the Holtermann residence, St. Leonards - taken 1870 to 1875.
These three images are believed to form part of a panorama of Sydney Harbour, this is unconfirmed as a middle section appears to be missing. 
Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Restored panorama of Sydney from the Holtermann collection - frame 2 or 3(?).
(From the Evening News.)
Mr. B. O. Holtermann, the well-known gold-miner, and one of the richest men in the colony, claims to have produced the largest photographic views in the world. This is, of course, saying a great deal. Our Yankee friends, who are proverbial for big things, may possibly be inclined to dispute Australia's claims to photo-graphic superiority ; and one can even fancy he sees a smile of incredulity lighting up the face of brother Jonothan when such an announcement as the above reaches his ears. But let us see how far Mr. Holtermann's claim is justified by facts. After having made his fortune at gold-mining, Mr. Holtermann, at the instance of the late Mr. Beaufoy Merlin, whom he engaged as private photographer, started to take photographic views of the principal parts of New South Wales and 'Victoria, with the idea of one day making a tour of Europe, and exhibiting a grand panorama of the Australian colonies, especially New South Wales— as a field for emigration. 

The idea is a philanthropic as well as a patriotic one, and does credit to the heart and head of the lucky digger. To carry out the idea successfully, however, Mr. Holtermann came to the conclusion that no half measures would do. It must, he argued, be done on a grand scale, or not at all ; and with the fixed determination of making his show the largest and most complete in the world, he set about his work in real earnest, and spared neither time nor expense in the fulfilment of his grand idea. Having a keen appreciation of the beautiful in nature, he fixed on the magnificent harbour and scenery of Port Jackson as the centre of his labours. He purchased a site of land at the North Shore (Blue's Point — the highest point in the locality), from whence he could command an uninterrupted view of the city and harbour of Sydney. 

Here he built, at enormous cost, a residence fit for a nobleman, and one which, though its approaches and surroundings are not in a finished state, is an architectural ornament to the locality in which it is situated. On the summit of the building is a tower 90 feet high, from whence the views are taken ; and perhaps from no other spot in the colony, can such a magnificent view he obtained as from this elevation. For miles around the eye rests upon one splendid panorama of natural , and artificial scenery, not to be exceeded for beauty by any place in the world. Here was an immense advantage possessed by Mr. Holterman, and he was not slow in turning it to good account. The most perfect instruments that money could obtain were placed at the disposal of his staff of artists (for Mr. Holtermann employs a regular staff of photographers, and is himself an amateur photographer of considerable experience). 

Unfortunately, the sudden death of Mr. Beaufoy Merlin interfered for a time with Mr. Holtermann's plans, but an efficient successor was found in the person of Mr. C. Bayliss, under whose direction the great views of which Mr. Holtermann is now so proud have been produced. He has two views of Sydney and harbor, each 5 feet by 3 feet 2 inches, and two of 4 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 2 inches. These photographs Mr. Holtermann claims are the largest ever produced from single negatives. They give a complete view of the city and harbor of Sydney from Garden Island to Long Nose. No. 1 negative, which is 5 ft. by 3 ft. 2 in., takes in the space from Garden Island to Dawes' Point ; the second, of the same size, embraces from Dawes' Point to Miller's Point ; the two others, each 4 ft. 6 in., showing from Miller's Point to Long Nose. 

Apart from the size of the pictures, they are splendid specimens of the photographer's art, the outlines being sharp and clear, and the various objects shown coming out prominently before the eye. The difficulty of producing pictures of such size can be best understood and appreciated by photographers, among many of whom, we understand, it is believed that it is not possible to execute photographs of such magnitude. If such a belief exists, Mr. Holtermann claims to have dispelled it, and to have worked a revolution in the art of photography. 

In addition to these, Mr. Holtermann has had executed a panoramic view of Sydney and the harbour, 33 feet in length. This embraces a distance of about six miles in length, and the whole of the perspective is shown much clearer than can be seen by the naked eye. Signboards between two and three miles off can be seen easily, without the aid of a glass. Messrs. Goodlet and Smith's Victoria saw and joinery mills signboard can be read on both picture and negative without any difficulty, while the comparatively small sign ''Moore's Book Mart," in George-street, near the Town Hall, could be distinctly seen with the naked eye. There is but one defect in the picture, and that is one that cannot well be avoided, namely, the obscure and slightly "smudged" look of the shipping in harbour. The motion of the craft upon the water renders this defect unavoidable. 

These views are the principal ones; but Mr. Holtermann's studio is stocked with thousands of photographic views—all splendid works of art —of different parts of New South Wales and Victoria. It is his intention to start for Eng-land early next year, with his grand panorama of Australia, his principal object being to induce immigrants to come to Australia ; and, as the expense he has already incurred is some-thing enormous, Mr. Holtermann considers that Government aid should be given to a project designed solely to advance the interests of the colony.
THE LARGEST PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE WORLD. (1875, November 5). Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW : 1856 - 1950), p. 4. Retrieved from

AFMA Research Committee 2018 Call For Research

2 November 2017
The AFMA Research Committee (ARC) takes a leading role in determining research priorities and assessing proposals for funding by AFMA each year.  As part of its 2018 funding round, the ARC is making its annual public call for applications to address research priorities identified for potential AFMA funding in 2018-19.

The ARC met on 9 October 2017 to consider fishery-specific research priorities identified by individual fisheries Resource Assessment Groups (RAGs) and Management Advisory Committees (MACs) and recommended adjustments to the ARC meeting timetable. A single process will replace the current two staged assessment process, whereby the ARC will only consider full proposals and endorse the final budget at its early March 2018 meeting.  The revised process will ensure final ARC endorsement of AFMA’s research budget for 2018/19 occurs within AFMA’s budget timeframe.

Applicants should use the fishery-specific project scopes provided as a guide when developing their full proposals to meet the identified need for the project.

To assist in the quality control and to ensure that the proposal is relevant to identified research priorities, applicants are invited to discuss their applications with the AFMA Research Section and the relevant fisheries manager prior to submitting a proposal.

The AFMA Research Section can be contacted on 02 6225 5432 or 6225 5469 or by emailing

Please note that the research proposal must be submitted to the AFMA Research Section by 31 January 2018. 

AFMA will seek RAG and MAC comments on full proposals in February 2018 before consideration by the ARC at its 6 March 2018 meeting when proposals will be assessed.  Applicants will be advised in mid- March 2018, following the ARC’s evaluation of full proposals, whether their proposals have been selected.

Key information for applicants when completing and submitting full proposals

When completing and submitting proposals, applicants must:
  • use the project scopes outlined below as a guide when developing their full proposals to meet the identified need for the project
  • use the ARC application form to prepare their proposals
include in their proposals:
  • the projected costs and expected funding source, as well as alternatives.
  • the proposed contractor’s full legal identity/description, including each corporation’s full description and Australian Company Number or the full names of all partners/joint venturers. A trading name and/or Australian Business Number should also be notified, but only if registered to the parties described
  • email their completed full proposal to the Research Section at by  31 January 2018.  
Find research project scopes on AFMA’s Research page.

Both The Aggressor And The Victim: Alarming Number Of Teens Cyberbully Themselves

October 30, 2017: Florida Atlantic University
Adolescents harming themselves with cuts, scratches or burns has gained a lot of attention over the years not just because of the physical damage and internal turmoil, but also because it has been linked to suicide. More recently, a new form of self-harm in youth has emerged and is cause for concern, warns a researcher and bullying expert from Florida Atlantic University.

The behavior: "digital self-harm," "self-trolling," or "self-cyberbullying," where adolescents post, send or share mean things about themselves anonymously online. The concern: it is happening at alarming rates and could be a cry for help.

A new FAU study is the first to examine the extent of this behavior and is the most comprehensive investigation of this understudied problem.

"The idea that someone would cyberbully themselves first gained public attention with the tragic suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith in 2013 after she anonymously sent herself hurtful messages on a social media platform just weeks before she took her own life," said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., study author, a professor in FAU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "We knew we had to study this empirically, and I was stunned to discover that about 1 in 20 middle- and high-school-age students have bullied themselves online. This finding was totally unexpected, even though I've been studying cyberbullying for almost 15 years."

Hinduja and his collaborator from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., recently published results of their study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

They used a nationally representative sample of 5,593 middle and high school students between the ages of 12 and 17 years old living in the United States to find out how many youth participated in digital self-harm, as well as their motivations for such behavior. They also examined if certain correlates of offline self-harm also applied to digital forms of self-harm.

Results of the study show that nearly 6 percent of the teens reported that they had anonymously posted something mean about themselves online. Among these, about half (51.3 percent) said they did it just once, about one-third (35.5 percent) said they did it a few times, while 13.2 percent said they had done it many times.

