Inbox and Environment News: Issue 369

July 29 - August 4, 2018: Issue 369

Women Under-Treated For Heart Attack Die At Twice The Rate Of Men

July 23, 2018: University of Sydney
University of Sydney research reveals that women admitted to Australian hospitals with serious heart attacks are half as likely as men to get proper treatment and to die at twice the rate of men six months after discharge.

Published in today’s Medical Journal of Australia, the study of 2898 patients (2183 men, 715 women) reveals that women admitted to 41 Australian hospitals with ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) in the past decade were half as likely as men to receive appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment, and less likely to be referred for cardiac rehabilitation and prescribed preventive medications at discharge.

Six months after hospital discharge, death rates and serious adverse cardiovascular events among these women were more than double the rates seen in men.

Sex differences in the management and outcomes of patients with acute coronary syndromes such as STEMI have been reported in the medical literature, but most studies fail to adjust for ‘confounding’ factors that can affect the accuracy of findings.

This new study, authored by leading cardiac specialists and researchers from across Australia, offers robust insights into this life-threatening condition by adjusting for factors that could affect treatment and health outcomes.
“We focused on patients with ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction because the clinical presentation and diagnosis of this condition is fairly consistent, and patients should receive a standardised management plan,” said the University of Sydney’s Professor Clara Chow who is a cardiologist at Westmead hospital, the study’s senior author.

“The reasons for the under-treatment and management of women compared to men in Australian hospitals aren’t clear.

“It might be due to poor awareness that women with STEMI are generally at higher risk, or by a preference for subjectively assessing risk rather than applying more reliable, objective risk prediction tools.

“Whatever the cause, these differences aren’t justified. We need to do more research to discover why women suffering serious heart attacks are being under-investigated by health services and urgently identify ways to redress the disparity in treatment and health outcomes.”

Professor David Brieger, co-author of the study and leader of the CONCORDANCE registry from which the findings were extracted, agrees: “While we have long recognised that older patients and those with other complicating illnesses are less likely to receive evidence based treatment, this study will prompt us to refocus our attention on women with STEMI.”
What is STEMI or ST-elevation myocardial infarction?

A STEMI or ST-elevation myocardial infarction (heart attack) happens when a fatty deposit on an arterial wall causes a sudden and complete blockage of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen and causing damage to the heart muscle.

A STEMI diagnosis is typically made initially by administering an electrocardiogram (ECG) that reveals a tell-tale ECG signature (see image above). These heart attacks can cause sudden death due to ventricular fibrillation (a serious heart rhythm disturbance) or acute heart failure (when the heart can’t pump enough blood to properly supply the body).

STEMI represents about 20 percent of all heart attack presentations. In 2016, an average of 22 Australians died from a heart attack each day.

About the study
Researchers collected data from 41 hospitals across all Australian states and territories between February 2009 and May 2016. Twenty-eight hospitals (68 percent) are in metropolitan regions and 13 are in rural locations.

Data was sourced from the CONCORDANCE (Cooperative National Registry of Acute Coronary care, Guideline Adherence and Clinical Events) registry, intended for use by clinicians to help improve the quality of patient care in line with treatment guidelines.

Main outcome measures: the primary outcome was total revascularisation, a composite endpoint encompassing patients receiving PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention), thrombolysis, or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) during the index admission.

Secondary outcomes: timely vascularisation rates; major adverse cardiac event rates; clinical outcomes and preventive treatments at discharge; mortality in hospital and 6 months after admission.

The average age of women presenting with STEMI was 66.6 years; the average age of men was 60.5 years.

More women than men had hypertension, diabetes, a history of prior stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic heart failure, or dementia. Fewer had a history of previous coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction, or of prior PCI or CABG.

Dr Clara Chow is Professor of Medicine at Sydney Medical School, a Consultant Cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and Academic Director of the Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC). Her principal research interests are in cardiovascular disease prevention in Australia and internationally.

Differences in management and outcomes for men and women with ST-elevation myocardial infarctionEhsan Khan, David Brieger, John Amerena, John J Atherton, Derek P Chew, Ahmad Farshid, Marcus Ilton, Craig P Juergens, Nadarajah Kangaharan, Rohan Rajaratnam, Amy Sweeny, Darren L Walters and Clara K Chow. Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja17.01109 Published online: 23 July 2018

Top UNSW Academic To Head National Endometriosis Action Plan

July 27, 2018: by Lucy Carroll, UNSW
Professor Jason Abbott will lead a major clinical trial program as part of Australia’s first national action plan on a condition that affects 1 in 10 women.

Michael Still, Chair of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) board, Professor Jason Abbott, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Kim Olesen, Acting Chief Executive SESLHD, and Vanessa Madunic, General Manager of the Royal Hospital for Women.

UNSW Sydney’s Professor of Gynaecological Surgery Jason Abbott will chair the first National Endometriosis Steering Group in Australia over the next five years, following a major funding boost for debilitating disease announced yesterday.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has released Australia’s first National Action Plan for Endometriosis to improve the quality of life of patients through better treatment, diagnosis and providing an outline for the path to ultimately find a cure.

The government yesterday committed a further $1.2 million in funding to the plan, taking the total investment to $4.7 million. Of the funding, $2.5 million will be dedicated to rolling out the National Endometriosis Clinical and Scientific Trials Network (NECST network), allowing patients to take part in a coordinated national research program to improve diagnosis and treatment plans. Professor Abbott will lead the national trials network, which will include an online capability, matching biological samples and databases to facilitate the roll out of large-scale clinical trials.

“Ten percent of women have endometriosis. It is a substantial cause of morbidity and lost productivity,” Professor Abbott said.

