Inbox and Environment News: Issue 511
September 19 - October 2, 2021: Issue 511
Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA): Pittwater Nature Issue 7
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2021
Save the date – there’s only 1 MONTH TO GO until the 2021 Aussie Bird Count and we can’t wait!
The 2021 event will run from October 18‒24 during National Bird Week. Register as a counter today at: https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/
The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is one of Australia’s biggest citizen science events. This year is our eighth count, and we’re hoping it will be our biggest yet!
Join thousands of people around the country in exploring your backyard, local park or favourite outdoor space and help us learn more about the birds that live where people live.
Taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to connect with the birds in your backyard, no matter where your backyard happens to be. You can count in a suburban garden, a local park, a patch of forest, down by the beach, or the main street of town.
To take part, register on the website today, then during the count you can use the web form or the app to submit your counts. Just enter your location and get counting ‒ each count takes just 20 minutes!
Not only will you be contributing to BirdLife Australia's knowledge of Aussie birds, but there are also some incredible prizes on offer.
Head over to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count website to find out more.
Migratory Bird Season
Baby Wildlife Season
Harry the ringtail possum. Sydney Wildlife photo
September Is Koala Month & Biodiversity Month
November 2021 Forum For Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Fishing Bats And Water Rats (Rakali)
Managing Climate Risks To Assets And Services: New South Wales Auditor-General's Report - Performance Audit
- enhance the coordination of climate risk management across agencies
- implement climate risk management across their clusters.
- update information and strengthen education to agencies, and monitor progress
- review relevant land-use planning, development and building guidance
- deliver a climate change adaptation action plan for the state.
- strengthen climate risk-related guidance to agencies
- coordinate guidance on resilience in infrastructure planning
- review how climate risks have been assured in agencies’ asset management plans.
Rural Boundary Clearing Code Opens Up More Bushland For Destruction
Zero Extinctions Target Set For NSW National Parks
- The AIS initiative is a key pillar of the National Parks Threatened Species Framework, which will align NPWS with the global biodiversity agenda and position the agency as a world leader in threatened species conservation.
- AIS declarations for land containing important threatened species habitat, supported by Conservation Action Plans will ensure NPWS:
- has identified the most important on-park habitat for threatened species, has up-to-date data on populations in these areas, and can share this information with others, including firefighting agencies and conservation partners
- has action plans in place to reduce threats and improve the conservation status of threatened species in priority locations
- is regularly monitoring the health of these populations and publicly reporting outcomes.
- Other measures being implemented to protect threatened species on national parks include:
- Acquisition of key threatened species habitat for addition to the national park estate
- The establishment of a network of feral predator-free areas to support the return of more than 25 locally extinct species
- Delivery of the largest feral animal control program in national park history
- Establishment of a dedicated ecological risk unit to ensure threatened species are considered in new fire plans
- Rolling out a world class ecological health framework across national parks
- In total 66 plant species (Including the previously declared Wollemi Pine) and 27 animal species including 13 mammals, four birds, seven frogs and three reptiles
- 221 AIS sites across 110 national parks totalling 301,843 hectares (3.89% of the National Parks estate
- 92 new species of plants and animals to attain AIS status, including:
- Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby: 7 sites including a highly endangered population in the Warrumbungles, where the population is now < 10 individuals
- Koala: 15 of the most important koala strongholds on national parks such as Lake Innes, Port Macquarie and Upper Nepean SCA, south west of Sydney.
- Dwarf Mountain Pine: Less than 800 plants remain in the spray zones along cliff faces between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba in the upper Blue Mountains.
- Nightcap Oak: a small population of around 125 adult plants found only on the Nightcap Range, north of Lismore
Ocean Conservationists Welcome Australia’s Support For Global Plastics Treaty
What Is The 'Global Plastics Treaty'?
- There is no clear global ambition or target
- No common obligation for nations to develop action plans
- No agreed standards for monitoring and reporting of plastics discharge into the sea
- No standardised review of the effectiveness of different pollution reduction measures
- No specialised scientific body with a mandate to assess the global problem and give guidance to decision makers
- Global targets with deadlines for reducing plastic and cleaning up our oceans, with all nations working together to eliminate unnecessary or dangerous plastics and ensure all plastic is reused, recycled or composted in practice. This could include things like an international ban on dumping plastic in rivers and waterways, and global bans on plastics like bags and straws that are a high risk for ocean wildlife.
- Monitoring and reporting on plastics in the natural environment, with nations required to report on their efforts to cut plastic. Advocates are also calling for a specialised international scientific body with a mandate to investigate and track the scale and sources of plastic pollution, providing world class scientific knowledge for effective policy making.
