Inbox and Environment News: Issue 436

February 2 - 8, 2020: Issue 436

Summer In Pittwater 2020

The view south from North Avalon Beach, Saturday morning, February 1st, 2020
The view south from North Avalon Beach, Saturday morning, February 1st, 2020

Spotted At North Avalon Beach: Save Water Bucket For Sandy Feet

Residents have installed a bucket under the shower stand to encourage others to Save Water this Summer  - good news!:
Summer in Pittwater: a Time of Butterflies
Summer in Pittwater: a Time of Butterflies
Summer in Pittwater: a Time of Fledgling Birds learning about Bird Baths

Hot Days Forecast: Please Keep Your Bird Baths Topped Up Or Put Out Shallow Dishes Of Water In The Shade For Local Fauna

During this January break please be mindful of our local native animals and place shallow dishes in the shade with sticks or twigs to climb on. With BOM weather forecasts predicting soaring heat over the next few weeks we need to look out for and care for the original residents.

Avalon Rock Pool Baby Fish Rescue By Residents

January 30, 2020
Dozens of people, including youngsters from the van der Wallen family, rescued lots of fish from a putrid Avalon rock pool this morning and in the afternoon. They relocated them nearby so the high tide would allow them to go back to sea. They were very weak so everyone hopes they recover before the new tide.

Those there state 'not enough oxygen or else the seaweed tannin too strong, they were all gasping on the surface....nice to ''sea'' so many people caring.'

Photos by Adriaan van der Wallen include, with thanks to Andrew Boomer, “among these are a Sydney Surgeon Fish, a Pygmy Leatherjacket, Saver Tooth Blenny, next ones down in the green net look like Archer fish which is a good find, and a small Grass Trumpeter, and prawns! lots of them”

Bangalley Head Landcare Group

The Bangalley Bushcare group meets on the second Sunday morning of each month. We're working near the track entrance at Whale Beach Rd. Bush regeneration has transformed this area from dense weeds since the early noughties. The next work morning will be on Sunday February 9 from 8.30-11.30. 

Contact us for more info, or just come along wearing long pants, long sleeves, light gardening gloves and enclosed shoes. No experience needed. Good company guaranteed, tools and morning tea provided. It's not all hard work!

Bangalley Head Landcare group was set up in 2012. Our aims are to care for this very special reserve, and help the property owners - Landcare members - who have bushland on the land adjoining the reserve. The reserve is near Avalon Beach, Sydney. We've now completed a 3-year grant of $55 000 from Greater Sydney Local Land Services. This paid for bush regeneration contract work on members' land, as well as boosting funds for ongoing Council bush regeneration work in the reserve. With grant funds in May 2018 we had planting day on a degraded part of the reserve behind a property in Binburra Ave.

Bangalley Headland is the highest point on the Sydney coast between Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay, higher than Barrenjoey Head. The old Trig Station is 116m above sea level. 

Warriewood Wetlands Twilight Walk

Hosted by Dragonfly Environmental
Sunday February 2nd, 2020 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Katoa Close, North Narrabeen 

Details: It is a magical time of the evening to listen and watch Warriewood Wetlands come alive as the sun sets and the creatures of the night come out to play.
Geraldene Dalby-Ball, one of Australia's leading experts in ecological restoration, will be guiding you through the underground and freshwater systems of the wetlands whilst sharing her knowledge from the Original Peoples of Australia.It will be an evening not to miss.

This is a free event and suitable for all ages.
Pack a water bottle and feel free to bring your camera and binoculars. Meet at Katoa Close at 6.15pm to start the walk at 6.30pm.  
Please respond HERE to let them know you're coming.

Save The Northern Beaches From Blasting And Drilling For Gas Event In Manly: Zali Steggal MP & Abigail Boyd MP Speakers

Hosted by Save Our Coast / Stop Seismic Testing
Sunday February 2nd, 2020
At Manly Town Hall

UPDATE: ZALI STEGGAL MP and ABIGAIL BOYD MP as guest speakers!  

An afternoon of Information, inspiring speakers and a free film screening, to save our coast, save our climate and save the Australia we all love.   

In the wake of the catastrophic fires that have decimated wildlife, instead of plans to reduce emissions to protect climate, plans are afoot for devastating seismic blasting and drilling for gas within PEP 11 (Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 - 4,500 square km of ocean from Manly to Newcastle).  Blasting and drilling for fossil fuels off our beautiful coast in a climate emergency? Further damage to our climate, increasing bushfire risk,  harming marine animals and risking destroying our coast that we all share a deep connection to?  

As extreme weather caused by climate damage exacerbates drought, rises temperatures and worsens bushfires, please join us in the spirit of hope, for a Sunday afternoon of information and community action to help us Save Our Coast, save our climate and save the Australia we all love. (cuppa and cake provided)

Sunday 2nd February 2020
3pm - 4.30pm 
Manly Town Hall
1 Belgrave St
Manly NSW 2095

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon February 2020 Forum - Catchment Secrets Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Discoveries So Far In The 21st Century

Next Forum: 7pm Monday Feb 24, 2020
Coastal Environment Centre, Pelican Path
Lake Park Road, Narrabeen
Catchment Secrets of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Discoveries so far in the 21st Century
Speaker: Jayden Walsh

Jayden is always inspiring, telling us about finding various creatures in the wild. He will describe and show images of some of the very special wildlife that is in the catchment of Narrabeen Lagoon, especially recent sightings.

As of the time of writing this, bushfire has not impacted the catchment. Here’s hoping this remains the case for the sake of the wildlife.  Check that February 24 is in your diary and, so that you don’t miss out, book your ticket early by emailing Judith Bennett

Night time Wildlife Walk
Jayden Walsh is offering a special guided night walk at Katoa close from 7:30 to 9:30pm on Friday, the 28th February, at Warriewood Wetlands to meet some of the creatures that he will talk about on the previous Monday. (See item above bout the Forum.)
Bookings essential:

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Bushwalks 2020

Sat 8/2/ 2020 Walk & Weed. 
If dry conditions: Meet 7.30am at Deep Creek near dog training area; walk 1hr next to Deep Creek and contributory creek. Weeding (2hrs):small leaved privet, Crofton weed, Ludwigia peruviana and possibly some grass. Walk back and finish at 11:30am.
If wet, but not too wet: Terrey Hills to Morgan Road, with some weeding along  5 Mile Creek track. 

Sun 1/3/2020 walk & plant identification
Meet 8am near 27 Morgan Rd for Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Transverse.
Carpooling required as we finish at Deep Creek.

Sun 26/4/2020 Cromer Circle
Cromer Circle with 1 hr for weeding grasses along the track of Aboriginal carvings. Fabulous views over the lagoon and its valleys, and viewing of carvings.
10am - 3pm. Limited numbers.

Sat 23/5/2020 Explorative Walk
9am explorative walk from Morgan Rd to N/W catchment corner.

Sun 21/6/2020 walk & weed.
Meet 9am at Deep Creek near dog training area; walk 1hr next to Deep Creek and contributory creek. Weeding 1hr—crofton weed, Ludwigia peruviana etc. Continue walk to Baha'i temple and carpool back ~ 2pm.

PNB 1st Meeting For 2020: Habitat Protection 

Thursday, February 27, 2020: 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Transhed Art and Community Centre
1395 Pittwater Road, Narrabeen
Our first meeting of 2020 focuses on protecting our bushland, eco-systems and habitats.

Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group based on Sydney's Northern Beaches. We are an independent organisation registered as an association in NSW.

PNB hold monthly permaculture related events on the last Thursday of each month at the Tramshed Community Arts Centre, Lakeview Room, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen. Buses stop directly at the Centre and there is also car parking. Doors open at 7:15 pm. Meetings are February to November.

Foundation For National Parks & Wildlife Community Conservation Grants Are Now Open For Applications

If you are working to preserve a piece of Australian cultural heritage, helping to restore a patch of habitat, connecting more people with our national parks or doing research on a threatened Aussie species you can apply for a Community Conservation Grant from the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife.

“Organisations and individuals from all across Australia are eligible to receive funding through these grants” said Kylie Piper, Projects & Education Manager for the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. “We would love to get applications from every state so we can really understand the type of community conservation work that is happening and help fund essential projects that restore habitat and species, preserve our cultural treasures and improve our National Parks for everyone to enjoy”.

The small grants round will be open for applications from 14 December, 2019 until 14 February, 2020.

Key areas of focus for this year’s grants are:
  • Land and Water - Protection, restoration, rehabilitation and revegetation of degraded habitats to ensure their ability to sustain native species.
  • Threatened Species - Scientific research with tangible conservation outcomes and on-ground works to conserve Australia’s threatened species.
  • Cultural Heritage - Conserving and celebrating Australia’s cultural heritage as part of the gift we leave to future generations.
  • Parks for People - Improving National Park facilities for the enjoyment of all, to foster and encourage the appreciation of nature.
Applications for FNPW's Community Conservation Grants can now be made online and individuals, NGOs or government departments working in these areas are all encouraged to apply for funding for projects commencing in 2020.

For further information and to apply for a grant visit or contact the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife on

Mt Gilead Stage 2 Residential Development EPBC Public Comment Period

Referral Number: 2019/8587 Lendlease Communities Figtree Hill Pty Ltd/Residential Development/west of Appin Road, near Campbelltown/New South Wales/Mt Gilead Stage 2 Residential Development
Referral Publication Referral Published 23/01/2020

The EPBC Act provides for a public comment period of 10 business days (with no extensions). A decision on whether a proposed action requires approval will be made within 20 business days. The outcome of the decision will be made publicly available on the web site.

Please note that all public comments will be considered by the decision-maker. However, we cannot guarantee that all comments will be acknowledged or responded to.

  • Comment is invited on whether Referrals are controlled actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). How to comment on referrals
  • Comment is invited on Draft Guidelines as described in the attached notice. How to comment on guidelines
  • Invitations to Comment on Strategic Assessments are listed at: Strategic Assessments
Note: Public comment will be accepted until close of business on the deadline date below. If there are no documents attached please try again later. The documents are available as PDF files.

Please note: Submissions may be subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, and may be provided to third parties for procedural fairness purposes (also known as natural justice).

Public submissions are not normally confidential, however if you wish your submission to be treated by the department as confidential, please mark it clearly as 'confidential' and provide your reasons for it to be considered as such. The department will use its best endeavours to deal with the submission accordingly but this does not make it automatically exempt from release.

Ensuring your comments are effective
  • Clearly reference the referral number and proposal title in your submission.
  • Provide comments within the 10 business day public comment period.
  • State clearly whether, and how, you believe the proposal would have a significant impact on matters protected by Part 3 of the EPBC Act.
  • If you believe the information in the referral is misleading or incorrect, you should state the reasons why and provide correct information, if available.
  • Give the source of any key information used in reaching your conclusion.
  • Provide clear contact details if the Department needs to get in touch with you to seek clarification.
Submitting your comments
Please send your comments on referrals quoting the reference number and title of the referral to:
Option 1
Electronically to the Department at

Glendell Continued Operations Project

Extension of mining including extraction of an additional 140 million tonnes of ROM coal until 2044 at an increased rate of 10 million tonnes per annum.
Exhibition Start: 11/12/2019
Exhibition End: 14/02/2020
EPBC ID Number: 2019/8409
Assessment Type: State Significant Development
Development Type: Coal Mining
Local Government Areas: Singleton Shire

Modification 4 - VENM/ENM Importation, Increased Trucking And Extension Of Life

• importing up to 320,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM) and/or Excavated Natural Material (ENM) for use in landform rehabilitation;
• increasing the maximum allowable daily truck movements from 100 to 140 per day
Development Type: Extractive industries
Local Government Areas: The Hills Shire
Exhibition Start: 13/01/2020
Exhibition End: 07/02/2020

Haerses Road Quarry MOD 3 - Production Increase

Increase extraction rate from 250,000 tpa to 495,000 tpa; increase the amount of clean fill VENM & ENM from 100,000 tpa to 250,000 tpa; and increase truck movements from 56 per day to 180 per day (ie 90 inbound, 90 outbound).
Development Type: Extractive industries
Local Government Areas: The Hills Shire
Exhibition Start: 29/01/2020
Exhibition End: 26/02/2020

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

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

Post-Bushfire Logging Makes A Bad Situation Even Worse, But The Industry Is Ignoring The Science

January 30, 2020.
Opinion: By Professor David Lindenmayer, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU College of Science.

Australians have expressed extraordinary levels of concern about our native animals and the ability of environments to recover from the recent catastrophic wildfires. The bush and the animals it supports are a core part of Australian culture and psyche.

Yet, just as the trees are sprouting green shoots and the first signs of forest recovery are beginning to emerge, the forest which survived the fire is threatened by post-fire logging. Multiple independent, peer reviewed studies show logging forests after bushfires increases future fire risk and can render the forest uninhabitable for wildlife for decades or even centuries.

