Inbox and Environment News: Issue 344

January 21 - 27, 2018: Issue 344

Wyong Coal Mine Granted Approval: Water Not Coal Becomes Coal NOT Water

The NSW government's 'independent' Planning Assessment Commission's approval of the Wallarah 2 Coal Project on Tuesday January 16th has been slammed by community groups, who say the decision shows that NSW mine approval laws are inadequate and need to be urgently overhauled.

The controversial project has been fought against by Wyong locals since 1996, and has been defeated twice by the local community. The project is subject to widespread opposition – including from the Member for Wyong, and the Central Coast Council – due to the risks it poses to the drinking water catchment for over 300,000 people.

“Wallarah 2 Coal Project is completely unacceptable and completely unwanted, and its approval is a slap in the face for local people who have been fighting it off for over 20 years”, said Alan Hayes, campaign director for Wyong group Australian Coal Alliance.

“The state government is more interested in appeasing the coal industry than in the welfare of the Central Coast community. It's sickening,” said Mr Hayes. “We will be exploring every option available to us to stop this project from going ahead, including court action,” he said. 

Lock The Gate spokesperson Steve Phillips said the decision “shows just how desperately we need to fix the rules governing mine approvals in this state.” 

“This is a risky, unwanted coal mine that threatens the safe drinking water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. The mine has been knocked back by a previous state government for those very reasons. How is it possible that the mine is now approved? The system is broken.”

“We call on the Berejiklian government to urgently fix up our state's broken mine approval laws, to protect water catchments and local communities from mining. Local people need the certainty that once a coal mine has been knocked back, it will stay knocked back for good.

“It's grossly unfair that local people are never entitled to rest easy that a mine project has been defeated for good, that it might be approved again at any time. It’s unfair that people cannot even take clean drinking water for granted.”

"The Coalition came to power promising to end mining in sensitive drinking water catchments. They promised to stop this very coal mine – Wallarah 2 – but now they’ve given it the green light.”

Wyong group Australian Coal Alliance have run with a slogan of 'Water not Coal' for years now, with politicians quite happy to don the red t-shirt - when an election is on. 

Premier Barry O'Farrell during 2011 electioneering phase of state election with (from left) Chris Holstein (Member for Gosford), Darren Webber (Member for Wyong), Barry O'Farrell (Premier), Alan Hayes (Australian Coal Alliance), Chris Spence (Member for The Entrance) & Chris Hartcher (Member for Terrigal & Minister for Energy) wearing shirts protesting the mine. 

This week the opposite was proved.

On page 17 of the PAC's Consent Conditions the 300 megalitres required for mining will need to be returned to the water catchment, 'treated';

Central Coast Water Supply Compensatory Arrangement
17. Prior to the approval of any Extraction Plan that authorises extraction of Longwell 6N, the Applicant must establish and implement a Central Coast Water Supply Compensatory Arrangement which provides 300 megafitres per annum of water to the Central Coast Water Supply system. The Central Coast Water Supply Compensatory Arrangement must:
a) be prepared in consultation with Council and CLWD;
b) be submitted for the approval of the Secretary not less than 12 months prior to the planned extraction of Longwell 6N;
c) supply mine water treated to an appropriate level for release into the receiving environment In the Central Coast Water Supplyincluding an equivalent or better quality for pH, dissolved oxygen and electrical conductivity as the receiving environment,
d) discharge at least 300 megatitres per annum of treated water directly Into the Central Coast Water Supply system at a location mutually agreed with Council;
e) incorporate an on-line water quality monitoring system that monitors river water quality upstream and downstream of the discharge point, and has the capability to connect to and gate into Council's supervisory control and data acquisition system. in order to ensure that required water quality parameters for discharged treated water are met;
f) operate at least until the cessation of mining operations (see condition 5 of Schedule 2): and
g) include operational procedures for the compensatory water transfer system, agreed with Council, to ensure that operation of the system Is compatible with Council's water supply infrastructure.'

The mine is slated to operate for up to 28 years.

“The Central Coast is both resilient and steadfast in its fight to protect the drinking water and community health from the draconian and unacceptable destructive impacts of a longwall coal mine,” Alan Hayes said after the announcement.

“If Wallarah 2 believes that they have beaten us, they are mistaken. We will not go away.”

According to a Statement of Facts (SOF) released to the public on January 17, the Commission has determined the proposal is in the public interest.

The creation of 300 operational jobs and 450 construction jobs, along with the investment in the local area, would have significant local benefits for the community, provide investment in the Central Coast and contribute to the growth of the region,” the SOF read.

“The mine would also generate royalties for the State and the people of NSW, while providing a source of high quality thermal coal during the global transition to a decarbonised economy.

“In reaching this decision, the Commission considered carefully the concerns raised by the community, the Department of Planning and Environment’s assessment and recommendation for approval, and previous Planning Assessment Commission reviews of the project,” the SOF concluded.

The 'royalties' are estimated, now, to be around 32 million dollars. Down from the original Kores Wallarah2 announcement of one and a half billion dollars. 

The jobs being created has shrunk too, although not yet updated on theWallarah2 website where they still state, as we go to press;

'Benefits to the community will include economic stimulation with over 1100 direct and indirect jobs created during construction and over 850 direct and indirect jobs created in the region during operations.The Wallarah 2 Community Foundation will also continue to operate, with an expansion of the program to create more opportunities for vocational training and community support."

“This same Liberal administration has eroded the democratic rights of people to stand up and object to development decisions that may adversely impact on communities." Mr. Hayes stated prior to that third 'consult' in November last year where residents overwhelmingly stated their objections, again.

“Under Barry O’Farrell’s leadership, merit rights appeal on coal mine approvals was taken away.

“Then Mike Baird made it illegal for people to peacefully protest against a proposed coal mine, introducing massive fines and up to seven years’ imprisonment for doing so.

“Gladys Berejiklian’s law was recently used to override our justice system about the unlawful mine extension approval of the Springvale mine.”  - October 11, 2017.

Although the approval secured the jobs of Lithgow people and families, with no plans for shifting that community towards becoming a solar energy powerhouse in the forseeable future, irony struck at the same time as it became apparent that Lithgow residents were drinking “mine water” from the Clarence Colliery that sits on Newnes Plateau above the town.  Despite Environment Protection Authority (EPA) assurances, the mine’s environmental monitoring data indicated that nickel and lead levels in the mine water exceed the recommended limits set by Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Most pointedly, former NSW government whip Peter Phelps hosted what he called a “Carnival of Coal”, at Parliament House on August 11, 2015, launching the 'Friends of Coal' group. Initially dreamt up to annoy those on the opposite side of The House hosting of a solar support do, the minister went on to say it was about supporting those who worked in or were working in related to coal industries, saying coal needs mates “because it has been demonised by the extreme green movement, despite it being the safest, cheapest and most reliable source of power in Australia and around the world”.

In 2008, the World Health Organisation estimated that coal is responsible for about one million deaths annually – about one-third of all premature deaths related to air pollution - so not that safe. 

When news of the 'coal party' broke, social media pictures of coal heaped up on a plate ready to eat, or coal in your drinking glass, ready to drink, were imagined as the 'nibblies and refreshments' served at the Carnival of Coal. 

The Honourable Minister then stormed off in March 22nd 2016, quitting being whip so he could vote against his own parties biofuels amendment bill to ensure all petrol stations made E10 fuel available as a cleaner alternative for consumers. Clearly not enough 'safe' carbon derivatives in the stuff to suit Mr. Phelps.

'Coal: you're drinking it!' will soon be the truer version of the Clever Country - with so much sunshine, so many beautiful places and so many wasted opportunities to do it better and do that faster, all gone.

Wonder if they played this song at the 'Carnival of Coal'?

State Environmental Planning Controls(Draft Environment SEPP):Urban Bushland

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 23 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.

From • Draft Environment SEPP (PDF: 6.215 MB):
State Environmental Planning Policy No 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas (SEPP 19)
  • The majority of the provisions of SEPP 19 will be transferred to SEPP (Environment). These provisions will be updated and some will be transferred to a Ministerial Direction.
  • Update council names to reflect recent council amalgamations and boundary changes.
  • Extend its land application to cover local government areas that are currently partly outside the application of SEPP 19 including parts of Hawkesbury and Central Coast local government areas.
  • Transfer plan making provisions in SEPP 19 to a Ministerial Direction.
  • A new circular on Urban Bushland is being finalised for consultation. It has been developed to provide further information and detail regarding the application of SEPP 19. This circular will replace planning Circulars No. B13 and No. 114. 
Creating a new Ministerial Direction – Urban Bushland
SEPP 19 contains provisions for the preparation of local environmental plans in clause 10. The clause ensures that when a council is drafting local environmental plan provisions for any land to which SEPP 19 applies, other than rural land, it considers the general and specific aims of the SEPP, andgives priority to retaining bushland unless significantenvironmental, economic, or social benefits arise which outweigh the value of the bushland. This should be transferred to a
new Ministerial Direction as it is the appropriate mechanism to guide plan making. No current direction adequately covers urban bushland in the same way. Urban bushland exists across many different zones, therefore Ministerial Direction 2.1 – Environmental Protection Zones, is not appropriate to address public urban bushland of the type protected by SEPP 19.

The new Ministerial Direction is intended to function largely the same way as clause 10 of SEPP 19. As currently, the direction will apply when a planning authority is preparing a planning proposal for land to which the Urban Bushland provisions of SEPP (Environment) apply.

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.

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 31 January 2018 (NB changed date for submissions/feedback)
• Or write to:

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

Draft Environment SEPP

October 31, 2017: NSW Dept. of Planning and Environment
• Draft Environment SEPP (PDF: 6.215 MB)
The Explanation of Intended Effect for the Environment SEPP is on exhibition from 31 October 2017 until the 31st 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.

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 31 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

Gas Acceleration Program Open For Applications

15 January 2018:Media Release - Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

Applications are now open for the Australian Government’s $26 million Gas Acceleration Program (GAP), which is designed to accelerate new supplies from onshore gas developments to the domestic market.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said it’s essential that Australia continues to invest in its gas sector to meet the needs of industry and domestic users.

“This program is a significant component of the Australian Government’s $90 million investment in gas security, reliability and affordability,” Minister Canavan said.

