Inbox and environment news:Issue 547

July 24 - 30, 2022: Issue 547

Flock Of Black Cockatoos Feasting At North Narrabeen

Residents of Narrabeen have been expressing their delight in encountering a flock of around 20 black cockatoos at North Narrabeen this week. The birds have been seen in the sand dunes at North Narrabeen feasting on wattle seeds or in people's backyards feasting on banksia. Other residents report they nest in trees at Cromer. A great reason to look after our coastal sand dunes and retain decent size trees for them to roost and breed in.

These photos from an earlier edition of Pittwater Online were taken by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills when they spotted some over at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and overlooking Lovett Bay in 2020. The rise of their numbers in our area is an indication they have come seeking food trees and feasting after the devastating bushfires of the 2019-2020 Summer and the ongoing clearing of their habitat and food trees continues elsewhere. Although we have had these wonderful birds as residents for generations, their flocks and where they are seems to be increasing and spreading across our area.

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus funereus, above Lovett Bay, October 2020 - photo by Joe Mills

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus funereus, above Lovett Bay, October 2020 - photos by Kevin Murray

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus funereus, is a large cockatoo native to the south-east of Australia measuring 55–65 cm (22–26 in) in length. It has a short crest on the top of its head. Its plumage is mostly brownish black and it has prominent yellow cheek patches and a yellow tail band.

BirdLife Australia states that while black-cockatoos will take grubs and nectar, most of their diet is seed. Native seeds of Eucalypt trees like marri and jarrah, of trees and shrubs of banksia and hakea species are all important food sources for black-cockatoos. They will also feed on the seeds of some ground plants. Eating mostly seed, black-cockatoos need to drink regularly.

Further, BirdLife Australia stated prior to those fires :

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were once content to feed on the seeds of native shrubs and trees, especially banksias, hakeas and casuarinas, as well as extracting the insect larvae that bore into the branches of wattles. Now, after the establishment of extensive plantations of exotic Monterey Pines, the cockatoos may feed more often by tearing open pine cones to extract the seeds. The population on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is now reliant on the seeds of the Aleppo Pine, a noxious weed, as its preferred habitat, Sugar Gum woodlands, has become extensively fragmented.

Research featured in the 'State of Australia's Birds 2015' headline and regional reports indicates a significant decline for the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (and some other parrot species) in the East Coast.

The State of the Environment Report 2021, released this week, underlines we all need to take care right now, and for the long-term foreseeable future, to ensure we remain mindful that we are visitors to their homes when we encounter local wildlife - especially species that are in decline elsewhere and have been found here due to what is happening elsewhere. For example, after those terrible fires wildlife watchers saw species that normally live in other habitats appearing here. That trend seems set to continue.

The Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo inhabits a variety of habitat types, but favours eucalypt woodland.

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos have a long breeding season, which varies throughout their range. The breeding season varies according to latitude, taking place from April to July in Queensland, January to May in northern New South Wales, December to February in southern New South Wales, and October to February in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The male yellow-tailed black cockatoo courts by puffing up his crest and spreading his tail feathers to display his yellow plumage. Softly growling, he approaches the female and bows to her three or four times. His eye ring may also flush a deeper pink.

Both sexes construct the nest, which is a large tree hollow, lined with wood chips. The female alone incubates the eggs, while the male supplies her with food. Usually only one chick survives, and this will stay in the care of its parents for about six months. The same tree hollow will be used for successive breeding seasons.

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo was first described in 1794 by the English naturalist George Shaw as Psittacus funereus, its specific name funereus relating to its dark and sombre plumage, as if dressed for a funeral. The French zoologist Anselme Gaëtan Desmarest reclassified it in the new genus Calyptorhynchus in 1826.

Much of their diet comprises seeds of native trees, particularly she-oaks (Allocasuarina and Casuarina, including A. torulosa and A. verticillata), but also Eucalyptus (including E. maculata flowers and E. nitida seeds), Acacia (including gum exudate and galls), Banksia (including the green seed pods and seeds of B. serrata, B. integrifolia, and B. marginata), and Hakea species (including H. gibbosa, H. rugosa, H. nodosa, H. sericea, H. cycloptera, and H. dactyloides). So if you're inclined to plant some of these food trees in your garden you may get a visit from these other residents.

Tree Day 2022 happens next Sunday, July 31st - details on what's happening in our rea below.

National Tree Day 2022: July 31

Established in 1996 by Planet Ark, National Tree Day has grown into Australia's largest community tree-planting event. The initiative encourages everyone to volunteer their time, get their hands dirty and get involved in tree-planting community events, greening our city along the way.

In 2022, Schools Tree Day events will be held on Friday 29 July and community events on Sunday 31 July to celebrate National Tree Day.

Local events include:

Warriewood Wetlands
Nareen Parade, North Narrabeen
Sunday, 31 July 2022; 9:00am to 1:00pm
Site Organiser; Michael Kneipp
RSVP Contact; Michael Kneipp, 1300 434 434

Duffys Forest Residents Association
Volunteers propose to plant 500 indigenous native tube stock in degraded area of the park to create additional canopy species, establish ground cover, reduce weed invasion and to improve biodiversity & wildlife habitat. 
13 Namba Road, Duffys Forest
Sunday, 31 July 2022; 9:00am to 2:00pm
Site Organiser; Jennifer Harris
RSVP Contact; Jennifer Harris, 0408 512 060

Mosman Municipal Council
Revegetation of area to improve the biodiversity and fill in open space areas.
Little Ashton Park, Mosman
Sunday, 31 July 2022; 8:30am to 12:30pm
Site Organiser; Benjamin Wyllie
RSVP Contact; Benjamin Wyllie, 9978 4038

North Sydney Council National Tree Day Community Planting Event
This planting project seeks to build habitat and provide a protective buffer along the edge of a very special bushland remnant in Forsyth Park - the only bushland that remains in Neutral Bay. We will plant a mix of locally-occurring native species, including ground covers, grasses, shrubs and canopy. In time, the relatively dense planting approach will develop in to a fantastic habitat haven for local wildlife, providing shelter and a natural food source adjoining the larger bushland remnant.
Montpelier Street, Neutral Bay
Sunday, 31 July 2022; 9:30am to 11:00am
Site Organiser; Gareth Debney
RSVP Contact; Gareth Debney, 9936 8224

Seabirds Being Blown Off Course

Sydney Wildlife (Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services) has reported on July 11 that Seabirds are being blown off course in the wild east-coast weather. 

''Unlike most animals we see, their injuries are not necessarily visible. Due to the long distances they fly, they are often underweight by the time they reach their destination and may die unless they receive urgent and specialised care.

The feathers of seabirds have delicate waterproofing which is susceptible to oils and toxins from human hands. They need to be caught in a towel, not with bare hands, and placed on towels in a box or lined container and kept warm and quiet until they can be taken into care.'' SMWS states

In Sydney, rescued seabirds should go straight to the Wildlife Hospital at Taronga Zoo, Mosman which is open from 8.00am to 3.30pm 7 days a week. 

Outside Sydney, on the NSW North Coast, Central Coast and South Coast, Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue can assist.

Identification of seabirds or pelagic species (including varieties of albatross, petrels, shearwaters and prions) can be difficult. The fairy prion photographed breeds on islands off Victoria and Tasmania (where they are listed as endangered) and their distribution range extends to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and even South America.

Please reach out to us on (02) 9413 4300 for advice to improve the survival chances of these unique birds. 

Photo: Fairy prion by SWR volunteer Marg Woods

Wildlife Car Rescue Kits Now Available

Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, NRMA and IFAW have launched a great initiative which will help save the lives of sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife on our roads - particularly in these extreme weather conditions.

Please check out this short video and order your kit at

Remember, always ensure your own safety when rescuing native wildlife. Please call Sydney Wildlife Rescue (02) 9413 4300 or your local wildlife rescue service for advice. Don't attempt to rescue bats or snakes unless you are appropriately trained/vaccinated/licenced. Also, animals such as goannas, koalas, kangaroos and raptors (i.e. eagles, falcons, hawks & owls) require special handling, so stay safe.

A partnership between the NRMA and conservation group Wildlife Recovery Australia will help fund critical programs that rescue, treat, rehabilitate and release native animals.

As part of the partnership, motorists have the opportunity to purchase a veterinary-endorsed Wildlife Rescue Kit to use if they encounter injured wildlife, particularly those found near the roadside.

Wildlife Recovery Australia has partnered with the NRMA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare to develop the kits that include practical tools, usage and safety guidelines for helping native animals, as well as the newly developed Wildlife Rescue App to geo-locate the nearest veterinary hospital or wildlife rescue group.

Wildlife Recovery Australia is a joint venture of Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and the Odonata Foundation.

The two-year partnership will also see the NRMA provide $500,000 in funding and marketing support to improve facilities for animal welfare and develop biodiversity projects in locations near NRMA Holiday Parks.

NRMA Director Jane McKellar said the organisation was committed to playing its part in helping protect Australia’s unique native wildlife.

“It’s estimated that 10 million animals die on Australian roads every year and what people might not know is that approximately 3% of crashes in regional areas are the result of impact collisions with wildlife” Ms McKellar said.

“Through this partnership we’re able to give drivers the chance to purchase a veterinary-endorsed kit to keep in the back of their car, and potentially save injured animals. Sadly, cars on regional highways regularly collide with wildlife so just having a kit in your car is a reminder drive with care.

“We are happy to be partnering with Wildlife Recovery Australia to help continue their vital work in protecting and rehabilitating our native animals that desperately need our help, after years of bushfires and floods.

“NRMA Holiday Parks are located in regions that are known for their unique natural landscapes and wildlife experiences. Many of our guests choose to stay at our holiday parks for this very reason, so we also see biodiversity protection as hugely important for our business.”

“The wildlife rescue kits will help reduce the time for an injured or traumatised native animal to receive critical care by expert vets and experienced wildlife rescuers,” said Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital Founder and Wildlife Recovery Australia Director Dr Stephen Van Mil.

“We are delighted that The NRMA shares our vision to harness the public’s desire to help save wildlife.”

Odonata Foundation Chairperson and Wildlife Recovery Australia Director Mr Nigel Sharp said that it was extremely valuable to have a national organisation of the calibre of NRMA supporting their national sanctuary network.

Chaired by former Secretary to the Treasury, economist and conservationist Dr Ken Henry AC, Wildlife Recovery Australia is a national body that builds and operates mobile wildlife hospitals alongside predator-proof sanctuaries to treat wildlife and recover endangered species across Australia.

“The survival of not only individual animals but entire species is under continual threat” said Dr Henry.

“Our wildlife veterinary teams treat them for horrific injuries from being hit by cars, attacked by feral pests, domestic pets or displaced by natural disasters like bushfires and floods. We cannot, must not let native animals continue to perish in avoidable ways.”

The Wildlife Rescue Kits are available now to purchase online through Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital for $69 with all proceeds going to help the hospital carry out life-saving veterinary care for wildlife -

Wanted: Photos Of Flies Feeding On Frogs (For Frog Conservation)

June 21, 2022
Do you have any photos of frogs being bitten by flies? Submit them to our study to help in frog conservation.

By sampling the blood of flies that bite frogs, researchers can determine the (sometimes difficult to spot) frogs in an environment. Common mist frog being fed on by a Sycorax fly. Photo: Jakub Hodáň

UNSW Science and the Australian Museum want your photos of frogs, specifically those being bitten by flies, for a new (and inventive) technique to detect and protect our threatened frog species.

You might not guess it, but biting flies – such as midges and mosquitoes – are excellent tools for science. The blood ‘sampled’ by these parasites contains precious genetic data about the animals they feed on (such as frogs), but first, researchers need to know which parasitic flies are biting which frogs. And this is why they need you to submit your photos.

“Rare frogs can be very hard to find during traditional scientific expeditions,” says PhD student Timothy Cutajar, leading the project. “Species that are rare or cryptic [inconspicuous] can be easily missed, so it turns out the best way to detect some species might be through their parasites.”

The technique is called ‘iDNA’, short for invertebrate-derived DNA, and researchers Mr Cutajar and Dr Jodi Rowley from UNSW Science and the Australian Museum were the first to harness its potential for detecting cryptic or threatened species of frogs.

The team first deployed this technique in 2018 by capturing frog-biting flies in habitats shared with frogs. Not unlike the premise of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, where the DNA of blood-meals past is contained in the bellies of the flies, Mr Cutajar was able to extract the drawn blood (and therefore DNA) and identify the species of amphibian the flies had recently fed on.

These initial trials uncovered the presence of rare frogs that traditional searching methods had missed.

“iDNA has the potential to become a standard frog survey technique,” says Mr Cutajar. “[It could help] in the discovery of new species or even the rediscovery of species thought to be extinct, so I want to continue developing techniques for frog iDNA surveys. However, there is still so much we don’t yet know about how frogs and flies interact.”

In a bid to understand the varieties of parasites that feed on frogs – so Mr Cutajar and colleagues might lure and catch those most informative and prolific species – the team are looking to the public for their frog photos.

“If you’ve photographed frogs in Australia, I’d love for you to closely examine your pictures, looking for any frogs that have flies, midges or mosquitoes sitting on them. If you find flies, midges or mosquitoes in direct contact with frogs in any of your photos, please share them.”

The submitted photos will be analysed for the frog and parasite species they contain, helping inform future iDNA research. Mountain Stream Tree Frog (Litoria barringtonensis) being bitten by Sycorax. Photo: Tim Cutajar/Australian Museum

“We’ll be combing through photographs of frogs submitted through our survey,” says Mr Cutajar, “homing in on the characteristics that make a frog species a likely target for frog-biting flies.

“It’s unlikely that all frogs are equally parasitised. Some frogs have natural insect repellents, while others can swat flies away. The flies themselves can be choosy about the types of sounds they’re attracted to, and probably aren’t evenly abundant everywhere.”

Already the new iDNA technique, championed in herpetology by Mr Cutajar, has shown great promise, and by refining its methodology with data submitted by the public – citizen scientists – our understanding of frog ecology and biodiversity can be broadened yet further.

“The power of collective action can be amazing for science,” says Mr Cutajar, “and with your help, we can kickstart a new era of improved detection, and therefore conservation, of our amazing amphibian diversity.”

Stop It And Swap It This Plastic Free July

July 1, 2022
To mark the beginning of Plastic Free July, the NSW Government is partnering with 17 organisations to help communities around the state stop using single-use plastic.

To mark the beginning of Plastic Free July, the NSW Government is partnering with 17 organisations to help communities around the state stop using single-use plastic.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is delivering funding to community champions to inspire others.

“The NSW Government is on a mission to reduce our reliance on problematic single-use plastics because we need to seriously decrease the amount of plastic entering our environment as litter or landfill,” Mr Griffin said.

"To coincide with Plastic Free July, we’re delivering almost $900,000 in funding support for 17 organisations to educate communities. As we pivot away from single-use plastics, these community partnerships will help drive necessary change.

“Our community partners, such as Surfing NSW, the Men’s Shed Association and Take 3 are will help us by tapping into local networks, ideas and creativity to deliver mass behavior change.”

Organisations partnering with the NSW EPA include the Great Plastic Rescue, which supports businesses with excess lightweight single-use plastic bags by offering a service for collection and reprocessing of that stock.

OzGreen and Green Music Australia will work with music festivals and food vendors to introduce more sustainable ways of doing business.

Education campaigns will also be launched through Girl Guides and Mens’ Sheds across the state.

From 1 June, lightweight single-use plastic bags were banned in NSW. From November, the NSW Government is banning additional single-use items, including plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and cotton buds, expanded polystyrene food ware and cups, and rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

Single-use plastic items and packaging make up 60 per cent of all litter in NSW. The ban will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering the environment in NSW over the next 20 years.

Sustainability partners include:
  • Girl Guides NSW
  • Green Connect
  • Green Music Australia
  • KU Children's Services
  • Meals on Wheels NSW
  • Men’s Shed Association
  • NSW Environment & Zoo Education Centres
  • OzGreen
  • Plastic Free July
  • Southern Cross University
  • Surfing NSW
  • TAFE NSW/Addison Road Community Organisation
  • Take 3
  • The Great Plastic Rescue
  • University of New England
  • University of Newcastle
  • University of Wollongong
For more information about the NSW plastics ban, visit

For ideas on how to stop it and swap it this Plastic Free July, visit

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: Whale Beach - Sunday July 31st

We're cleaning up Whale Beach and grass area. We'll meet on the grass area on the corner of Surf Road and The Strand. We have clean and washed gloves, bags and buckets. We'll clean up the grass area to try and catch the litter before it hits the lagoon as well as cleaning the beach, trying to remove as much plastic, cigarette butts and rubbish as possible. We're a friendly group of people and everyone is welcome to this family friendly event (just leave political, religious and business messages at home so everyone feel welcome). It's a nice community - make some new friends and do a good deed for the planet at the same time. 

Send us an email on or message our social media if you are lost. 

Please invite family and friends and share this event. This is a Covid safe event so everyone must please stay 1.5 meters apart if you are not in the same household. We meet at 10am for a briefing. Then we generally clean between 60-90 minutes. After that, we sort and count the rubbish so we can contribute to litter research. 

We normally finish around 12.30 when we go to lunch together (at own cost). Please note, we completely understand if you cannot stay for the whole event. We are just grateful for any help we can get. No booking required. Just show up on the day.

Possums In Your Roof?: Do The Right Thing

Possums in your roof? Please do the right thing 
On the weekend, one of our volunteers noticed a driver pull up, get out of their vehicle, open the boot, remove a trap and attempt to dump a possum on a bush track. Fortunately, our member intervened and saved the beautiful female brushtail and the baby in her pouch from certain death. 

It is illegal to relocate a trapped possum more than 150 metres from the point of capture and substantial penalties apply.  Urbanised possums are highly territorial and do not fare well in unfamiliar bushland. In fact, they may starve to death or be taken by predators.

While Sydney Wildlife Rescue does not provide a service to remove possums from your roof, we do offer this advice:

✅ Call us on (02) 9413 4300 and we will refer you to a reliable and trusted licenced contractor in the Sydney metropolitan area. For a small fee they will remove the possum, seal the entry to your roof and provide a suitable home for the possum - a box for a brushtail or drey for a ringtail.
✅ Do-it-yourself by following this advice from the Department of Planning and Environment: 

❌ Do not under any circumstances relocate a possum more than 150 metres from the capture site.
Thank you for caring and doing the right thing.

Sydney Wildlife photos

Pelicans Heading To The Coast Now: Winter Migrations

If you spot any orange leg band from this season's Pelican mega breeding colony about to disperse to coastal waterways for food, from Lake Brewster and Kieeta Lake, please contact the NSW DPI.
Keep watch if any Pelican comes to rest in both urban and remote location as may require assistance, before arriving on our coasts to drink and feed.
Here's the email just to send any details of orange banded pelican sightings

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Tours

Enjoy a Barrenjoey Lighthouse tour any Sunday afternoon. It stands at Sydney's northern-most point. The views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the mighty Pacific are unforgettable.
When: Tours will run every Sunday from Sunday 15 May 2022 to Sunday 25 June 2023. Tour times: 11am to 11.30am, 12pm to 12.30pm, 1pm to 1.30pm, 2pm to 2.30pm and 3pm to 3.30pm.
Tours will not run on: Christmas Day - Sunday 25 December 2022 or New years Day - Sunday 1 January 2023.
Price: Adult $10 per person. Concession $8 per person. Child $5 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Accompanying adults need to book and pay. 
Bookings: Bookings required. Phone 1300 072 757 or book online at:,54324,54344,54348
Meeting point: Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Give yourself at least 40mins to walk from the carpark to the lighthouse before your tour departs.

