June 23 - 29, 2024: Issue 629

Ruskin Rowe Tree Vigil: Update

Saturday June 22, 2024
The tree guardians of Ruskin Rowe were delighted to be paid a visit yesterday by federal representative, Dr Sophie Scamps, MP for Mackellar.

Dr. Scamps was there to listen and gather information in the hope of trying to help residents achieve the goal of saving the two remaining flooded gums from removal.

Amongst those who were there to speak to Sophie were residents of Ruskin Rowe, members of Canopy Keepers and Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, a consulting arborist who supports the trees' retention, and a local wildlife carer and ecologist.

Dr. Scamps listened with sympathy and has asked for all of the relevant information in writing, so that she can take it to Northern Beaches Council CEO, Scott Phillips.

Further to this goal, members of the Ruskin Rowe tree guard will address councillors in the public forum at this week’s monthly council meeting, on Tuesday 25th of June at the council chambers, 725 Pittwater Road, Dee Why. 

The guardians stated on Saturday:
'' It would be fantastic if we could have community support in the public gallery - so please consider joining us!
Proceedings start at 6pm sharp.''

In the meantime, they encourage residents to sign their Change.org petition in support of the trees at:  ruskin-row-stop-council-s-plan-to-cut-down-two-more-healthy-trees

Friday June 21, 2024 - Ruskin Rowe Tree Vigil. Photo supplied

NSW budget neglects biodiversity: Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today expressed disappointment that the NSW budget has again failed to deliver for nature.  

In the middle of an extinction crisis, funding for ecosystem restoration and threatened species is going backwards.  

NSW habitat is so degraded it can only support 29% of the plants and animals it once did. 1043 plants and animals in NSW are currently listed as at risk of extinction, a 50% increase in 10 years.   

Without significant public investment to grow protected areas and restore degraded ecosystems, many of the ecosystems that make our state so special will simply collapse.  

The NSW Labor Government is spending just 1.61%* of the budget on the environment, which is even less than last year.   

“Labor came into power promising to turn the tide, and yet this is the second year in a row nature funding, as a percentage, has declined,” NCC Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford said. 

“Without a seismic shift in nature investment NSW will see more extinctions and fail to meet our ‘30 by 30’ Global Biodiversity Framework targets.”  

NCC Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford stated:
“The nature deficit needs to be addressed by proper investment in NSW’s biodiversity.  

“Whilst Premier Chris Minns loves spruiking the beauty of NSW nature and posting selfies in pretty places, it’s clear biodiversity isn’t a priority for this government.  

“There is a substantial investment in renewables, but NSW needs to do a lot more to turn the biodiversity crisis around. 

“We need to recognise that we have a dual crisis and that spending on renewable infrastructure will not in itself stop extinction and the tragic loss of biodiversity occurring all around us.  

“The number of listed threatened species continues to rise. However not even half (~40%) of these species are being managed under the Saving our Species (SoS) program. Clearly more funding is needed. 

“Taxpayers are again footing the bill for the horrific destruction of our native forests, with no plans to follow Qld, Victoria and Western Australia and save the budget millions of dollars a year by ending native forest logging.”  

Propping up the industrial logging of our native forests is an ongoing financial burden to NSW taxpayers. In the last 3 years, the native hardwood division of Forestry Corporation has lost $44m. NSW remains the only mainland state without a plan to phase out native forest logging, this must change. 

Echidna Love Season Commences

It's time to slow it down on the roads! Echidnas breed from mid-June to early September in NSW, so from now on, male echidnas begin to actively seek out females to mate.

Echidnas are most active in the lead-up to their Winter mating period, so if you live in an area with lots of native bush nearby, you may have a small spiny visitor. 

Echidnas live solitary lives but in breeding season, the female is suddenly very popular and up to 10 males will start to follow her around. This courtship can last up to a month, at which time the female will make her choice from the remaining males. 

The females breed every 3-5 years – they do not have a proper pouch but the mammary glands swell up on either side of the belly when an egg develops and the egg is laid directly into it. A blind, naked puggle emerges from the egg about 10 days later. Milk is secreted through special pores on the female’s belly. Puggles are suckled in this rudimentary pouch for two or three months. When the puggle develops spines and becomes too prickly, the mother will build a nursery burrow for it.

Unlike many other native animals, Echidnas are relatively unafraid of people and can pop up in the most unexpected places.

If you see an echidna and it is NOT injured please leave it alone and DO NOT approach it and do not attempt to contain it. Never relocate any healthy echidna as it risks them losing their scent trail or leaving young unattended in the burrow. Echidnas have a type of inbuilt GPS which we don’t want to interrupt.

The best thing to do in this situation is for everyone to simply to leave the area for a period of time, allowing the echidna to make its own way. If you have a pet please keep it contained well away from the animal, and you will find that the echidna will move away as soon as it is sure it is out of danger, and feels secure.

If you do find a distressed or injured echidna over the next few months, please call Sydney Wildlife Rescue For 24/7 Emergency Rescue or Advice, Ph: 9413 4300 or WIRES on 1300 094 737.

Photo: a Mona Vale echidna. Picture courtesy Alex Tyrell

Saving glossy black-cockatoos in the Southern Highlands

published June 2024
The glossy black-cockatoo is an icon of the NSW Southern highlands. This vulnerable species is declining in numbers due to the clearing of hollow-bearing trees and Allocasuarina species, their most important  food source. The Glossies in the Mist project aims to identify key feeding trees and map nesting hollows to help secure foraging and breeding habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo within the Great Western Wildlife Corridor. This project relies on private landowners reporting glossy black-cockatoo sightings. We also need your help to map stands of Allocasuarina and assess feeding and hollow-bearing trees on your properties.
This project is led by the NSW  Government’s Saving our Species program in partnership with Wingecarribee Shire Council, Friends of the Glossies, Australian Plant Society, Forestry Corp NSW, Local Land Services  and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Sacred Butterfly Cave safeguarded for future generations

June 19, 2024
The Minns Labor Government has announced it is protecting a sacred Aboriginal site, the Butterfly Cave, by acquiring an area of culturally significant bushland in the Hunter.

The Butterfly Cave holds profound cultural significance for the Aboriginal community. The Cave, a rock overhang and surrounding bushland is a sacred Aboriginal women’s site used by generations of Aboriginal women for cultural practices and sacred women’s business.

The site is a safe place for Aboriginal women and children to meet and serves as an area for the education of young girls by female Elders.

After meeting with and listening to the voices of Aboriginal women, the Minns Labor Government is proud to be ensuring this site will be protected in-perpetuity, honouring the deep connections and ancestral knowledge of the Aboriginal people.

The acquisition is the result of a long campaign led by Aboriginal women and supported by members of the broader community to recognise and protect this sacred land.

The 25.74 ha plot, purchased by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service protects the Cave and the surrounding cultural landscape, including vital elements such as aquifers, traditional journey paths, creeks, stone arrangements and food source areas.

The land will be managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and permanently protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

The NSW Government will consult with the local Aboriginal community on future management of the site and protection of the surrounding cultural landscape.

In 2013 the Butterfly Cave was declared an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, which was supported by the landowner. In 2019 the Cave and its surrounds were recognised by the Australian Government as a significant Aboriginal Area.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Penny Sharpe stated:

'After a 13-year campaign, the Minns Labor Government is pleased to permanently protect the Butterfly Cave.

'I want to thank the Aboriginal women who have never given up their care and protection of this important site so it can be used by generations to come.

'The Butterfly Cave is a crucial meeting place for Aboriginal women to engage in traditional practices and share cultural knowledge with younger generations, and it is crucial it remains so for generations to come.'
Member of Cessnock Clayton Barr stated:

'The beautiful rich culture of our Aboriginal people is so important to protect.

'These incredible women have been fighting for so long; they have met with so many Ministers of Government and Departmental workers that it’s hard to count; their courage and conviction never wavered.

'The NSW Minns Government is finally doing what was always the ‘right’ thing to do, but hadn’t been done.'

Margaret Harvey, Aboriginal Elder in the community said:

'This has been a long and painful fight for Aboriginal women. We thank the NSW Government for listening to us and respected us in allowing our voices to be heard.'

Lyn Brown, Aboriginal role model in the community stated:

'This is a significant moment for Aboriginal women and especially for women.'

'The protection of the Butterfly Cave is a real and positive step towards reconciliation in NSW, and we thank the Minns Labor Government for hearing our voices, respecting our voices and working with us to protect our cultural heritage now and into the future.'

Photo: Left to ring: local community members, Penny Sharpe, Margaret Harvey, Lyn Brown Credit: DCCEEW

Permaculture Northern Beaches Upcoming events

Thursday June 27th 7:30 - 9pm
Lakeview Room - Narrabeen Tramshed 
Join us for a bowls of warm soup, and refreshments while enjoying a screening of Together We Grow, presented by Happen Films.
This award winning film looks at the importance of the community in tackling social isolation and food insecurity. What do you get when you combine a community cafe, a community grocer and a community bike works? Plus a repair cafe, a sewing workshop, garden sharing, and a honey-making enterprise?

Common Unity! A truly wonderful example of the importance of the community in tackling issues like social isolation and food insecurity. And in building the social connections and social relationships so important to health and life. 

In Together We Grow we get to know a group of community members doing the important work of caring for others and building community resilience. It’s a community hub of learning, support, creativity, joy, sharing and shared interest, all in one place.
This is a fundraiser event for PNB $15 non-members, $5 PNB members.
Bookings at: HERE

Saturday June 29th 2pm - 4pm
Fairlight (address will be provided upon booking)
This workshop, hosted by Permaculture Northern Beaches for Plastic Free July, explores the many ways that we can cut back on our household waste. There are always practical, available alternatives to the products that have become normalised and accepted in our everyday life. We will show you simple and effective re-use and up-cycling options. There are many healthier, safer and environmentally friendly zero-waste alternatives.

This waste free workshop will be facilitated by Keelah Lam, a highly-celebrated, active and passionate environmental campaigner. The event will run for two hours, with attendees warmly encouraged to ask questions and offer solutions.
Come along with friends and family! Address will be provided upon booking.
Bookings (choose your ticket price) at: HERE


The Koalas: the film - at the Orpheum this June

A special event screening of new documentary The Koalas followed by Q&A with filmmakers Gregory Miller and Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, joined by Greens MP Sue Higginson and Independent MP Judy Annan.

When: Thursday June 27 at 6:30pm (doors 6pm).

On the East Coast Australia, where ancient forests meet the urban fringe, koalas are facing unprecedented challenges. The Koalas sheds light on a disturbing truth: the very entities entrusted with safeguarding our natural treasures are contributing to the demise of these emblematic creatures.

The Koalas takes audiences on a journey into the lives of individual koalas, led by charismatic characters - Wonnie, Bexley, Tom, Baz, Coral and adorable joeys Hope and Pala. As these stories unfold we witness the unique characteristics of koalas, their bond with their young, and the wildlife carers they come into contact with. These seven emerge as ambassadors for all koalas facing threats to their ongoing survival.

Why is the koala facing extinction when governments are announcing new strategies to protect them? Scientists identify the main culprit behind the alarming drop in koala populations is habitat loss. How is the destruction of habitat being allowed to escalate at unprecedented rates? Are environment laws so weak that they can’t protect threatened species?

In southwest Sydney, a key koala colony lies in the path of a proposed housing development - successive NSW state governments, along with the current Federal Environment Minister, have allowed this habitat to be destroyed, for developers profit. 

In Victoria, where the land was cleared earlier than in other states, translocated koalas persist in plantations, but what happens when the plantations are harvested? Where can the koalas go?

The film celebrates resilience in the face of the challenges and invites audiences to become catalysts for change. It resonates with a powerful message: if we can’t (or won’t) save this iconic native species what does it say about us and our own future?

"You’ll be charmed. You’ll be dismayed. And then I bet you’ll be as angry as hell at what’s being done to koalas in your name and in your own lifetime. But I hope you’ll act on that rage and be a part of the change that desperately needs to happen." - Tim Winton

Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace | 380 Military Road, Cremorne, NSW 2090 | Phone 02 9908 4344



Issue 627: Koala Habitat Clearing In Sydney: Happening Now

Save Sydney's Koalas: ''Both sides of Appin Rd being cleared for a multinational company to build unaffordable homes without town water or sewage, on a vital koala corridor.
This is where Labor and Liberals have landed Koalas in 2024.''
''There are still NO underpasses or overpasses in place while this is occurring.''
''This is also occurring at night - when wildlife move through these places.
''With so much land cleared on either side, and no safe passage across these places, including through, under or over the fences that have been erected, how is wildlife meant to get to its other feeding places?''

Residents comment: ''Goodbye Blinky Bill & all your mates the echidnas, quolls, wombats, goannas and heaps of birds and wildlife.  We tried, maybe not hard enough.''

Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin, May 22, 2024: ''Core Koala Habitat where mums and bubs live being cleared''
Where: Macquariedale Rd APPIN

Here’s the criteria:
Projects must be in the system, be able to demonstrate public benefit through new public open spaces or affordable housing, demonstrate an ability to create jobs both during construction and once complete, and able to commence construction within six months if it’s a DA, or proceed to the DA phase within six months if it’s a rezoning.

It delivers:
And is of NO PUBLIC BENEFIT ...''

Sydney Basin Koala Network, May 22 2024: 
''A system that allows a critically endangered forest type that forms part of an important koala corridor to be bulldozed is a broken one. ''

Machinery on site at Macquariedale Rd site, May 20 2024. Photo: Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin

The koala tree killing commences, May 20 2024. Photo: Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin

Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown, May 20, 2024 (Ricardo):  
''Wollondilly Shire Council declined it, community opposed it, but under the cover of the Covid pandemic the Coalition government approved it - they approved destruction of koala core habitat. Mums and their joeys have been sighted in and around this exact location but with not a care in the world their homes are being bulldozed - this is definitely not the right way of stopping koala extinction by 2050. 

Today I met up with Michelle from Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin to discuss this issue we love working with community pages that are in it for the right reasons I’ll tell you now Michelle is the next Erin Brockovich she’s so on top of it when it comes up to keeping the developers honest points out the issues so if you care what’s happening in Appin then like her page.''

Deceased Spotted Quoll on the Northern Road Bringelly - 3 have been hit and killed in this location in over a year.''- April 20, 2024, Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown (Ricardo)

Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin: ''Ecology reports need to be HEAVILY SCRUTINISED.
How can this have been missed?
We know they’ve (spotted quolls) been spotted in Appin. And have appeared in ecology reports completed for local mining.''

Background - Previous Reports:

June 2018 - ''The koala isn't crossing Appin road, the road is crossing koala bushland'. Image supplied

Ringtail Posses 2023

North Mackerel track closed and Mackerel trail closed

North Mackerel track is permanently closed due to a potential risk of rockfalls and unstable cliff edges in the Great Mackerel Beach area.
The only designated land access to or from Great Mackerel Beach is via Mackerel track to the north, which intersects with Resolute track.
Due to land instability and risk to personal safety, there is no through or return access to or from the following places:
  • The south end of Great Mackerel Beach via The Basin or Mackerel trail
  • The west of Great Mackerel Beach via North Mackerel track, which is closed.
Please be aware of the risks associated with visiting natural areas, including rock falls, unstable edges, falling branches and interactions with wildlife.
For more information, contact the local NPWS office. Began: Thu 15 Dec 2022, 4.29pm. Last reviewed: Mon 27 May 2024, 4.47pm.