“Australia has significant gas reserves that can power our economy and earn export dollars.

“Estimates suggest there could be the equivalent of about 40 years’ worth of gas yet to be developed in Victoria, while the Northern Territory is said to be sitting on more than 200 years’ worth of gas.

“But gas developments are on hold in both of those regions, with Victoria taking the extraordinary step of banning all types of gas extraction – even conventional gas which has powered that state for decades.

“Australia can’t become complacent and other States and Territories can’t just rely on Queensland to bail them out.

“Without an export industry, the Queensland coal seam gas sector wouldn’t have been developed. But Queensland gas is now supplying both the Australian market and the export industry.

“It’s time for other states to follow that lead. Australian jobs and Australian industry rely on our gas sector.

"The Australian Government wants to work with all States and Territories to develop their gas resources.

“The Gas Acceleration Program will provide up to $6 million for each project that demonstrates proven prospects of bringing significant new gas volumes to target markets by mid-2020.

“We have access to the best science to develop these resources. The experience from Queensland shows these resources can be accessed in a way that also balances the needs of agriculture and the environment.

”The application period for the GAP closes 5:00 PM AEDT 13 February 2018. To apply and access more information, visit”

Bioregional Assessment Of Isa Basin For Gas Extraction

18 January 2018: Joint media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy and Senator the Hon. Matthew Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

The Isa Superbasin in Queensland is to be assessed as a potential area for the safe extraction of gas as the Turnbull Government seeks to ensure that Australia can access our plentiful resources in a responsible way.

Extending approximately 56,000 square kilometres along the northern part of the Queensland-Northern Territory border, the Isa Superbasin was selected for its world class petroleum source rocks, demonstrated shale gas flows and its proximity to pipeline infrastructure – all of which make it an excellent candidate to deliver new gas supplies to the East Coast Gas Market in the next five to 10 years.

“As we work with states, territories and industry to get more gas to market, this initiative aims to not only boost supply to the eastern states, but also support strong regulation of unconventional gas projects,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“It is yet another step the Turnbull Government is taking to deliver affordable and reliable energy for Australian households and businesses as we transition to a lower emissions future.”

The independent scientific studies will assess the geology, water quantity and quality of surface and groundwater as well as protected environmental assets to determine the potential impacts and environmental safety of shale and tight gas developments.

“Governments, industry and local communities must all be assured that our decisions about resources are based on a sound scientific understanding of the region’s geology and environmental values,” Minister Frydenberg said.

Minister Canavan said increasing our access to gas supplies will help create Australian jobs and support investment in regional Australia.

“It is vital that we unlock our gas resources and bring more gas to market. By taking steps to unlock our gas reserves, we will help put downward pressure on gas prices,” Minister Canavan said.

“This investment will make use of the best science to map and access our gas supplies to keep Australian industry running.”

The $30.4 million Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program was announced in Budget 2017-18. The studies will be conducted by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and managed by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Work on the Isa Superbasin assessment will begin in early 2018. It is the second region to be assessed as a potential source of gas by the Turnbull Government – the Cooper Basin in Queensland and South Australia having already been selected. The third and final region will be announced in coming months.

Study Finds Increased Hospitalisations In Darling Downs Raising Red Flag Over Health Impacts Of Coal Seam Gas

January 16, 2018
Hospitalisations for circulatory and respiratory diseases in Darling Downs communities of QLD have skyrocketed since the expansion of coal seam gas mining in the region, a new report finds.

The report, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, by Dr Geralyn McCarron, has found that acute hospital admissions for circulatory and respiratory diseases increased by up to 142% between 2007 and 2014.

Over the same period, pollutants reported by the CSG industry which are known to cause cardiopulmonary illnesses rose by an astounding 6000%.

In the report, Dr McCarron, concludes; “The considerable growth in hospitalisations for acute respiratory and circulatory conditions concurrent with the increase in toxic pollutants in the local airspace suggests that controls to limit exposure are ineffectual.”

Vicki Perrin from the Lock the Gate Alliance said:

"The quality of human health in Australia must not be sacrificed by forcing families to live in unconventional gasfields.

"This important research must prompt the QLD Government to undertake 24hr real-time air quality monitoring in and around gasfields. The people living there deserve open and transparent information.

"Gas companies must be required to report, not just to estimate, all their harmful emissions. Independent oversight and resourcing is urgently needed to help protect people's health and prevent further harm.

"The level of Government ineptitude exposed here is staggering. Queensland Environment and Heritage Protection Department ignored Queensland Health recommendations in 2013 that they monitor overall gasfield emissions and the exposure of the community to those emissions.

"The Queensland Government has utterly failed in its duty of care, leaving locals to be guinea pigs in this dangerous gasfield experiment,” said Vicki Perrin.

Air Pollution and human health hazards: a compilation of air toxins acknowledged by the gas industry in Queensland’s Darling Downs.
Geralyn McCarron. International Journal of Environmental Studies Pages 1-15 | Published online: 08 Jan 2018.

50 New Environmental Protection And Restoration Research Projects

17 January 2018: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
More than 50 new research projects that protect and restore our environment – from our oceans, northern landscapes and Great Barrier Reef to our urban places, climate and threatened species – have been announced under the Coalition Government’s National Environmental Science Program (NESP).

Each world class science project is designed to deliver practical and applied research that facilitates evidence-based decision making, informing policy and on-ground action.

“The new projects span a fascinating range of research topics and scientific disciplines,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“There’s urban greening, air quality, mine site rehabilitation and land-to-wetland conversion as well as a dozen projects searching for solutions to the challenges faced by our Great Barrier Reef in support of our Reef 2050 Plan.

“Almost half of the projects focus on threatened species, whether mitigating predators, restoring or conserving habitats, reintroducing species or estimating populations – many of which will contribute to our Threatened Species Strategy.”

Specific projects to be carried out by the six NESP research hubs include:
  • studying the effects of shipping noise on the behaviour of marine mammals;
  • examining the traits of coral that have survived recent bleaching events;
  • identifying the most successful coral restoration and recovery techniques;
  • assessing the Gulf of Carpentaria mangrove dieback;
  • coordinating recovery planning for threatened eucalypt woodlands;
  • understanding and combating myrtle rust;
  • estimating the population abundance of southern right whales;
  • creating safe havens for threatened Australian frogs;
  • evaluating the extent of cat predation on the brush-tailed rabbit rat;
  • trialling habitat restoration strategies for threatened reptiles; and
  • saving endangered bettongs with changed fire regimes.
“The National Environmental Science Program has been operating for four years and its previous research is already being used by the Coalition Government and state, territory and local governments as well as industry, Indigenous people and hands-on land and water managers,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“Much of its success is due to eminent scientists working together with governments, industry and communities. Only together, can we improve the way we tackle today’s environmental challenges.”

Regional Forest Agreements (RFA)

Have Your Say: NSW Government
The NSW and Commonwealth Governments are seeking feedback on five-yearly implementation reviews of RFAs and how to extend them for an additional 20-year term.

Consultation will enable a full appraisal of the current RFAs covering the Eden, North East and Southern regions of NSW. It will also drive optimal implementation of new agreements, including what we can learn from our experience over the past 20 years.

The government is committed to working closely with all parties in getting the balance right in the long-term management of their forest resources.

A number of community meetings are planned across the state. Details will be available shortly.

Have your say
Have your say on the extension of RFAs by 12 March 2018.

More Information
Email: Project Leader
Phone: 02 9934 0728

Drinking Stations For Thirsty Koalas

January 15, 2018: NSW OE&H
Six new water stations installed on a property near Gunnedah are helping the area’s native wildlife stay hydrated this summer.
Named “Blinky Drinkers” after the iconic character Blinky Bill, the water stations have cameras to record the wildlife that come to the drinking stations. A monitoring system can identify individual koalas by their microchips.

A sulphur crested cockatoo, a feathertail glider, a rosella, a brushtail possum and kestrels have also been spotted using the drinkers.

Dr Valentina Mella, animal behaviour researcher at the University of Sydney, said the water stations were not only used in summer.

“Our study has shown that they still used the drinkers extensively in cool months too, often drinking for up to 10 minutes at a time,” said Dr Mella.

The stations were designed by local farmer Robert Frend.

The program is funded by the NSW Government’s Saving our Species (SoS) program through a collaboration with University of Sydney, local landholders and a landcare group.

Statement About The Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish Control Program

January 18, 2018: GBRMPA
The current outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish is occurring at several locations in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park — an area bigger than Italy — is the only place in the world where crown-of-thorns control is being undertaken in an area of this size and scale.

Ramping up crown-of-thorns control in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is one of 10 key actions identified in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s recently released Reef Blueprint: Great Barrier Reef Blueprint for Resilience.

The Blueprint recognises crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are a major source of coral mortality across the Great Barrier Reef and targeted control can prevent further declines in ecosystem resilience.

As with all our management activities, our crown-of-thorns starfish control program is informed by the best-available science and since 2015 we’ve adopted a holistic and integrated approach which includes surveillance, targeted culling and research.  

Collaboration with the research community through the National Environmental Science Program’s Integrated Pest Management project has enabled a number of new initiatives to strategically focus control activities and further enhance effectiveness.

For example, scientific modelling is being used to identify ecologically-critical reefs in the Marine Park that can help the Reef recover from impacts. These reefs that produce and spread coral larvae are targeted in control efforts.

Other improvements include:
  • A single-shot bile salts injection technique that tripled the efficiency of culling has been adopted into the control program, replacing a multi-shot method that required each starfish to be injected 10 to 25 times.
  • Coral and starfish density thresholds now used to inform vessel schedules and cull efforts. These important thresholds provide the target levels of culling necessary to ensure coral growth outpaces starfish feeding.
  • After rigorous environmental impact testing, the Marine Park Authority also approved the use of household vinegar as an injection solution for use in the starfish control, providing a readily accessible injection method for permitted tourism operators to use to protect their dive sites.
  • To monitor the effectiveness of the control program, the Marine Park Authority is surveying starfish numbers and coral cover where no culling is being done to compare this data to sites where there is culling. The monitoring is being conducted annually for three years by Marine Park rangers from the Field Management Program.
  • Reports are provided by control program contractors every six months which summarise the total number of starfish culled each dive minute, the hard coral cover at the reefs where the work was carried out, and any changes over time. Monitoring on 21 priority reefs offshore Cairns and Port Douglas in 2016–17 showed the outbreak was successfully reduced to ecologically sustainable levels, with live coral cover maintained at 20 per cent despite the impacts of bleaching.
Funding is provided by the Australian Government to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to administer the control program.