Local Wildlife Rescuers And Carers State That Ongoing Heavy Rains Are Tough For Us But Can Be Tougher For Our Wildlife:

  • Birds and possums can be washed out of trees, or the tree comes down, nests can disintegrate or hollows fill with water
  • Ground dwelling animals can be flooded out of their burrows or hiding places and they need to seek higher ground
  • They are at risk crossing roads as people can't see them and sudden braking causes accidents
  • The food may disappear - insects, seeds and pollens are washed away, nectar is diluted and animals can be starving
  • They are vulnerable in open areas to predators, including our pets
  • They can't dry out and may get hypothermia or pneumonia
  • Animals may seek shelter in your home or garage. 

You can help by:

  • Keeping your pets indoors
  • Assessing for wounds or parasites
  • Putting out towels or shelters like boxes to provide a place to hide
  • Drive to conditions and call a rescue group if you see an animal hit (or do a pouch check or get to a vet if you can stop)
  • If you are concerned take a photo and talk to a rescue group or wildlife carer

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

Please be patient as there could be a few enquiries regarding the wildlife. 

Generally Sydney Wildlife do not recommend offering food but it may help in some cases. Please ensure you know what they generally eat and any offerings will not make them sick. You can read more on feeding wildlife here 

Information courtesy Ed Laginestra, Sydney Wildlife volunteer. Photo: Warriewood Wetlands Wallaby by Kevin Murray, March 2022.

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

Pittwater Online News has interviewed Lynette Millett OAM (WIRES Northern Beaches Branch) needs more bird cages of all sizes for keeping the current huge amount of baby wildlife in care safe or 'homed' while they are healed/allowed to grow bigger to the point where they may be released back into their own home. 

If you have an aviary or large bird cage you are getting rid of or don't need anymore, please email via the link provided above. There is also a pressing need for release sites for brushtail possums - a species that is very territorial and where release into a site already lived in by one possum can result in serious problems and injury. 

If you have a decent backyard and can help out, Lyn and husband Dave can supply you with a simple drey for a nest and food for their first weeks of adjustment.

Sydney Wildlife Rescue: Helpers Needed

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

National Press Club Address: Minister For The Environment And Water Tanya Plibersek

July 19, 2022

TANYA PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. 

First Nations peoples have the oldest continuing cultures on earth, and are the world’s most successful environmental custodians.

They have managed land and sea country for 65,000 years. 

As Minister for the Environment and Water, I’m committed to learning from their remarkable example. 

Thank you to the National Press Club for having me today. 

It’s been six weeks since I started in this portfolio. 

On top of the usual departmental briefings, I’ve used these six weeks to travel to some of the most remarkable parts of Australia...

...reminding me again how grateful I am to live in the most beautiful country on earth. And how thankful I am to the generations of activists and good governments who protected our unique natural and cultural heritage.

But there is another story here too.

A difficult, confronting, sometimes depressing story. 

At the same time as seeing some of the most beautiful places on earth, I’ve been reading the data that tells me these places are under threat.

If we continue on the trajectory we are on, the precious places, landscapes, animals and plants that we think of when we think of home, may not be here for our kids and grandkids.

Today, as part of my statutory duty as Minister, I am publicly releasing the 2021 State of the Environment Report. 

It’s one of the most important documents in environmental science. 

Every five years, a group of independent experts, some of Australia’s most respected scientists (a number of whom are with us today), are given access to our best available tools.

They are told to show us the full national picture of the health of our environment.

Or as one of the authors put it, to help us ‘take a good hard look at ourselves’.

This report was delivered to government last year.

The previous Minister, Sussan Ley, received it before Christmas, but chose to keep it hidden – locked away until after the federal election. 

When you read it, you’ll know why.

But while it’s a confronting read, Australians deserve the truth. 

We deserve to know that Australia has lost more mammal species to extinction than any other continent.

We deserve to know that threatened communities have grown by 20 per cent in the past five years, with places literally burned into endangerment by catastrophic fires.

That the Murray Darling fell to its lowest water level on record in 2019.

And that for the first time, Australia now has more foreign plant species than native ones.

Individually, each of these revelations is dreadful. 

But it’s only when you think about their cumulative impact that you begin to get the full picture of environmental decline. 

It’s right there on page one of the report -  ‘Overall, the state and trend of the environment in Australia are poor and deteriorating’ – with ‘abrupt changes in ecological systems being recorded in the past five years’.

And it’s downhill from there.

Since the last report, marine heatwaves have caused mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. 

Warming temperatures have reduced kelp beds along the southeast coast, as well as threatening reef habitats and the abalone and lobster industries they support. 

At the same time, Australia has experienced a plague of marine plastics. 

In Perth, scientists have found up to 60,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of water.

In Brisbane, they found between 40,000 and 80,000. 

And at the top end, in the Torres Strait and Timor Sea, abandoned fishing gear has been killing marine animals on an industrial scale. 

These underwater hurricanes of debris are known as ‘ghost nets’ – and they’re strangling up to 14,000 turtles a year. 

Turtles which are listed as threatened. 

Our waters are struggling – and so is the land. 

As a result of erosion, deforestation, intensive agriculture and climate change, Australia’s soil is now generally in poor condition – and getting worse.

We are losing topsoil – letting it blow away without vegetation to protect it….

Making our soil less productive, less fertile, and less efficient at holding water.

Which means our agricultural output is lower than it could be. 

Our land is more susceptible to drought. 

And our soil’s ability to regenerate and support life is diminished. 

Australia is one of the world’s deforestation hotspots. Between the year 2000 and 2017, Australia cleared over 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat across the country. 

That’s an area bigger than Tasmania. 

Much of this clearing occurred in small increments. More than 90 per cent of it was never assessed under our environmental laws. 

When we destroy these habitats - and when we don’t restore them elsewhere - endangered creatures lose their homes. 

And that has consequences. 

In February this year, Koalas were officially moved from threatened to endangered in Queensland, New South Wales, and the ACT. 

These drowsy creatures have grazed on Australian eucalyptus for over 25 million years. 

And it’s only this year, of all years, that they became endangered.

Of course, this disturbing list is being made worse by climate change. 

Global warming multiplies environmental pressure everywhere.  

It heats our oceans. 

It deepens drought.

It intensifies disease.

It destroys habitats. 

And it worsens extreme weather events, which tilt the balance of ecosystems beyond recognition. 

The bushfires of 2019 and 2020 are still being felt today.

Those bushfires were an ecological bomb, ripping through south-eastern Australia. 

They killed or displaced up to three billion animals.

They burnt over 80 per cent of the Greater Blue Mountains area, almost 60 per cent of our Gondwana rainforests, and more than 40 per cent of the Stirling Range National Park.

And they tipped clouds of sediment and ash into our waterways, leading to mass marine death. 
That summer was terrifying for everyone who lived through it. 

And if we don’t act, those awful red nights will become more common. 

This is just a taste of what the report lays out.

And for six months, it sat on the previous Minister’s desk. 

As Professor Emma Johnston told the Sydney Morning Herald in April:

‘We have put a huge amount of effort and hard yakka into this, and we really hope the report can be used for long term planning, immediate action, for changing our investments … but we can’t start that work until the report is released’.

I agree. 

It’s well past time we get to work.

As we see from the State of the Environment Report, the previous government was no friend of the environment.

Too many urgent warnings were either ignored or kept secret.

But there were other failures too.

The former government made nice promises, but rarely bothered to deliver them. 

For example, the previous government had a decade to fulfil the Murray Darling Basin Plan. 

It’s a good plan. Labor made it. Labor delivered it. 

And it saved the river system from dying in 2019. 

But it’s yet to be fully implemented. 

By the time the Morrison Government left office, they had only delivered two of the promised 450 gigalitres of environmental water. 

And they had no plan to find the extra 448 gigalitres by 2024, when it’s due. 

The former government promised $40 million for Indigenous water – of which they never delivered a drop.  

The Morrison Government made a series of pledges on recycling. 

Pledges the Labor Government broadly supports.

But I think most Australians would be shocked to know how far we are from meeting these targets – and that the former government had no real plan to reach them.

Again and again, the previous government behaved in a way that undermined public trust in environmental management. 

They gave a private charity almost half a billion dollars, without tender or process, to guide our response to the crisis in the Great Barrier Reef. 

It doesn’t matter how good an organisation is – no one should walk into the Prime Minister’s office and leave with hundreds of millions of dollars they never even asked for.

For nine years, the previous government oversaw a broken, barely regulated national water market. 

As the ACCC found, it was a market with no rules against insider trading. 

With no requirements to keep proper records. 

This led to widespread distrust in the system.  

Worse than that, they inflicted wilful damage as well. 

From Tony Abbott to Scott Morrison, from Barnaby Joyce to Matt Canavan…

…the Liberals and Nationals came to power with a mission to put the environment last, to repeal climate legislation and slash emissions reduction targets. 

They cut funding to the Environment Department by 40 per cent. Which they thought was very clever, until they realised what it meant in practice.
Without proper funding, environmental decision times exploded. 

According to a National Audit Office review in 2020, the average federal decision for a new project was 116 days behind schedule. 

And of these decisions, around 80 per cent were either non-compliant or contained errors.  

The previous government’s funding cuts held back business, they damaged the economy, and they undermined practical efforts to protect our environment.
In 2018, the former government cut the highly protected areas of Commonwealth Marine Parks in half – removing the largest area from conservation in Australian history. 

The Liberals and Nationals spent less than $17 million of the $216 million they promised to upgrade Kakadu National Park’s infrastructure. 

And in their final term, the Morrison Government’s relationship with the Traditional Owners of Kakadu broke down completely – to the point where a government review, co-chaired by Amanda Vanstone, called it ‘deplorable’ and ‘untenable’.   

The previous government was told, loud and clear, that Australia’s environmental laws weren’t working.

But they did nothing to fix that. 

Almost two years ago, the Morrison Government received an official review into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.  It was written by Graeme Samuel – and its message was as blunt as the State of the Environment Report. 

To quote Professor Samuel:

‘The EPBC Act is outdated and requires fundamental reform’. 

The EPBC Act is ineffective. It does not enable the Commonwealth to effectively protect environmental matters that are important for the nation. It is not fit to address current or future environmental challenges.

‘The resounding message that I heard through the Review is that Australians do not trust that the Act is delivering for the environment, for business or for the community’. 

Professor Samuel’s work was thorough. But it wasn’t a revelation. The federal government has been receiving the same messages for years now.  And the central theme, over and over again, is trust and integrity.

People don’t trust that the Commonwealth is protecting the environment. They don’t trust the development application process to be smooth, on time, and without unnecessary duplication.  And frankly, that scepticism is justified. 

Under the current laws, we don’t clearly define the environmental outcomes we’re trying to deliver. When we make environmental decisions, we don’t ensure they’re being enforced in practice.  Even if we wanted to, we often don’t have the data or resources to do it properly.  And because no one trusts the system, these processes are often duplicated by state and federal governments.  Which delays projects, drives up business costs, and jeopardises investment.  

At the same time our environment is not getting the protection it needs. This is what Graeme Samuel told us.  There’s an almost universal consensus that change is needed.  Indeed, business and environmental groups very maturely put aside differences to back Professor Samuel’s recommendations. 

But again, the Morrison Government chose to ignore that.  They tried to ram through a select few changes – and instead delivered nothing.

This is the situation I’m inheriting as Minister for the Environment and Water. 

Years of warnings that were ignored or kept secret. 

Promises made, but not delivered. 

Dodgy behaviour, undermining public confidence. 

Brutal funding cuts.

Wilful neglect.

Laws that don’t work to protect the environment, or smooth the way for sensible development. 

All against the backdrop of accelerating environmental destruction. 

It’s time to change that.

Australia’s environment is bad and getting worse, as this report shows. 

And much of the destruction outlined in the State of the Environment report will take years to turn around. 

Nevertheless, I’m optimistic about the steps we can take over the next three years. 

Legislating strong action on climate change is a great start.

Australian scientists are world class. We know how to restore landscapes, repair coral reefs, and recover threatened species. 

We’ve got thousands of volunteers out there, every weekend, planting trees, collecting rubbish, and cleaning up their local creek – many of them through community Landcare groups.

Australians really care about the landscapes they live in, and about the precious places they will never visit, but want protected anyway.

They just need a government that cares as much as they do. 

Which is why, in this term of government, I will be guided by three essential goals. 

To protect, to restore, and to manage Australia’s environment.  

We need to protect our environment and heritage for the future. 

We need to restore environments that have already been damaged. 

And we need to actively manage our landscapes, oceans and waterways, and the critical places we’ve vowed to protect – so they don’t become run down through neglect. 

That’s our agenda. 

To offer proper protection, we need to set clear national environmental standards – with explicit targets around what we value as a country, and what the law needs to protect. 

This will require a fundamental reforming of our national environment laws – and empowering a new Environmental Protection Agency to enforce them.  

We need trust and transparency. 

Decisions need to be built on good data – to show the public how we’re tracking in real time; data that can be shared so we don’t keep collecting the same information again and again, but instead we build over time a useful, usable, rich picture of our environment. 

We also need certainty and efficiency. 

This will allow us to speed up most processes – so we can build new housing, construct renewable energy projects, and lay the roads that connect our communities. 

Better environmental outcomes and faster, clearer decisions.

For too long, people have seen these goals as mutually exclusive. They’re not. 

Good environmental law reform is also good economic reform. 

That’s why by agreement with the Treasurer, the historic wellbeing budget will also include environmental indicators. 

As the Treasurer recently said: 

‘It is really important that we measure what matters in our economy, in addition to all of the traditional measures. Not instead of, but in addition to.’ 

Because this is not a conflict between jobs and the environment. 

We’ve got to go beyond that thinking when we reform our environmental laws. 

To help guide that change, I’m announcing that by the end of the year the Australian Government will formally respond to the Samuel Review.

We will then aim to develop new environmental legislation for 2023.

We will consult thoroughly on environmental standards. 

But in the meantime, I’d like to see an immediate start on improving our environmental data and regional planning – establishing a shared view around what needs to be protected or restored, and areas where development can occur with minimal consequence. 

I’m not naïve: I know improving our environmental laws is going to be challenging. 

People will have different ideas of what national standards should look like. 

And as Minister, I will make calls that some people disagree with. 

But I’m determined to improve the system. 

The truth is that everyone will have to give a bit to achieve real, lasting, national progress. 

It is encouraging to know that groups with very different interests worked to find common ground during the Samuel Review. 

Business, industry, environmentalists, scientists, traditional owners, farmers, unions, and your standard keen bushwalker like me, came to the table to see what progress they could make. 

I want to work across the board to build on that good will. 

Because ambition is important. But it’s not much good without achievement.

I understand that campaigns to stop individual projects will motivate and energise some people.  

Others will want to focus on individual species, or a particularly beautiful place.

I know these campaigns can capture the public imagination. 

But in my judgement - what our environment really needs is a changed system. 

That’s the message from the Samuel review. 

That’s the message from the State of the Environment Report. 

Without structural reform, we’ll be resigning ourselves to another decade of failure; without the tools we need to arrest our decline. 

We all want to pass on a healthy environment to our children and grandchildren. 

That’s why I’m also very happy to announce that we will expand Australia’s national estate. 

Our Government will set a national goal of protecting thirty percent of our land and thirty percent of our oceans by 2030. 

We will explore the creation of new national parks and marine protected areas – including by progressing the East Antarctic Marine Protected Area. 

This will be the latest chapter in a very proud Labor story. 

Labor protected Kakadu, the Daintree, the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

As Minister, I intend to add to that legacy. 

The State of the Environment Report also makes it clear that we must do a better job at repairing environmental damage.

Too much clearing of habitat has already occurred. 

Too many ecosystems and species are under threat. 

We can’t just stop future destruction – although this is essential and the most cost effective way to address the environmental crisis – we also need to actively repair past damage. 

The Australian Land Conservation Alliance estimates that we need to spend over $1 billion a year to restore and prevent further landscape degradation. 

The scale of this challenge means that governments can’t do the job alone.

We need to work with industry and philanthropic partners – many of whom are already doing great work.

I want to look at ways to make these investments easier – to support land-based carbon projects that deliver biodiversity, improve drought resilience, and drive agricultural productivity.

And to ensure that we prioritise the most important areas for ecological restoration.

Better data, laws that focus on outcomes, and good regional planning will help protect and restore the places with the greatest carbon and biodiversity value. 

We will also support investment in blue carbon projects – restoration of mangroves, tidal marshes, and sea grasses that provide habitat for marine life, support our fisheries, and protect our coast lines from rising tides and storms.

An Australian scientist has described these places as the ‘blue diamond’ of carbon storage.

And he’s right: these environments are precious – absorbing carbon at up to five times the rate of tropical rainforests and storing it for thousands of years. 

The State of the Environment Report shows the urgent need to better manage our waste, and to actively manage the places we’ve vowed to protect. 

These are areas of clear community interest.

Most people want to reduce their plastics footprint, they want to recycle the things they use, and they want government to help them do it as easily as possible.

I’m genuinely excited by our prospects here.

We can reduce pollution, increase recycling, and support local manufacturing at the same time. 

For example - I recently visited the Samsara lab at the Australian National University, where researchers are using enzymes to break down plastics and infinitely remake new plastic. 

I’ve seen the research UTS is doing in making plastics from algae.

It’s fascinating work – just a couple of the many innovations being trialed around the country.  

I want to support these efforts to replace petrochemical products – while working with the states and territories to encourage a circular economy…

That means promoting recycling, reusing, and repairing as much as possible.  

We know how important this issue is to our friends in the Pacific. 

At the UN Oceans Conference last month, our Pacific family told me about the impact plastics are having on their health, their environment, and their livelihoods. 

This is an area where Australia can form strong regional partnerships. 

As I said to Pacific leaders, I want to see a plastics free Pacific in our lifetime.

Every Pacific leader I have spoken with is eager to work with Australia on this project – to share what we know with each other.

There is also the question of managing the land we’ve promised to protect.
Here I see the environment and water portfolio going hand in hand with Labor’s reconciliation agenda. 

First Nations Australians have managed this country for 65,000 years. 

And they did it through changing seasons, shifting climates, and across radically different environments. 

These systems of environmental knowledge have been passed down for thousands of generations. 
Any modern conservation program should incorporate them.

That’s why the Labor Government will double the number of Indigenous Rangers by the end of the decade to 3,800. 

We will significantly boost funding for Indigenous Protected Areas.

