June 4 - 10  2023: Issue 586

World Environment Day 2023: Monday June 5 - Beat Plastic Pollution + 50th Anniversary of world environment day

The theme for World Environment Day on 5 June 2023 will focus on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution.

The world is being inundated by plastic. More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas. Today, plastic clogs our landfills, leaches into the ocean and is combusted into toxic smoke, making it one of the gravest threats to the planet.

Not only that, what is less known is that microplastics find their way into the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air we breathe. Many plastic products contain hazardous additives, which may pose a threat to our health.

The good news is that we have science and solutions to tackle the problem – and a lot is already happening. What is needed most now is a surge of public and political pressure to scale up and speed actions from governments, companies and other stakeholders to solve this crisis. This underscores the importance of this World Environment Day mobilising action from every corner of the world.

World Environment Day 2023 will showcase how countries, businesses and individuals are learning to use the material more sustainably, offering hope that one day, plastic pollution will be history.

World Environment Day 2023 is hosted by Côte d'Ivoire in partnership with the Netherlands.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, after it was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Over the past five decades, the day has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for environmental outreach. Tens of millions of people participate online and through in-person activities, events and actions around the world.

“The scourge of plastic pollution is a visible threat that impacts every community around the world," said Jean-Luc Assi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. “As host of World Environment Day 2023, we welcome all sectors, from governments and businesses to civil society, to come together to find and champion solutions.”

Côte d'Ivoire has banned the use of plastic bags since 2014, supporting a shift to reusable packaging. The country’s largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution. 

More than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.

Microplastics – tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter – find their way into food, water and air. Discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity and pollutes every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor.

With available science and solutions to tackle the problem, governments, companies and other stakeholders must scale up and speed actions to solve this crisis. This underscores the importance of this World Environment Day in mobilising transformative action from every corner of the world.

This year’s World Environment Day will be supported by the Government of the Netherlands, which is one of the countries taking ambitious action along the plastic lifecycle. It is a signatory of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and a member of the Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter. It is also a member of the High Ambition Coalition calling for a strong and ambitious international legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution.

“Plastic pollution and its detrimental impacts on health, the economy and the environment cannot be ignored. Urgent action is required. At the same time, we need true, effective and robust solutions,” said Vivianne Heijnen, Netherlands’ Minister for the Environment. “As part of several policies aimed at plastics, The Netherlands and the European community at large are fully committed to reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastic, which can and must be replaced with durable and sustainable alternatives.”

The announcement follows a resolution adopted in 2022 at the United Nations Environment Assembly to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, with the ambition to complete the negotiations by end of 2024. The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) was held in Uruguay in December and the second meeting is expected to be held in Paris in 2023. The instrument is to be based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.

“We must seize every opportunity and engage with every stakeholder to deal with the plastics problem in its entirety,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands are among a number of countries rising to this challenge and embracing the benefits of a circular plastics economy. The commemoration of the 50th World Environment Day is a moment for all governments, businesses, community groups, and individuals to join this drive.”

UN roadmap outlines solutions to cut global plastic pollution

Plastic pollution could reduce by 80 per cent by 2040 if countries and companies make deep policy and market shifts using existing technologies, according to a new report by UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The report was released ahead of a second round of negotiations in Paris on a global agreement to beat plastic pollution, and outlines the magnitude and nature of the changes required to end plastic pollution and create a circular economy.

Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy is a solutions-focused analysis of concrete practices, market shifts, and policies that can inform government thinking and business action.

“The way we produce, use and dispose of plastics is polluting ecosystems, creating risks for human health and destabilizing the climate,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director. “This UNEP report lays out a roadmap to dramatically reduce these risks through adopting a circular approach that keeps plastics out of ecosystems, out of our bodies and in the economy. If we follow this roadmap, including in negotiations on the plastic pollution deal, we can deliver major economic, social and environmental wins.”

Market shifts needed for the market transformation toward circularity

To slash plastic pollution by 80 per cent globally by 2040, the report suggests first eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastics to reduce the size of the problem. Subsequently, the report calls for three market shifts – reuse, recycle and reorient and diversify products:

  1. Reuse: Promoting reuse options, including refillable bottles, bulk dispensers, deposit-return-schemes, packaging take-back schemes etc., can reduce 30 per cent of plastic pollution by 2040. To realize its potential, governments must help build a stronger business case for reusables.
  2. Recycle: Reducing plastic pollution by an additional 20 per cent by 2040 can be achieved if recycling becomes a more stable and profitable venture. Removing fossil fuels subsidies, enforcing design guidelines to enhance recyclability, and other measures would increase the share of economically recyclable plastics from 21 to 50 per cent.
  3. Reorient and diversify: Careful replacement of products such as plastic wrappers, sachets and takeaway items with products made from alternative materials (such as paper or compostable materials) can deliver an additional 17 per cent decrease in plastic pollution. 

Even with the measures above, 100 million metric tons of plastics from single-use and short-lived products will still need to be safely dealt with annually by 2040 – together with a significant legacy of existing plastic pollution. This can be addressed by setting and implementing design and safety standards for disposing of non-recyclable plastic waste, and by making manufacturers responsible for products shedding microplastics, among others.

Overall, the shift to a circular economy would result in USD 1.27 trillion in savings, considering costs and recycling revenues. A further USD 3.25 trillion would be saved from avoided externalities such as health, climate, air pollution, marine ecosystem degradation, and litigation-related costs. This shift could also result in a net increase of 700,000 jobs by 2040, mostly in low-income countries, significantly improving the livelihoods of millions of workers in informal settings.

Investment costs for the recommended systemic change are significant, but below the spending without this systemic change: USD 65 billion per year as opposed to USD 113 billion per year. Much of this can be mobilized by shifting planned investments for new production facilities ­– no longer needed through reduction in material needs – or a levy on virgin plastic production into the necessary circular infrastructure. Yet time is of the essence: a five-year delay may lead to an increase of 80 million metric tons of plastic pollution by 2040.

The highest costs in both a throwaway and circular economy are operational. With regulation to ensure plastics are designed to be circular, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes can cover these operational costs of ensuring the system’s circularity through requiring producers to finance the collection, recycling and responsible end-of-life disposal of plastic products.

Internationally agreed policies can help overcome the limits of national planning and business action, sustain a flourishing circular global plastics economy, unlock business opportunities and create jobs. These may include agreed criteria for plastic products that could be banned, a cross-border knowledge baseline, rules on necessary minimum operating standards of EPR schemes and other standards.

The report recommends that a global fiscal framework could be part of international policies to enable recycled materials to compete on a level playing field with virgin materials, create an economy of scale for solutions, and establish monitoring systems and financing mechanisms.

Crucially, policymakers are encouraged to embrace an approach that integrates regulatory instruments and policies tackling actions across the life cycle, as these are mutually reinforcing towards the goal of transforming the economy. For example, design rules to make products economically recyclable can be combined with targets to incorporate recycled content and fiscal incentives for recycling plants.

The report also addresses specific policies, including standards for design, safety, and compostable and biodegradable plastics; targets for minimum recycling; EPR schemes; taxes; bans; communication strategies; public procurement, and labelling. 

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Avalon Dunes Bushcare: June 2023

Our war on weeds on the Avalon Dunes continues this Sunday, June 4 2023. Meet 8.30 near the Montessori School off Tasman Rd North Avalon.  We finish at 11.30 but any time you can spare is great. Morning Tea, cake and Tools provided, BYO gardening gloves. 

We meet on the first Sunday of each month at 8.30am

Facebook page for Avalon Dunes Bushcare where you can keep up to date with progress and find out how to get involved.
Visit: www.facebook.com/AvalonDunesBushcare


Photo: Salt tolerant tree Coast Banksia is in flower now. Unlike most Banksias, it sheds its seeds every summer, not relying on fire to open its seed capsules.

shelly beach echidna

Photos by Kevin Murray, taken late May 2023 who said, ''he/she was waddling across the road on the Shelly Beach headland, being harassed not so much by the bemused tourists, but by the Brush Turkeys who are plentiful there.''

Shelly Beach is located in Manly and forms part of Cabbage Tree Bay, a protected marine reserve which lies adjacent to North Head and Fairy Bower.

How citizen scientists are helping to save a species: 35 Christmas beetle species unearthed by volunteers

May 2023: University of Sydney

When architecture alumnus Michael Harvey heard that Christmas Beetle numbers were in decline, he put up his hand to help search for the missing beetle species.

For Michael Harvey (BArch '99), University of Sydney architecture graduate and urban designer for the City of Sydney, Christmas beetles have always been a memorable part of the summer months. But like many Australians he had begun to notice the absence of the glittering green and gold insects as Christmas approached.  Then he learned about the citizen science project through SAM Extra, the University's alumni newsletter.

"Growing up in Sydney, Christmas beetles were a really memorable part of summertime and holidays,” he recalls. “That’s why I was keen to volunteer for this project when I heard their numbers were in decline.”

The Christmas Beetle Count was run by Invertebrates Australia and entomologist Associate Professor Tanya Latty from the School of Life and Environmental Science at the University of Sydney over the latter half of 2022. Volunteers, dubbed ‘citizen scientists’, were asked to take pictures of any Christmas beetles they encountered and upload them by using an app on their phone. The goal was to understand the current beetle distribution, understand if the beetle populations were in decline, and identify and combat potential causes to secure the beetles’ future.

Michael eagerly put up his hand to start snapping pictures of the beetles he found on his daily walks through Sydney Park with his dog Ralph.  The iconic Australian beetles tended to gather by the bright lights that illuminated the park at night. In the end, Michael submitted five images of the insects he found with Ralph.

The project received more than 6500 submissions from volunteers like Michael and was successful in identifying 35 species of Christmas beetles, including several which had not been spotted in decades. Associate Professor Latty, says that the support from volunteers like Michael was a crucial part of confirming the status of the 35 Christmas beetle species.

“We absolutely could not do this project without volunteers,” she says. "Australia is a huge, huge country. So, without having eyes everywhere, we can't really identify the problem areas.

“We desperately need people in communities everywhere in Australia, even places where perhaps they haven't seen Christmas beetles, to keep an eye out for them.”

She hopes that more volunteers will get involved in projects like this, to help people understand the key role that insects play in our world and challenge their negative preconceptions of the crawling critters around us.

“The vast majority of insects cannot hurt you. I think that fear is something that tends to get put into us very young and it's hard to shift,” Associate Professor Latty says. “But they do all the jobs, they’re predators, waste managers and soil regenerators. And if we ignore them because we're scared of them, we're going to lose something fundamentally important to our ecosystems.

“And Christmas beetles... they’re beautiful! They're cute, they're harmless, they're big. What's not to love?”

For his part, Michael spent time talking to his son about Christmas beetles and his memories of their large populations, drawing on his own interest in environmental science and conservation.

"Volunteering is an easy and fun way to make a positive impact in the world. You give back to your community, learn new skills and connect with like-minded individuals,” he says.

"I just hope that my contribution to the Christmas Beetle Count will make a positive impact on their survival.”

Successes so far

There were 6592 total Christmas beetle sightings collected by volunteers in the 2022/ 2023 season. 35 Christmas beetle species were observed.

Four 'missing' beetle species were formally sighted:

  • Anoplognathus multiseriatus - last reported in 1970s
  • Anoplognathus rhinastus - last reported in 1999
  • Anoplognathus nebulosus - laste reported in 1999
  • Anoplognathus vietor - previously reported from a single male speciman in 1986

There is only one preserved specimen of anoplognathus vietor, so it is especially exciting to have recorded a live beetle.

Think you’ve spotted a beetle and want to help? Visit Invertebrates Australia to find out more about the Christmas Beetle Project.


Protect Mona Vale's Bongin Bongin Bay - Establish An Aquatic Reserve

Who are we? 
We are a group of locals who are leading a campaign to have Mona Vale's Bongin Bongin Bay (Mona Vale Basin) declared as an aquatic reserve.

Our group is made up of local swimmers, surfers, surf life savers and beach users. Our group has no political affiliation. We are just passionate locals who care about our environment. 

What are we proposing?
With your support, we will be asking Northern Beaches Council to lobby the NSW Government to establish a 'no take' zone at Bongin Bongin Bay (Mona Vale Basin).

The establishment of this aquatic reserve will protect local marine biodiversity now and into the future.

In area the proposed aquatic reserve will be approximately 451,000 square meters (45 hectares). It will have a boundary (perimeter ) of 3.8km.

Why do we support this?
We use the beach every day throughout the year and believe this unique environment is worthy of protection. We regularly see stingrays, dolphins, blue gropers, sharks, octopus, cuttlefish and many other species in and around Bongin Bongin Bay. Occasionally we have seen turtles, penguins and migrating whales.

However, we believe that fishing and the collection of crustaceans, shellfish and vegetation from the foreshore is impacting upon the biodiversity and the local ecosystem. 

Species that were seen regularly in and around Bongin Bongin Bay disappear after weekend fishers have been present.

Find out more at: www.bonginbonginbay.com

Friends Of Bongin Bongin Bay (Mona Vale Basin) Update: May 2023

May 8, 2023
Last week we met with three Northern Beaches councillors and Federal MP for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps (check out her Instagram, Facebook or website for her first-hand experience).

We have started the process for a Notice of Motion for a vote at the 27th June Council meeting and will provide more information in our June update.

This Saturday 13th May at 6.45am for 7am we  did a photoshoot of people holding hands right around the Bay. The end result is to be submitted to Council's Environmental Art & Design competition which closes on Sunday.

How can you help after having signed our petition?
For more information contact Friends of Bongin Bongin Bay www.bonginbonginbay.com

Friends of Bongin Bongin Bay t-shirts and hoodies may be ordered at: https://oceanloveart.com/collections/clothing
Share the Petition at: 

Thank you
Friends of Bongin Bongin Bay (Mona Vale Basin)

Bongin Bongin Bay - Mona Vale Basin on Monday 7 Feb. 2022. Photo by Joe Mills

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: June 25 Winnererremy Bay, Mona Vale

Come and join us for our family friendly June clean up, in Winnererremy Bay on the Sunday June 25th at 10am. We meet in the grass area close to 7 Eric Green Drive. We have gloves, bags, and buckets, and grabbers. We're trying to remove as much plastic and rubbish as possible before it enters the water. Some of us can focus on the bush area and sandy/rocky areas, and others can walk along the water and even clean up in the water (at own risk). 

We will clean up until around 11.15, and after that, we will sort and count the rubbish so we can contribute to research by entering it into a marine debris database. The sorting and counting is normally finished around noon, and we'll often go for lunch together at our own expense. We understand if you cannot stay for this part, but are grateful if you can. We appreciate any help we can get, no matter how small or big.

No booking required - just show up on the day - we will be there no matter what weather. We're a friendly group of people, and everyone is welcome to this family friendly event. It's a nice community - make some new friends and do a good deed for the planet at the same time. For everyone to feel welcome, please leave political and religious messages at home - this includes t-shirts with political campaign messages. Message us on our social media or send us an email if you are lost. 

All welcome - the more the merrier. Please invite your friends too! 

All details in our Facebook event or on our website.

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NorthernBeachesCleanUpCrew

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew website: www.northernbeachescleanupcrew.com

Freshwater Beach and surrounds Clean Up

Done on Sunday May 28 2023

A huge thank you to everyone and cleaned up Freshwater Beach today. More than 100 people came and we are so happy and grateful to everyone who cares and helps making our beaches and local environment a better and cleaner place for all beings. 