- Financial and technical support, with a dedicated global body providing financial support and technical expertise for countries with limited capacity. This would be critical for helping badly affected nations at the edges of the worst plastic hotspots like the Great Pacific Garbage patch, many of whom lack the infrastructure and resources to deal with the waves of plastic washing up on their shores.
- Pew Charitable Trusts and Systemiq. (2020). Breaking the Plastic Wave.
Catch Alert Drumlines Set To Be Trialled On Queensland Beaches Will Reduce Marine Wildlife Deaths Conservationists Say
Western Sydney Breathes A Little Easier Thanks To Waste Incinerator Decisions
Bylong Valley Spared From Coal Mining Again
- Bylong Community Wins Again as Coal Mine Appeal is Dismissed, EDO, 14-9-21
- Huge legal win sees greenfield Bylong Coal Project refusal upheld, EDO, 18-12-2020
NSW Government Urged To Give Bylong Back To Farmers Following KEPCO’s Latest Legal Loss
NT 'Environment' Minister Lawler Signals Approval Of Fracking Plan
Consultation Opens For Mining Exploration Program
Public Consultation Opens For Greenhouse Gas Storage Areas
- Bonaparte Basin
- Browse Basin
- Northern Carnarvon Basin.
Minister Pitt States Coal To Continue Help Powering Australian Economy
Pitt States Will Continue Funding For Fracking Despite Court Challenge To Fracked Gas Cash Splash
Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program Will Continue
Bushcare In Pittwater
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
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 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
Irrawong Reserve 2nd Saturday 2 - 5pm
North Palm Beach Dunes 3rd Saturday 9 - 12noon
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
Norma Park 1st Friday 9 - 12noon
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay 2nd Sunday 10 - 1pm
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay 1st Monday 9 - 12noon
Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater
Avalon Golf Course Bushcare Needs You
A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
Angophora Reserve - Angophora Reserve Flowers
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants
Careel Bay Birds
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach + Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths: Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze
New Shorebirds WingThing For Youngsters Available To Download
A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.
If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.
Shorebird Identification Booklet
The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities.
The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format: http://www.birdlife.org.au/documents/Shorebird_ID_Booklet_V3.pdf
Paper copies can be ordered as well, see http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/counter-resources for details.
Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife
Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat. The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.
Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.
What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.
The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia.
This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged.
The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia.
The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds.
In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats.
In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely.
The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population.
Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations.
BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.
To find out more visit: http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/shorebirds-2020-program
Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points
What’s Age Got To Do With It? (2021)
September 14, 2021
A new report released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found most Australians (90%) agree ageism exists in Australia, with 83% agreeing ageism is a problem and 65% saying it affects people of all ages.
These findings were included in the Commission’s latest report, led by Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO, What’s age got to do with it? A snapshot of ageism across the Australian lifespan.
The report found ageism remains the most accepted form of prejudice in Australia, with 63% having experienced ageism in the last five years.
“Ageism is arguably the least understood form of discriminatory prejudice, with evidence suggesting it is more pervasive and socially accepted than sexism or racism,” Dr Patterson said.
The research was undertaken by the Commission in 2020 and 2021 to explore what Australians think about age and ageism across the adult lifespan. It found ageism is experienced in different ways:
- Young adults (18-39) are most likely to experience ageism as being condescended to or ignored, particularly at work.
- Middle-aged people (40-61) are most likely to experience ageism as being turned down for a job.
- Older people (62+) are more likely to experience ageism as being ‘helped’ without being asked.
It also shows the generations have much in common – but that there are ongoing tensions, which arise from stereotypes held by one generation about another. When these were questioned, most Australians rejected the stereotype, with:
- 70% of Australians disagreeing that today’s older generation is leaving the world in a worse state than it was before, and
- fewer than 20% agreeing any age group was a burden on their family or a burden on society.
“While we found common stereotypes about different age groups during our research, I was struck by the warmth expressed by participants towards members of age cohorts other than their own – and a real understanding of the life issues faced by those of other age groups,” Dr Patterson said.
The report uncovers what it means to be a certain age is also changing. Increased longevity, changing social mores, cultural factors and economic shifts mean people are realising key milestones at later ages – such as completing an education, buying a home or having children.
Although many questioned whether these life stages should or could be accomplished at a specific age, many stereotypes persist about these sometimes outdated expectations of life stages, including:
- Young adulthood is still seen as the time for gaining an education, starting a career, marrying or partnering, buying a house and starting a family.