We will deliver the $40 million of Indigenous water promised by the Morrison government in 2018, but never produced.  

And we will make it easier for First Nations to protect their cultural heritage. 

We’ve committed to introduce standalone cultural heritage legislation – which we will co-design with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance. 

A healthy environment sits at the heart of our national legacy.

And it feeds our national soul.

Our sense of ourselves, and our health as a society is bound up with the health of our land and water. 

Australians know how lucky we are to live in this country. 

It’s the feeling we get whenever we come back from overseas.

You see it all with fresh eyes and fresh appreciation. 

It’s the crystal blue sky – clearer than anywhere in the world. 

It’s the glimmer and sparkle of Sydney Harbour. 

It’s the long green stretches of national park, bordering our cities. 

It’s the perfect ring of beaches that meet the sea. 

Or the corrugated red ridges of central Australia.

And every time, the same feeling – the feeling of home stirring inside us. 

That’s our natural heritage – and that’s what we’re committed to protecting. 

In 2022, Australians voted for the environment. 

They voted for action on climate change. 

They voted for their children and their grandchildren and every generation of Australians who will follow us. 

When you change the government – you change the country. 

After a lost decade; after a decade of going backwards; we can’t waste another minute.

Thank you.  

This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health: We present its grim findings

Jo Anne Mcarthur/UnsplashCC BY
Emma JohnstonUniversity of SydneyIan CresswellUNSW Sydney, and Terri JankeUNSW Sydney

Climate change is exacerbating pressures on every Australian ecosystem and Australia now has more foreign plant species than native, according to the highly anticipated State of the Environment Report released today.

The report also found the number of listed threatened species rose 8% since 2016 and more extinctions are expected in the next decades.

The document represents thousands of hours of work over two years by more than 30 experts. It’s a sobering read, but there are some bright spots.

Australia has produced a national state of environment report every five years since 1995. They assess every aspect of Australia’s environment and heritage, covering rivers, oceans, air, ice, land and urban areas. The last report was released in 2017.

This report goes further than its predecessors, by describing how our environment is affecting the health and well-being of Australians. It is also the first to include Indigenous co-authors.

As chief authors of the report, we present its key findings here. They include new chapters dedicated to extreme events and Indigenous voices.

An eel sticks its head out of bleached coral
The Great Barrier Reef suffered four mass bleaching events since 2016. Shutterstock

1. Australia’s Environment Is Generally Deteriorating

There have been continued declines in the amount and condition of our natural capital – native vegetation, soil, wetlands, reefs, rivers and biodiversity. Such resources benefit Australians by providing food, clean water, cultural connections and more.

The number of plant and animal species listed as threatened in June 2021 was 1,918, up from 1,774 in 2016. Gang-gang cockatoos and the Woorrentinta (northern hopping-mouse) are among those recently listed as endangered.

Australia’s coasts are also under threat from, for instance, extreme weather events and land-based invasive species.

Our nearshore reefs are in overall poor condition due to poor water quality, invasive species and marine heatwaves. Inland water systems, including in the Murray Darling Basin, are under increasing pressure.

Nationally, land clearing remains high. Extensive areas were cleared in Queensland and New South Wales over the last five years. Clearing native vegetation is a major cause of habitat loss and fragmentation, and has been implicated in the national listing of most Australia’s threatened species.

2. Climate Change Threatens Every Ecosystem

Climate change is compounding ongoing and past damage from land clearing, invasive species, pollution and urban expansion.

The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are changing. Over the last five years, extreme events such as floods, droughts, wildfires, storms, and heatwaves have affected every part of Australia.

Seasonal fire periods are becoming longer. In NSW, for example, the bushfire season now extends to almost eight months. Extreme events are also affecting ecosystems in ways never before documented.

For example, the downstream effects of the 2019-2020 bushfires introduced a range of contaminants to coastal estuaries, in the first global record of bushfires impacting estuarine habitat quality.

3. Indigenous Knowledge And Management Are Helping Deliver On-Ground Change

This includes traditional fire management, which is being recognised as vital knowledge by land management organisations and government departments.

For example, Indigenous rangers manage 44% of the national protected area estate, and more than 2,000 rangers are funded under the federal government’s Indigenous rangers program.

Work must still be done to empower Indigenous communities and enable Indigenous knowledge systems to improve environmental and social outcomes.

4. Environmental Management Isn’t Well Coordinated

Australia’s investment is not proportional to the grave environmental challenge. The area of land and sea under some form of conservation protection has increased, but the overall level of protection is declining within reserves.

We’re reducing the quantity and quality of native habitat outside protected areas through, for instance, urban expansion on land and over-harvesting in the sea.

The five urban areas with the most significant forest and woodland habitat loss were Brisbane, Gold Coast to Tweed Heads, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Sydney. Between 2000 and 2017, at least 20,212 hectares were destroyed in these five areas combined, with 12,923 hectares destroyed in Queensland alone.

Australia is also increasingly relying on costly ways to conserve biodiversity. This includes restoration of habitat, reintroducing threatened species, translocation (moving a species from a threatened habitat to a safer one), and ex situ conservation (protecting species in a zoo, botanical garden or by preserving genetic material).

5. Environmental Decline And Destruction Is Harming Our Well-Being

In this report we document the direct effects of environmental damage on human health, for example from bushfire smoke.

The indirect benefits of a healthy environment to mental health and well-being are harder to quantify. But emerging evidence suggests people who manage their environment according to their values and culture have improved well-being, such as for Indigenous rangers and communities.

Environmental destruction also costs our economy billions of dollars, with climate change and biodiversity loss representing both national and global financial risks.

Climate Change Is Hitting Ecosystems Hard

Previous reports mostly spoke of climate change impacts as happening in future. In this report, we document significant climate harms already evident from the tropics to the poles.

As Australia’s east coast emerges from another “unusual” flood, this report introduces a new chapter dedicated to extreme events. Many have been made more intense, widespread and likely due to climate change.

We document the national impacts of extreme floods, droughts, heatwaves, storms and wildfires over the past five years. And while we’ve reported on immediate impacts – millions of animals killed and habitats burnt, enormous areas of reef bleached, and people’s livelihoods and homes lost – many longer-term effects are still to play out.

Extreme conditions put immense stress on species already threatened by habitat loss and invasive species. We expect more species extinctions over the next decades.

Flying fox hanging from tree branch
Some 23,000 spectacled flying foxes were killed in a 2018 heatwave. Shutterstock

An extreme heatwave in 2018, for example, killed some 23,000 spectacled flying foxes. In 2019, the species was uplisted from vulnerable to endangered.

Many Australian ecosystems have evolved to rebound from extreme “natural” events such as bushfires. But the frequency, intensity, and compounding nature of recent events are greater than they’ve experienced throughout their recent evolutionary history.

For example, marine heatwaves caused mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022. Such frequent disturbances leave little time for recovery.

Indeed, ecological theory suggests frequently disturbed ecosystems will shift to a “weedy” state, where only the species that live fast and reproduce quickly will thrive.

This trend will bring profound shifts in ecosystem structure and function. It also means we’ll have to shift how we manage and rely on ecosystems – including how we harvest, hunt and otherwise benefit from them.

Including Indigenous Voices

Indigenous people of Australia have cared for the lands and seas over countless generations and continue to do so today.

In Australia, a complex web of government laws and agreements relate to Indigenous people and the environment. Overall, they are not adequate to deliver the rights Indigenous people seek: responsibility for and stewardship of their Country including lands and seas, plants and animals, and heritage.

For the first time, this report has a separate Indigenous chapter, informed by Indigenous consultation meetings, which highlights the importance of caring for Country.

Including an Indigenous voice has required us to change the previous approach of reporting on the environment separately from people. Instead, we’ve emphasised how Country is connected to people’s well-being, and the interconnectedness of environment and culture.

Failures Of Environmental Management

Australia needs better and entirely new approaches to environmental management. For example, the inclusion of climate change in environmental management and resilience strategies is increasing, but it’s not universal.

As well as climate stresses, habitat loss and degradation remain the main threats to land-based species in Australia, impacting nearly 70% of threatened species.

More than a third of Australia’s eucalypt woodlands have been extensively cleared, and the situation is worse for some other major vegetation groups.

Experts say within 20 years, another seven Australian mammals and ten Australian birds – such as the King Island brown thornbill and the orange-bellied parrot – will be extinct unless management is greatly improved.

Threatened Species Recovery Hub identified the 50 Australian species at greatest risk of extinction.

Of the 7.7 million hectares of land habitat cleared between 2000 and 2017, 7.1 million hectares (93%) was not referred to the federal government for assessment under the national environment law.

Only 16% (13 of 84) of Australia’s nationally listed threatened ecological communities meet a 30% minimum protection standard in the national reserve system.

Three critically endangered communities, all in NSW, have no habitat protection at all. These are the Hunter Valley weeping myall woodland, the Elderslie banksia scrub forest, and Warkworth sands woodland.

The Bright Spots

The report also highlights where investments and the hard work of many Australians made a difference.

Individuals, non-government organisations and businesses are increasingly purchasing and managing significant tracts of land for conservation. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy, for example, jointly manages some 6.5 million hectares actively conserving many threatened species.

By building on achievements such as these, we can encourage new partnerships and innovations, supported with crucial funding and commitment from government and industry.

We also need more collaboration across governments and non-government sectors, underpinned by greater national leadership. This includes listening and co-developing solutions with Indigenous and local communities, building on and learning from Indigenous and Western scientific knowledge.

And we need more effort and resources to measure progress. This includes consistent monitoring and reporting across all states and territories on the pressures, and the health of our natural and cultural assets.

Such efforts are crucial if we’re to reverse declines and forge a stronger, more resilient country.

Read the full 2022 State of the Environment report here.

The Conversation

Emma Johnston, Professor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of SydneyIan Cresswell, Adjunct professor, UNSW Sydney, and Terri Janke, Honorary Associate Professor, UNSW Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘That patch of bush is gone, and so are the birds’: a scientist reacts to the State of the Environment report

Juliana Lee/UnsplashCC BY
Ayesha TullochQueensland University of Technology

Australia’s State of the Environment Report was finally released today – and its findings are a staggering picture of loss and devastation.

As a conservation scientist, I’ve spent the last decade helping governments, community groups and individuals better manage our environment. But the report reveals things are getting worse.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve seen firsthand the devastation wrought by threats such as bushfires and land clearing.

I remain hopeful we can turn the crisis around. But it will take money, government commitment and public support to protect and recover our precious natural places.

Crest-tailed mulgara captured on property where cattle have been excluded to enable biodiversity to recover. Lachlan Hall

New Year’s Day, 2020

Since the last State of the Environment Report report was released in 2016, Australia has experienced record-breaking floods and fires. In fact, my New Year’s Day of 2020 was spent frantically packing precious family items at my mum’s home in rural New South Wales, as smoke from nearby megafires blanketed our property.

We evacuated, nervously watching a fire tracking app, while neighbours’ properties were progressively swallowed by a fire that eventually burned for 74 days, razing half a million hectares.

Thankfully, the fire stopped at a creek down the road. This creek and its adjoining forest is where my family have spent decades hiking, birding and exploring nature.

We’ve watched rare rock warblers dabbling in streams that trickle down sheer sandstone gorges and male lyrebirds singing their hearts out. Multitudes of king parrots, yellow-tail cockatoos and gang-gang cockatoos would visit to gnaw on gum nuts and, to my mum’s eternal anguish, her prize geraniums.

After the fires, I worked with a team to document their devastating impacts on wildlife. Gang gangs lost up to one-fifth of their entire population, and are now endangered.

I can’t imagine visiting the bush without hearing their creaking call, or peering into the branches to spot their telltale flash of red through the leaves.

Two gang gang cockatoos on a tree branch
Gang gang cockatoos recently joined Australia’s list of threatened species. Shutterstock

Australia’s Abysmal Record

As the State of Environment report explains, the 2019-2020 bushfires razed more than eight million hectares of native vegetation. Up to three billion animals were either killed or displaced.

Last year, I contributed to the first global United Nations assessment of wildfire. We found the worldwide risk of devastating fires could increase by up to 57% by the end of the century, primarily because of climate change.

Most of Australia is likely to burn even more. That’s bad news for places such as Australia’s ancient Gondwana rainforests. Historically, these have rarely, if ever, burned. Yet more than 50% was impacted in the 2019-2020 fires.

These rainforests harbour the highest concentrations of threatened species in subtropical southeast Queensland and northern NSW. To recover, they need hundreds of years without fire.

Unfortunately for Australia’s ravaged species and ecosystems, more frequent and intense fires are not the only pressures they face. Australia’s history of managing native vegetation is abysmal.

For example in 2014, almost 40 nations pledged to end natural forest loss and restore 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forests by 2030 – but not Australia. Meanwhile, land clearing in NSW and Queensland increased between 2010 and 2018, mostly on farmland.

My research requires driving across large swathes of eastern and central Australia. I’ve watched patches of bush across rural and urban areas thin and, in many places, completely disappear.

One patch I grew to love was home to a very friendly, very noisy family of grey-crowned babblers. It wasn’t a particularly pretty patch of bush, but it was perfectly placed for a night’s rest on the three-day drive to my field sites.

At dawn I would lie in my swag, listening to them chattering away, giving me energy for the day. Now, that patch of bush is gone, and so are the birds.

They may be small, but these patches of bushland are vital for the persistence of already heavily fragmented, degraded ecosystems.

The clearing and thinning of vegetation makes it harder for remaining plants and animals to recover from extreme events such as drought. It also puts native wildlife at greater risk from introduced predators such as cats, and aggressive native birds such as noisy miners.

Most importantly, the cumulative loss of these seemingly insignificant little patches of woodland is a death by a thousand cuts, putting many ecosystems at greater risk of extinction.

Woodland recovering after the 2019/2020 megafires. Ayesha Tulloch

Extinctions Aren’t Inevitable

I’m writing this because, despite the dire situation, it’s not too late to do something about it. Here are three ways to start.

First, we need immediate action on climate change. All levels of government must commit to urgently transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Investments and action must be proactive: planning for, preventing and responding to environmental threats. This would help avoid massive costs incurred after a disaster hits.

And crucially, management and conservation actions must respectfully draw from Indigenous knowledge.

Releasing an endangered Black-flanked Rock-wallaby at an Australian Wildlife Conservancy reserve in Western Australia, where invasive predators are intensively controlled. Ayesha Tulloch

Second, vegetation should be restored, not removed, on private land. This requires overhauling vegetation clearing codes and taking action against those who flout the rules.

Finally, the federal government should acknowledge that a substantial increase in funding could, in fact, recover all disappearing species and ecosystems. Extinctions are a choice, not an inevitability.

Australia ranks among the world’s worst when it comes to funding biodiversity conservation. At least six times the current funding is needed to save our threatened species.

Research shows when adequate investment is made in management, threatened populations do recover. The story of the yellow-footed rock wallaby in South Australia shows what’s possible.

Intensive goat and fox control reversed the species’ population decline. It was made possible through long-term state government investment and efforts by non-government conservation organisations and land managers.

Not only did rock-wallaby populations increase, but the pest control meant the western quoll and the common brushtail possum – both historically extinct in the area – could be reintroduced.

But sadly, such success stories are the exception. Today’s report clearly shows that unless we radically change course, we’re heading towards species extinctions, degraded landscapes and a less resilient nation.

All Australians - governments, business, individuals and communities – must commit to restoring our natural environment. Only then will we withstand whatever the future throws at us.

Read the full 2022 State of the Environment report here.The Conversation

Ayesha Tulloch, ARC Future Fellow, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Yes, the state of the environment is grim, but you can make a difference, right in your own neighbourhood

Kylie SoanesThe University of Melbourne

The newly released State of the Environment report paints a predictably grim picture. Species are in decline, ecosystems are at breaking point, and threats abound. For many of us, it can feel like a problem that’s too big, too complex and too distant to solve.

But this report also shows every Australian can be on the conservation frontline. We can save species in the places we live and work. According to the report, Australia’s cities and towns are home to more than 96% of our population and 46% of threatened species. We have mapped the occurrence of hundreds of threatened species in urban areas.

We share our cities with iconic koalas, charming gang-gang cockatoos and floral wonders like Caley’s grevillea. And, as the report notes, some species are found only in urban areas – our cities and towns are the last chance to save them from extinction. What an incredible opportunity to reconnect Australians with our fantastic natural heritage and protect it at the same time.

Our research shows a huge appetite for saving nature in cities. Councils, industry and community groups all over the country are working to make change.

Here are five things we can think about to improve the state of our city environments.

1. Small But Mighty

Don’t have a lot of space? That’s OK! Whether it’s a small pond, garden strip or solitary gum tree, these often provide a key resource that isn’t found elsewhere in the nearby landscape. This means they pack a punch when it comes to supporting local nature.

And resources like these all add up. Researchers found that a collection of small, urban grassland reserves supported more native plants, and rarer species, than just a few large reserves.

So while making one small change might feel futile, it can make a big difference.

2. Embracing The ‘In Between’

Conservation doesn’t just happen in nature reserves, which is good, because urban areas don’t have many. Backyards are already making huge contributions through “gardens for wildlife” initiatives.

But what about the more unconventional spaces? We found city-dwelling species take advantage of roadsides, schoolyards, carpark gardens, railway stations and rooftops. These are all opportunities for us to make a little more space for nature in cities.

3. Grand Designs For Wildlife

People aren’t the only ones facing a housing crisis – wildlife struggle too. The tree hollows, rock piles and fallen wood that many species call home are often removed in favour of sleek lines and tidy urban spaces.

You can provide valuable real estate for local critters by adding nesting boxesbee hotels and lizard lounges. And simply leaving a designated “messy patch” in your garden improves the local habitat too.

4. Creative Connections

Moving safely through cities can be risky for wildlife. They have to navigate cars, fences, roaming pets and swathes of concrete.

Many councils and road agencies are looking at creative ways to help wildlife get from A to B. Solutions range from rope bridges for western Sydney’s sugar gliders and tunnels for Melbourne’s bandicoots to forested bridges for Brisbane’s bush birds. Some gardeners in Bunbury even built their own backyard “possum bridges” to help the endangered western ringtail possum in their neighbourhoods.

Overpass with vegetation planted on it spans a road
The forested bridge across Compton Road, Brisbane, enables wildlife to travel safely between two areas of natural habitat. Kylie SoanesAuthor provided

5. People Power

Having threatened species live close to people is typically seen as bit of “negative’” in the conservation world. But this closeness can be an advantage if the community is aware and engaged.

Orchids like the sunshine diuris and Frankston spider orchid would surely be extinct if not for countless hours of volunteer work, crowd-funding and the passion of the local community.

Get involved through your local council or “Friends of” groups to see how you can support nature in your neck of the woods.

Urban Habitats – Often Small And Scrappy, Always Valuable

There are so many wonderful ways to support nature in cities. Recent examples include conservation goats saving native skinks, floating habitat rafts in city waterways and using flowerpots on concrete sea walls to support marine life. New ideas are being explored and tested all over the country.

The Living Seawalls project is restoring biodiversity along the seawalls that account for over half of the foreshore around Sydney Harbour.