On January 15, the Australian Forest Products Association sent a briefing note to MPs with an "interest in forest industries" that outlined "the massive bushfire recovery harvesting operation that must occur in the coming weeks and months to recover as much of the burnt trees for timber as possible — within environmental, safety and market constraints — before they deteriorate and become unusable".

"It is vital that all levels of Government work together to ensure these operations occur in a timely manner and prepare the land for regeneration (in the case of native forests) and replanting (in the case of plantations)," it read. The science shows that post-fire logging would significantly impair regeneration, yet the industry ignores it.

Post-fire logging is a loss-making exercise
Burnt trees are not used for sawn timber (such as to make furniture or roof trusses). They are woodchipped. Post-fire logging is often a large loss-making exercise for the taxpayer-owned companies and contractors which do it (native forest logging is generally done by State Government-owned businesses, hiring contractors).

In fact, hardly any native forest timber is used for anything but woodchips or paper pulp, even when it is unburned. For example, 87 per cent of all native forest logged in Victoria goes to woodchips and pulp to make paper. Plantations provide 88 per cent of the sawn timber in Victoria and also in NSW. The percentage of native forest going to woodchips will only further increase following these fires.

The impacts can last for decades
A major body of scientific research spanning hundreds of studies from Australia and around the world over the past 20 years shows that so-called post-fire "salvage logging" is the most damaging form of logging in native forests. Its impacts can last for decades or centuries and seriously impair the recovery of animal, bird and insect populations. With so little intact forest left, this will spell disaster for native wildlife.

Studies following the logging after the tragic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 found post-fire logging had profound negative impacts on birds, soils, and plants. Hiring helicopters to drop food to surviving animals while logging what remains of their habitat seems counterproductive to say the least.

Research has also shown forests that are logged post-fire and then regenerated have an increased risk of burning in high-severity crown-scorching fires. This extra fire risk lasts for about 40 years after logging. That is, a burnt forest which is logged tomorrow will still carry an elevated fire risk in 2060.

A global review published in 2009 showed that links between logging and elevated fire risk is a problem seen in wet types of forests worldwide. In 2016, an Australian study published by the Ecological Society of America found tree fern populations crashed by 94 per cent after post-fire logging.

Recovering trees are essential for animal survival
Long-term monitoring shows that most burned areas recover well if we leave them alone.

This has been documented countless times since the birth of the discipline of ecology in the 1920s. Many burnt trees that look dead now will re-sprout in the next few weeks or months. This is already occurring in the burnt coastal forests of NSW.

These recovering trees must not be logged. They are essential for the survival of animals like gliding possums — research shows that these animals are unlikely to return to forests that are logged immediately after burning for 180 years (if they can return at all).

Heavy logging machinery will kill many of the plants that germinate in the nutrient-rich bed of ashes on the forest floor. Animals that have miraculously survived in burnt areas can also be killed in logging operations.

Pioneering research from southern Australia has shown that fungi and nutrients in soils can take up to a century or even longer to recover from salvage logging. Mass movement of soils in areas logged post-burn can choke rivers and streams and trigger fish kills as well as kill many other kinds of animals.

It's time to listen to the science
Australia's forests and its wildlife have been badly impacted over the past few months.

More than a billion animals are likely to have been directly killed and some species are now close to extinction. Some ecosystems have burned that should never be exposed to wildfire. Species and ecosystems need time to recover without further disturbance by logging. Our wildlife and the forest that support them cannot take another beating now.

It's time for politicians and the media to listen to the science. We must keep Australians safe. Perhaps it is time to start hiring logging contractors to use their skills on machines as full-time firefighters.

PHOTO: Studies following the logging after the Black Saturday bushfires found it had profound negative impacts. (Supplied: David Lindenmayer)

Bushfire Inquiry Will Come Too Late If Climate Change Is Removed From Planning Laws

January 30, 2020
Proposed legislation to remove climate change from coal and gas mine considerations must be dropped while the NSW bushfire inquiry is underway, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The Alliance has welcomed the inquiry, but argues that while it is underway, legislation must not be passed to remove climate change considerations from the planning system, as is proposed under the Territorial Limits Bill currently before the NSW Parliament. 

“An inquiry into the summer’s bushfire crisis is very welcome, as is the inclusion in the terms of reference of the role of climate change in fuelling the catastrophe,” said Lock the Gate NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods.

“But the 'Territorial Limits' Bill that was introduced into NSW Parliament at the mining industry’s urging late last year will blindfold decision-makers to the role of NSW coal mines and gasfields in driving climate change and the extreme weather it fuels, like the recent bushfires.

“The Government must withdraw the Bill pending the outcome of the bushfire inquiry.

“We’re also deeply concerned the Bushfire Inquiry does not intend to hold any public hearings - NSW communities have been through hell this summer and they deserve the right to present evidence to this inquiry in a public forum.”

NSW Gas Deal Could Drain Groundwater And Worsen Climate Change

January 31, 2020
The ‘energy deal’ announced today between NSW and Federal Governments looks designed to unleash coal seam gas drilling in north-west NSW, threatening drought-affected farmers and allowing Santos to drain 37 billion litres of groundwater.

Crucially, critics point out, it will do little to bring down greenhouse gas emissions due to its reliance on dirty, polluting unconventional gas.

Reports indicate the NSW Government has been compelled by the Commonwealth to make a commitment to supply 70PJ of gas for the east coast market in exchange for up to $2 billion in Federal funding for renewable energy and unquantified reduction incentives.

The volume of gas mentioned in the deal is similar to the amount Santos expects to produce at its proposed water-hungry Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

Mullaley farmer, Margaret Fleck, whose farm is not far from the proposed gasfield, said Santos’ project would require extensive dewatering of aquifers below the southern recharge of the Great Artesian Basin and was something drought affected farmers couldn’t afford.

“We’re just gutted by this betrayal from the Commonwealth and NSW governments,” she said.

“Santos has failed to get support from regional communities here for their dangerous gasfield and so the Commonwealth Government has opted instead to flat-out bribe the New South Wales government.

“Prime Minister Morrison’s Government is trying to force the Narrabri coal seam gas project onto our region even as we face off against one of the worst droughts on record and despite widespread opposition to the proposal.

“This represents a massive risk to our groundwater and seems designed to subvert proper processes and pre-empt a decision from the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

“The entire premise of this deal is flawed - economists have made it clear that more expensive, high risk coal seam gas won’t do anything to bring down gas prices.”

Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “Rural communities should not be forced to sacrifice land, water, and their economic security in the name of quick and dirty resource exploitation. 

“Coal seam gas is a heavily polluting industry that leaks vast amounts of methane and won’t do anything to bring down carbon emissions. As much as Prime Minister Morrison wants it to be so, it is not a transition fuel.

“In contrast, the renewable energy potential of the Narrabri shire is enormous, and investing in renewable energy would create many more jobs that last far longer than Santos’ polluting gasfield.”

$25 Million Rehabilitation Bond Won’t Protect Queenslanders From Adani’s Damage

January 30, 2020
The rehabilitation bond held by the Queensland Government is a fraction of what would be required to clean up Adani’s mess, according to Lock the Gate Alliance. It was revealed today Adani paid the Queensland Palaszczuk Government a mere $25 million rehabilitation bond - a miniscule amount when compared to Lock the Gate’s 2017 expert estimate that rehabilitating the mine would cost about $1.5 billion.

The detailed analysis was undertaken using publicly available documents regarding the planned rehabilitation and closure strategy proposed by Adani Mining and applying the Queensland Government’s standard financial assurance calculator plus a contingency.

“There is a massive risk that Australian taxpayers will be left to cover the remaining costs of the rehabilitation of the Adani coal mine,” Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Carmel Flint said.

“This financial assurance amount is vastly inadequate given the proposed scale of the project.

“We estimated that the financial assurance required for the first five years of the full 60Mtpa mine plan should be at least $1.5 billion in order to protect taxpayers from financial risks.

“It’s clear the $25 million revealed today is totally inadequate to cover the risks to Queensland taxpayers.

“Even worse, Adani plan to leave behind six vast unfilled mine pits after mining, which will drain Central Queensland groundwater aquifers.

“Queenslanders should not be left to live with with the huge mess Adani plan to leave behind, and certainly shouldn’t pay for it.”

Although there has been reports that Adani is contemplating ‘downsizing’ the project, it is the 60Mtpa mine that has been approved and as far as Lock the Gate can ascertain there has been no revised proposal submitted.

ADF Helicopters Fly Corroboree Frog Rescue To Kosciuszko

January 30, 2020: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Government
The Australian Defence Force recently flew threatened species experts to remote Kosciuszko National Park sites to assess wildfire impacts on endangered Southern Corroboree frogs.

Environment Minister Matt Kean thanked the ADF for safely and promptly delivering the experts to remote enclosures where early inspections revealed that three of the four Corroboree frog sites were burned by the recent fires, with the fourth site still threatened by an active fire.

ADF Helicopter at the Corroboree Enclosure - ADF NPWS photo

“The team of experts evaluated populations of the critically endangered Southern Corroboree frog affected by the fires and began efforts to ensure the surviving frogs had adequate refuge sites and food,” Mr Kean said.

“Unfortunately, there has been damage to the habitat inside the enclosures and also to the irrigation equipment, but luckily the fences surrounding them remained secure.

“Sadly, a number of the frogs perished and so all our efforts are now focused on protecting the remaining frogs by reinforcing moist habitat refuges in the enclosures and checking there’s enough food for the colourful but tiny amphibians.”

Mr Kean said that while this is a set-back for the conservation of Corroboree frogs in the wild, the species remains secure with captive populations continuing to do well at Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary.

The Corroboree frog recovery team will now work with NPWS to repair and provide more robust watering systems for all the field enclosures. The Southern Corroboree frog has been heavily affected by the amphibian chytrid fungus, which is responsible for major frog extinctions worldwide.

Brought back from the brink of extinction by the large-scale captive breeding program, wild populations have been re-established into disease-free fenced enclosures located throughout Kosciuszko National Park. Other amphibians which may be carrying the chytrid fungus are excluded.

Corroboree frog Survivor - ADF NPWS photo

Find out more

Bogong Biccies And Water Stations Delivered To Mountain Pygmy-Possums

January 29, 2020
A team of experts has installed custom-built food and water stations for the endangered mountain pygmy-possums in Kosciuszko National Park, which have been affected by the recent bushfires.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said that so far, 20 stations stocked with specially developed bogong biscuits have been installed at three possum sites within Kosciusko National Park. At these sites, remote cameras have also been installed to record possums at the feeders and drinkers.

Mountain Pygmy Possum Waters and Feeders Photo Credit DPIE/NPWS

“The biscuits were developed by Melbourne Zoo and baked by our Saving our Species team from a nutritionally-verified powder of natural ingredients, replicating the nutritional value of Bogong moths, one of the possums’ main foods,” Mr Kean said.

“The fires are still not contained in Kosciuszko National Park, with general park access still closed, so our threatened species officers led by Dr Linda Broome and assisted by NPWS fire crews, were the first to access the fire grounds to provide an emergency response for Mountain Pygmy-possums.

“The Dunns Road fire went through sites where we know the possums live, with reports that temperatures in those areas were close to 70 degrees, so the priority was getting access to these spots to check on the possums.”

Mr Kean said we’re hoping that the possums, which usually live under boulder fields, burrowed down to shelter from the fires. Although we don’t yet know the impact of the fires on the possum population, our teams are working to determine this as we get access to more areas within the park.

“We’re hoping that possums living at higher altitudes in the park weren’t impacted by the fires. Altogether, 50 feeder and 50 drinking stations have been built, stocked with 10 kilos of the nutritional bogong biscuits to provide emergency food and water to the possums,” Mr Kean said.

Mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus) seen while installing food and water - Photo Credit DPIE/NPWS

Mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus) seen while installing food and water - Photo Credit DPIE/NPWS
More information

Saving Our Species January 2020 Newsletter

January 30, 2020
The first weeks of 2020 have been unspeakably difficult for Australian people, our environment and our plants and animals, which have faced unprecedented bushfires, soaring temperatures and severe drought across large areas of the country, including New South Wales.

Our threatened species are now facing a crisis in the wake of these catastrophic conditions.

The Saving our Species (SoS) team is working tirelessly to assess the impact of the bushfires on our vulnerable animals and plants, so we can adapt our projects and deliver intervention on-the-ground, where it's needed most.

In this special issue of SoS news, we're calling on you, as our supporters, to do whatever you can to help make a difference, whether it's reporting injured animal sightings, providing water sources for wildlife in your own backyard or making a donation to our hard-working partners or SoS.

We’re also sharing how SoS is responding to the bushfire emergency through its on-ground interventions to protect threatened species and habitat.