Closed areas: Access track to West Head beach closed

The access track which leads from Resolute track to West Head beach is closed from Thursday 11 April 2024 until further notice due to major storm damage.
Penalties apply for non-compliance. For more information, contact the local NPWS office.

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew June 2024 Clean: Warriewood/North Narrabeen

When: Sunday June 30 2024 from 10am to 11:45am
Where: Meet near 110 Garden Street, Narrabeen
Come and join us for our North Narrabeen/Warriewood clean up. We'll meet in the grass area, close to 110 Garden Street, Narrabeen, between Natuna Street and The Crescent. For exact meeting point look at the map in the event discussion. 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 creek, 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 a message if you are lost. No booking required - just show up with a smile. Please invite family and friends and share this event. Lovely Roly from Emu Parade Clean Up will be joining us too, providing volunteers with coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

We meet at 10am for a briefing. Then we generally clean between 60-90 minutes. After that, we bag the rubbish. We normally finish around 12.00 when many of us 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. We just kindly ask you to leave political and religious t-shirts and messages at home, so everyone feels welcome. Thank you.

Muogamarra Nature Reserve Open Season: Bookings now available

by: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 
Bookings are now open for guided and self-guided tours of spectacular Muogamarra Nature Reserve during its strictly limited open season.

Experience blooming spring wildflowers and enjoy stunning views over the Hawkesbury in the special area, just north of Sydney, near Cowan. This year, the unique haven celebrates 90 years since it was established. 

The reserve is open for just 6 weeks each year to protect its fragile ecosystem and Aboriginal heritage, honouring the original intention of founder John D. Tipper.  

The only way to view the reserve is via a guided or self-guided tour, with tours available from August 17 – September 22 on selected days. Be sure to book quickly and not miss out.
For more details and to book visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/muogamarra
Photos; P. Goldie/DCCEEW, J. Spencer/DCCEEW

Have your say: Pest animal management plans for NSW

Closes Monday 8 July 2024.
The NSW Government are asking landholders and the community to provide feedback on the draft 2024-2028 Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plans for 11 regions across NSW.

The plans aim to reduce the social, environmental and financial impact of pest animals in NSW and inform landowners on how to prevent the spread of new invasive species.

Tell them what you think
The Government states it has recently updated plans to reflect local community needs but they also want to hear from you.
Have your say on the pest animals that are priority in your region to ensure the plans reflect your needs and expectations.

Greater Sydney Strategic Pest Animal Management Plan.
The Government states the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plan 2024-2028 was developed through consultation with a range of stakeholders.

All landowners/occupiers are responsible for managing pest animals on their land. In this regard, all public and private land managers are the target audience of the plan.

The plan covers 7 established pest species such as feral deer, feral pigs and wild rabbits. It also highlights 'alert species' which are pests that have been detected elsewhere yet pose a significant risk to the community and industries in the Greater Sydney region of NSW.

cane toad found on the Central Coast a few years ago - image supplied

Sails to Shelter: 2024

Do you have aging sails or sails you no longer need? RPAYC is supporting Bambak, a new business repurposing retired sails from ending up in landfills through their Sail-to-Shelter program in Vanuatu. They repurpose recycled sails to build shelters and household goods in Vanuatu and Australia, promoting community well-being and environmental health.
On the weekend of 20-21 July, a special drop-off bin will be on-site at RPAYC. 

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - RPAYC
16 Mitala Street, Newport

Murrumbidgee Regional Water Strategy: have your say

Consultation period
From: 22 May 2024
To: 14 July 2024
NSW Government is seeking feedback on the draft Murrumbidgee Regional Water Strategy including the shortlist of proposed actions.
The NSW Government states it is taking action to improve the resilience of water resources in the Murrumbidgee region.

''The draft Murrumbidgee Regional Water Strategy sets out a shortlist of proposed actions to help deliver healthy and resilient water resources for a liveable and prosperous region.''

Community feedback is being sought on the draft Murrumbidgee Regional Water Strategy, including the shortlist of proposed actions, from 22 May until 14 July 2024.

Attend a webinar
Find out more about the proposed changes by attending a webinar.

Webinar 1
Date: Wednesday 12 June 2024
Time: 5pm to 6:30pm

Webinar 2
Date: Friday 14 June 2024
Time: 12pm to 1:30pm

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water staff will provide an update on the draft Murrumbidgee Regional Water Strategy, including the short list of proposed actions, and answer your questions.  

You are also invited to complete an online submission.
To access the submission form, register for an event, and read more about the strategy visit the consultation website at: https://water.dpie.nsw.gov.au/our-work/plans-and-strategies/regional-water-strategies/public-exhibition/murrumbidgee

Priority 1 : Continue to improve water management
Priority 2 : Improve river and catchment health
Priority 3; Support sustainable economies and communities
Priority 4: Sustainable water management in the upper Murrumbidgee catchment

Have your say
Have your say by Sunday 14 July 2024.

You can provide feedback in 7 ways, via an Online Consultation or at one of 6 Community Meetings

Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, October 2003. Photo: Bidgee

Draft NSW Murray Regional Water Strategy: Have your say

Consultation period
From: 22 May 2024
To: 14 July 2024
The NSW Government is seeking feedback on the draft NSW Murray Regional Water Strategy including the shortlist of proposed actions.

Attend a webinar
Find out more about the proposed changes by attending a webinar.

Webinar 1
Date: Wednesday 12 June 2024
Time: 5pm to 6:30pm

Webinar 2
Date: Friday 14 June 2024
Time: 12pm to 1:30pm

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water staff will provide an update on the draft Murray Regional Water Strategy, including the short list of proposed actions, and answer your questions.

You are also invited to complete an online submission.
To access the submission form, register for an event, and read more about the strategy visit the consultation website.

Priority 1: Continue to improve water management
Priority 2: Improve river and catchment health
Priority 3: Support sustainable economies and communities

Proposed shortlisted actions: 

Have your say
Have your say by Sunday 14 July 2024.
You can provide feedback in 7 ways.

An Online consultation or at one of 6 Community meetings

The confluence of the Murray River and Murrumbidgee River near the town of Boundary Bend. Photo: Scott Davis

Murray Valley Floodplain Management Plan: Have your say

Consultation period
From: 20 May 2024
To: 30 June 2024
The NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is seeking feedback to inform a new Murray Valley Floodplain Management Plan.
The NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is developing a new floodplain management plan for the central Murray Valley Floodplain.

Floodplain management plans set the rules for flood work development on floodplains in rural areas.

The rules specify what types of flood work people can construct and where they can do it.

Stage 1 public consultation allows the community to give early feedback on key elements for preparing the draft plan, including:
  • the proposed floodplain boundary
  • the historical flood events used for modelling
  • the floodway network
  • cultural and heritage sites
  • ecological assets, and
  • local variances to some rules.
To assist you in understanding the key elements proposed and how to make a submission, please read the Report to assist Stage 1 public consultation.

One-on-one appointments
You are invited to book a 40-minute, one-on-one appointment with departmental staff to learn more:
  • Moama, Wednesday 5 June
  • Deniliquin, Thursday 6 June
  • Barham, Wednesday 12 June
  • Moulamein, Thursday 13 June.
Online appointments
Online appointments are also available on 3, 4, 11 and 17 June. 

Online appointments are 30-minutes.

Find out more and book an appointment for the Murray Valley Floodplain Management Plan consultation.

Note: all submissions will be made public on the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s website unless clearly marked confidential. You can ask that your submission be anonymous.

Have your say
Have your say by Sunday 30 June 2024.

There are 3 ways to have your say.
  1. Survey
  2. Email: floodplain.planning@dpie.nsw.gov.au
  3. Formal submission: Postal Address: Murray Valley FMP, Water Group - NSW DCCEEW, PO BOX 189, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620.
To assist you in understanding the key elements proposed and how to make a submission, please:

Plastic Bread Ties For Wheelchairs

The Berry Collective at 1691 Pittwater Rd, Mona Vale collects them for Oz Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, who recycle the plastic.

Berry Collective is the practice on the left side of the road as you head north, a few blocks before Mona Vale shops . They have parking. Enter the foyer and there's a small bin on a table where you drop your bread ties - very easy.

A full list of Aussie bread tags for wheelchairs is available at: HERE 

Volunteers for Barrenjoey Lighthouse Tours needed


Stay Safe From Mosquitoes 

NSW Health is reminding people to protect themselves from mosquitoes when they are out and about this summer.

NSW Health’s Acting Director of Environmental Health, Paul Byleveld, said with more people spending time outdoors, it was important to take steps to reduce mosquito bite risk.

“Mosquitoes thrive in wet, warm conditions like those that much of NSW is experiencing,” Byleveld said.

“Mosquitoes in NSW can carry viruses such as Japanese encephalitis (JE), Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE), Kunjin, Ross River and Barmah Forest. The viruses may cause serious diseases with symptoms ranging from tiredness, rash, headache and sore and swollen joints to rare but severe symptoms of seizures and loss of consciousness.

“People should take extra care to protect themselves against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne disease, particularly after the detection of JE in a sentinel chicken in Far Western NSW.

The NSW Health sentinel chicken program provides early warning about the presence of serious mosquito borne diseases, like JE. Routine testing in late December revealed a positive result for JE in a sample from Menindee. 

A free vaccine to protect against JE infection is available to those at highest risk in NSW and people can check their eligibility at NSW Health.

People are encouraged to take actions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of acquiring a mosquito-borne virus by:
  • Applying repellent to exposed skin. Use repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Check the label for reapplication times.
  • Re-applying repellent regularly, particularly after swimming. Be sure to apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent.
  • Wearing light, loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts, long pants and covered footwear and socks.
  • Avoiding going outdoors during peak mosquito times, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • Using insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units and mosquito coils to repel mosquitoes (mosquito coils should only be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas)
  • Covering windows and doors with insect screens and checking there are no gaps.
  • Removing items that may collect water such as old tyres and empty pots from around your home to reduce the places where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Using repellents that are safe for children. Most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged three months and older. Always check the label for instructions. Protecting infants aged less than three months by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting, secured along the edges.
  • While camping, use a tent that has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes entering or sleep under a mosquito net.
Remember, Spray Up – Cover Up – Screen Up to protect from mosquito bite. For more information go to NSW Health.

Mountain Bike Incidents On Public Land: Survey

This survey aims to document mountain bike related incidents on public land, available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K88PSNP

Sent in by Pittwater resident Academic for future report- study. The survey will run for 12 months and close in November 2024.

Report fox sightings

Fox sightings, signs of fox activity, den locations and attacks on native or domestic animals can be reported into FoxScan. FoxScan is a free resource for residents, community groups, local Councils, and other land managers to record and report fox sightings and control activities. 

Our Council's Invasive species Team receives an alert when an entry is made into FoxScan.  The information in FoxScan will assist with planning fox control activities and to notify the community when and where foxes are active.

marine wildlife rescue group on the Central Coast

A new wildlife group was launched on the Central Coast on Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast (MWRCC) had its official launch at The Entrance Boat Shed at 10am.

The group comprises current and former members of ASTR, ORRCA, Sea Shepherd, Greenpeace, WIRES and Wildlife ARC, as well as vets, academics, and people from all walks of life.

Well known marine wildlife advocate and activist Cathy Gilmore is spearheading the organisation.

“We believe that it is time the Central Coast looked after its own marine wildlife, and not be under the control or directed by groups that aren’t based locally,” Gilmore said.

“We have the local knowledge and are set up to respond and help injured animals more quickly.

“This also means that donations and money fundraised will go directly into helping our local marine creatures, and not get tied up elsewhere in the state.”

The organisation plans to have rehabilitation facilities and rescue kits placed in strategic locations around the region.

MWRCC will also be in touch with Indigenous groups to learn the traditional importance of the local marine environment and its inhabitants.

“We want to work with these groups and share knowledge between us,” Gilmore said.

“This is an opportunity to help save and protect our local marine wildlife, so if you have passion and commitment, then you are more than welcome to join us.”

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast has a Facebook page where you may contact members. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100076317431064

Watch out - shorebirds about

Summer is here so watch your step because beach-nesting and estuary-nesting birds have started setting up home on our shores.
Did you know that Careel Bay and other spots throughout our area are part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP)?

This flyway, and all of the stopping points along its way, are vital to ensure the survival of these Spring and Summer visitors. This is where they rest and feed on their journeys.  For example, did you know that the bar-tailed godwit flies for 239 hours for 8,108 miles from Alaska to Australia?

Not only that, Shorebirds such as endangered oystercatchers and little terns lay their eggs in shallow scraped-out nests in the sand, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Threatened Species officer Ms Katherine Howard has said.
Even our regular residents such as seagulls are currently nesting to bear young.

What can you do to help them?
Known nest sites may be indicated by fencing or signs. The whole community can help protect shorebirds by keeping out of nesting areas marked by signs or fences and only taking your dog to designated dog offleash area. 

Just remember WE are visitors to these areas. These birds LIVE there. This is their home.

Four simple steps to help keep beach-nesting birds safe:
1. Look out for bird nesting signs or fenced-off nesting areas on the beach, stay well clear of these areas and give the parent birds plenty of space.
2. Walk your dogs in designated dog-friendly areas only and always keep them on a leash over summer.
3. Stay out of nesting areas and follow all local rules.
4. Chicks are mobile and don't necessarily stay within fenced nesting areas. When you're near a nesting area, stick to the wet sand to avoid accidentally stepping on a chick.

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

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.

Bushcare in Pittwater: where + when

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or visit Council's bushcare webpage to find out how you can get involved.

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 
Catalpa Reserve              4th Sunday of the month        8.30 – 11.30
Palmgrove Park              1st Saturday of the month        9.00 – 12 

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

Ringtail Posses 2023

No costing, no clear timelines, no easy legal path: deep scepticism over Dutton’s nuclear plan is warranted

Martin Lisner/Shutterstock
Ian Lowe, Griffith University

It is very difficult to take Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s nuclear announcement seriously. His proposal for seven nuclear power stations is, at present, legally impossible, technically improbable, economically irrational and environmentally irresponsible.

Given the repeated community objections to much more modest nuclear proposals, such as storage of low-level radioactive waste, there is almost certainly no social licence for nuclear power stations.

Dutton promises that, if elected, he would make nuclear power a reality within a little over ten years. Given the enormous obstacles even to turn the first sod, this seems like a pipe dream.

Here’s why.

Legal status: seemingly impossible

Some 25 years ago, the Howard Coalition government legislated a ban on nuclear energy in its environment laws. Coalition governments have been in power federally for most of the time since, but have made no attempt to repeal the ban.

Even a sweeping victory in the forthcoming federal election would not give the Coalition the Senate majority necessary to change the ban in the next term of parliament. As is usually the case, only half the Senate will be elected, so simple arithmetic shows no prospect of a Coalition majority. The only possibility would be negotiating with the crossbench.