To protect the Great Barrier Reef from the increasing pressures of climate change, the Marine Park Authority recognises the need to increase conservation efforts at all scales — national, regional and local.

Green Team Beach Cleans 2018!

Hosted by The Green Team
The Green Team is back for 2018! 
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

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

We will meet in front of the surf club. 
Hope to see you there!

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

Beach Clean!
Saturday, January 27 at 8 AM - 9 AM
Avalon Beach: We will meet in front of the surf club.

Beach Clean!
Saturday, February 10 at 8 AM - 9 AM
Newport Beach: We will meet in front of the surf club.

Beach Clean!
Saturday, February 17 at 8 AM - 9 AM
Palm Beach - We will meet at Kiddies corner (the south side)

Australia’s Strategy For Nature 2018–2030: Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy And Action Inventory

by Department of Environment and Energy
Draft Revision of Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

On 25 November 2016, Australian, State and Territory Environment Ministers agreed to revise “Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: 2010 – 2030” based on the findings of a review into the first five years of the Strategy’s implementation.  During 2017 a working group of officials from Australian, state and territory governments, and the Australian Local Government Association has worked together to prepare a revised Strategy. 

The Strategy has been revised to improve its ability to drive change in biodiversity management priorities, and its alignment with Australia's international biodiversity commitments.

Called “Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory”, the draft revised Strategy is open for public comment from 15 December 2017 until 16 March 2018. 

Update On Baleen 2D HR Seismic Survey 

(The survey comprises 46 2D lines of total length 208km.) - 
NOPSEMA 'Not reasonably satisfied – opportunity to modify EP'
Decision date: 03/08/2017 
Titleholder action Resubmission due date 3: 02/09/2017
Extension of timeframe: 17/08/2017 Titleholder action: 15/10/2017
Extension of timeframe: 05/10/2017 Titleholder action: 31/10/2017
Resubmission of EP: 31/10/2017 NOPSEMA decision: 30/11/2017
Request for further information: 30/11/2017 Titleholder action: 21/12/2017
Acceptance of EP: 10/01/2018 Titleholder action: 20/01/2018Decision notification (PDF 707 KB)
Submission of EP summary 19/01/2018 NOPSEMA decision 29/01/2018

From Decision notification:
Basis of decision 
NOPSEMA has assessed the environment plan in accordance with its assessment policies and procedures. 

On completion of assessment, NOPSEMA has decided that it is not reasonably satisfied that the environment plan meets the criteria below as set out in regulation 10A of the Environment Regulations: 
(a) is appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity 
(b) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable 
(c) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level 
(d) provides for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria 
(e) includes an appropriate implementation strategy and monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements 
(g) demonstrates that: 
(i) the titleholder has carried out the consultations required by Division 2.2A 
(ii) the measures (if any) that the titleholder has adopted, or proposes to adopt, because of the consultations are appropriate 

Titleholder requirements 
For OMR decision In accordance with regulation 10, the titleholder is required to modify and resubmit the environment plan. Upon resubmission of the plan, NOPSEMA will continue to assess the submission in 
accordance with its assessment policies and make a decision under regulation 10. After a titleholder has been provided with reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit an environment plan, NOPSEMA will 
make a final decision on whether to accept or refuse to accept the environment plan. 

EPA Fines Unlawful Waste Facility On The Central Coast

18 January 2018: EPA
The operator of a demolition and excavation business based on the Central Coast has been fined $7,500 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for the unlawful storage of asbestos waste.

EPA, SafeWork and RID Squad officers inspected the site of Tuggerah Demolition & Excavation in November last year as part of a joint campaign and discovered the business was storing up to 16.9 tonnes of asbestos waste.

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act all businesses receiving 5 tonnes of special waste or more must hold a current Environment Protection Licence.

EPA A/Director Waste Compliance, Cate Woods, said Environment Protection Licences are a means to control the localised, cumulative and acute impacts of pollution.

“Licences outline requirements for waste storage and are an integral way of ensuring harmful substances stay out of the local community and environment.

“Even the temporary storage of asbestos, if not undertaken according to the regulations can increase the risk of harm to the community and the environment.”

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at

Cicada Rain In Pittwater: Summer 2018

Has anyone noticed we seem to have a massive amount of Black Prince cicadas making a symphony at present?
They're flying indoors after dark, falling from trees where our pets chase them, and giving those who stroll beneath trees a little rain...
When many cicadas congregate on warm days, they feed on the tree fluids and often urinate while doing so. This bug urine is called 'honey dew' by some.

The black prince was originally described by German naturalist Ernst Friedrich Germar in 1834 as Cicada argentata, the species name derived from the Latin argentum "silver". Swedish entomologist Carl Stål defined the new genus Psaltoda in 1861 with three species, including the black prince as Psaltoda argentata.

The name black prince was in popular use by 1923. It was reported by McKeown in 1942 as referring to a dark form of the green grocer (Cyclochila australasiae forma spreta), but was later linked to Psaltoda plaga. It is used for the darker form of the species, while the name silver knight is used for the olive and green colour forms.

The cicada spends seven years underground in nymph form drinking sap from the roots of plants before emerging from the earth as an adult. Species on which it feeds include weeping willow, river sheoak, rough-barked apple and various eucalypts. The adults, which live for four weeks, fly around, mate, and breed over the summer.

In one field study in southeastern Queensland, black princes emerged en masse over a 10- to 15-day period in late November to early December, with successive nymphs emerging in gradually fewer numbers over the following 75–80 days until early March.

A 1995 paper found that the black prince and related redeye are favoured food items of the noisy friarbird, which swallows them head-first and whole. The width of its gape size is similar to that of the two cicada species. Red wattlebirds have been found to ignore the cicadas, possibly because their gapes are not wide enough to accommodate swallowing them whole. Noisy miners, blue-faced honeyeaters, little wattlebirds, grey and pied butcherbirds, magpie-larks, Torresian crows, white-faced herons and even the nocturnal tawny frogmouth, have all been reported as significant predators.

Angophora Costata: Trees In Your Streets - Pittwater

Smooth-barked Apple
Angophora - from two Greek words, meaning 'vessel' or 'goblet', and 'to bear or carry', referring to the shape of the fruits; costata - ribbed; the capsules bear prominent ribs

The genus Angophora is closely allied to Corymbia and Eucalyptus (family Myrtaceae) but differs in that it usually has opposite leaves and possesses overlapping, pointed calyx lobes instead of the operculum or lid on the flower buds found in those genera.

Angophora costata, or Smooth-barked Apple, is a large, wide, spreading tree growing to a height of between 15 and 25 m. The trunk is often gnarled and crooked with a pink to pale grey, sometimes rusty-stained bark. The timber is rather brittle. In nature the butts of fallen limbs form callused bumps on the trunk and add to the gnarled appearance. The old bark is shed in spring in large flakes with the new salmon-pink bark turning to pale grey before the next shedding. The leaves are dark green, lance-shaped, 6-16 cm long and 2-3 cm wide. They are borne opposite each other on the stem.

Angophora costata - shedding old bark

The flowers are white and very showy, being produced in large bunches on terminal corymbs or short panicles. The individual flowers are about 2 cm wide with five tooth-like sepals, five larger semi-circular petals, and a large number of long stamens. The seed capsules are goblet shaped, 2 cm long and as wide, often with fairly prominent ribs. The usual recorded flowering time is December or January, but at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra the species flowers for about one month between early January and early February. The tree has a handsome, rugged ornamental appearance and its young red tips are often used in floral arrangements.

 Angophora costata - currently flowering.

Angophora costata occurs naturally on the sandy soils and stony ridges of southern Queensland forests, extending inland as far as the Warrego district. In NSW it extends from Sydney northwards to the central coast and as far west as Bathurst, being particularly common on Hawkesbury sandstonewhere it forms almost pure stands. Rainfall in these areas varies between 635-1520 mm.

The species is grown from seed which normally germinates after seven days and no special treatment is required. The seed should be sown in a loose, well-drained mix just below the surface. When the seedlings reach a height of 1-2 cm they should be pricked out into a large container until they are large enough to be planted out.

Some trees suffer minor frost damage to new tips during winter, and caterpillars and the native leaf-cutting bee cause minor damage to the foliage. All eucalypts have an efficient method for shedding limbs, as described by Jacobs (1955). For this reason, larger species such as A. costata should not be planted so that they will overhang dwellings.

 Above photo is of gum on an angophora costata. This indicates that it is being attacked by insects, but defending itself by exuding gum, called kino. This traps and smothers the insects, probably wood boring beetle grubs. Abundant kino is a sign of a healthy tree. Photo by Marita Macrae, 2015

Original text by ANBG staff (1978); since updated online. Photos by Marita Macrae and A J Guesdon, 2011 to 2018
Centre of New Reserve.

'Set aside by' the Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia, primarily for the preservation of a giant example of the Sydney red-gum (Angophora lanceolata), the Angophora Reserve, at Avalon, was officially opened on Saturday afternoon by Sir Philip Street. 

The president of the society (Mr. W. G. Kett) said the reserve was a memorial to the line work in the cause of science done by their secretary, Mr. D. G. Stead.

Sir Philip Street said that the society, in preserving this great tree as a natural monument and setting apart the area with its interesting fauna and flora, was rendering a public service. 

The magnificent angophora, on which many axemen must have cast covetous eyes, was, he had been told, about 1,000 years old.

Mr. Kett said that, in the reserve, which contained about six and a half acres, there were many varieties of Australian trees and shrubs, and it was also the rendezvous of some of the most beautiful Australian birds. 

Other speakers were the president of Warringah Shire, Councillor Green, Messrs. R. T. Baker, and D. G. Stead.

The reserve is a fine example of Australian bush land, rising from a small valley to the top of a hill overlooking the coast and Broken Bay. About 150 persons attended Saturday's function. 

After the function, the visitors were entertained at afternoon tea by the society at the Avalon Golf House. 