What Saving our Species is doing during the bushfire emergency
With over 1000 threatened animals and plants in New South Wales, Saving our Species is investing in more than 450 threatened species and communities, but the recent fires have impacted a lot of our threatened species sites.

The impact of these bushfires is heartbreaking to our entire community, including our staff, who have worked so hard to manage hundreds of threatened plants and animals.

We don’t yet know the full impact of the fires or the exact numbers of threatened animals and plants lost mainly because we are unable to safely access many of our fire-affected sites. However, our priority is to identify the practical actions we can do now to help the plants and animals in bushfire-hit areas.

Many on-ground interventions to protect threatened species and their habitat have started:
  • Feral animal control – This will involve fox baiting programs, as well as targeted trapping and shooting of feral cats and intensive control measures for goats, pigs and other feral animals.
  • Provision of extra food, shelter and water – Extra food is being delivered to threatened species such as brush-tailed rock-wallaby colonies; extra shelter, such as artificial hollows, will be deployed and watering points are being provided for animals.
  • An intensive weed control program will be deployed to protect sensitive habitats from invasion weeds, such as bitou bush and orange hawkweed.
  • Translocation, reintroduction and replanting programs will be used to protect and restore local populations of fauna and flora.
  • Conservation fencing will be used to protect sensitive habitat and exclude feral animals.
  • Advice and support are being provided to local wildlife carers.
The Saving our Species team will continue to work tirelessly to assess the impact of the bushfires on our vulnerable animals and plants, so we can adapt our projects and deliver intervention on-the-ground, where it's needed most.

NPWS staff preparing to load carrots into a helicopter for dropping to wildlife Photo: John Spencer/NPWS

Five ways to care for our native animals during bushfire season
40-degree days are tough on everyone, including our native wildlife. Here’s how you can lend a helping hand to desperate Aussie animals when the mercury rises.
With fires and drought creating difficult conditions across New South Wales, there have been reports of displaced animals travelling long distances to access food and water.

There are a few simple measures everyone can take to create a more hospitable environment for animals and birds during heatwaves and bushfires.

If you’re seeking advice on how to care for wildlife in an emergency situation, please read these guidelines from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (the Department).

1. Leave out water
Whether it's in a bowl or bird bath, leaving out fresh and clean water is an easy and practical way to help thirsty local animals.

Shallow dishes are best to reduce the risk of smaller animals and birds drowning in the water and you should position the dish out of reach of domestic pets.

Those with bird baths and water fountains are reminded to give them a good scrub to remove dirt and algae and keep the baths disease-free. You should always use a natural product to clean water vessels that will be used by wildlife, such as a white vinegar solution.

2. Cover your pool
With some animals becoming more desperate for water, they're looking high and low for fresh water and your pool is the ultimate temptation.

Keeping it covered keeps your pool clean and helps to prevent animals from becoming trapped or drowning.

3. Keep pets inside
On very hot days, it's best to keep domestic animals inside where it's cooler.

This also means that any wild animals looking to take advantage of your water bowls can do so safely, giving them the opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved drink.

4. Be cautious on the roads
We spend a lot of time travelling on the roads in the summer months, putting our wildlife at a higher risk of collision.

If you can, avoid travelling during dusk and dawn – which is when many animals are most active – and slowdown in areas wildlife is known to inhabit.

5. Report injured wildlife
If you find or see a sick, injured or orphaned native animal, you should always seek help from the closest veterinary clinic (contact a 24-hour vet if necessary) and report the incident to a wildlife rescue service rather than trying to help it yourself.

Vets will usually assess native animals for free – give the vet a call to let them know you're coming in and they can let you know their procedure. Some wildlife carers, like WIRES, can deal with the vet directly to bring the animal into care after it’s been vet-assessed.

Can you help support our koalas?
Up to 25% of koala habitat in New South Wales has been impacted by bushfires in the last 6 months. Saving our Species and its partners are on the frontline of koala rehabilitation, helping to save this unique and iconic species from extinction.

Wildlife carers need your help as they rescue and care for koalas affected by fires.

Donations to our partners will help to fund food, medication, bedding and other vital supplies.
For more information, visit NSW Koala Country.

Donate to Saving our Species
Current conditions have put nearly 1000 threatened native species in New South Wales at even greater risk. Our task of securing the future for these plants and animals has become more challenging and important than ever before.

Donations to Saving our Species help to fund our conservation actions to stabilise, secure and increase populations of threatened species in bushfire-hit areas through initiatives such as food and water drops, feral animal and weed control and other targeted interventions.
Every dollar makes a big difference.

Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata). Photo: Piers Thomas/DPIE

$5 Million For Bushfire Affected Coastal Waterways

January 28, 2020
The NSW Government is providing $5 million for councils to take immediate action to ease the impact of bushfires on coastal waterways.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the NSW Government is committed to supporting councils to mitigate the effects of the recent bushfires on sensitive estuary ecosystems.

“We’re putting $5 million on the table for councils to immediately implement strategies to stem the impacts from the recent unprecedented bushfires,” Mrs Hancock said.

“The effects of the bushfires have the potential to degrade coastal waterways by impacting water quality and coastal ecosystems which in turn has the potential to impact estuary environments and local industries such as tourism and aquaculture.

“Councils must move quickly to stem these impacts which is why we are providing such significant funding.”

The Bushfire Affected Coastal Waterways Program funding round will be open for applications from councils for six weeks until 10 March 2020 or until the $5 million allocation has been exhausted.

Activities eligible for funding include but are not limited to:
  • sediment and erosion control actions
  • dune management and restoration
  • estuarine foreshore restoration
  • littoral rainforest regeneration and restoration
  • coastal wetland restoration
  • habitat restoration
  • riparian corridor management
  • water quality monitoring to determine the impacts of recent fire activity
  • other post-fire actions that minimise further environmental impacts on coastal waterways and estuaries.
For more information on the program, and how to apply for grants, visit: For more information on the program, and how to apply for grants, visit: Bushfire affected coastal waterways grants.

We Have The Vaccine For Climate Disinformation – Let’s Use It

January 31st, 2020
by Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair of Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol and John Hunter, University Associate, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

Australia’s recent bushfire crisis will be remembered for many things – not least, the tragic loss of life, property and landscape. But one other factor made it remarkable: the deluge of disinformation spread by climate deniers.

As climate change worsens – and with it, the bushfire risk – it’s well worth considering how to protect the public against disinformation campaigns in future fire seasons.
So how do we persuade people not to be fooled? One promising answer lies in a branch of psychology called “inoculation theory”. The logic is analogous to the way a medical vaccine works: you can prevent a virus spreading by giving lots of people a small dose.

In the case of bushfire disinformation, this means exposing, ahead of time, the myths most likely to be perpetrated by sceptics.

Bushfire bunkum
Disinformation can take many forms, including cherry-picking or distorting data, questioning of the scientific consensus by presenting fake experts, and outright fabrication.

On the issue of bushfires in Australia, there is little scientific doubt that human-caused climate change is increasing their magnitude and frequency. But spurious claims on social media and elsewhere of late sought to muddy the waters:
  • bots and trolls disseminated false arson claims which downplayed the impact of climate change on the bushfires
  • NewsCorp reported more than 180 arsonists had been arrested “in the past few months”. The figure was a gross exaggeration and distorted the real numbers
  • The misleading arson claim went viral after Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, tweeted it. A UK government minister, Heather Wheeler, also repeated the false claim in the House of Commons
  • NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, among others, wrongly suggested a lack of hazard reduction burning – the fault of the Greens – had caused the fires
  • Conservative commentators claimed the 2019-20 bushfires were no worse than those of the past.

Where will it go next?
Climate science clearly indicates Australia faces more dangerous fire weather conditions in the future. Despite this, organised climate denial will inevitably continue.

Research has repeatedly shown that if the public knows, ahead of time, what disinformation they are likely to encounter and why it is wrong, they are less likely to accept it as true.

This inoculation involves two elements: an explicit warning of an impending attempt to misinform, and a refutation of the anticipated disinformation.
For example, research has shown that if people were told how the tobacco industry used fake experts to mislead the public about the health risks of smoking, they were less likely to be misled by similar strategies used to deny climate change.

It is therefore important to anticipate the next stage of disinformation about the causes of bushfire disasters. One likely strategy will be to confuse the public by exploiting the role of natural climate variability.

This tactic has been used before. When natural variability slowed global warming in the early 2000s, some falsely claimed that global warming “had stopped”.

Of course, the warming never stopped – an unexceptional natural fluctuation merely slowed the process, which subsequently resumed.

Natural climate variability may bring the occasional mild fire season in future. So lets arm ourselves with the facts to combat the inevitable attempts to mislead.

Here are the facts
The link between human-caused climate change and extreme weather conditions is well established. But natural variability, such as El Niño and La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean may at times overshadow global warming for a few years.

The below video illustrates this. We used historical data from Adelaide to project the expected incidence of extreme heatwaves for the rest of the century, assuming a continued warming trend of 0.3℃ per decade.

The top panel shows the distribution of all 365 daily maximum temperatures for a year, with the annual average represented by the vertical red line. As the years tick over, this distribution is moving up slowly; the red line increasingly diverges from the average temperature observed before the climate started changing (the vertical black line).
The bottom panel shows the expected incidence of extreme heatwaves for each year until 2100. Each vertical line represents an intense heatwave (five consecutive days in excess of 35℃ or three days in excess of 40℃). Each heatwave amplifies the fire danger in that year.

The analysis in the video clarifies several important aspects of climate change:
  1. the number and frequency of extreme heatwaves will increase as the climate continues to warm
  2. for the next few decades at least, years with heatwaves may be followed by one or more years without one
  3. the respite will only be brief because the inexorable global warming trend makes extreme fire conditions more and more inevitable.

Looking ahead
When it comes to monster bushfire seasons, the link to climate change is undeniable. This season’s inferno is a sign of worse to come – even if it doesn’t happen every year.

Educating the public on climate science, and the tactics used by disinformers, increases the chance that “alternative facts” do not gain traction.

Hopefully, this will banish disinformation to the background of public debate, paving the way for meaningful policy solutions.

This Article was originally published in The Conversation, republished under a Creative Commons licence. Click here to read the original report.

Citizen Scientists Asked To Get Snappy To Monitor Bushfire-Ravaged Environment

January 30, 2020: by Caroline Tang, UNSW
Forget Instagram – UNSW Sydney researchers are urging citizen scientists to use their mobile phones for a good cause: to monitor the recovery of bushfire-affected plants and animals for the Environment Recovery Project which will inform future research.

Anyone in fire-affected areas of Australia can participate, no matter their scientific knowledge or camera skills: all people need to do is download the mobile app – available via the global citizen science iNaturalist website – take a photo of a burnt tree, for example, and upload the image to the app.

The iNaturalist community has more than 31 million biodiversity records and links to Australia’s leading citizen science platform Atlas of Living Australia where everybody from scientists and policy makers to the general public can access a wealth of biodiversity information.

Casey Kirchhoff, PhD candidate at the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, founded the Environment Recovery Project after the devastating Southern Highlands’ Morton bushfire destroyed her Wingello home early this month.

Mrs Kirchhoff is determined to rebuild, but her passion for the environment and natural curiosity inspired her to start tracking the post-fire recovery of her surrounding environment, despite her loss.

“I realised I was probably among a handful of scientists collecting this information. So, I thought, why not ask citizen scientists to share their photos? The bushfires have burnt such a large area; it’s impossible to properly survey it with our current resources,” she said.

“The more observations we can collect, the more we will know about the impact of the fires on our environment – particularly in the major bushfire areas in southeastern Australia and right up to Queensland.

“We also need hope when so many of us have lost so much – while we rebuild our home, I look forward to seeing the recovery of the bush with the help of citizen scientists. This is another way people can contribute to post-bushfire efforts.”

Observations to inform future research
Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, said the citizen science initiative gave people the chance to contribute to the understanding of how our amazing natural environment could recover some of its value after the devastation.

“We will use people’s observations for future research into understanding how some areas recover better than others, and in different places, as well as understanding which animals and plants come back first,” Prof Kingsford said.

“The key aims of this initiative are to understand which plant species are resprouting and growing seedlings, to calculate when and how animals return to burnt areas, and to highlight which species are struggling to recover and might need our help.

“Understanding recovery from this unprecedented fire season is scientifically critical and the opportunity to harness the community’s resources through the Environment Recovery Project is a practical way of doing this.”

Mrs Kirchhoff started using the iNaturalist app a couple of days after the bushfire razed her house and found fledgling life in the charred landscape.

“I took photos of new shoots on ferns and grass trees, wombats in their burrows, glossy black and gang gang cockatoos in full flight, and brilliant orange fungi dotting the woodland floor,” she said.

“Seeing these things gave me hope, but they also highlight the importance of monitoring the recovery of our biodiversity in the wake of the fires.