“It has a major impact on fertility and often occurs when women are establishing careers, further education and family. One of the most difficult things is it can stop women reaching their full potential. The spotlight on the disease makes it easier for women to talk about and helps debunk the myth that endometriosis is just bad period pain.”

Professor Abbott said endometriosis patients often endured pain worse than women who had cancer, and many frontline primary carers “don’t know enough about it to clock it as a substantial disease”.

Endometriosis is an inflammatory menstrual health disorder that affects around 700,000 Australian women and girls. It occurs when tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body. It can cause severe abdominal pain and organ damage, and can lead to mental health complications, social and economic stress and infertility.

Professor Abbott, from School of Women’s and Children’s Health at UNSW Medicine, said the National Endometriosis Steering Group will oversee the implementation of the action plan, which includes awareness and education, clinical management and the implementation of personal plans and clinical trial research.

“The illness costs the community up to $6 billion a year. At the moment the only way to diagnose endometriosis is to undergo a laparoscopy and have a biopsy taken.
“It's absolutely imperative that we have a better way to diagnose it and do not have to go to that invasive stage,” Professor Abbott said at a joint press conference with Mr Hunt.

Professor Abbott is the director of Endometriosis Australia, an associate editor for ANZJOG, Human Reproduction and the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynaecology and has more than 120 publications including textbooks, book chapters and large-scale RCTs in gynaecological surgery.

A release by Mr Hunt said that $1 million had already been committed to supporting GPs and other frontline health professionals through better access to educational resources about endometriosis, to help reduce diagnostic delay, and ensure that the right clinical care is provided to the right patients at the right time. This will include the development of a short course in endometriosis for primary healthcare professionals.

Software Cuts Through Costly Hospital Pharmaceutical Procurement

July 24, 2018: University of Sydney
The University of Sydney has developed a software program which could significantly reduce the amount spent by the nation's hospitals currently estimated at more than three billion dollars a year.
The ground-breaking software, which streamlines the pharmaceutical purchasing process, is also expected to free up hospital staff for activities more closely related to patient care.

The software was developed in conjunction with Sydney’s Westmead Hospital by Dr Aldo Saavedra, a Senior Research Scientist with the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, and Dr Erick Li, a senior lecturer in the Business School’s Discipline of Business Analytics.

The new system will replace a laborious and time consuming process of selecting the most cost effective pharmaceuticals by manually comparing spreadsheet information on thousands of products with prices that sometimes vary on a monthly basis.

“There are several thousand lines of pharmaceuticals that are procured and managed across Westmead, and pricing for each is influenced by market dynamics i.e. competition, patent expiry, supply chain and government policy,” said the hospital’s head pharmacist, David Ng.

“With a monthly spend of around $ 3 million, the objective of our pharmaceutical procurement is to ensure that essential medicines are available uninterrupted and at the most cost-efficient price,” Dr Ng said. “Given the number of product lines and pricing variances, we needed a decision support tool.”

Dr Ng and his team turned to the University of Sydney because of its established business, technical and analytical expertise as well as its commitment to the development of what has become known as the Westmead precinct.
The University’s Dr Saavedra and Dr Li, found a manual purchasing process made highly complex by constantly changing supplier discounts, government subsidies and competing branded and generic products.

As an example of this complexity, Dr Li pointed to the trade-offs staff were forced to make when choosing between rebate brands and the non-rebate brands. “In some cases, the hospital stayed with the rebate brand to avoid losing an accumulated rebate reward; whereas in other cases, the hospital was able to capitalise on low prices offered by non-rebate brands.”

“Our system is able to organise all the information from the wholesaler’s price books, quickly run the data for a particular medication and determine the lowest price on the market,” Dr Li said. “Importantly, we can take into consideration the complexity of the rebate contracts.”

One estimate puts Westmead’s cost savings at nearly 5 per cent.

The University team sees the new system as an example of how data can be better utilised in hospitals for the benefit of patients and staff.

“This project became a good flagship for showing how we can actually use data to improve something very simple like choosing the best medication, which was very laborious with a procurement officer literally sitting there and comparing excel spreadsheets to find the best value,” said Dr Saavedra.

“When I started working at the hospital everyone talked about keeping the lights on. That’s all the budget allowed for. Nobody was trying to introduce better practices. So with our little tool we have been able to show the value of data,” he said.

With some modification, Dr Saavedra and Dr Li say that their procurement software could be installed in any hospital in the country potentially saving Australian taxpayers many millions of dollars.

Birth Study Empowers Pregnant Women

July 23, 2018: Queensland University of Technology
Research led by QUT Associate Professor Yvette Miller, from the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, asked almost 6000 women about their birthing experiences in Queensland, Australia.

Professor Miller said many women were not aware that their choice of maternity care provider, birth facility, the way their baby is monitored in labor and positioning during labor and birth would all affect their labor and birth experience.

"We do this kind of research primarily to give women the information they need to make informed decisions about their maternity care," Professor Miller said.

"'Normal' birth was defined as an unassisted vaginal birth without induction of labor, epidural or general anaesthetic, forceps or episiotomy.

"We partnered with the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to survey almost 6000 women who gave birth over a four-month period in Queensland. Women reported features of their experience alongside the four aspects of normal birth: onset of labor, use of anaesthetics, mode of birth, and use of episiotomy.

"Only 28.7 per cent of the women experienced a 'normal' birth.

"Our analysis found that those who had received GP shared care, standard public care, public midwifery continuity care or private midwifery care were all more likely to have a 'normal' birth than women in private obstetric care.