ANCIENT RED GUM. (1938, March 21).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 9. Retrieved from 

Beautiful, isn't it? 
A magnificent redgum, probably 1000 years old, has been "dedicated" in the six-acre Angophora Reserve at Avalon. We wonder who will sit in the shade of this big tree after another 1000 years? What color will he be, and in what language will they whisper? One thing, will, endure.  The tree is close to the Avalon Golf Links; and whether Redgum lives to be 2000 or 3000 years old; the world will still talk golf. A WINDOW ON THE WORLD (1938, March 22). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 4 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from

Preserving Australia's Fauna

The Angophora Reserve, which is the Wild Life Preservation Society's new Bushland Sanctuary at Avalon, N.S.W., was officially opened and dedicated by the Hon. Sir Phillip Street, K.C.M.G., on Saturday last, March 19th. This reserve had been set aside primarily for the preservation of a giant 'example of the Sydney Red Gum (Angophora lanceolata) as a national monument. Owing to the junction of two great geological forms (Hawkesbury sandstone and Narrabeen shales) at this spot, the trees and shrubs present many features of interest to the botanist, field naturalist and bush lover. 
THE “ANGOPHORA” RESERVE (1938, March 23). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), p. 7. Retrieved from 

This photo shows the official opening of the Angophora Reserve on 19 March 1938 by Sir Phillip Street (KCMG). Much of the groundwork to enable the purchase of the land by the Wildlife Preservation Society in January 1937 was done by Thistle Harris. The reserve cost the Society 364 pounds 19 shillings and 7 pence (which converts to around 730 dollars!). The volunteer bush care group meet on the 3rd Sunday of each month usually at the Palmgrove Road entrance. – Geoff Searl, President of the Avalon Beach Historical Society - photo courtesy ABHS

The Birds Laughed!
A PARTY of our C.P. girls accompanied Cinderella to Avalon on March 19 to attend the official opening of the Angophora Reserve, a forest sanctuary purchased by the Wild Life Preservation Society and dedicated to the conservation of Sydney's largest redgum (Angophora Ianceolata), a giant possibly 1000 years old, but still in his prime. As the different speakers addressed the guests scattered over the grass, on the importance of preserving our beautiful bush and teaching the young generation to reverence such splendid national treasures as our forests contain, loud applause came from an unexpected quarter. A group of kookaburras had accepted the invitation for all forest-lovers to celebrate the day, and shouted their glee from the branches overhead. It was the mast eloquent of all the tributes paid that day to the value of tree-conservation. Who says that birds can't understand?
The Birds Laughed! (1938, March 30). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 63. Retrieved from 

Searle, E. W. Red gum, angophora lanceolata, Avalon, New South Wales, circa. 1935 Retrieved from 


The ceremony took place beneath the giant Angophora (Red Gum) which is estimated to be 1,000 years old. In this native bushland, only one hour's run from the city, flora and fauna will find sanctuary for all time, thanks to the enterprise of Mr. David G. Stead, the Wild Life Preservation Society and Mr. A. J. Small who released the land at a tithe of its value.
THE OPENING CEREMONY, ANGOPHORA PARK, AVALON, 19th MARCH, 1938 (1938, April 6). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), p. 8. Retrieved from 

Another Contribution by A. J. Small
When the history of Avalon is written, one man's name in particular will be outstanding. It is that of Mr. A. J. Small. Not only has he given headlands and parklands to the people to preserve for them vantage points from which ocean views can be seen for all time, but he is still giving. His last act of graciousness was when he gave an area of seven acres of land at half value in order that the Wild Life Preservation Society could acquire its Angophora Park. Mr. Small also erected the fence and iron gates, made the approach, built the steps, and cleared the paths so that the giant Angophora (sometimes called Red Gum) which is said to be 1,000 years old and of immense girth, may be viewed in its natural surroundings. At the time of the opening (by Sir Phillip Street on March 19th) there was an improvised orchestra of birds — butcher birds, soldier birds, warblers, and jackasses, in fact a representative from practically all the feathered families — which came down to look curiously on the people who attended the opening and to contribute, to the scene. Afterwards, 100 invited guests accepted Mr. Small's hospitality to afternoon tea at the New Golf House at Avalon. The fine golf course there has not a club. All visitors can play there on an equal footing, and in this respect it occupies a unique position among the metropolitan golf courses. The new building, illustrated herewith, is of white sandstone with buttressed corners. The internal walls are of brick. In the lower storey are locker and retiring rooms for golfers with hot and cold showers for both sexes. The upper walls are shingled and the roof is covered with semi' glazed brown tiles. It is mainly occupied by a large combined lounge and dining room about 60 feet in length. The flooring is of tallowwood designed for dancing. For log fires in winter, an open fireplace, framed in 9in. x 2in. briquettes, has been provided, with a hearth of 9 feet wide. Manchurian Ash of exceptional figure lines the lounge artistically furnished in autumn tints. The architect for the golf building was E. Lindsay Thompson, and F. C. Fripp, the builder. AVALON (1938, April 6). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), , p. 8. Retrieved from 

Rare Turtle Surprises Boambee Beach Fisher

January 2018: NPWS
An early morning fishing trip had one local reeling with surprise when they spotted a marine turtle nesting on Boambee Beach on Tuesday morning (9/1) the first on record.

Coffs Harbour local and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Aboriginal Field Officer Mick Phillips was fishing before sunrise and saw turtle tracks leading from the surf to the back of the beach.

“It was such a surprise to find the turtle tracks which looked like someone had rolled a large tractor tyre up the beach,” Mr Phillips said.

“The real pleasure however, was to see the turtle lay its eggs, cover the nest with sand then make its way safely back into the ocean.

“I am really glad to be able to say, this was one that got away,” he said.

Coffs Harbour-based NPWS Ranger Ann Walton said the nesting event is exciting news as there are no recent records of turtles nesting on Boambee Beach.

“It is believed to be a green turtle which is a species at risk of extinction in NSW so even one nest is highly significant,” Ann said.

“The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchlings. 

“Warmer sand means most will be female and cooler temperatures mean more males will be hatched.

“A temperature logger has been buried with the nest to monitor sand temperatures throughout the incubation period.

“The area has been fenced off and will remain fenced until the eggs hatch.

“If the nest is undisturbed the hatchlings are expected appear around Easter.

“People using Boambee Beach especially 4wd users and dog owners are asked to keep away from the nest site.

“People who find turtles nesting or their tracks are asked to contact the NPWS office at Coffs Harbour. Telephone 02 66502900.

To find out more about green turtles visit: Saving Our Species

Photos: by A Walton/NPWS Turtle nest on Boambee Beach on 9 January 2018, the first on record. All four species of marine turtle found in NSW are listed as threatened or endangered even one nest is highly significant. People using Boambee Beach especially 4wd users and dog owners are asked to keep away from the nest site. People who find turtles nesting or their tracks are asked to contact the NPWS.

Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas)

The green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), also known as the green turtle, black (sea) turtle or Pacific green turtle, is a large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in the genus Chelonia. Its range extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but it is also found in the Indian Ocean. The common name comes from the usually green fat found beneath its carapace; these turtles' shells are olive to black.

This sea turtle's dorsoventrally flattened body is covered by a large, teardrop-shaped carapace; it has a pair of large, paddle-like flippers. It is usually lightly colored, although in the eastern Pacific populations parts of the carapace can be almost black. Unlike other members of its family, such as the hawksbill sea turtle, C. mydas is mostly herbivorous. The adults usually inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrasses. The turtles bite off the tips of the blades of seagrass, which keeps the grass healthy.

Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as Turtle Island due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge and scramble into the water. Those that reach maturity may live to 80 years in the wild.

C. mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries. It is illegal to collect, harm or kill them. In addition, many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger due to human activity. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are hunted for food. Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die after being caught in fishing nets. Also, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches.

Significant nesting grounds are scattered throughout the entire Pacific region, including Mexico, the Hawaiian Islands, the South Pacific, the northern coast of Australia, and Southeast Asia. Major Indian Ocean nesting colonies include India, Pakistan, and other coastal countries. 

Green sea turtles move across three habitat types, depending on their life stage. They lay eggs on beaches. Mature turtles spend most of their time in shallow, coastal waters with lush seagrass beds. Adults frequent inshore bays, lagoons and shoals with lush seagrass meadows. Entire generations often migrate between one pair of feeding and nesting areas. Green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, are classified as an aquatic species and are distributed around the globe in warm tropical to subtropical waters. The environmental parameter that limits the distribution of the turtles is ocean temperatures below 7 to 10 degrees Celsius.[49] Within their geographical range, the green sea turtles generally stay near continental and island coastlines. Near the coastlines, the green sea turtles live within shallow bays and protected shores. In these protected shores and bays, the green sea turtle habitats include coral reefs, salt marshes, and nearshore seagrass beds.

Green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding sites and nesting sites; some swim more than 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) to reach their spawning grounds. Beaches in Southeast Asia, India, islands in the western Pacific, and Central America are where Green sea turtles breed. 

Sea turtles return to the beaches on which they were born to lay their own eggs. The reason for returning to native beaches may be that it guarantees the turtles an environment that has the necessary components for their nesting to be successful. These include a sandy beach, easy access for the hatchlings to get to the ocean, the right incubation temperatures, and low probability of predators that may feed on their eggs. Over time these turtles have evolved these tendencies to return to an area that has provided reproductive success for many generations. Their ability to return to their birthplace is known as natal homing.

Clutch size ranges between 85 and 200, depending on the age of the female. This process takes about an hour to an hour and a half. After the nest is completely covered, she returns to the sea. The female will do this 3 to 5 times in one season.

The eggs are round and white, and about 45 mm in diameter. The hatchlings remain buried for days until they all emerge together at night. At around 50 to 70 days, the eggs hatch during the night, and the hatchlings instinctively head directly into the water. This is the most dangerous time in a turtle's life. As they walk, predators, such as gulls and crabs, feed on them. A significant percentage never make it to the ocean. Little is known of the initial life history of newly hatched sea turtles. Juveniles spend three to five years in the open ocean before they settle as still-immature juveniles into their permanent shallow-water lifestyle. It is speculated that they take twenty to fifty years to reach sexual maturity. Individuals live up to eighty years in the wild.  
From Wikipedia

Green sea turtle grazing on seagrass - photo by P.Lindgren

World Wetlands Day 2018

Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2018.
Urban wetlands make cities liveable in many important ways. They reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, provide urban green spaces, and are a source of livelihoods. These wetland benefits grow ever more crucial as the number of people living in cities has now passed the 4 billion mark and continues to rise.