- Middle age continues to be regarded as the period of raising a family, progressing a career and strengthening financial security.
- Older age is viewed as being about retiring from paid employment, volunteering, taking up hobbies, travelling, caring for grandchildren and increased dependence.
“In releasing our report, I call on everyone to think about ageism and how it affects you and those close to you,” Dr Patterson said.
“It is incumbent on each of us to discuss these issues and do our bit to bring ageism into mainstream conversations in our workplaces, living rooms, and with our friends.
“Every Australian must do what they can to challenge ageist attitudes in themselves and others, so together we can reduce ageism for Australians of all ages. Age is not the problem. Ageism is.”
The report is called ‘What’s age got to do with it?’ because it demonstrates that in most life arenas, age is much less relevant than we might often assume.
Age isn’t the problem. Ageism is.
The report is available to download at:
Privatising Aged Care Assessments- Why The Fuss?
Currently, if you want to be assessed for taxpayer subsidised aged care you must be assessed by federal government funded Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) or the Regional Assessment Services (RAS). In most cases, these services are delivered by the states and territories.
The Aged Care Royal Commission recommended these services be replaced by a single assessment process.
The federal government agreed and is proposing to do so by putting the services to tender, potentially including aged care providers and other commercial interests.
This has led some state governments, aged care advocates, and medical peak bodies to slam the move as privatising the assessment process.
The latest voice to join in are doctors. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is urging the government to scrap plans that could potentially privatise the assessment process for aged care services, warning the move would risk the health of older Australians and open the system up to conflicts of interest.
The AMA said the process must remain with the state and territory health services, and be based on Aged Care Assessment Teams, rather than the Regional Assessment Services model that only assesses lower needs.
The Royal Commission did not recommend privatisation but the AMA said the tender process plans leaves assessments open to privatisation and conflicts of interest, with providers likely to seek to take on this role.
“Aged care assessments must remain independent of aged care providers and be delivered by health professionals, especially geriatricians who are trained in dealing with the complex medical needs of the frail and elderly,” AMA President Dr Khorshid said.
The AMA said the Royal Commission’s recommendation was very clear that assessors must be independent from providers because they are effectively deciding on a person’s level of funding for aged care services, such as home care packages.
The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, said the Government has consistently refuted claims that its intention is to privatise the assessment process for aged care.
“The tender arrangements will include measures to ensure that conflicts of interest are managed," said Senator Colbeck.
How aged care assessments are changing
From October 2022, the single assessment workforce will be responsible for residential aged care funding assessments as the transition to the Australian National Aged Care Classification occurs.
The government says this will establish a more integrated aged care system that provides a continuum of services for senior Australians. There are currently three different assessment workforces:
- Regional Assessment Services for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme
- Aged Care Assessment Teams for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Short Term Restorative Care, Transition Care, Home Care Packages, Residential Respite and entry to Residential Care, and;
- Clinicians working in residential aged care making assessments for residential care funding.
Health Department information says, “This means under the current arrangements, senior Australians must undergo multiple assessments with different assessment organisations as their needs change, and assessments are not consistent.”
Sources: Australian Medical Association and Australian Government Department of Health
Pension Set To Be Boosted Next Week – But Are You Entitled To More?
September 16, 2021: National Seniors
Higher inflation means the Age Pension will get its biggest boost in three years, but are you entitled to more money through government concessions? Read on to find out.
Next week, the Age Pension will increase – and this should serve as a reminder for you to check what other entitlements you are eligible for using the brand-new National Seniors Concessions Calculator.
According to government figures, older Australians on the Age Pension will receive:
- An extra $22.40 per fortnight for eligible couples (or $582.40 per annum)
- And for singles, $14.80 per fortnight (or $384.80 per annum).
Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke says the pension increase is also an opportunity for seniors to see how else they can save money.
“The hip pocket nerve is hurting a lot of older Australians right now,” Mr Henschke said.
“I urge all pensioners and self-funded retirees to use our Concessions Calculator to see what discounts they can get.”
You can also use the Concessions Calculator to see how your concessions compare to other states when it comes to discounts.
“At a time when we’re all under financial pressure, the Concessions Calculator delivers,” Mr Henschke said.
The calculator is part of a new National Seniors campaign to fight for Fairer Concessions.
Changing Of The Guard
Australia farewelled its iconic Antarctic icebreaker RV Aurora Australis in 2020. Over 31 years the ship completed 150 research and resupply voyages for the Australian Antarctic Program.
So how does its replacement, RSV Nuyina, compare?