“The team at the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science aims, with everybody’s help, to build a complete picture of when, where and how Australia’s ecosystems bounce back from these unprecedented fires.”

Environment Recovery Project tips
Mrs Kirchhoff said people should only walk through a bushfire-affected area if it was safe to do so.

“Download the iNaturalist app, have a look through burnt bushland and take a photo of a plant, animal or fungus and upload it to the Environment Recovery Project,” she said.

“If you can identify the species do so, but even if you can’t, the photos are still valuable because other people will be able to help. The app will read the image location and allow researchers to identify the particular animal or plant.

“It would be amazing if thousands of citizen scientists uploaded their images – we look forward to watching the bush recover together.”

Visit the Environment Recovery Project for more details, including how to become a citizen scientist.

Over 46,000,000 acres has burnt so far in the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season in eastern Australia, including South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Understanding how the environment recovers from this unprecedented fire season is an important scientific goal.

As a citizen scientist, your observations from recently burnt areas are important. Providing it's safe to do so, take a walk in areas of burnt bushland, and upload observations to the Environment Recovery Project. We are also interested in common species just as much as rare species.

- Plants (native and weeds): Seedling or resprout
- Animals (natives and ferals): Alive or dead, tracks and scats
- Fungi and Lichen
- Landscapes: Scorch height (how high the fires went) and the amount of leaves burnt in the canopy, shrubs, and ground cover.

Thank you for contributing to the project, your findings will help us understand how species recover from the 2019-2020 bushfire season.

Disclaimer: Be aware of current weather conditions and fire danger ratings. Do not enter areas where there is active fire. Many bushfire impacted communities are still grieving, please be respectful of their privacy. Never trespass private property.

Pulling Out Weeds Is The Best Thing You Can Do To Help Nature Recover From The Fires

January 28, 2020:
By Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University
First published in The Conversation

Many Australians feel compelled to help our damaged wildlife after this season’s terrible bushfires. Suggested actions have included donating money, leaving water out for thirsty animals, and learning how to help the injured. But there is an equally, if not more, important way to assist: weeding.

An army of volunteers is needed to help land owners with judicious weed removal. This will help burnt habitats recover more quickly, providing expanded, healthy habitat for native fauna.

Other emergency responses, such as culling feral animals and dropping emergency food from aeroplanes, are obviously jobs for specialists. But volunteer weeding does not require any prior expertise – just a willingness to get your hands dirty and take your lead from those in the know.

Why is weeding so critical?
The recent bushfires burned many areas in national parks and reserves which were infested with weeds. Some weeds are killed in a blaze, but fire also stimulates their seed banks to germinate.

Weed seedlings will spring up en masse and establish dense stands that out-compete native plants by blocking access to sunlight. Native seedlings will die without setting seed, wasting this chance for them to recover and to provide habitat for a diverse range of native species.
This mass weed germination is also an opportunity to improve the outlook for biodiversity. With a coordinated volunteer effort, these weeds can be taken out before they seed – leaving only a residual seed bank with no adult weeds to create more seed and creating space for native plants to flourish.

With follow-up weeding, we can leave our national parks and reserves – and even bushland on farms - in a better state than they were before the fires.

Weeding works
In January 1994, fire burned most of Lane Cove National Park in Sydney. Within a few months of the fire, volunteer bush regeneration groups were set up to help tackle regenerating weeds.

Their efforts eradicated weeds from areas where the problem previously seemed intractable and prevented further weed expansion. Key to success in this case was the provision of funding for coordination, an engaged community which produced passionate volunteers and enough resources to train them.
Following recent fires in the Victorian high country, volunteers will be critical to controlling weeds, particularly broom (Scotch broom and related species), which occurs throughout fire-affected areas .

Fire typically kills these woody shrubs but also stimulates seed germination. Without intervention, broom will form dense stands which out-compete native plant species .

However, swift action now can prevent this. Mass germination reduces the broom’s seedbank to as low as 8% of pre-fire levels, and around half of the remaining seeds die each year. Further, broom usually takes three years to flower and replenish its seedbank. So with no new seeds being produced and the seedbank low and shrinking, this three-year window offers an important opportunity to restore previously infested areas.

Parks Victoria took up this opportunity after the 2003 fires in the Alpine National Park. They rallied agencies, natural resource management groups and local landholders to sweep up broom . Herbicide trials at that time revealed that to get the best outcome for their money, it was critical to spray broom seedlings early, within the first year and a half.

Broom management also needs to use a range of approaches, including using volunteers to spread a biological control agent.

Plenty of work to do
Parks Victoria continue to engage community groups in park management and will coordinate fire response actions when parks are safe to enter. Similar programs can be found in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, and the ACT.

A wide range of weeds expand after fire and warrant a rapid response. They include lantana, bitou bush, and blackberry.

Managing weeds after fire is currently a high priority at many sites. At the edges of the World Heritage Gondwana rainforests of southwest Queensland and northern and central NSW, there is a window to more effectively control lantana. In many forested areas in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, fire has created an opportunity to address important weed problems.

State government agencies have the mapping capacity to locate these places. Hopefully they can make these resources easy for the public to access soon, so community groups can self-organise and connect with park managers.

All this needs money
Emergency funding is now essential to enable community-based weed control programs at the scale needed to have a substantial impact. Specifically, funding is needed for group coordinators, trainers and equipment.

While emergency work is needed to control regenerating weeds in the next 6-18 months, ongoing work is needed after that to consolidate success and prevent reinfestations from the small, but still present, seed bank.

Ongoing government funding is needed to enable this work, and prepare for a similar response to the next mega-fires.

Want to act immediately?
You can volunteer to do your bit for fire recovery right now. In addition to state-agency volunteer websites, there are many existing park care, bush care and “friends of” groups coordinated by local governments. They’re waiting for you to join so they can start planning the restoration task in fire-affected areas.

Contact them directly or register your interest with the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators who can link you with the appropriate organisations.

Scotch broom, a native shrub of Western Europe, has infested vast swathes of Australia. Gunter Maywald-CSIRO/Wikimedia

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

A Good News Story From Sydney Wildlife Mobile Care Unit

January 30, 2020:
Today Sydney Wildlife captured and treated a rare subspecies of primate - a species known as Homo sapiens extraordinaire. They were then released back to their natural habitat.

Thank you, Tony and Gary, for our beautiful new enclosures inside the van! The Mobile Care Unit is almost ready now (despite already having been in the fire grounds for 3 weeks!).

Tony is part of the management team that runs the wonderful Forest Community Men’s Shed and volunteered his time to build us these amazing cages, using all recycled materials. Gary was helping today with installation. We met Tony at the Lions Club of Frenchs Forest and he has been a treasure.
You guys are indeed extraordinary.
Thank you.

NB: Sydney Wildlife Mobile Care Units' Facebook page can keep you up to date with their work.

Congratulations To The 2020 Senior Australian Of The Year

January 26, 2020
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, has paid tribute to the 2020 Senior Australian of the Year.

Professor John Newnham, AM, of Western Australia, was honoured by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a ceremony at the National Arboretum in Canberra.
The award is presented to an Australian over 65 years of age who continues to achieve and contribute to the community.
Prof. Newnham is recognised as a world authority in preventing pre-term birth.
He has been described as “an intellectual leader of modern obstetrics who has changed the practice of medicine and the lives of women and infants”.

“Prof. Newnham’s ongoing achievements serve as an example to all Australians,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Senior Australians have an incredible amount to offer the rest of the community—their intellect, their capacity for hard work and their experience accumulated over many years.
“I would like to pay tribute to Prof. Newnham and to the thousands of senior Australians who play crucial roles across the nation in professional, volunteer and community roles.
“This award is a reflection of our national appreciation, admiration and thanks for your efforts.”

The Australian Government has been a proud sponsor of the Senior Australian of the Year Award for more than 10 years.
Minister Colbeck also congratulated each of the state and territory finalists for their endeavours across a range of sectors in our community:
“Celebrating the accomplishments of our seniors is important not only to thank them for their work but to remind all Australians that age is just a number, not an indicator of ability,” he said.
Other finalists this year included:

  • Australian Capital Territory — Sue Salthouse specialises in disability rights advocacy and works in the disability sector. She also develops leadership training for women and actions to combat domestic violence.
  • Tasmania — advocate and volunteer for Landcare Tasmania, Dr Graeme Stevenson has been researching and promoting healthy soils and landscapes for 30 years.
  • Victoria — Dr Raymond Sheuy APM, a former Victorian Police Officer and Assistant Commissioner for Traffic and Operations, is a consultant on road safety and operational safety in Australia and worldwide.
  • Northern Territory — Banduk Marika AO is an artist, a passionate cultural activist and environmental adviser, known for exquisite prints of ancestral creation stories on linoprint.
  • New South Wales — founder of OzGREEN, Sue Lennox from NSW teaches people to become ‘citizen scientists’ and to take action to improve the health of the waterways.
  • South Australia — 90-year-old Sylvia McMillan has been an unstoppable community volunteer for more than 50 years after becoming treasurer of her local Legacy Club in the late 1960s.
  • Queensland — Peter Dornan AM helps men with prostate cancer share experiences and seek support and designed a program to treat incontinence after prostate cancer treatment.
More details about the Australian of the Year Awards 2019 are available at

After The Royal Commission - Our Vision For Aged Care

January 29, 2020: National Seniors
It’s clear our aged care system will be overhauled. But what will it look like? And will it be any better? National Seniors has been listening closely to what you want.

Better respite and restorative care, as well as personal care such as nursing and allied health are vitally important in imagining a better aged care system.

Your responses have shaped our latest submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission, which wants Australians to imagine a better aged care system. Here’s what you told us.

We’re calling for this invaluable support resource to be expanded to help informal carers support people in their homes for as long as possible and therefore help ease the pathway into full time residential care.

Restorative care
Programs and activities such as pet therapy, social engagement, and family involvement make home and aged care facility residents happy and feel valued. The benefits for staff were also highlighted. Restorative care depends on the willingness of clients to accept it and this can be facilitated by promoting more active ageing through the later years.

Personal care, nursing care and allied health
The commitment and dedication of carers was the strongest theme to emerge from members’ comments. But the challenges of providing care were also widely acknowledged as were understaffing and poor renumeration in aged care facilities.

National Seniors believes a campaign is needed to get the positive messages from older people back to care workers. This should be coordinated with the Aged Care Workforce Strategy to run a campaign to recruit new care workers.

Specialist advice and services
Chronic conditions are a major aging concern and it is perhaps no surprise you rated medical care costs and supported geriatric medicines as areas for improvement.

Better integration across the health, primary and acute, and the aged care, residential and home care will enable better management of medical and care costs.

Financing and quality
Aged care costs the individual and the government and for many of you it is important that money is not wasted and that the individual should plan for and fund the quality of their own aged care.

We believe the ‘fundamental overhaul’ proposed for aged care must have realistic financing. This will involve politically difficult decisions such as shifting more costs to older people and their families.

It also requires lean and efficient design and needs to be communicated clearly.

Targeted Support To Improve Residential Age Care Services

January 31, 2020: Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians
The Australian Government is committed to ensuring senior Australians can access high quality care through aged care providers.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, today announces a targeted aged care Business Improvement Fund (BIF) of almost $50m aimed at supporting facilities and improving business operations, ensuring the needs of seniors are met.

“We recognise the expectation of higher quality and appropriate care for our loved ones comes at a cost and some providers need help to meet these standards,” Minister Colbeck said.

“As the Royal Commission continues its important work, new safety and quality standards are implemented and a new residential care funding model is trialled, targeted support from the BIF will be available to eligible facilities to improve their capacity to deliver care.”

Minister Colbeck said the targeted support would help each eligible residential aged care provider manage costs without compromising the care of residents.

The funding builds on the Government’s Business Advisory Service (BAS) to assist eligible providers’ operations into the future.

Eligible applications from services in rural and remote areas who have utilised the BAS and those affected by this season’s bushfires will be prioritised.

To qualify for grants, aged care providers must have limited access to other funding sources, be in a financial position impacting on the ability to care for residents, and have a clear strategy for business improvement.

Grants will support eligible aged care providers to do one of the following:
  • Implement improved business strategies, such as those identified by the aged care Business Advisory Service. Examples include restructuring business operations and upgrading of financial management and IT systems;
  • Maintain services while the aged care residence is sold to a new provider which can make it viable and sustainable;
  • Where there is no other option, close down the home in a safe and orderly manner and transition residents to alternative suitable facilities.

Applications for grants from the fund are expected to open at the end of February 2020.

Services which receive grants will be closely monitored for business viability, quality of care and use of the funds.

Further information can be found on the Department of Health website.