"We also found that women had a higher chance of a 'normal' birth if:
  • they lived outside major cities
  • could move freely throughout labor
  • received continuity of care in labor and birth
  • did not have procedures to augment their labor (such as having their "waters broken" or an Oxytocin drip)
  • did not have their baby continuously electronically monitored during labor
  • or gave birth not lying flat."
Professor Miller said research from Australia and several other countries indicated the majority of women report the desire for minimal medical intervention during birth.

"Rates of medical intervention in labor and birth have steadily increased in most middle- and high-income countries over the past few decades contrary to most women's preferences," she said.

"Analysis of 23 studies published from around the world found that only 13.8 per cent of women expressed a preference for caesarean birth over vaginal birth."

"Our other research has shown that many women in Queensland are not informed or not involved in decisions about the use of medical procedures that can affect their birth experience and outcomes.

"Women are especially uninformed about how the type of maternity care they choose early on in their pregnancy can affect their chances of having the type of labor and birth they want."

"Queensland has published the Qld Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guideline: Normal birth, and other states have similar guidelines. Australia, the UK, Canada, are among those countries which have recently published policy directives to increase normal births.

"The underlying ethos of current policy directives is that birth is a normal physiological process and not a medicalised 'problem'."

Samantha J. Prosser, Adrian G. Barnett, Yvette D. Miller. Factors promoting or inhibiting normal birth. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 2018; 18 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12884-018-1871-5

Sunscreen Reduces Melanoma Risk By 40 Percent In Young People

July 2018: University of Sydney
Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men aged 25-49 years and the second most common cancer in women aged 25-49 years, after breast cancer.

A world-first study led by University of Sydney has found that Australians aged 18-40 years who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood reduced their risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent, compared to those who rarely used sunscreen.

Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men aged 25-49 years and second most common cancer in women aged 25-49 years, after breast cancer. Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma or other types of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.

Published today in JAMA Dermatology, this is the first study to examine the association between sunscreen use with melanoma risk in young people under 40 years. The study analysed data collected from nearly 1700 people who participated in the Australian Melanoma Family Study.

“Our study shows that sunscreen use in childhood and adulthood was protective against melanoma in young people 18-40 years old, with their risk reduced by 35 to 40 percent for regular sunscreen users compared to people who rarely used it,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Anne Cust, who heads the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research group at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health and Melanoma Institute Australia.

“The association of sun exposure and sunburn with melanoma risk, particularly in childhood, is well established and this study showed that regularly using sunscreen was protective against the harmful effects of sun exposure.

“Regular users of sunscreen were more likely to be female, younger, of British or northern European ancestry, and have higher education levels, lighter skin pigmentation, and a strong history of blistering sunburn.

“People were less likely to use sunscreen if they were male, older, less educated, or had skin that was darker or more resistant to sunburn.

“Despite sunscreen being widely available and recommended for sun protection, optimising the use of sunscreens remains a challenge and controversies continue to surround its use.

“This study confirms that sunscreen is an effective form of sun protection and reduces the risk of developing melanoma as a young adult. Sunscreen should be applied regularly during childhood and throughout adulthood whenever the UV Index is 3 or above, to reduce risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.

“Some population subgroups such as people with sun-sensitive skin or with many moles might get a stronger benefit from using sunscreen,” she said.

The Australian Melanoma Family Study was conducted in collaboration with Cancer Council Queensland and University of Melbourne and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Cancer Council NSW, Cancer Council Victoria, Cancer Council Queensland, and the US National Institutes of Health.

Sunscreen Use and Melanoma Risk Among Young Australian Adults. Caroline G. Watts, Martin Drummond, M Biost; Chris Goumas, Helen Schmid, Bruce K. Armstrong, Joanne F. Aitken, Mark A. Jenkins, Graham G. Giles, John L. Hopper, Graham J. Mann, Anne E. Cust. JAMA Dermatol. Published online July 18, 2018.doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.1774

Big Foot Was A Dinosaur

July 24, 2018
The Black Hills region of the United States is famous today for tourist attractions like Deadwood and Mount Rushmore, but around 150 million years ago it was home to one of the largest dinosaurs known. This dinosaur was a member of the sauropod family with long necks and tails. These giant plant-eating dinosaurs like Brontosaurus and Diplodocus were the largest land animals that ever lived on this planet.

Photograph from the excavations in 1998, with the brachiosaur foot bones below a tail of a Camarasaurus. University of Kansas expedition crew member as a scale. Credit: Photo courtesy of the KUVP archives

The foot described in a new scientific paper recently published in the open-access journal PeerJ -- the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences was excavated in 1998 by an expedition from the University of Kansas, with Anthony Maltese, lead author of the study, as member of the crew. As he writes, it was immediately apparent that the foot, nearly a meter wide, was from an extremely large animal -- so the specimen was nicknamed "Bigfoot."

Now, after detailed preparation and study, Maltese and his international team of researchers from the USA, Switzerland, and Germany identified it as belonging to an animal very closely related to Brachiosaurus, famous for its appearance in the 1993 film Jurassic Park.

Anthony Maltese, Emanuel Tschopp, Femke Holwerda, and David Burnham used 3D scanning and detailed measurements to compare Bigfoot to sauropod feet from numerous species. Their research confirmed that this foot was unusually large. According to Holwerda, a Dutch PhD student at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany, comparisons with other sauropod feet showed that Bigfoot was clearly the largest dinosaur foot discovered to date.

It also confirmed that brachiosaurs inhabited a huge area from eastern Utah to northwestern Wyoming, 150 million years ago. "This is surprising," says Tschopp, a Swiss paleontologist working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, "many other sauropod dinosaurs seem to have inhabited smaller areas during that time."

According to Maltese, who was part of the original University of Kansas team in 1998 but is now at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, the rock outcrops that produced this fossil hold many more "fantastic dinosaur skeletons," and the research team hopes to continue their studies on fossils from there.