Boys were more likely to participate in this behavior (7 percent) compared to girls (5 percent). Their reasons, however, varied dramatically. Boys described their behavior as a joke or a way to get attention while girls said they did it because they were depressed or psychologically hurt. This finding is especially worrisome for the researchers as there may be more of a possibility that this behavior among girls leads to attempted or completed suicide.

To ascertain motivations behind the behavior, the researchers included an open-ended question asking respondents to tell them why they had engaged in digital self-harm. Most comments centered around certain themes: self-hate; attention seeking; depressive symptoms; feeling suicidal; to be funny; and to see if anyone would react. Qualitative data from the study showed that many who had participated in digital self-harm were looking for a response.

Age and race of the respondents did not differentiate participation in digital self-harm, but other factors did. Teens who identified as non-heterosexual were three times more likely to bully themselves online. In addition, victims of cyberbullying were nearly 12 times as likely to have cyberbullied themselves compared to those who were not victims. Those who reported using drugs or participating in deviance, had depressive symptoms, or had previously engaged in self-harm behaviors offline were all significantly more likely to have engaged in digital self-harm.

"Prior research has shown that self-harm and depression are linked to increased risk for suicide and so, like physical self-harm and depression, we need to closely look at the possibility that digital self-harm behaviors might precede suicide attempts," said Hinduja. "We need to refrain from demonizing those who bully, and come to terms with the troubling fact that in certain cases the aggressor and target may be one and the same. What is more, their self-cyberbullying behavior may indicate a deep need for social and clinical support."

Justin W. Patchin, Sameer Hinduja. Digital Self-Harm Among Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2017; DOI:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.06.012

How Flu Shot Manufacturing Forces Influenza To Mutate

October 30, 2017
According to a new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), the common practice of growing influenza vaccine components in chicken eggs disrupts the major antibody target site on the virus surface, rendering the flu vaccine less effective in humans.

"Now we can explain -- at an atomic level -- why egg-based vaccine production is causing problems," said TSRI Research Associate Nicholas Wu, Ph.D., first author of the study, published recently in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

For more than 70 years, manufacturers have made the flu vaccine by injecting influenza into chicken eggs, allowing the virus to replicate inside the eggs and then purifying the fluid from the eggs to get enough of the virus to use in vaccines.

The subtype of influenza in this study, called H3N2, is one of several subtypes shown to mutate when grown in chicken eggs, and the researchers say the new findings further support the case for alternative approaches to growing the virus.

"Any influenza viruses produced in eggs have to adapt to growing in that environment and hence generate mutations to grow better," explained study senior author Ian Wilson, D.Phil., Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at TSRI.

The new study shows exactly why egg-based manufacturing is a problem for the H3N2 subtype. As H3N2 influenza has become more prevalent, scientists formulating the seasonal flu vaccine have sought to include this virus and teach the human immune system to fight it. Despite this effort, recent flu vaccines have proven only 33 percent effective against H3N2 viruses.

Wu used a high-resolution imaging technique called X-ray crystallography to show that -- when grown in eggs -- the H3N2 subtype mutates a key protein to better attach to receptors in bird cells. Specifically, there was a mutation called L194P on the virus's hemagglutinin glycoprotein (HA). This mutation disrupts the region on the protein that is commonly recognized by our immune system.

This means a vaccine containing the mutated version of the protein will not be able to trigger an effective immune response. This leaves the body without protection against circulating strains of H3N2.

In fact, Wu's analysis shows that the current strain of H3N2 used in vaccines already contains this specific mutation L194P on HA. "Vaccine producers need to look at this mutation," cautioned Wu.

The researchers say further studies are needed to investigate replacing the egg-based system. "Other methods are now being used and explored for production of vaccines in mammalian cells using cell-based methods and recombinant HA protein vaccines," said Wilson.

"There's a huge need for flu vaccine research," added Wu.

Nicholas C. Wu, Seth J. Zost, Andrew J. Thompson, David Oyen, Corwin M. Nycholat, Ryan McBride, James C. Paulson, Scott E. Hensley, Ian A. Wilson. A structural explanation for the low effectiveness of the seasonal influenza H3N2 vaccine. PLOS Pathogens, 2017; 13 (10): e1006682 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006682

AEC To Conduct Special Counts For New South Wales, Queensland And Western Australian Senate On Monday Nov 6

The AEC will conduct special counts in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth on Monday, 6 November 2017 (10am local time), to identify which candidates are entitled to be elected to the Senate from New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia to the places left vacant by the disqualification of Fiona Nash (NSW), Larissa Waters (QLD), Malcolm Roberts (QLD), and Scott Ludlam (WA) in the High Court decision of 27 October 2017.

This follows the provision of directions today by His Honour Justice Gageler of the High Court specifying how the special counts of votes will be conducted.

The special counts will not require the manual handling of any Senate ballot papers as the AEC will use the voter preference data already taken from the ballot papers of votes cast at the 2016 Senate elections in NSW, QLD and WA, respectively, to complete the three special counts required.

The special count will involve voter preferences for the now disqualified candidates Fiona Nash (NSW), Larissa Waters (QLD), Malcolm Roberts (QLD) and Scott Ludlam (WA) being disregarded, with these voter preferences now to be counted to the next preferred candidates recorded on each ballot paper, with subsequent preferences to be treated as altered accordingly. Once this is completed, a distribution of preferences will then occur.

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 candidates who contest federal elections cannot be present to observe the process. Candidates are, however, able to appoint a scrutineer to observe the process on their behalf.   Media or other members of the public will not be permitted to observe the special count.

Once the special count is completed, the Australian Electoral Officers for NSW, QLD and WA will return the result to the High Court of Australia for its consideration.  Accordingly, the AEC will be issuing no public announcement of the result of the special count while this matter is before the Court.

On 27 October 2017, the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns determined that the above named Senators were disqualified from nominating as candidates for the 2016 Senate elections in NSW, QLD and WA due to the operation of section 44(i) of the Constitution.    The Court ordered that the vacancies created by the disqualifications should be filled by special counts of the formal Senate votes cast at the 2016 election, with directions necessary to give effect to the special counts to be made by a single Justice of the Court.

Spider Silk Could Be Used To Power Microphones In Hearing Aids, Cell Phones

October 31, 2017: Binghamton University
Would you want a spider web inside your ear? Probably not. But if you're able to put aside the creepy factor, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York shows that fine fibers like spider silk actually improve the quality of microphones for hearing aids.

Binghamton University distinguished professor Ron Miles and graduate student Jian Zhou recently published a study in titled "Sensing fluctuating airflow with spider silk" that should lead to better microphones for hearing aids than traditional pressure-based systems.

Miles has done a number of studies looking at what we can learn from insects when it comes to hearing. He explained, "We use our eardrums, which pick up the direction of sound based on pressure, but most insects actually hear with their hairs." The spider silk is able to pick up the velocity of the air instead of the pressure of the air.

Mosquitos, flies and spiders all have fine hairs on their bodies that move with the sounds waves traveling through the air. Miles wanted to recreate this type of hearing inside a microphone.

Their microphone improves the directional sensing across a wide variety of frequencies that are often too quiet for microphones to pick up on. For someone with a hearing aid, that means being able to cancel out background noise when having a conversation in a crowded area. The same concept could be applied to the microphone inside cell phones.

Spider silk is thin enough that it also can move with the air when hit by soundwaves. "This can even happen with infrasound at frequencies as low as 3 hertz," said Miles. Sound at that frequency is typically inaccessible. It'd be equivalent to hearing the tectonic plates moving in an earthquake.

The study used spider silk, but Miles explained that any fiber that is thin enough could be used in the same way.

While the spider silk picks up the direction of airflow with great accuracy, that information has to be translated into an electronic signal to be of use.

"We coated the spider silk with gold and put it in a magnetic field to obtain an electronic signal," said Miles. "It's actually a fairly simple way to make an extremely effective microphone that has better directional capabilities across a wide range of frequencies."

The study is a game-changer for microphones but may also tell us something unique about spiders, said Miles. He and Zhou speculate that because spider silk is so good at sensing air flow, it's possible spiders can hear through their own web on top of what they are already known to hear through the small hairs on their bodies.

Jian Zhou, Ronald N. Miles. Sensing fluctuating airflow with spider silk.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201710559 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1710559114

Facebook And ESafety Office Partner To Protect Australians Online
Office Of The ESafety Commissioner

Australia is one of four countries participating in a limited global pilot with Facebook that will help prevent intimate images of Australians being posted and shared across Facebook, Messenger, Facebook Groups and Instagram.