Of the seven nuclear power stations Dutton is proposing to build on the site of old coal stations, five would be in the eastern states: two in Queensland at Tarong and Callide, two in New South Wales at Mount Piper and Liddell, and one in Victoria at Loy Yang.

Each of these states have their own laws banning nuclear power. The eastern premiers have made clear they will not change their laws. Even Dutton’s Queensland Liberal National Party colleagues, who face a state election in October, do not support the plan.

So the proposal does not satisfy current laws and there is no realistic possibility of these changing in the timeframe Dutton would need to get the first reactors built (he says the first would be operating by the mid-2030s).

Dutton could try to bypass the states by building on Commonwealth land. But this would mean missing the supposed benefit of locating reactors next to existing transmission lines at old coal plant sites.

Cost: astronomical

Cost is a huge problem. Dutton has promised nuclear will deliver cheap power. But CSIRO’s latest GenCost study on the cost of different power generation technologies shows there is no economic case for nuclear power in Australia. Nuclear power would cost at least 50% more than power produced by renewables and firmed with storage.

This estimate is conservative – in reality nuclear would likely cost even more, as GenCost relies on the nuclear industry’s cost estimates. All recent projects have gone way over budget.

The three nuclear power stations being built in western Europe are all costing two to four times the original budget estimate.

It is true a renewables-dominated grid will require more storage, which means building more grid batteries and pumped hydro schemes. It is also true we’ll need to expand our existing 40,000 kilometres of transmission lines by 25% to get renewable electricity to consumers.

But even when we add these extra costs, and even when we accept industry figures, nuclear still cannot compete with solar farms or wind turbines. CSIRO costs nuclear at between A$8 and $17 billion for a large-scale reactor.

There are no private investors lining up to build nuclear. Overseas, nuclear has always been heavily bankrolled by the taxpayer. Dutton’s plan would either require a huge spend of public money or a major increase to power bills. In the United Kingdom, for example, the government has assured the developer of its Hinckley Point C reactor they will be able to recoup the cost by charging higher rates for the power.

While Dutton is promoting nuclear as a way to avoid building expensive and often unpopular new transmission lines, this is not true. Several proposed reactors would need their own lines built, as coal transmission capacity is rapidly being taken up by renewables, as South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis has pointed out.

Time: we’re out of it

Building a nuclear reactor takes years or even decades. Dutton has promised Australia would have its first nuclear power station operational in a decade, assuming his party is elected and their scheme implemented without delay in 2025.

This claim is wholly without merit. In 2006, the Coalition government commissioned a study on whether nuclear power was viable in Australia, which found it would likely take 15 years to build a reactor here. The timeframe today would be similar, because we don’t have a workforce with experience of building large nuclear reactors. We also don’t have the regulatory framework needed to give the community confidence nuclear power stations could be built and operated safely.

Even in the United States, the UK and France – three countries with long experience with nuclear – no recent project has been completed within ten years.

It defies logic to suggest we could start with a blank sheet of paper and build complex systems faster than countries with long-established industries and regulatory regimes.

Nuclear backers often point to examples in China and the United Arab Emirates, which have both built reactors within about a decade. But these countries do not tolerate the community objections which would be inevitable. In Australia, consultation, legal challenges and protests often delay far less controversial projects.

Why does this matter? Dutton’s push for nuclear isn’t happening in a vacuum. This is the crucial decade for action on climate change. As Australian climate scientist Joëlle Gergis has written, we are now paying the cost of long inaction on climate change in damage from more severe bushfires, floods and drought.

Let’s say the Coalition is elected and sets about making this plan a reality. In practice, this would commit us to decades more of coal and gas, while we wait for nuclear to arrive. We would break our Paris Agreement undertaking to make deep cuts to emissions, and keep making climate change worse. The Conversation

Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor, School of Environment and Science, Griffith University

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

AMA Warns Over Vapes' Toxic Threat To Our Health, Environment And Future

June 20, 2024
With the Senate soon to consider the government vaping reforms, the AMA is urging all members of parliament to consider the health of the community and the environmental impact of vaping. 

“If you care about the health of our children, and the health of our environment, then the choice is clear on vaping – support the reforms before the parliament,” AMA President Professor Steve Robson said. 

“Anything less is a betrayal of a healthier, safer and cleaner future for our kids.”

Vaping in Australia has tripled since 2019, with a rise from 2.5 per cent to 7 per cent in 2022-2023, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

Professor Robson said vapes are an “environmental triple-threat” with plastic waste in the device body and pod, electronic waste in the form of lithium-ion batteries and a heating element, and hazardous waste due to the heavy metals in the vape and nicotine in the e-juice.

“Vapes are classified as hazardous waste around the country but most vapes are being thrown away in the garbage, or worse – dumped as litter – which is terrible for the environment,” Professor Robson said.

“The plastic waste from the device body and pod never fully decomposes.

“Rather than decomposing, plastic turns into microplastics, or tiny pieces of plastic, which continue to pollute the environment and pollute our food and drinking water.

“The electronic waste or lithium-ion battery waste can corrode and the metals and chemicals – like lithium – leak into the ground, polluting the soil and water long into the future.

“Incorrectly disposed batteries can also cause fires in garbage trucks and landfills, which can harm people, animals and the land.

“We know liquid nicotine is also an acute hazardous waste that is toxic to humans if consumed.”

The AMA said material used to make vapes also comes at a cost to the environment with deforestation and destruction of habitats from mining for materials and carbon emissions from their manufacture and transport.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey also found the use of e cigarettes is more likely than smoking in areas more socioeconomic advantage.

“Anyone in parliament who is serious about looking after the environment cannot turn a blind eye to the environmental menace that vapes have become,” Professor Robson said.

Microplastics and nanoplastics have been found throughout the human body – how worried should we be?

Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock
Michael Richardson, Leiden University and Meiru Wang, Leiden University

The world is becoming clogged with plastic. Particles of plastic so tiny they cannot be seen with the naked eye have been found almost everywhere, from the oceans’ depths to the mountain tops. They are in the soil, in plants, in animals and they are inside us. The question is: what harm, if any, are they causing?

When plastic trash is dumped in a landfill or the sea, it breaks down, very slowly. Sunlight and waves cause the surface of the plastic to become brittle, and particles are shed into the environment. Collectively known as “small plastic particles”, they range in size from five millimetres or smaller (microplastics) to less than one-thousandth of a millimetre (nanoplastics). The smallest can only be detected with special scientific instruments.

It remains unclear how microplastics and nanoplastics get inside living things, but several entry points have been suggested. For example, they might pass through the gut from food or drink contaminated with small plastic particles. Or they may be breathed in, or absorbed through the skin.

Our research suggests that, for some animals at least, nanoplastics are bad news. We injected plastic nanoparticles into chicken embryos. We found that the particles travelled quickly in the blood to all tissues, especially the heart, liver and kidneys. They were also excreted by the embryonic kidneys.

We noticed, too, that plastic nanoparticles tend to stick to a certain type of stem cell in the embryo. These cells are essential for the normal development of the nervous system and other structures. Any damage to stem cells could put the development of the embryo in jeopardy.

We suspect that the chicken embryo stem cells have substances on their surface, called “cell-adhesion molecules”, which stick to the polystyrene nanoparticles that we used. We are following up this finding, because when nanoplastics stick to cells and get inside them, they can cause cell death and even serious birth defects in chickens and mice.

Similar studies cannot, of course, be carried out on people, so it is not yet possible to say what the implications of our animal research are for humans. What we do know is that nanoplastics are found in the blood of human beings, in other bodily fluids and several major organs and key body tissues.

In recent years, microplastics and nanoplastics have been found in the brains, hearts and lungs of humans. They have been discovered in the arteries of people with arterial disease, suggesting they may be a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. And they have been detected in breast milk, the placenta and, most recently, penises.

Chinese researchers reported earlier this year that they had found microplastics in human and dog testes. More recently, another Chinese team found microplastics in all 40 samples of human semen they tested. This follows an Italian study that found microplastics in six out of ten samples of human semen.

Our fear is that microplastics and nanoplastics might act in a similar way to deadly asbestos fibres. Like asbestos, they are not broken down in the body and can be taken up into cells, killing them and then being released to damage yet more cells.

Reassuring, for now

But there is a need for caution here. There is no evidence that nanoplastics can cross the placenta and get into the human embryo.

Also, even if nanoplastics do cross the placenta, and in sufficient numbers to damage the embryo, we would expect to have seen a big increase in abnormal pregnancies in recent years. That is because the problem of plastic waste in the environment has been growing enormously over the years. But we are not aware of any evidence of a corresponding, large increase in birth defects or miscarriages.

That, for now, is reassuring.

It may be that microplastics and nanoplastics, if they do cause harm to our bodies, do so in a subtle way that we have not yet detected. Whatever the case, scientists are working hard to discover what the risks might be.

One promising avenue of research would involve the use of human placental tissue grown in the laboratory. Special artificial placenta tissues, called “trophoblast organoids”, have been developed for studying how harmful substances cross the placenta.

Researchers are also investigating potentially beneficial uses for nanoplastics. Although they are not yet licensed for clinical use, the idea is that they could be used to deliver drugs to specific body tissues that need them. Cancer cells could, in this way, be targeted for destruction without damaging other healthy tissue.

Whatever the outcome of nanoplastics research, we and many other scientists will continue trying to find out what nanoplastics are doing to ourselves and the environment.The Conversation

Michael Richardson, Professor of Animal Development, Leiden University and Meiru Wang, Postdoctoral Researcher, Molecular Biology and Nanotoxicology, Leiden University

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

High fliers: pleasure-seeking parrots are using aromatic plants, stinky ants and alcohol

Neil Tavener
Penny Olsen, Australian National University

Birds have been known to seek out pungent chemicals for various reasons. Some consume fermented fruits with gusto and suffer the ill effects. Others expose themselves to ants, but only the stinky kind. These ants produce useful antimicrobials and insect repellents.

In our recent research, my colleagues and I observed Norfolk Island green parrots applying chewed pepper tree bark and shoots to their feathers and skin during preening. We believe this is a rare example of a bird using plant matter to rid themselves of parasites. But there may be more to it. These birds do seem to be enjoying themselves.

For more than a century, scientists have puzzled over the purpose of anting. When birds engage in this behaviour, they either actively spread ants or simply allow ants to move through their feathers. In defence, the ants release formic acid. Could birds be getting high on the fumes?

Maybe pepper tree bark has more than medicinal effects too. It’s highly likely such self-medicating is stimulating.

Anointing behaviour in the green parrot (Luis Ortiz-Catedral)

Stimulating substances

Both formic acid and piperine (from pepper trees) are pungent chemicals with proven medicinal, antimicrobial and insect-repelling qualities.

Our green parrots appeared extra animated while they busily snipped, chewed and rubbed the pungent pepper tree bark and foliage through their plumage.

Almost a century ago, in 1931, Prussian naturalist Alfred Troschütz noted of anting “the formic acid must have an especially agreeable effect”.

Then, in 1957, US ornithologist Lovie Whitaker concluded the bird she was studying “appeared to derive sensual pleasure, possibly including sexual stimulation” from anting. Her views were quickly dismissed and anting declared “strictly functional”. But is it?

The apparent ecstatic state reached by some anting birds is well known. People often come across Australian magpies with their feathers fluffed, body contorted, perhaps staggering and seemingly unable to respond normally — that is, to flee.

An Australian magpie lying on the grass, with outstretched wings and head turned to one side
An Australian magpie, sunbathing or getting rid of ants? Danielle, The Magpie Whisperer

In humans, piperine (the key ingredient in pepper) is mildly stimulating. And several potentially hallucinogenic or mind-altering substances, notably formic acid, have been isolated from ant toxins.

Formic acid has been used to tone the muscles, increase muscular energy and ease the sense of fatigue. In 17th-century Europe, it was the “secret” ingredient in a popular tonic believed to improve wellbeing, calm digestion and increase sexual appetite.

Indigenous groups across southern California used red harvester ants for medicinal purposes as well as religious rituals. The ants were ingested alive, in massive quantities, to induce prolonged catatonic states punctuated by hallucinogenic visions.

Two green parrots busy anointing themselves with chewed pepper tree bark
Green parrots on Norfolk Island appear to enjoy anointing themselves with chewed pepper tree bark. Neil Tavener

Flying under the influence

Many birds become intoxicated after eating fermented fruits and berries. Their drunken state is often detected when they collide with windows or cars, get caught by cats while in a stupor, or suffer from alcohol poisoning.

In 2021, about half a dozen drunk red-winged parrots were handed in to Broome Veterinary Hospital in Western Australia after feasting on overripe mangoes. Many more never made it to the clinic.

The drunken reputation of the Kereru saw it voted in as New Zealand’s Bird of the Year in 2018. This pigeon is known for occasionally becoming tipsy, even falling out of trees.

Inebriated kererū pigeons binge on fruit punch (Guardian News, 2018)

All of these pissed parrots and pigeons lend themselves to jokes about party animals, but there is a deeper evolutionary context to such behaviour.

As fruit ripens it becomes sweeter and more nutritious. As it overripens, the sugar begins to ferment and the alcohol concentration increases.

Volatile compounds (alcohols) produced during fermentation can be carried in the air, helping birds locate the rich food source. Ethanol is also a source of energy in its own right and stimulates the appetite.

Fruit eaters including birds, our human ancestors and other animals may have come to associate the presence of ethanol with a sugar hit and mild pleasure. In turn, the fruit eaters reward the fruit or nectar producing plants by dispersing seeds, or facilitating cross-pollination.

This evolutionary explanation for an attraction to alcohol is sometimes referred to as The Drunken Monkey Hypothesis, first suggested by US biologist Robert Dudley.

Eat, drink and be merry

While some birds are inclined to imbibe, it seems most can handle their liquor. Like humans, their central nervous system may well reward moderate alcohol consumption, making them feel less fatigued, more relaxed and sociable.

Such pleasure-seeking may seem like an evolutionary dead end, but nature generally contrives to limit availability to alcohol. Stimulation is mild and cases of drunken excess are the exception. The latter often occur in situations where the fleshy fruits are in abundance, other food is scarce or conditions have produced unusually high sugar content, which yields an extra potent brew when it ferments. Often, the boozy casualties are young birds. Sound familiar? Just as well smart birds haven’t figured out how to distil alcohol.

Likening green parrots rubbing aromatic vegetation through their plumage to inebriated pigeons falling from trees may seem a stretch. But nature rewards behaviour that offers evolutionary advantage, often, it seems by tapping into animals’ pleasure centres. The pursuit of pleasure is an important, usually overlooked, aspect of animal behaviour, worthy of attention and further research.The Conversation

Penny Olsen, Honorary Professor in Ecology and Evolution, Australian National University

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

Marine CO₂ removal technologies could depend on the appetite of the ocean’s tiniest animals

Tyler Rohr, University of Tasmania; Ali Mashayek, University of Cambridge, and Sophie Meyjes, University of Cambridge

As the world struggles to decarbonise, it’s becoming increasingly clear we’ll need to both rapidly reduce emissions and actively remove carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report considered 230 pathways to keep global warming below 1.5°C. All required CO₂ removal.