Lime Cordiale Hottest 100 Success

Congratulations Lime Cordiale – all 4 eligible songs in this year’s hottest 100! 
  • No: 7 Robbery - Lime Cordiale
  • No 13: Inappropriate Behaviour - Lime Cordiale
  • No 17: I Touch Myself {triple j Like A Version 2019} - Lime Cordiale
  • No 32: Money - Lime Cordiale
Also congrats to Ocean Alley: 2 in Top 100!
  • No 24: Infinity - Ocean Alley
  • No: 54 Stained Glass - Ocean Alley
This week Lime Cordiale released their new single 'Addicted to the Sunshine', which premiered on the triple j Breakfast show. Oli and Louis Leimbach explained that the song's sunny tone hides a little darkness, with a subtext about the growing climate change crisis.

"The lyrics ended up moving into a more critical look at Australia," Oli told hosts Sally Coleman and Erica Mallett. "Everyone's frothing on summer - the beach, summer vibes, summer festivals. But then, there's a part of Australia that doesn't respect or protect the environment."

An accompanying statement expands on the message: "The sun is our creator, it’s our life source and we’re addicted to it but we're letting it destroy us. It’s heating the planet and we’re cooking. This song is about getting up off our towels and changing bad habits. We need to consume less, offset our shi**y actions and respect the sunshine and environment that we love.”

Co-released with the new song is the Addicted to the Sunshine T-shirt 100% of profits will go towards FEAT. initiative Get yours here

FEAT. (Future Energy Artists)is an Australian artist-led renewable energy movement,  a platform that will allow musicians to build and invest in their own solar farms.

'We're uncompromising about the future we need, staunch about the solution, and building a powerful new environmental legacy for the music industry. Join us to make it happen faster.' their website states Visit:

Cloud Control, Midnight Oil, Vance Joy, Regurgitator, Big Scary, Peking Duk and Jack River have already signed up.

Lime Cordiale have a gruelling tour schedule coming up.  Next weekend their part of the Party in the Paddock 2020, Feb 6 - Feb 9, at White Hills in Tasmania. On February 18th they will be at an already sold out show at the Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles. They're in NZ for 2 shows in February  on the 22nd and 23rd, then back to the US for an April 11th show in Milwaukee - their second with Tones and I , who are originally from Australia's Mornington Peninsula, and more US dates.

On May 3rd they commence an extensive U.K. and Europe tour, with gigs booked on practically everyday until June 11th, in Barcelona.

Below is their new song - in which you may notice some familiar faces and places. The Credits read: 
Management: Chugg Music and London Cowboys
Director - Jack Shepherd
Producers - Lena Buchanan & Jack Shepherd
Assistant Directors - Lena Buchanan & Thomas Austin
Cinematographer - Jack Shepherd
1st AC - Thomas Austin 
2nd AC/Sound - Luke Fuller
Production Designer - Lena Buchanan
Editors - Ed de Carvalho, Oli Leimbach & Jack Shepherd
Titles - Lewis Oxenbould 
Colourist - Matt Campbell @ Matua Film 
Starring - Oli & Louis Leimbach, Kath Ebbs, Lambert Majambele, Glenn Jefferies, Hiromi Ozaki, Felix Bornholdt, Dylan Rayner & Thomas Austin, Emily Bester, Micheal Chugg and Andrew Stone. 
Thanks to Lemac Australia, Borough Studios, Prop Co, Terry Hills Community Centre, Sam Williams & Adam Roberts.


Sydney Bus Museum Volunteers Helps Mona Vale Bus Depot Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of Opening

The Sydney Bus Museum crew that made it happen (minus Brendan who had already fled to go back to Melbourne!) - Sydney Bus Museum photo.

On Monday January 27th, 2020 the Sydney Bus Museum marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of Mona Vale Bus Depot by operating bus shuttles around Mona Vale and through the depot. Included are a few photographs from the day. Our thanks go to State Transit who invited them to help mark this significant anniversary of a key part of our local public transport story. Thanks once more to the Sydney Bus Museum for sharing these photographs taken on the day with Readers.

The Sydney Bus Museum has an extensive collection of New South Wales Government and Private Bus Services buses, and tells the story of the history of bus transportation, particularly in NSW, through Australia’s largest collection of historic buses and bus memorabilia.

Visiting groups have the choice of a group tour under the guidance of a knowledgeable volunteer or of wandering free within the museum to concentrate on buses and exhibits that most interest them.

Visitors are able to see a wide variety of buses on display and gain insights into the way in which bus transportation has changed and continues to change people’s lives. At the end of their tour or individual inspections, visitors may care to spend time in the Museum Shop where there is a wide range of bus models, transport literature and memorabilia for sale. 

Tours are expected to last about 90 minutes and are available on Wednesdays, Saturdays and the 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month (Museum public open days). A vintage bus ride is also available upon prior arrangement; there are two bus journeys to pick from: a short 25-minute return trip to the City, and a longer 45-minute trip to Huntley's Point and return. 

This week was a rare opportunity to see inside a working bus depot, with the community invited to a ride-along through Mona Vale Depot on two historic double-decker buses from the Sydney Bus Museum.Between 10am and 2pm there were tour departures from the City-bound B-Line bus stop at Mona Vale (Pittwater Rd) to Ponderosa Street. The round trip took around 15 minutes.

A donation for those taking the bus ride was requested - all put towards the Bushfire Relief Fund.

The Sydney Bus Museum provided these rides using two former Northern Beaches double deckers: an Albion Venturer SPCX19W and a Leyland PDR1A/1 Atlantean.

Leyland OPD2/1 2087 was one of the first buses allocated to Mona Vale in 1970. It is followed by a Northern Beaches staple, Albion CX19W 1892. Sydney Bus Museum photo.

Full Report and more pictures here.

2020 Enrolled Nurse Scholarships Open

January 14, 2020
Aspiring nurses across NSW can now apply for the 2020 Enrolled Nurse Scholarships which cover course fees and guarantee a job upon completion. NSW Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer said applications are now open for scholarships to study nursing at 24 campuses across the state, including seven in Sydney and 17 across every regional Local Health District.

“If you’re interested in a rewarding career as a nurse at one of our public health facilities or hospitals, don’t miss this incredible opportunity,” Ms Cross said.

“The scholarship includes course fees for a Diploma of Nursing and an opportunity to work as an Enrolled Nurse as part of our nursing team in NSW Health when you successfully complete the program.

“Our Enrolled Nurses work across a variety of NSW Health clinical settings including in acute medical and surgical units, operating theatres and mental health, caring for people when they need it most.

“We’re particularly encouraging Aboriginal people to apply for the scholarships, to build the Aboriginal workforce across NSW and improve local health outcomes.”

Ashley Gamble, a scholarship recipient who is now an Enrolled Nurse said her role is incredibly rewarding and she recommended the program to anyone interested in a career in nursing.

“I really love my role as an Enrolled Nurse. Every day you’re challenged, every day you’re learning, you’re surrounded by people that are so knowledgeable and who are just willing to teach you,” Ms Gamble said.

“It is the most rewarding experience you will ever have in your life.”

The NSW Government is investing $2.8 billion to recruit 8,300 extra frontline staff over the next four years, including an additional 5000 nurses and midwives.

The scholarships run in partnership with TAFE NSW and the NSW Health Registered Training Organisation. To be eligible you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident living in NSW.

To apply, click hereApplications close on 19 February.

NSW Youth Advisory Council 2020

What is the NSW Youth Advisory Council?

The NSW Youth Advisory Council (YAC) plays an important role in advising the NSW Government on issues that are relevant to young people across the state.

Membership of the YAC is open to all children and young people between 12 and 24 years of age residing in NSW. Applications are sought from diverse locations, backgrounds and life experiences.

The 12 member YAC provides a direct avenue of communication between young people and the NSW Government. 

The YAC meets regularly throughout the year to provide advice to the relevant Minister, and the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, on issues, policies and laws that affect children and young people in NSW.

Who is eligible to apply for the Youth Advisory Council?

All young people living in NSW from 12 to 24 years of age may apply. Applications are sought from diverse locations, backgrounds and life experiences.

What is required of me?

Council members meet once every 4-6 weeks throughout the year to discuss a range of topics and monitor and evaluate polices and legislation affecting children and young people.

Members also consult with children and young people, community groups and government agencies on issues concerning children and young people; and conduct forums, approved by the Minister on issues relevant to children and young people.

Tips for completing your application

Once you start your application you will need to complete it in one go, so you might like to prepare your answers in a word document and then copy and paste them into the application when you are ready. Make sure you answer all questions. The whole application process should take no longer than 10 minutes.

The main questions to prepare for are:

  • Question: What do you think are the important issues affecting children and young people in NSW? Please explain why you think these issues are important. (As a guide, your answers should be no more than 250 words.)
  • Question: What life experiences have you had which would assist you in contributing to the Council’s work?
  • Question: Details of any current or past voluntary or community activities you have been involved in.
  • We'll ask a few questions about you and your background.
  • Question: Please give details of any experience or membership of an organisation, network, boards, committees or other government or community bodies.
  • If you would like to provide a referee, please do. Note that providing a referee is optional.

If you need any assistance with completing the application, please contact us on 9248 0970. Applications are now open and close on 1 March, 2020

To apply, click the link here

PNHA Bushcare Grants For Mona Vale Dunes And Avalon Golf Course: A Great Option For Duke Of Ed. 2020 Aspirants

In mid December 2019 the Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) received a grant of $12 215 for bush regeneration on Mona Vale Dunes. This comes from the Federal electorates Communities Environment Program and will pay for contract bush regenerators to tackle more of the awful weeds on the dunes. Work will begin in February 2020. Northern Beaches Council will provide about 800 native plants to speed revegetation of the very degraded site. 

The grant is very welcome to the volunteers of the Mona Vale Bushcare group who have been planting and weeding on the dunes near the end of Golf Ave since 2005 and seen huge improvements. The Yellow area on photo shows where first work will begin. The volunteers have been working north of this area toward Golf Ave. All hands are welcome to join this bushcare group - they meet on the 2nd Saturday +3rd Thursday  each month  8:30 - 11:30am - they're morning teas have become the stuff of legends - find out more in: Mona Vale Beach Dunes Bushcare

Just before Christmas 2019 PNHA, on behalf of Avalon Preservation Association, received a very welcome grant of $10 000 for bush regeneration in the bushland of Avalon Golf Course.
Over 120 native species, including some unusual ones in the Pittwater area, grow on this land. The project will be managed in partnership with Northern Beaches Council; work will probably start in early February.  The grant comes from the Communities Environment Program, through the Federal Electorates. More hands are welcome here too, Duke of Ed. 2020 aspirants; maybe this could be for you?
Find out more in: Avalon Golf Course Bushcare

Photos: Flannel Flowers and the shrub Jacksonia scoparia, or Dogwood (from its strong odour when burning, not tested by us!!) - 

A cicada on a Sydney Red Gum in Elanora - what could be more Pittwater in Summer than that? Photo by Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA) Activities for 2020, on Fridays and Sundays. The first is on Friday February 21, 2020. Free guided Irrawong Waterfall Track walk. Booking through Eventbrite

Free guided Irrawong Waterfall Track bird and plant walk on Sunday February 23rd, 2020Booking through Eventbrite.

These free guided walks along Mullet Creek will be with bird and plant experts who'll help you see and hear birds and look at the plants. Binoculars a good idea. A mostly level bush track of moderate difficulty with some steps, not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Older children very welcome accompanied by a carer. Only 20 tickets available for these events. Please let Eventbrite know if you need to cancel as there may be a waiting list. 


In the background is the old Australian Club building, at the corner of Bent and O'Connell streets. A FORMER SYDNEY LANDMARK: THE BENT-STREET FOUNTAIN. (1932, March 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

The Bent-street Fountain.
Old Government House, as the records tell, stood till 1845 at the corner of Phillip and Bridge streets, at a convenient distance from the Tank Stream. The drawers of water, in proceeding to the stream, went the shortest route, which was down Spring-street (then called Spring Row) to about where the A.M.P. offices now stand, or a little nearer. Spring Row was so called from a spring jutting from under a rocky boulder at the junction of Bent-street with O'Connell-street. While the Tank Stream continued to satisfy all the requirements of the residents little notice was taken of the spring, but when through a dry period, or because of the necessities of the increasing number of colonists a time of drought threatened, recourse was had to the spring which had not decreased in volume over a period of years. After it had been ascertained that the water was of splendid quality, the spring acquired importance and ultimately became established as a public drinking fountain by order of Governor Macquarie. Over the spring a stone octagon fountain of a capacity of several tons of water was erected, and this fountain, according to the "Sydney Gazette" of October 19, 1816, "received later the addition of a much larger cistern, in the centre of which is placed a fine pump, by means of which the largest vessels are filled without delay."

The fountain remained as originally designed for nearly 90 years, but it had outlived its usefulness, as water from the Nepean supplied the requirements of Sydney from 1886. Not-withstanding the public outcry at the removal of such an interesting landmark of old Sydney, it had, eventually, to be dismantled to make room for the electric trams, which first ran down Bent-street in July, 1905.