The pilot provides a portal for people concerned that an intimate image may be shared online to report it to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner who will notify Facebook to prevent any instances of the image being uploaded after the notification has been actioned.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is the only Australian Government agency taking part in this important pilot, which was borne from a Global Working Group established by Facebook to engage governments and businesses on keeping people safe online.

“We’ve been participating in the Global Working Group to identify new solutions to keep people safe, and we’re proud to partner with Facebook on this important initiative as it aims to empower Australians to stop image-based abuse in its tracks,” said Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner.

Facebook’s Head of Global Safety, Antigone Davis, said the pilot is an industry first, and builds on the non-consensual intimate images tool announced by Facebook in April that uses cutting-edge technology to prevent the re-sharing of images on its platforms.

“The safety and well-being of the Facebook community is our top priority,” Ms Davis said.

“As part of our continued efforts to better detect and remove content that violates our community standards, we’re using image matching technology to prevent non-consensual intimate images from being shared on Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Groups and Messenger.”
“These tools, developed in partnership with global safety experts, are one example of how we’re using new technology to keep people safe and prevent harm – one of five key areas of focus as we help to build a supportive, inclusive and safe global community.”
“This pilot has the potential to disable the control and power perpetrators hold over victims, particularly in cases of ex-partner retribution and sextortion, and the subsequent harm that could come to them,” says Inman Grant.

“This partnership gives Australians a unique opportunity to proactively inoculate themselves from future image-based abuse by coming to our portal and reporting tool,” adds Inman Grant.

“We’re pleased to work with the eSafety Commissioner as the only Australian representative on our working group on this important initiative, and applaud her leading role in promoting online safety across the country,” said Mia Garlick, Facebook’s Director of Policy A-NZ.

The US, UK and Canada are also participating in the pilot with Facebook.

For more information please visit:

NB: Adult Australians concerned that an intimate image may be shared online can complete an online form on the eSafety Commissioner's official website detailing their concerns.

Users will be asked to send the imagery to themselves on Messenger while the eSafety Commissioner's office notifies Facebook of their submission.

Once Facebook receive this notification, its community operations team will use image matching technology to prevent any instances of the image being uploaded or shared online.

Reducing Threats To The NSW Marine Estate

30 October, 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The NSW Marine Estate Management Authority independent Chair, Dr Wendy Craik AM, today called for feedback on the draft Marine Estate Management Strategy, which outlines eight initiatives to address the major threats to the state’s oceans, wetlands, coastline and coastal lakes and lagoons – our ‘marine estate’.

“The NSW Government is committed to the long term future of our coastal waterways, estuaries and oceans, by balancing economic growth, use and conservation of the marine estate,” said Dr Craik.

According to Dr Craik the draft Strategy is a first for NSW. It will help to achieve holistic, co-ordinated and evidence-based management, to ensure NSW’s coastal and marine environments can be enjoyed in a sustainable way.

“In developing the draft Strategy, the Authority has consulted extensively to understand the NSW community’s views on the importance of the marine estate, any perceived threats to its future and opportunities to improve how it is managed,” said Dr Craik.

The draft Strategy outlines initiatives to:
  • Improve water quality and reduce litter
  • Achieve sustainable coastal use and development for healthy habitats
  • Assist planning for a changing climate
  • Reduce impacts on wildlife
  • Protect the cultural values of the marine estate
  • Ensure sustainable fishing and aquaculture
  • Enable safe and sustainable boating
  • Improve governance and enhance social and economic benefits
The draft Strategy also includes proposed management initiatives for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion (termed the ‘central region’).

A separate consultation process will take place for spatial management in the Hawkesbury Shelf bioregion, as any proposal for spatial management must undergo extensive and rigorous consultation before a making a decision.

“We’d like to know what the community and key stakeholders think about the eight initiatives and proposed management actions included in the draft Strategy so it delivers on their expectations and needs,” said Dr Craik.

A series of regional workshops with peak marine estate stakeholders, local government, State agencies and Aboriginal communities will take place between 30 October and 8 December 2017.

The community and key stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission online by visiting the marine estate website

The NSW Government has re-set the Marine Estate Management Authority’s work priorities to take into account several related reforms that are at a crucial stage of development. This has allowed the Marine Estate Management Strategy to progress ahead of other marine estate reform projects, ensuring a consistent, co-ordinated and evidence-based statewide approach to management of the marine estate. 

Consequently, we have a number of important updates on the marine estateSchedule of Works to bring to your attention:

1. Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy - the Authority has released the first Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-2028 for public consultation, with feedback required by Friday 8 December 2017 via ouronline submission form. The draft Strategy is a first for NSW and is a key element of the marine estate reforms that sets the framework and strategic direction for marine estate management over the next decade.

2. Final Statewide Threat and Risk Assessment - the draft Strategy is underpinned by the NSW Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment Final Report (statewide TARA) which has also been released for information. The report identifies and ranks the priority statewide threats and risks to the environmental assets and social, cultural and economic benefits the community derive from the NSW marine estate.

3. Community and Stakeholder Engagement Report – Draft Statewide TARA - This report provides a summary of changes made to the final statewide TARA based on additional evidence and feedback provided during public engagement on the draft statewide TARA earlier this year.

4. NEW NSW Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement - this policy statement outlines the role and purpose of marine protected areas in marine estate management in NSW.

5. Phase 2 Community Engagement Report - Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment - the report provides an overview of the outcomes from community engagement (28 February to 8 May 2016) on eight suggested management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity conservation in the bioregion while achieving balanced outcomes for all users of the marine estate.

Given the extent of work currently underway with implementation of the marine estate reforms, the Authority has developed a new e-newsletter to provide you with regular updates on projects outlined in the Schedule of Works.  Further details on all of our work can also be found on the marine estate website. 

Planning Body Should Reject Damaging Wallarah 2 Coal Mine Expansion  

November 2nd, 2017: Nature Conservation Council of NSW
The Nature Conservation Council has renewed calls for the NSW Planning Assessment Commission to reject the Wallarah 2 longwall coal mine expansion because of the risks it poses to the Central Coast’s drinking water supply and local wildlife.

The Planning Assessment Commission held a public hearing on the proposal at Wyong Golf Club on Friday, November 3. 

“The project would undermine 53 per cent of the catchment that supplies drinking water to 300,000 in the Wyong and Gosford regions,” said NCC CEO Kate Smolski.

“At a time when climate change is really starting to bite, it would be irresponsible to let a mining company jeopardise this critical water supply.

“This project was refused by Labor when it was in government because the environmental risks were too high, and those risks still exist.”

Ms Smolski said subsidence from coal extraction could crack the bed of Little Jilliby Creek and remove a critical water source for native wildlife.

“This region has seen how catastrophic longwall mining can be for sensitive environmental areas,” she said.

”In 2013 Glencore's West Wallsend Colliery fractured a stream bed in the Sugar Loaf State Conservation Area, sending water underground.

“Glencore made matters worse when it pumped concrete along hundreds of metres of creek bed in a botched effort to repair the damage.

“The Central Coast’s water supply and wildlife would not be facing this threat if the Coalition had kept a promise it made before the 2011 election to ban mining in drinking water catchments.

“Six years later, the community is still waiting for the government to act.

“It would be irresponsible to allow the Wallarah 2 expansion. We urge the Planning Assessment Commission to reject the proposal once and for all.”

A Few notes
The community have been fighting the proposed mine since 1996, when the exploration licence was first granted over the area.

For the past 15 years the Australian Coal Alliance (ACA) has continued to wage the war to protect the drinking water catchment and the health of the Central Coast community from the destructiveness of the proposed Wallarah 2 longwall coal mine.

Since majority ownership of Wyong Areas Coal Joint Venture, the group that holds the exploration lease, came under the control of South Korean Government-owned mining giant Kores, and in 2006 the fight the fight was escalated.

The previous Labor Government rejected the Wallarah 2 Coal Mine proposal because of too many uncertainties that the water catchment of the Central Coast would not be destroyed and the health of the people  put in danger from fine airborne coal dust particles.

The Liberal Party prior to the 2011 State Election promised in writing not once, but three times that if elected they would not allow the Wallarah 2 mine to proceed. They promised to introduce legislation into the Parliament to protect the water catchment area from coal mining. Barry O'Farrell stood up at a public rally in front of the electronic media and said, "the next Liberal/National Party Government will not allow mining to occur here... no ifs, no buts, a guarantee".

The Liberal Party ran an election campaign on the Central Coast on the back on the anti coal campaign, reinforcing their absolute promise. After the election Minister for Energy and the Central Coast Chris Hartcher said on ABC Radio, "No candidate would have been elected had they not opposed the coal mine".

Barry O'Farrell then allowed the Wallarah 2 Coal Project to submit a new application. 