We had thousands of Styrofoam balls, about 30 single use coffee cups, nearly 90 plastic bottles, 164 glass bottles, 146 aluminium cans, 11 kilos of cardboard/paper, several surf boards, 127 cigarette butts, 3 broken plastic chairs, thousands of pieces of soft plastic and 22 balls among many of the items that we picked up.

Permaculture NB: june to July 2023 Events

Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group on Sydney's Northern Beaches working for ecological integrity and assisting you on a pathway to sustainability.

PNB holds monthly permaculture-related public meetings on the last Thursday of each month at the Narrabeen Tramshed Community & Arts Centre, Lakeview Room, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen. Buses stop directly at the centre and there is also car parking nearby. Doors open at 7:15 pm and meetings take place monthly from February to November. 

Everyone is welcome! 

We also hold a range of workshops, short courses, film and soup nights, practical garden tours, permabees (working bees), beehive installations, eco-product making sessions and much more.


Thursday, June 8, 2023

World Oceans Day is held every year on 8th June to raise awareness of the vital importance of our oceans and the role they play in sustaining a healthy planet. A global celebration, it looks to bring people and organisations together across the globe in a series of events highlighting how we can all help protect and conserve the oceans.

Our ocean needs protection.  Our ocean covers 70% of the planet and supports life as we know it. Every second breath we take comes from the ocean. Our ocean feeds billions of people. Our ocean hosts 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

However, our oceans are in crisis. They are being threatened by pollution such as abandoned fishing nets, overfishing, bycatch, and the effects of climate change.

We know the problems. We know the solutions.

World Oceans Day is a day to take action and raise awareness.

The 2023 theme for World Ocean Day is Big Blue Future.

To conserve our wonderful marine resources for future generations. Get involved in the conversation with #WorldOceansDay and #BigBlueFuture. 


Thursday, June 29, 2023: 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Narrabeen Tramshed Arts and Community Centre, Lakeview Room
1395A Pittwater Road,  Narrabeen

Join us in World Oceans’ month to learn more about the Blue planet we live on.

Two great speakers will tell us the wonders and threats facing our oceans. 

Australia Marine Conservation Society works on the big issues that risk our ocean wildlife - protecting critical ocean ecosystems with marine reserves around the nation, including Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef. As well as issues such as over-fishing and supertrawlers, and protecting threatened and endangered species like the Australian Sea Lion. 

Surfrider Foundation is actively working to stop drilling and exploration for oil and gas off our coast (PEP2). The organisation works to protect our oceans, beaches and waves through a powerful activist network.

$5 entry by donation to pay for room hire. Organic teas and coffee are available at the night + swap table - bring plants, seeds, food, books and permaculture items to swap and share.


Saturday, July 8, 2023: 11:00am – 1:00pm

Balgowlah Community Garden 
100 Griffiths Street, Balgowlah

Gather your seeds in winter for the coming spring.  Share and swap seeds that are grown organically and locally.  These seeds will be the best adapted you can find for the Northern Beaches climate and soils as many have been grown over generations.

Tap into the knowledge and the databank of seeds at Balgowlah Community Garden and PNB + share permaculture knowledge. This is an invaluable resource for the local community. Be part of the change - grow your own seeds and food.

Bring your non-alcoholic drinks and food to share on the day. The seed circle will be outdoors but under cover so dress weather-wise.


Saturday, July 1, 2023 – Monday, July 31, 2023

Permaculture Northern Beaches is a part of the Plastic Free July challenge - Join Us!

The plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use for just a few minutes use a material that is designed to last forever. Every bit of plastic ever made still exists!

These plastics:

  • Break up, not break down – becoming permanent pollution
  • Are mostly made into low-grade products for just one more use or sent to a landfill
  • End up in waterways and the ocean – where scientists predict there will be more tons of plastic than tons of fish by 2050
  • Transfer to the food chain – carrying pollutants with them
  • Increase our eco-footprint – plastic manufacturing consumes 6% of the world’s fossil fuels

Be part of the solution, by taking up these habits:

  • Refusing plastic bags and packaging (choose your own alternatives)
  • Reducing packaging where possible (opt for refills, remember your reusable shopping bags)
  • Refusing plastics that escape as litter (e.g. straws, takeaway cups, utensils, balloons)
  • Recycling what cannot be avoided by the use of alternatives.

Register to join 100,000 Australians and a million+ people worldwide stepping up in Plastic Free July  www.plasticfreejuly.org

PNHA Guided Nature Walks 2023

Our walks are gentle strolls, enjoying and learning about the bush rather than aiming for destinations. Wear enclosed shoes. We welcome interested children over about 8 years old with carers. All Welcome. 

Sunday June 25: Birdwatching and Bushland along Mullet Creek in Ingleside Chase Reserve

Swamp forest and coastal wetlands are rich habitat for fauna such as Swamp Wallaby and Diamond Python. Over 150 bird species have been recorded for the area. Red-Browed Finch is one. 

Bring your binoculars and keep your ears pricked for bird calls. The track is mostly level, but with an optional steep climb near the Irrawong waterfall.

Meet: 8.30am near 31 Irrawong Rd North Narrabeen. Ends about 10.30.

So we know you’re coming please book by emailing: pnhainfo@gmail.com and include your phone number so we can contact you if weather is doubtful. 

Red-browed finch (Neochmia temporalis). Photo: J J Harrison

Chemical CleanOut: june 2023

Mona Vale Beach Car Park: Sat 24, Sun 25 June 2023 - 9am-3:30pm

Surfview Road, Mona Vale

Only household quantities accepted. Maximum container size of 20kg or 20L per item.

*Up to 100L of paint (in 20L containers) now accepted at all Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra events.


Fluoro globes and tubes, Gas bottles and fire extinguishers, Household cleaners, Batteries, Paint*, Oils, Garden chemicals, Poisons, Smoke detectors.

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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 

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

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.

New 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.

Track & Trace puts biosecurity app’s real-life data to the test 

June 1, 2023

Today in Orange, local vignerons, biosecurity specialists and industry representatives met to measure the edge technology can deliver via real-time data to increase planning efficiency and effectiveness in a biosecurity emergency response.     

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Director Plant Biosecurity Enhancement, Shane Hetherington, said Exercise Sour Grapes 2023 is simulating a plant biosecurity outbreak to test data from the Track & Trace pilot project.  

"Track & Trace used the Onside check-in app to gather real-life data from local vineyards from spring 2022 until the 2023 vintage,” Dr Hetherington said.  

“Exercise Sour Grapes 2023 is testing the technology’s surveillance and early detection algorithm in delivering rapid response to biosecurity outbreaks and informing resource allocation for the NSW wine sector.  

“This exercise will compare results with Exercise Sour Grapes 2019, which ran the same emergency response simulation, without the advantage of real-time data from an app.”    

Track & Trace is supported by NSW DPI, NSW Wine and Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub (the Hub).  

The project has worked with Canberra, Tumbarumba, Orange and Mudgee vignerons who collected real-time data in their vineyards.    

NSW Wine president, Mark Bourne, said building and maintaining accurate movement data helps to protect the long-term resilience of the NSW wine industry.        

“Prevention is always better than a cure. If and when a new threat emerges, we need to be able to trace back to determine where it came from and trace forward to lessen the impacts on industry and the communities in which we live and work,” Mr Bourne said.   

“This project is a real-life demonstration of how biosecurity can work as a shared responsibility. Industry, federal and state government agencies and a technology partner are all working together to pilot a biosecurity solution to help make us fit for future challenges.”    

Hub Director, Cindy Cassidy, said developing a world-class biosecurity system is one of the four National Agricultural Innovation Agenda priorities supported by the Hub.    

“Track & Trace is part of the Hub’s Managing Biosecurity Risks investment project, which is testing strategies to better engage the community and supply chain in biosecurity preparedness,” Ms Cassidy said.  

“This project gives us the opportunity to apply existing technologies and test systems designed to help better prepare a region to respond to biosecurity threats  

“Track & Trace is just the beginning. We are keen to engage the community and the supply chain to support our biosecurity efforts and if this technology does prove to be effective, it could revolutionise biosecurity in NSW and across horticulture Australia wide.”  

The project is supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Innovation Hubs Program.  


Photo: NSW Department of Primary Industries, Plant Biosecurity Enhancement director, Shane Hetherington, Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub director, Cindy Cassidy and NSW Wine president, Mark Bourne NSW DPI Head Office in Orange.

Queensland Government releases plan with pathway to banning fracking on the Lake Eyre Basin floodplains

June 2, 2023

Lock the Gate Alliance congratulates the Queensland Palaszczuk Government for releasing a long awaited consultation plan for the Lake Eyre Basin that includes an option for effectively banning new oil and gas development on the region’s fragile floodplains.

The government today released its regulatory impact statement (RIS) with options on Channel Country protection. Oil and gas companies own huge tenements over sections of the flood plains, however wide-scale unconventional industrialisation of the region has not yet occurred. Numerous stakeholders are concerned about the threat this type of development would pose to the Lake Eyre Basin’s desert rivers.

These risks include:

  • Direct impact of many hundreds of gas wells and associated infrastructure such as access roads that would divert the flow of the channels that feed Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and other wetlands in the system
  • Chemical spills from fracking contaminating the channels, particularly during flood events
  • Loss of organic certification for graziers operating on the floodplains due to the presence of unconventional oil and gas extraction

The combined impact of infrastructure and any spills on the floodplains would leave the LEB less resilient to the existing and anticipated impacts of climate change, such as longer droughts and more intense rainfall events when they do occur.

The impact statement itself notes, “the gradual emergence of plans and proposals for unconventional extraction of oil and gas in the rivers or on the floodplains of the Queensland LEB presents challenges to the future health… of these sensitive areas. This is because of the associated industrialised processes including intensive hydraulic fracturing techniques, and associated requirements for substantially greater volumes of water, use of chemicals, and generation of contaminants, wastewater, and other processes. Accidents leading to pollution of the waters of Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre, and its rivers and floodplain systems, could potentially be catastrophic for nature, for people, and the economic and social prosperity of the region.” 

Grazier and Lock the Gate spokesperson Nick Holliday said this was a once in a generation opportunity for the Queensland Palaszczuk Government to prioritise protections for the floodplains.

“We’re happy this consultation paper has been released, and that it contains an option for protecting this precious area from the dangers of fracking,” he said.

“The Queensland Lake Eyre Basin sustains a thriving organic beef industry and incredible ecology. The RIS shows how fracking threatens all this.

“The consultation paper highlights threats oil and gas developments pose to one of the last truly free flowing desert river systems in the world.

“If unconventional oil and gas is allowed on the floodplains, it will irreparably damage the Lake Eyre Basin.

“This Regulatory Impact Statement contains a clear pathway forward that honours Labor’s election commitments and protects these fragile rivers - that means banning new oil and gas on the floodplains.

“Under Queensland’s existing system, the oil and gas industry has been allowed to proliferate across some of Queensland’s most fertile farmland and most vital underground water sources across the Western Downs. This must not occur in the Channel Country.

“Anything less than a total ban on new oil and gas development on the floodplains would be an environmental and social catastrophe. It would trash the Lake Eyre Basin for generations to come, right at a moment when the world is finally starting to recognise the need to move away from fossil fuels such as oil and gas to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“This area must be protected, for the sake of traditional owners, graziers and future generations of Queenslanders. Locals have been fighting for this for decades. The Palaszczuk Government has a historic opportunity to get this right and fulfil their promise to preserve the Channel Country into the future.”

Comments on the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement will close 5.00pm Friday 25 August 2023. 

Visit: environment.des.qld.gov.au/management/policy-regulation/changes/protection-lake-eyre-basin-streams-watercourses

Map of the Lake Eyre Basin and Drainage Sub-basins area and inset of this location in Queensland.


The rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin in South West Queensland (known as the Channel Country) are some of the last free flowing desert rivers in the world, and are of immense significance to Traditional Owners. Their unique ecology has been globally recognised.

In 2015, the Palaszcuk Government made an election commitment to protect these rivers and floodplains. In 2022, then Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon initiated a stakeholder consultation process with graziers, Traditional Owners, the gas industry and environmentalists on options for protecting the Channel Country.

Despite this stakeholder process, oil and gas companies have been granted huge tenements over Channel Country flood plains.

In late 2021, the Queensland Government quietly granted an application by Origin Energy to frack across more than 225,000 hectares of tenements, including on the floodplains.

In October last year, a scientific report found 831 oil and gas wells across the entire Lake Eyre Basin (including in other states), and highlighted the damage they were causing to the flood plains.

4,500 hectares of koala habitat near Port Macquarie now protected

May 29, 2023

4,500 hectares of bushland containing koala-preferred habitat near Port Macquarie will be protected forever following its purchase by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The property, located west of Port Macquarie and within the traditional lands of the Biripi nation, occupies a critical position between four existing National Parks and Wildlife Service reserves and between two known koala populations at Comboyne and South Kempsey.

The property is already home to between 30 and 60 koalas.

The land also provides suitable habitat for at least 45 threatened species, including the endangered Hasting River mouse and the spotted-tailed quoll, hollow-dependent species such as the greater glider, and a range of birds including the glossy black cockatoo and wompoo fruit-dove.

Connecting these reserves will safeguard the health and resilience of the habitat and secure safe corridors for koalas to move through the landscape.

The acquisition will also enhance protection for declared wilderness areas that abut the property, which form part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

The Mid North Coast is home to two of the 10 stronghold koala populations in New South Wales.

Acquisition of the property was funded under the NSW Koala Strategy.

NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe stated;

'Opportunities to acquire large parcels of private land featuring koala habitat along the NSW coast are extremely rare, so this is a huge win for koala conservation.'

'Permanent protection of this property as part of the national parks estate will not only secure the koala-preferred habitat– it will also enable us to lessen the increasing and cumulative threats faced by koalas.'

'With active management of fire, weeds and feral animals, we will continue to maintain and improve this habitat for koalas and other native species.'

NCC calls for halt on logging in Great Koala National Park

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state's leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today released analysis showing that 17.7% of state forest that constitutes the Great Koala National Park proposal will be targeted over the next 12 months by Forestry Corporation NSW (Forestry Corp).  

NSW's 12 Month's of Operations Plan Portal shows that Forestry Corporation NSW plans to log 30,813ha (over 17%) of state forest that constitutes the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) proposal. 

NCC has also developed this map in order to help members of the community visualise this plan and highlight the imminent threat koalas are facing.  

Map of the proposed Great Koala National Park (white outline). Red is areas Forestry Corporation NSW plans to log in the next 12 months, white polygons are ’koala hubs’ - the most important sites of koala habitat in NSW, and green is state forests that constitutes the GKNP proposal.  

Critically, the analysis found that logging is planned in areas the NSW government has identified as the most important areas of koala habitat in NSW (OEH Koala Hubs) including Wild Cattle Creek, Clouds Creek, Pine Creek and Boambee State Forests. 

“The NSW Government committed to protecting koalas by creating the GKNP, but before the assessment process even begins, Forestry Corp plans to log nearly 20% of the park. This absolutely cannot happen if we want koalas in the Great Koala National Park” NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford said today. 

“Forestry Corp knows this national park is coming, and they are deliberately ramping up operations within its boundaries to extract as much timber from it as possible.” 

“The ridiculous thing is that for the last couple of years under the Coalition government taxpayers subsidised FCNSW to the tune of $29 million. The new Labor government has a real opportunity to stop the destruction of koala habitat and sending taxpayers the bill" Mumford continued. 

Analysis by NCC has also found that in the 2021-2022 financial year the hardwood division of Forestry Corporation NSW, which is responsible for the native forest logging, ran at a loss of $9 million. This followed from 20-21 FY where the division ran at a loss of $20 million.  