By 2050, 66% of humanity will live in cities, as people move into urban areas searching for better jobs.

Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the value and importance of urban wetlands. In fast-growing cities, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland; places to dump rubbish, fill in or convert to other uses.

Scientists estimate that at least 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900, while in parallel, cities have exploded in growth.
World Wetlands Day 2018 aims to raise awareness about how urban wetlands contribute to the future of sustainable cities.

Key messages
  • Urban wetlands make cities liveable by providing multiple benefits such as; flood control, water supply, waste treatment, green space and livelihoods.
  • Urban wetlands should be integrated into a city’s sustainable future planning and development; not viewed as wasteland.
  • Cities should adopt policies and actions which help conserve and promote urban wetlands

Retain and restore: practical ways cities can manage and preserve urban wetlands
Urban planners and decision-makers face a practical dilemma: how to meet the increasing demand for land in cities while still preserving the natural environment. Urban wetlands play a vital role in making cities safe, resilient and sustainable; the aims of SDG 11.

International Year Of The Reef (IYOR)
The Third International Year Of The Reef (IYOR 2018) @IYOR2018 / #IYOR2018

At the 31st General Meeting (November 2016 in Paris, France), the International Coral Reef Initiative declared 2018 as the third International Year of the Reef and encourages to:
  • strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
  • promote partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia and civil society on the management of coral reefs;
  • identify and implement effective management strategies for conservation, increased resiliency and sustainable use of these ecosystems and promoting best practices; and
  • share information on best practices in relation to sustainable coral reef management.
1997 was declared the first International Year of the Reef (IYOR), in response to the increasing threats on coral reefs and associated ecosystems, such as mangroves and sea grasses around the world. IYOR was a global effort to increase awareness and understanding on the values and threats to coral reefs, and to support related conservation, research and management efforts. Over 225 organizations in 50 countries and territories participated, and over 700 articles in papers and magazines were generated, and hundreds of scientific surveys were undertaken.

Recognising that, ten years later, there continued to be an urgent need to increase awareness and understanding of coral reefs, and to further conserve and manage valuable coral reefs and associated ecosystems, the International Coral Reef Initiative designated 2008 as the second International Year of the Reef, IYOR 2008 (Resolution to Designate 2008 as the International Year of the Reef).

IYOR 2008 was a year-long campaign of events and initiatives hosted by governments and non-governmental organizations around the world, to promote conservation action and strengthen long-term collaborations for coral reef conservation.

IYOR 2008 Goals were the following:
  • Strengthen awareness about ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Improve understanding of the critical threats to reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
  • Generate urgent action to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
Nations, organizations, and individuals around the world celebrated the International Year of the Reef 2008 (IYOR 2008): from international organizations to village children, to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and to motivate people to take action to protect them. A tremendous amount of material was produced in several languages during that year, including educational DVDs, posters, children's books, and much more. More than 630 events were organized in over 65 countries and territories around the world. IYOR 2008 has now come to an end, but the spirit lives on... To learn more about the IYOR 2008 accomplishment, download the IYOR Report.

Recognizing that public awareness is an essential element of coral reef conservation and is necessary to ensure that the value of and the threats to coral reefs are understood by the general public, and that sufficient resources are devoted to conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; noting the importance of developing relevant public awareness initiatives that reflect national and regional priorities as well as local culture and knowledge concerning coral reefs and to facilitate public involvement in coral reef conservation related activities in all countries; and acknowledging the success of the International Year of the Reef 2008 in raising awareness of the importance of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; ICRI members adopted a recommendation on continuing coral reef awareness efforts.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal partnership between Nations and organizations which strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world.

Although the Initiative is an informal group whose decisions are not binding on its members, its actions have been pivotal in continuing to highlight globally the importance of coral reefs and related ecosystems to environmental sustainability, food security and social and cultural wellbeing. The work of ICRI is regularly acknowledged in United Nations documents, highlighting the Initiative’s important cooperation, collaboration and advocacy role within the international arena.

Brief history
The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight governments: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. It was announced at the First Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 1994, and at the high level segment of the Intersessional Meeting of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in April 1995. ICRI now counts more than 60 members.

ICRI emerged out of the recognition that coral reefs and related ecosystems found in tropical and sub-tropical regions are facing serious degradation, primarily due to anthropogenic stresses. Many nations face similar threats to coral reefs and related ecosystems as well as similar management problems. Recognising this, ICRI’s objectives are to:
  • Encourage the adoption of best practice in sustainable management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
  • Build capacity
  • Raise awareness at all levels on the plight of coral reefs around the world.
ICRI adopted a ‘Call to Action’ and a ‘Framework for Action’ as its foundational documents. Both documents set the four cornerstones of ICRI: Integrated Management; Science; Capacity Building and Review.
Find out more at:


Operation Crayweed Update: Success As North Bondi Restoration Works Produce Next Generation Of Crayweed Also: Green Globe Award For UNSW SIMs Operation Crayweed Project - Issue 334, 2017
Crosswaves - Newport Reef

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!

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2018

Avalon Boomerang Bags sewing bees will be starting again on Tuesday 30th January 11am-4pm at Sew Craft Cook. 20/14 Polo Ave, Mona Vale. 

Looking forward to catching up with everyone’s holiday news. 

Newcomers especially welcome! Don’t need to know how to sew, we will teach you.

Permaculture Northern Beaches 2018 Events

Manly • Warringah • Pittwater | Sydney
Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group based on Sydney's Northern Beaches.  Our parent body is  Permaculture Sydney North.

PNB hold monthly permaculture related events on the 4th Thursday of each month at 7:15pm at the  Nelson Heather Community Centre,  Banksia Room, 5 Jacksons Rd, Warriewood

Sunday, February 11, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Learn about the many ways you can reduce household waste in your home from food waste to single-use plastics as well as reusing and upcycling options. Household waste ends up in landfill and contributes to green house gas emissions. 

Develop your own action plan to take your household waste down to zero. The workshop is at Avalon, for inquiries please contact:  

This is part of our Green Home initiative and our focus in February and March for a non-toxic lifestyle made possible by the community grant program from the Northern Beaches Council.

Thursday, February 22, 2018: 7:15pm – 9:00pm
Nellson Heather Comunity centre 
5 Jacksons Road, North Narrabeen
onight's presentation on a  low tox life is for people curious about HOW to and WHY to lower their toxic load, and then helps them do that in a positive, empowered way across home, body, mind and food. Alexx Stuart is a speaker who brings the concept of the Low Tox Life to life through her speaking and workshops across the globe leaving audiences feeling hopeful and positive about detoxing your life. This can range from products you use in your home, bathroom, on your body,  what we eat and what we plant in the garden.

Start the year with a detox!
7:15 Pm at Nelson Heather Centre, Banksia room, 5 Jacksons Road, North Narrabeen.  Entry is by donation, all welcome!!

We also have a swap table for any items from your garden or items to reuse for others.  There is organic teas and coffees available, bring a plate of food to share.

Sunday, March 25, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
For anyone interested in Seed Saving, join our PNB seed saving afternoon at Bungan Edible Sanctuary.  Every three months,  we meet to exchange seeds, package up excess seeds for distributing at the PNB monthly meeting and share whatever knowledge we have about seeds, seed saving and what grows well in our area. 

This seed workshop will also include a garden tour around Bungun Edible Sanctuary which includes aquaculture, native bees, raised beds, chickens and a lot more.

Bring along seeds to swap that you are pretty sure are open-pollinated (not hybrid) and have been sourced from your own garden, or from somewhere you know OR  bring a plate of food or healthy drinks to share around the table.

Please register for the Seed workshop by emailing  JJ –

Sunday, April 15, 2018: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Learn how to make  Eco-cleaning products such as dish washing liquid, householder cleaning spray, toilet cleaner, and furniture polish. We also make skin care products such as organic body moisturiser, essential oil perfumes and natural tooth powder. 

Today's workshop at Avalon will involve making these products with an experienced team so as you can them make them for your own use at home. Spaces are limited. If you would like to be involved in the team and this workshop at Avalon please  book your place by email to :

We are exposed to over 2,000 chemicals in our homes. For many of us this is the most exposure we will receive in our daily lives. This workshop is an easy and effective way to use non-chemical and non-petroleum based products.

This is part of our Green Home initiative and our focus in February and March for a non-toxic lifestyle made possible by the community grant program from the Northern Beaches Council.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 – Sunday, April 29, 2018: 9:30am

This two-day permaculture course is a great overview of all aspects of permaculture - so as to enable you to take the next steps to incorporate this into your life. Over the weekend we will cover topics from organic gardening, sustainable housing, soil, site analysis for your garden/site, permaculture design, and zoning. You will receive an Introduction to Permaculture certificate and a copy of Bill Mollison's book " Introduction to Permaculture."  The course will be held at the Coastal Environment Centre (CEC) on Pelican Walk, Narrabeen Lagoon.  This will also allow for some practical exercises such as PLANTING A RAISED BED GARDENand NATIVE BEES. You will learn how to include permaculture design in your own home and garden.

The course will be from 09:30 - 4:30 pm on both days. For bookings and information please contact - with the subject heading ITP April 2018.

Teachers for the weekend include Margaret Mossakowska, biologist, and Moss House Sustainability founder and Michelle Sheather, international ecologist, Permaculture Northern Beaches coordination team.

Cost:  $290 for permaculture group members, $330 for non-members, concessions available for students, pensioners, unemployed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018: 10:00am – 1:00pm

There are many scenarios where garden space is minimal including rental properties; apartments with balconies;  townhouses with small courtyards; retirement homes; caravan parks; community garden allotments and many suburban blocks.

This workshop on small space gardening is to help you make the most of the space you have.  You will learn techniques such as stacking, hanging pots, lattices, using narrow niches and wall and fence spaces, portable grow bags, clever plant choices such as dwarf varieties and low maintenance plants that take up minimum space with a high yield. 