Near to the fountain was a plantation which had previously been curtailed for traffic purposes, but is still represented in the palm patch just below the Metropole. To get to this little garden plot, I have taken you from the fountain up the hill, past the old Australian Club House and the Creswick Club Hotel (both now replaced by Dalgety's fine building) towards the Metropole, the building of which was completed in 1901. Prior to this a triangular block of land at the Junction of Bent and Young streets was occupied by Hanson's monumental yard; next to it was the Survey Office, and then followed, down Young-street, several houses which are still standing. Two of these stone-fronted houses, on either side of Longueville Chambers, are interesting as they were erected by J. G. Raphael (alderman and M.L.A.), a well-known character in his day, always to be seen in his walks abroad, accompanied by his favourite dog. Both houses bear his name cut in stone; in that which gives the date of erection as 1866 he lived, and the other, built in 1877, he gave as a marriage gift to his daughter, who became Mrs. Rosenthal.

Raphael's houses were rented by the Government for quite a long period of years as offices for the Education Department and the Statistician's Department.
The story that Raphael, who was of the Hebrew faith, objected to the letters A.D. before the date 1866 on the first house and ordered their removal, appears to be borne out by an inspection, as of the letter A only a single point remains and the D resembles a rosette. The offending letters do not appear on the second house.

Though the Governor (Sir George Gipps) utilised the grounds of the new Government House to hold the usual levee on May 24, 1845, he did not move into his new home until the following month, and on June 26 there was a "house warming" in honour of the Queen's accession and coronation days. The old building was pulled down soon after, and Bridge and Phillip streets extended.

A terrace of four houses (still occupied as offices for the Government Statistician) was built in Young-street at the corner of Bridge-street, and extending to Raphael-place. The backyards of this terrace abutted on the western side of old Government House and the stonework of the floor of the Governor's stable can still be traced.
OLD LANDMARK. (1932, March 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

Hello Yellow – Up Close With Dazzling Yellow-Tufted Honeyeaters

Published January 31, 2020 by BIBY TV

These Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus melanops) were filmed during September and October 2019 visits to a private conservation property in the Capertee Valley (NSW). What a treat it was – gorgeous birds in a glorious location! And they were just one of several honeyeater species to grace our video files that spring, thanks to bird baths in the vicinity of our accommodation. After many years of filming birds we have concluded that a water source is the most reliable site for bird observation, as well as being a huge asset to the birds and other animals. For instance, when bushwalking in the wilds it can be hard to see or photograph birds in dense shrubbery or high in trees. But find a creek, natural or artificial waterhole or even a muddy puddle (e.g. and and enjoy the show! 

Of course, be aware that water is vital to their survival; one shouldn’t linger when nervous species are around (e.g. macropods) and there are limited options for them. Certainly there were less options than what might be at the Capertee Valley property given drought conditions. (Check out our production about White-naped Honeyeaters for further discussion of the long dry spell.) In this filming situation, the rock-ringed cement-based pond being visited by Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters was close to a house, on the opposite side to another bird bath free of our presence, as well as a tree-fringed waterhole a bit further away (shown in Photo 2). While we have seen this honeyeater species (and others) visit all three locations, the artificial yet natural-looking pond allows the best viewing. To see the other type of bird bath and advice on how to create one that is useful and safe for birds go to 

Although bird baths in house zones/gardens are generally drawcards, what might appear at them will depend upon the habitat available. Compared to some honeyeaters (such as Noisy Miners, Red Wattlebirds and White-plumed Honeyeaters), Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters are more tied to their natural environment of eucalypt forest and woodland. They are rarely observed in truly urban areas, unlike the other honeyeaters mentioned. Sightings are almost always in national parks, reserves, any sizeable strip of forest, or gardens abutting these natural places (such as the location for this video). Indeed, even at this property, the “Tufties” appear to stay in the top tree-filled third of the 140 acres (which merges with Wollemi National Park), rather than use a planted tree corridor to reach a larger dam near an open grassy area. But we have seen them feast on the nectar of a White Box (eucalypt) in a working farm next door. However, this important paddock tree is very close to the forested slopes behind both properties. Nonetheless, the relative lack of flexibility makes the striking and unmistakable Yellow-tufted Honeyeater rather elusive for the casual birder, despite the subspecies shown here (Lichenostomus melanops melanops) having the conservation status of secure. It’s the Victorian subspecies cassidix – aka the Helmeted Honeyeater – that is the truly rare bird. 

For more information on Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters visit To hear their various calls, go to We found them to be one of the less vocal honeyeaters at the bird baths so ended up using a call recorded at a different location (Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) for Photo 1. Several other bird species can be heard during the video, including Red Wattlebirds, White-browed Woodswallows, Little Lorikeets and Willie Wagtails.

Potential Global Spread Of New Coronavirus

January 29, 2020: University of Southampton
Experts in population mapping at the University of Southampton have identified cities and provinces within mainland China, and cities and countries worldwide, which are at high-risk from the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

A report by the University's WorldPop team has found Bangkok (Thailand) is currently the city most at risk from a global spread of the virus -- based on the number of air travellers predicted to arrive there from the worst affected cities in mainland China. Hong Kong (China) is second on the list, followed by Taipei (Taiwan, the Republic of China). Sydney (12), New York (16) and London (19) are among 30 other major international cities ranked in the research.

The most 'at-risk' countries or regions worldwide are Thailand (1), Japan (2) and Hong Kong (3). USA is placed 6th on the list, Australia 10th and the UK 17th.

Within mainland China, the cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing are all identified as high-risk by the researchers, along with the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Sichuan and Henan.

Andrew Tatem, Director of WorldPop and professor within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton, says: "It's vital that we understand patterns of population movement, both within China and globally, in order to assess how this new virus might spread -- domestically and internationally. By mapping these trends and identifying high-risk areas, we can help inform public health interventions, such as screenings and healthcare preparedness."

The team at WorldPop used anonymised mobile phone and IP address data (2013-15)1, along with international air travel data (2018)2 to understand typical patterns of movement of people within China, and worldwide, during the annual 40-day Lunar New Year celebrations (including the seven day public holiday from 24 to 30 January).

From this, they identified 18 Chinese cities (including Wuhan) at high-risk from the new coronavirus and established the volume of air passengers likely to be travelling from these cities to global destinations (over a three month period). The team was then able to rank the top 30 most at-risk countries and cities around the world.

The researchers acknowledge that their analysis is based on 'non-outbreak' travel patterns, but highlight that a high proportion of people travelled with symptoms at an early stage of the outbreak, before restrictions were put in place. In fact, travel cordons are likely to have only coincided with the latter stages of peak population numbers leaving Wuhan for the holiday period. According to Wuhan authorities it is likely more than five million people had already left the city.

Lead report author Dr Shengjie Lai of the University of Southampton comments: "The spread of the new coronavirus is a fast moving situation and we are closely monitoring the epidemic in order to provide further up-to-date analysis on the likely spread, including the effectiveness of the transport lockdown in Chinese cities and transmission by people returning from the Lunar New Year holiday, which has been extended to 2 February."

WorldPop at the University of Southampton conducted this research in collaboration with the University of Toronto, St Michael's Hospital Toronto, disease surveillance organisation Bluedot in Toronto and the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Full data can be found in the report on the WorldPop website at:

1) De-identified and aggregated domestic population movement data (from 2013 to 2015), derived from Baidu Location-Based Services (LBS).

2) International air travel data (2018), obtained from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Gut Reaction: How Immunity Ramps Up Against Incoming Threats

January 29, 2020: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
A new study has revealed how the gut's protective mechanisms ramp up significantly with food intake, and at times of the day when mealtimes are anticipated based on regular eating habits.

Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute found, in laboratory models, that eating sets off a hormonal 'chain reaction' in the gut.

Eating causes a hormone called VIP to kickstart the activity of immune cells in response to potentially incoming pathogens or 'bad' bacteria. The researchers also found that immunity increased at anticipated mealtimes indicating that maintaining regular eating patterns could be more important than previously thought.

With the rise in conditions associated with chronic inflammation in the gut, such as irritable bowel and Crohn's disease, a better understanding of the early protective mechanisms governing gut health could help researchers to develop prevention strategies against unwanted inflammation and disease.

The research, led by Professor Gabrielle Belz and Dr Cyril Seillet from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, was published in the journal Nature Immunology.

At a glance
Eating activates immune cells in the gut that protect against pathogens and preserve gut health.

Immunity in the gut also ramps up at regular mealtimes in anticipation of eating and a potentially increased risk of infection.

Understanding the complex interactions between eating, gut health and inflammation could aid in the development of prevention and treatment strategies for chronic inflammatory diseases.

Armed against invaders
So how does it work?
When food is consumed nerves in the intestine produce a hormone called vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) to 'switch on' a protective response in the gut.

Professor Belz said the team showed, for the first time, that food-induced activation of VIP in preclinical models was vital for a subset of immune cells called ILC3s to mount a protective response in the gut.

"Food intake 'switches on' VIP, which plays a critical role in alerting the gut's army of ILC3 immune cells. In response, ILC3s secrete interleukin-22 (IL-22), which swings into protective action to defend against pathogens and maintain tissue integrity.

"We also showed that a deficiency in VIP limits the production of IL-22, which in turn negatively impacts the immune system's ability to prevent unwanted inflammation," she said.

The researchers used advanced imaging techniques to identify the 'players' integral to protective immunity in the gut. Using a new imaging technique that makes tissue translucent, the researchers were able to capture high-resolution, 3D images of how VIP and ILC3 immune cells interact to protect the gut. Results showed their close proximity which confirmed their interdependence.

Regular meals key to gut health
The researchers also showed that 'circadian clock' genes could enable the gut to ramp up immunity in anticipation of regular mealtimes.

Dr Seillet said baseline gut immunity fluctuated throughout the day, based on circadian rhythms and an anticipatory response to regular eating patterns.

"We saw that gut immunity not only spikes with food intake. It also rises and falls due to inbuilt cellular machinery regulated by the circadian clock gene Bmal1, which appears to activate immune cells when eating is likely," Dr Seillet said.

"While more work needs to be done to better understand this anticipatory mechanism, the results are very interesting and could help to explain why disruptions to circadian rhythms and regular eating patterns could increase chronic inflammation in the gut."

Protective effect
Dr Seillet said a detailed knowledge about mechanisms for gut protection and tissue repair could be useful for preventing against early-stage gut inflammation, before full-blown disease occurred.

"The next steps of our research include gaining a molecular understanding of what properties of food are responsible for kickstarting the process of protective immunity," he said.

"For example, are there certain diets that drive a more protective response than others?"

The study was supported by the Victorian Government and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.

Cyril Seillet, Kylie Luong, Julie Tellier, Nicolas Jacquelot, Rui Dong Shen, Peter Hickey, Verena C. Wimmer, Lachlan Whitehead, Kelly Rogers, Gordon K. Smyth, Alexandra L. Garnham, Matthew E. Ritchie, Gabrielle T. Belz. The neuropeptide VIP confers anticipatory mucosal immunity by regulating ILC3 activity. Nature Immunology, 2019; 21 (2): 168 DOI: 10.1038/s41590-019-0567-y

Platypus On Brink Of Extinction

January 21, 2020: University of New South Wales
New research calls for action to minimise the risk of the platypus vanishing due to habitat destruction, dams and weirs.

Australia's devastating drought is having a critical impact on the iconic platypus, a globally unique mammal, with increasing reports of rivers drying up and platypuses becoming stranded.

Platypuses were once considered widespread across the eastern Australian mainland and Tasmania, although not a lot is known about their distribution or abundance because of the species' secretive and nocturnal nature.

A new study led by UNSW Sydney's Centre for Ecosystem Science, funded through a UNSW-led Australian Research Council project and supported by the Taronga Conservation Society, has for the first time examined the risks of extinction for this intriguing animal.

Published in the international scientific journal Biological Conservation this month, the study examined the potentially devastating combination of threats to platypus populations, including water resource development, land clearing, climate change and increasingly severe periods of drought.

Lead author Dr Gilad Bino, a researcher at the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science, said action must be taken now to prevent the platypus from disappearing from our waterways.

"There is an urgent need for a national risk assessment for the platypus to assess its conservation status, evaluate risks and impacts, and prioritise management in order to minimise any risk of extinction," Dr Bino said.

Alarmingly, the study estimated that under current climate conditions and due to land clearing and fragmentation by dams, platypus numbers almost halved, leading to the extinction of local populations across about 40 per cent of the species' range, reflecting ongoing declines since European colonisation.

Under predicted climate change, the losses forecast were far greater because of increases in extreme drought frequencies and duration, such as the current dry spell.

Dr Bino added: "These dangers further expose the platypus to even worse local extinctions with no capacity to repopulate areas."