Friday's (November 3rd, 2017) hearing will mark the third time, under the miner’s current development application, that the community will have appeared before the PAC to provide evidence against the mine.

“The protection of our vital water resources is paramount. Yet the NSW state government has for too long put the interests of the coal mining industry before the need of all communities,” Mr Hayes said.

“The planning department has shown an unwavering bias toward this project, trying to convince the community that despite putting water resources at risk of being lost, a longwall coal mine beneath the Central Coast’s major water catchment is still in the public best interests.”

The project is opposed by the local Labor MP David Harris, and the Central Coast Council, and was opposed by Wyong and Gosford Councils, and the Central Coast Water Corporation, before they were forcibly amalgamated.

Lock the Gate spokesperson, Steve Phillips, said the mine approval system in NSW was faulty.

“The mine poses a serious risk to Wyong’s drinking water supply. It will undermine a major tributary and the void is modelled to soak up 2.5 million litres of water per day for at least 500 years,” he said.

“The project is unwanted by the local community, who have fought against it for well over a decade now and beaten it twice, and they deserve to have it rejected for good so they can get on with their lives.

“Wallarah 2 highlights how broken and unfair the mine approval system is in NSW. The NSW government needs to urgently fix the rules to project drinking water catchments, and to prevent mining companies from continuously resubmitting new mine applications when they have already been rejected.”

The assessment report (including recommendation) is available on the PAC’s website (reference: D482-17 Wallarah 2 Coal Project). 

Other documents associated with the application are available on the Department of Planning and Environment’s website via (reference: SSD 4974). 

Extra information courtesy Lakes Mail - Australian Community Media

Green Infrastructure Needed To Future-Proof The City

October 1, 2017: By Lucy Carroll: UNSW
A team of UNSW research students are urging regulators to properly consider green infrastructure – natural drainage, tree canopies and green walls – when setting charges for new property developments.

A review by Masters of Urban Policy students found that a new approach to green infrastructure that involves better funding and regulation is essential to keep pace with Sydney’s population growth and housing density.

The research comes on the back of the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) calling for public submissions to its review of the costs developers pay to provide water, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure to new developments.

“There is a common misconception among developers and governments that green infrastructure costs too much. We’ve been able to show that when green infrastructure is valued accurately, that is not the case,” said UNSW Urban Policy student Alex Lawrie.

“Often green solutions reduce the overall cost of stormwater in new developments, and keep maintenance costs down over the long- term.”

Lawrie and the researchers are calling on the NSW government and IPART to transition to a new way of valuing green infrastructure, with clear goals and established funding.

“All around the world we have found that when leaders get behind green infrastructure, it tends to happen. We see this in cities like Vancouver, Manchester and Singapore where leaders have taken a long-term approach to greening their cities, with big pay-offs both economically, environmentally and in community health and well-being,” said Lawrie.

The UK and the Netherlands have already shifted to systems that fully account for the costs and benefits of green infrastructure over the long term, and New York is saving almost $3.5 billion annually in meeting water quality targets by going green.

As housing costs skyrocket, developer contributions are even more contentious, said Lawrie, and could add roughly the same amount as stamp duty to the cost of housing.

“Developers pass these charges on to home buyers sometimes with mark-ups of up to of 400%," he said.

“Green infrastructure connects those vital blue and green spaces dotted around our magical city. Using developer charges to bring nature back into the way we service our suburbs with infrastructure can bring down the cost of housing.”

The researchers argue delivering sustainable infrastructure in Sydney’s suburbs can help the city maintain its Global City status.

“Green infrastructure can be Sydney’s saviour. Our global competitors such as London, Singapore and Vancouver are all moving in this direction. We risk falling behind if we don’t go down this path,” said Lawrie.

Sustainable design at Singapore Botanic Gardens. Photo: Supplied

Management Plans For Marine Parks

Media release; Friday November 3rd, 2017 - Federal Government
We thought you might like an update on how we are progressing with preparing management plans for marine parks in the South-west, North-west, North, Temperate East and the Coral Sea.
On 20 September 2017 after 60 days public consultation, the comment period on draft plans closed. We received more than 80,000 submissions – thank you so much for taking the time to tell us what you thought! 
The Director of National Parks and Parks Australia are now carefully considering the submissions we received and will use them to help prepare final management plans. The final plans will then be handed to the Minister for the Environment and Energy for consideration and approval.
Final management plans will outline Parks Australia’s approach to managing marine parks over the next 10 years. The plans will protect important marine habitats and features, while providing opportunities for people to continue to use and enjoy these unique areas.
As you will remember, between 21 July and 20 September 2017, the Director also consulted on her proposal to rename 58 marine reserves to marine parks. We think the term ‘marine parks’ is more recognisable and better aligned with the naming of state and Northern Territory parks. 
Sixteen submissions were received about this proposal – some supporting the renaming and some opposing it. The Minister for the Environment and Energy has now considered a Report from the Director, summarising and responding to public feedback about the renaming.
On 9 October, a proclamation was made to formally change the name of these 58 marine parks. That means for example that the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve is now called the Coral Sea Marine Park. It will take us a little while to update our website, signs, maps and other documents, so please be patient.

How we manage marine parks
Zones and rules
Zones set out what you can do in marine parks. There are three main types of zones – ‘green’, ‘yellow’ and ‘blue’.
  • Green zones offer a high level of protection for conservation features like canyons, seamounts and reefs.
  • Yellow zones support activities like fishing and diving, so long as the seafloor is not harmed.
  • Blue zones allow a wider range of activities, supporting our sustainable commercial industries and the coastal communities that rely on them.
What this means for - Mining
Australians need a secure energy source for our future. Oil and gas under our oceans is a potential source of that energy.
While there is no oil and gas production in our marine parks at present, there may be potential for it in some ‘blue’ zoned areas in the future.
Any proposed oil and gas activities will always be subject to the appropriate environmental assessments and approvals.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority will carefully assess any application to explore or mine in a marine park. The Authority will also regulate mining if it is approved, to avoid or minimise any impacts.

Active and adaptive
Parks Australia has prepared draft plans to manage 44 Australian Marine Parks for the next 10 years.
We’ve looked to some of the latest technologies to take an active and adaptive approach to our management. But we need your help to do it.
  • Developing apps to bring your marine parks to you, from the central desert to the tropics, wherever you are.
  • Citizen science. We’re all passionate about marine parks – help us manage them.
  • Scientific experts, from programs like the National Environmental Science Programme, on voyages of discovery.
  • We’re working with agencies such as the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to help commercial fishers do the right thing.
  • We’re working with Australian Border Force to target illegal fishing, such as foreign vessels after our valuable beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) in the Coral Sea.
  • We’re working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a world leader in responding to marine emergencies.
  • To help us manage Commonwealth waters, we will work closely with those who already manage marine parks – like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and our state and territory colleagues – and use their advice and experience to manage our oceans as a whole.

Applications Roll In For Experts To Join IHAPs

Ministerial Media Release: The Hon. Anthony Roberts, Minister for Planning and Housing
The Department of Planning and Environment has received hundreds of applications following a call for experts to register their interest in becoming a chair or panel member for the recently introduced Independent Hearing Assessment Panels (IHAPs).
After a four-week recruitment campaign that ended on 17 September, 490 applications were received. 
Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said that the response to applications to join an IHAP further supports the need for legislative reforms that strengthen confidence in the planning system. 
“It is great to see such a strong response following the call for applications. This means the pool that councils will draw upon to build their IHAPs will include some excellent candidates,” Mr Roberts said. 
“As we move closer to the introduction of IHAPs next March, we will see how this necessary amendment to the EP&A Act will allow councils to focus on the larger, strategic issues for their area.” 
Mr Roberts said mandatory IHAPs were introduced as a measure against corruption and would bring expertise, transparency and integrity to the assessment of DAs at the local level.  

“It is essential the Government has a transparent and accountable process in place when assessing DAs of significant value, when there is a conflict of interest for the council or developer, or when they are of a sensitive nature,” Mr Roberts said. 

“By making IHAPs mandatory, local councils will be able to focus on providing community services, strategic plans and development controls for their local area.”

The IHAPs will maintain a standard model comprising three independent expert members and a local community member. 
IHAP members must be an expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
The chair must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
Applicants were eligible to apply to be a member of a panel, a chair or both a member and chair. 
Of the 490 applications, 330 were to become a member only, 25 a chair only and 135 applications to become both a chair and a member.
“The NSW Government is committed to creating great places and communities for the state and the introduction of mandatory IHAPs for all Sydney councils and Wollongong City Council will allow us to do just that,” Mr Roberts said.
Legislation for IHAPs was introduced by Parliament in August 2017. IHAPs will become mandatory for all councils in Sydney and Wollongong City Council from March next year. 