Design your garden to optimise your space. Join Angela Penn, kitchen garden teacher at Manly West Primary School; and science teacher for this workshop at Manly Vale Community Garden.

Organised by PNB in cooperation with Backyard in a Box. Bookings are essential inquiries:

Seeking Innovative Solutions To Help Preserve The Planet's Greatest Living Wonder

16 January 2018: Joint media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy; The Hon. Shannon Fentiman MP, Acting Queensland Minister for Innovation; The Hon. Leanne Enoch MP, Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Rerf
In a fitting start to the 2018 International Year of the Reef, a $2 million innovation challenge is seeking novel solutions to boost coral abundance on the Great Barrier Reef and restore reefs.

Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg, Acting Queensland Minister for Innovation Shannon Fentiman and Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch today launched the jointly funded challenge which is being run through the Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative.

“This is an open invitation to our greatest scientific minds, industry and business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions which will protect corals and encourage the recovery of damaged reefs,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“The Reef is the planet’s greatest living wonder. The scale of the problem is big and big thinking is needed, but it’s important to remember that solutions can come from anywhere.

“Solutions could focus on anything from reducing the exposure of corals to physical stressors, to boosting coral regeneration rates by cultivating reef-building coral larvae that attract other important marine species.”

The challenge is supported by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative.

“Sometimes the best solution to a problem can be looking at it from a different angle and approaching it in a new way,” Acting Minister Fentiman said.

“This program is a way of encouraging researchers and innovators from different fields around the world to come together to tackle a problem and to seek solutions from a broad range of expertise and experience.

“It’s about giving the best and brightest experts in science and innovation in the world a chance to address the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.”

Minister Leeanne Enoch urged those applying to be fearless with their approach, saying the scale of reef recovery demanded progressive methodology that packaged many great ideas into a comprehensive plan for change.

“It also needs to be mindful of the Traditional Owners and multiple users of the Reef, including tourism operators, recreational and commercial fishers and local and international visitors,” Minister Enoch said.

We’re looking for concepts that will ultimately reverse the trajectory of coral decline and strengthen the health of the Reef – a turnaround which is critical for the survival of this globally-recognised natural wonder.”

Applications are now open and invited from across Australia and around the world for the Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research challenge: Boosting coral abundance on the Great Barrier Reef. For more information, please visit:

Mine Rehabilitation Discussion Paper

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring major mining projects use best practice rehabilitation so that previously mined land can sustain other uses.
The Government is already implementing a number of reforms to strengthen operational rehabilitation requirements for all mining projects in NSW. As the next step in these reforms, we have released the discussion paper, Improving Mine Rehabilitation in NSW, to seek feedback on proposed improvements to the regulatory framework for rehabilitation of major mining projects. This feedback will be used to develop new state-wide policy and actions that provide certainty to industry and the community by clearly setting out Government expectations regarding rehabilitation and closure requirements for all major mining projects in NSW.
There are five proposed reforms set out in the discussion paper across the assessment, operational and closure stages of the mine life cycle. A key aim of the proposed improvements is to ensure mine rehabilitation is consistent with leading practice and delivers appropriate social, economic and environmental outcomes for communities.
We invite you to comment on the mine rehabilitation Discussion Paper until 16 February 2018

Broken Hill North Mine Recommencement To Bring Jobs And Economic Growth To The Region

29.12.2017: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The North Mine Recommencement Project is set deliver 140 new jobs to Broken Hill after being approved by the Department of Planning and Environment.
The project will access deeper deposits of lead, zinc and silver at North Mine, which was last actively mined in 2008.
Clay Preshaw, Director of Resource Assessments, said the State Significant Development proposal was assessed under NSW Government policies and the local community was consulted on the plans.
“Mining at Broken Hill has occurred since the 1880’s, and over the last century mining revenues from Broken Hill have significantly contributed to Australia’s development,” Mr Preshaw said.
“It continues to play a significant role in supporting local and regional economies today.”
The project is expected to generate up to $5.8 million per year of royalties to the State of NSW over a period of up to 25 years.
The Department worked closely with the Environment Protection Authority to ensure that Perilya prepared robust air quality and human health impact assessments.
“Perilya was asked to revise aspects of its project design and to implement stringent air quality mitigation and management measures,” Mr Preshaw said.
“This has resulted in beneficial outcomes for the community as the revised project is not predicted to cause any exceedances of the air quality criteria or increase blood lead levels.”
Perilya will also need to upgrade the intersections along the haulage route and maintain historic mining structures with significant heritage value on the site.
The Department received nine submissions from public authorities and another nine from the general public, most of which were in support.

Calls For Community Input Into Managing Murrah

December 13, 2017: NPWS
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is inviting the community to have input into the ongoing management of the Murrah Flora Reserves on the Far South Coast.

Kane Weeks, NPWS South Coast Director said a draft working plan released today outlines how NPWS will manage and enhance the reserve's important koala habitat and continuing Aboriginal connections.

"Since NPWS were appointed as managers of the 11,800-hectare reserves last year we have worked with our partners to develop a way forward to further protect the area's natural and cultural values," Mr Weeks said.

"The draft plan is where we have landed – and this exhibition period is a genuine opportunity for the community to have their say on the ongoing management of the reserves.

"The management arrangement of the reserves offers a unique set of circumstances where the NSW Government will embrace an active and adaptive approach to manage koala habitat at a landscape level.

"The draft plan outlines how the local koala monitoring program will continue – including surveys and research into different bush regeneration techniques.

"Another focus is supporting opportunities for the Djirringanj Yuin (Djuwin) people to re-introduce cultural burning to the landscape," said Mr Weeks.

The draft plan has been developed by the Murrah Flora Reserves Steering Committee with members from Forestry Corporation NSW, the local wood pulp industry, NSW Rural Fire Service, Local Land Services, Crown Lands, neighbours and the Yuin community.

The community are invited to view the plan and provide feedback until 31 January 2018.

More information, including details of public info sessions can be found at the OEH Have your Say page.

Call For National Heritage List Nominations

Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Nominations are now open for places of outstanding natural, Indigenous or historic significance to the nation for possible inclusion on our National Heritage List.

“Our prestigious National Heritage List celebrates and protects places that reflect our unique landscapes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and development as a nation,” said the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy.

“The List currently includes more than 100 sites from across Australia and its territories, ranging from icons such as Bondi Beach, Fraser Island and Kakadu National Park to lesser-known gems such as the Dirk Hartog’s Landing Site, Darlington Probation Station, Mount William Stone Hatchet Quarry, Witjira-Dalhousie Springs and the High Court-National Gallery Precinct.”

“Each year, more places are added to the List as our national story unfolds and understanding of our heritage deepens.”

Nominations are open until 26 February 2016 and will be considered by the Australian Heritage Council before a final list of places to be assessed in 2018-19 is developed. As part of that assessment process, there will be further opportunities for public comment on each proposed listing.

Nominations of natural, Indigenous and historic places with significant heritage value for possible Commonwealth heritage listing are also being sought.

Exhibition Of Proposed Changes To Noise And Dust Assessment For Mining Projects

November 30, 2017: Departmental Media Release, Department of Planning and Environment
Proposed planning policy changes will help improve the management of noise and dust impacts on properties near proposed mining projects.
The Department of Planning and Environment’s Deputy Secretary for Policy, Strategy & Governance, Alison Frame, said the proposed changes to the NSW Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy respond to the Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) recently updated policies for assessing noise and air quality.
"The NSW Government applies the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy during the assessment of state significant resource proposals, such as mines, to address potential noise and dust impacts on neighbouring land," Ms Frame said.  
"We’ve based our revised air and noise assessment criteria on those developed through recent reviews conducted by the EPA, which underwent public consultation.
"In addition, we’ve also improved the language to explain terms and processes more clearly such as negotiated agreements, acquisition and mitigation processes, and valuation of land.
"We’re interested in hearing from any interested individuals, land-owners, and community groups wishing to provide feedback on the proposed changes.
"Public submissions provide important feedback to our Department, which we will consider as we finalise the policy.
"In the coming months, we will separately be consulting stakeholders across a range of sectors on the potential to provide more policy guidance on negotiated agreements and dispute resolution," Ms Frame said.
The proposal to revise the NSW Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy also requires amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007.
To view the proposed changes or make a submission between November 30 and 16 February 2018, visit the Department's website here.

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 
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

If Victoria Can Ban CSG, NSW Can Too!

By The Wilderness Society
Coal seam gas (CSG) threatens our water, our health and our climate. Many jurisdictions around the world are permanently banning this dangerous industry, most recently Victoria. We do not need or want risky coal seam gas in NSW. 
It’s clear that the industry has no social licence in our state, yet vast and critical areas—as well as human health—are still under threat from CSG across the state.

Call on the new Premier Berejiklian and the new Planning Minister Roberts to follow Victoria's lead and ban this harmful and risky industry in NSW. 

Secrets Of Longevity Protein Revealed In New Study

January 17, 2018: Yale University
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure of one of these proteins, beta-Klotho, illuminating its intricate mechanism and therapeutic potential.

Klotho proteins. Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

The study findings, published in Nature, could have implications for therapies developed to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers, the researchers said.

The Klotho family of two receptor proteins are located on the surface of cells of specific tissues. The proteins bind to a family of hormones, designated endocrine FGFs, that regulate critical metabolic processes in the liver, kidneys, and brain, among other organs. To understand how beta-Klotho works, the research team used X-ray crystallography, a technique that provides high-resolution, three-dimensional views of these proteins.

The researchers' analysis yielded several insights. First, beta-Klotho is the primary receptor that binds to FGF21, a key hormone produced upon starvation. When bound to beta-Klotho, FGF21 stimulates insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, causing weight loss. This new understanding of beta-Klotho and FGF21 can guide the development of therapies for conditions such as type 2 diabetes in obese patients, the researchers said.

"Like insulin, FGF21 stimulates metabolism including glucose uptake," said Joseph Schlessinger, senior author and chair of pharmacology at Yale School of Medicine. "In animals and in some clinical trials of FGF21, it shows that you can increase burning of calories without changing food intake, and we now understand how to improve the biological activity of FGF21." The authors also describe a new variant of FGF21 that has 10 times higher potency and cellular activity.