Anthony Maltese, Emanuel Tschopp, Femke Holwerda, David Burnham. The real Bigfoot: a pes from Wyoming, USA is the largest sauropod pes ever reported and the northern-most occurrence of brachiosaurids in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation. PeerJ, 2018; 6: e5250 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5250

Unwrapping The Brewing Secrets Of Barley

July 24, 2018: University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide researchers have uncovered fundamental new information about the malting characteristics of barley grains. They say their finding could pave the way to more stable brewing processes or new malts for craft brewers.

Published in the Nature publication Scientific Reports, the researchers discovered a new link between one of the key enzymes involved in malt production for brewing and a specific tissue layer within the barley grain.

The most important malting enzymes come from a layer of tissue in the barley grain called the aleurone, a health-promoting tissue full of minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre. The researchers showed that the more aleurone present in the barley grain, the more enzyme activity the grain produced.

Barley is the second most important cereal crop for South Australia and contributes over $2.5 billion to the national economy. Much of its value comes from its use in beer and beverage production.

"Barley grains possess impressive features that make them ideal for creating the malt required by the brewing industry," says project leader Associate Professor Matthew Tucker, ARC Future Fellow in the University's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

"During the malting process, complex sugars within the barley grain are broken down by enzymes to produce free sugars, which are then used by yeast for fermentation.

"The levels of these enzymes, how they function and where they are synthesised within the barley grain are therefore of significant interest for the brewing industry.

"Until now, it was not known that this key ingredient in the beer brewing process was influenced by the amount of aleurone within the grain, or that the aleurone was potentially a storage site for the enzyme."

The researchers examined the aleurone in a range of barley cultivars used by growers and breeding programs in Australia and found remarkable variation in the aleurone layer between varieties.

PhD student Matthew Aubert used this variation to examine levels of enzymes involved in malt production. He discovered that barley grains possessing more aleurone had noticeably more activity in one of the key enzymes that breaks down starch and determines malt quality of barley, an enzyme called free beta-amylase.

"Grains with more aleurone may have an advantage that allows them to break down complex sugars faster or more thoroughly than grains with less aleurone," says Matthew Aubert.

Associate Professor Tucker says: "We think our findings show that it might be possible for breeders and geneticists to make use of this natural variation to select for barley varieties with different amounts of aleurone and hence different malting characteristics.

"This will be of potential interest to large brewers who depend on stable and predictable production of malt, and also the craft brewers that seek different malts to produce beer with varying characteristics."

The researchers are now trying to find the genes that explain this natural variation.

Matthew Aubert's research was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Matthew K. Aubert, Stewart Coventry, Neil J. Shirley, Natalie S. Betts, Tobias Würschum, Rachel A. Burton, Matthew R. Tucker.Differences in hydrolytic enzyme activity accompany natural variation in mature aleurone morphology in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-29068-4

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Every Sunday

Newport Community Gardens Inc. is a not for profit incorporated association. The garden is in Woolcoot Reserve.

Local Northern Beaches residents creating sustainable gardens in public spaces
Strengthening the local community, improving health and reconnecting with nature
To establish ecologically sustainable gardens for the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and companion plants within Pittwater area 
To enjoy and forge friendships through shared gardening.
Membership is open to all Community members willing to participate in establishing gardens and growing sustainable food.
Subscription based paid membership.
We meet at the garden every Sunday between 8am – 12 noon
New members welcome

For enquiries contact

Tell Us How You Use Greater Sydney's Outdoor Spaces

By NSW Department of Planning & Environment
We’re seeking your views on Greater Sydney’s parks, waterways, outdoor facilities and open spaces to ensure that they meet the needs of the unique communities that enjoy them every day.

The Department of Planning has created this survey to get a better understanding of how you use Greater Sydney’s great outdoors. 

Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk each morning, studying under a tree in your local park or cycling to work, we want to know how you use outdoor spaces so we can better plan for Greater Sydney.
By completing the survey you also have the chance to win the first prize of an iPad valued at $469, as well as 10 runners-up receiving a $50 EFTPOS gift card. (please read our terms and conditions here)
Your privacy is important to us. Please note that all of your responses are anonymous. Your information will be aggregated with everyone else who gives us their opinions, and your responses will not be identified with any personal data.

Turning Waste Into Renewable Oil In Gladstone

26 July 2018: Joint media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Mr Ken O'Dowd MP, Federal Member for Flynn
A new demonstration project is being built in Gladstone, aiming to turn biosolids from wastewater treatment sewage into renewable crude oil, thanks to support from the Turnbull Government.

The Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is providing Southern Oil Refining with up to $4 million in funding for the $11.8 million project.

The biosolids will be sourced from wastewater treatment plants in Gladstone as well as the project's partner Melbourne Water Corporation's Werribee facility.

The renewable crude oil will then be upgraded to renewable diesel and potentially jet fuel.

"With Australia producing over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids through sewage treatment annually, it makes sense to look for options for commercialising its disposal," Minister Frydenberg said.

"Bioenergy projects not only provide a possible alternative to the stockpiling of waste, but also have the potential to help with Australia's fuel security."

This project will use Southern Oil Refining's existing Northern Oil Refining facility in Gladstone which is currently used for re-refining waste oils such as transmission and engine oils.

It will treat up to one million litres of biosolids per annum using a thermochemical conversion process to produce a biocrude.

Mr O'Dowd is excited for Gladstone to be home of world-class, state-of-the-art technology, recognising how far Northern Oil Refining has come from processing tyres and rubber back to base oil at 80 per cent conversion.

"Using the skills and some of the world's best R & D and scientists, there is no stopping this remarkable 'new age' company from achieving this huge benefit that was once thought to be a distant aspiration," Mr O'Dowd said.