Logging compartments of native forest that fall within the proposed Great Koala National Park has cost the NSW taxpayer an estimated $5 million ($4,991,823.2) worth of subsidies since 2020. (see below) 

“It seems absurd to have to say it, but the NSW taxpayer should not be paying to kill koalas” 

NCC Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford stated;

“The Great Koalas National Park proposal was developed by leading scientists, ecologists and local environmental groups, including the National Parks Association, who identified the most important areas of koala habitat in NSW. All of these areas need to be protected if we are to ensure the survival of koalas in the wild." 

“I call on the NSW government to immediately halt logging in areas that will become the Great Koalas National Park and undertake a thorough and publicly available assessment on the impact of Forestry Corporation NSW's planned logging activities on koala populations.” 

“Forestry Corp operated as a rogue agency under the previous government, and every day we hear new reports of them breaking the law. They have been fined or prosecuted 10 times since 2020 for breaches such as illegally felling protected giant trees, felling trees with hollows, and felling koala feed trees.” 

“Victoria and Western Australia are now both ending native forest logging by 2024, while Queensland is stopping logging south of Noosa by next year. NSW is now the laggard in this space, and it's time for the NSW government to step up." 

“This is a watershed moment for the Minns Government. Will you act in line with community expectations and desires and protect koalas or risk their extinction.” 

Additional information 

Koala hubs: In 2017, at the request of the Chief Scientist, the Office of Environment and Heritage analysed Koala records "to delineate highly significant local scale areas of koala occupancy currently known for protection", identifying “areas of currently known significant koala occupancy that indicate clusters of resident populations known as Koala Hubs”. The previous government refused to publish the report and allowed the Forestry Corporation to go on logging them, and they still are. 

State Forests logged within the GKNP since 2020  

FY 2021-2022   

Using the annual Sustainability Reports released by FCNSW, analysis shows that there were 160 compartments logged in state forests across the state in 21-22.     

This equates to a loss of $56,250 per compartment logged when taking into consideration the $9 million lost over this year.  

Coffs Harbour City Council TOTAL= 20 cpts at $1,125,000 

  • Wedding bells (17 cpt) 
  • Conglomerate (3 cpt) 

Clarence Valley Council TOTAL= 8cpts at $450,000 

  • Wild Cattle Creek (4 cpt) 
  • Clouds Creek (3 cpt) 
  • Ellis (1 cpt) 

Nambucca valley council TOTAL= 6 cpts at $337,500 

  • Tamban (6 cpt)  

FY 2020-2021  

In the FY 2020-21, the Hardwood Division of Forestry Corporation ran at a loss of $20 million.   

There was a total of 104 compartments logged during this period, meaning it lost $192,307.7 per compartment.  

Coffs Harbour City Council total= 10cpts at $1,923,077 

  • Conglomerate (2 cpt)  
  • Lower Bucca (4 cpt) 
  • Wedding Bells (2 cpt)  
  • Bagawa (1 cpt) 
  • Orara east (1 cpt) 

Clarence Valley Council total=4cpts at $771,630.8 

  • Wild Cattle Creek (4 cpt) 

Nambucca Valley Council total=2 pts at $384,615.4 

  • Tamban (1 cpt) 
  • Ingalba (1 cpt) 


Paying Aussies to pollute - Peak environment groups denounce Jemena Energy for incentivising gas switch

June 2, 2023

While the Victorian and NSW state governments are implementing policies designed to break Australia's toxic gas addiction, one gas company is blatantly undermining these programs by offering customers cash incentives to switch appliances in their homes to polluting methane gas. 

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC) and Environment Victoria, the leading environmental advocacy organisations from both states, have today criticised Jemena Energy for ‘gaslighting’ action on climate change by incentivising further burning of gas. 

In the midst of a climate crisis, Jemena is offering financial incentives for NSW customers to switch everyday appliances from electricity to gas, while misleading the public about the benefits, impacts and future viability of methane gas as an energy source.[1]  

“Gas is a fossil fuel that is a major contributor to the climate crisis”, Dr Brad Smith, NCC Policy and Advocacy Director said today. “Jemena is locking in carbon pollution by continuing to connect appliances in homes to fossil fuel gas infrastructure.”

"Every new appliance connected to gas locks in decades of guaranteed profits for Jemena, and decades of pollution for the rest of us. This company knows that its customers could save money and reduce pollution by switching to electric appliances, yet it is trying to lock people into a more expensive and destructive source of energy" Smith also said. 

Bronya Lipski, Environment Victoria’s Policy and Advocacy Manager said that with winter temperatures dropping and gas bills rising, both states need a bold plan that supports everyone to electrify their homes, ensuring no one is left behind.

“In Victoria, the State government is offering initiatives through its Solar Victoria and Victorian Energy Upgrades programs to help people transition away from gas to energy efficient electric homes. But in NSW, this perverse scheme from Jemena is undermining such progress.” 

“Across the country, people are waking up to the dangers of methane gas and the opportunity that electrifying our lives brings to cut climate pollution and power bills at the same time. But the powerful gas lobby is pushing back with everything they have. They are launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign to protect their record profits.”

“It is absurd and dangerous to see Jemena promoting gas appliances in this attempt to keep their dying industry afloat. We know that efficient electric appliances, powered by renewable energy are what's needed for a safe climate - not cash handouts to keep polluting.”

“The good news is that efficient electric appliances can save energy, reduce our bills and cut pollution, and with targeted government support, all households could be supported to switch to affordable, modern appliances.”

Dr Brad Smith, NCC Policy and Advocacy Director stated;

“A safe climate for our kids means electrifying all homes by 2035. Every new gas appliance makes this mission harder and more expensive. 

“The NSW government needs to follow the lead of states like the ACT and Victoria and should develop a gas substitution roadmap, so that rather than purchasing polluting gas appliances, households can switch to cheaper, clean, renewable energy.”

“The use of gas in homes is also exposing Australian children to a higher risk of asthma.” [2]

“Cooking with gas causes up to 12 percent of childhood asthma cases.”

“This means a child living in a home with gas cooking faces a similar risk of asthma to a child exposed to cigarette smoke in their home.”

Environment Victoria Policy and Advocacy Manager Bronya Lipski also noted:. 

“Our states are facing cold conditions, rising cost of living pressures, and exorbitant energy bills. Gas wrecks our climate, damages our health and is our most expensive form of energy. Yet Victoria burns more gas than any other state, and 60% of that is to heat our homes.” 

“But the gas lobby is pushing back with everything they have. They are launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign to protect their record profits. This is industry propaganda designed to deflect attention away from climate and health science, and directly challenge government ambition to ensure emissions reductions and renewable energy targets are met.”

Background information

[1] Jemena, the gas pipeline operator for NSW, is offering a $500 cashback to customers who replace an existing non-methane gas (“natural gas”) appliance with a methane gas appliance. For details see: https://www.gonaturalgas.com.au/claim-your-cash-back 

[2] Climate Council, Invisible Danger: Gas, Asthma and our Children, 2021  

NSW metering policy not holding water: plans to meter all water pumping in NSW float away as deadline once again not met

June 1, 2023

As the June 1 deadline arrives, the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, wishes to highlight that NSW irrigation metering reforms have again failed to be implemented.  

The mandatory date for irrigators in the Murray and Murrumbidgee to have compliant metering equipment installed is June 1st, extended from January because of the impact of the floods.  

According to Board notes from the Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) there is a ‘widening gap between policy aspiration and program implementation’[1]. 

“This basically means that the regulator is saying that despite all the delays, they have been unwilling or unable to secure even the most basic oversight into how much water is being sucked from our rivers by corporate irrigators.” Mel Gray, Water Campaigner with NCC said today 

"How can we expect to sustainably and fairly manage our water resources when we can’t even get irrigators to measure how much water they are taking” Gray continued.   

Adding to concerns about the adequacy of legislation to protect rivers from over extraction and water theft, the Inspector General of Water Compliance Troy Grant said in Senate Estimates last Friday that the legislation was rubbish, that it had so many loopholes that an irrigator "would have to be a moron" to get caught stealing water.  

Grant said his investigations team currently has 21 open investigations, and since February they have closed 62 investigations. “The reason they’ve closed is that the legislation is rubbish” he said. 

NCC Water Campaigner Mel Gray satted;

“The sad thing is that this is consistent with what we've seen across NSW. The deadline for metering the largest pumps in the Northern Basin was 18 months ago, and about 30% of pumps in that category still don’t have compliant metering and telemetry installed.” 

“There are already too many loopholes in NSW’s metering policy. For example, pumps under 100mm diameter not required to have metering fitted at all, regardless of how many pumps are installed in a given water source.”  

“We are also deeply concerned by the Department’s ‘review of the underlying regulation to alleviate constraints’ which may indicate they are considering weakening the standards to allow irrigators to use telemetry equipment (devices that send real time data to the department) that isn't accredited.”

“The underlying problem with water management in NSW is that the Department don’t accept their duty under the law to prioritise the environment, as identified by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2020.” [2. ]

“We welcome the initial steps the new Minister for Water Rose Jackson has taken, but it looks like there is still a culture of prioritising industry over the environment and downstream communities throughout the Department, and it is important this is dealt with.” 

1: https://www.nrar.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/560243/NRAR-Board-meeting-minutes-March-2023.pdf 

2: Investigation into complaints of corruption in the management of water in NSW and systemic non-compliance with the Water Management Act 2000 page 21 

Metering deadline looms for Southern Inland

May 30, 2023

Southern Inland water users have less than a week left to start installing compliant non-urban metering equipment to improve the way water is measured and monitored across the state.

Chief Operating Officer for Water Graham Attenborough said regional areas are facing more extreme climate challenges than ever before, highlighting the critical need to manage water supplies efficiently and fairly.

“If we can't measure it, we can’t manage it,” Mr Attenborough said.

“The 1 June deadline is fast approaching, and landowners in the Southern Inland region have a real opportunity to take proactive steps to help the NSW Government secure a better water future for the next generation.

"We started roadshows 18 months ago to help people get up to speed about what is needed to meet the new requirements.”

The Department of Planning and Environment has delivered face-to-face information sessions in Albury, Denilquin, Broken Hill, Griffith, Dareton, Forbes, Cootamundra, Tumut, Mildura, Condobolin, Yanco, Cowra, and Wagga Wagga, along with 14 online sessions.

“We appreciate there is a lot to digest when new rules come into place, which is why landowners were given an extra six months to get onboard after facing record rainfall and flooding in 2022,” Mr Attenborough said.

“We understand a lot of farmers and irrigators have already begun to install new or replacement meters which is great news, but there is an expectation that everyone takes steps to become compliant.

“The deadline is just days away, so if you haven’t already got an approved meter up and running, you will need to demonstrate that you’ve contacted one of our metering experts and locked in a time for installation.

“If the cost of new metering equipment is a barrier to becoming compliant, there are several programs that can help farmers offset the cost, including a telemetry rebate program that provides a $975 rebate to water users’ accounts for each meter they connect to the telemetry system.

“There is also the Instant Asset Write-Off which enables farmers to deduct the full purchase price of assets up to $150,000 from their taxable income and the NSW Farm Innovation Fund which provides loans to carry out capital works, along with exemptions for small, low risk works that are used solely to take water under a stock and domestic water access license.

“The Natural Resources Access Regulator will enforce the new requirements and will not hesitate to take compliance action against people who refuse to adhere to them. Those caught flouting the new requirements could face fines or, in extreme cases, prosecution.”

For more information go to: Non-urban metering.

Community ideas to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

May 29, 2023

The Australian Government is inviting communities to share their views about how to best deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Government is committed to delivering the Plan in full, including 450 GL to enhance environmental outcomes. But we know communities and industry have previously felt left out of the conversation. 

Delivering the plan includes achieving all water recovery targets. It means putting our rivers on a healthier and more sustainable path, while continuing to support Basin communities who help feed our nation.

The Government is working with Basin states and territories to do this. 

Individuals and groups are welcome to make a submission that considers questions including:

  • What ideas or concepts can help fully implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan? 
  • Will these ideas recover water and deliver environmental outcomes?
  • Are there ideas that will make a particular difference to your community?
  • What are the challenges or risks to implementing these ideas? 

To have your say, and find out more about the Plan, visit the consultation webpage: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/ideas-to-deliver-the-basin-plan

The consultation closes July 3rd 2023

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek stated;

“We know that climate change has made the implementation of the Plan more important than ever.

“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to delivering the Murray–Darling Basin Plan in full. I’m pleased that all Basin states and territories are also committed to doing this.

“After years of delay and sabotage by the Liberals and Nationals, we want to get this right.

“I’ve said all options are on the table to deliver the Plan. I welcome innovative and practical ideas for how we can deliver a sustainable Basin for the communities, farmers, businesses and First Nations groups who rely on it.”

Consultation open - Climate Change Considerations chapter: Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A guide to flood estimation

May 30, 2023

The Federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water are seeking feedback on the draft guiding principles and key considerations to update the Climate Change Considerations chapter of Australian Rainfall and Runoff: A Guide to Flood Estimation.

Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) outlines an approach for subject matter experts to manage the risks of increasingly intense rainfall and flooding across building and infrastructure projects, and informs design decisions to allow for flooding events. Your input will be combined with peer-reviewed science to update the Climate Change Considerations chapter.

We have developed draft guiding principles and key considerations for this update and would like feedback from engineers, government regulators, infrastructure managers, peak industry bodies and subject matter experts so that the update reflects the needs of users.

The consultation is open until Monday 19 June 2023. You will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft replacement Climate Change Considerations chapter later in 2023, before the document is finalised in the first quarter of 2024.

Funding for this update comes from National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) Disaster Risk Reduction Package. To provide your feedback please visit our consultation hub

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions: December 2022 quarterly update

May 31, 2023

The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December 2022 is now available.

The report shows emissions were 463.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the year to December 2022 – 0.4% or 2.0 million tonnes lower than the same period in 2021.

The trend over the year reflects movement across the sectors, including:

  • Ongoing reductions in emissions from electricity as renewable energy uptake continues
  • Decreased fugitive emissions, reflecting reduced production in coal mining due to the impacts of heavy rainfall events in New South Wales and Queensland
  • Decreased emissions from stationary energy (excluding electricity) driven primarily by decreased activity in the manufacturing sector and decreased gas consumption in the residential sector
  • Increased transport emissions reflecting the ongoing recovery from COVID related travel restrictions, particularly in domestic aviation
  • Increased emissions from agriculture, returning to pre-drought levels as a result of increases in livestock numbers and crop production.

Emissions in the year to December 2022 were 24.7% below June 2005 levels – the base year for Australia’s 2030 Paris Agreement target.

Overall emissions decline in Greenhouse Gas Inventory

May 31, 2023

The Albanese Government has today released the December 2022 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

In the year to December 2022, emissions totalled 463.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is 0.4% or 2 million tonnes lower than the same period in 2021. Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are now at 24.7% below June 2005 levels.

This long-term decline reflects the continued uptake of renewable energy, supported by increased policy certainty since the Albanese Government was elected in May 2022.

Emissions from electricity were down 3.5% or 5.5 million tonnes, driven by record levels of rooftop solar generation in the National Electricity Market. This is equivalent to taking approximately 1.7 million passenger cars off the road for a year. 

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the latest inventory results showed progress in reducing emissions, but reinforced the need for the government's strong action on climate change and crucial policy reforms.

“Unlike the Coalition, the Albanese Government is implementing ambitious but achievable policies to decrease emissions while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

“Our legislated emissions reduction target, Rewiring the Nation plan and landmark Capacity Investment Scheme to drive investment in cleaner, cheaper energy is working but we have much more to do.