Grand Canyon Track Reopens After Restoration

October 30, 2017: OE&H
One of Australia’s oldest bushwalking tracks, the Grand Canyon Track, has reopened after a decade-long restoration.

The Blue Mountain’s Grand Canyon Track, which is more than a century old, has undergone a $4.8 million restoration across some of the most challenging terrains for walking track construction in Australia.

The 4.5-kilometre restoration included 2000 new stone steps among rugged terrain, creek crossings and cliff climbs. Helicopters lowered 2000 loads of material into the narrow canyon.

More than 90,000 people use the track each year and over a million visitors are expected to use it from now until 2030.

Greater Sydney Local Land Service Mini-Grants Now Open

Mini grants program 2017-18
Are you part of a community group or not for profit organisation (including schools) that is planning an educational event or developing an educational resource for the local community?

Grants of between $500 and $1500 are available to improve skills and or promote the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources that meet National Landcare Programme objectives.

Activities that aim to build community awareness, participation, skills and knowledge in caring for their environment, including Aboriginal knowledge and participation can include:
  • community events
  • running of field days, workshops and courses
  • educational signage
  • production and distribution of educational resources such as fact sheets and booklets
  • small scale demonstration style on-ground works that have an education focus.
Complete the online form. Please note this form doesn't allow you to save and resume part way through and so please be prepared to complete the entire form in one sitting.

For further information or to discuss a proposal contact Maree Whelan in the Wyong office on 02 4355 8201.

This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Australia Commits To Phase-Down Potent Greenhouse Gases

Joint media release: 28 October 2017 - The Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Australia has become one of the first 10 countries to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a major international agreement to reduce global production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are highly potent synthetic greenhouse gases.

This early ratification cements the leading role Australia played in reaching this agreement, including as the co-chair of the negotiations which concluded in October 2016.

Under the Kigali Amendment, Australia and other developed countries will reduce the use of HFCs by 85 per cent by 2036. Action to phase-down HFCs will contribute towards meeting Australia’s responsible Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. 

The Turnbull Government has already passed legislation to implement this phase-down domestically. Australia’s imports of HFCs will start reducing in 2018 over a gradual step-down path until 2036.

The long phase-down period means that consumers can continue to use equipment with HFCs until the end of its useful life. There are already new technologies on the market which use fewer HFCs or different technologies altogether.

The Kigali Amendment replicates the successful approach taken under the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone depleting substances, 99 per cent of which have been phased out to date. This has seen a significant reduction of those substances in the atmosphere and predictions that the ozone layer will be repaired by the middle of this century in the mid-latitudes and about 20 years later in Antarctica.

Australia has long been a strong supporter and leader of action on the ozone layer under the Montreal Protocol. With universal acceptance, it is widely considered the world’s most successful environmental protection agreement.

$3 Million In Grants Now Available For Commuity Recycling Centres

Media release: EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the NSW Environmental Trust (ET) are calling for local government, not-for-profit organisations and businesses from select Local Government areas to apply for grants to set up Community Recycling Centres (CRC) for the collection of household problem wastes.

The $3 million Community Recycling Centre grants program is now open as part of the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.  Community Recycling Centres make it easier for NSW residents to recycle or safely dispose items like oils, paints and batteries.

Applications are open until Wednesday 15 November 2017 with funding of up to $200,000 available to enhance existing facilities or build new facilities for the collection of problem waste. 
This is the fourth round of funding and it is designed to help keep problem waste out of the kerbside bin system by providing convenient and easy to use facilities for the community.

EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said the aim of the program is to establish a network that will provide 90 per cent of NSW households with access to a free Community Recycling Centre for common household problem wastes.

“This funding focuses on our priority to establish Community Recycling Centres based on existing gaps in the network.

‘The funding to establish facilities in 22 priority Local Government Areas will mean residents will have a permanent facility available to people to drop-off low toxic wastes, such as gas bottles, household batteries, paint, oils and smoke detectors, Mr Buffier said.

‘To date, over 100 Community Recycling Centres have been funded in NSW and 62 are currently operational. Almost two million kilograms of household problem waste has been collected since the program started."
Priority LGAs for funding include: Blacktown, Canterbury Bankstown, The Hills, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Bayside, Camden, Goulburn Mulwaree, North Sydney, Parramatta, Ryde, Shellharbour, Wagga Wagga, Waverley, Wollondilly, Woollahra, Yass Valley, Central Coast, Cumberland, Lake Macquarie and Sutherland.
On behalf of the ET, Peter Dixon, Director Grants in the Office of Environment & Heritage states:

“This is one of our most successful community level grants programs. The take-up by local councils has been tremendous and the neighbourhoods with a new or upgraded Community Recycling Centre are enjoying the benefits of a free and convenient way of dropping off their problem wastes for environmentally friendly disposal and recycling”

Applications close 5pm, Wednesday 15 November 2017

For more information about the grants including how to apply and information sessions please visit:

For more information about Waste Less, Recycle More go to the EPA website:

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern is our worst weed in Pittwater. The Bush Invaders is by PNHA member and primary school teacher Sylvia Saszczak. Share to spread the message about this horror weed.

Navigation Warning - NSW Coastal Waters: Whale Migration Season

June to December 2017

Migrating whales and whale calves are expected to be present in numbers off the NSW coast during this time.

From June to August whales will be in greater abundance generally moving north within about five nautical miles (nine kilometres) of the coast.

From August to December whales will be in greater abundance generally moving south within about 10-15 nautical miles (18-28 kilometres) of the coast.

From July to December Southern Right Whales with calves are likely to be present within 10 nautical miles of the NSW coast and within coastal estuaries.

Within this period it is expected that whale sightings may be common and mariners are advised to navigate with due care and appropriate caution around any whale activity, including reducing to an appropriate speed to maintain safe navigation.

The approach distance for whales in NSW and Commonwealth waters is 100 metres for whales without calves.  If calves are present the approach distance is 300 metres.

In the event of a collision with a whale, entanglement or whale carcass sighting please call:

National Parks and Wildlife Service Incident Duty Officer on: 02 9895 6444

Charts: AUS 806 to AUS 813 Inclusive.

RMS Coastal Boating Maps: 1-14 Inclusive.

Contact Details:

For further details please contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Team on 9585 6523 or (RMS Contact details 13 12 36)

Information regarding the current location of whales may be obtained at:

Further information about whale approach distances or whale behaviour may be obtained from the Office of Environment and Heritage website at:


Energy Locals For 100% Carbon Neutral Plans

From Surf Life Saving NSW  
Interested in 100% carbon neutral plans, huge solar feed in tariffs and Australian owned and operated in your energy provider? Look no further than SLSNSW's newest partner Energy Locals to see how they will revolutionise your energy plan:

Myna Action Group 

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Contact us on for more information and have a look at

Indian Mynas are displacing our native birds. They often nest in and around shops where their food source is. I took this one down this morning in Avalon (no chicks or eggs but I disturbed the female). There were literally hundreds of tiny bits of plastic in the nest which makes you think that all this plastic would be swilling down the stormwater drains into the sea.

Living Ocean

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

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

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

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

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

Donations are tax-deductable 

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. 


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:

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

Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

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

Find out more here:


Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

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

How it works

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

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

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

What you get                                  

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

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out!

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

Newport Community Gardens

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

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook:
The Green Team

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

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2017 Workshops

Boomerang Bag Working Bees run in Mona Vale onTuesdays 11:30am- 5pm.

For those of you unable to come to workshops there are many other ways to get involved, just let us know you're willing by leaving a comment or sending us a message.

Pictured is a Boomerang Bag Box. 

The boxes are located at:

Avalon Organics
Hertford Chemist
Avalon Wholefood
Fresh Fruit and Veg
Johnson Bros Mitre Ten
Avalon Meats
Avalon Rec Centre
Watch this space for another venue soon.

A huge thank you to everybody who has helped Boomerang Bags Avalon get this far. But the work is not over yet. Materials and more hands always welcome  Facebook page  Profile

Petition: Rescind Adani's Unlimited Water License And Support Aussie Farmers!

As Queensland farmers, water is crucial for our livelihoods. As our climate gets hotter and drier, our water resources are even more precious. We call on the Queensland Premier to rescind the unlimited, free 60-year water license they are proposing to grant to the Adani coal mine.

My name is Angus Emmott and I'm proud to be a third generation grazier from Longreach in outback Queensland. I'm committed to a sustainable future for farming in Australia and ask you for your support to protect our precious groundwater. 