Some of the most promising CO₂ removal technologies receiving government funding in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia seek to increase the massive carbon storage potential of the ocean. These include fertilising tiny plants and tweaking ocean chemistry.

Ocean-based approaches are gaining popularity because they could potentially store carbon for a tenth of the cost of “direct air capture”, where CO₂ is sucked from the air with energy-intensive machinery.

But the marine carbon cycle is much harder to predict. Scientists must unravel the many complex natural processes that could alter the efficiency, efficacy and safety of ocean-based CO₂ removal before it can go ahead.

In our new research, we highlight a surprisingly important mechanism that had previously been overlooked. If CO₂ removal techniques change the appetite of tiny animals at the base of the food chain, that could dramatically change how much carbon is actually stored.

Plankton dominate the carbon pump

Tiny marine life forms called plankton play a huge role in ocean carbon cycling. These microscopic organisms drift on the ocean currents, moving captured carbon throughout the seas.

Like plants on land, phytoplankton use sunlight and CO₂ to grow through photosynthesis.

Zooplankton, on the other hand, are tiny animals that mostly eat phytoplankton. They come in many shapes and sizes. If you put them in a lineup, you might think they came from different planets.

Across all this diversity, zooplankton have very different appetites. The hungrier they are, they faster they eat.

Uneaten phytoplankton – and zooplankton poo – can sink to great depths, keeping carbon locked away from the atmosphere for centuries. Some even sink to the seafloor, eventually transforming into fossil fuels.

This transfer of carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean is known as the “biological pump”. It keeps hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon in the ocean and out of the atmosphere. That translates to about 400ppm CO₂ and 5°C of cooling!

A variety of zooplankton, tiny marine animals of different shapes and sizes, against a black background
A lineup of zooplankton: tiny marine animals that look like they come from different planets. Julian Uribe-Palomino/IMOS-CSIRO

Picky eaters

In our new research we wanted to better understand how zooplankton appetites influence the biological pump.

First we had to work out how zooplankton appetites differ across the ocean.

We used a computer model to simulate the seasonal cycle of phytoplankton population growth. This is based on the balance of reproduction and death. The model simulates reproduction really well.

Zooplankton appetites largely determine the death rate. But the model’s not so good at simulating death rates, because it doesn’t have enough information about zooplankton appetites.

So we tested dozens of different appetites and then checked our results against real-world data.

To get global observations of phytoplankton seasonal cycles without a fleet of ships, we used satellite data. This is possible even though phytoplankton are tiny, because their light-catching pigments are visible from space.

We ran the model in more than 30,000 locations and found zooplankton appetites vary enormously. That means all those different types of zooplankton are not spread evenly across the ocean. They appear to gather around their favourite types of prey.

In our latest research, we show how this diversity influences the biological pump.

We compared two models, one with just two types of zooplankton and another with an unlimited number of zooplankton – each with different appetites, all individually tuned to their unique environment.

We found including realistic zooplankton diversity reduced the strength of the biological pump by a billion tonnes of carbon every year. That’s bad for humanity, because most of the carbon that doesn’t go into the ocean ends up back in the atmosphere.

Not all of the carbon in the bodies of the phytoplankton would have sunk deep enough to be locked away from the atmosphere. But even if only a quarter did, once converted to CO₂ that could match annual emissions from the entire aviation industry.

An infographic illustrating the ocean carbon cycle, including phytoplankton photosynthesis and zooplankton grazing
In the ocean carbon cycle, the biological pump begins with the capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis by phytoplankton. If the phytoplankton die, the carbon in their bodies is stored deep in the ocean. However, zooplankton grazing will release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. IAEA

The ocean as a sponge

Many ocean-based CO₂ removal technologies will alter the composition and abundance of phytoplankton.

Biological ocean-based CO₂ removal technologies such as “ocean iron fertilisation” seek to increase phytoplankton growth. It’s a bit like spreading fertiliser in your garden, but on a much bigger scale – with a fleet of ships seeding iron across the ocean.

The goal is to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere and pump it into the deep ocean. However, because some phytoplankton crave iron more than others, feeding them iron could change the composition of the population.

Alternatively, non-biological ocean-based CO₂ removal technologies such as “ocean alkalinity enhancement” shift the chemical balance, allowing more CO₂ to dissolve in the water before it reaches chemical equilibrium. However, the most accessible sources of alkalinity are minerals including nutrients that encourage the growth of certain phytoplankton over others.

If these changes to phytoplankton favour different types of zooplankton with different sized appetites, they are likely to change the strength of the biological pump. This could compromise – or complement – the efficiency of ocean-based CO₂ removal technologies.

The Insanely Important World of Phytoplankton (NASA Goddard)

Moving forward from a sea of uncertainty

Emerging private-sector CO₂ removal companies will require accreditation from reliable carbon offset registries. This means they must demonstrate their technology can:

  1. remove carbon for hundreds of years (permanence)
  2. avoid major environmental impacts (safety)
  3. be amenable to accurate monitoring (verification).

Cast against a sea of uncertainty, the time is now for oceanographers to establish the necessary standards.

Our research shows CO₂ removal technologies that change phytoplankton communities could also drive changes in carbon storage, by modifying zooplankton appetites. We need to better understand this before we can accurately predict how well these technologies will work and how we must monitor them.

This will require tremendous effort to overcome the challenges of observing, modelling and predicting zooplankton dynamics. But the payoff is huge. A more reliable regulatory framework could pave the way for a trillion dollar, morally imperative, emerging CO₂ removal industry.The Conversation

Tyler Rohr, Lecturer in Southern Ocean Biogeochemical Modelling, IMAS, University of Tasmania; Ali Mashayek, Professor, University of Cambridge, and Sophie Meyjes, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

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

Defunct satellites burning up in the atmosphere could damage the ozone layer. Here’s how

Robyn Schofield, The University of Melbourne

Communications companies such as Starlink plan to launch tens of thousands of satellites into orbit around Earth over the next decade or so. The growing swarm is already causing problems for astronomers, but recent research has raised another question: what happens when they start to come down?

When these satellites reach the end of their useful life, they will fall into Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. Along the way, they will leave a trail of tiny metallic particles.

According to a study published last week by a team of American researchers, this satellite rain may dump 360 tonnes of tiny aluminium oxide particles in the atmosphere each year. The aluminium will mostly be injected at altitudes between 50 and 85 kilometres, but it will then drift down to the stratosphere – home to Earth’s protective ozone layer.

What does that mean? According to the study, the satellite’s contrail could facilitate ozone-destroying chemical reactions. That’s not wrong, but as we will see the story is far from simple.

How does ozone get destroyed?

Ozone loss in the stratosphere is caused by “free radicals” – atoms or molecules with a free electron. When radicals are produced, they start cycles that destroy many ozone molecules. (These cycles have names Dr Seuss would admire: NOx, HOx, ClOx and BrOx, as all involve oxygen as well as nitrogen, hydrogen, chlorine and bromine, respectively.)

These radicals are created when stable gases are broken up by ultraviolet light, which there is plenty of in the stratosphere.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) start with nitrous oxide. This is a greenhouse gas naturally produced by microbes, but human fertiliser manufacturing and agriculture has increased the amount in the air.

The HOx cycle involves hydrogen radicals from water vapour. Not much water vapour makes it into the stratosphere, though events like the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcanic eruption in 2022 can sometimes inject large amounts. Water in the stratosphere creates numerous small aerosol particles, which create a large surface area for chemical reactions and also scatter more light to make beautiful sunsets. (I will come back to both of these points later.)

How CFCs made the ‘ozone hole’

ClOx and BrOx are the cycles responsible for the most famous damage to the ozone layer: the “ozone hole” caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons. These chemicals, now banned, were commonly used in refrigerators and fire extinguishers and introduced chlorine and bromine to the stratosphere.

CFCs rapidly release chlorine radicals in the stratosphere. However, this reactive chlorine is quickly neutralised and locked up in molecules with nitrogen and water radicals.

What happens next depends on aerosols in the stratosphere, and near the poles it also depends on clouds.

Aerosols speed up chemical reactions by providing a surface for them to occur on. As a result, aerosols in the stratosphere release reactive chlorine (and bromine). Polar stratospheric clouds also remove water and nitrogen oxides from the air.

So in general, when there are more stratospheric aerosols around we are likely to see more ozone loss.

An increasingly metallic stratosphere

The details of the specific injection of aluminium oxides by falling satellites would be quite complex. This is not the first study to highlight the growing stratospheric pollution from re-entering space junk.

In 2023, researchers studying aerosol particles in the stratosphere detected traces of metals from spacecraft re-entry. They found that 10% of stratospheric aerosols already contain aluminium, and predicted this will increase to 50% over the next 10–30 years. (Around 50% of stratospheric aerosol particles already contain metals from meteorites.)

Photo showing a plume of smoke floating above Earth's atmosphere.
The plume left by the re-entry of the Soyuz capsule in 2015, as photographed from the International Space Station. NASA / Scott Kelly

We don’t know what effect this will have. One likely outcome would be that the aluminium particles seed the growth of ice containing particles. This means that there would be more smaller, cold, reflective particles with more surface area on which chemistry can occur.

We also don’t know how aluminium particles will interact with the sulfuric acid, nitric acid and water found in the stratosphere. As a result, we can’t really say what the implications will be for ozone loss.

Learning from volcanoes

To really understand what these aluminium oxides mean for ozone loss, we need laboratory studies, to model the chemistry in more detail, and also look at how the particles would move around in the atmosphere.

For example, after the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai eruption, the water vapour in the stratosphere quickly mixed around the southern hemisphere, and then moved toward the pole. At first, this extra water caused intense sunsets, but a year later, these water aerosols are well diluted across the whole southern hemisphere and we no longer see them.

Satellite photo showing an enormous cloud rising from a volcanic eruption.
The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai eruption in 2022 injected huge amounts of water vapour into the stratosphere. NASA

A global current called the Brewer-Dobson circulation moves air up into the stratosphere near the equator and back down again at the poles. As a result, aerosols and gases can only stay in the stratosphere for at most six years. (Climate change is speeding up this circulation, which means the time that aerosols and gases are in the stratosphere is shorter.)

The famous eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991 also created beautiful sunsets. It injected more than 15 million tonnes of sulfur dioxide in to the stratosphere, which cooled the Earth’s surface by a little over half a degree Celsius for around three years. This event is the inspiration for geoengineering proposals to slow down climate change by deliberately putting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.

Many questions remain

Compared to Pinatubo’s 15 million tonnes, 360 tonnes of aluminium oxide seems like small potatoes.

However, we don’t know how aluminium oxides will behave physically under stratospheric conditions. Will it make aerosols that are smaller and more reflective – thus cooling the surface, much like stratospheric aerosol injection geoengineering scenarios?

We also don’t know how aluminium will behave chemically. Will it create ice nuclei? How will it interact with nitric and sulfuric acid? Will it release locked-up chlorine more effectively than current stratospheric aerosols, facilitating ozone destruction?

And of course, the aluminium aerosols won’t stay in the stratosphere forever. When they eventually fall to the ground, what will this metal contamination do in our polar regions?

All these questions need to be addressed. By some estimates, more than 50,000 satellites may be launched between now and 2030, so we had better address them quickly.The Conversation

Robyn Schofield, Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Environment and Sustainability), The University of Melbourne

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

What is a heat dome? A meteorologist explains the weather phenomenon baking the eastern US

A heat dome sent temperatures soaring as summer 2024 was about to begin. Orange is moderate heat risk for June 18, red is major, and purple is extreme. NOAA
William Gallus, Iowa State University

Heat domes, like the one sending temperatures soaring from the Midwest to New England and across the eastern U.S. in June 2024, occur when a persistent region of high pressure traps heat over an area. A heat dome can linger for days to weeks, leaving the people, crops and animals below to suffer through stagnant, hot air that can feel like an oven.

Typically, heat domes are tied to the behavior of the jet stream, a band of fast winds high in the atmosphere that generally runs west to east.

Normally, the jet stream has a wavelike pattern, meandering north and then south and then north again. When these meanders in the jet stream become bigger, they move slower and can become stationary. That’s when heat domes can occur.

Map of U.S. with a bubble over the Midwest showing arrows moving, with the ridge air sinking
Heat domes involve high-pressure areas that trap and heat up the air below. NOAA

When the jet stream swings far to the north, air piles up and sinks. The air warms as it sinks, and the sinking air also keeps skies clear since it lowers humidity. That allows the sun to create hotter and hotter conditions near the ground.

If the air near the ground passes over mountains and descends, it can warm even more. This downslope warming played a large role in the extremely hot temperatures in the Pacific Northwest during a heat dome event in 2021, when Washington set a state record with 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius), and temperatures reached 121 F in British Columbia in Canada, surpassing the previous Canadian record by 8 degrees F (4 C).

The human impact

Heat domes normally persist for several days in any one location, but they can last longer. They can also move, influencing neighboring areas over a week or two. The heat dome that started in Texas and Mexico in June 2023 spread into the Southwest in July.

On rare occasions, the heat dome can be more persistent. That happened in the southern Plains in 1980, when as many as 10,000 people died during weeks of high summer heat. It also happened over much of the United States during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

A heat dome can have serious impacts on people, because the stagnant weather pattern that allows it to exist usually results in weak winds and an increase in humidity. Both factors make the heat feel worse – and become more dangerous – because the human body is not cooled as much by sweating.

The heat index, a combination of heat and humidity, is often used to convey this danger by indicating what the temperature will feel like to most people. The high humidity also reduces the amount of cooling at night. Warm nights can leave people without air conditioners unable to cool off, which increases the risk of heat illnesses and deaths. With global warming, temperatures are already higher, too.

One of the worst recent examples of the impacts from a heat dome with high temperatures and humidity in the U.S. occurred in the summer of 1995, when an estimated 739 people died in the Chicago area over five days.

This article, originally published June 22, 2022, has been updated.The Conversation

William Gallus, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University

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

We’re using drones to map the temperatures of lizards and this could boost reptile conservation

Emma Higgins, University of South Wales

Forget pizza delivery, the latest use for drones may surprise you even more.

In the tropics, my colleagues and I have used drones to map a vital ecological indicator – the temperature at which lizards thrive. This innovative technique could revolutionise our understanding of reptile conservation in a changing climate.

We’ve all been out on a warm day and have looked to find some shade, or grabbed an extra layer of clothing on a cold day. But imagine that your daily life is dependent on keeping your body within the “perfect” temperature range. This is what life is like for cold-blooded species like lizards.

Cold-blooded animals are dependent on ideal temperatures for life. So, for their conservation, researchers need a way to analyse the quality of the heat conditions they live in. This is even more important given how people are modifying landscapes through activities such as deforestation and the ever-growing threat of climate change which means cold-blooded creatures have less shade.

Our study species is no stranger to such pressures. The Bay Islands anole, Anolis bicaorum, is a lizard found on the island of Utila, north of mainland Honduras in Central America.