Some of the best examples bring all these ideas together. For example, Melbourne’s Pollinator Corridor, led by the Heart Gardening Project, helps individual community members convert their own small urban patch into a bee-friendly garden. When complete, 200 individual gardens will create an 8km pollinator paradise between two of the city’s largest parks.

Right now, efforts to save nature in cities are driven by champions – individuals in our communities, local councils or industry who see an opportunity to make a difference, no matter how small, and fight to make it happen. Imagine what we could achieve if more of us pitched in.

So, look around. Can you add just one small patch? Contact your local council about turning a neglected roadside strip into a pollinator paradise? Or maybe set up a little B&B for wildlife in your backyard? The Conversation

Wes Mountain/The ConversationCC BY-ND

Kylie Soanes, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘Existential threat to our survival’: see the 19 Australian ecosystems already collapsing

Dana M BergstromUniversity of WollongongEuan RitchieDeakin UniversityLesley HughesMacquarie University, and Michael DepledgeUniversity of Exeter

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were “on a collision course”. Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a “safe space to operate”. These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Crossing such boundaries was considered a risk that would cause environmental changes so profound, they genuinely posed an existential threat to humanity.

This grave reality is what our major research paper, published today, confronts.

In what may be the most comprehensive evaluation of the environmental state of play in Australia, we show major and iconic ecosystems are collapsing across the continent and into Antarctica. These systems sustain life, and evidence of their demise shows we’re exceeding planetary boundaries.

We found 19 Australian ecosystems met our criteria to be classified as “collapsing”. This includes the arid interior, savannas and mangroves of northern Australia, the Great Barrier ReefShark Bay, southern Australia’s kelp and alpine ash forests, tundra on Macquarie Island, and moss beds in Antarctica.

We define collapse as the state where ecosystems have changed in a substantial, negative way from their original state – such as species or habitat loss, or reduced vegetation or coral cover – and are unlikely to recover.

bleached coral
The Great Barrier Reef has suffered consecutive mass bleaching events, causing swathes of coral to die. Shutterstock

The Good And Bad News

Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.

Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modelling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.

Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the Murray-Darling Basin, which covers around 14% of Australia’s landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than 30% of Australia’s food production.

The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they’re felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn’t forget how towns ran out of drinking water during the recent drought.

Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant Mountain Ash forests greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people’s drinking water in Melbourne.

This is a dire wake-up call — not just a warning. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.

A burnt pencil pine
A burnt pencil pine, one of the world’s oldest species. These ‘living fossils’ in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area are unlikely to recover after fire. Aimee BlissAuthor provided

In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often additive and extreme.

Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.

In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a heatwave spanning more than 300,000 square kilometres ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.

A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for this April.

These 19 Ecosystems Are Collapsing: Read About Each

What To Do About It?

Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?

We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:

  • Awareness of what is important

  • Anticipation of what is coming down the line

  • Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.

In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.

In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby’s black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been removed.

Two black cockatoos on a tree branch
Artificial nesting boxes for birds such as the Carnaby’s black cockatoo are important interventions. Shutterstock

“Future-ready” actions are also vital. This includes reinstating cultural burning practices, which have multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities and can help minimise the risk and strength of bushfires.

It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to warmer conditions.

Some actions may be small and localised, but have substantial positive benefits.

For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the 2019-20 fires. Brilliantly, Zoos Victoria anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — Bogong bikkies.

Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the root cause of environmental threats, such as human population growth and per-capita consumption of environmental resources.

We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as feral cats and buffel grass, and stop widespread land clearing and other forms of habitat destruction.

Our Lives Depend On It

The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for environments globally.

The simplicity of the 3As is to show people can do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.

Our lives and those of our children, as well as our economies, societies and cultures, depend on it.

We simply cannot afford any further delay. The Conversation

Dana M Bergstrom, Principal Research Scientist, University of WollongongEuan Ritchie, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin UniversityLesley Hughes, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, and Michael Depledge, Professor and Chair, Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Natural systems in Australia are unravelling. If they collapse, human society could too

Liz HannaAustralian National University and Mark HowdenAustralian National University

In the long-delayed State of the Environment report released this week, there is one terrifying sentence: “Environmental degradation is now considered a threat to humanity, which could bring about societal collapses.”

Hyperbole? Sadly not.

Climate change has already warmed Australia 1.4℃ and changed rainfall in some regions. Natural ecosystems are already struggling from land clearing, intensive agriculture, soil degradation and poor water management. Climate changes and related sea level rise are making this worse. It’s a mistake to think this won’t affect us.

It can be easy to live in cities and believe you’re somehow walled off from environmental disaster. This is a fiction. Healthy environments provide clean air, clean food, clean water and a safe place to live – all essential to a healthy life.

Our lives will not be easy if we continue eating away at the ecosystems that prop us up. It is no exaggeration to say societal collapse is a possible outcome.

Why Is The News So Bad?

Every day, we rely on services provided by healthy ecosystems.

The long-delayed report shows the sobering consequences of wilful disregard for environmental protection and focusing on natural resource exploitation. Burning fossil fuels causes climate change and ocean acidification. Land clearing destroys existing ecosystems. Intensive agriculture reduces biodiversity.

Australia’s fragile ecosystems are acutely vulnerable to decades of environmental disregard. Swathes of the continent are increasingly flipping from extreme drought and devastating fires to unprecedented floods under highly variable rainfall patterns. In the last few years, unprecedented bushfires and floods have forced thousands out of their homes. This worsens housing shortages, income insecurity and human health.

Our land temperatures have increased by 1.44°C since 1910. Very high monthly maximum temperatures have increased sixfold over the 60-year period since 1960. These effects have come from a 1.1℃ rise globally. We’re still on track for 3℃. This is highly problematic as humans have limited capacity to withstand heat exposure, and ecosystems suffer in the heat.

4 Things A Well-Functioning Environment Does For Us

1. Clean food

Food systems require intact ecosystems to remain productive, without which crop yields and rural incomes drop. Hunger can ensue. The consequences of food shortages to date in Australia have been small compared with other countries. But with repeated intense droughts, heatwaves, fires and floods these shortages could rapidly escalate. In 2008, we saw riots and social upheaval across multiple continents. A key cause was the global food crisis. This year, food prices have skyrocketed again in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

2. Clean air

Australia has traditionally had some of the cleanest air in the world. But smoke from the megafires over the Black Summer of 2019–2020 caused 417 deaths, as well as thousands of hospital admissions. Health costs were estimated at almost $A2 billion. People lost days at work and at school, and some will have ongoing health problems. Climate change is predicted to steadily worsen our bushfires.

3. Adequate clean water

Water is essential for human life, health and activity, and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. As the driest inhabited continent, Australia’s water is one of our most valuable resources. Unfortunately, it is often poorly managed. Many Indigenous communities do not have clean, healthy drinking water, while dozens of non-Indigenous communities had to truck water in during the last drought.

Land clearing disrupts ecosystems, threatens biodiversity and can alter stream flow and water quality. Run-off from agriculture damages aquatic ecosystems and encourages algal blooms and species loss. Again, this isn’t just pain for the environment.

The Murray–Darling Basin is home to more than 2.2 million people and more than four million people depend on these rivers for their water. Already, the basin’s rivers and catchments are rated as poor or very poor.

4. Liveable climate

Climate change is pushing the south-west of Western Australia into a new normal of near-permanent drought. This has already massively reduced the inflows into Perth’s dams, requiring more use of groundwater and desalination. South-eastern Australia is also drying, stressing plants and animals. We’re already seeing agricultural productivity dropping. As parts of Australia dry out, it’s hard to see how drought-prone towns and regions will remain viable.

What Will Happen If We Don’t Repair The Environment?

Humans can only withstand heat up until a point. After that, exposure to extreme heat leads to damage to tissues and organs, and, eventually damage and death. The same goes for the livestock we rely on, which are at risk of serious health threats from heat. Heat hits weight gain, milk production and reproductive success.

Wheat stalks
The profitability of crops like wheat has been hit already. Shutterstock

The profitability of broadacre crops such as wheat and barley is an estimated 22% less since 2000 than it would have been if climate change wasn’t happening. In turn, this is leaving many Australians in rural and regional communities facing worsening incomes and health.

Irrigation water is less reliable, while increases in temperature reduce both quantity and quality of fruit and vegetable crops. The nutritional value of foods also declines under extreme heat.

In short, we can no longer pretend we live in a world walled off from nature. Damaging nature damages humans. Think of the cartoon trope where a character cuts off the tree branch they’re sitting on.

We have created these problems collectively. To avoid social upheaval, we have to repair the damage – together.

The federal government’s newly announced Environmental Protection Agency is a good start. It must be adequately resourced and have powers to enforce compliance.

Beyond that, we urgently need coordinated policies, sound supporting science and effective data systems, prioritised actions, commitment and investment and community support. The Conversation

Liz Hanna, Honorary Associate Professor, Australian National University and Mark Howden, Director, ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘Bad and getting worse’: Labor promises law reform for Australia’s environment. Here’s what you need to know

Laura SchuijersUniversity of Sydney and Thomas NewsomeUniversity of Sydney

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek acknowledges “it’s time to change” after the State of the Environment report revealed a bleak picture of Australia’s natural places.

In a speech on Tuesday, Plibersek foreshadowed a suite of reforms to Australia’s environment policies, including new legislation to go before parliament next year. Plibersek told reporters:

Australia’s environment is bad and getting worse, as this report shows, and much of the destruction outlined in the State of the Environment Report will take years to turn around. Nevertheless, I am optimistic about the steps that we can take over the next three years.

The changes will be informed by the government’s response to Professor Graeme Samuel’s independent review of federal environment law. That review found the law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, has failed to safeguard Australia’s vulnerable plants, animals, and ecological communities.

Having been in the minister’s chair for only six weeks, Plibersek was hesitant to outline major policy initiatives and said the government would consult widely before making changes. She says overhauling Australia’s environmental protections will be “challenging” and public views on the right policy response will differ wildly.

Our collective expertise spans environmental law and ecosystem processes. Here, we consider whether today’s announcements go far enough to restore and protect Australia’s precious natural assets.

What’s Been Promised?

Plibersek’s speech contained a couple of new announcements, and a reiteration of previous policy pledges. As well as committing to a response to the Samuel review by the end of the year, these include:

  • setting clear environmental standards with explicit targets

  • fundamental reform of national environmental laws and a new national level Environmental Protection Agency to enforce them

  • expanding Australia’s national estate to protect 30% of land and 30% of oceans by 2030

  • producing better and more shareable environmental data to better track progress and decline

  • including environmental indicators in the government’s new “wellbeing budget

  • supporting investment into blue carbon projects, such as restoring mangroves and seagrasses

  • doubling the number of Indigenous rangers to 3,800 this decade and increasing funding for Indigenous protected areas.

  • enshrining a higher national emissions reduction target into law.

These important changes are likely to lead to environmental gains. But the key will be ensuring progress is independently monitored, and that new laws and targets can be amended as needed.

Changes Urgently Needed

The commitment to expand Australia’s national estate may be comforting, but it misses crucial context. As the report notes, the overall level of protection within reserves has fallen.

In fact, in some of our most prized protected areas, threatened species are declining. These include northern quolls, northern brown bandicoots and pale field-rats in Kakadu National Park.

Researchers estimated in 2019 that we spend only 15% of what’s needed to avoid extinctions and recover threatened species. Expanding protected areas means little unless accompanied by adequate funding for species recovery.

The report also recognises invasive species as one of the biggest threats to native biodiversity. In particular, feral and domestic cats have played a leading role in most of Australia’s mammal extinctions since colonisation.

Controlling invasive species such as feral cats will be difficult without developing new management strategies that can be applied at scale. This will require more investment in research and adequate resources to trial, test and monitor approaches.

Cats have been a leading cause of mammal extinctions in Australia since colonisation. Shutterstock

Rates of land clearing also continue to soar, as Plibersek noted. But we’re yet to see details of how the federal government plans to address this crucial issue.

Nonetheless, Plibersek spoke optimistically about cooperating with state and territory governments, who are primarily responsible for forests in their jurisdictions.

The next five-yearly review of the Regional Forest Agreements – made between federal and state governments – offer an important opportunity. These agreements broadly exempt logging operations from federal environmental law.

Cooperating with the states will be important in addressing the environmental challenges posed by, for instance, native forest logging in Victoria, which has contributed to the greater glider being recently listed as endangered.

New Environmental Law For 2023

Plibersek noted the importance of climate change as a cumulative threat to the pressures already affecting the environment.

While she reinforced her election promise to legislate emissions cuts, she skirted around how climate change’s harms to biodiversity could be incorporated into environmental law. A fundamental issue with the EPBC Act is that there’s no explicit mention of climate change.

This could be a problem if federal support continues to be given to new projects that could also undermine emissions targets. For example, the federal government recently approved Western Australia’s Scarborough-Pluto gas project. It is set to be one of Australia’s most emissions-intensive developments.

Another crucial problem with the EPBC Act, as Professor Graeme Samuel recognised is his review, is that it operates in a piecemeal way.

Instead of protecting the environment holistically, it’s triggered when individual projects are likely to affect specific aspects of the environment, such as a threatened species.

When triggered, the act requires an assessment of a project’s potential impact, but doesn’t require any specific measurable outcomes once the project has gone ahead.

It also focuses on lists of species and places, rather than the interactions within and between environmental systems. It will be impossible for the new government to adequately respond to the Samuel review without acknowledging this major flaw.

The proposal to introduce national environment standards next year will make a positive difference. It needs to operate not as a vague reference point, but as a ceiling.

We Can’t Afford To Fail

Continuing to ignore the damning evidence revealed in the report today will worsen Australia’s biodiversity crisis. Not only will further losses lead to more extinctions, they will also compromise our ecosystems’ ability to support us.

Biodiversity loss has been heralded as one of the top threats to the global economy, ranking third behind climate change and extreme weather events.

Australia’s extinction track record is among the world’s worst. Failing to make the necessary legal and policy reforms could not only represent a missed opportunity to restore past losses, but also lock in further decline for decades.

The report shows the best time to take action has passed. The second best time is now.The Conversation

Laura Schuijers, Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law and Lecturer in Law, University of Sydney and Thomas Newsome, Academic Fellow, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

CSIRO: State Of The Environment 2021 Report

July 19, 2022
The latest State of the Environment (SOE) Report was released on Tuesday 19 July 2022 by the Minister for the Environment and Water.

The report is a comprehensive assessment of the state of Australia’s environment produced every five years by the Australian Government. It is an independent and evidence-based review that is mandated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

CSIRO scientists have made significant contributions to State of the Environment 2021 as co-lead authors of six of the report’s chapters including Air Quality, Land, Marine, Coasts, Biodiversity, and Extreme Events. Our published science, data sets, models and tools were used extensively across the report’s comprehensive findings.

The State of the Environment Report has found that in a rapidly changing climate, with unsustainable development and use of resources, the general outlook for our environment is deteriorating. This is a result of increasing pressures from climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, and resource extraction.  

We welcome the inclusion of Indigenous authors, an entire Indigenous-led theme, and Indigenous-specific case studies in the report. It is a hugely significant change to this reporting – and CSIRO has been central in support of this approach.

Dr Larry Marshall, CSIRO Chief Executive, says:

“Our unique Australian environment is precious and much-loved by all Australians. Our landscapes, biodiversity, air, coast and seas are facing pressures unlike ever before and science, research and innovation will be critical to turn the tide of environment deterioration and degradation in the future.

Scientists from across Australia have meticulously gathered and assessed the evidence that has contributed to this timely snapshot of Australia’s environment, which is facing significant challenges due to increasing pressures from climate change, pollution, resource extraction, habitat loss and invasive species.  

I would urge all Australians to engage deeply with this report, as a declining environment affects all of us. By working together to take action, we can help our environment to heal.  

Science from CSIRO has played a key contribution to this report, with cutting-edge scientific tools, systems, models and data sets that were crucial in establishing its evidence base. This rigorous analysis will be critical to making better decisions on how we manage our environment in the future, including balancing its competing uses with protection and restoration. 

I pay my respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we all live, because they have protected our environment for millennia – their voices are strong in the report to demonstrate the criticality of connection to healthy Country to heal Australia.”

Gunbower-Creek and Gunbower-Island near Cohuna Victoria. Photo: CSIRO

Extreme events are impacting our environment
Dr Dan Metcalfe, Director of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere and co-lead author of the SOE Extreme Events chapter says:

“The State of the Environment Report found the intensity, frequency and distribution of extreme weather-related events are changing.

Impacts of extreme events have been exacerbated by habitat fragmentation, land management practices and invasive species, and extreme events are demonstrably impacting our environment, ecosystems, society and our wellbeing.

Research on extreme events and climate change is integrated widely across the report, as impacts of such acute events are felt widely across the built and natural environment, and affect biodiversity, production systems, industry, and community.

We need to continue to improve our understanding of the interplay between hazards, risks, vulnerability and impact to determine where to make the most significant investments.”

There may be no ‘safe’ level of air quality in Australia
Dr Kathryn Emmerson, CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and co-lead author of the SOE Air Quality chapter says:

“The quality of the air we breathe affects the health of all Australians. There may be no ‘safe’ level of air quality in Australia, as health effects can be observed from relatively low levels of air pollution.

Bushfires are the greatest threat to Australia’s air quality as they generate smoke that can be harmful to human health for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Wood heaters are a major cause of lower air quality in cities and prohibiting their use would improve air quality, particularly in the winter.

The most effective way of improving air quality is through targeting pollution sources and minimising our exposure to low air quality.

Ongoing development, testing and deployment of low-cost air quality sensors to supplement existing monitoring networks will be effective for localised real time air quality information.”

Competition for land and its resources is growing
Dr Kristen Williams, CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and co-lead author of the SOE Land chapter says:

“Intense competition for land resources in Australia has resulted in continued declines in the amount and condition of our land-based natural capital – native vegetation, soil and biodiversity. This means that the overall state of Australia’s land and soil is poor.

Many parts of Australia are highly degraded, and native vegetation has been extensively cleared. The widespread reduction in capacity of native vegetation to support Australia’s unique biodiversity is exacerbated by declining habitat quality, climate change and the prevalence of invasive species. It can take many decades for ecosystems to fully recover.

Australian landscapes have a key role to play in carbon storage, above the ground in vegetation and below the ground sequestered in soils. While nationally there has been a slight decline in primary forest clearing from very high past levels, the amount of regrowth forest reclearing has remained high. Healthy soils and functioning ecosystems represent a significant opportunity for sequestering and storing carbon.

Land managed for nature conservation has remained relatively steady, with most increases coming from the private sector and the Indigenous estate. However, managing for climate change and invasive species remains a significant and growing challenge.

Renewed focus on landscape recovery, and greater recognition and empowerment of Indigenous land management practices, where possible, can help us to heal Country and find new ways to gain a broad range of benefits.”