Documented declines and local extinctions of the platypus show a species facing considerable risks, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently downgraded the platypus' conservation status to "Near Threatened."

But the platypus remains unlisted in most jurisdictions in Australia -- except South Australia, where it is endangered.

Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science and study co-author Professor Richard Kingsford said it was unfortunate that platypuses lived in areas undergoing extensive human development that threatened their lives and long-term viability.

"These include dams that stop their movements, agriculture which can destroy their burrows, fishing gear and yabby traps which can drown them and invasive foxes which can kill them," Prof. Kingsford said.

Study co-author Professor Brendan Wintle at The University of Melbourne said it was important that preventative measures were taken now.

"Even for a presumed 'safe' species such as the platypus, mitigating or even stopping threats, such as new dams, is likely to be more effective than waiting for the risk of extinction to increase and possible failure," Prof Wintle said.

"We should learn from the peril facing the koala to understand what happens when we ignore the warning signs."

Dr Bino said the researchers' paper added to the increasing body of evidence which showed that the platypus, like many other native Australian species, was on the path to extinction.

"There is an urgent need to implement national conservation efforts for this unique mammal and other species by increasing monitoring, tracking trends, mitigating threats, and protecting and improving management of freshwater habitats," Dr Bino said.

The platypus research team is continuing to research the ecology and conservation of this enigmatic animal, collaborating with the Taronga Conservation Society, to ensure its future by providing information for effective policy and management.

Gilad Bino, Richard T. Kingsford, Brendan A. Wintle. A stitch in time – Synergistic impacts to platypus metapopulation extinction risk. Biological Conservation, 2020; 242: 108399 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108399

PET/MRI Identifies Notable Breast Cancer Imaging Biomarkers

January 27, 2020: Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Researchers have identified several potentially useful breast cancer biomarkers that indicate the presence and risk of malignancy, according to new research published in the January issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. By comparing healthy contralateral breast tissue of patients with malignant breast tumors and benign breast tumors, researchers found that multiple differences in biomarkers can be assessed with PET/MRI imaging, which could impact risk-adapted screening and risk-reduction strategies in clinical practice.

In breast cancer, early detection remains key to improved prognosis and survival. While screening mammography has decreased mortality for breast cancer patients by 30 percent, its sensitivity is limited and is decreased in women with dense breast tissue.

"Such shortcomings warrant further refinements in breast cancer screening modalities and the identification of imaging biomarkers to guide follow-up care for breast cancer patients," said Doris Leithner, MD, research fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York. "Our study aimed to assess the differences in 18F-FDG PET/MRI biomarkers in healthy contralateral breast tissue among patients with malignant or benign breast tumors."

The study included 141 patients with imaging abnormalities on mammography or sonography on a tumor-free contralateral breast. The patients underwent combined PET/MRI of the breast with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and the radiotracer 18F-FDG. In all patients, several imaging biomarkers were recorded in the tumour-free breast: background parenchymal enhancement and fibroglandular tissue (from MRI), mean apparent diffusion coefficient (from DWI) and breast parenchymal uptake (from 18F-FDG PET). Differences among the biomarkers were analyzed by two independent readers.

A total of 100 malignant and 41 benign lesions were assessed. In the contralateral breast tissue, background parenchymal enhancement and breast parenchymal uptake were decreased and differed significantly between patients with benign and malignant lesions. The difference in fibroglandular tissue approached but did not reach significance, and the mean apparent diffusion coefficient did not differ between the groups.

"Based on these results, tracer uptake of normal breast parenchyma in 18F-FDG PET might serve as another important, easily quantifiable imaging biomarker in breast cancer, similar to breast density in mammography and background parenchymal enhancement in MRI," Leithner explained. "As hybrid PET/MRI scanners are increasingly being used in clinical practice, they can simultaneously assess and monitor multiple imaging biomarkers -- including breast parenchymal uptake -- which could consequently contribute to risk-adapted screening and guide risk-reduction strategies."

Doris Leithner, Thomas H. Helbich, Blanca Bernard-Davila, Maria Adele Marino, Daly Avendano, Danny F. Martinez, Maxine S. Jochelson, Panagiotis Kapetas, Pascal A.T. Baltzer, Alexander Haug, Marcus Hacker, Yasemin Tanyildizi, Elizabeth A. Morris, Katja Pinker. Multiparametric 18F-FDG PET/MRI of the Breast: Are There Differences in Imaging Biomarkers of Contralateral Healthy Tissue Between Patients With and Without Breast Cancer? Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2020; 61 (1): 20 DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.119.230003

Solving A Biological Puzzle: How Stress Causes Grey Hair

January 22, 2020: Harvard University
When Marie Antoinette was captured during the French Revolution, her hair reportedly turned white overnight. In more recent history, John McCain experienced severe injuries as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War -- and lost colour in his hair.

For a long time, anecdotes have connected stressful experiences with the phenomenon of hair greying. Now, for the first time, Harvard University scientists have discovered exactly how the process plays out: stress activates nerves that are part of the fight-or-flight response, which in turn cause permanent damage to pigment-regenerating stem cells in hair follicles.

The study, published in Nature, advances scientists' knowledge of how stress can impact the body.

"Everyone has an anecdote to share about how stress affects their body, particularly in their skin and hair -- the only tissues we can see from the outside," said senior author Ya-Chieh Hsu, the Alvin and Esta Star Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard. "We wanted to understand if this connection is true, and if so, how stress leads to changes in diverse tissues. Hair pigmentation is such an accessible and tractable system to start with -- and besides, we were genuinely curious to see if stress indeed leads to hair greying. "

Narrowing down the culprit
Because stress affects the whole body, researchers first had to narrow down which body system was responsible for connecting stress to hair colour. The team first hypothesised that stress causes an immune attack on pigment-producing cells. However, when mice lacking immune cells still showed hair greying, researchers turned to the hormone cortisol. But once more, it was a dead end.

"Stress always elevates levels of the hormone cortisol in the body, so we thought that cortisol might play a role," Hsu said. "But surprisingly, when we removed the adrenal gland from the mice so that they couldn't produce cortisol-like hormones, their hair still turned grey under stress."

After systematically eliminating different possibilities, researchers honed in on the sympathetic nerve system, which is responsible for the body's fight-or-flight response.

Sympathetic nerves branch out into each hair follicle on the skin. The researchers found that stress causes these nerves to release the chemical norepinephrine, which gets taken up by nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells.

Permanent damage
In the hair follicle, certain stem cells act as a reservoir of pigment-producing cells. When hair regenerates, some of the stem cells convert into pigment-producing cells that color the hair.

Researchers found that the norepinephrine from sympathetic nerves causes the stem cells to activate excessively. The stem cells all convert into pigment-producing cells, prematurely depleting the reservoir.

"When we started to study this, I expected that stress was bad for the body -- but the detrimental impact of stress that we discovered was beyond what I imagined," Hsu said. "After just a few days, all of the pigment-regenerating stem cells were lost. Once they're gone, you can't regenerate pigment anymore. The damage is permanent."

The finding underscores the negative side effects of an otherwise protective evolutionary response, the researchers said.

"Acute stress, particularly the fight-or-flight response, has been traditionally viewed to be beneficial for an animal's survival. But in this case, acute stress causes permanent depletion of stem cells," said postdoctoral fellow Bing Zhang, the lead author of the study.

Answering a fundamental question
To connect stress with hair greying, the researchers started with a whole-body response and progressively zoomed into individual organ systems, cell-to-cell interaction and, eventually, all the way down to molecular dynamics. The process required a variety of research tools along the way, including methods to manipulate organs, nerves, and cell receptors.

"To go from the highest level to the smallest detail, we collaborated with many scientists across a wide range of disciplines, using a combination of different approaches to solve a very fundamental biological question," Zhang said.

The collaborators included Isaac Chiu, assistant professor of immunology at Harvard Medical School who studies the interplay between nervous and immune systems.

"We know that peripheral neurons powerfully regulate organ function, blood vessels, and immunity, but less is known about how they regulate stem cells," Chiu said.

"With this study, we now know that neurons can control stem cells and their function, and can explain how they interact at the cellular and molecular level to link stress with hair greying."

The findings can help illuminate the broader effects of stress on various organs and tissues. This understanding will pave the way for new studies that seek to modify or block the damaging effects of stress.

"By understanding precisely how stress affects stem cells that regenerate pigment, we've laid the groundwork for understanding how stress affects other tissues and organs in the body," Hsu said. "Understanding how our tissues change under stress is the first critical step towards eventual treatment that can halt or revert the detrimental impact of stress. We still have a lot to learn in this area."

The study was supported by the Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard/MIT Basic Neuroscience Grants Program, Harvard FAS and HMS Dean's Award, American Cancer Society, NIH, the Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, and an HSCI junior faculty grant.

Bing Zhang, Sai Ma, Inbal Rachmin, Megan He, Pankaj Baral, Sekyu Choi, William A. Gonçalves, Yulia Shwartz, Eva M. Fast, Yiqun Su, Leonard I. Zon, Aviv Regev, Jason D. Buenrostro, Thiago M. Cunha, Isaac M. Chiu, David E. Fisher, Ya-Chieh Hsu. Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells. Nature, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-1935-3

Bulletproof Superbugs On A Deadly March Across The Globe

January 30, 2020: Australian National University
Superbugs are on the march around the world, due to antibiotic resistance and the unchecked spread of deadly bacteria, a leading expert warns.

Professor Peter Collignon, from The Australian National University (ANU), says antibiotic resistance is hurtling towards crisis levels creating superbugs that need to be contained.

"These superbugs are putting on amour plated, bulletproof vests and going up against the antibiotics we already have," Professor Collignon said.  

"And they are coming out without a scratch because we are using too many antibiotics and because we've allowed these deadly bacteria to spread.

"If we don't make stopping the spread of superbugs and infection a priority a lot of people are going to die.

"This means we need clean water, good sanitation, not doing procedures if you don't need them, not taking antibiotics if you don't need them and if there is a good vaccine - getting vaccinated."

In his paper published in Antibiotics, Professor Collignon warns social and economic factors are pushing the rise of antibiotic resistance.

The microbiologist says Australia is under threat from the spread of already-resistant bacteria which develops in countries with poor infrastructure, sanitation, water supply and housing issues.

"There is no doubt that resistance everywhere is increasing for just about every bug you can think of and overuse of antibiotics is a problem," Professor Collignon said.

"Australia rates as one the highest antibiotic users in the world but we have relatively very low resistance rates. We have low rates because we have good housing, infrastructure and nutrition.

"These superbugs spread via people, water and food then they get on to 747s and come to this country."

The warning comes after the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommended a crackdown on doctors prescribing repeat prescriptions of antibiotics.

"We use so much antibiotics and the problem is we use them mostly for viral infections where the antibiotics don't work anyway," he said.

Recreational Fishers Catching More Sharks And Rays

January 27, 2020: University of British Columbia
Recreational fishers are increasingly targeting sharks and rays, a situation that is causing concern among researchers.

A new study by an international team of scientists reveals that recreational catches of these fishes have gradually increased over the last six decades around the world, now accounting for 5-6 per cent of the total catches taken for leisure or pleasure.

In their paper published in Frontiers in Marine Science, the experts explain that almost 1 million tonnes of fish are being extracted from marine waters by recreational fishers every year. Overall, these recreational fish catches have grown from 280,000 tonnes per year in the 1950s to around 900,000 tonnes in the mid-2010s. Of this total amount, some 54,000 tonnes are comprised of sharks and rays.

"The rise in shark and ray catches started in the 1990s and has been particularly sharp in Oceania and South America," said Kátia Freire, lead author of the study and a professor at the Universidade Federal de Sergipe in Brazil. "However, we may actually be underestimating the real amounts, as accessing recreational fisheries data is particularly difficult. Most countries do not compile these data or those that do, do not incorporate them into their national fisheries statistics that are reported to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations."

The rise in shark and ray catches for recreational purposes is particularly troubling because many species are already threatened by the commercial fishing industry and by illegal fishers.

"The problem with sharks and rays is that even if they are thrown back into the ocean, a practice that is not uncommon as many recreational fishers now practice 'catch-and-release,' not all individuals survive," said Daniel Pauly, co-author of the study and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia's Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries. "For example, 98 per cent of scalloped hammerheads die."

The biology of sharks makes them slow when it comes to growing and maturing, which means that they produce only a small number of young in their lifetimes. If many individuals are caught before they have been able to reproduce sufficiently, then their population numbers start to dwindle.

Slow growth and late maturation also make increasingly popular recreational practices such as beach-based shark fishing problematic.

"In Australia, a group of recreational fishers lands large tiger sharks and hammerheads from the beach. These large animals are essential to population health and are unlikely to survive the experience of a lengthy fight and subsequently being dragged up the beach," said Jessica Meeuwig, co-author of the study and director of the Marine Futures Lab at the University of Western Australia. "Given the threatened status of these species globally, such practices are inappropriate."