“Reforms to the Safeguard Mechanism, developing Australia’s offshore wind and hydrogen industries, and increasing the uptake of cleaner-cheaper to run cars will help ensure we are on track to reach 43% emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050,” said Minister Bowen.

The Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for December 2022 can be found here:


Funds for new projects to combat deadly ghost nets

May 17 2023

The Australian Government is tackling deadly ghost nets by funding new projects which will help detect them, remove them or dispose of them in northern Australian waters.

Every year, lost or abandoned fishing gear drifts into the Gulf of Carpentaria. These nets can be more than six kilometres long, weigh over ten tonnes, and travel great distances with the tides and ocean currents.

Ghost nets are a dangerous menace for turtles, dolphins, sharks, seals, and other fish. Endangered animals swim into the nets and then become entangled, lacerated, or strangled by them.

Nylon ghost nets are also a major contributor to the global crisis of ocean plastics, taking hundreds of years to break down.

This grant program is part of a broader $14.8 million package to help protect our unique marine habitats and wildlife. So far under the program, 195 ghost nets have been removed from the Gulf of Carpentaria, along with over 50,000 kg of marine debris.

These projects in the NT, which range in value up to $400,000 include:

  • Trialling new beach clean-up equipment to facilitate the removal of large amounts of waste from beaches in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
  • Establishing technology to granulate marine debris to make it easier to transport and recycle
  • Ghost net detection using satellite imagery together with artificial intelligence to enhance predictive capabilities
  • Arial surveys using drone technology to monitor ghost net locations
  • Reducing marine debris through education and outreach
  • Using a custom designed vessel for the removal of ghost nets within the Groote Archipelago.

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said;

“Abandoned fishing gear has been killing marine animals on an industrial scale.

“Sea creatures swim into these discarded nets and then find it impossible to escape. Turtles, dolphins, seals and sharks are all dying in these cruel underwater traps.

“Unfortunately, the removal of ghost nets and marine debris can be challenging, due to their size, remote location and strong tides.

“And the plastics found in ghost nets continue to degrade. These plastics can remain in the marine environment for hundreds of years.

“I want to see a plastic free Pacific in our lifetimes. This program will help rid our oceans of ghost nets so that we can protect our magnificent marine life for generations to come.”

Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said;

“The coastline of northern Australia has one of the highest global densities of ghost net pollution. Up to 15,000 ghost nets have been reported in the Gulf of Carpentaria in the last 10 years.

“This is why our investment is so important – we want to get these nets out of our waters to prevent damage to our reefs and marine life.

“Our Sea Country is so important for our communities along the Northern Coast – and I am very excited to see the work that will come from these grants.”

New DNA testing shatters ‘wild dog’ myth: most dingoes are pure

Jun Zhang, Shutterstock
Kylie M Cairns, UNSW Sydney; Mathew Crowther, University of Sydney, and Mike Letnic, UNSW Sydney

For decades, crossbreeding between dingoes and dogs has been considered the greatest threat to dingo conservation. Previous DNA studies suggested pure dingoes were virtually extinct in Victoria and New South Wales.

Reinforcing this belief, the term “wild dog” has replaced the word dingo in most legislation and policy across Australia. “Wild dog” is a coverall term defined as “any dog living in the wild, including feral dogs, dingoes and their hybrids”. It’s the term used on signs in National Parks and other lands advertising the target and presence of meat baits impregnated with the poison 1080. These baits are laid to reduce the risk of wild dogs preying on livestock.

A white sign with red text stating that 1080 wild dog and fox poison baits are laid in the area.
A 1080 wild dog and fox baiting sign from inside Blue Mountains National Park. Kylie Cairns

Our new research used the latest genetic testing methods to establish the ancestry of wild dogs across Australia. Most of the 307 wild animals we tested were pure dingoes. Only a small proportion of wild dingoes had dog ancestry, probably from a great- or great-great-grandparent. There were no “first-cross” (50/50) hybrids or feral dogs in our wild-caught sample.

Essentially, all the “wild dogs” were dingoes. The results challenge public perceptions and call into question well established management practices. We argue the term “wild dog” should be removed from public language and legislation. Dingo and feral dog should be used instead. And the role of the dingo as Australia’s apex predator should be restored, for we are the greatest threat to their existence.

A dingo with a black muzzle walking on a sandy beach with green scrub in the background
A pure dingo from Myall Lakes walking on a sand dune. Chontelle Burns/Nouveau Rise Photography, CC BY

Better results from better tests

The dingo (Canis dingo) has been in Australia for 5,000 to 11,000 years. But while dingoes are genetically distinct from domestic dogs, they can breed with them.

Scientific support for the idea that few pure dingoes remain in eastern Australia came from skull measurement tests developed in the 1980s and a DNA test developed in the 1990s.

Applying these approaches, Victoria listed dingoes as a threatened species after finding just 1% of animals killed in pest control programs were pure dingoes. Similarly in NSW “predation and hybridisation by feral dogs (Canis familiaris)” was listed as a key threatening process in 2009.

But DNA testing methods have improved since then. When we compared old and new DNA testing methods in our study, we found the original method frequently misidentified pure dingoes as hybrids. This is because the technique used a relatively small number of DNA markers, only 23. We used 195,000 DNA markers.

A DNA marker is a genetic change that can be used to study differences between species, populations or individuals. This is the same sort of technology used for human ancestry or family tree testing. In general, more DNA markers means more information about an individual and more accurate DNA test results.

The older method was also unable to account for geographic variation in dingoes. We found evidence of at least four populations or varieties of dingo in Australia, which we call: West, East, South and Big Desert.

A map showing the distribution of the four wild dingo populations across Australia
A map showing the distribution of the four wild dingo populations across Australia from Cairns et al. 2023.

So when we looked at Victorian dingoes, nearly 90% of the animals we tested were pure dingoes. In NSW, over 60% of the animals we tested were pure dingoes and only two animals had less than 70% dingo DNA.

Dog ancestry was more common in NSW and Queensland dingo populations where there were intensive lethal control programs, such as aerial 1080 poison baiting, along with higher numbers of pet domestic dogs. One explanation is that lethal control programs carried out during the dingo breeding season may increase the risk of dingo-dog hybrids, as it does for wolves and coyotes in North America. Australian aerial baiting programs can kill up to 90% of the dingoes in an area, reducing the availability of mates for any remaining dingoes.

These findings have important implications for our knowledge of dingoes and how they are managed. We need to ensure public policy is built on robust, up-to-date knowledge of dingo identity and ancestry.

Wildlife managers and scientists should ensure that the DNA testing methods they use are accurate and fit for purpose. It is crucial that updated genetic surveys be carried out on dingoes, using the latest DNA methods to inform local dingo management plans.

Dingo conservation plans should consider the presence of geographic variation and the differing threats the four dingo populations may be facing.

Currently, dingoes fall into a grey area: because they are both a native animal and agricultural pest; and because their identity has become ambiguous due to the widespread adoption of the term wild dog.

Lethal control programs have been extended into conservation areas, including national parks, with the primary purpose of minimising livestock losses on neighbouring lands.

During 2020-2021, NSW dropped more than 200,000 1080 poisoned meat-baits from planes and helicopters to suppress “wild dogs”.

This year Victoria renewed its “wild dog bounty” program. It pays landholders A$120 per wild dog body part. Under the scheme, about 4,600 “wild dog” body parts have reportedly been redeemed since 2011.

A dingo family of three in the snow on the southern alps of Australia
Alpine dingoes can be found at high elevations along eastern Australia. Michelle J Photography, Cooma, NSW., Author provided

Restoring an apex predator

Our study shows the term “wild dog” is a misnomer. The animals being targeted for eradication as an “invasive” pest are native dingoes.

The threat of dingo-dog hybrids has also been exaggerated. While dingoes can pose a threat to some livestock, as apex predators they play an essential role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. The dingo keeps natural systems in balance by preying on large herbivores and excluding invasive predators such as feral cats and foxes. This in turn benefits small marsupials, birds and reptiles. We need to balance managing dingo impacts on agriculture against ensuring they can perform their vital environmental functions.

The term “wild dog” should be removed from public language and legislation. Dingo and feral dog should be used instead. This change in terminology would accurately reflect the fact that a vast majority of the wild canines in Australia are pure dingoes – and the hybrids are predominantly dingo in their genetic make-up.

A name change would also align with calls from Australia’s First Nations people to respect and acknowledge the dingo as a native and culturally significant species.The Conversation

Kylie M Cairns, Research fellow, UNSW Sydney; Mathew Crowther, Associate professor, University of Sydney, and Mike Letnic, Professor, Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

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

Europe has lost over half a billion birds in 40 years. The single biggest cause? Pesticides and fertilisers

Farmland birds like the corn bunting have seen their numbers plummet since 1980. Aurélien Audevard, Author provided
Richard Gregory, UCL

A trickle of studies warning that the enormous variety of living things on Earth is diminishing has turned into a flood. The evidence for these losses within regions and globally is undeniable. But data on biodiversity, and what is causing its decline, is still patchy – restricted to some causes, some places and some species. That isn’t the case for birds in Europe, however.

Birds have long fascinated amateur and professional scientists, and close cooperation across Europe has created a deep body of knowledge about their habits, needs and numbers. Some of the longest-running datasets of their kind concern birds which live at least part of their lives in Europe.

This data paints a grim picture: an estimated 550 million birds have been lost from Europe’s total population over the last 40 years or so. It is a shocking statistic, and tells us something profound about humanity’s broken relationship with nature.

Scientists know that biodiversity is under increasing pressure, especially from rapid changes in how land is used (from forest to farmland, for instance) and rising temperatures. But how different species respond to those pressures, which of them is the most important, and how conservationists can respond to alleviate them, have all remained contentious issues.

Taking advantage of high-quality data on birds, a new paper I wrote with French researchers analysed how 170 bird species have responded to human-induced pressures in Europe, using data collected at more than 20,000 monitoring sites across 28 countries over 37 years, including data from the UK.

We found that chemicals used on farms to control insects and plants seen as weeds that might reduce crop yields are depriving many birds of their main food source, and that this is the single biggest cause of their decline across Europe.

The man-made drivers of change

We looked at four major sources of pressure on bird populations: agricultural intensification (measured by the high use of pesticides and fertilisers), climate change and its influence on temperatures, changes in forest cover, and urbanisation.

A tractor with outspread spraying arms in a field.
Chemicals applied to maximise crop yields have taken a heavy toll on wildlife. Charles Bowman/Shutterstock

Modern farming methods were the biggest cause of decline for most bird populations – especially for those that feed on insects and other invertebrates, such as swifts, yellow wagtails, spotted flycatchers, wheatears and stonechats. How birds responded to changes in forest cover, urbanisation and climate change was much more variable and species-specific.

Between 1980 and 2016, common birds in Europe declined in abundance by a quarter. But numbers of farmland birds more than halved during this period. There were also declines in both woodland birds and urban dwellers, in northern, cold-preferring birds, and even in some southern, warm-preferring bird species – though the overall trend in this latter group of birds is one of steady growth.

A figure comparing four maps of Europe according to declines among different types of bird populations.
Birds which live on and around farms have suffered the deepest declines. Rigal et al. (2023)/PNAS, Author provided

One of the study’s main findings is that the large use of pesticides and fertilisers on farms in particular is the most significant driver of bird population declines across Europe, including the UK. This does not come as a great surprise – many studies have come to this conclusion. But this is the first study to look at the man-made drivers in one go, using some of the best data available and modern statistical methods. The results are clear.

Agricultural practices began to change significantly after the second world war, as countries introduced measures to increase the output of farms. Yet such efforts to increase output, including an increasing reliance on pesticides and fertilisers, have come at a significant cost to birds and other wildlife – and critically, the overall health of the environment.

A recent UK government report found that the loss of biodiversity, alongside climate change, presented the greatest medium- to long-term threat to domestic food production. Biodiversity loss has consequences for society far beyond endangered species.

We believe that birds are mainly affected by pesticides and fertilisers through the loss of food, though these chemicals may be directly affecting their health too. Pesticides are designed to kill the insects and invertebrates that birds eat. Fertilisers change what kind of plants grow in an environment, often to the detriment of a wide variety of species. Invertebrates need this vegetation for food and shelter, and birds need it too – as well as the invertebrates.

Invertebrates are an important part of the diet of many bird species, but they are rocket fuel for growing chicks, which are the engine of population growth. Invertebrates are particularly important during the breeding period for over 80% of the birds in our study. The dramatic loss of insects we often hear about appears to be having a profound impact on birds.

A swift in the blue sky.
Insect-eating birds, like the common swift, have the most to gain from restrictions on pesticides. Erni/Shutterstock

Nature-friendly food

The question is how best to respond. Nature is in trouble on farmland, and yet farmers can be a big part of the solution if they are supported by the right policies.

We need much greater support for nature-friendly farming practices, and a shift away from farming dominated by pesticides and inorganic fertilisers. This would be good for nature, for farmers and food production, for the climate, for consumers – and many progressive farmers are leading the way.

Our results also show the power of citizen science and cooperation across borders to advance science and better understand the natural world – and how to turn things around.

Now we need governments across the world to support land management schemes that reward nature-friendly farming, such as committing to managing at least 10% of farmland for nature, which in turn will help sustain or even boost farm yields.

But we also need wider food system reform, including nature-friendly diets. Retailers, suppliers and processors can all play their part to ensure a healthy environment that can feed us and bring back nature – with all the benefits for people this will bring.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 20,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Richard Gregory, Honorary Professor of Genetics, Evolution & Environment, UCL

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

What should happen to native forests when logging ends? Ask Victoria’s First Peoples

Jack Pascoe, The University of Melbourne; Matthew Shanks, Indigenous Knowledge, and Michael-Shawn Fletcher, The University of Melbourne

The end of native forest logging in Victoria announced last week was met with joy from conservationists and shock from timber industry workers.

To date, this has been how the story has been told: a win for the environment, a loss for jobs in the industry.

But there is an aspect of the story which hasn’t been told. The end of native timber harvesting is an opportunity for Victoria’s First Peoples to tend these forests again. Our voices have not been heard in this debate, but we have much to do on Forest Country.

You might think an end to logging naturally means a return to wilderness. But wilderness as an ideal is a concept which has undermined the rights of Indigenous people. For tens of thousands of years, we worked with Forest Country to ensure its health. When colonists first arrived the land was often described as resembling parklands. Colonisation took that away. In some places this change allowed wilderness to set in and some to became more fire prone.

The end of native timber harvesting gives us an opportunity to rethink what Forest Country looks like. It doesn’t have to be dense forests everywhere. We could bring back areas of open Country and reintroduce practices such as cultural burning. We urge decision-makers and the public to keep their minds open – and listen to First Peoples voices.

cool burn
First Nations involvement could see a return of cultural fire practices. Taungurung Land and Waters Council, Author provided

First Nations voices must be heard

The Victorian government’s promise to end native forest logging also included retraining and redundancy packages for workers. The government also announced an advisory panel would be formed to recommend areas for future protected areas – and for Traditional Owner management.

Conservationists are celebrating a win sought for decades. The damage done by logging on biodiversity has been significant, with once common species now endangered and mature forests now fragmented and dotted with young fire-prone regrowth.

It’s understandable this news has been framed around what it means for conservationists, nature and timber workers. As three Aboriginal Victorians, we acknowledge the important role for each of these groups in current and future forest management. But so far, the commentary has largely failed to include the voices of First Peoples in asserting their rights and obligations as they relate to Forest Country.

What form should these forests take?

When colonisers first came to the forests of Gippsland, their observations were of open forests with few but large trees. These forest systems were cared for in a way which favoured a grassy understorey and a fine-scale mosaic landscape shaped by fire used at different times. This system produced abundant resources for the land’s Traditional Custodians, while supporting abundant and diverse native wildlife.