In Queensland, the proposed Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine has been granted unlimited access to groundwater. The mine, the biggest of nine proposed for the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton, is expected to draw 26 million litres of water per day from its pits. Over its life this mine alone would total 355 billion litres of water and modelling already demonstrates that 2 springs will be shut down.

As farmers we are angry about the special deal struck by the Queensland government to give Adani free water for its proposed coal mine. I am launching this petition today to call upon Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to support Aussie farmers and to rescind the water licenses that allow Adani access to unlimited water for 60 years.

All over the country, farmers are battling to stop fossil fuel mining and fracking on their land. Nearly 90% of Queensland is currently drought declared, so why are we giving an Indian billionaire access to unlimited groundwater for a new coal mine?

I'm asking all Australians, to stand with me in calling upon the Premier to rescind this approval before irrevocable damage is done to our groundwater systems and the long term sustainability of Queensland agriculture. 

Angus Emmott with Farmers for Climate Action

KIMBY's 53,000 Reasons To End Excessive Tree-Clearing

28 October, 2017: WWF Australia
WWF-Australia today handed Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles the results of its “KIMBY” petition that mobilised more than 53,000 people concerned over the impacts of excessive tree clearing.

The conservation organisation also presented the minister with a new report by eminent scientists that calculates tree-clearing in 2015-16 killed 45 million animals – mammals like koalas and gliders, birds like hawks, robins and cockatoos and reptiles like goannas, skinks and geckos.

WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor said the strong response to the KIMBY petition shows the growing sense of community alarm over the escalating destruction of wildlife habitat.

“People can see with their own eyes the bulldozers, the scars on the landscape, the koalas killed by the roadside as they try to escape. 

“The community is demanding that the State Government strengthen laws to protect bushland wildlife habitat from bulldozers.

“If we don’t fix the weak laws we have it’s the death penalty for native wildlife,” Dr Taylor said.

More than 53,000 people clicked to send a virtual origami koala, called a KIMBY, and a personal message to key Queensland politicians to let them know they want to see Koalas In My Backyard.

Participants generated more than half a million emails to politicians, which included messages such as:

I used to see koalas in the trees near the station and further up. Now there are no trees for them left. More and more are vanishing and I feel sick seeing it. I don’t want to lose more wildlife and nature.

It is in Australia's best interest to ensure their survival. If we take care of them they provide valuable tourism revenue that will not run out - bringing joy to so many people from travellers to locals.

The government would want to fix this problem very quickly! It’s not right and is unAustralian!

Please don't let our iconic and beautiful symbol disappear! 

It comes as WWF-Australia released new vision of some of the latest patients of Return to the Wild, inc - a wildlife rescue service based in the Toowoomba region where clearing is ongoing.

They include a tiny koala joey whose mother was killed by a vehicle, a sugar glider trapped on a barbed wire fence, another glider found on a road near tree-clearing, and a puggle (baby echidna) found near excavation for housing.

“These victims are the face of a hidden crisis caused by habitat destruction,” said Dr Taylor.
In fact, the RSPCA considers tree-clearing the single, greatest animal welfare crisis in Queensland because of the enormous extent of suffering and death it causes.  

Animals killed update

In August, Dr Taylor and other eminent scientists estimated that tree-clearing in Queensland killed 34 million animals per year. But based on the big increase in clearing in 2015-16, revealed earlier this month, the scientists have revised up their calculation.

They now conservatively estimate wildlife deaths from the bulldozing of bushland at 44.7 million, composed of 1.1 million mammals, 3.7 million birds and 39.9 million reptiles.

The scientists are Dr Hal Cogger, John Evans Memorial Fellow, the Australian Museum; Prof. Chris Dickman, University of Sydney; Prof. Emeritus Hugh Ford, University of New England; Prof. Chris Johnson, University of Tasmania; and Dr Martin Taylor, WWF-Australia.

WWF: Conservation Plan For Queensland

2nd November 2017
WWF-Australia has unveiled a plan with eight priority actions to conserve Queensland’s globally significant environment and unique plants and animals.

Queensland’s natural places, wildlife and lifestyle face huge challenges driven by excessive tree-clearing, increased agricultural pollution flowing into the Great Barrier Reef, unsustainable fishing in the Reef, climate change and other pressures.

Most of the actions in WWF-Australia’s “A Queensland where people & nature thrive” plan are or have in the past been supported, wholly or substantially, by both sides of politics.

The following actions are practical and cost-effective, and will deliver immediate and ongoing improvements to Queensland’s environment:

1. End excessive tree-clearing by legislating to restore the ban on clearing of remnant and high-quality regrowth vegetation and wetlands, and increase the extent and quality of native vegetation.

2. Establish Queensland koala, wallaby, wombat, cassowary and other wildlife ‘Arks’ by bringing 17.5 million hectares of critical habitat for unique Queensland species into the state national parks and nature refuge system.

3. Employ an additional full time equivalent 150 Indigenous land and sea rangers, bringing the total number of Queensland Indigenous land and sea rangers to 250.

4. Fully implement the recommendations of the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Task Force. This includes commencing, within 100 days of a new government being formed, enhanced regulations which establish catchment specific pollution reduction targets and require all new development to have no ‘net’ impact on Reef water quality. 

5. Adopt climate change targets that would save the Reef. This includes adopting a 2030 emission reduction target of 60%-80% below present and renewable energy targets of 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and 100% of the remainder of the energy system (including transport and industrial) by 2050.

6. Fully implement the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2017.  This strategy is broadly supported by the fishing industry, recreational fishers and conservationists.

7. Create an 85,000 square kilometre ‘Net Free Far North Queensland’ to protect turtles and dugongs, and create regional jobs through Indigenous-guided fishing and ecotourism.

8. Support sustainable agriculture in the Great Barrier Reef catchments including providing advice to each cane grower in Queensland and extension officer support to help graziers manage stream bank and gully erosion.

Missed Opportunity To Protect Antarctic Wildlife On The Brink

29 October 2017: WWF
In a blow for biodiversity in East Antarctica, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has failed to implement protection for wildlife by establishing a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in East Antarctica.
The 36th meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart could not reach an agreement on a proposal led by Australia and France with the EU for a MPA for East Antarctica. The proposal was a push to create a vast marine sanctuary in East Antarctica, building on the success of landmark deal secured last year for the Ross Sea at the annual conservation summit.
There are more than 9,000 species in the pristine waters around Antarctica. An MPA would secure a future for the wildlife and marine biodiversity in the region, including Adélie penguins.
“Earlier this year a colony of over 18,000 pairs of Adélie penguins in Terre Adélie, Antarctica, suffered a catastrophic breeding failure with only two chicks surviving. It was the second breeding failure in just four years” said Chris Johnson, Senior Manager, WWF Antarctic program.
Surviving mostly on a diet of krill, a small shrimp like crustacean, Adélie penguins are generally faring well in East Antarctica, but declining in the Antarctic peninsula region where climate change is well established. However, this significant breeding failure at this particular colony in East Antarctica has been linked to unusually extensive sea ice late in the summer, meaning the adult penguins had to travel further to forage for food for their chicks. As a result, the chicks starved.
The penguins will have greater resilience to the threats of climate change if their homes and the ocean diversity the depend on are protected by MPAs.
“We are extremely disappointed about the deadlock at the annual CCAMLR meeting and today’s decision. WWF and our many supporters across the world had hoped that all CCAMLR members would recognise the urgent need to protect critical feeding areas in East Antarctic waters. WWF will not give up working to secure MPAs because too many species are being pushed to the brink.” said Chris Johnson.
“We’ve designated Antarctica as natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. This is the one place we put differences aside for the good of nature and for our future. Today, we let differences get in the way of responding to the needs of fragile wildlife.”
About WWF and Antarctica:
WWF helped to achieve ban on mining on Antarctica as well as helping establish the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. In terms of marine protection, back in 2002 WWF helped create large marine reserves around Macquarie Island, and Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and in 2006 supported the first bioregionalization of Southern Ocean waters. WWF was a crucial part of establishing the Ross Sea MPA in 2016.

CCAMLR is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. CCAMLR was established in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. CCAMLR is comprised of 25 member states including the EU.

Spooky Conservation: Saving Endangered Species Over Our Dead Bodies

October 31, 2017: University of Queensland
The secret to the survival of critically endangered wildlife could lie beyond the grave, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions' Dr Matthew Holden suggests revenue from human burials could fund nature reserves and parks for threatened species, effectively amounting to dead humans protecting living creatures.

Dr Holden said conservation burials' would go a step further than natural burials which already occur throughout Australia.

"Cemeteries could do more than prevent environmental damage caused by traditional burials which use embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde and non-biodegradable materials," Dr Holden said.

"They could improve the environment by offering conservation burials -- where the burial fees are used to help buy and manage new land.