Even though information is scarce and disparate, the research team was able to learn about what is being caught and has been caught in 125 countries over the past 60+ years.

"Thus, we have assembled the first comprehensive global estimate of marine recreational catches, which is a major accomplishment," said Dirk Zeller, co-author of the study and director of the Sea Around Us -- Indian Ocean at the University of Western Australia. "Even approximate estimates are better than saying 'we have no data,' which translates into 'there are zero recreational catches,' a statement that is not true for most countries and that leads to an under-valuation of recreational fisheries and their impact on fish populations."

Kátia Meirelles Felizola Freire, Dyhia Belhabib, Jeniffer C. Espedido, Lincoln Hood, Kristin M. Kleisner, Vicky W. L. Lam, Michel L. Machado, Jocemar Tomasino Mendonça, Jessica J. Meeuwig, Pietro S. Moro, Fábio S. Motta, Maria-Lourdes D. Palomares, Nicola Smith, Lydia Teh, Dirk Zeller, Kyrstn Zylich, Daniel Pauly. Estimating Global Catches of Marine Recreational Fisheries. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2020; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00012

Airborne Microbes Link Great Barrier Reef And Australian Continent

January 29, 2020: Yale-NUS College
A team of researchers led by Yale-NUS College Professor of Science (Environmental Studies) Stephen Pointing has discovered a link between two different ecosystems, continental Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, due to airborne microbes that travel from the former to the latter. The finding showed that the health of these two ecosystems are more interconnected than previously believed, hence holistic conservation efforts need to span different ecosystems.

Microbes are fundamental to the health of ecosystems, playing roles such as providing energy, oxygen and carbon to other organisms and recycling nutrients from other organisms' waste products. Prof Pointing's team recently published two papers in established scientific journals Nature Microbiology and The ISME Journal (a Nature partner journal) on the role of microbes in connecting ecosystems, specifically how microbes from one ecosystem can have significant effects on the well-being of a completely different ecosystem.

The team's success has grown from development of a new apparatus and methodology to accurately study microbes in air -- something that has never been previously done due to the low abundance of airborne microbes and how quickly they degrade once captured for sampling. The team's first paper, published in the June 2019 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Nature Microbiology, revealed this method and highlighted how some microbes survive better than others during transport in the air over the Southern Ocean.

Their second paper, published in The ISME Journal in November 2019, focused on the interconnectedness between earth, sea, and sky. Prof Pointing and his team observed that vital microbes essential for the flourishing of the Great Barrier Reef are present in the air, and are in fact transported through the air from other ecosystems like the Australian continental landmass.

While there has long been speculation that airborne microbes are absorbed into the Reef, this was the first study that confirmed the existence of such a link. Genetic testing highlighted that the most abundant shared species in the air and coral played important functional roles in both coral and soil ecosystems, suggesting that the atmosphere acts to connect these ecosystems by transporting microbes essential to the health of each between them.

Prof Pointing, who is also Director of the Division of Science at Yale-NUS, said, "In order to make effective policy decisions to protect our natural environment, it is vital to have reliable data on the level of connectivity between different ecosystems. The role that the air plays in ecosystem connectivity has not been appreciated until now. Our research provides empirical evidence that distant ecosystems on land and at sea are connected by the multitude of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that are transported in air currents between these ecosystems. Because microorganisms are so important to ecosystem health, any change to their transport patterns can have potentially catastrophic environmental impacts."

The team's third paper, specially commissioned by Nature Microbiology and published on 28 January 2020, is a position paper setting the direction of research in the field for the next five to 10 years. It explores ways in which human activity affects how microbes are transported in air, such as how pollution particles in the atmosphere can kill microbes, or disrupt or alter their transport patterns. It also explores the potential of some microbes to detoxify toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) compounds in the air, which are known to cause cancer in humans, although further research is required to determine the feasibility of such an endeavour.

Stephen D. J. Archer, Stephen B. Pointing. Anthropogenic impact on the atmospheric microbiome. Nature Microbiology, 2020; 5 (2): 229 DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0650-z

Nano-Thin Flexible Touchscreens Could Be Printed Like Newspaper

January 24, 2020: RMIT University
Australian Researchers have developed an ultra-thin and ultra-flexible electronic material that could be printed and rolled out like newspaper, for the touchscreens of the future. The touch-responsive technology is 100 times thinner than existing touchscreen materials and so pliable it can be rolled up like a tube.

To create the new conductive sheet, an RMIT University-led team used a thin film common in cell phone touchscreens and shrunk it from 3D to 2D, using liquid metal chemistry.

The nano-thin sheets are readily compatible with existing electronic technologies and because of their incredible flexibility, could potentially be manufactured through roll-to-roll (R2R) processing just like a newspaper.

The research, with collaborators from UNSW, Monash University and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET), is published in the journal Nature Electronics.

Lead researcher Dr Torben Daeneke said most cell phone touchscreens were made of a transparent material, indium-tin oxide, that was very conductive but also very brittle.

"We've taken an old material and transformed it from the inside to create a new version that's supremely thin and flexible," said Daeneke, an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow at RMIT.

"You can bend it, you can twist it, and you could make it far more cheaply and efficiently that the slow and expensive way that we currently manufacture touchscreens.

"Turning it two-dimensional also makes it more transparent, so it lets through more light.

"This means a cell phone with a touchscreen made of our material would use less power, extending the battery life by roughly 10%."

The ultra-thin and ultra-flexible electronic material could be printed and rolled out like newspaper, for the touchscreens of the future. RMIT photo.

DIY: a touchscreen you can make at home
The current way of manufacturing the transparent thin film material used in standard touchscreens is a slow, energy-intensive and expensive batch process, conducted in a vacuum chamber.

"The beauty is that our approach doesn't require expensive or specialised equipment -- it could even be done in a home kitchen," Daeneke said.

"We've shown its possible to create printable, cheaper electronics using ingredients you could buy from a hardware store, printing onto plastics to make touchscreens of the future."

Thick and thin: how to turn an old material new
To create the new type of atomically-thin indium-tin oxide (ITO), the researchers used a liquid metal printing approach.

An indium-tin alloy is heated to 200C, where it becomes liquid, and then rolled over a surface to print off nano-thin sheets of indium tin oxide.

These 2D nano-sheets have the same chemical make-up as standard ITO but a different crystal structure, giving them exciting new mechanical and optical properties.

As well as being fully flexible, the new type of ITO absorbs just 0.7% of light, compared with the 5-10% of standard conductive glass. To make it more electronically conductive, you just add more layers.

It's a pioneering approach that cracks a challenge that was considered unsolvable, Daeneke said.

"There's no other way of making this fully flexible, conductive and transparent material aside from our new liquid metal method," he said.

"It was impossible up to now -- people just assumed that it couldn't be done."

Patent pending: bringing the tech to market
The research team have now used the new material to create a working touchscreen, as a proof-of-concept, and have applied for a patent for the technology.

The material could also be used in many other optoelectronic applications, such as LEDs and touch displays, as well as potentially in future solar cells and smart windows.

"We're excited to be at the stage now where we can explore commercial collaboration opportunities and work with the relevant industries to bring this technology to market," Daeneke said.

The researchers acknowledge the support of the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility (RMMF), RMIT's MicroNano Research Facility (MNRF), the National Computational Infrastructure National Facility, the Pawsey Supercomputer Centre and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) in the Victorian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

Robi S. Datta, Nitu Syed, Ali Zavabeti, Azmira Jannat, Md Mohiuddin, Md. Rokunuzzaman, Bao Yue Zhang, Md. Ataur Rahman, Paul Atkin, Kibret A. Messalea, Mohammad Bagher Ghasemian, Enrico Della Gaspera, Semonti Bhattacharyya, Michael S. Fuhrer, Salvy P. Russo, Chris F. McConville, Dorna Esrafilzadeh, Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, Torben Daeneke. Flexible two-dimensional indium tin oxide fabricated using a liquid metal printing technique. Nature Electronics, 2020; 3 (1): 51 DOI: 10.1038/s41928-019-0353-8

Humanity's Footprint Is Squashing World's Wildlife

January 13, 2020
New study assessed 20K terrestrial species finding that 85 percent are now exposed to intense human pressure. Using the most comprehensive dataset on the "human footprint," which maps the accumulated impact of human activities on the land's surface, researchers from WCS, University of Queensland, and other groups found intense human pressures across the range of a staggering 20,529 terrestrial vertebrate species.

Of that figure, some 85 percent or 17,517 species have half their ranges exposed to intense human pressure, with 16 percent or 3,328 species entirely exposed.

The analysis found that threatened terrestrial vertebrates and species with small ranges are disproportionately exposed to intense human pressure. The analysis suggests that there are an additional 2,478 species considered 'least concern' that have considerable portions of their range overlapping with these pressures, which may indicate their risk of decline

The Human Footprint looks at the impact of human population (population density, dwelling density), human access (roads, rail), human land-uses (urban areas, agriculture, forestry, mining, large dams) and electrical power infrastructure (utility corridors). These human pressures are well known to drive the current species extinction crisis.

Though their findings are sobering, the authors say that the results have the potential to improve how species' vulnerability is assessed with subsequent benefits for many other areas of conservation. For example, the data can aid current assessments of progress against the 2020 Aichi Targets -- especially Target 12, which deals with preventing extinctions, and Target 5, which deals with preventing loss of natural habitats.

Said the paper's lead author, Christopher O'Bryan of the University of Queensland: "Our work shows that a large proportion of terrestrial vertebrates have nowhere to hide from human pressures ranging from pastureland and agriculture all the way to extreme urban conglomerates."

Said senior author James Watson of WCS and the University of Queensland: "Given the growing human influence on the planet, time and space are running out for biodiversity, and we need to prioritize actions against these intense human pressures. Using cumulative human pressure data, we can identify areas that are at higher risk and where conservation action is immediately needed to ensure wildlife has enough range to persist. "

Christopher J. O’Bryan, James R. Allan, Matthew Holden, Christopher Sanderson, Oscar Venter, Moreno Di Marco, Eve McDonald-Madden, James E.M. Watson. Intense human pressure is widespread across terrestrial vertebrate ranges. Global Ecology and Conservation, 2020; 21: e00882 DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00882

Large Marine Parks Can Save Sharks From Overfishing Threat

January 28, 2020: University of Queensland
'No-take' marine reserves -- where fishing is banned -- can reverse the decline in the world's coral reef shark populations caused by overfishing, according to an Australian study. But University of Queensland, James Cook University (JCU) and University of Tasmania researchers found that existing marine reserves need to be much larger to be effective against overfishing.

  • Marine protected areas must extend over 10 km to protect site-attached reef sharks
  • More mobile reef shark species can be protected only if MPAs are over 50 km long
  • Annual fishing mortality was cut by 50% for all assessed species with 15-km MPAs
  • Atlantic MPAs should be 2.6× larger than Pacific MPAs to protect similar abundances

UQ's Dr Ross Dwyer said the study estimated that no-take reserves that extend between 10 and 50 kilometres along coral reefs can achieve significant improvements in shark populations.

"Existing protected areas on coral reefs would need to be enforced as strict no-take reserves and be up to five times larger to effectively conserve reef sharks," Dr Dwyer said.

"Those in the Atlantic where reef sharks are generally less abundant would need to be on average 2.6 times larger than those in the Indian and Pacific Oceans."

Species such as grey reef sharks have experienced severe population declines across parts of their distribution, largely due to their low fecundity, late age at sexual maturity, and high susceptibility to fishing pressure.

They are listed as Near Threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The researchers combined large volumes of tracking data on five species of sharks found on coral reefs in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, with video survey data from 36 countries.

"This allowed us to predict the conservation benefits no-take reserves of different sizes could generate," Dr Dwyer said.

JCU Professor Colin Simpfendorfer from James Cook University said shark populations were in trouble in most parts of the world.

"Finding ways to rebuild their populations is critical to ensuring our oceans remain healthy," Professor Simpfendorfer said.

"This project is providing options for managers of coral reefs to address declines in shark populations which scientists know have occurred in many areas."

Dr Nils Krueck from the University of Tasmania said researchers now have the ability to estimate conservation and fishery impacts of marine reserves much more precisely.

"Our results show that marine parks for reef sharks need to be large. But if reserves extend along 15 kilometres of coral reef, then fishing mortality can be reduced by fifty per cent," Dr Krueck said.

The study, funded by the Shark Conservation Fund, is published in the journal Current Biology.
Ross G. Dwyer, Nils C. Krueck, Vinay Udyawer, Michelle R. Heupel, Demian Chapman, Harold L. Pratt, Ricardo Garla, Colin A. Simpfendorfer. Individual and Population Benefits of Marine Reserves for Reef Sharks. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.12.005

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.