Australian Antarctic Division Director, Kim Ellis, said Nuyina extends our operating range and gives us additional days of scientific activity in the Southern Ocean.
“It also allows us to work in collaboration with Australian and international science organisations, to deliver answers to some of the really big questions about climate, biology, and other ocean issues that are so important to us at the moment,” he said.
Shipping Officer, Leanne Millhouse, said the ship's enhanced cargo and fuel-carrying capacity also provided the capability of resupplying and refuelling more than one station at a time.
“That's something that we've not had the ability to do before,” she said.
According to Nuyina's science coordination manager, Jono Reeve, some of the ship’s key differences compared to Aurora Australis are its ‘Silent R’ rating and its advanced ‘dynamic positioning’ system.
The Silent R rating means the ship can operate extremely quietly, when not in icebreaking mode, allowing scientists to use acoustic instruments in the ship's hull and drop keels to map the sea floor, or detect schools of fish or krill.
“If you’re silent you can hear really well and you can hear what’s out there,” Mr Reeve said.
“And if you’re silent you can be stealthy, so that means that the fish don’t go 'what’s that?'. They don’t know you’re there so they keep on doing what they’re doing and you don’t affect them.”
The ship's dynamic positioning system - known as 'DP2' - allows the ship to hold position in bad weather.
“We can have 40-knot winds, currents against us, and big seas, but we can still stay there doing scientific research, rather than waiting for the weather to improve. And operationally it's going to revolutionise our resupply of Antarctica,” Mr Reeve said.
“DP2 means that you can have big things go wrong and it's fine; it can stay there with all its spare thrusters holding it in position, even if something's broken on the ship, so you can assure yourself of the safety, that you're not going to go aground, or something is going to go wrong and dangerous in your operation.”
Nuyina also has the only watertight room of its kind – a 'wet well' for collecting krill and other fragile marine creatures in perfect condition.
Australian Antarctic Division krill biologist, Rob King, said the wet well could process 5000 litres of seawater per minute, allowing scientists to collect healthy, intact specimens that can be transferred to an on board aquarium for immediate research.
“The wet well opens up the opportunity to work on the physiology and the behaviour of specimens that have only ever been available before to teams of divers,” Mr King said.
Perhaps the most apparent difference between Aurora Australis and Nuyina though is the size of the new ship. At more than 65 metres longer than its predecessor, Nuyina will be an unmissable addition to its home port of Hobart.
“I know that when Nuyina comes into Hobart a lot of people are going to be so excited. All of Hobart is going to be just a bit surprised at how big it is,” Mr Reeve said.
Antarctic Icebreaker To Contribute To Global Ocean Map
September 17, 2021
Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, will soon be contributing to international efforts to map the global ocean seafloor.
Data collected by Nuyina’s multibeam echosounder will be used to develop navigational charts and detailed maps of the Southern Ocean seafloor, off Australia’s Antarctic stations and between Australia and Antarctica, as part of a newly signed agreement with the AusSeabed initiative.
Geoscience Australia and the Royal Australian Navy’s hydrographic survey team have previously mapped seabed features in some locations off Casey and Davis research stations. Nuyina’s acoustic capability will be used to extend this detail [click to see full map]. Photo: AADC
These charts and maps will in turn feed into the Nippon-Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 project, which aims to develop a definitive map of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.
The Antarctic Division’s Data Centre Manager, Johnathan Kool, said the ship’s deep-water echosounder directs pings of sound at the seafloor, which bounce back to reveal what it looks like.
“We can map more than 10 kilometre-wide swaths at a time, collecting as much information as we can while Nuyina is in transit to Antarctica, undertaking science in the Southern Ocean, or operating near our stations,” Dr Kool said.
“The raw data from the ship will be stored in the Antarctic Division’s systems, and our collaborators through AusSeabed, such as the Australian Hydrographic Office and Geoscience Australia, can turn this into navigation charts or bathymetric maps for research purposes, and integrate these into a larger national collection.”
The data will assist the Australian Antarctic Program’s and the broader Antarctic community’s research and operational activities.
“The navigational charts will improve the safety of vessels and anchorage planning around Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations,” Dr Kool said.
“Seabed bathymetry provides information about habitat that can be used in managing Southern Ocean fisheries, or in research planning – such as where to deploy seafloor instruments to study krill.
“And better bathymetry also leads to better ocean models, which leads to better climate projections.
“This is a great example of national and international collaboration that will help address problems that are too big for any one country to solve.”
Rice On The Boil In Southern NSW
September 13, 2021
With the rice season set for a superlative start following impressive rains, researchers predict growers will, for the first time this season, sow large areas to the new rice variety, V071.