To maintain Country in this way took regular applications of low-intensity fire. The knowledge of how to manage Country in this way was lore. Over generations, our ancestors created and maintained productive landscapes designed for comfortable and safe human habitation. Foremost in the minds of our old people was nurturing Country, passing on cultural knowledge and keeping alive the tangible and intangible cultural values of their ancestors.

The park-like landscape early colonists saw was a cultural landscape created by First Nations. This 1866 Eugene von Guerard painting is Spring in the valley of the Mitta Mitta with the Bogong Ranges. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, CC BY-NC

With the removal of the custodians from Country, the landscape thickened. Abundant saplings quickly replaced these open forests with impassable scrub. In many places, the landscape has become more prone to wildfire.

Plantations cemented this thickening further, by favouring high density forests of straight trees of the same age and usually the same species.

Colonisation affected Country differently across Australia. But many effects are similar across the continent. European-style land management coincides with species extinctions across the continent.

The destruction of cultural landscapes has been a major contributor to the loss of biodiversity and increase in catastrophic bushfires. It’s the reason for the poor health of Country.

What would real First Nations involvement look like?

To begin the process of repair, Victoria’s First Peoples have partnered with the state government to create strategies which speak to healing Country, bringing back cultural landscapes and cultural burning.

At present, Traditional Owner groups across the state are working towards developing their own strategies to manage their Country. This is producing detailed planning and productive on-ground work. We invite the state to invest in our work planning and caring for Country.

Like the government, we agree that the end to logging doesn’t mean walking away from forest management.

Leaving our forests to themselves is not caring for Country. If we did that, it would entrench the persistent wilderness myth that all forests look after themselves. It would also be an avoidance of our responsibility to care for this land. We cannot and should not be shut out from these forests.

To return Forest Country to health doesn’t mean leaving it alone. In some cases, we may need to thin trees or use cool burns to bring back open Country. This will take careful planning and hard work. It will take people working on Country, informed by Country.

The shift will also create economic opportunities for First Peoples in taking on custodianship of these landscapes. The end to state sponsored logging is an excellent opportunity for the government to meet its commitment to self-determination of First Peoples.

When the government creates its panel of advisors on what to do with state forests post-logging, it must ensure First Peoples voices are strongly represented – and that the panel advises on tenure and ownership of the land and the future shape of these forests. We would be dismayed if these voices were not heard until after significant decisions such as new national parks had been made.

What might Victorian forests of the future look like? There’s no simple answer, because Forest Country is as diverse as the cultures of the Traditional Custodians who care for it.

But we can say that they should be shaped by the thoughtful stewardship of Victorians, with First Peoples cultural knowledge and practice at the fore. At the heart of this stewardship must be the love of Country – and care for community. The Conversation

Jack Pascoe, Research fellow, The University of Melbourne; Matthew Shanks, Director, Cultural Land Management at Taungurung Land and Waters Council, Indigenous Knowledge, and Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Professor in Biogeography, The University of Melbourne

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

A sustainable Australia depends on what happens in our cities – that’s why we need a national urban policy

Robert Freestone, UNSW Sydney; Bill Randolph, UNSW Sydney, and Wendy Steele, RMIT University

Australia has not had a national urban policy since the Rudd government. A troika of Liberal PMs followed. Tony Abbott wasn’t interested. Malcolm Turnbull didn’t quite live up to the hype but delivered cross-governmental City Deals and the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. Scott Morrison at best presided over a business-as-usual approach lacking any resolve, urgency or innovation.

Will this Labor government do any better? Australian cities and regions were not front and centre in the 2022 federal election campaign. But there were signs a Labor government would reinstate a concern for urban policy issues.

The federal budget confirmed the government’s focus on urban policy. It set aside funding for a “national approach for sustainable urban development” and a “cities program”. Last week the government appointed the expert members of the Urban Policy Forum announced in the budget.

These are vehicles for delivering a promised National Urban Policy. The government says this policy “will bring together a vision for sustainable growth in our cities”.

Why focus on cities?

Two in three Australians live in a capital city. Our 21 largest cities are home to 80% of the population.

Cities account for 80% of economic activity in Australia. As globally connected hubs, they are crucial sites for community, commerce, infrastructure, biodiversity, governance and democratic processes. Our cities are central to meeting the challenges of a changing climate.

Map of Australia's 21 largest cities
Our 21 largest cities, with 80% of the population, have a huge role to play in achieving a sustainable future. Australian Urban Observatory, CC BY

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has skin in the game. He was the minister for infrastructure and transport in the Gillard government. He oversaw the first truly national urban policy, Our Cities, Our Future, in 2011.

In 2021, Albanese declared that “cities policy has been one of the abiding passions of my time in public life”. He foreshadowed a new national policy framework.

The budget papers specifically refer to the National Cabinet agreement on April 28 on national priorities. Among these is “Better Planning for Stronger Growth reforms to support a national approach to the growth of cities, towns, and suburbs”.

The budget commits nearly A$400 million over four years in new grants and investments in “Thriving Suburbs” and “Urban Precincts and Partnerships”. Some $11 million goes to a Cities and Suburbs Unit to deliver a National Urban Policy. The policy is required to:

address urgent challenges facing our major cities – from equitable access to jobs, homes and services, to climate impacts and decarbonisation.

Looking down the street of an outer suburban development
Outer suburbs distant from services and workplaces create problems for the sustainability of our cities. R. Freestone, Author provided

An overdue development

Urban development has been “undervalued in national discussion” globally, not only in Australia. But in recent years various bodies, inquiries and forums have pushed for a new-look national urban policy.

The Planning Institute of Australia has long called for a coherent governance framework for spatial plans, infrastructure, growth management and urban renewal. Without a national cities plan, a 2018 report by the institute said, “all jurisdictions will be disadvantaged when making resource allocation decisions and planning for basic enabling infrastructure”.

In the same year, a federal parliamentary inquiry into the Australian government’s role in city development called for “a national plan of settlement, providing a national vision for our cities and regions across the next 50 years”.

In 2019, Future Earth Australia, based at the Australian Academy of Sciences, advanced a ten-year national strategy for sustainable cities and regions. This strategy is aligned with the Australian achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

New ideas for Australian cities and regions

We must take seriously the economic, social and environmental impacts of long-term population growth and development. To become a more equitable and sustainable country, action on the uneven experiences of Australian cities and regions must be a government priority.

In 2021, an Australian Academy of Social Sciences workshop on Australian Urban Policy: Achievements, Failures, Challenges was undertaken jointly at the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW, and Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University. More than 50 researchers and practitioners explored the many issues competing for urban policy attention at the national level.

Key areas included water, climate change, Indigeneity, transport, migration, population settlement and new cities. Urban green space, biodiversity, digital technologies, economic productivity, social inclusion and affordable housing supply were also identified as issues that cut across national policy agendas.

Constitutional constraints mean states must play a leading role in national urban policy. Fortunately, these constraints don’t rule out inter-governmental partnerships. There are many, often poorly integrated policies, programs and initiatives across all levels of government.

There was consensus at the workshop on the need to transcend the political ideology and expediency that have led to fragmented urban policies. A different kind of national politics focused on sustainability, resilience and regeneration is required.

The “secret” to sustainability lies in an integrated national framework of policies and strategies for city-regions. All three tiers of government need to buy into it.

Graphic of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals
Coordinated urban policy action across Australia is needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations

National urban policy redux

There is a “back to the future” quality in some of the Albanese moves. They re-invent Rudd-Gillard initiatives, and Turnbull’s City Deals remain. Action on affordable housing supply and urban inequalities has been less forceful to date.

Sitting alongside what seem like far-reaching environmental actions, including a new Net Zero Authority, the revival of urban policy at the national level is welcome. So too would be the discussion, consultation and research required to secure a resilient and sustainable future.

A national urban policy offers opportunities for cities, towns and regions. It’s also essential if Australia is to meet its national and international obligations, notably the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Australian Urban Policy: Prospects and Pathways is a report on the UNSW-RMIT workshop edited by the authors and with over 30 contributors. It will be published by ANU Press in late 2023.The Conversation

Robert Freestone, Professor of Planning, School of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney; Bill Randolph, Professor, City Futures Research Centre, Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW Sydney, and Wendy Steele, Interim Director, Urban Futures Enabling Impact Platform, and Professor in Sustainability and Urban Policy, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University

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

It’s not just climate – we’ve already breached most of the Earth’s limits. A safer, fairer future means treading lightly

Steven J Lade, Australian National University; Ben Stewart-Koster, Griffith University; Stuart Bunn, Griffith University; Syezlin Hasan, Griffith University, and Xuemei Bai, Australian National University

People once believed the planet could always accommodate us. That the resilience of the Earth system meant nature would always provide. But we now know this is not necessarily the case. As big as the world is, our impact is bigger.

In research released today, an international team of scientists from the Earth Commission, of which we were part, identified eight “safe” and “just” boundaries spanning five vital planetary systems: climate change, the biosphere, freshwater, nutrient use in fertilisers and air pollution. This is the first time an assessment of boundaries has quantified the harms to people from changes to the Earth system.

“Safe” means boundaries maintaining stability and resilience of our planetary systems on which we rely. “Just”, in this work, means boundaries which minimise significant harm to people. Together, they’re a health barometer for the planet.

Assessing our planet’s health is a big task. It took the expertise of 51 world-leading researchers from natural and social sciences. Our methods included modelling, literature reviews and expert judgement. We assessed factors such as tipping point risks, declines in Earth system functions, historical variability and effects on people.

Alarmingly, we found humanity has exceeded the safe and just limits for four of five systems. Aerosol pollution is the sole exception. Urgent action, based on the best available science, is now needed.

This illustration shows how we’ve breached almost all the eight safe and just Earth system boundaries globally. Author provided

So, what did we find?

Our work builds on the influential concepts of planetary boundaries by finding ways to quantify what just systems look like alongside safety.

Importantly, the safe and just boundaries are defined at local to global spatial scales appropriate for assessing and managing planetary systems – as small as one square kilometre in the case of biodiversity. This is crucial because many natural functions act at local scales.

Here are the boundaries:

1. Climate boundary – keep warming to 1℃

We know the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5℃ avoids a high risk of triggering dangerous climate tipping points.

But even now, with warming at 1.2℃, many people around the world are being hit hard by climate-linked disasters, such as the recent extreme heat in China, fires in Canada, severe floods in Pakistan and droughts in the United States and the Horn of Africa.

At 1.5℃, hundreds of millions of people could be exposed to average annual temperatures over 29℃, which is outside the human climate niche and can be fatal. That means a just boundary for climate is nearer to 1°C. This makes the need to halt further carbon emissions even more urgent.

2. Biosphere boundaries: Expand intact ecosystems to cover 50-60% of the earth

A healthy biosphere ensures a safe and just planet by storing carbon, maintaining global water cycles and soil quality, protecting pollinators and many other ecosystem services. To safeguard these services, we need 50 to 60% of the world’s land to have largely intact natural ecosystems.

Recent research puts the current figure at between 45% and 50%, which includes vast areas of land with relatively low populations, including parts of Australia and the Amazon rainforest. These areas are already under pressure from climate change and other human activity.

Locally, we need about 20-25% of each square kilometre of farms, towns, cities or other human-dominated landscapes to contain largely intact natural ecosystems. At present, only a third of our human-dominated landscapes meet this threshold.

walkway over river
To safeguard the biosphere means making sure natural ecosystems survive even in human-dominated areas. Shutterstock

3. Freshwater boundaries: Keep groundwater levels up and don’t suck rivers dry

Too much freshwater is a problem, as unprecedented floods in Australia and Pakistan show. And too little is also a problem, with unprecedented droughts taking their toll on food production.

To bring fresh water systems back into balance, a rule of thumb is to avoid taking or adding more than 20% of a river or stream’s water in any one month, in the absence of local knowledge of environmental flows.

At present, 66% of the world’s land area meets this boundary, when flows are averaged over the year. But human settlement has a major impact: less than half of the world’s population lives in these areas. Groundwater, too, is overused. At present, almost half the world’s land is subject to groundwater overextraction.

well with bucket water
Fresh water is vital to life on land. Over-extraction is dangerous. Shutterstock

4. Fertiliser and nutrient boundaries: Halve the runoff from fertilisers

When farmers overuse fertilisers on their fields, rain washes nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into rivers and oceans. These nutrients can trigger algal blooms, damage ecosystems and worsen drinking water quality.

Yet many farming regions in poorer countries don’t have enough fertiliser, which is unjust.

Worldwide, our nitrogen and phosphorus use are up to double their safe and just boundaries. While this needs to be reduced in many countries, in other parts of the world fertiliser use can safely increase.

5. Aerosol pollution boundary: Sharply reduce dangerous air pollution and reduce regional differences

New research shows differences in concentration of aerosol pollutants between Northern and Southern hemispheres could disrupt wind patterns and monsoons if pollutant levels keep increasing. That is, air pollution could actually upend weather systems.

At present, aerosol concentrations have not yet reached weather-changing levels. But much of the world is exposed to dangerous levels of fine particle pollution (known as PM 2.5) in the air, causing an estimated 4.2 million deaths a year.

We must significantly reduce these pollutants to safer levels – under 15 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

We must act

We must urgently navigate towards a safe and just future, and strive to return our planetary systems back within safe and just boundaries through just means.

To stop human civilisation from pushing the Earths’s systems out of balance, we will have to tackle the many ways we damage the planet.

To work towards a world compatible with the Earth’s limits means setting and achieving science-based targets. To translate these boundaries to actions will require urgent support from government to create regulatory and incentive-based systems to drive the changes needed.

Setting boundaries and targets is vital. The Paris Agreement galvanised faster action on climate. But we need similar boundaries to ensure the future holds fresh water, clean air, a planet still full of life and a good life for humans.

We would like to acknowledge support from the Earth Commission, which is hosted by Future Earth, and is the science component of the Global Commons AllianceThe Conversation

Steven J Lade, Resilience researcher at Australian National University, Australian National University; Ben Stewart-Koster, Senior research fellow, Griffith University; Stuart Bunn, Professor, Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University; Syezlin Hasan, Research fellow, Griffith University, and Xuemei Bai, Distinguished Professor, Australian National University

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

‘An exciting possibility’: scientists discover markedly different kangaroos on either side of Australia’s dingo fence

Vera Weisbecker, Flinders University; Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Flinders University; Frédérik Saltré, Flinders University, and Rex Mitchell, Flinders University

Australia’s dingo fence is an internationally renowned mega-structure. Stretching more than 5,600 kilometres, it was completed in the 1950s to keep sheep safe from dingoes. But it also inadvertently protects some native species.

This makes the fence an unintentional experiment in the relationship between predators and prey. Our new research examined how the fence affects a favourite prey of the dingo: red kangaroos.

We found young kangaroos on the side exposed to dingoes grew more quickly than their protected counterparts. This has potentially big repercussions for the health of these juveniles.

The merits of the dingo fence are hotly debated, and there have been calls to pull it down or move it. That’s why we must seek a better understanding of how the fence affects the animals that live along it.

fence separating red landscape
Australia’s dingo fence runs for more than 5,600 kilometres. Shutterstock

‘Stressful’ lives

The dingo fence, formally known as the “wild dog barrier fence”, runs through Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. It protects sheep and cattle to the southeast.

Extensive fencing can fragment habitats and disrupt ecosystems. Maintaining the fence costs about A$10 million per year. For these and other reasons, some have suggested the fence be pulled down.