The project builds on Australia's first advanced biocrude and biofuel laboratory, based at the same site, which received $2.4 million in funding from the Turnbull Government through ARENA.

Dept. Of P &E Taking Submissions On:

Integra Mine Complex
Exhibition Start 12/07/2018
Exhibition End 26/07/2018

Dartbrook Coal Mine
The proposed modification includes undertaking mining of the Kayuga Seam using the first workings bord and pillar method as an alternative to approved longwall mining. In addition to the approved operations, ROM coal will be hauled using road registered trucks on existing private roads to a new shaft facility located between the existing private Western Access Road and the New England Highway. The new, enclosed shaft will be used to deliver coal via the existing Hunter Tunnel under the New England Highway to an existing stockpile. Crushed, unbeneficiated raw coal will be delivered to the train loadout facility. 

The proposal also includes extending the consent period by 5 years to 5 December 2027.

Exhibition Start 28/06/2018
Exhibition End 25/07/2018

Entries Open For 2018 NSW Farmers Of The Year Award

July, 24, 2018: NSW DPI
NSW Minister for Primary Industries and outgoing NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen have announced applications for the prestigious NSW Farmer of the Year award have opened for 2018.

Speaking at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference today, Minister Blair said the award is both a celebration and recognition of farming excellence through the diverse range of enterprises across NSW.

“Our farmers represent some of the most innovative, industrious primary producers in the country and produce some of the highest quality food and fibre to be found anywhere in the world,” Minister Blair said.

“The state’s $15 billion primary industries sector is going from strength to strength under the stewardship of our farmers, who demonstrate drive and determination to run efficient, profitable and sustainable businesses.”

Mr Schoen has served as a judge of the award throughout his Presidency and said the 2017 finalists represented the breadth of NSW’s farming sector.

“From biodynamic, organic egg farming to a commercial cropping enterprise gaining efficiencies through environmental practices, from young guns through to farmers who have had a life-long commitment to farming excellence, the calibre of applications to the NSW Farmer of the Year award continues to be hugely impressive,” he said.

“The award helps identify outstanding farmers who are pushing the boundaries within their industry and in farming generally, and recognises people with outstanding management skills who demonstrate a combination of innovation, profitability, sustainability and community involvement.

“I strongly encourage all farmers in the primary industries sector to enter to become the 2018 NSW Farmer of the Year.”

The successful 2018 Farmer of the Year will be awarded $10,000, and finalists will receive $2,000.

The award is an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Farmers, with support from SafeWork NSW and Fairfax Agricultural Media. 

The application process is now online, where you can both apply and nominate a farmer by visiting with entries closing 26 September 2018.

Permaculture Northern Beaches 

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

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! 

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

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

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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


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

Keep the animal contained, warm, quiet and undisturbed. Do not offer any food or water. Call Sydney Wildlife immediately on 9413 4300, or take the animal to your nearest vet. Generally there is no charge. Find out more at:

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


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

Find out more at:

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 

Report Illegal Dumping

NSW Government

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

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), councils and Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) squads will use this information to investigate and, if appropriate, issue a fine or clean-up notice. Penalties for illegal dumping can be up to $15,000 and potential jail time for anybody caught illegally dumping within five years of a prior illegal dumping conviction.

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

Pittwater Environmental Foundation was established in 2006 to conserve and enhance the natural environment of the Pittwater local government area through the application of tax deductible donations, gifts and bequests. The Directors were appointed by Pittwater Council. 


About 33% (about 1600 ha excluding National Parks) of the original pre-European bushland in Pittwater remains in a reasonably natural or undisturbed condition. Of this, only about 400ha remains in public ownership. All remaining natural bushland is subject to encroachment, illegal clearing, weed invasion, feral animals, altered drainage, bushfire hazard reduction requirements and other edge effects. Within Pittwater 38 species of plants or animals are listed as endangered or threatened under the Threatened Species Act. There are two endangered populations (Koala and Squirrel Glider) and eight endangered ecological communities or types of bushland. To visit their site please click on logo above.

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:


Katandra Season 2018

Open Days at Katandra Bushland Sanctuary are suspended for a few weeks as there was a hazard reduction burn around the yurt on Saturday July 28th. The last fire here was in January 1994, so it is overdue for a burn, which will really bring on the wildflowers in a couple of years.

Visit this Issue's Profile of the Week for details on Katandra and pop up and visit from August 12th.

PNHA Newsletter 76 

Read about wild life in the 'Burbs - How to identify local owl calls, the Wing Tag project and PNHA's latest campaign news.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment August 2018 Forum

Next forum: Creeks in the Catchment
7pm Monday August 27, 2018
Coastal Environment Centre, Pelican Path,
Lake Park Road, Narrabeen

Presenters: Staff members from Northern Beaches Council will outline the works needed to control erosion and protect against flooding. Plus information about the bush regeneration projects in near creeks in the catchment.

Are you concerned about any of these issues?
* Water quality in creeks leading to Narrabeen Lagoon
* Health of aquatic wildlife
* Creek flooding
* Blockages in creeks
* Erosion of creek banks
* Rubbish in creeks
* Weeds in riparian zones?
Bring your concerns and questions to the forum on August 27 and find out more about creek care from Council staff.

Entry is free but we ask for a donation to cover expenses.
Make sure you get a ticket preferably by emailing Judith Bennett 

Sydney Science Festival: Tiny Ocean Plants With Eva Fernandez

by Northern Beaches Council Library Service
Wed. 8 August 2018: 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Manly Library
Market Place, Manly
Through scientific trips to the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica, we discover how the tiny plants that live in the ocean have an important effect on our climate.