Bred by the Australian Rice Partnership, a NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), SunRice and AgriFutures Australia joint venture, V071 is a semi-dwarf, bold medium-grain rice variety with high yield potential.
DPI research agronomist, Brian Dunn, said V071 offers superior grain yield and cold tolerance compared with Reiziq, a popular semi-dwarf medium grain variety that has elongated grain length.
“Our research shows V071 has strong emergence and establishment vigour with reduced shattering, which will be of interest to growers,” Mr Dunn said.
“Another feature of V071 is that its development continues and does not slow during periods of low temperatures like Reiziq, which is beneficial in cool seasons.”
The DPI rice research team compiled data from several years of agronomy and phenology research experiments to deliver new information on critical sowing times for current varieties, including V071.
Mr Dunn said each field and growing situation has specific characteristics, making some varieties more suitable to their requirements than others.
“It is important to consider all the agronomic characteristics of each variety when selecting those best suited to your field and situation,” he said.
“To minimise the risk of cold conditions reducing grain yield across all crops, we advise growers to grow a mix of varieties, over a range of sowing dates, using a variety of sowing methods.”
DPI, SunRice and Rice Extension continue to work with rice growers and advisers to deliver up-to-date advice.
DPI growing guides for all current NSW rice varieties and supporting rice production Primefacts are available from DPI, Rice Extension and SunRice grower services offices and on the DPI website, https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/broadacre-crops/summer-crops.
Historic Blue Mountains Tunnel A Step Closer
September 13, 2021
Plans to build Australia’s longest road tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley are powering ahead, with a major contract awarded for the environmental assessment.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said AECOM Australia had been selected in a competitive tender process to work on the proposed 11-kilometre tunnel, a central component of the Great Western Highway upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow.
“This project will transform journeys between the Central West and the East Coast, delivering a safe and more efficient journey for locals, truckies and tourists,” Mr Barilaro said.
“AECOM Australia are industry leaders in their field and bring extensive, demonstrated experience in the environmental assessment of roads and tunnels, having worked on major infrastructure projects, including NorthConnex and the M6 Stage 1.
“They have also demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the unique and sensitive Blue Mountains environment and will be working to develop rigorous measures to avoid and mitigate impacts from the tunnel work.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the tunnel would be a game-changer for all motorists driving between Western NSW and Sydney.
“AECOM Australia will now need to ensure that the project includes appropriate measures to protect the Blue Mountains’ natural heritage,” Mr Toole said.
“This critical work will focus on continuing the detailed environmental investigations to confirm the feasibility of a tunnel in this location, and will provide the basis for the Environmental Impact Statement, due for extensive community consultation next year.
“Similar contracts have already been awarded for the east and west sections of the upgrade, so it’s great to see the central section reach that stage too.”
“We’re confident that the assessment will show the feasibility of this ambitious project and that we can build an Australian first right here in the Blue Mountains.”
While designs for Australia’s longest tunnel continue, construction on the east and west sections is set to commence in late 2022.
The $4.5 billion duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow is jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments. Construction work is scheduled to start in late 2022, with the tunnel slated to begin construction in 2024.
Scientists Claim That Overeating Is Not The Primary Cause Of Obesity
September 13, 2021
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that obesity affects more than 40% of American adults, placing them at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -- 2025 further tells us that losing weight "requires adults to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase the amount expended through physical activity."
This approach to weight management is based on the century-old energy balance model which states that weight gain is caused by consuming more energy than we expend. In today's world, surrounded by highly palatable, heavily marketed, cheap processed foods, it's easy for people to eat more calories than they need, an imbalance that is further exacerbated by today's sedentary lifestyles. By this thinking, overeating, coupled with insufficient physical activity, is driving the obesity epidemic. On the other hand, despite decades of public health messaging exhorting people to eat less and exercise more, rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases have steadily risen.
The authors of "The Carbohydrate-Insulin Model: A Physiological Perspective on the Obesity Pandemic," a perspective published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, point to fundamental flaws in the energy balance model, arguing that an alternate model, the carbohydrate-insulin model, better explains obesity and weight gain. Moreover, the carbohydrate-insulin model points the way to more effective, long-lasting weight management strategies.
According to lead author Dr. David Ludwig, Endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital and Professor at Harvard Medical School, the energy balance model doesn't help us understand the biological causes of weight gain: "During a growth spurt, for instance, adolescents may increase food intake by 1,000 calories a day. But does their overeating cause the growth spurt or does the growth spurt cause the adolescent to get hungry and overeat?"