But how would removing the fence affect kangaroos that have lived without dingoes for up to 70 years? Our research sought to answer this question.

We assessed 166 red kangaroos from two isolated populations on either side of the fence in far northwest NSW. We did this using data collected as part of a licensed shooting program. We compared population size, age structure, sex ratio, growth rate and skull shape.

We expected kangaroos north of the fence – those hunted by dingoes – to differ from their dingo-free cousins to the south. That’s because their lives are more stressful, especially for young kangaroos and females that are killed by dingoes more often than adult males.

female kangaroo scratches while joey lies nearby
Female and young red kangaroos are targeted by dingoes. Shutterstock

What we found

As anticipated, we found more young and female kangaroos in the dingo-protected population south of the fence. But the story is more complex than that.

Young kangaroos south of the fence, up to about the age of four years, grew more slowly than those in the north. They were substantially smaller and lighter than their dingo-exposed counterparts.

This raises an exciting possibility: that the growth of kangaroos south of the fence has slowed in the absence of the dingo threat.

But maybe there was just more plant food available in the north, where there are fewer kangaroos compared to the south. Was this the reason the northern kangaroos grew more quickly?

As it turns out, no. We assessed the vegetation on each side of the fence using a decade of satellite measurements. We found there was probably less, not more, food overall for kangaroos in the north compared to the south.

More detailed investigation is needed into whether the types of plants differed on each side of the fence. But our results suggest the different growth rates were driven by predators, not food availability.

wire fence on red earth
There was probably less vegetation north of the dingo fence than in the south. Shutterstock

This raises important questions

The differences between populations are even more striking considering the dingo fence in the area we studied was in disrepair until 1975. Before then, dingoes and kangaroos probably moved freely. So the changes we observed could have come about in as little as 17 kangaroo generations.

This would be unusually fast for an evolutionary adaptation. Instead, we suspect it’s the result of a more immediate response to the absence of dingoes, such as lower concentrations of stress-related hormones. These affect the health of mammals, and might have affected kangaroo growth rates in this case.

After about the age of four, the protected kangaroos had caught up and were the same size as their unprotected counterparts. But the unprotected kangaroos would have invested a lot more bodily resources into growing so quickly.

This would have left less energy for the animals to develop important functions such as their immune or reproductive systems. Or they might have had less fat reserves.

Conversely, protected kangaroos might have been healthier, or more fertile, because of their slower growth rates.

two dingoes in the outback
The research raises questions about how mammals respond to changes such as the absence of dingoes. Shutterstock

Understanding the mammal response

Our study involved only a single sample at one point in time. But it’s the first to comprehensively assess differences in a dingo prey species on either side of a fence.

Our results provide an insight into how prey populations might fare if the dingo fence is removed. But the implications are potentially even broader.

We must now investigate whether other native mammal species share similar differences across the fence. If so, this could help us predict how animals elsewhere in Australia are coping with rapid environmental change.The Conversation

Vera Weisbecker, Associate Professor, Flinders University; Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology and Models Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University; Frédérik Saltré, Research Fellow in Ecology for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University, and Rex Mitchell, Postdoctoral Fellow, Flinders University

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

3 little-known reasons why plastic recycling could actually make things worse

Chanchai Phetdikhai, Shutterstock
Pascal Scherrer, Southern Cross University

This week in Paris, negotiators from around the world are convening for a United Nations meeting. They will tackle a thorny problem: finding a globally binding solution for plastic pollution.

Of the staggering 460 million tonnes of plastic used globally in 2019 alone, much is used only once and thrown away. About 40% of plastic waste comes from packaging. Almost two-thirds of plastic waste comes from items with lifetimes of less than five years.

The plastic waste that escapes into nature persists and breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming microplastics. Plastics now contaminate virtually every environment, from mountain peaks to oceans. Plastic has entered vital systems such as our food chain and even the human blood stream.

Governments and industry increasingly acknowledge the urgent need to reduce plastic pollution. They are introducing rules and incentives to help businesses stop using single-use plastics while also encouraging collection and recycling.

As a sustainability researcher, I explore opportunities to reduce plastic waste in sectors such as tourism, hospitality and meat production. I know how quickly we could make big changes. But I’ve also seen how quick-fix solutions can create complex future problems. So we must proceed with caution.

Plastic avoidance is top priority

We must urgently eliminate waste and build a so-called “circular economy”. For plastics, that means reuse or recycling back into the same type of plastic, not lower grade plastic. The plastic can be used to make similar products that then can be recycled again and again.

This means plastics should only be used where they can be captured at their end of life and recycled into a product of the same or higher value, with as little loss as possible.

Probably the only example of this to date is the recycling of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) soft-drink bottles in Norway and Switzerland. They boast recovery rates of 97% and 95% respectively.

The waste management pyramid below shows how to prioritise actions to lessen the waste problem. It is particularly relevant to single-use plastics. Our top priority, demanding the biggest investment, is prevention and reduction through redesign of products.

Where elimination is not yet achievable, reuse solutions or recycling to the same or higher-level products can be sought to make plastics circular.

Inverted pyramid diagram showing waste management priorities
In the inverted pyramid of waste management priorities, downcycling is almost the last resort. Pascal Scherrer

Unfortunately, a lack of high-quality reprocessing facilities means plastic waste keeps growing. In Australia, plastic is largely “downcycled”, which means it is recycled into lower quality plastics.

This can seem like an attractive way to deal with waste-plastic stockpiles, particularly after the recent collapse of soft-plastics recycler RedCycle. But downcycling risks doing more harm than good. Here are three reasons why:

1. Replacing wood with recycled plastics risks contaminating our wildest natural spaces

An increasing number of benches, tables, bollards and boardwalks are being made from recycled plastic. This shift away from timber is touted as a sustainable step - but caution is warranted when introducing these products to pristine areas such as national parks.

Wood is naturally present in those areas. It has a proven record of longevity and, when degrading, does not introduce foreign matter into the natural system.

Swapping wood for plastic may introduce microplastics into the few remaining places relatively free of them. Replacing wood with downcycled plastics also risks plastic pollution through weathering or fire.

2. Taking circular plastics from their closed loop to meet recycled-content targets creates more waste

Clear PET bottles used for beverages are the most circular plastic stream in Australia, approaching a 70% recovery rate. When these bottles are recycled back into clear PET bottles, they are circular plastics.

However, the used PET bottles are increasingly being turned into meat trays, berry punnets and mayonnaise jars to help producers meet the 2025 National Packaging Target of 50% recycled content (on average) in packaging.

The problem is the current industry specifications for plastics recovery allow only downcycling of these trays, punnets and jars. This means that circular PET is removed from a closed loop into a lower-grade recovery stream. This leads to non-circular downcycling and more plastic sent to landfill.

3. Using “compostable” plastics in non-compostable conditions creates still more plastic pollution

Increasingly, plastics are labelled as compostable and biodegradable. However, well-intended use of compostable plastics can cause long-term plastic pollution.

At the right temperature with the right amount of moisture, compostable plastics breakdown into soil. But if the conditions are not “just right”, they won’t break down at all.

For example, when a landscape architect or engineer uses a “compostable” synthetic fabric instead of a natural alternative (such as coir or jute mats) they can inadvertently introduce persistent plastics into the environment. This is because the temperature is not hot enough for the synthetic mat to break down.

We must also differentiate between “home compostable” and “commercially compostable”. Commercial facilities are more effective at composting because they operate under more closely controlled conditions.

Learning from our mistakes

Clearly, we need to reduce our reliance on plastics and shift away from linear systems – including recycling into lower-grade products.

Such downcycling may have a temporary role in dealing with existing plastic in the system while circular recycling capacity is being built. But we must not develop downcycling “solutions” that need a long-term stream of plastic waste to remain viable.

What’s more, downcycling requires constantly finding new markets for their lower-grade products. Circular systems are more robust.

So, to the negotiators in Paris, yes the shift to a circular plastics economy is urgent. But beware of good intentions that could ultimately make things worse.The Conversation

Pascal Scherrer, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business, Law and Art, Southern Cross University

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

Photos from the field: spying on Antarctic moss using drones, MossCam, smart sensors and AI

Krystal Randall, Author provided
Johan Barthélemy, University of Wollongong; Barbara Bollard, Auckland University of Technology; Juan Sandino, Queensland University of Technology, and Krystal Randall, University of Wollongong

The Antarctic continent conjures visions of white ice and blue sky. But not far from Australia’s Casey Station, 3,880km due south of Perth, moss beds emerge verdant and green.

Sadly, the health of these moss beds is declining due to changing climate conditions, ozone depletion and heatwaves. Yet our understanding of the problem is limited. Conducting research in Antarctica is difficult. Periods of data collection are short, and there can be years between each research opportunity. Fortunately, new technology offers solutions.

In December 2022, we travelled to Casey Station. We spent two months in the field – combining our skills in biology, flying drones, programming and artificial intelligence – to learn more about the moss and find better ways to remotely monitor biological changes.

We mapped large moss beds and trialled a new sensor system that can deliver continuous, year-round moss data. While this research is ongoing, we’re thrilled to share the early results with you here.

Collecting moss data
The scientists at work near Casey Station. Left to right: Dr Johan Barthélemy and Dr Krystal Randall. Johan Barthélemy

Miniature forests, bustling with life

Plants need sunlight, warmth and liquid water. Antarctic plants face months of darkness, freezing temperatures and drought from frozen water – but moss has adapted to this hostile environment.

Moss is the dominant plant life in Antarctica. It provides habitat for invertebrates, microbes and fungi, which make up more than 99% of Antarctica’s land biodiversity. The moss beds resemble miniature forests, bustling with life.

Antarctic moss creates its own warm microclimate, using pigments to absorb sunlight. This warmth aids photosynthesis and helps the mosses to melt snow to obtain liquid water. The tiny hills and valleys across moss beds determine the amount of light mosses receive and creates differences in their microclimates and health.

A sign to protect the moss beds in Antarctica
Mosses are the dominant plant life in Antarctica. Krystal Randall

Once we reached the moss, we’d carefully balance on rocks to take samples and place data loggers. These consisted of four sensors that measured canopy temperatures at different positions in the moss bed. We also measured photosynthesis and collected moss samples for pigment analysis, which indicates health and stress levels.

The below photo depicts a moss bed with our equipment attached. You can see the complex micro-topography and a mosaic of healthy and stressed mosses. Healthy moss is green and velvety. Stressed mosses are red and eventually turn grey.

Mosses growing just centimetres apart can experience vastly different microclimates. In the photo below, some mosses had warmed up to 19℃ (next to the red marker), while only about 30cm away the moss was at 0.6℃ (next to the white marker).

Collecting this data enables us to explore connections between the physical structure of the moss beds, microclimates and indicators of moss health.

A moss bed and temperature data logger.
Mosses growing just centimetres apart can experience vastly different climates. Krystal Randall

Smart sensors, cameras and transmitters

While in Antarctica, we also tested the first prototype of an intelligent, autonomous and long-term sensing platform. It offers scientists more information than previous data-collection devices as it can collect and transmit data over an extended period outside regular summer field campaigns, including winter time.

Remote sensing platform
The remote sensing platform watching a moss bed. Johan Barthélemy

The prototype monitored the moss bed near Casey Station for a month and a half. Its sensors captured light intensity, ambient air temperature and humidity, moss canopy temperature and, finally, energy exchanged between soil and air. A webcam, affectionately nicknamed MossCam, captured regular images of the moss bed.

We also installed the first antenna in Antarctica for the LoRaWAN wireless network. This network is low power, long range and free to use. This allowed us to send data back to Australia in near real-time and display it on a website dashboard that is visible to Australians only.

After some early bug fixes, the platform performed better than expected. We brought it home at the end of the season for further refinement and deployment next season.

A 24-hour time-lapse captured by MossCam. Johan Barthelemy.

Drones and hyperspectral imaging

We sent drones on 25 flights, collecting data from two Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs 135 and 136).

Operating drones in the Antarctic presents significant challenges. The proximity to the magnetic pole disturbs the GPS navigation, and strong winds make it difficult to fly. Severe cold reduces battery life – and it’s also tough on the operator’s fingers. We customised drones with RTK (real-time kinematics, a technique to eliminate position errors) GPS, multiple redundancies and battery warmers to increase their resilience to harsh conditions.

We used a compact mini drone as a reconnaissance unit, scouting new areas and providing videography like this. Juan Sandino.

Our drones could capture 5,000-10,000 images on each flight. They were also equipped with high-tech sensors. These sensors are programmed to record “spectral signatures”, which is a term we use to describe a kind of optical identity or visual “DNA” that differentiates landscape features like moss, rock and snow within the image.

These images will be stitched together and mapped to their ground coordinates. Using machine learning, we will train a model to identify vegetation, including moss, lichen and cyanobacteria. We will also develop vegetation and hydrology maps, 3D fly-throughs and virtual reality experiences to support decision-making around conservation and management.

Hyperspectral data showing healthy moss (blue), stressed moss (red) and rock (green). Juan Sandino

One journey ends, while another is just beginning

Often while we were working, curious penguins wandered over to see what we were doing. Making friends with these locals was always the highlight of the day.

But after a couple of fantastic months in the field, it was time to pack up and head home. On the 60km journey inland to Wilkins Aerodrome we ventured into the Antarctic Circle. We waited in -20℃ to watch our plane land on the blue ice runway before boarding and flying back to Tasmania. There, it felt like we’d just woken up from a dream.

Our Antarctic adventure was over, but we all felt so grateful for the experience.

Now we’re exploring the data, to see what stories it can tell, while further developing our moss sensing platform. We hope to return to Antarctica to deploy it at the end of the year.

The authors travelled to Casey Station as part of the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative Securing Antarctica’s Environmental Future (SAEF).The Conversation

Group photo at the Antarctic Circle sign
The team as they crossed the Antarctic Circle: Dr Johan Barthélemy (left), Dr Krystal Randall (centre), Ashray Doshi (front), Dr Juan Sandino (right) and Prof Barbara Bollard (back right). Krystal Randall

Johan Barthélemy, Developer Relations Manager, NVIDIA and Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Wollongong, University of Wollongong; Barbara Bollard, Professor of Computational Conservation, Auckland University of Technology; Juan Sandino, Postdoctoral research fellow, Queensland University of Technology, and Krystal Randall, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

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

A new trade deal delivers cheaper Australian beef and British sweets – but does little to avert dangerous global warming

Margaret Young, The University of Melbourne and Georgina Clough, The University of Melbourne

A free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom begins on Wednesday. When it was announced in 2021, then-prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison cheerily exchanged packets of chocolate biscuits. Meanwhile, one British newspaper celebrated the prospect of cheaper steaks.

The agreement eliminates tariffs on a range of Australian exports, including beef and lamb, and makes it easier for Australians to work in the UK. British exporters of cars, whisky and confectionery will also benefit. But the deal is notable for another reason.

As our research has found, it does relatively little to tackle climate change. In the context of growing damage from climate change – internationally, in Australia and in the UK – this is a missed opportunity.

The Albanese government inherited this free trade agreement, and describes it as “gold standard”. It is not, however, gold standard on climate action. Both the Australian and UK governments must now ensure the deal does not damage efforts to keep global warming at safe limits.

Hopes were high

Trade is vital to the global economy. It is also inextricably linked to climate change.

Trade increases greenhouse gas emissions. And climate change can damage trade when severe weather disrupts supply and distribution networks.

Free trade agreements can be used to tackle climate change. For example, they can lower the cost of goods needed in the low-carbon transition, such as solar panels and bicycle parts. And trade partners can provide leadership on emissions reduction.