"The nature reserve could be placed in an area that specifically maximises benefits for endangered wildlife, or also in cities to increase the societal benefits of natural urban greenspace."

Dr Holden from School of Mathematics and Physics and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences researcher Dr Eve McDonald-Madden evaluated the biodiversity and human health benefits of conservation burials.

"They could generate revenue that exceeds the amount of money needed to save every threatened species on the planet," Dr Holden said.

"In the US alone, 2.7 million people die each year, with an estimated funeral revenue of US$19 billion -- far more than the estimated $3-$5 billion required to protect every threatened species listed by the international Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"While not every threatened species can benefit directly from conservation burials, the hypothetical revenue demonstrates substantial potential for increased biodiversity."

Dr Holden said Halloween was the perfect time to urge the public and government and non-government organisations to contemplate how death could support future life on earth through conservation from the grave.

"If conservation burials became as commonplace as similar types of after-death charity, such as organ donation, the biodiversity benefits would be enormous," he said.

US conservation burial cemeteries include Honey Creek Woodlands, Georgia; Ramsey Creek Preserve, South Carolina; White Eagle Memorial Preserve, Washington; Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, New York; Foxfield Preserve, Ohio; Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve, Florida; and Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, Florida.

Matthew H. Holden, Eve McDonald-Madden. Conservation from the Grave: Human Burials to Fund the Conservation of Threatened Species.Conservation Letters, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12421

Bottlenecks In Early Seagrass Growth Identified

November 1, 2017
Seagrass meadows, key nursery and feeding grounds for many kinds of marine life, are being lost worldwide to nutrient pollution, warming waters, and other ills. A new study by an international research team reveals bottlenecks in the growth of seagrass from seed to seedling, knowledge useful for improving seed-based restoration efforts.

The study authors are John Statton, Leonardo Montoya, and Gary Kendrick of the University of Western Australia, Robert Orth of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Kingsley Dixon of Curtin University in Perth. Their work appears in today's issue of Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the publishers of Nature.

"The science behind seed-based restoration is very underdeveloped for most seagrass species and lags severely behind that for land plants," says Statton. One notable exception is the success of using seeds to restore eelgrass to Virginia's seaside bays; work pioneered by Orth during years of trial and error testing both seeds and transplanted shoots.

In the current study, the researchers sought to understand the journey from seed to seedling for the Australian seagrass Posidonia australis or ribbon-weed. This slow-growing species has experienced serious declines over much of its range, earning it a "near threatened" status on the IUCN Red List.

The team conducted their study by painstakingly monitoring the fate of more than 21,000 P. australis seeds hand-planted within experimental plots in Western Australia's Cockburn Sound. They sited the plots to test varying degrees of exposure to waves, seed grazers such as crabs, and "bioturbators," animals that inadvertently bury seeds during burrowing or other activities -- often too deep for subsequent development.

Unlike most other studies of seagrass growth, which have simply looked at the overall proportion of seeds that reach maturity as adult plants, Statton's team carefully followed the progress of their seeds at each step from germination to seed-dependent, seed-independent, and established seedlings.

"By identifying the exact early life-stage transitions that limit seagrass recruitment, we think we can improve our ability to target the processes most responsive to management," says Statton. "These bottlenecks may be unique for each seagrass species and even a particular location," adds Orth.

The team's results showed clear differences in seed success among the various life-stages. In the shallower, more-sheltered sites, few if any seeds survived grazing and bioturbation to complete the initial life-stage transition -- the first month of growth when a germinated seedling still relies on its seed for energy. Seeds deployed in deeper sites survived for another four to six months, before almost all the now-independent seedlings were uprooted by waves from winter storms. As a result of these challenges, overall seed survival was vanishingly low -- with fewer than 1 in 1,000 seeds reaching the juvenile stage -- a probability of just 0.1 percent.

The researchers then used models to estimate the seeding density needed to overcome these severe bottlenecks, calculating success at seeding densities 2- to 40-times higher than their field studies. Here their results suggest the more seeds the better, although they note additional fieldwork is needed to test for diminishing returns in growth due to overcrowding of seeds and competition for limited resources.

Although the bottlenecks to growth observed in the Australian study might seem overwhelming, Orth notes they are actually in line with findings from other studies of both seagrasses and land plants. "In our restoration efforts in the seaside bays of Virginia's Eastern Shore," he says, "the probability of seed survival is only about one to five percent."

Despite this, repeated seeding by VIMS researchers has led to restoration success. "In 1997 there was just a small patch of eelgrass in South Bay," says Orth. "Now, 71 million seeds later, there are more than 7,000 acres, and the grass is spreading naturally."

A similar approach might thus work in Australia and other areas worldwide where seagrasses have succumbed to cloudy waters and coastal development. "Our results indicate that seeding may be an appropriate strategy for restoring P. australis," says Statton. "But," he adds, "we would need to do so annually for a decade or more to escape both the summer bottlenecks associated with bioturbators and grazers, and the winter bottlenecks associated with storm waves."

"This approach would allow us to benefit from windows of opportunity," he explains, "benign years when winter storms were relatively weak or came from directions where landmasses blocked most waves. These conditions would allow seagrass seeds to take root and survive."

The team's field and modeling results suggest a number of other strategies to maximize restoration success. For wave-sheltered sites, these include relocating or excluding the crabs and other invertebrates that currently dislodge or eat most seeds and incipient seedlings. "In wave-exposed locations," says Statton, "we might introduce mixtures of seeds and seedlings from species adapted for turbulent conditions, thus providing some seafloor stability for the survival of P. australis."

John Statton, Leonardo R. Montoya, Robert J. Orth, Kingsley W. Dixon, Gary A. Kendrick. Identifying critical recruitment bottlenecks limiting seedling establishment in a degraded seagrass ecosystem. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-13833-y

Commercial Use Of Protected Plants: Public Consultation

Draft NSW management plans for the commercial use of protected plants have been released for public comment.
A public exhibition of draft management plans outlining the commercial use of protected plants provides an important opportunity for members of the community to have their say.

Submissions close 9 November 2017.

About the draft management plans
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has prepared draft wildlife trade management plans setting out the licensing requirements applying under NSW legislation (Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016) for the growing, harvesting and sale of protected whole plants and cut flowers.

The development of these management plans is a requirement of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 administered by the Australian Government.

The plans are subject to review, public consultation and re-approval by the Australian Government every five years.

The two current NSW management plans concerning the commercial use of protected plants are due to expire soon.

Draft NSW management plans for 2018–22, which will replace the current plans, have been issued for public consultation.

Cut-flower Sustainable Management Plan 2018–22 for protected and threatened plants in the cut-flower industry.
OEH issues licences under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 to persons seeking to harvest and grow whole protected native plants for commercial purposes.
This plan outlines the legislation and licensing requirements for the cut flower industry.
The plan also describes management procedures for the industry including plant tagging requirements, monitoring harvest sustainability, and record keeping requirements.

The plan includes a summary of changes from the previous plan.

Whole Plant Sustainable Management Plan 2018–22 for the commercial harvest and propagation of whole protected plants.
Harvesting plants from the wild can pose risks to both the harvest site itself and the conservation of native plant populations.
This plan describes the proposed regulatory framework for managing the commercial harvest, salvage and growing of protected whole plants such as grass trees, staghorns, orchids and cycads.

The plan describes proposed licensing arrangements for persons or businesses that harvest whole protected plants or propagate whole protected plants for sale. 
The plan also sets out the operational framework under which licensed activities can be undertaken including tagging, reporting and site management obligations.
The plan includes a summary of changes from the previous plan.

More information
If you have questions about the draft management plans, please contact the NSW Wildlife Biodiversity Reforms team by

Find information about current licensing arrangements at commercial use of protected plants.

Have your say
Public exhibition for the draft NSW management plans for 2018–22 is from 12 October to 9 November. Anyone can review the draft NSW management plans and provide comments.
Your submission, in whole or part or as part of a summary, may be made publicly available on our website. If you do not want your submission made public in this way, please indicate this on your submission.
You can provide your written submission in the following ways:

By email
Email your submission to:

By mail
Post your submission to:
Plant Management Plan Consultation
National Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 1481


Feral Animals Pose Major Threat To Outback, Climate Change Study Finds

November 1, 2017: University of Sydney
Scientists at the University of Sydney have analysed up to 22 years of long-term monitoring data on plants and animals in central Australia to project how changing rainfall and wildfire patterns, because of climate change, will influence desert wildlife.

The research from the University of Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Sciences found there could be decreases in the cover of the dominant plant, spinifex, and a resulting decrease in seeding -- and that introduced cats and foxes pose one of the major threats to seed-eating rodents.