In contrast to the energy balance model, the carbohydrate-insulin model makes a bold claim: overeating isn't the main cause of obesity. Instead, the carbohydrate-insulin model lays much of the blame for the current obesity epidemic on modern dietary patterns characterized by excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic load: in particular, processed, rapidly digestible carbohydrates. These foods cause hormonal responses that fundamentally change our metabolism, driving fat storage, weight gain, and obesity.
When we eat highly processed carbohydrates, the body increases insulin secretion and suppresses glucagon secretion. This, in turn, signals fat cells to store more calories, leaving fewer calories available to fuel muscles and other metabolically active tissues. The brain perceives that the body isn't getting enough energy, which, in turn, leads to feelings of hunger. In addition, metabolism may slow down in the body's attempt to conserve fuel. Thus, we tend to remain hungry, even as we continue to gain excess fat.
To understand the obesity epidemic, we need to consider not only how much we're eating, but also how the foods we eat affect our hormones and metabolism. With its assertion that all calories are alike to the body, the energy balance model misses this critical piece of the puzzle.
While the carbohydrate-insulin model is not new -- its origins date to the early 1900s -- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition perspective is the most comprehensive formulation of this model to date, authored by a team of 17 internationally recognized scientists, clinical researchers, and public health experts. Collectively, they have summarized the growing body of evidence in support of the carbohydrate-insulin model. Moreover, the authors have identified a series of testable hypotheses that distinguish the two models to guide future research.
Adoption of the carbohydrate-insulin model over the energy-balance model has radical implications for weight management and obesity treatment. Rather than urge people to eat less, a strategy which usually doesn't work in the long run, the carbohydrate-insulin model suggests another path that focuses more on what we eat. According to Dr. Ludwig, "reducing consumption of the rapidly digestible carbohydrates that flooded the food supply during the low-fat diet era lessens the underlying drive to store body fat. As a result, people may lose weight with less hunger and struggle."
The authors acknowledge that further research is needed to conclusively test both models and, perhaps, to generate new models that better fit the evidence. Toward this end, they call for constructive discourse and "collaborations among scientists with diverse viewpoints to test predictions in rigorous and unbiased research."
David S Ludwig, Louis J Aronne, Arne Astrup, Rafael de Cabo, Lewis C Cantley, Mark I Friedman, Steven B Heymsfield, James D Johnson, Janet C King, Ronald M Krauss, Daniel E Lieberman, Gary Taubes, Jeff S Volek, Eric C Westman, Walter C Willett, William S Yancy, Cara B Ebbeling. The carbohydrate-insulin model: a physiological perspective on the obesity pandemic. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab270
Thousands Of Tiny Anchors Keep Our Cells In Place (And Now We Know How)
September 14, 2021: UNSW
This is the first time scientists have been able to see in detail what the anchor’s chain looks like. Photo: Marco Heydecker.
Most of the cells in our bodies – be they bone, muscle or pancreas cells – are locked into the right place with the help of tiny anchors (called ‘focal adhesions’). These strong anchors use protein chains to link the cell to collagen, the protein that gives structure to our body.
The anchors help the cells stay put and, for the most part, resist disruptions to their environment – but if a cell morphs into a cancer cell, the chain can break, letting the cancer spread to other parts of the body.
Now, for the first time, a team of UNSW Sydney scientists have found the specific protein (or link) in the chain responsible for upholding the connection.
The findings, published today in Nature Materials, build on our understanding of cell mechanics – and could help give new directions for cancer research.
“We’ve identified the protein that’s essential for these attachments to function,” says Ms Maria Lastra Cagigas, lead author of the study and Scientia PhD candidate at UNSW Medicine.
“If these attachments fail, the cell could be more prone to moving and invading tissues, like cancer.”
Scientists already knew that cancer weakens cells’ anchors in some way, but they didn’t know exactly how this happens.
One of the reasons it’s been so hard to study this is the miniscule size of the anchor’s chain: it’s only a few nanometres thick – about 1/10,000th the size of a human hair.
The team used specialised 3D cryo-electron microscopy – a powerful imaging technique that uses an electron microscope to create high-resolution images of cells – to identify tropomyosin as the key protein in the chain holding the anchor in place. Cryo-electron microscopy is currently the most powerful technique to look at proteins inside cells, and its development won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017.
“This is the first time we can actually see in detail what the anchor’s chain looks like,” says Professor Peter Gunning, co-senior author of the study. The team made the findings at UNSW’s Mark Wainwright Electron Microscope Unit, and are the first in the world to use this technique to look at these tropomyosin chains.