The island is undergoing significant development resulting in the conversion of the lizard’s favoured forest habitat to urbanised areas. This lizard, a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is only found on this small island and is under threat from this habitat loss.

A previous study of mine found that the thermal environment is a vital factor in determining the number of individuals of this species. So, it is important to measure this as the basis for successful conservation strategies.

Traditionally, measuring a lizard’s thermal environment has been a laborious and costly affair. It involves deploying 3D-printed lizard replicas which are equipped with special thermometers to log the nearby temperature of the forest.

While these replicas provide valuable data points, their limited number due to expense – typically around 20 per study plot – restricts the scope of analysis. This scarcity of data makes it difficult to assess thermal suitability across entire landscapes, a crucial factor for conservation planning. This is where my team’s recent research using drones comes in.

If the forest canopy plays a crucial role in regulating a lizard’s body temperature, we wondered whether we could predict those temperatures by using equations based on canopy characteristics.

To test this, we first needed to collect canopy data. And we used drones to do that.

Drones have transformed data collection, allowing us to gather detailed canopy metrics across entire study areas. We used a drone to hover a few metres over each plot, capturing high-resolution images.

From these images, we extracted data on two important factors: the percentage of greenness (indicating canopy cover) and texture indices (representing variation in the canopy structure).

By combining this detailed drone-based canopy data (greenness and texture) with ground-based air temperature measurements, we aimed to predict the temperature an A. bicaorum lizard would reach on the island of Utila.

And we found that it works, for this particular lizard, and in this environment at least. By using the drone data and coupling it with air temperature and machine learning models, we can predict the temperature of A. bicaorum at solar noon, the sun’s highest point, across the entire survey plot.

This method allows us to create continuous, high-resolution maps of temperatures across entire landscapes. And this level of detail is far more relevant to the movement patterns of individual lizards compared to the limited data points collected with traditional methods.

Why this is important

A double threat looms for cold-blooded creatures worldwide: climate change and habitat loss. These factors are rapidly transforming the planet’s thermal environment, potentially squeezing the suitable habitat available for cold-blooded species. The consequences could be far-reaching, affecting the fitness and energy expenditure of countless animals.

Our drone-based approach allows us to map ecologically significant thermal data across vast landscapes, at resolutions relevant to individual animals and populations. This level of detail far surpasses the limitations of traditional ground-based methods.

The next step for our research is to test this method across different species and habitats. We also need to incorporate 3D data into our analysis, allowing us to map thermal variations throughout the day, not just at peak sunlight at solar noon. This will provide a more comprehensive picture of how different species use their thermal environment.

Our work opens a new window into understanding how human activities and climate change affect species like the A. bicaorum lizard, particularly those in forests where suitable thermal environments are crucial for their survival.The Conversation

Emma Higgins, Lecturer in Ecology, University of South Wales

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

A huge shark terrorises people in new French hit Under Paris. When will we stop villainising these animals?

Brianna Le Busque, University of South Australia

Another year, another movie with a shark in the leading role.

The new French thriller film Under Paris is currently ranked second in Australia’s Top 10 list and has broken records as one of Netflix’s most watched non-English films. It follows a giant shark that appears in Paris’s Seine river, seemingly out for blood.

For decades, filmmakers have placed sharks alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Blake Lively, Jason Statham and Roy Schneider. Shark movies can make hefty profits, too. The Meg (2018) made more than US$157 million globally (about A$235 million).

But the shark “characters” in these films are far from something to be admired or appreciated. Indeed, the film industry has helped galvanise a kind of collective villainisation of these creatures.

As was neatly summarised in a paper published in the journal Marine Policy:

contemporary narratives widely presented in popular mainstream media have attached an utterly negative connotation to sharks, propagating an unsubstantiated and fabricated image of them as voracious predators.

The effects of these narratives can linger long after viewers have left the cinema.

Jaws, the start of it all

While it’s often thought Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit movies Jaws started the shark movie trend, there were a handful of similar prior examples, including She Gods of Shark Reef (1958) and Shark! (1969).

That said, Jaws was certainly the first of these to become a blockbuster, with a gross worldwide earning of more than US$470 million (about A$704 million). For the few who haven’t seen it, the film is based on a white shark shown to be intentionally hunting and eating people at a seaside American tourist town.

In 2014, social scientist Christopher Pepin-Neff proposed a phenomenon called the “Jaws effect” which suggests people’s beliefs about sharks today – and even Australian policies concerning shark bite mitigation – can be linked back to this storyline.

These beliefs, Pepin-Neff says, include the idea that sharks intentionally bite and hunt humans, that human-shark interactions always lead to fatal outcomes and that once a shark gets a taste for humans it needs to be culled so it won’t continue to seek out human prey.

Jaws may have not been the first shark movie, but it is arguably the biggest and likely influenced movies that followed.

Many shark films now include even larger sharks than the six-metre one depicted in Jaws. Under Paris, for instance, portrays a seven-metre mako, while the shark in The Meg is supposed to be some 23 metres (larger than what real megalodons were thought to be).

These films don’t seem to be letting up, either. There’s currently an “untitled shark thriller” being filmed in Australia, along with potential discussions of a sequel to Under Paris.

Fact or fiction?

Some elements of shark films are true to fact. For instance, the size of the shark in Jaws was factually accurate, as was the portrayal of an incident in which surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a tiger shark in Hawaii in the film Soul Surfer (2011). Even so, creative licence is used liberally in the “sharksploitation” subgenre.

Statistically, shark bites are very rare and have even been described by experts as “statistical anomalies”. In 2023, the Florida Museum of Natural History counted a total 120 shark bites globally, of which 69 were “unprovoked”.

These bites tend to occur in the United States and Australia, which makes them even rarer in other countries where sharks reside, such as New Caledonia, Brazil and Egypt. Unsurprisingly, no shark bites have occurred in the Seine. And only five unprovoked bites have been reported in France since 1580.

Nonetheless, research shows people are generally afraid of sharks and perceive the risk of shark bites as being higher than it is (in part due to media portrayals).

Sharks are apex predators in their ecosystems and their presence is essential for healthy oceans, so exaggerated portrayals in media are far from trivial. It is important the public views sharks as more than human-eating machines.

Are there any friendly fish films?

In 2021, I conducted an analysis of 109 shark movies and found only one which did not include any potentially threatening interactions with shark characters.

This was the Disney film Finding Dory (2016), which has a whale shark character named Destiny. Whale sharks are filter-feeding fish that pose little-to-no threat to humans. This may be why Destiny got a positive edit.

Despite this, the official trailer for the 2012 Norwegian film Kon-Tiki implies a whale shark is at one point attacking a boat. The full movie scene is less dramatic and emphasises the shark’s curious side, in a more true-to-life depiction. But it still shows the shark swimming quickly towards the raft, which is inaccurate since we know whale sharks swim very slowly.

Even in Finding Nemo (2003) and Shark Tale (2004), the “friendly”, “vegetarian” shark characters of Bruce and Lenny are covertly portrayed as potentially threatening.

In my recent analysis of 638 “creature features” films – a subgenre of horror movies featuring non-human creatures – I found sharks to be the most commonly depicted non-human species (with snakes and spiders not far behind).

Is it all bad news?

The saying “all publicity is good publicity” probably isn’t true in the case of sharks.

The trophy hunting of white sharks increased following the release of Jaws in 1975 – something Director Steven Spielberg himself says he “regrets”. And while it’s hard to say how much such portrayals have impacted the species’ image and conservation, we can expect they have.

We might find a silver lining in the fact Jaws also turned many people into shark fans and inspired a new wave of shark scientists. We’re also seeing the legacy of Peter Benchley, the author of the original 1974 Jaws novel, live on through the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards aimed at celebrating figures in ocean conservation.

Overall, however, negative portrayals continue to largely outweigh any positive or educational content. If only sharks had a really good PR team.The Conversation

Brianna Le Busque, Lecturer in Environmental Science, University of South Australia

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

Australian coal mine and power station workers’ prospects look bleak – unless we start offering more targeted support

Adam Triggs, Australian National University

Workers who were made redundant in coal-fired power plants between 2010 and 2020 saw their incomes plummet by 69% in the year after they lost their jobs.

This was the staggering finding of research by Dan Andrews, Elyse Dwyer and Lachlan Vass at the e61 Institute reported by The Conversation in 2023.

Andrews, Dwyer and Vass called for a national discussion about support for workers made redundant by Australia’s energy transition.

On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton offered his own form of support, saying the Coalition’s plan to put nuclear power plants on the sites of former coal-fired stations would help retain jobs in regions that had provided Australia with energy for decades.

But where replacement jobs can’t be easily found for former fossil fuel industry workers, an important question remains: which workers need specially targeted support? That’s what we set out to discover.

Our jobs study, based on a real coal mine

Some displaced coal miners and coal-fired power station workers will find new jobs easily.

As an example, there’s plenty of demand for electricians, meaning targeting support towards them makes little sense.

But others could be unemployed for years, or the rest of their lives.

To find out which displaced workers are most at risk of long-term unemployment, Rojan Joshi and I applied ten years of national job advertisement data to the hypothetical case of an actual New England coal mine closing.

The coal mine is real. It employs 766 people. The largest groups of employees are miners, truck drivers and fitters. Most live locally.

We modelled what would have happened if the mine had closed seven years ago.

The job advertisement data gave us an idea of how long it would take those workers to find new jobs, based on their occupations and whether they were willing to relocate within New South Wales or move interstate.

What happened depended on who would move

The results were mixed. Motor mechanics, metal fabricators, truck drivers and electricians would have had the easiest time finding new jobs, followed by shotfirers (they handle explosives), mechanical engineers and fitters.

Those who would have struggled the most to find new jobs were drillers, production managers, coal miners themselves, mine deputies and mining engineers.

But it all depended on whether they were willing to move.

Of workers not prepared to relocate, 28% of those in the 12 biggest occupations would have found a new job within one year, 35% within two years, 39% within three years and 43% within four years.

Put differently, most workers – 57% – wouldn’t have a new job without relocating, even after four years.

Of workers willing to relocate within the state, 52% would have found a job in one year, 67% in two years, 85% in three years and 100% in four years.

Of those willing to relocate anywhere in Australia, 99% would have found a new job in one year and 100% in two years.

Different occupations were impacted in different ways. The results suggested the government should focus on helping people relocate and pay particular attention to drillers, production managers, miners, mine deputies and mining engineers.

What we need to know to better support workers

Providing broader support to those who might not need it risked diluting the support available to those who needed it the most. It also risked deadening the incentives for workers who are able to find new jobs to do so.

But there are four limitations of our study to keep in mind.

First, we looked at only one coal mine in New England. Different mines have different workforces, as do coal-fired power stations fed by those mines.

Second, some mines have fly-in-fly-out workers. We picked a mine that did not.

Third, we didn’t examine retraining and re-skilling. Some workers who struggle to find a job in their existing occupation might be able to retrain and get a job in another one.

Fourth, we didn’t examine wages. People who would have found new jobs might not have been able to find them at the same pay.

Despite these limitations, our results make clear that supporting workers who lose their jobs as a result of Australia’s energy transition will be complex.

Government forecasts predict a fall in Australia’s coal exports of 50% to 80% over the next two decades. By 2035, the two biggest remaining coal-fired power plants in NSW and the biggest in Victoria are scheduled to have closed.

If we want the energy transition to benefit Australians, we need to pay closer attention to those it could leave behind.The Conversation

Adam Triggs, Visiting research fellow, Australian National University

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

Australia needs large-scale energy production – here are 3 reasons why offshore wind is a good fit

ShutterDesigner, Shutterstock
Ty Christopher, University of Wollongong and Michelle Voyer, University of Wollongong

On the weekend, an area 20km off the Illawarra coast south of Sydney became Australia’s fourth offshore wind energy zone. It’s the most controversial zone to date, with consultation attracting a record 14,211 submissions – of which 65% were opposed.

The zone’s declaration has inflamed fierce debate over the pathway to decarbonisation, particularly in industrial regions. The Illawarra hosts heavy industries such as Australia’s largest steel manufacturer, BlueScope Steel.

In response to the announcement, National Party Leader David Littleproud declared Australia doesn’t need “large-scale industrial windfarms”. He argues the focus should instead be on household solar and battery storage.

So what is the role of offshore wind in our future energy mix? Here we argue offshore wind energy has three main advantages: scale, availability and proximity. It’s just what Australia needs.

1. Scale

Offshore wind has substantial energy-production potential. A single 100-turbine project is capable of generating up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of energy and the Illawarra zone could contain two projects (2.9GW).

To put this in perspective, Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power station near Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, also produces 2.9GW.

Because offshore wind is more consistent than either onshore wind or rooftop solar, it is the most practical way to provide time-sensitive renewable energy grid security for large energy users.

This high-capacity, consistent energy source is particularly crucial for Australia’s industrial decarbonisation efforts. BlueScope Steel, for example, estimates it will need approximately 15 times its current energy consumption to transition to green steel-making operations in the Illawarra region.

2. Availability

Offshore wind blows more consistently than onshore wind. We can quantify this by comparing so-called “capacity factors”.

The capacity factor is the actual output of a power station over a given period of time, divided by the theoretical power that could be generated if the plant operated at full output for the same period of time.

Onshore wind has a capacity factor of 30%, meaning 1GW of onshore wind farms can be relied upon to deliver 0.3GW of output at any time.

Offshore wind has a capacity factor of at least 50%.

For reference, coal plants in Australia, due to their age and condition, have a capacity factor of 60% and this falls further every year.

It is a common myth that coal is reliable. The reliability of Australian coal fired generators is currently at an all time low and falling.

The Coalition’s plan for nuclear power plants announced on Wednesday might look like an alternative answer to the energy availability challenge. But the plan relies on coal in the meantime and coal-fired power plants have a limited lifespan. It’s highly unlikely those nuclear power stations could be built in time to take over from coal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency publishes a step-by-step guide to going nuclear. This internationally recognised manual says it takes 10–15 years for a country to go from initial consideration of the nuclear power option to operation of its first nuclear power plant.

So the first big problem with nuclear in Australia is, how do we ensure we have reliable power for the five to ten year gap between when most of the coal exits and the first nuclear power plant could possibly be commissioned?

3. Proximity

Most of Australia’s population and industry is near the east coast. Placing electricity generation near to where it is needed is more efficient. It also avoids having to construct many kilometres of new overhead electricity transmission lines to connect onshore wind farms far inland.

Australia is leading the world in the uptake of home solar panels and batteries. This is definitely worthwhile. But contrary to Littleproud’s suggestion, it’s not the whole solution to Australia’s decarbonisation effort. For example, it won’t solve the problem of the need to electrify heavy industry.

BlueScope has stated that to decarbonise its current steel-making operations, it will need 15 times more electricity. This is the equivalent of the solar exported by a staggering 3.6 million homes – more than one-third of the total number of homes connected to the National Electricity Market.

Putting this into perspective, the Illawarra region has 130,000 homes. By our calculations, the BlueScope steelworks currently uses the same amount of electricity each day as the total solar exported by 240,000 homes – assuming generous export of 10kWh per home and Bluescope’s daily use of 240,000 kWh of energy.