Desert-blooms along the North-West Coastal-Hwy in Western Australia. Photo: via Flickr by Murray Floubister 

Climate change and pollution pressures are not being adequately managed in our marine environment
Dr Rowan Trebilco, CSIRO Team Leader and co-lead author of the SOE Marine chapter says:

“Australia’s oceanic marine areas remain in generally good condition overall; however, some areas are deteriorating rapidly.

The State of the Environment Report shows that pressures arising from climate change and pollution are not being adequately managed in Australia’s marine environment. There is a need for widespread uptake of integrated management approaches to effectively manage Australia’s marine environment.

Nearshore environments, like reefs, are in poor and deteriorating condition due to climate change and cumulative pressures.

Climate change continues to warm and acidify the ocean. Marine heatwaves also affect the quality of marine ecosystems. Several major marine heatwaves have been experienced in Australian waters over the last five years, contributing to an overall deteriorating trend for the marine environment.

Looking at pressures and components in isolation only tells part of the story for our marine environment. The SOE Report suggests that new national systems are needed for integrated, inclusive and participatory ocean management. This could be enabled by a national integrated, adaptive, long-term marine environmental monitoring with strong Indigenous engagement.”

Outcomes for species and ecosystems are generally poor
Dr Helen Murphy, CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and co-lead author of the SOE Biodiversity chapter says:

“Biodiversity is essential to a resilient natural environment, and to human survival, wellbeing and economic prosperity.  It is also integral to the culture of Indigenous Australians and to Australia’s national identity.

Pressures facing Australian biodiversity have not improved since the 2016 State of the Environment Report, and outcomes for species and ecosystems are generally poor.

Habitat loss and degradation, and invasive species, result in persistent and sometimes irreversible impacts on biodiversity across almost all areas of Australia.

Our inability to adequately manage pressures will continue to result in species extinctions and deteriorating ecosystem conditions unless current management approaches and investments are substantially improved.”

Two Rainbow Bee Eaters, New South Wales. Photo: CSIRO

There are multiple pressures on Australia’s coasts
Ms Mibu Fischer, CSIRO Researcher and Indigenous co-lead author of the SOE Marine and Coasts chapters says:

“There are multiple pressures on Australia’s coasts. Sea level rise will have a profound impact, with climate change impacts fast outweighing those from population and industry.

“There is limited Indigenous leadership in management of our coasts in Australia with further investment needed to improve power imbalances and to allow for increased relationships and partnerships when caring for Country.”

Pittwater Reserves: Histories + Notes + Pictorial Walks

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
America Bay Track Walk - photos by Joe Mills
An Aquatic June: North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Collaroy photos by Joe Mills 
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 Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
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 
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 Beach
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
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
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
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
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
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
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
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Reserve
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
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Wilshire Park Palm Beach: Some History + Photos From May 2022
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

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:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see 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:

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 -

Inaugural Gotcha4Life Cup 2022: July 28

The inaugural Gotcha4Life Cup will take place this Thursday, July 28th at Brookvale Oval. 

The Sydney Roosters and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have joined forces with Gotcha4Life to raise funds and awareness in support of mental fitness in their Round 20 match.

Gotcha4Life is a not-for-profit foundation with a goal of zero suicides, taking action by delivering mental fitness programs that engage, educate and empower schools, sporting clubs, workplaces and community groups.

The Sea Eagles have been supported by Premier Partner Shaw and Partners Financial Services, who will be donating $100,000 to the Gotcha4Life Foundation in honour of this game.

''We’re proud to be partnering with the Sea Eagles and Gotcha4Life Foundation on this important initiative, and to do what we can to help educate and empower Australians on taking positive action towards their own mental fitness'' Earl Evans, Co-CEO of Shaw and Partners, stated in an interview with the Manly Sea Eagles this week.

The Gotcha4Life logo will be displayed below the Shaw and Partners logo on the Manly Sea Eagles special jerseys for this Round. These jerseys, donated by Dynasty Sport, will then be auctioned off after the game to raise more funds for Gotcha4Life.

Roosters  match-worn and player-issued jerseys will also be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Gotcha4Life, with the opportunity for Roosters Members and supporters to make a bid when the Auction Site becomes live. 

''The reason these two teams will now play for the Gotcha4life Cup is that we have ambassadors in both sides in James Tedesco and Sam Verrills from the Roosters, and Daly Cherry Evans and the Trbojevic brothers for Manly.'' Gus Worland, Gotcha4Life Founder said this week.

“Having my team the Roosters against my Gotcha4life mate Hugh Jackman’s team will be awesome. We’ve been watching our teams play each other since the early 70s. We’ve spent many days at ‘Brookie’ and the old Sydney Sports Ground munching on pies and running for the corner post at full-time.”

Beyond a bit of friendly rivalry on and off the field, Mr. Worland said there’s a message he wants everyone to take home from the match.

“The key thing we want everyone who watches this match to take away is that mental fitness is as important as physical fitness. You need to train to be your best and it really helps to have a coach,’’ Worland added.

“When we talk about training, from a mental fitness point-of-view, we’re talking about anything you do to ensure that you’re in a good mental state to overcome the stresses and challenges that everyday life throws at us”.

“This game is special. We’re all on the same team off the field fighting mental health and fitness concerns,’’ Tom Trbojevic said.

“A lot of people go through many different challenges. If you don’t have that strong mate group, it’s harder to get through.

“It’s really important to make sure you go beyond someone saying they’re good to find out how they’re really feeling. People often put on a on a front. It’s important that we break that down to address any issues they may have.”

You can learn more about Gotcha4Life and the great programs being run through this organisation here:

Tickets are still available for Thursdays match at:

In the video below, Gus Worland, Gotcha4Life Founder chats to Manly Sea Eagles players Ben and Tom Trbojevic and Sydney Roosters Captain James Tedesco and player Sam Verrills about what it means to be mentally fit on and off the field. 

In related news, two local athletes have been selected for the first ever Australian Schoolgirls Team that will tour overseas this coming September. 


Be The Boss: I Want To Be A Confectioner

Confectionery Makers operate machines and perform routine tasks to make and wrap confectionery. Confectioners mix, shape and cook sweeteners and other ingredients to produce confectionery, including chocolate, toffee and other lollies.

To become a confectioner you usually have to complete a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10 and a certificate II or III in food processing will be useful. 

Duties & Tasks of a Confectioner


  • Examine production schedules to determine confectionery types and quantities to be made
  • Check the cleanliness and operation of equipment before beginning production
  • Weigh, measure, mix, dissolve and boil ingredients in pans
  • Operate equipment that refines and tempers chocolate
  • Assist with coating chocolate bars and preparing chocolate products
  • Control temperature and pressure in cookers used to make boiled sweets, starch-moulded products, caramels, toffees, nougat and chocolate centres
  • Operate equipment to compress sugar mixes into sweets
  • Check batch consistency using a stainless steel spatula or measuring equipment such as a refractometer
  • Sort and inspect finished or partly finished products.


  • Weighs, measures, mixes, dissolves and boils ingredients..
  • Moves products from production lines into storage and shipping areas..
  • Operates machines to process food product..
  • Monitors product quality before packaging by inspecting, taking samples and adjusting treatment conditions when necessary.
  • Packages products.
  • Operates heating, chilling, and similar equipment..
  • Cleans equipment, pumps, hoses, storage tanks, vessels and floors, and maintains infestation control programmes..
  • Adds materials, such as spices and preservatives, to food.

Working conditions for a Confectioner

Most confectioners work full time. Senior confectioners provide on-the-job training to junior employees and coordinate work in a team environment.

Employment Opportunities for a Confectioner

Most confectioners are employed by confectionery manufacturers and work in factories. With more experience, confectioners can be involved in developing confectionery items with new textures, colours and flavours. With experience, and sometimes further training, it is possible to progress to leading hand, supervisory or management positions.

Candy, also called sweets (British English) or lollies (Australian English, New Zealand English), is a confection that features sugar as a principal ingredient. The category, called sugar confectionery, encompasses any sweet confection, including chocolate, chewing gum, and sugar candy. Vegetables, fruit, or nuts which have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.

Physically, candy is characterized by the use of a significant amount of sugar or sugar substitutes. Unlike a cake or loaf of bread that would be shared among many people, candies are usually made in smaller pieces. However, the definition of candy also depends upon how people treat the food. Unlike sweet pastries served for a dessert course at the end of a meal, candies are normally eaten casually, often with the fingers, as a snack between meals. Each culture has its own ideas of what constitutes candy rather than dessert. The same food may be a candy in one culture and a dessert in another.

The word candy entered the English language from the Old French çucre candi ("sugar candy"). The French term could have earlier word roots in the Arabic qandi, Persian qand and Sanskrit khanda, all words for sugar.

Candy at a souq in Damascus, Syria. Photo: Elisa Azzali

Sugarcane is indigenous to tropical South and Southeast Asia. Pieces of sugar were produced by boiling sugarcane juice in ancient India and consumed as khanda.] Between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, the Persians, followed by the Greeks, discovered the people in India and their "reeds that produce honey without bees". They adopted and then spread sugar and sugarcane agriculture.

Before sugar was readily available, candy was based on honey. Honey was used in Ancient China, the Middle East, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire to coat fruits and flowers to preserve them or to create forms of candy. Candy is still served in this form today, though now it is more typically seen as a type of garnish.


A chocolatier can be defined as someone who makes and sells confectionery made from chocolate. They may be responsible for the whole process from start to finish, from devising a recipe, through to making the product, and finally packaging, displaying and selling. They may be salaried or self-employed and can become a Master Chocolatier once they have acquired the relevant skills and experience. They may work in a specialist chocolate shop, whether artisanal, independent or part of a worldwide group, or indeed as part of a professional kitchen or at the production facilities of a chocolate manufacturer.

Chocolate is a food product made from roasted and ground cacao seed kernels, that is available as a liquid, solid or paste, on its own or as a flavoring agent in other foods. Cacao has been consumed in some form since at least the Olmec civilization (19th-11th century BCE), and the majority of Mesoamerican people ─ including the Maya and Aztecs ─ made chocolate beverages.

The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavour. After fermentation, the seeds are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cocoa nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, unadulterated chocolate in rough form. Once the cocoa mass is liquefied by heating, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor may also be cooled and processed into its two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Baking chocolate, also called bitter chocolate, contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, without any added sugar. Powdered baking cocoa, which contains more fiber than cocoa butter, can be processed with alkali to produce dutch cocoa. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids.

Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavours in the world, and many foodstuffs involving chocolate exist, particularly desserts, including cakes, pudding, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate. Chocolate bars, either made of solid chocolate or other ingredients coated in chocolate, are eaten as snacks. Gifts of chocolate moulded into different shapes (such as eggs, hearts, coins) are traditional on certain Western holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, and Hanukkah. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate, and in some alcoholic drinks, such as crème de cacao.

In 2019 we ran a page about some of the earlier chocolate makers in Australia - you can find that in Old Australian Chocolates Back On The Market: The Cherry Ripe Song. You can also read about the History of Darrell Lea sweets, lollies, liquorice and chocolate on their website at: while the Cadbury factory, in Tasmania, was opened in 1922.

Some of the earliest Confectioners of local lollies were at Manly.

Until the 16th century, no European had ever heard of the popular drink from the Central American peoples. Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand encountered the cocoa bean on Columbus's fourth mission to the Americas on 15 August 1502, when he and his crew stole a large native canoe that proved to contain cocoa beans among other goods for trade.

Fry's produced the first chocolate in solid state in 1847, which was then mass-produced as Fry's Chocolate Cream in 1866.

J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. better known as Fry's, was a British chocolate company owned by Joseph Storrs Fry and his family. Beginning in Bristol in the 18th century, the business went through several changes of name and ownership, becoming J. S. Fry & Sons in 1822. In 1847, Fry's produced the first solid chocolate bar. The company also created the first filled chocolate sweet, Cream Sticks, in 1853. Fry is most famous for Fry's Chocolate Cream, the first mass-produced chocolate bar, which was launched in 1866, and Fry's Turkish Delight, launched in 1914.

Fry, alongside Cadbury and Rowntree's, was one of the big three British confectionery manufacturers throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and all three companies were founded by Quakers. The company became a division of Cadbury in the early twentieth century. 

Confectioner as a job information courtesy The Good Universities Guide, Australia.

Northern Beaches Youth Theatre At Warriewood: Christmas Play

Calling all 12-17 year olds!

Register now to be a part of our hilarious, fun and enchanting modern take on the old Dickens tale of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future taking an old scrooge on a heartfelt awakening and the resulting realisation of all that makes a person good and wise. Mark Landon Smith's "Christmas Carol High School" is a play (not musical) with a modern take on the timeless classic. It uses a present day setting and a cast of cool, modern characters with throwbacks to old favourites for family-oriented fun.

We welcome any 12-17YO with the slightest, niggling interest in theatre to come along and have a go. There are many parts up for grabs and it's a great opportunity to give theatre a go if you're new, or put something on your resume if you're already honed and experienced. All while being part of an open, inclusive and warm community.

Rehearsals weekly Fridays 430-630pm

Show dates last week of November and first week of December with some extra rehearsals closer to show dates.

Sign up using the form (or bio link):

Find out more at:

Art Competition To Remember Our ANZACS

June 24, 2022
Students across NSW are encouraged to get creative as the NSW Government together with RSL NSW launches an art competition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC Commemoration next year.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell is encouraging students to speak to their school and submit a design that will feature on the 2023 program and at an exhibition at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.

“The NSW Government and the Department of Education has co-hosted this service with RSL NSW for 70 years, and we want to acknowledge this anniversary with a commemorative program to which the students in New South Wales can contribute,” Ms Mitchell said.

“I invite any student across all three education sectors to participate and have the opportunity to be selected to have their artwork featured on the 2023 service program.”

Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said the annual commemoration at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park aims to educate and encourage younger Australians to learn about Australia’s military history, whilst paying respect to the service and sacrifice of servicemen and servicewomen. 

“This art competition is a great way for students in New South Wales to learn about our military history and design an artwork that reflects what it means to them. It could be about a family member who served in World War One, or a symbol of their service to our nation,” Mr Elliott said.

“The annual RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC proceedings are incomparable, as they’re delivered entirely by school students including the Master of Ceremonies, keynote address, readings, and musical accompaniment.”

RSL NSW President Ray James said it was critical for the RSL to work with the Department of Education to ensure school students understood why Australians commemorated the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the Australian Defence Force.

“Commemorating significant moments in our military history is vital to Australia, as a people, a community, and a nation. RSL NSW takes this responsibility incredibly seriously as the custodians of the Anzac spirit. Future generations should never forget that the freedom they enjoy in Australia has been protected by the men and women who served in our armed and allied forces.” Mr James said.

The RSL and Schools Remember ANZAC Commemoration was first held in 1953, co-hosted by RSL NSW and the Department of Education. Over the years the service has expanded to Catholic Schools NSW and the Association of Independent Schools NSW.

16 September 2022: Submissions close

Word Of The Week: Sail

Word of the Week returns in 2022 simply to throw some disruption in amongst the 'yeah-nah' mix.


1. a piece of material extended on a mast to catch the wind and propel a boat or ship or other vessel; "all the sails were unfurled". 2. a wind-catching apparatus attached to the arm of a windmill.


1. travel in a boat with sails, especially as a sport or recreation. 2. move smoothly and rapidly or in a stately or confident manner.

From: Old English segel (noun), Old English segl "sail, veil, curtain," from Proto-Germanic *seglom (source also of Old Saxon, Swedish segel, Old Norse segl, Old Frisian seil, Dutch zeil, Old High German segal, German Segel), of obscure origin with no known cognates outside Germanic (Irish seol, Welsh hwyl "sail" are Germanic loan-words). In some sources (Klein, OED) referred to PIE root *sek- "to cut," as if meaning "a cut piece of cloth."

Old English segilan (verb) "travel on water in a ship by the action of wind upon sails; equip with a sail," from the same Germanic source as sail (n.); cognate with Old Norse sigla, Middle Dutch seghelen, Dutch zeilen, Middle Low German segelen, German segeln. Later extended to travel over water by steam power or other mechanical agency. The meaning "to set out on a sea voyage, leave port" is from c. 1200. Extended sense of "float through the air; move forward impressively" is by late 14c., as is the sense of "sail over or upon."

Christopher Cross: Sailing (1980)

Most Soothing Sir David Attenborough Moments 

By BBC Earth: July 2022

Meeting the world's smallest lemur, watching the miracle of chicks hatching and describing his love for fossils: here are 26 minutes of some of the most soothing Sir David Attenborough moments.

Even if TikTok and other apps are collecting your data, what are the actual consequences?

Ausma BernotGriffith University

By now, most of us are aware social media companies collect vast amounts of our information. By doing this, they can target us with ads and monetise our attention. The latest chapter in the data-privacy debate concerns one of the world’s most popular apps among young people – TikTok.

Yet anecdotally it seems the potential risks aren’t really something young people care about. Some were interviewed by The Project this week regarding the risk of their TikTok data being accessed from China.

They said it wouldn’t stop them using the app. “Everyone at the moment has access to everything,” one person said. Another said they didn’t “have much to hide from the Chinese government”.

Are these fair assessments? Or should Australians actually be worried about yet another social media company taking their data?

What’s Happening With TikTok?

In a 2020 Australian parliamentary hearing on foreign interference through social media, TikTok representatives stressed: “TikTok Australia data is stored in the US and Singapore, and the security and privacy of this data are our highest priority.”

But as Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) analyst Fergus Ryan has observed, it’s not about where the data are stored, but who has access.

On June 17, BuzzFeed published a report based on 80 leaked internal TikTok meetings which seemed to confirm access to US TikTok data by Chinese actors. The report refers to multiple examples of data access by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which is based in China.

Then in July, TikTok Australia’s director of public policy, Brent Thomas, wrote to the shadow minister for cyber security, James Paterson, regarding China’s access to Australian user data.

Thomas denied having been asked for data from China or having “given data to the Chinese government” – but he also noted access is “based on the need to access data”. So there’s good reason to believe Australian users’ data may be accessed from China.

Is TikTok Worse Than Other Platforms?

TikTok collects rich consumer information, including personal information and behavioural data from people’s activity on the app. In this respect, it’s not different from other social media companies.

They all need oceans of user data to push ads onto us, and run data analytics behind a shiny facade of cute cats and trendy dances.

However, TikTok’s corporate roots extend to authoritarian China – and not the US, where most of our other social media come from. This carries implications for TikTok users.

Hypothetically, since TikTok moderates content according to Beijing’s foreign policy goals, it’s possible TikTok could apply censorship controls over Australian users.

This means users’ feeds would be filtered to omit anything that doesn’t fit the Chinese government’s agenda, such as support for Taiwan’s sovereignty, as an example. In “shadowbanning”, a user’s posts appear to have been published to the user themselves, but are not visible to anyone else.

It’s worth noting this censorship risk isn’t hypothetical. In 2019, information about Hong Kong protests was reported to have been censored not only on Douyin, China’s domestic version of TikTok, but also on TikTok itself.

Then in 2020, ASPI found hashtags related to LGBTQ+ are suppressed in at least eight languages on TikTok. In response to ASPI’s research, a TikTok spokesperson said the hashtags may be restricted as part of the company’s localisation strategy and due to local laws.