Spinifex is a major habitat type across central Australia -- from Queensland to Western Australia, including in the Simpson Desert where this study was conducted.

The findings are being published in the Royal Society's journal Open Science.

Some estimates have suggested that up to one in six species are at risk from climate change. Predators can take advantage of more open habitats for hunting, which puts more pressure on wildlife.

Lead author Dr Aaron Greenville said their model suggested that if removing introduced cats and foxes, the rodent population would increase by almost one in 10.

"The dingo plays a complex positive role for wildlife in arid Australia," said Dr Greenville.

Aaron C. Greenville, Glenda M. Wardle, Chris R. Dickman. Desert mammal populations are limited by introduced predators rather than future climate change. Royal Society Open Science, 2017; 4 (11): 170384 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170384

The desert mouse, Pseudomys desertor, is listed as Critically Endangered in NSW but is not threatened in Queensland or for the IUCN Red List. It is one of the species of rodents that researchers studied as part of their work. Credit: Dr Aaron Greenville

Genetic Study Uncovers Evolutionary History Of Dingoes

October 31, 2017: University of NSW
A major study of dingo DNA has revealed dingoes most likely migrated to Australia in two separate waves via a former land bridge with Papua New Guinea.

The find has significant implications for conservation, with researchers recommending the two genetically distinct populations of dingoes -- in the south-east and north-west of the country -- be treated as different groups for management and conservation purposes.

"Care should be taken not to move dingoes between the different wild populations," says study first author and UNSW Sydney scientist Dr Kylie Cairns.

"And captive breeding programs should ensure the two dingo populations are maintained separately, with genetic testing used to identify ancestry."

Further inter-breeding also needs to be urgently prevented between domestic dogs and the south-eastern population of dingoes, which is threatened by genetic dilution, habitat loss and lethal control measures such as baiting and the recently reintroduced wild dog bounty in Victoria.

"Effective containment or neutering of male dogs in rural areas may help achieve this reduction in inter-breeding," says Dr Cairns, of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

"Additionally, baiting and culling practices break apart dingo packs, leading to increased incidence of hybridisation. Alternative livestock protection measures need to be explored, such as livestock guardians, predator deterrents and improved dingo-proof fencing," she says.

The study, by scientists from UNSW and the University of California, is published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

The study is the first broad study of the evolutionary history of dingoes around Australia using both mitochondrial and Y-chromosome genetic markers.

The researchers sampled 127 dingoes across Australia as well as five New Guinea Singing Dogs from a North American captive population. A dataset of Y chromosome and mitochondrial control region data from 173 male dogs, including 94 dingoes, was also used.

Only genetically pure dingoes were included in the study.

The north-western population is found in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, northern parts of South Australia, and central and northern Queensland.

The south-eastern population is found in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and southern parts of Queensland (including Fraser Island).

The researchers believe the two groups may have migrated separately from Papua New Guinea over the now-flooded land bridge as long as 8000 to 10,000 years ago.

Particularly in south-eastern states, they recommend a broad survey of dingoes in national parks and state forests be carried out to focus conservation efforts in key areas, and also that state and federal legislation allowing fatal control measures be reviewed.

Kylie M. Cairns, Sarah K. Brown, Benjamin N. Sacks, J. William O. Ballard. Conservation implications for dingoes from the maternal and paternal genome: Multiple populations, dog introgression, and demography. Ecology and Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3487

Pure dingoes come in a variety of colors including ginger, black and tan, white and sable. Credit: Lyn Watson/Australian Dingo Foundation

Citizen Science May Boost Engagement And Understanding In Undergraduate Biology Classes

November 1, 2017
Citizen science projects, such as ClimateWatch, can boost engagement in undergraduate courses, according to a study published November 1, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Nicola Mitchell from The University of Western Australia, and colleagues.

Many citizen science projects involve the collection of data by a team of volunteers for the purpose of being used in scientific research. This hands-on approach to data collection could also be a potential teaching strategy to promote undergraduate science students' active engagement with environmental issues in their everyday surroundings and deepen their knowledge of the environment.

To investigate the effectiveness of incorporating citizen science into undergraduate education, Mitchell and colleagues examined the use of the Australian phenology citizen science program ClimateWatch in a University of Western Australia first-year biology class from 2011 to 2016. Using the ClimateWatch smartphone application and website, students monitored plants, animals, fungi and algae for potential changes in their life cycles and/or their distributions as the climate changes. In a parallel process, the students wrote a journal article focusing on one species' potential response to climate change, the validation of citizen science datasets, or a combination of both topics.

The researchers conducted surveys with 1500 students before and after they completed this citizen science project from 2011 to 2016. They found that this project significantly contributed to the phenological data on Australian's species, with about two-thirds of ClimateWatch's records between 2011 and 2014 coming from students enrolled in universities. It also greatly contributed to environmental engagement for the students since the majority (55 percent) planned to continue collecting data after the project was finished. on their own. and a large portion (35 percent) also introduced the application to their friends. Finally, students also learned how to analyze, present and interpret publish their phenological and distributional data as part of their studies, and the 130 student publications that have come from this program are testament to their discoveries.

The researchers hope to continue refining the program at UWA to produce more citizen scientists to work with ClimateWatch, and encourage more researchers to work with university citizen scientists, and in general to improve data quality.

As study co-author Nancy Longnecker says, "Becoming a scientist involves so much more than memorizing facts. Doing research in the 'real world' is an excellent way for students to learn and citizen science provides many opportunities."

Nicola Mitchell, Maggie Triska, Andrea Liberatore, Linden Ashcroft, Richard Weatherill, Nancy Longnecker. Benefits and challenges of incorporating citizen science into university education. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (11): e0186285 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0186285

It’s Magpie Swooping Season

by BirdLife Australia
It’s that time of year again. As the days gradually begin to grow longer and the weather warms up, many birds begin to build their nests and lay their eggs. Their number includes Australian Magpies.

Because magpies are one of the most common birds in built-up areas, as well as in rural environments, they often come into contact with us. For most of the year, people are happy to interact with magpies, but with the arrival of the breeding season, the situation’s not always so happy.

Magpie breeding season is dreaded by many people because of the perception that at this time of year the birds relentlessly swoop at people, both on foot or riding bicycles, as well as dogs and anything else that moves.

Though wide-held, this perception is not altogether accurate.

Although it’s true that spring is magpie swooping season, it should be noted that not all magpies swoop at people. In fact, it is generally quite a small proportion of them that are aggressive towards humans. Most of the birds that attack are males, though, indeed, most male magpies don’t attack, and those that do usually only become aggressive when people venture too close to the nest tree.

Although the timing of swooping behaviour varies between the different regions of Australia, most swooping activity occurs in mid- to late spring, during the brief period when there are magpie chicks in the nest, with the intensity of attacks increasing gradually as the nestlings grow. Few magpies attack before their eggs have hatched, and the attacks usually drop off after the chicks have fledged (left the nest). It’s a brief window, but one that can be traumatic for people being swooped.

There are a few things you can do to prevent being swooped, but nothing is guaranteed to work.
  • The most sensible method is to avoid walking or riding near trees where magpies are nesting.
  • If you can’t avoid the area, try wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella for protection; cyclists can attach a forest of cable-ties to their helmets.
  • Attach eye spots to the back of your hat.
  • Wave a stick above your head as you walk past.
  • Keep an eye on the bird; he’s much less likely to attack if he knows he’s been sussed.
  • Above all, don’t harass the birds. Though tempting, it will only make them more aggressive. And remember, harming magpies is against the law.
For more information, see Magpie Alert, by Darryl Jones (UNSW Press, Sydney).

Avalon Boomerang Bags: An Idea That's Spreading To Stop Plastic Bag Use

Avalon Boomerang Bags - now at North Avalon shops - A J Guesdon photo, 25.5.2017

Avalon Boomerang Bags

11am-5pm @ sewcraft cook 
Unit 20/14 Polo Ave Mona Vale

Boomerang Bags is a bag-share initiative involving the installation of a number of ‘Boomerang Bag’ boxes throughout any given business district, shopping centre, street or market. Each box is stocked with re-useable bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten to bring their own.

Unlike the traditional purchase-and-keep approach, Boomerang Bags are free, and local community members are responsible for returning the bags once they’re no longer required. The availability of free re-useable bags reduces the reliance of local businesses to supply bags to all customers, and encourages a mentality of re-use among local communities, thereby reducing the amount of plastic bag material entering our landfills and waterways.

So who makes the Boomerang Bags? Well, you do! Boomerang Bags are made by local communities for local communities, and are sewn from recycled and donated materials.

Get in touch if you'd like to donate materials, join us making bags, or implement Boomerang Bags in your own local area!

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.