Eva Fernandez grew up in Spain, where she completed her bachelor and master’s degrees in chemistry. Her research has lead her from the Azores islands to Malta where she used barnacles to test the effect on the environment of new eco-friendly boat paints. Her research finally landed Eva in Australia where she joined the Climate Change Cluster (C3) within the University of Technology, Sydney to pursue her PhD.

This free event is part of Inspiring Australia’s Talking Science library speaker series.

Don’t want to miss a thing? Subscribe here to the library events mailing list to find out about upcoming events.
Enquiries: 9976 1720

Marine Aquaculture Strategy

The Department of Primary Industries is seeking feedback on the draft NSW Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.

What's this about?
The NSW Marine Waters Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy promotes best practice for marine aquaculture. It provides a framework for the NSW Government to ensure the development of aquaculture does not jeopardise its ecological sustainability and social licence.

Marine aquaculture is the farming of marine animals and plants, especially fish, shellfish and seaweed, in natural or controlled marine or estuarine environments.

The strategy:
  • provides a regulatory and industry best practice framework for NSW marine waters aquaculture to develop sustainably
  • provides a platform for the government to identify suitable marine aquaculture areas
  • defines the development approval and assessment processes
  • provides guidance to industry and consent authorities to prepare and assess applications for aquaculture development
  • provides the community and stakeholders with relevant advice to inform them about sustainable marine waters aquaculture
  • avoids ad hoc aquaculture development in NSW.
The strategy area applies to NSW marine waters, to three nautical miles where it meets Commonwealth waters. It does not include estuarine aquaculture.

Have your say

Central Coast
Central West & Orana
Far West
New England & North West
North Coast
Riverina Murray
South East & Tablelands
Western Sydney

9 Million More Ways To Save Threatened Species

Tuesday June 26, 2018: NSW Minister for the Environment, The Hon. Gabrielle Upton 

The NSW Government has put $9 million on the table to deliver more local projects to save threatened species.

"This is the first time this scale of funding has been available to the community from the Saving our Species (SOS) program," Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

"The new grants program is designed to maximise the number of species that can be secured in the wild under the NSW Government's Saving our Species initiative.

"Saving our Species is investing $100 million over five years to secure populations of threatened species in the wild. Projects are currently in place for some 350 species. Applications open today and I encourage groups to apply for funding for local projects," Ms Upton said.

"By creating long-term partnerships between the NSW Government, community groups and other organisations, more threatened plants and animals can be managed and supported. All applicants are strongly encouraged to develop and deliver projects with other collaborating partners."

Minister Upton announced the grant funding at a function for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife held in Manly today.

"This grant is a tremendous opportunity for community groups and organisations to identify a threatened or iconic species and seek shared funding for a project," said the Member for Manly, James Griffin.

"Here in Manly, native animals such as the Long Nosed Potoroo on North Head have benefitted from Save our Species funded programs.

"It's a win for the community, a win for the environment and, most importantly, it's a win for animals facing the threat of extinction," he said.

Under the program individual grants of up to $350,000 are available for projects that will run for 7 years and will require a contribution from the successful organisation and project partners.

Applications are open from 26 June – 13 August 2018.

More information and forms on the: Saving Our Species Contestable Grants Program 2018 webpage

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Australian Native Foods Website: Http://Www.Anfil.Org.Au/

Avalon Preservation Association

The Avalon Preservation Association, also known as Avalon Preservation Trust. We are a not for profit volunteer community group incorporated under the NSW Associations Act, established 50 years ago. We are committed to protecting your interests – to keeping guard over our natural and built environment throughout the Avalon area.

Membership of the association is open to all those residents and/or ratepayers of Avalon Beach and adjacent areas who support the aims and objectives of our Association.

What Does PNHA do?


About Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
With urbanisation, there are continuing pressures that threaten the beautiful natural environment of the Pittwater area. Some impacts are immediate and apparent, others are more gradual and less obvious. The Pittwater Natural Heritage Association has been formed to act to protect and preserve the Pittwater areas major and most valuable asset - its natural heritage. PNHA is an incorporated association seeking broad based community membership and support to enable it to have an effective and authoritative voice speaking out for the preservation of Pittwater's natural heritage. Please contact us for further information.

Our Aims
  • To raise public awareness of the conservation value of the natural heritage of the Pittwater area: its landforms, watercourses, soils and local native vegetation and fauna.
  • To raise public awareness of the threats to the long-term sustainability of Pittwater's natural heritage.
  • To foster individual and community responsibility for caring for this natural heritage.
  • To encourage Council and the NSW Government to adopt and implement policies and works which will conserve, sustain and enhance the natural heritage of Pittwater.
Act to Preserve and Protect!
If you would like to join us, please fill out the Membership Application Form ($20.00 annually - $10 concession)

Email: Or click on Logo to visit website.

Avalon Boomerang Bags

Avalon Boomerang Bags was introduced to us by Surfrider Foundation and Living Ocean, they both helped organise with the support of Pittwater Council the Recreational room at Avalon Community Centre which we worked from each Tuesday. This is the Hub of what is a Community initiative to help free Avalon of single use plastic bags and to generally spread the word of the overuse of plastic. 

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

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.

Newport Community Gardens

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

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

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

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

"I bind myself today to the power of Heaven, the light of the sun, the brightness of the moon, the splendour of fire, the flashing of lightning, the swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea, the stability of the earth, the compactness of rocks." -  from the Prayer of Saint Patrick

Winter Wattle Appearing In Pittwater Means Spring Is On Its Way!

Murray Crayfish Population Clawing Back

July 27, 2018: NSW DPI
Stage two of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program has been completed with another 200 Murray Crayfish relocated in the Murray River to more poorly populated areas downstream.