When the UK hosted the COP26 climate conference in 2021, it sought to establish a reputation as a global leader on climate action. The nation seemed well-placed to ensure emissions reduction was on the agenda when it negotiated a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia.

But the free trade agreement with Australia failed to put climate change at the forefront.

‘Regrettable’: the deal lacks climate ambition

The final text of the deal acknowledges each nations’ commitment to addressing climate change and notes “the role of global trade and investment in these efforts”. It also recognises the Paris Agreement.

However, a report last year by a British parliamentary committee noted the agreement’s lack of climate ambition, saying:

Given the UK’s generous tariff offer, it could have pressed [Australia] for more ambitious commitments on climate change, stronger enforcement provisions, and for an explicit reference to the Paris temperature goals.

The report also noted:

it is regrettable that the agreement did not include any references to reducing or reviewing Australia’s reliance on coal.

There was speculation that the UK government prioritised securing the agreement over holding Australia to account on climate action.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade analysed the impact of the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom and did not raise concerns over its climate ambition.

What the deal should have done

So how might the trade pact have properly addressed climate change? There are many options.

A UK-New Zealand trade deal, for example, signals that in some circumstances, it may be justifiable for climate action to affect trade. The European Union has proposed such action, in its plan to impose reporting - and potentially, a financial charge – on emissions-intensive imports.

The UK-NZ agreement also takes steps to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, in recognition that government support for the coal, oil and gas industries distorts prices and discourages climate action.

And the pact between the European Union and Canada requires the development of climate-friendly labelling and certification standards on products.

The Australia-UK deal seeks to ensure that each nation encourages high levels of environmental protection. These provisions could be strengthened with respect to climate change – for example, by tying them to each party’s emissions-reduction commitment under the Paris Agreement.

The agreement requires Australia and the UK to promote trade and investment in environmental goods and services, such as low-emissions technologies and renewable energy infrastructure. Yet the UK-NZ deal goes further. It eliminates customs duties on listed environmental goods, such as bicycle parts and plants.

containers being loaded onto ship
An export ship near Christchurch, New Zealand. The UK-NZ free trade deal contains strong climate provisions. Mark Baker/AP

The Australia-UK deal might have had stronger climate provisions if it incorporated a wider range of public views.

Public participation is key to good environmental decision-making. But the Australia-UK trade deal has been criticised by non-government organisations for its lack of public input.

In Australia, a parliamentary committee last year examined the deal. It said while peak business groups were often satisfied with the level of consultation on free trade agreements, others – including civil society groups and unions – were frequently not.

Looking ahead

The Albanese government was elected on a platform of enhanced climate action and has since entrenched temperature targets in national legislation. While the Australia-UK trade deal was finalised when it took office, opportunities exist to strengthen its climate ambition.

The agreement establishes a working group to review and monitor environmental provisions relating to matters such as marine pollution from ships, ozone-depleting substances, illegal logging and the wildlife trade. This group could also work to better integrate the climate and trade goals of both nations.

This might involve monitoring land-use change caused by agricultural trade between the countries and exploring prospects for sustainable food systems. It could mean removing customs duties for low-emissions goods and discussing ways to constrain subsidies on fossil fuels.

Doing so would help ensure this agreement, and others to come, meet the urgent need to avert dangerous global warming.The Conversation

Margaret Young, Professor, The University of Melbourne and Georgina Clough, , The University of Melbourne

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

Invasive lionfish have spread south from the Caribbean to Brazil, threatening ecosystems and livelihoods

An invasive lionfish at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. G. P. Schmahl/NOAA, CC BY
Osmar J. Luiz, Charles Darwin University

Brazil’s coastal waters teem with a rich array of species that paint a living tapestry beneath the waves. This underwater world is particularly special because many of its species are endemic – they are found nowhere else on Earth. The southwestern Atlantic is home to 111 endemic reef fish species, each of which plays a crucial role in the intricate web of marine life.

An uninvited guest has arrived in these tropical waters: the Pacific red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Renowned for its stunning appearance and voracious appetite, the lionfish was first detected off of Florida in 1985 and has spread throughout the Caribbean, killing reef fish in large numbers.

Now it has breached a formidable obstacle: the Amazon-Orinoco river plume, which flows into the Atlantic from northeastern Brazil. This massive discharge of fresh water has long functioned as a barrier separating Caribbean fish species from those farther south along Brazil’s coastline.

Scientists and environmental managers widely agree that the lionfish invasion in Brazil is a potential ecological disaster. As a marine ecologist, I believe mitigating the damage will require a comprehensive approach that addresses the ecological, social and economic harms wrought by this predatory fish.

Lionfish have no known predators and feed on the juveniles of important commercial fish species, such as grouper and snapper.

Tracing the lionfish’s spread

It’s easy to see why lionfish appeal to aquarium enthusiasts. Native to the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific ocean, they are 12 to 15 inches long, with red and white stripes and long, showy fins. They protect themselves with dorsal spines that deliver painful venomous stings.

Lionfish were first detected in the Atlantic Ocean in 1985 off Dania Beach, Florida, probably discarded by a tropical fish collector. Since then they have spread throughout the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and northward as far as Bermuda and North Carolina – one of the most successful marine invasions on record. A close relative, the common lionfish or devil firefish (Pterois miles), has invaded the Mediterranean Sea and is spreading rapidly there.

Lionfish can be eaten safely if they are properly prepared to remove their venomous spines. In Florida and the Caribbean, lionfish hunting tournaments have become popular as a control method. However, lionfish move to deeper waters as they grow, so hunting alone can’t prevent them from spreading.

Marine scientists have anticipated for years that lionfish would someday arrive along the eastern coast of South America. A single sighting in 2014, far removed from the Amazon-Orinoco plume, was likely a result of an aquarium release rather than a natural migration.

Then in December 2020, local fishermen caught a pair of lionfish on coral reefs in the mesophotic, or “twilight,” zone several hundred feet below the mighty Amazon River plume. A scuba diver also encountered a lionfish in the oceanic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, 220 miles (350 kilometers) off Brazil’s tropical coast.

New invasion fronts have quickly opened along Brazil’s north and northeast coasts, covering eight states and diverse marine habitats. More than 350 lionfish have been tallied along a 1,720-mile (2,765-kilometer) swath of coastline.

Map visualizing the spread of lionfish in the Atlantic, with orange dots representing recorded sightings as of 2023 from the ‘Lionfish Monitoring Dashboard,’ a collaborative project spearheaded by researchers at the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil. Lionfish Watch, CC BY-ND

Aggressive predators without natural enemies

Like many introduced species, lionfish in the Atlantic don’t face natural population control mechanisms such as predation, disease and parasitism that limit their numbers in the Indo-Pacific. A 2011 study found that lionfish on reefs in the Bahamas were larger and more abundant than their Pacific counterparts.

Lionfish thrive in many marine habitats, from mangroves and seagrass beds to deepwater reefs and shipwrecks. They are aggressive, persistent hunters that feed on smaller fish, including species that keep coral reefs clean and others that are food for important commercial species like snappers and groupers. In a 2008 study, when lionfish appeared on reefs in the Bahamas, populations of small juvenile reef fish declined by 80% within five weeks.

Brazil’s northeast coast, with its rich artisanal fishing activity, stands on the front line of this invasive threat. Lionfish are present in coastal mangrove forests and estuaries – brackish water bodies where rivers meet the sea. These areas serve as nurseries for important commercial fish species. Losing them would increase the risk of hunger in a region that is already grappling with substantial social inequality.

Fishers also face the threat of lionfish stings, which are not lethal to humans but can cause painful wounds that may require medical treatment.

Five people on a small boat near shore
Fishing is a major income source for Brazilians along the coast, like these in Cabo Frio, and could suffer if lionfish predation reduces catches. Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facing the invasion: Brazil’s challenges

Biological invasions are easiest to control in early stages, when the invader population is still growing slowly. However, Brazil has been slow to react to the lionfish incursion.

The equatorial southwestern Atlantic, where the invasion is taking place, has been less thoroughly surveyed than the Caribbean. There has been little high-resolution seabed mapping, which would help scientists identifying potential lionfish habitats and anticipate where lionfish might spread next or concentrate their populations. Understanding of the scale of the invasion is largely based on estimates, which likely underrepresent its true extent.

Moreover, turbid waters along much of Brazil’s coast make it hard for scientists to monitor and document the invasion. Despite their distinctive appearance, lionfish are difficult to spot and record in murky water, which makes it challenging for scientists, divers and fishers to keep an accurate record of their spread.

Still another factor is that from 2018 through 2022, under former President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s government sharply cut the national science budget, reducing funding for field surveys. The COVID-19 pandemic further reduced field research because of lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Making up for lost time

Brazil has a history of inadequately monitoring for early detection of marine invasions. The lionfish is no exception. Actions thus far have been reactive and often initiated too late to be fully effective.

As one of many Brazilian scientists who warned repeatedly about a potential lionfish invasion over the past decade, I’m disheartened that my country missed the window to take early action. Now, however, marine researchers and local communities are stepping up.

Given the length of Brazil’s coast, traditional monitoring methods are often insufficient. So we’ve turned to citizen science and information technology to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

In April 2022, a group of academic researchers spearheaded the launch of an online dashboard, which is updated continuously with data from scientific surveys and local community self-reports. This interactive platform is maintained by a research group led by marine scientists Marcelo Soares and Tommaso Giarrizzo from the Federal University of Ceará.

The dashboard allows anyone, from fishers to recreational divers and tourists, to upload data on lionfish observations. This information supports rapid response efforts, strategic planning for preventive measures in areas still free from lionfish, and the development of localized lionfish removal programs.

Artisanal fishers on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast are working with regulators to curb the spread of invasive lionfish.

I believe lionfish are here to stay and will integrate over time into Brazil’s marine ecosystems, much as they have in the Caribbean. Given this reality, our most pragmatic and effective strategy is to reduce lionfish populations below levels that cause unacceptable ecological harm.

Regions along the coast that are still lionfish-free might benefit from early and preventive actions. Comprehensive surveillance plans should include environmental education programs about exotic species; early detection approaches, using techniques such as analyzing environmental DNA; citizen science initiatives to monitor and report lionfish sightings, participate in organized culls and help collect research data; and genetic surveys to identify patterns of connectivity among lionfish populations along Brazil’s coast and between Brazilian and Caribbean populations.

Brazil missed its initial opportunity to prevent the lionfish invasion, but I believe that with strategic, swift action and international collaboration, it can mitigate the impacts of this invasive species and safeguard its marine ecosystems.

This article has been updated to reflect that the correct number of endemic reef fish species in the southwestern Atlantic is 111.The Conversation

Osmar J. Luiz, Senior Research Fellow in Aquatic Ecology, Charles Darwin University

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

Why 40°C is bearable in a desert but lethal in the tropics

Phew: heat plus humidity can make Bangkok an uncomfortable place in a heatwave. Pavel V.Khon/SHutterstock
Alan Thomas Kennedy-Asser, University of Bristol; Dann Mitchell, University of Bristol, and Eunice Lo, University of Bristol

This year, even before the northern hemisphere hot season began, temperature records were being shattered. Spain for instance saw temperatures in April (38.8°C) that would be out of the ordinary even at the peak of summer. South and south-east Asia in particular were hammered by a very persistent heatwave, and all-time record temperatures were experienced in countries such as Vietnam and Thailand (44°C and 45°C respectively). In Singapore, the more modest record was also broken, as temperatures hit 37°C. And in China, Shanghai just recorded its highest May temperature for over a century at 36.7°C.

We know that climate change makes these temperatures more likely, but also that heatwaves of similar magnitudes can have very different impacts depending on factors like humidity or how prepared an area is for extreme heat. So, how does a humid country like Vietnam cope with a 44°C heatwave, and how does it compare with dry heat, or a less hot heatwave in even-more-humid Singapore?

Weather and physiology

The recent heatwave in south-east Asia may well be remembered for its level of heat-induced stress on the body. Heat stress is mostly caused by temperature, but other weather-related factors such as humidity, radiation and wind are also important.

Our bodies gain heat from the air around us, from the sun, or from our own internal processes such as digestion and exercise. In response to this, our bodies must lose some heat. Some of this we lose directly to the air around us and some through breathing. But most heat is lost through sweating, as when the sweat on the surface of our skin evaporates it takes in energy from our skin and the air around us in the form of latent heat.

annotated diagram of person
How humans heat up and cool down. Take from Buzan and Huber (2020) Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Author provided

Meteorological factors affect all this. For example, being deprived of shade exposes the body to heat from direct sunlight, while higher humidity means that the rate of evaporation from our skin will decrease.

It’s this humidity that meant the recent heatwave in south-east Asia was so dangerous, as it’s already an extremely humid part of the world.

The limit of heat stress

Underlying health conditions and other personal circumstances can lead to some people being more vulnerable to heat stress. Yet heat stress can reach a limit above which all humans, even those who are not obviously vulnerable to heat risk – that is, people who are fit, healthy and well acclimatised – simply cannot survive even at a moderate level of exertion.

One way to assess heat stress is the so-called Wet Bulb Globe Temperature. In full sun conditions, that is approximately equivalent to 39°C in temperature combined with 50% relative humidity. This limit will likely have been exceeded in some places in the recent heatwave across south-east Asia.

In less humid places far from the tropics, the humidity and thus the wet bulb temperature and danger will be much lower. Spain’s heatwave in April with maximum temperatures of 38.8°C had WBGT values of “only” around 30°C, the 2022 heatwave in the UK, when temperatures exceeded 40°C, had a humidity of less than 20% and WBGT values of around 32°C.

Two of us (Eunice and Dann) were part of a team who recently used climate data to map heat stress around the world. The research highlighted regions most at risk of exceeding these thresholds, with literal hotspots including India and Pakistan, south-east Asia, the Arabian peninsula, equatorial Africa, equatorial South America and Australia. In these regions, heat stress thresholds are exceeded with increased frequency with greater global warming.

In reality, most people are already vulnerable well below the survivability thresholds, which is why we can see large death tolls in significantly cooler heat waves. Furthermore, these global analyses often do not capture some very localised extremes caused by microclimate processes. For example a certain neighbourhood in a city might trap heat more efficiently than its surroundings, or might be ventilated by a cool sea breeze, or be in the “rain shadow” of a local hill, making it less humid.

Variability and acclimatisation

The tropics typically have less variable temperatures. For example, Singapore sits almost on the equator and its daily maximum is about 32°C year round, while a typical maximum in London in mid summer is just 24°C. Yet London has a higher record temperature (40°C vs 37°C in Singapore).

Given that regions such as south-east Asia consistently have high heat stress already, perhaps that suggests that people will be well acclimatised to deal with heat. Initial reporting suggests the intense heat stress of the recent heatwave lead to surprisingly few direct deaths – but accurate reporting of deaths from indirect causes is not yet available.

On the other hand, due to the relative stability in year-round warmth, perhaps there is less preparedness for the large swings in temperature associated with the recent heatwave. Given that it is not unreasonable, even in the absence of climate change, that natural weather variability can produce significant heatwaves that break local records by several degrees Celsius, even nearing a physiological limit might be a very risky line to tread.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 10,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Alan Thomas Kennedy-Asser, Research Associate in Climate Science, University of Bristol; Dann Mitchell, Professor of Climate Science, University of Bristol, and Eunice Lo, Research Fellow in Climate Change and Health, University of Bristol

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

Plastic recycling is failing – here’s how the world must respond

Cressida Bowyer, University of Portsmouth; Keiron Roberts, University of Portsmouth, and Stephanie Northen, University of Portsmouth

Recycling was once considered the obvious solution to the excessive amount of new (or virgin) plastic produced each year. This is no longer realistic. Global recycling capacity simply cannot keep up with the taking, making and wasting of natural resources.