Even if the Illawarra had enough homes exporting solar power to electrify BlueScope’s operations, getting this electricity to where it’s needed is technically impossible. Home solar systems are connected to the lowest capacity part of the energy grid – the wires in the street. We simply don’t have the capacity to move gigawatts of power from rooftop solar to large energy users such as steel and aluminium plants.

Australia needs large-scale energy, including wind

Australia needs large-scale electricity generation. The Coalition has recognised this, and is now promoting large nuclear power plants as well as small modular reactors.

The clean energy transition requires multiple renewable energy sources to meet different needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution – and there is clearly an important role for offshore wind in this mix.

We can expect to see Australia’s first offshore wind farms operating in Victoria’s Gippsland by the end of the decade.

The Coalition remains committed to the Gippsland project. But it has signalled its intention to scrap proposed offshore wind zones in the Illawarra and Hunter, if elected.

This decision would have flow-on effects. An industry is emerging around the pipeline of potential wind energy projects. The latest announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions surrounding the already bitter debates raging in our communities.

Navigating the contested waters of offshore wind

It is common for the media and politicians to frame energy debates as a blunt binary of support versus opposition for different options, such as offshore wind. Yet genuine progress requires respectful dialogue and a commitment to finding common ground.

For the Illawarra, we argue much greater attention must be paid to the methods, models and outcomes of community engagement. We need to involve the community in constructive conversations about the nature, scale and scope of our future energy mix, which may include offshore wind.

Independent scientific research can provide the evidence base for such crucial decisions about the future of our communities and industries.The Conversation

Ty Christopher, Director Energy Futures Network, University of Wollongong and Michelle Voyer, Principal Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

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

Amid scorching heat, 900 people died this week in Saudi Arabia. Climate change has made the Hajj pilgrimage more risky

Milad Haghani, UNSW Sydney

Each year, millions of Muslims from across the world embark on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The mass migration is unparalleled in scale, and pilgrims face numerous health hazards.

Mecca is considered the holiest city for Muslims. And Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, making it a mandatory religious duty for Muslims to perform at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially capable.

The 2024 Hajj pilgrimage has been overshadowed by disaster/tragedy, with the death of at least 900 pilgrims, mostly due to heat exhaustion and related complications.

This isn’t the first deadly disaster during Hajj

One of the most devastating incidents occurred in 2015 during the ritual of “Rami al-Jamarat” in Mina, near Mecca. This ritual involves pilgrims throwing stones at pillars symbolising the devil. On that day, overcrowding and the movement of large groups of pilgrims in opposite directions led to a deadly crowd crush. More than 2,400 pilgrims lost their lives, making it one of the deadliest disasters in the history of Hajj or any mass gathering.

Another mass casualty event occurred in 1990, in the Al-Ma'aisem pedestrian tunnel near Mecca, which led to the holy sites. A combination of ventilation failure and an enormous influx of pilgrims caused a suffocating crush inside the tunnel; 1,426 pilgrims died.

There have also been other incidents during the Hajj pilgrimage over the years. In 1994, a stampede near the Jamarat Bridge resulted in the deaths of around 270 pilgrims. The 1998 Hajj saw 118 pilgrims killed in another stampede.

Over the past half-century, more than 9,000 people have died in mass religious gatherings, with more than 5,000 of these occurring during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. India follows with at least 2,200 deaths across nearly 40 tragic events. These two countries are hotspots for such tragedies.

Why is the Hajj pilgrimage so risky?

With millions of pilgrims converging in a confined area, the potential for overcrowding and crowd-crush accidents is high. This situation is worsened by the high emotion and passion associated with the pilgrimage. Pilgrims perform rituals with intense devotion and enthusiasm, which can sometimes lead to overexertion.

Another factor is the age of the pilgrims. Many are elderly, having saved for years to afford this spiritual journey. Their advanced age makes them particularly vulnerable to the harsh conditions and physical demands of the pilgrimage. The intense heat, prolonged periods of walking, and sheer physical strain of performing the rituals can exacerbate existing health issues and lead to new complications.

The extreme congestion of people also amplifies health risks, particularly from infectious diseases. Communicable diseases such as SARS, avian influenza and meningococcal disease have posed significant threats during Hajj in the past.

High temperatures make mass gatherings riskier

A study documenting deaths and injuries at mass gatherings up to 2019 shows that, while the 1980s saw most fatalities at sporting events, such events are now rare, while fatalities during religious pilgrimages, particularly in India and Saudi Arabia, are becoming more common.

While most Hajj fatalities have been due to crowd crushes and stampedes, a new threat has emerged: extreme climate. Saudi Arabia’s climate can be brutal. During this year’s pilgrimage, temperatures soared to 50°C.

Saudi Arabia is warming at a rate 50% higher than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. The decade from 2010 to 2019 was the warmest on record, with more frequent and severe heatwaves. This rising temperature, combined with higher humidity, makes conditions increasingly unbearable without artificial cooling.

The timing of the Hajj pilgrimage, dictated by the lunar Islamic calendar, means it shifts approximately 10 to 11 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar. This means Hajj can occur in different seasons over a 33-year cycle. Currently, Hajj is being held during the summer months, leading to extreme heat risks.

Saudi Arabia has also experienced an increase in extreme rainfall events in recent years, particularly towards the end of summer and into the fall. These torrential downpours and thunderstorms have caused significant flooding in regions such as Mecca and Jeddah.

As climate patterns continue to evolve, the occurrence of such rainfall could align with the Hajj season, creating additional hazards for pilgrims.

What can be done to mitigate the risks?

Unlike concerts or sporting events, the Hajj pilgrimage cannot be rescheduled or relocated. Being outdoors is an integral part of Hajj.

It’s crucial for pilgrims to perform the Hajj rituals correctly for their pilgrimage to be accepted. According to Islamic teachings, the Hajj must be conducted with precise adherence to its rituals and timings. Any deviation or omission can render the pilgrimage invalid.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has implemented various measures, including encouraging vaccinations, health checks and educational campaigns urging pilgrims to stay hydrated, use umbrellas and avoid prolonged sun exposure.

The ministry deployed thousands of paramedics and set up field hospitals to manage the crisis. Cooling measures such as misting systems and portable water stations were used.

Yet the extreme heat proved overwhelming, indicating more needs to be done. Educational campaigns can do more to raise awareness among (especially non-local) pilgrims and health-care workers about heat risks and preventive measures.

The introduction of new technologies such as smart bracelets for monitoring pilgrims’ health could further enhance medical responses.The Conversation

Milad Haghani, Senior Lecturer of Urban Mobility, Public Safety & Disaster Risk, UNSW Sydney

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

How a little brown bird could sound the alarm on lead poisoning in Australian children

Simon C Griffith
Max M Gillings, Macquarie University; Mark Patrick Taylor, Macquarie University, and Simon Griffith, Macquarie University

Recent public health threats such as COVID, and the current bird flu outbreak in Victoria, show we can’t separate human health from the natural environment. Our research examining the link between lead exposure in house sparrows and children is another sobering reminder of this shared health burden.

Birds have long been considered sentinels for environmental health – hence the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”. Urban sparrows are particularly useful sentinels, because they tend to live in the same places as humans.

Our study focused on the lead-mining cities of Broken Hill in New South Wales and Mount Isa in Queensland, where lead exposure in children is a major health concern.

We found blood-lead levels in sparrows were a predictable indicator of blood-lead levels in children. The findings demonstrate the importance of paying attention to the health of the environment and the animals around us.

young children playing around tree
Children can be exposed to lead when playing outdoors. Shutterstock

Sparrows: our constant companions

The house sparrow is an introduced species to Australia. They inhabit most of eastern Australia and much of the Northern Territory and South Australia. They are particularly common in places where humans live.

Sparrows have a home range similar to the size of a small urban neighbourhood. Most pollutants they pick up are from within this range, so we expected patterns of exposure in sparrows to reflect those of children in the same area.

The physiology of house sparrows and children is, of course, very different. But their behaviours make them similarly susceptible to lead exposure.

Both are exposed to lead in soil and dust; a child while crawling and playing, a sparrow while foraging. Both are also exposed within a defined area – typically the home, backyard or immediate neighbourhood.

What we found

At Broken Hill, we measured lead in blood samples from hundreds of sparrows captured at more than 40 sites. The birds were then released.

We compared our data to recent data on children’s blood-lead levels at Broken Hill. We found blood-lead levels in sparrows were much higher than in children. This is not surprising. Sparrows forage in soil, which is an important source of lead contamination.

What was surprising, however, was the strong correlation between lead exposure in sparrows and those of children living nearby. Where blood lead levels were highest in sparrows, they were also highest in children.

This raised an interesting question. Could sparrows be used to predict lead exposure risks in humans? We tested this idea in Mount Isa, another lead-mining city with a similar dry, dusty natural environment to Broken Hill.

We tested lead levels in sparrows at Mount Isa and used the results to predict lead levels in children nearby. Based on the sparrow data, we expected about a quarter of Mount Isa children would have blood-lead levels above the Australian intervention guideline.

Our prediction was right. The most recent data shows about a quarter of Mount Isa children exceeded this guideline between 2016 and 2018.

What’s behind these links?

The next step was to confirm sparrows and children were exposed to lead from the same sources in the environment. This can be determined by examining lead “isotopes”, or types of atoms, found in blood and the environment.

We measured these isotopes in sparrow blood samples and found most lead originated from the Broken Hill ore deposit. As anticipated, the highest contributions of ore lead (more than 80%) were detected in sparrows caught near mining operations where emissions of lead were highest. This decreased with distance from the operations.

Previous research at Broken Hill found the same trends for children – a significant component of the lead originated from the Broken Hill ore in children with elevated blood-lead levels.

Yet we also found evidence that, at least in Broken Hill, the correlation between lead exposure in children and sparrows wasn’t as strong as it once might have been.

Over the past three decades, a series of targeted environmental interventions have effectively lowered blood-lead levels in the Broken Hill community. This has led to greater variability in levels of lead exposure among local children.

Recent monitoring indicates children living within the same neighbourhood, and even the same street, often have very different blood-lead levels. This was rarely the case for sparrows caught from a single site.

Why? Possibly because sparrows are active over a much larger area than children. So, targeted efforts to minimise lead exposure in children – such as remediating their home environment – have little impact on sparrows.

Sparrows are also notorious trespassers. Mining land, empty lots, backyards, and ceiling cavities: nothing is off limits. These spaces pose limited risk to people and have largely avoided the full extent of lead remediation measures. Yet they still account for a lot of land and likely provide an ongoing source of exposure for animals such as sparrows.

So while interventions have reduced lead exposure in children, sparrows show us that lead contamination remains widespread in Broken Hill.

What this means for humans

Our research highlights the close connections between human and animal health in polluted urban environments. But it’s not all bad news. Outbreaks of death and disease in birds can spur action to prevent harm to humans.

For example, in Western Australia’s port town of Esperance in 2006, mass bird deaths were traced to lead poisoning from a nearby ore stockpiles. A clean-up ensued, preventing health impacts for the community.

Perhaps more importantly, our research shows humans are not separate from the environment and the animals around us – and we cannot escape the consequences when natural systems are modified or destroyed.The Conversation

Max M Gillings, PhD Candidate, School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University; Mark Patrick Taylor, Chief Environmental Scientist, EPA Victoria; Honorary Professor, School of Natural Sciences, Macquarie University, and Simon Griffith, Professor of Avian Behavioural Ecology, Macquarie University

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

Ending native forest logging would help Australia’s climate goals much more than planting trees

Kate Dooley, The University of Melbourne

Australia contains some of the world’s most biologically diverse and carbon-dense native forests. Eucalypts in wet temperate forests are the tallest flowering plants in the world and home to an array of unique tree-dwelling marsupials, rare birds, insects, mosses, fungi and lichen, many of which have not even been catalogued by scientists. Yet our country remains in the top ten list globally for tree cover loss, with almost half of the original forested areas in eastern Australia cleared.

This loss has been devastating for Australia’s native plants and animals and contributes to global warming through vast amounts of carbon emissions. The global biodiversity and climate change crises are inextricably linked – we cannot solve one without the other.

Earth’s ecosystems, such as forests, coastal wetlands and tundra, contain enormous amounts of carbon. But deforestation and degradation by humans is likely to send global warming past 1.5°C, even if we achieve net-zero fossil fuel emissions. Protecting native forests is a critical way to prevent emissions, which must be achieved in parallel with a rapid transition to clean energy.

What is being overlooked in current international climate policy under the Paris Agreement is the crucial role of biodiversity in maintaining healthy ecosystems and their integrity, which keeps carbon stored in forests, not the atmosphere. Healthy ecosystems are more stable and resilient, with a lower risk of trees dying and lower rates of carbon emissions.

The way we currently count carbon stores risk creating incentives to plant new trees rather than protect existing forests. Yet old-growth forests store vastly more carbon than young saplings, which will take decades or even centuries to reach the same size.

On January 1 this year, both Victoria and Western Australia ended native forest logging in state forests. This is a good start. But the rest of Australia is still logging native forests. Extensive land clearing continues for agriculture and urban development, as well as native forest harvesting on private land.

Two states down, more to go

The end of native timber logging in two states is a chance for new approaches to our forests, which recognise the contribution of biodiversity to healthy forest ecosystems, as well as endangered species protection and clean water supplies.

Ending native forest logging isn’t entirely simple. In Victoria, consultation on the future of state forests is ongoing. The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council is due to release its final recommendations in July.

The Victorian government has also put in place a Forestry Transition Program to help forest contractors find alternative work in forest and land management. Some of these transition programs are proving controversial.

In Western Australia, around 2.5 million hectares of the state’s south-west forests will be protected under a new Forest Management Plan. Protection of these landscapes is critical, as they have been hit by another die-back event due to drought and record heat.

These forests hold significant cultural and ecological value. Known in Noongar as “djarilmari”, they are vital habitats for diverse plants and animals, including endemic species such as the ngwayir (western ringtail possum) and the giant jarrah trees.

What about other states and territories?

In New South Wales, the government is looking into proposals for a Great Koala National Park, which would bring together state forests from the Clarence Valley to south of Coffs Harbour. But with no decision yet made, logging continues along both the north and south coasts, which were also hard hit by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.

In Tasmania, native forest logging fell sharply between 2012 and 2019. This cut emissions by around 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, equivalent to almost a quarter of Australia’s transport emissions.

Recent policy changes protecting giant trees will help protect some patches of forests. But native forest logging is set to expand in other areas, including clear felling of old-growth rainforest and tall wet eucalypt forest.

Native forest logging is slated to end in 70,000 hectares of south-east Queensland state forests at the end of this year, under a longstanding Native Timber Action Plan. But logging and widespread land clearing continues elsewhere in the state, ensuring Australia’s place in the top 10 deforestation hotspots.

karri forest
Old forests such as this karri forest in Western Australia hold much more carbon than newly established forests. Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Can ending native forest logging help the climate?

We’ll need to go further and ban logging in all native forests in Australia to help meet our net-zero emissions target, while meeting timber demand from better-managed and increased plantations.