Additionally, the research team presented evidence of how a structurally-related enzyme, glycosidase, which breaks down sugars, evolved into a receptor for a hormone that lowers blood sugar -- which may not be a coincidence, Schlessinger added.

Having untangled the structure of beta-Klotho, Schlessinger and his colleagues have a platform for exploring potential therapies for multiple diseases. By developing drugs that enhance the pathway, he said, researchers can target diabetes and obesity. Conversely, using agents that block the pathway, they hope to explore therapies for conditions such as liver cancer and bone diseases, among others.

"The next step will be to make better hormones, make new potent blockers, do animal studies, and move forward," Schlessinger said.

Sangwon Lee, Jungyuen Choi, Jyotidarsini Mohanty, Leiliane P. Sousa, Francisco Tome, Els Pardon, Jan Steyaert, Mark A. Lemmon, Irit Lax, Joseph Schlessinger. Structures of β-klotho reveal a ‘zip code’-like mechanism for endocrine FGF signalling. Nature, 2018; DOI:10.1038/nature25010

Census Reveals Australia’s Religious Diversity On World Religion Day

18 January 2018: by ABS
World Religion Day aims to foster interfaith understanding and harmony, and is an opportunity to recognise the diversity of religion present in modern day Australia.

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing found that three-fifths of the Australian population (61 per cent, or 14 million people) are affiliated with a religion or spiritual belief.

Christianity is once again the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people, and 86 per cent of religious Australians, identifying as Christians. There was roughly a seven per cent drop in the number of Christians since 2011. More than two in five (43 per cent) of Christians are Catholic, the largest broad denomination, while a quarter are Anglican (25 per cent).

Just over two million Australians indicated a religion other than Christianity, accounting for 14 per cent of religious people and eight per cent of the total population.

Australia is home to a diverse collection of people, and this is also apparent through the wide variety of different religions recorded on the Census.

The most prominent non-Christian religions are Islam (600,000 people), Buddhism (560,000), Hinduism (440,000), Sikhism (130,000) and Judaism (90,000). Sikhism is in fact the fastest-growing religion in Australia since 2011 (74 per cent increase) ahead of Hinduism (60 per cent increase).

Other Spiritual beliefs practised by Australians include Middle Eastern religions (Baha’i, Mandaean, Druse, Zoroastrianism and Yezidi), Nature religions (Paganism, Wiccan, Animism and Druidism), East Asian beliefs (Taoism, Confucianism, Ancestor Veneration and Shinto), and Australian Aboriginal traditional beliefs.

Although Australia remains a predominantly religious country, about one third of all Australians (30 per cent, or 7 million people) indicated either ‘No Religion’ or a secular belief such as Atheism, Humanism or Agnosticism. The number of people indicating they had ‘No Religion’ has increased by almost 50 per cent from 2011 to 2016. 

The 2016 Census also found:
  • Islam and Australian Aboriginal traditional beliefs were the religions with the youngest median age (27 years), while Christianity and Judaism both have a median age of 44 years.
  • The most urbanised religions are Mandaean, Druse and Jainism – with 99 per cent of Mandaeans, 98 per cent of Druse and 96 per cent of Jains living in a capital city. The least urbanised religion is Australian Aboriginal traditional beliefs (20 per cent), ahead of Paganism and Wicca (56 per cent and 57 per cent respectively).
  • Hindus and Jains are most likely to be born overseas, with over four-fifths (81 per cent) emigrating from other countries – predominantly India.
  • The religion with the highest proportion of females to males is Wiccan, with 26 males per 100 females, compared to the national ratio of 97 males per 100 females. The religion with the highest proportion of males to females is Rastafari, with 346 males per 100 females.
  • Although not a recognised religion in Australia, close to 48,000 people reported themselves as Jedi.

Further information on Australia’s religious diversity can be found at the ABS website, by using one of our online data tools – QuickStats and Community Profiles, and in our Reflecting Australia analytical article. 

ANU Research Identifies Key Factor Behind The Global Rise In Populism

January 18, 2018
New research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that a decay in trust in political parties and a breakdown of the networks that link them to voters is behind the global rise of populist politicians.

The research, by political scientist and Head of the ANU Department of Political and Social Change Dr Paul Kenny, has been published in a new book to be launched on Thursday titled Populism and Patronage.

Dr Kenny said his research has found populism is a genuine threat to democracy, and is set to continue its rise for the foreseeable future.

"This rise of populism globally is something to worry about," Dr Kenny said. "It is bad for democracy, bad for press freedom, bad for civil rights, bad for the rule of law."

Populist politics has seen a remarkable rise in the past decade, with proponents such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte coming to power in 2016, and US President Donald Trump in 2017.

Dr Kenny said the problem with populist leaders is that the lack of deep ties through parties to voters allows them to concentrate their power.

"Because populists tend to be unattached from political parties, there's nothing to discipline their behaviour once they get into office," he said.

"They're free to personalise power in their own office, and this frees them of checks and balances on their authority.

"This type of arbitrary power edges towards what we would call an authoritarian rule or dictatorship."

The research found the rise of populist politics is due to the decline of the networks that support democratic political parties in large parts of the world.

"The way political parties work in most of the world is through 'patronage networks'," he said.

"You have a party in power in a nation's capital, they distribute wealth to Governors or Mayors, who in turn distribute goods and services to cities and villages. You create a pyramid type of structure.

"My research found when that network breaks, national leaders no longer have the ability to distribute patronage down the chain.

"This is how political parties fragment which leaves the door open to populists to come to power."

Dr Kenny said he expects these trends to continue across the globe.

"The prospects aren't good for the traditional political party, they are now probably one of the least trusted institutions in most democracies," he said.

"This bodes poorly for democracy, and means the prospect of seeing more populists in the future is likely."

Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia, and Beyond has been published by the Oxford University Press.

Miles Davis Is Not Mozart: The Brains Of Jazz And Classical Pianists Work Differently

January 16, 2018
A musician's brain is different to that of a non-musician. Making music requires a complex interplay of various abilities which are also reflected in more strongly developed brain structures. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig have recently discovered that these capabilities are embedded in a much more finely-tuned way than previously assumed -- and even differ depending on the style of the music: They observed that the brain activity of jazz pianists differs from those of classical pianists, even when playing the same piece of music. This could give insight into the processes which generally take place while making music and which are specific for certain styles.

Keith Jarrett, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like a chosen practically impossible thing [...] It's [because of] the circuitry. Your system demands different circuitry for either of those two things." Where non-specialists tend to think that it should not be too challenging for a professional musician to switch between styles of music, such as jazz and classical, it is actually not as easy as one would assume, even for people with decades of experience.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig demonstrated that there could be a neuroscientific explanation for this phenomenon: They observed that while playing the piano, different processes occur in jazz and classical pianists' brains, even when performing the same piece.

When the scientists asked the pianists to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, the jazz pianists' brains started to replan the actions faster than those of the classical pianists. This was measured by EEG  (Electroencephalography) sensors on the back of the head, which detected the brain signals in the related brain regions responsible for action planing. © MPI CBS

"The reason could be due to the different demands these two styles pose on the musicians -- be it to skilfully interpret a classical piece or to creatively improvise in jazz. Thereby, different procedures may have established in their brains while playing the piano which makes switching between the styles more difficult," says Daniela Sammler, neuroscientist at MPI CBS and leader of the current study about the different brain activities in jazz and classical pianists.

One crucial distinction between the two groups of musicians is the way in which they plan movements while playing the piano. Regardless of the style, pianists, in principle, first have to know what they are going to play -- meaning the keys they have to press -- and, subsequently, how to play -- meaning the fingers they should use. It is the weighting of both planning steps, which is influenced by the genre of the music.

According to this, classical pianists focus their playing on the second step, the "How." For them it is about playing pieces perfectly regarding their technique and adding personal expression. Therefore, the choice of fingering is crucial. Jazz pianists, on the other hand, concentrate on the "What." They are always prepared to improvise and adapt their playing to create unexpected harmonies.

"Indeed, in the jazz pianists we found neural evidence for this flexibility in planning harmonies when playing the piano," states Roberta Bianco, first author of the study. "When we asked them to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, their brains started to replan the actions faster than classical pianists. Accordingly, they were better able to react and continue their performance." Interestingly, the classical pianists performed better than the others when it came to following unusual fingering. In these cases their brains showed stronger awareness of the fingering, and consequently they made fewer errors while imitating the chord sequence.

The scientists investigated these relations in 30 professional pianists; half of them were specialized in jazz for at least two years, the other half were classically trained. All pianists got to see a hand on a screen which played a sequence of chords on a piano scattered with mistakes in harmonies and fingering. The professional pianists had to imitate this hand and react accordingly to the irregularities while their brain signals were registered with EEG (Electroencephalography) sensors on the head. To ensure that there were no other disturbing signals, for instance acoustic sound, the whole experiment was carried out in silence using a muted piano.

"Through this study, we unravelled how precisely the brain adapts to the demands of our surrounding environment," says Sammler. It also makes clear that it is not sufficient to just focus on one genre of music if we want to fully understand what happens in the brain when we perform music -- as it was done so far by just investigating Western classical music. "To obtain a bigger picture, we have to search for the smallest common denominator of several genres," Sammler explains. "Similar to research in language: To recognise the universal mechanisms of processing language we also cannot limit our research to German."

R. Bianco, G. Novembre, P.E. Keller, A. Villringer, D. Sammler. Musical genre-dependent behavioural and EEG signatures of action planning. A comparison between classical and jazz pianists.NeuroImage, 2018; 169: 383 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.12.058

Cystic Fibrosis Bacterial Burden Begins During First Years Of Life

January 19, 2018
Cystic fibrosis (CF) shortens life by making the lungs prone to repeated bacterial infections and associated inflammation. UNC School of Medicine researchers have now shown for the first time that the lungs' bacterial population changes in the first few years of life as respiratory infections and inflammation set in.

The study, published in PLoS Pathogens, offers a way to predict the onset of lung disease in children with CF and suggests a larger role for preventive therapies, such as hypertonic saline.

"Lung symptoms in kids with CF are likely due to an increased burden of bacteria," said study senior author Matthew Wolfgang, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology. "This implies there's an opportunity for early intervention that could dramatically increase the quality of life for these kids."