Growing mountains of plastic waste are accumulating in the poorest countries as affluent nations such as the UK ship their recycling overseas. But some nations are importing far more plastic waste than they can possibly recycle.

The recycling process itself also creates problems. A new report by Greenpeace and the International Pollutants Elimination Network has revealed how plastics which are made with or come into contact with toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants, can contaminate the recycling process by spreading these toxins through subsequent batches of plastic waste. Another recent study showed that recycling facilities can release hundreds of tonnes of microplastics into the environment each year.

Only 6-9% of all plastic ever produced has been sent for recycling. Although plastic and other waste is collected for recycling in most countries, the amount of material that is remade into the same or similar products (what is called closed-loop recycling) is extremely low. Only 2% of plastic waste is recycled in a closed loop and not turned into something of lower quality, which is called downcycling. Recycling can not fully replace virgin material as it can only be recycled twice before losing necessary properties, and so most recycling results in a downgraded material that cannot be used for the same purpose.

A more sustainable approach would prioritise preventing plastic waste by taking action at earlier stages of a plastic product’s lifecycle: reducing how much plastic is ultimately made, reusing what exists and replacing plastic with alternative materials where appropriate.


Manufacturers must stop making so much unnecessary plastic to reduce the amount entering the economy. There is no case for making plastics that are impossible to collect, reuse or recycle, or are toxic. Yet they are abundant: think multilayered sachets, thin films and wrappers. These should be phased out as a priority.

Global caps on plastic production could restrict its use to reusable products and packaging, reducing the pressure on recycling systems.

You can refuse single-use packaging when shopping if alternatives are available and affordable. Choose loose vegetables, or products wrapped in packaging that can be refilled.

A person fills a glass container with cleaning fluid from a container on a shelf.
Retailers must make it easier for customers to refill containers. Daisy Daisy/Shutterstock


Using the plastic you already have for as long as possible reduces the amount of new products and packaging that need to be made and how much waste is ultimately sent for recycling.

Roughly 250 billion single-use coffee cups are used worldwide every year – a figure that could be slashed by governments setting national mandates for reusable cups and bottles. This might involve shops, cafés and other venues providing reusable packaging for any products they sell and ensuring each one is used, tracked, washed, returned and replenished for the next consumer cycle.


Metals, glass, or paper can be used instead of plastic, but there is no universal sustainable alternative. The most appropriate material depends on the item’s use.

The environmental consequences of any material should be rigorously assessed across its entire life cycle – from production to use and disposal – to ensure it does more good than harm. And such assessments must consider all social, environmental and economic costs.

The true cost of making, distributing and disposing of plastic is estimated to be more than ten times greater than what the customer pays for the product. Including the hidden costs of environmental damage and human misery arising from pollution in the price of virgin plastic, by taxing manufacturers or retailers for instance, could boost the economic case for alternatives.

Recycling can still be useful

Not all plastics can be reused, especially medical devices. When all alternatives have been exhausted, recycling keeps material in the economy and temporarily delays the need for more virgin plastic. But the existence of recycling shouldn’t justify making more plastic.

Recycling must not pollute. Manufacturers should only make plastics which can be recycled via methods proven to be safe and clean, and ban toxic additives. Simple labelling can help consumers make informed decisions about how, where and what to either reuse or recycle, which would help prevent recycling loads becoming contaminated with non-recyclable waste and toxins.

Plastics sent for recycling should be treated in the most socially and environmentally responsible way. High-income countries which export waste to poorer countries for cheap recycling do so without guarantees that infrastructure exists to manage this waste where it ends up. The result is waste leaking into the environment, and toxic plastic blocking drainage channels and causing floods. Some of this is burned outdoors, which comes with its own risks to health and the environment. Banning or restricting exports would help.

Precarious workers in the informal waste sector collect, sort and sell recyclable materials and carry out 60% of global recycling. Waste reclaimers endure poor health and low pay but their extensive knowledge is invaluable and must be acknowledged. Policies to protect their rights and improve their livelihoods are needed.

Countries meeting in Paris for the second of five rounds of negotiations for an international treaty to end plastic pollution will discuss all areas of the plastic lifecycle - from the extraction of material to manufacturing, use and disposal. Banning unnecessary plastics, toxic additives and waste exports should be high on the agenda, along with schemes to encourage reuse and repair.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 10,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Cressida Bowyer, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director, Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth; Keiron Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and the Built Environment, University of Portsmouth, and Stephanie Northen, Research Associate, Revolution Plastics, University of Portsmouth

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

The secret world of moss, ancient ancestor of all plants and vital for the health of the planet

Macromitrium microstomum is found throughout New Zealand on the trunks or branches of smooth-barked trees, or on rock. Silvia Pressel, Author provided
Katie Field, University of Sheffield and Silvia Pressel, Natural History Museum

When people consider extraordinary plants, most probably don’t spare a thought for moss. It blends in against the green background of plant life, and seems to grow everywhere – whether you want it to or not.

You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here.

But this group of plants, which actually comprises between 12,000 and 15,000 species, is astonishing. Their almost unique resilience allows them to grow practically everywhere on Earth. They are helping scientists understand the evolution of life, and are one of the most ancient plant groups alive today.

A recent study by an Australian research team found that mosses are the lifeblood of habitats around the world, with plants and soil in better shape almost everywhere they grow.

Despite their importance, mosses are often overlooked due to their diminutive size. The smallest mosses, known as micromosses, measure only a few millimetres in length. Even the largest moss, Dawsonia superba, a species native to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, only reaches heights of up to 50cm – a giant among mosses, yet still smaller than the average houseplant.

But in fact, mosses help hold up entire ecosystems.

Many people think of plants as nice-looking greens. Essential for clean air, yes, but simple organisms. A step change in research is shaking up the way scientists think about plants: they are far more complex and more like us than you might imagine. This blossoming field of science is too delightful to do it justice in one or two stories. This article is part of a series, Plant Curious, exploring scientific studies that challenges the way you view plantlife.

Drivers of critical ecosystem services

The contributions of mosses to the structure and function of modern ecosystems is often overlooked, lagging behind our understanding of more complex plants. The Australian study examined mosses’ relationship to their habitats in detail, and found they are critical to soil health.

Macromitrium urceolatum, found predominantly in Southern hemisphere. Silvia Pressel, Author provided

The researchers collected moss samples from ecosystems around the globe – from tropical rainforest to polar landscapes through to arid deserts. Combining their findings from these samples with an analysis of previous research, their results showed that mosses are key players in every habitat in which they are found. Mosses store huge amounts of carbon, help the soil nutrient cycle, and also the decomposition of organic matter.

Mosses can even come to the rescue in disturbed ecosystems. Research examining the area around the Mount St. Helens volcano following a devastating eruption in the early 1980s found mosses were among the first forms of life to reappear.

Some types of moss, including the Sphagnum species, absorb and hold water in their tissues. This regulates water flow in the area, preventing flooding and creating peatland habitats which are home to rare plants and animals.

Mosses also provide unique habitats for microscopic life. Tardigrades, eight-legged micro-animals, are also known as moss piglets or bears of moss, thanks to their habit of clambering through moss “jungles” in search of their next meal. Moss piglets are nearly indestructible and can even survive in outer space, by entering a death-like state called cryptobiosis.

3d rendered illustration of a water bear
Moss piglets are one of the smallest-known animals with legs. SciePro/Shutterstock

Ancient ancestors

Mosses, along with liverworts and hornworts, are part of a group of plants known as bryophytes. These evolved more than 400 million years ago and still share many characteristics with the first plants to have emerged on to the Earth’s land surfaces – their small size and lack of true roots, for example. And while most plants have a continuous column of water which flows inside them via a xylem and phloem, mosses don’t – just like some of the most ancient plants in Earth’s history.

Diagram showing a plant xylem and phloem
Most plants have a xylem, but not mosses. gstraub/Shutterstock

Instead, these tiny plants have their own conducting systems to move substances around their bodies. They absorb water and nutrients from rainwater and dust deposits across their surfaces. Their hair-like “roots”, known as rhizoids, anchor mosses to the surface they are growing on.

Mosses are almost unparalleled in their ability to survive harsh environments. This makes them excellent for studying the evolution of plants, much of which occurred during challenging conditions on Earth.

The study of modern mosses’ and other bryophytes’ genetics and physiology has given researchers insights into the adaptations that allowed plants to transition from water to land – for example, the formation of partnerships with fungi to access soil nutrients. Their incredible resistance to environmental stress such as drought and UV radiation was also crucial to their ability to evolve on land.

One of the most critical features of land mosses is their desiccation tolerance, which is the ability to survive near-complete drying out. When water is scarce, mosses can enter a state of suspended animation where they greatly reduce their metabolic activity, allowing them to survive until conditions improve. Some species, such the desert moss Syntrichia caninervis, can survive a hundred years in this dormant state and revive within hours of rewetting.

Canary thread moss is widespread in Britain. Silvia Pressel, Author provided

Studying the mechanisms of this ability in modern plants helps scientists understand how ancient plants might have adapted to land. It is possible that studying desiccation tolerance in mosses could help scientists discover new ways to protect crops from extreme drought in the future.

These little plants are also entwined with human history. From exploiting the antiseptic properties of moss for wound healing to using broom moss (Dicranium scoparium) for relief of constipation, mosses have played a substantial role in relieving human suffering.

So, perhaps we should think twice before raking out mosses from the lawn. Instead, take a moment to consider the natural beauty of their delicate green tendrils – and their history as some of the most intrepid explorers in Earth’s history.The Conversation

Katie Field, Professor in Plant-Soil Processes, University of Sheffield and Silvia Pressel, Senior Researcher Lead in Life Sciences, Natural History Museum

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

Atlantic hurricane season 2023: El Niño and extreme Atlantic Ocean heat are about to clash

Hurricane Florence, seen from the International Space Station in 2018. Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. NASA
Christina Patricola, Iowa State University

The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1, and forecasters are keeping a close eye on rising ocean temperatures, and not just in the Atlantic.

Globally, warm sea surface temperatures that can fuel hurricanes have been off the charts in the spring of 2023, but what really matters for Atlantic hurricanes are the ocean temperatures in two locations: the North Atlantic basin, where hurricanes are born and intensify, and the eastern-central tropical Pacific Ocean, where El Niño forms.

This year, the two are in conflict – and likely to exert counteracting influences on the crucial conditions that can make or break an Atlantic hurricane season. The result could be good news for the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts: a near-average hurricane season. But forecasters are warning that that hurricane forecast hinges on El Niño panning out.

Ingredients of a hurricane

In general, hurricanes are more likely to form and intensify when a tropical low-pressure system encounters an environment with warm upper-ocean temperatures, moisture in the atmosphere, instability and weak vertical wind shear.

Warm ocean temperatures provide energy for a hurricane to develop. Vertical wind shear, or the difference in the strength and direction of winds between the lower and upper regions of a tropical storm, disrupts the organization of convection – the thunderstorms – and brings dry air into the storm, inhibiting its growth.

How hurricanes form. National Geographic.

The Atlantic Ocean’s role

The Atlantic Ocean’s role is pretty straightforward. Hurricanes draw energy from warm ocean water beneath them. The warmer the ocean temperatures, the better for hurricanes, all else being equal.

Tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures were unusually warm during the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on recent record. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced a record 30 named tropical cyclones, while the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season produced 28 named storms, a record 15 of which became hurricanes, including Katrina.

Two maps showing tropical cyclone tracks. The tracks correspond with warmer water temperatures in the sea surface temperature maps below.
The top images show where Atlantic tropical storms traveled in 2005, on the left, and in 2020, on the right. The lower images show the corresponding sea surface temperature anomalies for the August-October peak of the hurricane season compared with the August-October 1991-2020 average in degrees Celsius. NOAA

How the Pacific Ocean gets involved

The tropical Pacific Ocean’s role in Atlantic hurricane formation is more complicated.

You may be wondering, how can ocean temperatures on the other side of the Americas influence Atlantic hurricanes? The answer lies in teleconnections. A teleconnection is a chain of processes in which a change in the ocean or atmosphere in one region leads to large-scale changes in atmospheric circulation and temperature that can influence the weather elsewhere.

Sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius observed during three El Niño events show differences in location and strength of ocean warming.
Three examples of of how sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific change during El Niño events. Christina Patricola

One recurring pattern of tropical Pacific climate variability that initiates teleconnections is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

When the tropical eastern-central Pacific Ocean is unusually warm, El Niño can form. During El Niño events, the warm upper-ocean temperatures change the vertical and east-west atmospheric circulation in the tropics. That initiates a teleconnection by affecting the east-west winds in the upper atmosphere throughout the tropics, ultimately resulting in stronger vertical wind shear in the Atlantic basin. That wind shear can tamp down hurricanes.

Two illustrations of Walker Circulation patterns. El Niño reverses direction and strength compared with a neutral ENSO, or El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
How El Niño conditions affect the Walker Circulation’s air flow, which can affect weather around the world. Fiona Martin/NOAA Climate.gov

That’s what forecasters are expecting to happen this summer. The latest forecasts show a 90% likelihood that El Niño will develop by August and stay strong through the fall peak of the hurricane season.

A tug of war between Atlantic and Pacific influences

My research and work by other atmospheric scientists has shown that a warm Atlantic and a warm tropical Pacific tend to counteract each other, leading to near-average Atlantic hurricane seasons.

Both observations and climate model simulations have shown that outcome. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2023 forecast calls for a near-average 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes. An earlier outlook from Colorado State University forecasters anticipates a slightly below-average season, with 13 named storms, compared with a climatological average of 14.4.

Map showing warmer than normal temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean south of the Virginia.
Sea surface temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius forecast for August to October 2023 shows a warm season relative to the 1991-2020 average for the same months. Based on NCEP Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2)

The wild cards to watch

Although tropical Atlantic and Pacific Ocean temperatures often inform skillful seasonal hurricane forecasts, there are other factors to consider and monitor.

First, will the forecast El Niño and Atlantic warming pan out? If one or the other does not, that could tip the balance in the tug of war between the influences.

The Atlantic Coast should be rooting for El Niño to develop as forecast, since such events often reduce hurricane impacts there. If this year’s expected Atlantic Ocean warming were instead paired with La Niña – El Nino’s opposite, characterized by cool tropical Pacific waters – that could have led to a record-breaking active season instead.

Two other factors are also important. The Madden-Julian Oscillation, a pattern of clouds and rainfall that travels eastward through the tropics on a time scale of 30 to 90 days, can either encourage or suppress tropical storm formation. And dust storms from the Saharan air layer, which contains warm, dry and dusty air from Africa, can suppress tropical cyclones.The Conversation

Christina Patricola, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University

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 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
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mona Vale Woolworths Front Entrance Gets Garden Upgrade: A Few Notes On The Site's History 
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater 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 Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Seagull Pair At Turimetta Beach: Spring Is In The Air!
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 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
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

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

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. 

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

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

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

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

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

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

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

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address - lespatflood@gmail.com
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address - streckeisenjodie@gmail.com

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/

Green Team Beach Cleans 

Hosted by The Green Team
It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

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

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

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

How it works

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

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

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

What you get                                  

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

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out! 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/

Avalon Boomerang Bags

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

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

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


Avalon Community Garden is a community led initiative to create accessible food gardens in public places throughout the Pittwater area. Our aim is to share skills and knowledge in creating fabulous local, organic food. But it's not just about great food. We also aim to foster community connection, stimulate creative ideas for community resilience and celebrate our abundance. Open to all ages and skills, our first garden is on the grounds 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

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/

"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

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 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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