In Thailand, keywords such as #acab, #gayArab and anti-monarchy hashtags were found to be shadowbanned.

Within China, Douyin complies with strict national content regulation. This includes censoring information about the religious movement Falun Gong and the Tiananmen massacre, among other examples.

The legal environment in China forces Chinese internet product and service providers to work with government authorities. If Chinese companies disagree, or are unaware of their obligations, they can be slapped with legal and/or financial penalties and be forcefully shut down.

In 2012, another social media product run by the founder of ByteDance, Yiming Zhang, was forced to close. Zhang fell into political line in a public apology. He acknowledged the platform deviated from “public opinion guidance” by not moderating content that goes against “socialist core values”.

Individual TikTok users should seriously consider leaving the app until issues of global censorship are clearly addressed.

But Don’t Forget, It’s Not Just TikTok

Meta products, such as Facebook and Instagram, also measure our interests by the seconds we spend looking at certain posts. They aggregate those behavioural data with our personal information to try to keep us hooked – looking at ads for as long as possible.

Some real cases of targeted advertising on social media have contributed to “digital redlining” – the use of technology to perpetuate social discrimination.

In 2018, Facebook came under fire for showing some employment ads only to men. In 2019, it settled another digital redlining case over discriminatory practices in which housing ads were targeted to certain users on the basis of “race, colour, national origin and religion”.

And in 2021, before the US Capitol breach, military and defence product ads were running alongside conversations about a coup.

Then there are some worst-case scenarios. The 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how Meta (then Facebook) exposed users’ data to the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica without their consent.

Cambridge Analytica harvested up to 87 million users’ data from Facebook, derived psychological user profiles and used these to tailor pro-Trump messaging to them. This likely had an influence on the 2016 US presidential election.

A phone shows a TikTok video playing on the screen, with a person mid-dance.
To what extent are we willing to ignore potential risks with social platforms, in favour of addictive content? Shutterstock

With TikTok, the most immediate concern for the average Australian user is content censorship – not direct prosecution. But within China, there are recurring instances of Chinese nationals being detained or even jailed for using both Chinese and international social media.

You can see how the consequences of mass data harvesting are not hypothetical. We need to demand more transparency from not just TikTok but all major social platforms regarding how data are used.

Let’s continue the regulation debate TikTok has accelerated. We should look to update privacy protections and embed transparency into Australia’s national regulatory guidelines – for whatever the next big social media app happens to be.The Conversation

Ausma Bernot, PhD Candidate, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Vegetarian diets may be better for the planet – but the Mediterranean diet is the one omnivores will actually adopt

Nicole AllendenUniversity of New EnglandAmy LykinsUniversity of New England, and Annette Cowie

What we eat and how we produce food matters. Food systems are responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

We cannot fully tackle the climate crisis without reducing the greenhouse footprint of our food. The issue is only becoming more urgent, as world population climbs alongside hunger stemming from war disruption of food exports. As people get richer and more urbanised, global consumption of meat and dairy products also grows.

Livestock are the main source of our food emissions and the third highest global source of emissions at 14.5%, after energy (35%) and transport (23%).

To cut these emissions, many advocate switching to plant-rich or plant-only diets. But will people who have a longstanding attachment to meat actually choose to switch? Our new research suggests the sweet spot is the Mediterranean diet, which includes some meat while remaining plant rich and healthy.

What’s The Problem?

Rearing livestock requires large areas of land, as well as inputs of water and feed. More intensive livestock production is linked to biodiversity loss, land degradation, pollution of waterways, increased risk of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, and antibiotic resistance.

Chicken farm intensive
Intensive livestock production often entails worse animal welfare. Shutterstock

While methods of cutting livestock emissions are undergoing development, production is only half the story. To have a real impact, we also need to consider the demand side.

Without reducing the overall demand for meat and dairy, it’s unlikely livestock emissions will fall fast enough and far enough. In wealthy countries like Australia, we consume meat and dairy at high rates. Reducing these consumption rates could cut greenhouse emissions and reduce other environmental damage.

So which diet should we eat? Clearly, any acceptable diet needs to be nutritionally adequate. While meat provides essential nutrients, too much of it is linked to diseases like cancer. It’s important to consider both environmental and health credentials of a diet. We can add animal welfare to this as well, which tends to be worse in intensive livestock production.

We hope by identifying healthy, environmentally sustainable diets with better animal welfare, we can help people make sustainable dietary choices.

What Did We Find?

We looked at five common plant-rich diets and assessed their impacts on the environment (carbon footprint, land, and water use), human health, and animal welfare. We focused on food production in high-income countries.

The diets we examined were:

  • Mediterranean (plant-heavy with small amounts of red meat, moderate amounts of poultry and fish)
  • Flexitarian/semi-vegetarian (meat reduction)
  • Pescatarian (fish, no other meat)
  • Vegetarian (no meat but dairy and eggs OK)
  • Vegan (no animal products)

All five of these plant-rich diets had less environmental impact than the omnivore diet, with no-meat diets (vegan and vegetarian) having the least impact.

We have to add the caveat, however, that environmental footprint measures used to compare diets are simplistic and overlook important indirect effects of shifting diets.

Overall, the Mediterranean diet was deemed the healthiest for humans, while the vegan and vegetarian diets had the best outcomes for animal welfare. When we combined all three measures, vegan and vegetarian diets were found to be the most ‘sustainable’ diets based on reducing our food footprint, staying healthy, and reducing negative impacts on farm animals.

Vegetarian diet
Vegetarian diets are better for the planet but are less popular. Shutterstock

We Know Which Diets Are Best. But What Diet Will People Actually Choose?

There is often a gulf between what we should do in an ideal world and what we actually do. To tackle this, we examined what people are actually willing to eat. Is promoting a vegan or vegetarian diet the most effective way to reduce demand for meat and dairy?

To find out, we asked 253 Australians what they currently eat and which of the five plant-rich diets they were willing to eat.

Australia is a high meat-eating country, so it’s not surprising that most of our respondents (71%) identified as omnivores.

It’s also no surprise that the diets least likely to be adopted were the vegan and vegetarian diets, as these diets represented a major shift in most people’s eating habits.

As a result, it was the Mediterranean diet – which entails a small reduction in meat consumption – which had the highest likelihood of adoption. Combined with its high health benefits and moderate environmental and animal welfare impacts, we identified it as the best diet to promote.

While some of these results may seem intuitive, we believe by combining social, environmental, human health, and animal welfare elements of food consumption, we gain a more complete picture to spot pitfalls as well as realistic solutions.

For instance, it’s likely a waste of precious time and resources to promote diets like the vegan diet which, realistically, most people are not willing to eat. Yet despite the evident lack of enthusiasm from people, most research assessing the environmental impact of different diets has favoured vegan and vegetarian diets.

That’s why taking a wider view is important. If we actually want to reduce meat and dairy consumption, we must use approaches that have the best chance of working.

In high-income countries like Australia, that means we should promote the Mediterranean diet as the best diet to begin to tackle the demand for emissions-intensive meat and dairy. We need to start at a realistic point to begin to create a more sustainable global food system.The Conversation

Nicole Allenden, PhD Candidate, School of Psychology, University of New EnglandAmy Lykins, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology, University of New England, and Annette Cowie, Principal Research Scientist, Climate

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

6 steps to making a COVID plan, before you get sick

Oliver FrankUniversity of Adelaide

With COVID cases, hospital admissions and deaths resurging, every Australian needs to know what they can do to reduce their risk of becoming seriously unwell.

Last week, Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler advised Australians who are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID to consult their GPs and make a plan for what they will do if they are infected.

But what should you ask your GP? And what information can you provide them with to ensure you have a COVID plan in place and can access the right treatment when you need it?

Antivirals For Mild Cases

Two oral COVID treatments are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for use at home by people who have been diagnosed with mild COVID illness and who are at elevated risk of becoming seriously ill: Lagevrio and Paxlovid.

To reduce the risk of progression to severe disease and hospitalisation, these treatments must be started as soon as possible, within five days of when symptoms start.

Nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir (Paxlovid) is the more effective of these two treatments but it can have complex interactions with many common medicines.

Working out whether a person qualifies for these treatments, whether the treatments are safe for them and giving appropriate advice often takes more than 20 minutes in a consultation with your GP.

You can reduce the stress on yourself and on your GP and their practice by discussing these questions while you are well and before any COVID infection is suspected or detected.

older man on phone
If you have a regular GP, go see them and check your eligibility for COVID antivirals. Shutterstock

A 6-Step Plan To Stay As Well As Possible

1. Find A GP

If you don’t yet have a usual GP or general practice, choose one now and ask for an appointment of at least 30 minutes. The purpose of this consultation is for the GP to gain an understanding of your state of health, and so you can make a plan together for what you and the GP will do if you are infected with COVID.

Medicare benefits are payable in these circumstances only for in-person consultations – but you should attend the general practice only if you are well and not a close contact of someone with COVID.

2. Check Your Eligibility

If you already have a usual GP or practice, make an appointment with them and check whether you are eligible for PBS-subsidised oral antiviral treatment. Should you be diagnosed with COVID infection, it is important to be prepared as treatment must start as soon as possible.

The eligibility criteria for subsidised antiviral COVID treatments have recently been expanded. Now people aged 70 years and older can access the treatments, as can people over 50 with two or more risk factors, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over 30 with two or more risk factors, and people with compromised immunity who are over 18.

If you meet the criteria, or you are not sure whether you are in a higher risk group, ask for an appointment with your GP to check eligibility and to make a plan.

3. Get All The COVID Vaccinations You’re Due

Have all doses of COVID vaccine recommended for your age and health status, as soon as you are eligible for each dose. The currently recommended numbers of doses are: two doses for children aged 5 to 15 years; three doses for adolescents and adults aged 16 to 29 (additional doses are recommended for children and adolescents with disabilities or chronic conditions); three doses for adults aged 30 to 49 with an optional fourth dose; and four doses for adults over 50.

ATAGI recommends vaccination to prevent serious illness and death from COVID.

4. Get Your Flu Vaccine Too

Have this year’s influenza vaccine now if you have not already received it. The influenza vaccine is recommended for everybody over six months old and is available from GPs and pharmacies.

The influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as a COVID vaccine. Some GPs and pharmacies charge a consultation or service fee for administering the vaccine.

If you aren’t sure how many doses of COVID vaccine you have had or when you received them, or whether you have had this year’s influenza vaccine, you can check in your My Health Record or you can view your COVID vaccinations though your MyGov account that you have linked to Medicare. Your GP can also check for you during a consultation.

5. Mask Up

Wear an effective mask (preferably not a cloth one) everywhere you can’t physically distance yourself from other people. This is especially important in indoor crowded places, as well as in places where masks are required such as health and aged care facilities. Continue with hand hygiene too.

6. Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Make a list of the medicines (including supplements and over the counter drugs) that you’re taking and how often you take them.

If you are able to, check online whether you are using any medicines that are known to interact with COVID drugs. Some people prescribed Paxlovid will have to stop or reduce the dose of one or more of their usual medicines while using it. Others might not be able to use Paxlovid safely, in which case one of the other treatment options can be considered.

The online tool can generate and save a report with any known interactions between Paxlovid and your usual medicines. Then you can email or show that list to your GP once you have made an appointment for a consultation. Your GP will also be able to check potential drug interactions for you during your pre-COVID appointment.The Conversation

Oliver Frank, Senior Research Fellow, Discipline of General Practice, and Specialist General Practitioner, University of Adelaide

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A touch of hope after the doom? Your guide to the Miles Franklin 2022 shortlist

Jen WebbUniversity of Canberra

This year’s Miles Franklin shortlist is lyrical in voice, complex in form, and perhaps a little more hopeful than usual. The threads of shared concern across the volumes leave me wondering whether there is something in the zeitgeist.

Maybe it’s writers, publishers and judges reacting to the doom of the past two years, and the dread of what the future might bring. These novels seem infused with a sense of play, of measured optimism, of the capacity to tease out – and tease – the old verities and the wildly random “truths” that circulate across our culture.

Lines that connect them include the recounting of childhood experiences in the traditions of the Bildungsroman (coming of age novel) and Künstlerroman (artist coming of age story). These books also include reminders that being a migrant, particularly a visible migrant – or even the child or grandchild of visible migrants – means there is never a close and comfortable fit with Australian society.

They include stories of male violence: whether the organised violence of the boxing ring, the casual violence of young men, or predatory masculinity. And they are filled with accounts of the act of writing itself, in a collection of writings that together provide a remarkable reading experience.

Grimmish By Michael Winkler

Michael Winkler’s Grimmish careers through decades and across the globe, with narrative control shifting between uncle, nephew and a talking goat. It is, absolutely, a male story, though the narrator offers tongue-in-cheek gestures toward an idea of equity.

The eponymous Joe Grim, “the human punching bag who never won a fight”, cannot be crushed by pain, and functions very much as an analogy – for “Something in men […] desperate to scramble up that hill of pain to see how high they can get” and for the ludicrous and pointless nature of brutality-as-sport.

Grim can never win a match, but his indefatigable capacity to endure leaves the winner confused and shamed, and the sport itself exposed:

Williams steps back instead of forward, marshals his wind for a while, then drives back into Grim’s ugly flesh, twists another big right into his face, and Grim goes down again. The crowd is ecstatic; this is the finest of sport. Apparently.

This novel surprised and enchanted me on (almost) every page – the playful use of footnotes, the satire and philosophy and social critique, the stories about stories. It’s a mind-whirl of sensation and impression; a densely packed, vivid narrative that reads more like dream.

Michael Winkler. Monique Ferguson

The Other Half Of You By Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Again on male violence, The Other Half of You, Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s second Miles Franklin listing, and the third installation in the story of Bani (whom we last met as a high school student in The Lebs) takes us back to western Sydney and all the rough affection and abuse of his family.

Bani has grown up since 2018; completed his arts degree at Western Sydney Uni, fallen in love, married, divorced and become a father, and finally found his feet.

The problem he explores in this novel is his father’s law: do whatever you want, but do not marry an outsider. (And what constitutes an outsider is a very broad church.) His passion and his broken/breaking heart are played out against the backdrop of his parents and siblings and cousins and aunts, and against his own continuing uncertainty about how to be himself, and a good Muslim, and a good son, and an autonomous artist.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad. Monique Ferguson

It’s a worrying and then deeply heartening account, not merely because of Bani’s ability to wrestle with the tension between critical thinking and the deep bonds of tradition, but because the traditions themselves prove more generous and more flexible than he had imagined.

A funny, roughnecked, tender novel, it reminds us that “there was something shamelessly unwelcoming about Australians”; but also insists tenderness and love co-exist everywhere: “she spoke in the language of my ancestors, and … I dreamed in the language of hers”.

One Hundred Days By Alice Pung

Alice Pung’s One Hundred Days is another first-person narration; another coming-of-age story; and another that – like Ahmad’s – is addressed to the narrator’s not-yet-born child.

Karuna, like Bani, is confined by her parent’s perspective of tradition and its rules, and like Bani, though she struggles against the bonds, she does try to be a good daughter. With good reason, since her mother assures her that the alternative is ruin:

“Tread carefully,” she would tell me. “A girl who makes one wrong move is wrecked for life.”

Alice Pung. Courtney Brown

Her mother, Grand Mar, is hyper-controlling, often brutal, rarely tender. Her father, a white Aussie mechanic, presents initially as patient and affectionate, but once the marriage is over he deserts daughter and ex-wife to penury and precarity.

They, Karuna and Grand Mar, end up in a poverty version of a fairytale tower: a flat in council housing. Here, once Karuna finds herself pregnant at 16 to a young man who is no longer on the scene, Grand Mar plays the villain and locks her up, where she languishes, a princess for whom no prince is seeking.

There is a strong sense of co-dependency even in Karuna’s rage and resistance:

I know for certain that your Grand Mar might lock me up, but she would never, ever kick me out. It is never a problem that your Grand Mar doesn’t care enough for us. The problem with your Grand Mar is that she cares too much.

Perhaps. But it’s complicated. This is a lyrical account of a messy, abusive family, but also a family where, with a switch of perspective, the “mean and paranoid” mother might re-emerge as “loving and reasonable”.

Bodies Of Light By Jennifer Down

Bodies of Light, Jennifer Down’s Bildungsroman, is another first-person narration, this time in the voice of an orphan, Maggie Sullivan, who has fallen into the dubious care of Family Services and the string of foster families and care homes that follow.

It’s a story of profound loneliness, punctuated by some kind individuals, but none who remain part of Maggie’s life and identity:

At night I lay in bed and counted the bodies I’d left behind. Viv, Holly, Tiny, Mr and Mrs Dunne, Jodie, Mr Miller, Jacinta, Alana, Ian, Dinesh. Mum, Dad. Graham. I pictured them all laid out in a paddock like human dominoes. I had no way of knowing what happened to any of them.

It is also a story of profound trauma, with Maggie experiencing sexual abuse from her earliest memories, a silent, watchful little girl turned into a sex toy by any man who felt like it. And it remains, for the most part, unrelentingly sad.

Jennifer Down. Monique Ferguson

Maggie is a bootstraps sort of girl, who manages to get herself grown, and even to enter university, read literature, find a way to flee her past; but the bright moments are few and far between. She remains, even as a successful and capable adult, something of an alien, someone who never learned at the right age how to be a human, someone who doesn’t even have photographs from her childhood.

But don’t feel sorry for her; “I am just trying to live my way through it”, she says, at novel’s end; “We have nothing left to fear”.

Scary Monsters By Michelle De Kretser

Michelle de Kretser is an old hand at the Miles Franklin, having already won the prize twice, and she gives double value here in a novel that is two separate stories, treating the same sorts of issues – racism, sexism, class, migrant status, love, belonging – but from two very different perspectives and historical moments.

In the Kindle edition, readers are offered a choice of where to start; in the print version, the book has two front covers. I chose to start with Lili, and found myself in John Berger country. The novella combines a lovely homage to that remarkable writer in a lyrical, yet often excoriating, portrait of a young woman far from home in what presents as the late 1970s to early 1980s. It’s another migrant narrator, another young person trying to work out how to be, in an often unwelcoming world.

Lili teaches English in France, and at the same time is learning French and finding “something brutal about being flung into a foreign language – something thrilling, too”.

Michelle De Kretser. Joy Lai

She is lonely, of course; she leans on one friend, Minna, who is drenched in privilege, and full of affection, but still abandons Lili. Nonetheless, Minna opens up possibilities to Lili, exposing her to playful creativity, and offering perhaps some small consolation in a time when the Yorkshire Ripper is massacring women and when the philosopher Louis Althusser murders his wife almost with impunity. “Ce n'est pas normal,” is, Lili realises, the best answer, and the idea of Simone de Beauvoir a woman’s best defence.

Flip the volume, and we move to the near future, back in Australia, and a nation run according to the worst impulses of the Border Force and hypercapitalism, where Muslims are banned, the environment is on life support, and people adopt the names of luxury products like Porsche or Prada if they’re wealthy, Ikea if they’re just getting by.