Stopping native forest logging avoids the emissions released when forests are cut and burned. It would also allow continued forest growth and regrowth of previously logged areas, which draws down carbon from the atmosphere and increases the amount held in the forest ecosystem.

The natural biodiversity of our native forests makes them more resilient to external disturbances such as climate change. These forests have larger and more stable carbon stocks than logged areas, newly planted forests and plantations.

If we compare forests protected for conservation with those harvested for commodity production in the Victorian Central Highlands, research shows conservation delivers the greatest climate benefits through continued forest growth and accumulating carbon stocks.

There are growing calls to create the Great Forests National Park to the north and east of Melbourne, which would protect a further 355,000 hectares and more than double protected forests in the Central Highlands.

Net zero: deep, rapid, sustained cuts needed

The world’s nations are aiming to reach “net zero” by mid-century. Meeting this target will require deep and rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions as well as pulling carbon out of the atmosphere into land sinks, especially forests.

The land sector is unique in that it can be both a source (logging, agriculture) and a sink (forest regrowth, for instance) for carbon. The natural way forests take up carbon can be increased through natural regrowth or plantations.

Unfortunately, the current approach, based on IPCC guidelines, to counting this type of natural carbon storage can lead to perverse outcomes.

The carbon sink from forest regrowth only counts towards the “removals” part of net zero when it results from changes we make, such as ending native forest logging. It doesn’t count if it’s regrowth after a natural event such as a bushfire. It’s important to count only human-induced changes in our climate targets.

Tree planting, on the other hand, can be counted towards net-zero targets, despite the fact that newly planted trees will take centuries to sequester as much carbon as found in an old-growth forest.

This type of accounting – known as flow-based accounting – can mean a premium is placed on planting and maintaining young forests with high carbon uptake rates, overlooking the substantial benefits of protecting larger trees in native forests.

That is, this approach favours carbon sequestration (the process of taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in wood) over carbon storage (the total carbon stocks already contained in a forest).

A comprehensive approach to forest carbon accounting would recognise both flows of carbon (as sequestration) and carbon stocks (as storage) contribute to the benefits that native forests offer for reducing emissions.

Revegetation in forest
Replanting trees is good – but protecting existing forests is better. Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock

Carbon accounting needs more clarity

This becomes a problem when forests and fossil fuels are included in a net accounting framework, such as the one used in Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory.

In net accounts, emissions (from fossil fuel and land sectors) within a year are added to removals, which includes the sequestration of carbon into forests and other ecosystems.

Because this type of accounting only counts the flows of carbon – not existing stocks – it omits the climate benefits of protecting existing forests, whose stored carbon dwarfs the amount Australia emits from fossil fuels each year.

But if we separated out targets for the fossil fuel and land sectors, we could properly treat forest carbon stocks as an asset, giving us incentives to protect them.

Another problem with net accounting is it treats all carbon as equivalent, meaning a tonne of carbon sequestered in trees compensates for a tonne of carbon from burned fossil fuels. This has no scientific basis. Carbon dioxide emissions are effectively permanent, as the buried carbon we dig up and burn stays in the atmosphere for millennia, while carbon in trees is temporary in comparison.

As trees grow, their carbon storage compensates for earlier logging and clearing emissions, which is an important climate benefit. But we’re not comparing apples and apples – forest carbon doesn’t compensate for fossil fuel emissions.

Logging bans are important – but no substitute for ending oil and gas

While ending the clearing and logging of native vegetation is vital for both climate and biodiversity, it’s no substitute for preventing emissions from fossil fuels.

To make this clearer, we must urgently set separate targets for emissions cuts for fossil fuels and increased carbon removal in the land sector. This will ensure phasing out fossil fuel use is not delayed by planting trees, and that the carbon stocks of biodiverse and carbon-dense native forests are protected.The Conversation

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of Melbourne

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

Big batteries are solving a longstanding problem with solar power in California. Can they do the same for Australia?

Asma Aziz, Edith Cowan University

When you graph electricity demand in power grids with lots of solar panels, it looks a bit like a duck, with high points in the morning and evening (when people are relying on the grid) and a big dip in the middle of the day (when many people use their own solar instead and need less from the grid). This is known as the “duck curve”. While it sounds cute, it’s become a significant challenge for energy utilities worldwide.

That’s because solar stops supplying power to the grid just before the evening surge in demand, when people get home from work. That puts more strain on the grid, and props up the case for the fossil fuel generators, creating economic challenges for utilities.

In the United States, California is showing there is a clear solution – use grid-scale batteries to store excess solar power for use later that evening.

This year, the Golden State has enough battery storage to begin pushing gas out of the grid in the evenings.

This should embolden Australian authorities, who have begun building large-scale battery storage to soak up cheap solar.

What does California’s experience show us?

Authorities in California have been wrestling with the duck curve for years. The state is an economic giant – the fifth largest economy in the world – and has one of the world’s largest state grids, with a large and mature solar market.

In 2019, large-scale batteries started appearing in California’s grid. The sector has seen tremendous growth, soaring 1,250% in five years, from 770 million watts to 10 billion watts). We can now see the results. The famous duck curve is being reshaped. Abundant solar is being shifted to the evening peak.

Solar and batteries are a natural fit. Pairing them offers a win-win model for future energy grids, turning cheap but time-limited electricity from solar into a much more versatile commodity: electricity on demand.

For two hours on one evening this April, batteries set a new record, becoming the largest source of power on the grid by discharging about 6.7 billion watts of power.

What can Australia learn?

California’s rapid scaling of utility-scale battery storage is due to ambitious procurement mandates and a market structure permitting batteries to help meet energy needs. Utility-scale battery storage in the US is concentrated in Texas and California, with some form of energy storage policies adopted in another 16 states.

The state’s rapid ramp-up of battery storage is a good sign for Australia. With large solar farms and millions of rooftop solar arrays, Australian energy market operators have become familiar with the duck curve.

Last year, renewables supplied close to 40% of power to our main grid, the National Energy Market, covering eastern and southern states, and Western Australia’s largest grid, the South West Integrated System. Ten major coal-fired power stations have retired in the last decade.

At the end of 2023, Australia had 2,600 million watts of utility-scale battery storage. But there’s a lot more in the wings – 11 billion watts are under construction.

Even so, more has to be done. Australia’s market operator forecasts 20% of renewable energy production will be spilled or curtailed – that is, not make it to the grid – by 2050. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Timing is going to be crucial. We need new generation, storage and backup capacity in place before more coal plants can be retired.

How much storage is enough?

Cleaning up the electric grid is a huge job. We will need a lot of energy storage, which can be provided by batteries, pumped hydro and even abandoned mineshafts. Grid batteries have the advantage of being here, now. You can install them in a matter of weeks. By contrast, building new pumped hydro will take years.

If we overestimate the role of energy storage, we risk destabilising the grid. But if we underestimate it, we could slow investment and delay the shift to clean energy.

As California is demonstrating, battery storage can play a significant role in grid reliability by balancing supply and demand fluctuations and providing backup power during outages, while also integrating intermittent renewable energy sources effectively. But it’s no silver bullet – it has inherent limitations.

Assessing storage capacity is complicated by its finite nature, with duration a key factor determining its capacity contribution. Home batteries provide up to two hours of dispatchable energy, meaning discharging at their maximum power capacity. For grid-scale installations, shallow storage offers up to 4 hours, medium storage 4–12 hours, and deep storage over 12 hours.

How grid storage duration is assessed and why it matters.

Adding big batteries isn’t as simple as plugging one in and charging it from the sun. They make it easier to bring more renewable power into the grid by soaking up solar or wind which might have otherwise not been used. But their value to the grid can change significantly depending on where you place it and the time of day.

To maximise their use, we could, for instance, build large batteries in regions rich in renewables and make the most of scarce capacity on transmission lines or build them near areas with high energy demand to help manage peak demand by boosting network capacity.

California requires energy storage systems to provide full power for at least 4 hours. But in Australia, most large batteries can only last 2 hours or less, as they are designed to meet short-term energy needs.

This is beginning to change, with growing interest in longer-lasting storage to boost long-term grid reliability. Deep storage projects planned or under way in Australia’s National Electricity Market include Snowy 2.0, which would have 7 days of storage supply.

New South Wales and Western Australia are accelerating the rollout of longer duration grid batteries, such as NSW’s Richmond Valley Battery Energy Storage System (8 hours duration) and WA’s Tesla-Neoen battery (4 hours).

Over the next few years, we can expect to see demand soar for longer-duration electricity storage. Once built, these batteries and other technologies will help Australia, too, banish the duck curve.

Authorities need to set clear timelines for fossil fuel plant closure and invest in new power sources to replace it, as well as boosting storage. The Conversation

Asma Aziz, Senior Lecturer in Power Engineering, Edith Cowan University

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

Bird strike: what happens when a plane collides with a bird?

Vaalaa / Shutterstock
Doug Drury, CQUniversity Australia

Late last night, Virgin Australia flight VA 148 set out from Queenstown in New Zealand bound for Melbourne. Not long after takeoff, the right engine of the Boeing 737-800 jet started emitting loud bangs, followed by flames.

The pilot flew on with the remaining engine, bringing the plane’s 73 passengers and crew to a safe emergency landing at nearby Invercargill airport.

Virgin Australia says the dramatic turn of events was caused by a “possible bird strike”. Queenstown Airport played down the likelihood of bird strike, saying “no birds were detected on the airfield at that time”.

While we don’t know exactly what happened, bird strike is a common and real risk for aircraft. It can damage planes, and even lead to deaths.

How common are bird strikes?

A bird strike is a collision between an aircraft and a bird. (Though the definition is sometimes expanded to include collisions on the ground with land animals including deer, rabbits, dogs and alligators.)

The first bird strike was recorded by Orville Wright in 1905, over a cornfield in Ohio.

Now they happen every day, with some seasonal variability due to the migratory patterns of birds.

Perhaps the most famous migratory bird strike occurred in 2009, when US Airways Flight 1549 encountered a flock of migrating Canadian geese shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York. Both of the plane’s engines failed, and captain Sully Sullenberger was forced to pilot it to an unpowered landing in the Hudson River.

Between 2008 and 2017, the Australian Transport Safety Board recorded 16,626 bird strikes. In America, the Federal Aviation Administration reported 17,200 bird strikes in 2022 alone.

Where do bird strikes happen, and what are the effects?

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, 90% of bird strikes happen near airports. In general, this is while aircraft are taking off or landing, or flying at lower altitudes where most bird activity occurs.

The effect of bird strike depends on many factors including the type of aircraft. Outcomes may include shutting down an engine, as may have happened with the Virgin Australia flight. This plane was a Boeing 737-800, which has the capability to fly on a single engine to an alternate airport.

In smaller aircraft, particularly single-engine aircraft, bird strikes can be fatal. Since 1988, 262 bird strike fatalities have been reported globally, and 250 aircraft destroyed.

How do manufacturers and pilots defend against bird strike?

Most bird strikes occur early in the morning or a sunset when birds are most active. Pilots are trained to be vigilant during these times.

Radar can be used to track flocks of birds. However, this technology is ground-based and not available worldwide so it can’t be used everywhere.

The two largest manufacturers of passenger jets, Boeing and Airbus, use turbofan engines. These use a series of fan blades to compress air before adding fuel and flame to get the thrust needed to take off.

Engine manufacturers test how well they are likely to stand up to a bird strike.

Bird strike in one of these engines can cause severe damage to the fan blades, causing the engine to fail. Engine manufacturers test the safety of these engines by firing a high-speed dead chicken at them while the engine is operating at full thrust.

The Australian Government’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority circular on wildlife hazard management outlines what airports should do to keep birds and animals away from the vicinity of the airport. One technique is to use small gas explosions to mimic the sound of a shotgun to deter birds from loitering near the runway. In areas with high bird populations, airports may also use certain grasses and plants that do not attract the birds.

Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that frozen chickens, rather than fresh ones, are used to test engines for bird strike.The Conversation

Doug Drury, Professor/Head of Aviation, CQUniversity Australia

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

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

A Stroll Along The Centre Track At Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park: June 2024 - by Kevin Murray
A Stroll Around Manly Dam: Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
A Stroll Through Warriewood Wetlands by Joe Mills February 2023
A Walk Around The Cromer Side Of Narrabeen Lake by Joe Mills
America Bay Track Walk - photos by Joe Mills
An Aquatic June: North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Collaroy photos by Joe Mills 
Angophora Reserve  Angophora Reserve Flowers Grand Old Tree Of Angophora Reserve Falls Back To The Earth - History page
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Aquatic Reflections seen this week (May 2023): Narrabeen + Turimetta by Joe Mills 
Avalon Beach Reserve- Bequeathed By John Therry  
Avalon Beach This Week: A Place Of A Bursting Main, Flooding Drains + Falling Boulders Council Announces Intention To Progress One LEP For Whole LGA + Transport Oriented Development Begins
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
Bangalley Headland Walk: Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
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 Sea Scouts Hall: Some History
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Bilgola Plateau Parks For The People: Gifted By A. J. Small, N. A. K. Wallis + The Green Pathways To Keep People Connected To The Trees, Birds, Bees - For Children To Play 
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
Mona Vale Woolworths Front Entrance Gets Garden Upgrade: A Few Notes On The Site's History 
Mother Brushtail Killed On Barrenjoey Road: Baby Cried All Night - Powerful Owl Struck At Same Time At Careel Bay During Owlet Fledgling Season: calls for mitigation measures - The List of what you can do for those who ask 'What You I Do' as requested
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 Entrance Clearing Works: September To October 2023  pictures by Joe Mills
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 
Pictures From The Past: Views Of Early Narrabeen Bridges - 1860 To 1966
Pittwater Beach Reserves Have Been Dedicated For Public Use Since 1887 - No 1.: Avalon Beach Reserve- Bequeathed By John Therry 
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways; Bungan Beach and Bungan Head Reserves:  A Headland Garden 
Pittwater Reserves, The Green Ways: Clareville Wharf and Taylor's Point Jetty
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways; Hordern, Wilshire Parks, McKay Reserve: From Beach to Estuary 
Pittwater Reserves - The Green Ways: Mona Vale's Village Greens a Map of the Historic Crown Lands Ethos Realised in The Village, Kitchener and Beeby Parks 
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways Bilgola Beach - The Cabbage Tree Gardens and Camping Grounds - Includes Bilgola - The Story Of A Politician, A Pilot and An Epicure by Tony Dawson and Anne Spencer  
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 Great Outdoors: Spotted To The North, South, East + West- June 2023:  Palm Beach Boat House rebuild going well - First day of Winter Rainbow over Turimetta - what's Blooming in the bush? + more by Joe Mills, Selena Griffith and Pittwater Online
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Pittwater Pathways To Public Lands & Reserves
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
Seagull Pair At Turimetta Beach: Spring Is In The Air!
Some late November Insects (2023)
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
Stony Range Regional Botanical Garden: Some History On How A Reserve Became An Australian Plant Park
The Chiltern Track
The Chiltern Trail On The Verge Of Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
The 'Newport Loop': Some History 
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Topham Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP,  August 2022 by Joe Mills and 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
Turimetta Moods by Joe Mills: June 2023
Turimetta Moods (Week Ending June 23 2023) by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: June To July 2023 Pictures by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: July Becomes August 2023 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: August Becomes September 2023 ; North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Warriewood - Mona Vale photographs by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: Mid-September To Mid-October 2023 by Joe Mills
Warriewood Wetlands - Creeks Deteriorating: How To Report Construction Site Breaches, Weed Infestations + The Long Campaign To Save The Warriewood Wetlands & Ingleside Escarpment March 2023
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