CF affects about 70,000 people globally, and is most common in children of Northern European ethnicity -- about one of every 2,500 births. The disease is caused by a dysfunctional version of the CFTR gene that encodes the CFTR protein. In the absence of this protein, mucus becomes dehydrated and thick -- a sanctuary for bacteria -- leading to repeated infections, inflammation, and eventually structural damage to lungs and upper airway tissues. The life expectancy of CF patients is about 40 years.

Most CF studies have been done in adults and older children, and thus relatively little has been known about how and when inflammation, bacterial infections, and lung damage begin. To shed more light on that question, Wolfgang and colleagues analyzed bacterial DNA in samples of lung-lining fluid gathered from young children as part of an ongoing Australian project called AREST CF.

"It's challenging and rare to get access to such samples," said Wolfgang, member of the UNC Marsico Lung Institute. "Here in the United States, we don't perform bronchoscopies on children diagnosed with CF if they don't yet have clinical symptoms."

The UNC scientists found that in most of the samples from CF children who were less than a year old, there were little or no signs of bacteria. "If there was no significant evidence of bacteria, there was also no sign of inflammation, and the child generally appeared healthy," Wolfgang said.

In the children between ages one and two, the pattern was different: many samples contained a significant amount of bacterial DNA -- from the same bacterial species that normally populate the mouth and throat. These bacteria are not typically regarded as lung pathogens.

"We can't go so far as to say that these kids have active infections, but clearly there's a significant increase in the bacterial burden in their lungs, and we know these bacteria provoke inflammation," Wolfgang said.

In children age three to five, the samples contained increasing evidence of more worrisome bacteria, particularly Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Haemophilus influenzae, which are commonly found in older CF patients with more severe lung disease. As the bacterial burden worsened, molecular signs of inflammation increased. Also, lung X-ray studies of the children revealed mounting signs of structural lung disease as the bacterial burden increased.

"This tells us lung bacterial infections start much earlier than we had expected in children with CF, and these infections are likely the earliest drivers of structural lung disease," Wolfgang said.

Many of the bacterial species in the young children with CF, he noted, were "anaerobic" microbes that thrive in conditions of very low oxygen. This finding suggests that the dehydrated, thickened CF lung mucus creates pockets of low oxygen in lung tissues.

"Therapies aimed at breaking up mucus very early in life might be very beneficial to these kids," Wolfgang said. "These therapies could postpone the increase in bacterial burden, including the shift towards the more pathogenic species."

Doctors already give preventive antibiotics to young children in Australia, Germany, and the UK. However, Wolfgang noted that the children in the AREST CF study, who were treated with antibiotics until the age of two, still showed a clear progression of bacterial burden and inflammation. "It could be that other therapeutic strategies, such as thinning mucus, may be more successful," he said.

Wolfgang and colleagues at the UNC Marsico Lung Institute now hope to do a similar, long-term study analyzing the lung bacteria of individual children and the changes in these "bacteriomes" over several years. The researchers want to evaluate the effectiveness of an early mucus-thinning intervention, for example hypertonic saline -- salt water delivered via inhaler -- which is already used to hydrate mucus in older CF patients.

The co-first authors of the study were Marianne S. Muhlebach, MD, professor of pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine, and Bryan T. Zorn, a UNC research specialist.

The National Institutes of Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation funded this research. The National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Australia funded the collection of samples used in this study.

Marianne S. Muhlebach, Bryan T. Zorn, Charles R. Esther, Joseph E. Hatch, Conor P. Murray, Lidija Turkovic, Sarath C. Ranganathan, Richard C. Boucher, Stephen M. Stick, Matthew C. Wolfgang. Initial acquisition and succession of the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome is associated with disease progression in infants and preschool children. PLOS Pathogens, 2018; 14 (1): e1006798 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006798

Southernmost Outbreak Of Coral-Eating Starfish Detected In Great Barrier Reef

Published: January 5th, 2016: GBRMP
A severe outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish is occurring in the Swain Reefs, the southernmost location in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park found to have the starfish during the current outbreak.

Field officers detected the starfish on 37 reefs while undertaking in-water surveys in December in the Swain Reefs, which extend from 110 to 250 kilometres offshore from the Gladstone–Rockhampton area.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Director of Education, Stewardship and Partnerships Fred Nucifora said efforts were being dedicated to getting a more complete picture of the outbreak to inform the control efforts underway in the Marine Park.

“We’re concerned to find an outbreak of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish this far south in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Mr Nucifora said.

“Until now, the current crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak was largely limited to the northern and central part of the Reef, between Townsville and Cooktown.

“The Great Barrier Reef is under pressure and protecting coral cover is important for the health of the broader ecosystem, along with other actions to build the resilience of the Reef.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science Senior Research Scientist Dr Hugh Sweatman said this was not the first time a crown-of-thorns starfish outbreak had been recorded in the region.

“Our long-term monitoring has shown that Swain Reefs suffered from similar severe outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish from the late 1980s to 2005, and were also damaged by storms including severe tropical cyclone Hamish in 2009 but have recovered well,” Dr Sweatman said.

“The crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in the Swains tend to occur independently from the main outbreaks that start offshore Cairns and expand south down the Great Barrier Reef.

“Our research divers will continue to survey the area to assess the effects of these outbreaks as they develop and to see if rates of recovery are the same as in the past.

“Coral reefs are always changing; they lose coral because of storms, predation by crown-of-thorns starfish, coral diseases and, in recent times, bleaching. Given enough time between these losses, reefs can recover. How much coral we see depends on the balance of these rates of decline and recovery.”

The Australian Government funds a crown-of-thorns starfish management program, administered by the Marine Park Authority.

Mid last year, the Australian Government committed an additional $14.4 million for another control vessel and a tender is currently open seeking prospective contractors to deliver this activity.

“This new boat will enhance our crown-of-thorns control efforts, enabling trained divers to cull starfish in more locations and help protect coral cover,” Mr Nucifora said.

The funding also included $1.5 million over three years for additional Reef-wide surveillance, which is supporting the surveillance for crown-of-thorns starfish in the Swains.

Field officers undertook surveillance and some pre-emptive starfish culling in the Swain Reefs before Christmas and are continuing surveillance this month. Options to respond to the outbreak in the Swains will be assessed following survey reports later this month.      

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s recently released Reef Blueprint highlights the importance of ramping up crown-of-thorns control — one of the most scalable and feasible actions for reducing coral mortality and preventing further declines.

Window Safety Device Requirements In Strata Schemes By March 13, 2018

To prevent children falling from windows, all strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable the maximum window openings to be less than 12.5cm. Owners corporations must have devices installed on all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018. The safety devices must be robust and childproof.

Residents will still be able to open their windows. However, they will have the security of knowing that when the devices are engaged, children will be protected.

Details and answers to the below questions are available on the NSW Department of Fair Trading Page HERE
Which windows does this apply to?
Are there any alternatives to locks?
When do the window safety devices need to be installed?
Will this mean the windows will never be able to open?
How can we arrange for window safety devices in our scheme that won't cost a fortune?
If the windows have grills over them, do they still need locks?
How do I know if a window safety device is compliant?
Do I need a certified professional to install the window safety device?
As a lot owner, do I need to obtain permission to install a window safety device in my own lot?
Can the installation of window safety devices be delegated to each individual lot owner?

Information for manufacturers and suppliers
Information for building professionals
Are window safety devices included in the Tenancy Condition Report?
Is an owners corporation required to monitor the use of the window safety devices?
My window forms part of a swimming pool barrier, do the window safety requirements still apply?
Where can I get more information?
Which windows does this apply to?  

The laws apply to openable windows where the internal floor is more than 2m above the ground surface outside and within a child's reach (less than 1.7m above the inside floor) - see the diagram below.

Further details are explained in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016.

The window safety requirements in NSW are based on the Deem-to-Satisfy provisions D2.24 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA is part of the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC). For more information on the BCA or the NCC, visit the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Are there any alternatives to locks?  
The alternative is security screens, such as bars or grills on the windows so long as they have gaps less than 12.5cm. Flyscreens do not comply unless they are the reinforced security type and capable of resisting the very strong outward pressure which would prevent a child falling through.
For a handy window safety product guide, visit the Kids Don't Fly page on the NSW Health website. Information is provided in 11 languages.

When do the window safety devices need to be installed?  
If the window safety requirements are not met by 13 March 2018, owners corporations may face fines. Leaving it to the last minute places your scheme at risk of not complying by the due date and leaves young children vulnerable to falls from windows in your scheme.

Lot owners may install a window safety device in their property at any time, letting the owners corporation know. Tenants must get written permission from their landlord before installing locks that require drilling. Landlords cannot refuse a tenant's request unless they have a very good reason.

South Australian Man Guilty On 10 Charges Of Wildlife Crime

16 January 2018: Department of the Environment and Energy 
Media release

A forty-nine-year old security contractor has pled guilty to nine charges of possessing, and one charge of importing, illegal animal specimens listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On 9 January 2018, Mr Terry Dalkos was fined $4,000 in the Magistrates Court of South Australia.

The Norwood resident appeared in court on charges of possessing specimens of leopards, bears, lions, a gray wolf, a cheetah and an organgutan.

He was also charged with importing the skull of a babirusa (deer pig).

In July 2016 officers from the federal Department of the Environment and Energy’s Office of Compliance searched the defendant’s house and located and seized a number of animal specimens.

Staff from the Australian Museum have confirmed that eight specimens are listed in Appendix I and II of CITES, including a gray wolf, leopard and a babirusa.

The defendant also admitted to selling other CITES-listed specimens including bears, a cheetah, lions, organgutans and primates.

The illegal wildlife trade is worth billions globally, with thousands of endangered animals killed per year for profit.

Wildlife trafficking is driving the decline of many species around the world and the Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving endangered plants and animals.

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences under Australian law is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals, or up to $1,050,000 for corporations.

Australia is a signatory to CITES and implements the Convention under its national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Under Australian law, it is illegal to posess and import CITES-listed species without a permit.

Members of the public with any information about trade in illegal wildlife or wildlife products should contact or 02 6274 1900.

Further information can be found

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.