The poetic expression and the idealism of Lila’s story are set aside in favour of a blunt determinism, and equally blunt jokes: “Australia is an egalitarian place. The rich aren’t discriminated against and left to fend for themselves here.”

Lyle, the narrator in this section, bears the same shadow as 1984’s Winston Smith: a reasonable man performing unreasonable functions in an unreasonable and unreasoning society. Like the joke goes, it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad (and vice versa).

This is a remarkable story that illuminates something deeply touching and deeply disturbing about 21st century Australia.The Conversation

Jen Webb, Dean, Graduate Research, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What’s climate got to do with electoral reform? More than you might think

Joo-Cheong ThamThe University of Melbourne

What do electoral laws, social media, climate change and secure work have in common?

All have been prioritised for reform by the Labor government – and all are areas where democratic reform is essential. In fact, the links between these four priorities provide a unique opportunity for change.

Disinformation And Manipulation

The age-old problem of political falsehoods has been given steroids by the speed, targeting and anonymity of digital media. Disinformation is besieging democracies across the world – and Australia is not immune.

To tackle the “deceit [that is] degrading our democracy” Labor’s national platform commits the government to introducing truth in political advertising laws. Recently reiterated by Special Minister of State Don Farrell, this pledge should be welcomed. While truth in political advertising laws must be carefully designed, measures are undoubtedly needed to protect the information environment in which Australian democracy operates.

Indeed, the reform focus should broaden to other forms of political manipulation enabled by “big data”. It should grapple with the threats to democracy and political autonomy posed by “surveillance capitalism”, including micro-targeting and the “choice architecture” created by big tech companies. These tools have fuelled (echo chamber polarisation and put a premium on emotional appeals.

A key priority here, which dovetails with the government’s data transparency initiatives, is “radical transparency”. The other is coverage of digital campaigning under political finance laws, to which we’ll return.

Money In Politics

Labor’s national platform commits the government to

minimise the disproportionate influence of vested interests in the democratic process [including] through the introduction of spending caps.

Laissez-faire regulation has not only resulted in the federal government becoming a laggard domestically and internationally. It has also allowed excessive campaign spending, notably by Clive Palmer and his United Australia Party, which undermines the fairness of elections. Farrell has confirmed Labor’s commitment to “overdue campaign finance reform”.

To be effective, spending caps should cover all digital campaigning (including “cyber armies” and the gathering and use of data. They should be accompanied by other measures, particularly:

• a real-time donation disclosure system

• controls on government advertising in the lead-up to elections

• robust regulation of lobbying.

Connecting With Climate

Democracy and the climate crisis are linked by money. As David Attenborough has pointed out, powerful vested interests are “the most formidable obstacle” to switching to clean energy. Australia bears out the truth of this observation: our fossil fuel industries have blocked climate action for decades. And political donations and lobbying are a key part of their arsenal.

Effective political finance regulation has multiple dividends: it promotes political equality, curbs corruption and enables climate action.

But there is a deeper connection between democracy and the climate crisis. The very same features lauded as democracy’s defining virtues – popular sovereignty, the accountability and responsiveness of elected officials, public debate and deliberation – can hinder climate action.

Democracy at its worst – dominated by inexpert and ineffectual judgements, short-termism, and slow, cumbersome policy processes – can seem like a fair-weather regime unable to navigate crises, and particularly existential crises such as climate change. For some, “democracy is the planet’s biggest enemy”.

The climate crisis will require significant democratic innovation to deal with shortcomings in the way our democracy operates. Four pillars of reform are central: a democratic planning state; an ethos of solidarity; invigorated multilateralism; fair and inclusive politics.

But the conversation has barely begun; progressing it should be one of the reform priorities of the Labor government.

The World Of Work

The final priority for electoral reform puts democracy to work – literally.

The climate crisis highlights the importance of democratising work. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate has stressed that a climate-safe future requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The International Labour Organization has said the impact of the climate crisis on the world of work will be “akin to an industrial revolution”.

Critical here are “a just transition of the [fossil fuel] workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”, as emphasised by the Paris Agreement.

The International Labour Organization has identified workers’ voices (including through trade unions) as an essential element of a just transition. Labor’s policy platform affirms the Paris Agreement’s “requirement for just transition planning involving local communities, unions, and industry”.

manifesto signed by more than 6,000 leading scholars proposes similar action, issuing a call to “[d]emocratise firms; decommodify work; stop treating human beings as resources so that we can focus together on sustaining life on this planet”.

A just transition connects the Labor government’s climate action with its secure work agenda. Voice security is a key part of labour security.

Democracy should extend to workplaces. After all, our working lives are a key part of our lives.

Labor’s constitution recognises this fact by calling for

the application of democracy in industry to increase the opportunities for people to work in satisfying, healthy and humane conditions; and to participate in and to increase their control over the decision making processes affecting them.

Australia’s democracy faces serious challenges – challenges that also provide opportunities to more fully realise democracy as a system in which “the will of the people shall be the basis of authority in government”.The Conversation

Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Celebrity deepfakes are all over TikTok. Here’s why they’re becoming common – and how you can spot them

Rob CoverRMIT University

One of the world’s most popular social media platforms, TikTok, is now host to a steady stream of deepfake videos.

Deepfakes are videos in which a subject’s face or body has been digitally altered to make them look like someone else – usually a famous person.

One notable example is the @deeptomcriuse TikTok account, which has posted dozens of deepfake videos impersonating Tom Cruise, and attracted some 3.6 million followers.

Deepfakes gained a lot of media attention last year, with videos impersonating Hollywood actor Tom Cruise going viral.

In another example, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to be confessing to conspiratorial data sharing. More recently there have been a number of silly videos featuring actors such as Robert Pattinson and Keanu Reeves.

Although deepfakes are often used creatively or for fun, they’re increasingly being deployed in disinformation campaigns, for identity fraud and to discredit public figures and celebrities.

And while the technology needed to make them is sophisticated, it’s becoming increasingly accessible, leaving detection software and regulation lagging behind.

One thing is for sure – deepfakes are here to stay. So what can we do about them?

Varying Roles

The manipulation of text, images and footage has long been a bedrock of interactivity. And deepfakes are no exception; they’re the outcome of a deep-seated desire to participate in culture, storytelling, art and remixing.

The technology is used extensively in the digital arts and satire. It provides more refined (and cheaper) techniques for visual insertions, compared to green screens and computer-generated imagery.

Deepfake technology can also enable authentic-looking resurrections of deceased actors and historical re-enactments. They may even play a role in helping people grieve their deceased loved ones.

Comedian Jordan Peele provides a voiceover of a deepfake with former US President Barack Obama.

But They’re Also Available For Misuse

At the same time, deepfake technology is thought to present several social problems such as:

  • deepfakes being used as “proof” for other fake news and disinformation

  • deepfakes being used to discredit celebrities and others whose livelihood depends on sharing content while maintaining a reputation

  • difficulties providing verifiable footage for political communication, health messaging and electoral campaigns

  • people’s faces being used in deepfake pornography.

The last point is of particular concern. In 2019, deepfake detection software firm Deeptrace found 96% of 14,000 deepfakes were pornographic in nature. Free apps such as the now-defunct DeepNude 2.0 have been used to make clothed women appear nude in footage, often for revenge porn and blackmail.

In Australia, deepfake apps have even allowed perpetrators to circumvent “revenge porn” laws – an issue expected to soon become more severe.

Beyond this, deepfakes are also used in identity fraud and scams, particularly in the form of video messages from a trusted “colleague” or “relative” requesting a money transfer. One study found identity fraud using digital manipulation cost US financial institutions US$20 billion in 2020].

A Growing Concern

The creators of deepfakes stress the amount of time and effort it takes to make these video look realistic. Take Chris Ume, the visual effects and AI artist behind the @deeptomcruise TikTok account. When this account made headlines last year, Ume told The Verge “you can’t do it by just pressing a button”.

But there’s good evidence deepfakes are becoming easier to make. Researchers at the United Nation Global Pulse initiative have demonstrated how speeches can be realistically faked in just 13 minutes.

As more deepfake apps are developed, we can expect lesser-skilled people to increasingly produce authentic-looking deepfakes. Just think about how much photo editing has boomed in the past decade.

Legislation, regulation and detection software are struggling to keep up with advances in deepfake technology.

In 2019, Facebook came in for criticism for failing to remove a doctored video of American politician Nancy Pelosi, after it fell short of its definition of a deepfake.

In 2020, Twitter banned the sharing of synthetic media that may deceive, confuse or harm people (except where a label is applied). TikTok did the same. And YouTube banned deepfakes related to the 2020 US federal election.

But even if these are well-meaning policies, it’s unlikely platform moderators will be able to react to reports and remove deepfakes fast enough.

In Australia, lawyers at the NSW firm Ashurst have said existing copyright and defamation laws could fall short of protecting Australians against deepfakes.

And while attempts to develop laws have begun overseas, these are focused on political communication. For example, California has made it illegal to post or distribute digitally manipulated content of a candidate during an election – but has no protections for non-politicians or celebrities.

How To Detect A Deepfake

One of the best remedies against harmful deepfakes is for users to equip themselves with as many detection skills as they can.

Usually, the first sign of a deepfake is that something will feel “off”. If so, look more closely at the subject’s face and ask yourself:

  • is the face too smooth, or are there unusual cheekbone shadows?

  • do the eyelid and mouth movements seem disjointed, forced or otherwise unnatural?

  • does the hair look fake? Current deepfake technology struggles to maintain the original look of hair (especially facial hair).

Context is also important:

  • ask yourself what the figure is saying or doing. Are they disavowing vaccines, or performing in a porn clip? Anything that seems out of character or contrary to public knowledge will be relevant here

  • search online for keywords about the video, or the person in it, as many suspicious deepfakes will have already been debunked

  • try to judge the reliability of the source – does it seem genuine? If you’re on a social media platform, is the poster’s account verified?

A lot of the above is basic digital literacy and requires exercising good judgment. Where common sense fails, there are some more in-depth ways to try to spot deepfakes. You can:

  • search for keywords used in the video to see if there’s a public transcript of what’s being said – outlets often cover quotes by high-profile politicians and celebrities within 72 hours

  • take a screenshot of the video playing and do a Google reverse image search. This can reveal whether an original version of the video exists, which you may then compare to the dubious one

  • run any suspicious videos featuring a “colleague” or “relative” by that individual directly.

Finally, if you do manage to spot a deepfake, don’t keep it to yourself. Always hit the report button.The Conversation

Rob Cover, Professor of Digital Communication, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

It was long thought these fossils came from an eagle. Turns out they belong to the only known vulture species from Australia

The extinct species may have been a relative of the living Griffon Vulture (pictured). Shutterstock
Ellen K. MatherFlinders University

In 1905, a fragment of a fossil wing bone discovered near the Kalamurina Homestead, South Australia, was described as an extinct eagle and named Taphaetus lacertosus, meaning “powerful grave eagle”.

Now research published by myself and mycolleagues can reveal this species was no eagle at all. It was an “Old World” vulture, which we have renamed Cryptogyps lacertosus, or “powerful hidden vulture”.

This is the first time one of these scavenging raptors has been found to have lived in Australia. Living more than tens of thousands of years ago, we believe Cryptogyps likely died out with ancient Australia’s megafauna. There’s much about the species we’ve yet to find out.

A woman in a lab with fossil bones
Here’s me at the Flinders University palaeontology lab, holding the fossil vulture tarsus (left) and a tarsus of a living vulture species (right). Author provided

A Puzzling Absence

Vultures are birds of prey that feed almost exclusively on decaying flesh. They play a vital role in their ecosystems by speeding up the consumption of carcasses. In this way, they assist in redistributing nutrients, and help limit the spread of diseases.

They can be divided into two groups. “New World” vultures inhabit North and South America and belong to their own distinct family. “Old World” vultures are found in Africa, Europe and Asia, and belong to the same family as eagles and hawks.

Considering they’re so widespread today, it’s surprising vultures long appeared absent from Australia. It’s even stranger when you look at the fossil record across South-East Asia, where vulture fossils have been found as far south as the Indonesian island of Flores. Surely they could have flown a little further?

What’s more, the Australian environment would have been well-suited to support vultures until about 50,000 years ago. Back then, megafaunal marsupials were widespread and abundant across the continent, and would have provided plentiful carcasses for scavengers.

The Shape Of A Scavenger

We aren’t the first to consider there might be vultures in Australia’s fossil record. Other palaeontologists have previously suggested some Australian bird fossils could belong to vultures, and the Kalamurina “eagle” was one such example.

My colleagues and I wanted to find out if this really was the case, and so we began comparing the fossil bones of Cryptogyps to a wide range of living birds of prey, including vultures.

Being scavengers, vultures have a very different musculature and bone structure to eagles. This fact proved to be crucial in confirming Cryptogyps lacertosus was indeed a vulture.

Tarsi of Wedge-tailed eagle and fossil vulture
A silhouette size comparison of a Wedge-tailed Eagle (left) and Cryptogyps lacertosus (right), and tarsi comparisons of both below. Ellen Mather, Wedge-tailed Eagle silhoutette derived from photo by Vicki Nunn.

The material used in our research included the original wing bone from the Kalamurina Homestead, two identical wing bone fragments from the Wellington Caves in New South Wales, and two “tarsi” (lower leg bones) – one from Wellington Caves and the other from Leaena’s Breath Cave in Western Australia. All of these bones are thought to belong to Cryptogyps.

Close examination of the bones, and comparison to eagles and vultures from around the world revealed their muscle scars and structure are more vulture-like than eagle-like, especially for the tarsi. This strongly indicates they belonged to a scavenger.

To further test this, we placed the fossils in an evolutionary tree with other birds of prey. Our results confirmed what the comparison suggested: Cryptogyps was indeed a vulture, and potentially a close relative of the Griffon Vulture found across Europe and Asia.

The Life And Death Of A Species

Based on the leg bones, we can infer Cryptogyps didn’t actively hunt and grab prey with powerful talons. Rather, it would have scavenged dead animals as vultures do now.

At this point in time, we don’t have enough of the skeleton to know exactly what Cryptogyps lacertosus looked like, or what it ate.

It could have been a social species, gathering in large flocks around the corpses of megafauna such as Diprotodon or Protemnodon. Or perhaps it was a solitary bird, searching and feeding alone, or in pairs. It may have fed on the soft insides of the body, or may have preferred the tougher muscle and skin.

Gaining this information will require more discoveries in the future. What isn’t in question, however, is that like all vultures today Cryptogyps lacertosus would have played an important role in ecosystem health.

Fossils of Cryptogyps are believed to date from the Middle to Late Pleistocene, somewhere between 770,000 and 40,000 years ago. Its extinction was very likely related to the demise of Australia’s megafauna around 60,000–40,000 years ago.

As large-bodied animals died off, the supply of carcasses scavengers need to survive would have dwindled significantly. Starvation would have become common, breeding attempts less successful and eventually the total population would have fallen below the threshold needed to survive.

Other more generalist raptors such as Wedge-tailed Eagles and Black Kites subsequently filled the reduced scavenging niche.

Camera is zoomed in on the top half of a Wedge-tailed Eagle
The Wedge-tailed Eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia today. Shutterstock

Australia has the sobering distinction of being the only continent to lose its vultures entirely. Sadly, around half of all living vultures today are endangered and under threat of extinction.

And the consequences of this decline have been dire, including increased disease transmission in both animal and human populations, potential impacts on the nutrient cycle, and the restructuring of ecosystems. The Conversation

Ellen K. Mather, Adjunct associate lecturer, Flinders University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Warning Over Risky Social Media Craze Of Eating Unidentified Mushrooms

An explosion of colourful and interesting mushrooms has excited people who are foraging for fungi – but they are being warned to simply look and not touch.

Mushroom hunters have become the latest craze to sweep social media, going viral for their tips on how to find species that are edible and cook them up at home.

But with many of the videos from overseas and Australia’s mushrooms still not that well understood, people are being advised that even if the species look similar, they could do serious damage.

Calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre have increased this year, as well as hospital admissions, because of people eating wild mushrooms.

Chief Scientist at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Dr Brett Summerell, says the general rule is to simply take a photo of an interesting mushroom, unless you’re with an expert.

“Seriously, if people are out there it is best not to pick them and eat them because we’ve had some serious issues from people doing that,” he says.

“One of the things that happens in Europe, where they have a long history and culture of picking mushrooms, is they have a lot of posters up during the mushroom season, so it’s really well controlled from that point of view.
“Our species are not well understood, we still have a lot of work to do on the taxonomy and understanding the different species so it’s critically important you don’t pick them and eat them just because you think they look like the ones on Instagram.”

With conditions ripe for mushrooms at the moment, Dr Summerell says there are many species to see.

“Some of them superficially look like mushrooms you see in the shops,” he says. “They’re fantastic things to photograph, spectacular to put on social media and they do play a critical role in our ecosystems as the great decomposers."

“They’re turning over nutrients, providing the food that then goes back to plants. Many also have an intimate relationship with tree roots.”
Dr Summerell says there are a few species that are toxic and cause diseases, and can do anything from kill you to give you a bad case of gastro.

“Oyster mushrooms and field mushrooms look like the ones in the stores but they might be ghost mushrooms (Omphalatus nidiformis) or yellow stainers (Agaricus xanthodermus) which often give a nasty case of gastro,” he says.

“The death cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) you see in Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne around oak trees, they can cause liver failure and even kill people. And the related fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) (with its very attractive red and white cap) are also toxic and very common at the moment.”

Ramaria fungi at Mount Tomah, NSW.

Where there are mushrooms, there is likely other slime 
It isn’t just mushrooms fruiting now because they love the wet weather and cool temperatures. “Mould is a huge problem at the moment,” Dr Summerell says.

“Mushrooms around, or even in, your home can mean other issues such as damp problems or rotting wood.”

Dr Summerell says a 70 per cent solution of metho or clove oil works best to get rid of mould. Moulds are a huge group of fungi that are loving the humid conditions and have an enormous capacity to reproduce very quickly by producing masses of spores. Treatments will inevitably need to be repeated.

Meanwhile, anyone concerned about an increase of moss or algae at their home, which can cause slips, should just use high pressure water cleaners and a hard scrubbing brush.

“We’ve had unprecedented levels of rainfall over a long period of time which are ideal conditions for these organisms to thrive,” Dr Summerell says.

“Driveways have been completely colonised by mosses. It’s quite a unique set of circumstances and amazing to see it in such an urban environment.”

While Dr Summerell says moss will continue to grow and get thicker, the cooler winter temperatures will eventually slow growth down, at least a little.

Report: STEPHANIE BEDO, Mt Annan Botanical Garden.

Drones Take To Skies To ‘Plant’ Seeds At Australia’s Biggest Botanic Garden: Mount Annan

July 18, 2022
Cutting-edge drone technology is being used at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan to restore native vegetation on degraded land.

AirSeed Technologies is working with Western Sydney University and the Australian Institute of Botanical Science (opens in new window)Opens in a new window on a half a million-dollar research project which involves native seed pods being spread across targeted Garden sites using drones.