NSW DPI Senior Fisheries Manager – Threatened Species, Dr Trevor Daly said the success of the stocking program bodes well for the future of the vulnerable species and the Murray-Darling Basin ecosystem.

“We started this conservation program last year to safeguard the long-term future of the iconic Murray Crayfish in the Murray River,” Mr Daly said.

“Murray Crayfish were once widespread throughout the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments, however in recent decades they have declined in range and distribution due to a variety of environmental factors.

“These downward trends were further exacerbated by widespread hypoxic blackwater events in 2010 and 2011.

“We’re running this conservation translocation program because Murray Crayfish have very low dispersal abilities and occupy small home-ranges, which means they struggle to recolonise areas where their population has declined.”

A collaborative effort from DPI, Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust and the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust ensured the successful completion of stage two of the stocking program.

The program milestone comes as two men were fined $5,200 for the unlawful use of a wire trap on the Murray River, which they used to take 27 Murray Crayfish including 20 of a prohibited size and six carrying ova.

Murray Crayfish are listed as a threatened species, and may only be taken by the use of up to five hoop nets per person from specified waters between June and August (inclusive).

The daily bag limit is two per person within a 10-12cm size bracket (measured from the rear of the eye socket to the centre of the carapace). Any Murray Crayfish carrying eggs externally or accidentally taken in the closed season must be immediately returned to the water.

Murray Crayfish are a native freshwater species endemic to the Murray-Darling Basin. They are the world’s second largest freshwater crayfish, growing to three kilograms in weight and can be easily identified by their large white claws and spiny green and brown abdomens.

Fishers can obtain a free Murray Crayfish measuring device and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide from DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

First Mapping Of Global Marine Wilderness Shows Just How Little Remains

July 26, 2018: University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society
Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 26 have completed the first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world. And what they found is not encouraging; only a small fraction -- about 13 percent -- of the world's ocean can still be classified as wilderness.

The remaining marine wilderness is unequally distributed and found primarily in the Arctic, in the Antarctic, or around remote Pacific Island nations. In coastal regions, there is almost no marine wilderness left at all.

"We were astonished by just how little marine wilderness remains," says Kendall Jones of the University of Queensland, Australia, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. "The ocean is immense, covering over 70 percent of our planet, but we've managed to significantly impact almost all of this vast ecosystem."

On land, rapid declines in wilderness have been well documented. But much less was known about the status of marine wilderness. Wilderness areas are crucial for marine biodiversity.

"Pristine wilderness areas hold massive levels of biodiversity and endemic species and are some of the last places of Earth where big populations of apex predators are still found," Jones says.

In the new study, Jones and his colleagues used the most comprehensive global data available for 19 human stressors, including commercial shipping, fertilizer and sediment runoff, and several types of fishing in the ocean and their cumulative impact. They systematically mapped marine wilderness globally by identifying areas with very little impact (lowest 10% percent) from 15 anthropogenic stressors and also a very low combined cumulative impact from these stressors.

In order to capture differences in human influence by ocean regions, the researchers repeated their analysis within each of 16 ocean realms. They found wide variation in the degree of human impacts. For instance, more than 16 million square kilometers of wilderness remains in the Warm Indo-Pacific, accounting for 8.6 percent of the ocean. But it's even worse in Temperate Southern Africa, where less than 2,000 square kilometers of marine wilderness remains -- less than 1 percent of the ocean.

The study also shows that less than 5 percent of global marine wilderness is currently protected. Most of this is in offshore ecosystems, with very little protected wilderness found in high-biodiversity areas such as coral reefs.

"This means the vast majority of marine wilderness could be lost at any time, as improvements in technology allow us to fish deeper and ship farther than ever before," Jones says. "Thanks to a warming climate, even some places that were once safe due to year-round ice cover can now be fished."

The findings highlight an urgent need for action to protect what remains of marine wilderness, the researchers say. Such an effort requires international environmental agreements to recognize the unique value of marine wilderness and sets targets for its retention.

•We classify 13.2% (∼55 million km2) of the world’s ocean as marine wilderness
•Little wilderness remains in coastal areas (e.g., coral reefs)
•Only 4.9% of marine wilderness is currently within marine protected areas
•Targets to retain marine wilderness are needed in global conservation strategies

Kendall R. Jones, Carissa J. Klein, Benjamin S. Halpern, Oscar Venter, Hedley Grantham, Caitlin D. Kuempel, Nicole Shumway, Alan M. Friedlander, Hugh P. Possingham, James E.M. Watson. The Location and Protection Status of Earth’s Diminishing Marine Wilderness. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.06.010
Global marine Wilderness Extent and Protection - Marine wilderness in exclusive economic zones (light blue), in areas outside national jurisdiction (dark blue), and marine protected areas (green). 

NE Australian Marine Heatwave Shakes Up Coral Reef Animal Populations

July 26, 2018: University of Tasmania
Research published today in Nature describes upheaval among fish and invertebrate communities after a marine heatwave hit Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea in early 2016.

The IMAS-led study analysed data collected across these areas by the Reef Life Survey (RLS) citizen science program.

It identified important changes in reef-animal communities that may affect the resilience of coral reefs, potentially reducing the capacity of corals to rebuild after mass bleaching.

Coral reefs are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, providing irreplaceable benefits to biodiversity and people. The World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system and a place of outstanding universal value.

"We know that coral reef ecosystems are changing dramatically in response to global warming, but the focus has usually been on the fate of corals, with clear impacts of mass bleaching observable from aerial images," study leader Rick Stuart-Smith said.

"We were interested in how the loss of coral compared with other changes across the full region.