“It’s completely new technology.”
The researchers identified tropomyosin’s role in the anchor’s chain by comparing normal cells with cells from bone cancer patients, along with cancer cells created in the laboratory.
They then tried putting the tropomyosin back into the cancer cells – surprisingly, the anchors managed to attach again.
“Looking into the future, we want to learn if we can leverage this knowledge to reduce the invasion of cancer cells,” says Ms Lastra Cagigas.
“In the short term, we could use this information to find out if a cancer has a predisposition to metastasize, which means to move throughout the body.
“In the long term, we could look into it as a potential target in cancer treatment.”
Prof. Gunning and co-senior author Professor Edna Hardeman, who have been researching this field of science for 40 years, say it’s a milestone in understanding cell mechanics.
“It's been a real pleasure to watch this work develop,” says Prof. Gunning, who was recently presented with the 2020 President’s Medal from the Australian and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (ANZSCDB) for his contribution to research into cell mechanics.
“It reinforces what has essentially been a lifetime's work for us: understanding the principles of the architecture of cells.”
A potential drug target
Around 30 per cent of the body is made up of collagen, which forms what’s called ‘the matrix’.
“The matrix is like a scaffold present in our bones, ligaments, muscles, and skin. It’s almost everywhere in the body,” says Ms Lastra Cagigas. “Other than the cells that move through our body, like those in blood, the collagen matrix forms the home for most cells – including cancer cells.”
Pancreatic cancer is one of a few cancers that can modify this matrix for its own benefit by creating a ‘barrier’ around the tumour. This barrier works as a defence mechanism, making it harder for cancer treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy to kill the cancer cells.
The tumour forces pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts (or PCAFs) – cells around the tumour that are anchored by chains – to build this defence barrier. But now that scientists have identified the proteins in the cell’s anchor and chain, they can explore these proteins as future targets for therapies that could loosen that barrier.
“We’ve identified that the type of protein involved in the chain, tropomyosin, is druggable,” says Prof. Hardeman.
“This means it’s possible to develop small molecule inhibitors, or drugs, that can actually attack these proteins.”
Prof. Hardeman says it’s likely that these potential future drugs would be delivered alongside cancer treatments, so the drugs can temporarily destabilise the barrier while the cancer treatments do their work.
A fibroblast cell (shown here in green) in the process of attaching to the collagen matrix (pink). The tropomyosin filaments (blue) are essential to forging – and keeping – this connection. Image: Maria Lastra Cagigas & Michael Carnell / Katharina Gaus Light Microscopy Facility.
While the findings are encouraging, Prof. Gunning says it doesn’t mean suitable drugs will be available for use in the next few years.
“We have an understanding of the biology, but to go from that to treating a patient is difficult to predict,” he says.
“We can see what the path looks like, but we are less sure of the timeline.”
It’s more likely that in the near future – potentially the next two or three years – the protein in the chain, tropomyosin, may help scientists predict which cancers are likely to spread more quickly.
“As we build on the underlying mechanisms of cancer and expand our markers of cancer cell biology, our discovery adds a missing link to the development of a personalised diagnosis for cancer,” says Prof. Gunning.
Disclaimer: Prof. Peter Gunning and Prof. Edna Hardeman have established a company that is developing drugs that target the tropomyosins for a number of health conditions. While drug development was not explored in the research paper, future possibilities of this research, including potential drug developments, are mentioned in this press release.
COVID-19 Killing Coating A Spray Away
September 15, 2021
An antiviral surface coating technology sprayed on face masks could provide an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 and the flu.
The coating developed at The University of Queensland has already proven effective in killing the virus that causes COVID-19, and shows promise as a barrier against transmission on surfaces and face masks.
UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology researcher Professor Michael Monteiro said the water-based coating deployed worm-like structures that attack the virus.
“When surgical masks were sprayed with these ‘nanoworms’, it resulted in complete inactivation of the Alpha variant of Sars-CoV-2 and influenza A,” Professor Monteiro said.
The coating was developed with Boeing as a joint research project, and was tested at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at The University of Melbourne.
“These polymer ‘nanoworms’ rupture the membrane of virus droplets transmitted through coughing, sneezing or saliva and damage their RNA,” Professor Monteiro said.
“The chemistry involved is versatile, so the coating can be readily redesigned to target emerging viruses and aid in controlling future pandemics.”
Professor Monteiro said face masks would continue to be an important part of helping prevent or reduce community transmission of COVID-19.
“Antiviral coatings applied on mask surfaces could reduce infection and provide long-lasting control measures to eliminate both surface and aerosolised transmission,” he said.