Drones are widely used for forestry purposes but this project is investigating their use to establish a wide diversity of local Cumberland Plain native plants, which the Western Sydney garden is home to.

More than 52 million hectares of Australia is now considered degraded land.

The Garden’s Curator Manager Michael Elgey said the affected land at Mount Annan was previously a dense forest of the invasive weed African olive.

“After decades of olive invasion there were very few native species remaining,” he said.

“This project is a fantastic opportunity to re-establish the original native Cumberland Plain vegetation and create habitat on these ‘ground zero’ cleared olive sites.

“Seeds have been specially collected from our existing conservation areas at the Garden and we hope to establish Cumberland Plain Woodland and Western Sydney Dry Rainforest communities which are now critically endangered.”

Lead researcher Associate Professor Rachael Gallagher, from Western Sydney University's Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, said due to the state of Australia’s degraded land, we urgently needed scalable solutions which would allow us to restore diverse native vegetation.

“We can’t meet the significant goals of national and global restoration programs by sticking with the status quo,” Dr Gallagher said.

“We urgently need new techniques which reduce seed wastage and are capable of planting lots of species fast which will lead to benefits for both carbon sequestration and biodiversity”.

Project partner investigator at the Australian PlantBank, Dr Peter Cuneo, said this type of direct seeding had the potential to revolutionise native vegetation establishment and ecological restoration in Australia.

“The drones contain pre-formed seed pods which contain seed, nutrients and microbial inoculants that will support seedlings as they germinate from the pellet pods and establish when conditions are right,” Dr Cuneo said.

AirSeed spokesperson Andrew Walker, CEO and Co-Founder, said “the novel fusion between AirSeed’s biotech and drone technology is reshaping the economics of large-scale ecological restoration practices”.

Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Chief Executive Denise Ora said many people didn’t realise the important research being done at the Institute, on everything from tiny seeds to giant trees.

“Whether they are out in the field collecting specimens or undertaking studies in our state-of-the-art laboratories, our scientists are working hard to ensure we find ways to protect and conserve valuable plant species for future generations,” she said.

10,000 Aussie Workers Set To Develop Lung Cancer From Silica Dust: Study

As many as 10,000 Australians are predicted to develop lung cancer in their lifetime from being exposed to silica dust, new Curtin University modelling has found amid warnings more than half a million Australian workers are currently exposed to the harmful dust.

Engineered stone – used mainly for kitchen benchtops – is a particularly potent source of silica dust. This dust is also found naturally in many building and construction products including sand, soil, stone, concrete and mortar, as well as being used in the manufacture of building products such as bricks, tiles and glass.

For the past 60 years, silicosis had been very rare in Australia but the increased use of engineered stone in kitchen benchtops is driving a re-emergence of the disease, prompting the Australian Government to set up the National Dust Diseases Taskforce. Last month, Safe Work Australia also released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement that proposes options for managing the risks of exposure and is currently open for public submissions.

As the result of a study commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Curtin University researchers used a unique method to predict how many Australians would develop lung cancer in their lifetime as the result of their exposure to silica dust in a specific year.

Lead researcher Dr Renee Carey, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the modelling provided the best available estimate of the future number of lung cancer and silicosis cases that would result from workplace exposure to silica.

“Our modelling predicts more than 10,000 Australians will develop lung cancer and up to 103,000 workers will be diagnosed with silicosis as the result of their current exposure to silica dust at work,” Dr Carey said.

“We estimated that more than half a million Australian workers are currently exposed to silica dust across various industries, including construction, mining and quarrying, and manufacturing jobs.”

Co-author John Curtin Distinguished Professor Lin Fritschi, also from the Curtin School of Population Health, said banning engineered stone would save lives – almost 100 lung cancers and a thousand silicosis cases could be prevented.

“While a complete ban of engineered stone would be the best option, it is possible to reduce the health impacts of working with engineered stone by various methods such as mandatory wet-cutting or on-tool dust extraction, as long as these methods are combined with the consistent use of high-quality respiratory protection,” Professor Fritschi said.

“The damage from other types of silica-containing materials could be reduced by using better dust suppression techniques on mine and construction sites, and using wet-cutting during concrete cutting and grinding.”

Dr Carey said further research was needed and better estimates may be possible as new information becomes available.

By estimating how many of Australia’s adult population in 2016 were exposed to silica dust at work, and then modelling the number of lung cancer cases that would occur over their lifetime, the team was able to predict that one per cent – or 10,390 – of those lung cancer cases could be attributed to a person’s occupational exposure to silica dust.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified crystalline silica as a Group 1 (definite) carcinogen in 1997 and 2012.

The full report, The future burden of lung cancer and silicosis from occupational silica exposure in Australia: A preliminary analysis, can be viewed online here.

Wearing Your Fitness On Your Sleeve Is Great For The Heart

July 20, 2022
New findings from Australian researchers have endorsed what millions of people around the world believe: fitness trackers, pedometers and smart watches motivate us to exercise more and lose weight.

Wearable activity trackers encourage us to walk up to 40 minutes more each day (approximately 1800 more steps), resulting in an average 1kg weight loss over five months.

Researchers from the University of South Australia reviewed almost 400 studies involving 164,000 people across the world using wearable activity trackers (WATs) to monitor their physical activity.

Their findings, published in Lancet Digital Health today, underline the value of low-cost interventions to tackle a growing epidemic of health conditions partially caused by a lack of exercise, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and mental illness.

Lead researcher UniSA PhD candidate Ty Ferguson says despite the popularity of WATs, there is widespread scepticism about their effectiveness, accuracy, and whether they fuel obsessive behaviours and eating disorders, but the evidence is overwhelmingly positive.

“The overall results from the studies we reviewed shows that wearable activity trackers are effective across all age groups and for long periods of time,” Ferguson says. “They encourage people to exercise on a regular basis, to make it part of their routine and to set goals to lose weight.”

The 1kg weight loss may not seem a lot, but researchers say from a public health perspective it is meaningful.

“Bearing in mind these were not weight loss studies, but lifestyle physical activity studies, so we wouldn’t expect dramatic weight loss,” says UniSA Professor Carol Maher, co-author of the review.

“The average person gains about 0.5 kg a year in weight creep so losing 1kg over five months is significant, especially when you consider that two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese.”

Between 2014 and 2020, the number of wearable activity trackers shipped worldwide increased by almost 1500 per cent, translating to a global spend of $2.8 billion in 2020.

Apart from the extra physical activity and weight loss attributed to WATs, there is some evidence that fitness trackers also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.

“The other reported benefit is that WATs improved depression and anxiety through an increase in physical activity,” Ferguson says.

Anti-Rejection Medication And Immunotherapy Kicks Cancer And Protects Kidney Transplants

July 18, 2022
Adding immunotherapy to standard anti-rejection medication could change the lives of thousands of kidney transplant patients with incurable cancer, as new research shows it can reduce this risk of organ rejection and eliminate cancer in a quarter of patients.

Conducted by researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the University of South Australia, the world-first study showed that a dual combination of transplant anti-rejection drugs and immune checkpoint inhibitors* not only reduced organ rejection rates to 12 per cent (from 40-50 per cent) but also eradicated cancer cells in 25 per cent of patients.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that block proteins called checkpoints. These checkpoints help keep immune responses from being too strong but can also keep T-cells from killing cancer cells. When these checkpoints are blocked, the T-cells can kill cancer cells more effectively.

UniSA researcher and renal specialist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Associate Professor Rob Carroll, says these findings are a gamechanger for kidney transplant patients with incurable cancer.

"Cancer is a leading cause of death in kidney transplant recipients with the rate of cancer being three-times higher in this group, than in the general population," Assoc Prof Carroll says.

"The terrible irony is that the immunosuppressants that patients must always take to stop their immune systems attacking their transplants, are also the medicines that stops the immune system getting rid of pre-cancer cells.

"To correct this imbalance, our study tested the efficacy of maintaining baseline anti-rejection drugs (to protect the transplant) and adding immune checkpoint inhibitors (to attack the cancer).

"The patients responded well with lower rates of organ rejection to 12 per cent, compared to previous reports and eliminating cancers cells in 25 per cent of patients.

"It's a massive advancement for kidney transplant patients; a whole new lease on life."

Robert P Carroll, Michael Boyer, Val Gebski, Bronwyn Hockley, Julie K Johnston, Svjetlana Kireta, Hsiang Tan, Anne Taylor, Kate Wyburn, John R Zalcberg. Immune checkpoint inhibitors in kidney transplant recipients: a multicentre, single-arm, phase 1 study. The Lancet Oncology, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(22)00368-0

Researcher Links Real Encounter With 'Milky Seas' To Satellite Pictures

July 15, 2022
Milky seas -- the rare phenomenon of glowing areas on the ocean's surface that can cover hundreds of square miles -- are not new to scientists at Colorado State University. They have previously demonstrated the use of satellites to see these elusive phenomena. What was missing were photographic observations of milky seas observed from the Earth's surface and from space at the same time.

Until now.

In a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Steven Miller, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science and director of CSU's Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, compares satellite observations of a 2019 milky sea event off the coast of Java, to photographic evidence from the sailing ship Ganesha, a 16-meter private yacht. The yacht happened to be sailing in the milky seas at the same time. Unsure of what they had encountered, the yacht's crew provided CSU their enlightening footage after learning of its expertise in satellite observations, and Miller's particular interest in capturing milky seas from space.

Miller has previously compared satellite observations to tales from maritime lore to try to understand how the rarely-encountered mystery of the deep works.

A 100,000-square-kilometer bioluminescent milky sea south of Java, as seen from space on Aug. 2, 2019, and from the Earth’s surface by the private yacht Ganesha. In the nighttime photo, the first of its kind, the ship’s deck appears as a dark silhouette against the glowing waters. Credit: Steven Miller/Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at CSU

Can we observe milky seas up close?
The crew of the Ganesha described the sea as a "luminous snowfield." A crew member recounted what she saw: "Both the colour and intensity of the glow was akin to glow-in-the-dark stars/stickers, or some watches that have glowing parts on the hands…a very soft glow that was gentle on the eyes."

GoPro and smartphone photographs clearly show the glow of the ocean, spreading from horizon to horizon, shining through the rails of the boat. A comparison image that has been edited to reflect the perception of the crew at the time accounts for difficulties in capturing such low-light signals on commercial, non-optimized photographic hardware.

According to the captain of the Ganesha, the glow appeared to be emanating from a fair depth below the ocean's surface -- perhaps as deep as 30 feet. A bucket of water that was drawn from the glowing sea contained many pinpoints of steady light, instead of the flashing or sparkling light observed by more commonly experienced forms of marine bioluminescence. As described briefly in the paper, this sheds some light onto the hypotheses of milky seas. Some ideas for milky sea formation suggest a "surface slick" of bioluminescence, but the observations from the Ganesha suggest that the phenomenon happens over a much deeper volume, providing information for researchers studying the phenomenon to consider.

Milky seas from space
With the Ganesha crew's descriptions of their encounter, along with GPS-reported track logs and dates in hand, Miller was able to match satellite images from the Day-Night Band (DNB) sensor aboard NOAA's SNPP and NOAA-20 satellites.

Piecing together the data, Miller found the Ganesha's track intercepted the southern part of the glowing seas. Despite being far from the brightest region of this milky sea -- an area where some of the clouds, also observed by the Day-Night Band sensor, appeared as dark silhouettes against the glowing waters, the Ganesha was still sailing through a region of ocean whose glow was readily detectable from 500 miles above in space.

Measuring the amount of light seen by the instrument for both the actual track of the Ganesha and a hypothetical transect through the brightest area of the milky seas provides the numbers needed to start to understand how these light displays develop. Moreover, knowing how the ocean appears from the surface gives researchers more context on what they're seeing from space. Importantly, with the eyewitness confirmation in hand, confidence in the space-based measurements skyrockets, Miller said, as they become a viable resource to help future expeditions guide research vessels target and study milky seas in detail.

'The biggest missing link'
Opportunities to study unresolved scientific mysteries are exceedingly rare in modern science, which is why these never-before-seen observations are so compelling, Miller said. Understanding what a satellite sees, and what's actually happening on the ground (or in this case, the ocean) requires observations that, often, scientists just can't get.

"The biggest missing link in our study from last year [on Day-Night Band-based milky sea detection and highlighting the 2019 Java event] was the lack of ground truth," Miller said. "But this current study provides it. It was a great relief to get this contact from the Ganesha crew."

Moving forward, CSU's ground-breaking and leading research capabilities in satellite observations may provide new opportunities to learn about one of the rarest and most mysterious happenings in the ocean.

"With our ability in the scientific community to see these phenomena from space, we hope more in-person witnesses will come forward, connecting more pieces in the puzzle of scientific exploration," Miller said.

Miller's professional aspirations range from the high, un-trespassed sanctity of space to the high seas. "Above all, I dream of one day being on a vessel as we cross into a vast milky sea, all of us diving in and basking in its glow! I know, not very scientific, but what inspires us!"

Steven D. Miller. Boat encounter with the 2019 Java bioluminescent milky sea: Views from on-deck confirm satellite detection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119 (29) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2207612119

COVID-19 Patients More Likely To Develop Cardiovascular Diseases And Diabetes Soon After Infection

July 19, 2022
Patients who contract COVID-19 face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, particularly in the three months following infection, according to a new study by Emma Rezel-Potts, Martin Gulliford, and colleagues of King's College London, United Kingdom, publishing July 19 in the open access journal PLOS Medicine.

Scientists are increasingly recognizing COVID-19 as a multi-system condition that can cause disease throughout the body, likely by triggering pathways that cause inflammation. In the new study, researchers investigated whether a sample of COVID-19 patients developed new cases of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at higher rates than a sample of people who have never had the disease in the year following infection. They analyzed anonymized medical records from more than 428,000 COVID-19 patients, and the same number of control individuals, matched by age, sex, and family practice. The analysis showed that COVID-19 patients had 81% more diagnoses of diabetes in the first four weeks after contracting the virus and that their risk remained elevated by 27% for up to 12 weeks after infection. COVID-19 was also associated with a six-fold increase in cardiovascular diagnoses overall, mainly due to the development of pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and irregular heartbeat. The risk of a new heart disease diagnosis began to decline five weeks after infection and returned to baseline levels or lower within 12 weeks to one year.

The researchers conclude that COVID-19 infection is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes, but fortunately, there does not appear to be a long-term increase in the incidence of these conditions for patients who have contracted the virus. Based on these findings, they recommend that doctors advise their patients who are recovering from COVID-19 to reduce their risk of diabetes through a healthy diet and exercise.

Coauthor Ajay Shah adds, "The information provided by this very large population-based study on the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on development of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes will be extremely valuable to doctors managing the millions of people who have had COVID-19 by now. It is clear that particular vigilance is required for at least the first 3 months after COVID-19."

Lead author Emma Rezel-Pottsconcludes, "Use of a large, national database of electronic health records from primary care has enabled us to characterise the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus during the acute and longer-term phases following Covid-19 infection. Whilst it is in the first four weeks that Covid-19 patients are most at risk of these outcomes, the risk of diabetes mellitus remains increased for at least 12 weeks. Clinical and public health interventions focusing on reducing diabetes risk among those recovering from Covid-19 over the longer-term may be very beneficial."

Emma Rezel-Potts, Abdel Douiri, Xiaohui Sun, Phillip J. Chowienczyk, Ajay M. Shah, Martin C. Gulliford. Cardiometabolic outcomes up to 12 months after COVID-19 infection. A matched cohort study in the UK. PLOS Medicine, 2022; 19 (7): e1004052 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004052

Shockwave Caused By Tonga Underwater Eruption May Help Scientists Predict Future Tsunami

July 19, 2022
Using data from the eruption of the underwater volcano near Tonga in 2022, a research group at Nagoya University in Japan has used disturbances in the Earth's upper atmosphere to track the airwaves that cause tsunami. Their findings may lead to speedier predictions of these giant waves.

Every minute is crucial when warning people caught in the path of a tsunami. After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, a tsunami in Indonesia reached Sri Lanka in less than two hours. Eight hours later, it arrived on the coast of Kenya. If there had been a way to notify people about the dangers of a tsunami in those faraway areas, it may have been possible to save at least some of the 230,000 victims.

A research group led by Assistant Professor Atsuki Shinbori, Associate Professor Yuichi Otsuka, and Associate Professor Nozomu Nishitani of the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE), Nagoya University, in collaboration with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology and the University of Electro-Communications, believes that it may be possible to predict tsunami faster by tracking the atmospheric disturbances caused by the airwaves they create. Their findings were reported in Earth, Planets and Space.

When a tsunami occurs, it deforms the lower atmosphere and generates oscillations of sound and gravity waves, causing disturbances of the electrons in the upper atmosphere, also called the ionosphere. Radio waves, such as those used in GPS and satellite broadcasting/communications, also pass through this part of the atmosphere. As a result, the disturbances caused by a natural disaster produce errors in the positional information supplied by GPS satellites.

Shinbori and his group used satellites and radar to examine these errors following the 2022 undersea volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga in the South Pacific. They found that the eruption of the underwater volcano caused waves of air pressure that spread as far as Australia and Japan. These waves oscillated the lower part of the ionosphere. This generated an electric field that was then transmitted at high speed to the upper ionosphere. To their surprise, the researchers detected the electron changes much earlier than the air pressure waves that caused the tsunami.

The structures of the disturbance over Japan and Australia, interestingly, also mirrored each other. Despite being in different hemispheres, they occurred almost simultaneously because they disturbed the electrons in the magnetic field lines, the magnetic lines that radiate from the south to the north magnetic pole. The team calculated the speed of these disturbances and found the electromagnetic wave along the magnetic field lines travelled at 1000 kilometers (621.4 miles) per second. This was far faster than the air pressure wave, which traveled at the speed of sound (a comparatively slower 315 meters (0.2 miles) per second).

"We captured the signal of the ionospheric disturbance caused by the air pressure wave about three hours before the pressure wave originating from the volcanic eruption believed to have triggered the tsunami in Japan," Shinbori explains. "In short, the significance of these results can be divided into two aspects: the scientific aspect of a coupled system, and the disaster prevention aspect of preparedness for severe events such as tsunamis."

Future applications of the technique are already being considered. "Statistical analysis of ionospheric disturbances during volcanic eruptions and seismic events may make it possible to estimate tsunami wave heights and sizes from ionospheric disturbance signals in the future," Shinbori says. "Ionospheric disturbances may be a new step forward in tsunami alerts."

This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research (KAKENHI) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), which began in FY2016, "Study of dynamical variation of particles and waves in the inner magnetosphere using ground-based network observations (PWING Project)."

Atsuki Shinbori, Yuichi Otsuka, Takuya Sori, Michi Nishioka, Septi Perwitasari, Takuo Tsuda, Nozomu Nishitani. Electromagnetic conjugacy of ionospheric disturbances after the 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption as seen in GNSS-TEC and SuperDARN Hokkaido pair of radars observations. Earth, Planets and Space, 2022; 74 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s40623-022-01665-8

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.