"After reviewing surveys of corals, seaweed, fishes and mobile invertebrates such as sea urchins at 186 sites across the Great Barrier Reef and western Coral Sea -- before and after the 2106 heatwave -- we realised that coral bleaching was only part of the story.

"Changes were also happening around the bleached corals, to the fishes and other animals that the reefs support, and which in turn assist coral recovery."

The study's most important finding was the detection of broad regional ecosystem change that was distinct from the degree of coral loss at each site.

An overarching change was consistent across all the surveyed reefs, even those not affected by coral loss due to bleaching.

"While severe declines in live coral cover occurred on northern Great Barrier Reef reefs, losses in the northern Coral Sea were even greater," co-author and RLS survey leader, Professor Graham Edgar said.

"However even in the worst hit areas, coral losses varied greatly from reef to reef, with a few sites showing small coral gains.

"The only change in fish or invertebrates that clearly matched this patchy change in coral cover was a decline in coral-feeding fishes such as butterflyfishes.

"Other big changes related more directly to the effect of warmer temperatures on the fishes and invertebrates."

An example of this change in animal populations was seen in parrotfishes, which occurred in fewer surveys across the northern reefs after the bleaching event, but this response was not directly associated with sites of coral cover loss.

A male Bicolor Parrotfish is at home on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. North Horn, Osprey Reef, Australia - Photographer: Richard Ling

These herbivorous fishes play an important 'functional' role in preventing algae from taking over and displacing corals on disturbed reefs. They appeared particularly sensitive to the warmer conditions, and their loss may affect the capacity of corals to rebuild.

"Our observations suggest that recovery processes will depend on such functional changes in reef communities, which in turn depend on how temperatures change the makeup of fish and invertebrates that live on the reefs," Dr Stuart-Smith said.

"Although we are lucky that herbivorous fishes are not heavily targeted by fishing in Australia, our results highlight the potential for some ecologically important groups of reef animals to be disproportionately affected by warmer temperatures, particularly near the warm edge of their distributions.

"So as well as considering how to conserve and restore corals in areas affected by bleaching, we also need to consider how to maintain or build the broader fish communities that provide reef resilience.

"This may mean considering where particular species in these important groups are subject to overlapping pressures such as fishing, warming and habitat loss, to better plan protected areas or manage human pressures like fishing for a warmer future."

Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Christopher J. Brown, Daniela M. Ceccarelli, Graham J. Edgar. Ecosystem restructuring along the Great Barrier Reef following mass coral bleaching. Nature, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0359-9

Reminder: Local Fauna Gets Thirsty In Winter Too

Please remember our local fauna will also get thirsty during Winter - especially during long dry periods with little or no rain and lots of wind. Leaving a dish of water outside will enable them to quench their thirst. 

A shallow dish with twigs leading into and out of it is great for smaller lizards like slinks while this lovely, a Newport ring-tailed possum, will quite happily sup from a deeper dish. Photo courtesy Sonja Elwood.

Should You Share Data Of Threatened Species?
Or Should You Decline A Nature Selfie To Save Exotics From The Hordes?

July 23, 2018: University of Sydney
Scientists publishing locations of rare species have been blamed for helping poachers drive them to extinction, such as the local extinction of the Chinese cave gecko.

But an international group of scientists lead by Dr Ayesha Tulloch from the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland believes that data publishing is important to help many species.

"Species, like Australia's tiny grassland earless dragon, have received greater environmental protection because published data was available to show that they were in trouble," said Dr Tulloch.

"The challenge is to share data in a way that avoids perverse outcomes such as local species extinctions from human exploitation.

"It is undeniable that in some cases, poachers have used published data to hunt down rare animals for the illegal wildlife trade.

"And even well-meaning people like bird watchers and sight seers can sometimes do damage when enough of them trample a patch of habitat."

"Which is why scientists and conservationists have continually called on location data to be turned off in nature photos to help preserve species."

"But stopping all data publishing is not the answer. Data publishing has also led to improved protection and conservation for many species.

"Good data helps conservation managers know where action is needed."

Dr Tulloch -- whose affiliations include The Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environmental Science Program; and the Desert Ecology Research Group -- said sharing data takes a balanced approach.

To address the challenge Dr Tulloch collaborated with scientists from nine organisations to design a framework that helps researchers and conservationists choose how to share sensitive data.

"A key aspect is identifying whether poaching, illegal trade or disturbance from eager spectators really poses a real threat which can't be managed.

"Then there are a number of ways you can deal with that data, such as only showing locations in 100km grid squares, that could allow it to be published without putting those species at risk.

"The sharing of species information is here to stay," said Dr Tulloch.

"Being clear about the pros and cons of making the data public will ensure that species are not put in more danger from new data being out in the public domain."

The authors of this paper are from the University of Queensland, Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Sydney, Birdlife Australia, the University of Kansas, CSIRO, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network at the University of Adelaide, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the Australian Museum.

Ayesha I. T. Tulloch, Nancy Auerbach, Stephanie Avery-Gomm, Elisa Bayraktarov, Nathalie Butt, Chris R. Dickman, Glenn Ehmke, Diana O. Fisher, Hedley Grantham, Matthew H. Holden, Tyrone H. Lavery, Nicholas P. Leseberg, Miles Nicholls, James O’Connor, Leslie Roberson, Anita K. Smyth, Zoe Stone, Vivitskaia Tulloch, Eren Turak, Glenda M. Wardle, James E. M. Watson. A decision tree for assessing the risks and benefits of publishing biodiversity data. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2018; 2 (8): 1209 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0608-1

The Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis), was recently rediscovered in the arid zone of Australia. Exact population locations were kept secret to prevent the birds being disturbed by eager bird watchers or targeted by poachers. Historical published data is helping conservation managers to better understand the species. Credit: Nicholas P. Leseberg.

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.