“We know that COVID-19 remains infectious for many hours or days on some surfaces, and provides a direct route to infection.
“Therefore, there is greater emphasis on eliminating both surface and airborne transmission to complement vaccination of the population to stop the current pandemic.”
The coating is environmentally friendly, water-based and its synthesis aligns with manufacturing techniques used in the paint and coatings industry.
The research, Water-Borne Nanocoating for Rapid Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 and Other Viruses, is published in ACS Nano (doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c05075)
Professor Michael Monteiro
World-First 3D Imaging For Melanoma Detection
September 13, 2021
Queenslanders could have skin cancer diagnosed earlier using world-first 3D scanning technology with the launch of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation Australian Centre of Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis.
University of Queensland Dermatologist Professor H. Peter Soyer said the technology enabled researchers to track moles and skin spots over time using full body mapping, making it a game-changer for melanoma detection.
“This technology is revolutionising early melanoma detection using 3D state-of-the-art body imaging systems that take an image in milliseconds,” Professor Soyer said.
“The telemedicine network allows dermatologists and medical professionals to detect skin cancers remotely, even from the other side of the country.
“For the first time, medical researchers can access a national database of up to 100,000 patient images taken by 3D full body imaging systems located in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, as part of the world’s largest melanoma imaging trial, which aims to develop more efficient and effective screening for the early detection of skin cancer.
“Using algorithms created by artificial intelligence, the 3D imaging systems are able to analyse the images and produce a full body skin spot map, which transforms the way we will monitor patients in the future.”
Australia has the highest rates of melanoma in the world with an average 28,000 Australians diagnosed with the disease every year.
ACRF chief executive officer Kerry Strydom said the Australian Cancer Research Foundation backed the best in research and cutting-edge technology to drive innovation and help create the new Centre.
“Melanoma is a deadly problem that needs disruptive solutions, and ACRF is proud to be to be involved in delivering revolutionary research through this pioneering program,” Mr Strydom said.
The project brings together three leading Australian universities in skin research, UQ, The University of Sydney and Melbourne’s Monash University, to form the interconnected Centre of Excellence in Diagnostic Imaging of Early Melanoma.
Queenslanders can sign up here to be part of the world’s largest melanoma imaging trial using the 3D full body imaging system located at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital.
The 3D technology is expected to be rolled out to five other regions across Queensland.
Koala Killer Being Passed To Joeys From Mum
A deadly koala virus that can cause immune depletion and cancer, known as koala retrovirus, is being transferred to joeys from their mothers, according to University of Queensland scientists.
Associate Professor Keith Chappell, from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said the virus predisposes koala to chlamydia and other disease, and is having a large impact on our wild koala populations across Queensland and New South Wales.
"Koala retrovirus -- also known as KoRV -- and associated diseases are another threat facing koalas, along with climate change and habitat loss.
"The virus causes immune depletion, likely making it much harder for koalas to cope with these other, already-detrimental environmental stressors.
"All northern koalas share a single highly conserved version of KoRV that is integrated into the koala genome, however until now, we weren't certain how other disease-causing variants are spread.
"By sequencing variations of the virus DNA in 109 captive koalas, we finally revealed how the virus spreads -- from mother to joey.
"It seems that transmission between mother and joey likely occurs due to close proximity, via a joey's exposure to a mother's potentially infectious fluids, like their milk.
"Mothers were sharing their virus variants three times more than fathers, suggesting this is the dominant pathway of spread for the virus.
"And, unlike other diseases affecting koalas like chlamydia, there's no evidence of sexual transmission."
The 109 koalas were housed in two sites in south-east Queensland, helping identify a total of 421 unique koala retrovirus sequences.
Collaborator and lead author, PhD candidate Briony Joyce said the research may lead to a re-think in how conservation plans are executed.
"This work will be highly informative for koala conservation, as it suggests that captive breeding programs focused on mothers that have a low amount of retrovirus variants, could result in healthier animals for release," Ms Joyce said.
"Also, we propose that antiretroviral treatment -- if shown to be safe in koala and effective against KoRV -- could be used specifically in mothers during breeding seasons to prevent transmission.
"This work helps pave the way for evidence-based conservation, increasing koala resilience to help them cope with a changing and challenging environment.
"We must do everything we can to ensure the survival of this culturally important species."
Briony A. Joyce, Michaela D. J. Blyton, Stephen D. Johnston, Paul R. Young, and Keith J. Chappell. Koala retrovirus genetic diversity and transmission dynamics within captive koala populations. PNAS, 2021 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2024021118
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.