Pittwater's Birds

Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control small bird insectivores, species like the Silvereye, Spotted Pardalote, Gerygone, Fairywren and Thornbill, feed on ticks. Attracting these birds back into your garden will provide not only a residence for tick eaters but also the delightful moments watching these tiny birds provides.
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2017: Take part from 23 - 29 October - how many birds live here?
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2018 - Our Annual 'What Bird Is That?' Week Is Here! This week the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 22-28 October 2018. Pittwater is one of those places fortunate to have birds that thrive because of an Aquatic environment, a tall treed Bush environment and areas set aside for those that dwell closer to the ground, in a sand, scrub or earth environment. To take part all you need is 20 minutes and your favourite outdoor space. Head to the website and register as a Counter today! And if you're a teacher, check out BirdLife Australia's Bird Count curriculum-based lesson plans to get your students (or the whole school!) involved

Australian Predators of the Sky by Penny Olsen - published by National Library of Australia

Australian Raven  Australian Wood Duck Family at Newport

A Week In Pittwater Issue 128   A Week In Pittwater - June 2014 Issue 168

Baby Birds Spring 2015 - Rainbow Lorikeets in our Yard - for Children Baby Birds by Lynleigh Greig, Southern Cross Wildlife Care - what do if being chased by a nesting magpie or if you find a baby bird on the ground

Baby Kookaburras in our Backyard: Aussie Bird Count 2016 - October

Balloons Are The Number 1 Marine Debris Risk Of Mortality For Our Seabirds - Feb 2019 Study

Bangalley Mid-Winter   Barrenjoey Birds Bird Antics This Week: December 2016

Bird of the Month February 2019 by Michael Mannington

Birdland Above the Estuary - October 2012  Birds At Our Window   Birds at our Window - Winter 2014  Birdland June 2016

Birdsong Is a Lovesong at This time of The Year - Brown Falcon, Little Wattle Bird, Australian Pied cormorant, Mangrove or Striated Heron, Great Egret, Grey Butcherbird, White-faced Heron 

Bird Songs – poems about our birds by youngsters from yesterdays - for children Bird Week 2015: 19-25 October

Bird Songs For Spring 2016 For Children by Joanne Seve

Birds at Careel Creek this Week - November 2017: includes Bird Count 2017 for Local Birds - BirdLife Australia by postcode

Black Cockatoo photographed in the Narrabeen Catchment Reserves this week by Margaret G Woods - July 2019

Black-Necked Stork, Mycteria Australis, Now Endangered In NSW, Once Visited Pittwater: Breeding Pair shot in 1855

Black Swans on Narrabeen Lagoon - April 2013   Black Swans Pictorial

Brush Turkeys In Suburbia: There's An App For That - Citizen Scientists Called On To Spot Brush Turkeys In Their Backyards
Buff-banded Rail spotted at Careel Creek 22.12.2012: a breeding pair and a fluffy black chick

Cayley & Son - The life and Art of Neville Henry Cayley & Neville William Cayley by Penny Olsen - great new book on the art works on birds of these Australian gentlemen and a few insights from the author herself
Crimson Rosella - + Historical Articles on

Death By 775 Cuts: How Conservation Law Is Failing The Black-Throated Finch - new study 'How to Send a Finch Extinct' now published

Eastern Rosella - and a little more about our progression to protecting our birds instead of exporting them or decimating them.

Endangered Little Tern Fishing at Mona Vale Beach

‘Feather Map of Australia’: Citizen scientists can support the future of Australia's wetland birds: for Birdwatchers, school students and everyone who loves our estuarine and lagoon and wetland birds

First Week of Spring 2014

Fledgling Common Koel Adopted by Red Wattlebird -Summer Bird fest 2013  Flegdlings of Summer - January 2012

Flocks of Colour by Penny Olsen - beautiful new Bird Book Celebrates the 'Land of the Parrots'

Friendly Goose at Palm Beach Wharf - Pittwater's Own Mother Goose

Front Page Issue 177  Front Page Issue 185 Front Page Issue 193 - Discarded Fishing Tackle killing shorebirds Front Page Issue 203 - Juvenile Brush Turkey  Front Page Issue 208 - Lyrebird by Marita Macrae Front Page Issue 219  Superb Fairy Wren Female  Front Page Issue 234National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos Front Page Issue 236: Bird Week 2015 Front Page Issue 244: watebirds Front Page Issue 260: White-face Heron at Careel Creek Front Page Issue 283: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count  Front Page Issue 284: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count Front Page Issue 285: Bird Week 2016  Front Page Issue 331: Spring Visitor Birds Return

G . E. Archer Russell (1881-1960) and His Passion For Avifauna From Narrabeen To Newport 

Glossy Black-Cockatoo Returns To Pittwater by Paul Wheeler Glossy Cockatoos - 6 spotted at Careel Bay February 2018

Grey Butcher Birds of Pittwater

Harry Wolstenholme (June 21, 1868 - October 14, 1930) Ornithologist Of Palm Beach, Bird Man Of Wahroonga 


Issue 60 May 2012 Birdland - Smiles- Beamings -Early -Winter - Blooms

Jayden Walsh’s Northern Beaches Big Year - courtesy Pittwater Natural Heritage Association

John Gould's Extinct and Endangered Mammals of Australia  by Dr. Fred Ford - Between 1850 and 1950 as many mammals disappeared from the Australian continent as had disappeared from the rest of the world between 1600 and 2000! Zoologist Fred Ford provides fascinating, and often poignant, stories of European attitudes and behaviour towards Australia's native fauna and connects these to the animal's fate today in this beautiful new book - our interview with the author

July 2012 Pittwater Environment Snippets; Birds, Sea and Flowerings

Juvenile Sea Eagle at Church Point - for children

King Parrots in Our Front Yard  

Kookaburra Turf Kookaburra Fledglings Summer 2013  Kookaburra Nesting Season by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 1.5 and 2.5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 3 and 4 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow Kookaburra and Pittwater Fledglings February 2020 to April 2020

Lion Island's Little Penguins (Fairy Penguins) Get Fireproof Homes - thanks to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Fix it Sisters Shed

Lorikeet - Summer 2015 Nectar

Lyre Bird Sings in Local National Park - Flock of Black Cockatoos spotted - June 2019

Magpie's Melodic Melodies - For Children (includes 'The Magpie's Song' by F S Williamson)

Masked Lapwing (Plover) - Reflected

May 2012 Birdland Smiles Beamings Early Winter Blooms 

Mistletoebird At Bayview

Musk Lorikeets In Pittwater: Pittwater Spotted Gum Flower Feast - May 2020

Nankeen Kestrel Feasting at Newport: May 2016

National Bird Week 2014 - Get Involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count: National Bird Week 2014 will take place between Monday 20 October and Sunday 26 October, 2014. BirdLife Australia and the Birds in Backyards team have come together to launch this year’s national Bird Week event the Aussie Backyard Bird Count! This is one the whole family can do together and become citizen scientists...

National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos

Native Duck Hunting Season Opens in Tasmania and Victoria March 2018: hundreds of thousands of endangered birds being killed - 'legally'!

Nature 2015 Review Earth Air Water Stone

New Family of Barking Owls Seen in Bayview - Church Point by Pittwater Council

Noisy Visitors by Marita Macrae of PNHA 

Odes to Australia's Fairy-wrens by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen and Constance Le Plastrier 1884 and 1926

Oystercatcher and Dollarbird Families - Summer visitors

Pacific Black Duck Bath

Painted Button-Quail Rescued By Locals - Elanora-Ingleside escarpment-Warriewood wetlands birds

Palm Beach Protection Group Launch, Supporters InvitedSaturday Feb.16th - Residents Are Saying 'NO' To Off-Leash Dogs In Station Beach Eco-System - reports over 50 dogs a day on Station Beach throughout December-January (a No Dogs Beach) small children being jumped on, Native birds chased, dog faeces being left, families with toddlers leaving beach to get away from uncontrolled dogs and 'Failure of Process' in council 'consultation' open to February 28th 

Pardalote, Scrub Wren and a Thornbill of Pittwater

Pecking Order by Robyn McWilliam

Pelican Lamps at Narrabeen  Pelican Dreamsong - A Legend of the Great Flood - dreamtime legend for children

Pittwater Becalmed  Pittwater Birds in Careel Creek Spring 2018   Pittwater Waterbirds Spring 2011  Pittwater Waterbirds - A Celebration for World Oceans Day 2015

Pittwater's Little Penguin Colony: The Saving of the Fairies of Lion Island Commenced 65 Years Ago this Year - 2019

Pittwater's Mother Nature for Mother's Day 2019

Pittwater's Waterhens: Some Notes - Narrabeen Creek Bird Gathering: Curious Juvenile Swamp Hen On Warriewood Boardwalk + Dusky Moorhens + Buff Banded Rails In Careel Creek

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050 by CSIRO

Plover Appreciation Day September 16th 2015

Powerful and Precious by Lynleigh Grieg

Red Wattlebird Song - November 2012

Restoring The Diamond: every single drop. A Reason to Keep Dogs and Cats in at Night. 

Return Of Australasian Figbird Pair: A Reason To Keep The Trees - Aussie Bird Count 2023 (16–22 October) You can get involved here: aussiebirdcount.org.au

Salt Air Creatures Feb.2013

Sea Birds off the Pittwater Coast: Albatross, Gannet, Skau + Australian Poets 1849, 1898 and 1930, 1932

Sea Eagle Juvenile at Church Point

Seagulls at Narrabeen Lagoon

Seen but Not Heard: Lilian Medland's Birds - Christobel Mattingley - one of Australia's premier Ornithological illustrators was a Queenscliff lady - 53 of her previously unpublished works have now been made available through the auspices of the National Library of Australia in a beautiful new book

7 Little Ducklings: Just Keep Paddling - Australian Wood Duck family take over local pool by Peta Wise 

Shag on a North Avalon Rock -  Seabirds for World Oceans Day 2012

Short-tailed Shearwaters Spring Migration 2013 

South-West North-East Issue 176 Pictorial

Spring 2012 - Birds are Splashing - Bees are Buzzing

Spring Becomes Summer 2014- Royal Spoonbill Pair at Careel Creek

Spring Notes 2018 - Royal Spoonbill in Careel Creek

Station Beach Off Leash Dog Area Proposal Ignores Current Uses Of Area, Environment, Long-Term Fauna Residents, Lack Of Safe Parking and Clearly Stated Intentions Of Proponents have your say until February 28, 2019

Summer 2013 BirdFest - Brown Thornbill  Summer 2013 BirdFest- Canoodlers and getting Wet to Cool off  Summer 2013 Bird Fest - Little Black Cormorant   Summer 2013 BirdFest - Magpie Lark

The Mopoke or Tawny Frogmouth – For Children - A little bit about these birds, an Australian Mopoke Fairy Story from 91 years ago, some poems and more - photo by Adrian Boddy
Winter Bird Party by Joanne Seve

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.

Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format: http://www.birdlife.org.au/documents/Shorebird_ID_Booklet_V3.pdf

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/counter-resources for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit: http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020/shorebirds-2020-program

Surfers for Climate

A sea-roots movement dedicated to mobilising and empowering surfers for continuous and positive climate action.

Surfers for Climate are coming together in lineups around the world to be the change we want to see.

With roughly 35 million surfers across the globe, our united tribe has a powerful voice. 

Add yours to the conversation by signing up here.

Surfers for Climate will keep you informed, involved and active on both the local and global issues and solutions around the climate crisis via our allies hub. 

Help us prevent our favourite spots from becoming fading stories of waves we used to surf.

Together we can protect our oceans and keep them thriving for future generations to create lifelong memories of their own.

Visit:  http://www.surfersforclimate.org.au/

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

Over 50 Pittwater households have already pledged to make a difference for our local wildlife, and you can too! Create a habitat stepping stone to help our wildlife out. It’s easy - just add a few beautiful habitat elements to your backyard or balcony to create a valuable wildlife-friendly stopover.

How it works

1) Discover: Visit the website below to find dozens of beautiful plants, nest boxes and water elements you can add to your backyard or balcony to help our local wildlife.

2) Pledge: Select three or more elements to add to your place. You can even show you care by choosing to have a bird appear on our online map.

3) Share: Join the Habitat Stepping Stones Facebook community to find out what’s happening in the natural world, and share your pics, tips and stories.

What you get                                  

• Enjoy the wonders of nature, right outside your window. • Free and discounted plants for your garden. • A Habitat Stepping Stone plaque for your front fence. • Local wildlife news and tips. • Become part of the Pittwater Habitat Stepping Stones community.

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out! www.HabitatSteppingStones.org.au

No computer? No problem -Just write to the address below and we’ll mail you everything you need. Habitat Stepping Stones, Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University NSW 2109. This project is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust

Newport Community Gardens

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

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newportcg/

Avalon Preservation Association

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

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

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

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

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

The Green Team

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

Australian Native Foods website: http://www.anfil.org.au/

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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


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

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

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


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

Find out more at: southerncrosswildlifecare.org.au/wp/

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday of the month

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

Local Northern Beaches residents creating sustainable gardens in public spaces
Strengthening the local community, improving health and reconnecting with nature
To establish ecologically sustainable gardens for the production of vegetables, herbs, fruit and companion plants within Pittwater area 
To enjoy and forge friendships through shared gardening.
Membership is open to all Community members willing to participate in establishing gardens and growing sustainable food.
Subscription based paid membership.
We meet at the garden between 9am – 12 noon
New members welcome

For enquiries contact newportcommunitygardenau@gmail.com

Living Ocean

Living Ocean was born in Whale Beach, on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, surrounded by water and set in an area of incredible beauty.
Living Ocean is a charity that promotes the awareness of human impact on the ocean, through research, education, creative activity in the community, and support of others who sustain ocean health and integrity.

And always celebrating and honouring the natural environment and the lifestyle that the ocean offers us.

Our whale research program builds on research that has been conducted off our coastline by our experts over many years and our Centre for Marine Studies enables students and others to become directly involved.

Through partnerships with individuals and organizations, we conceive, create and coordinate campaigns that educate all layers of our community – from our ‘No Plastic Please’ campaign, which is delivered in partnership with local schools, to film nights and lectures, aimed at the wider community.

Additionally, we raise funds for ocean-oriented conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd.

Donations are tax-deductable 
Permaculture Northern Beaches

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

Do you like to enrich the earth as much as benefit from it?

Find out more here:


What Does PNHA do?


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

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

Email: pnhainfo@gmail.com Or click on Logo to visit website.

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

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


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

Avalon Boomerang Bags

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

Find out more and get involved.

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