February 5 - 11 2023: Issue 570

NSW Government Shows Contempt for Democratic Process with 5th Introduction of Floodplain Harvesting Regulations  

Friday February 3, 2023
The NSW Water Minister’s introduction of floodplain harvesting regulations for a fifth time shortly before an election shows complete and utter contempt for the voters of NSW, says Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and water spokesperson. 

The NSW Government gazetted regulations to license floodplain harvesting on Friday afternoon after previous regulations were voted down for the 4th time by the NSW Legislative Council in September 2022. The NSW Parliament will not have an opportunity to consider the regulations until after the NSW state election on 25 March.

“This just shows complete contempt for the voters of NSW and for the traditional owners, downstream communities and farmers who have raised the alarm about these regulations for the entire last term of parliament,” says Ms Faehrmann. 

“The National Party has effectively hamstrung the will of the parliament by introducing these regulations now knowing that we will have no opportunity to vote on them until well after the election. 

“After each disallowance, I've called on the Water Minister to sit down and negotiate with the community instead of trying to shove the same laws down their throats again, but each time he’s done exactly that.  

“These regulations are just about ensuring the National Party’s big irrigator mates in the north get handed $1 billion in water rights for free. 

“We all want to see floodplain harvesting licensed, metered and measured, but it needs to be ecologically sustainable and within existing legal limits,” says Cate Faehrmann 

The Water Management (General) Amendment (Floodplain Harvesting Access Licences) Regulation 2023 is a death warrant for inland rivers according to the NSW Nature Conservation Council.

Thousands of kilometers of levee banks, or water barricades, choke the floodplains of NSW Murray-Darling Basin, diverting environmentally critical flood waters and rainfall runoff into private dams.

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford says these levees starve rivers and wetlands of the critically important medium sized floods that keep the system going in between the big flood years.

“It’s clear that the Perrottet Government is under the spell of big corporate irrigators. Why else would it ignore the fact that this disastrous regulation has been disallowed in the Upper House more than any other piece of legislation?

“Licencing such huge volumes of floodplain harvesting water, and legislating obscenely generous rules is locking in the rapid downward spiral of the iconic Darling-Baaka River and our internationally recognised wetlands. These rules allow accounts to accrue to 500% of the licence volumes. The approach is completely unsustainable.” Ms Mumford said.

NCC supports the licencing and regulation of floodplain harvesting, however the volumes and rules proposed by the current Liberal/National Coalition are not aligned with the laws of the state.

Ms Mumford said “The Government’s own Environment and Heritage Department has said that the proposed in-catchment targets are probably too low to protect key environmental assets in extreme dry periods, and do not support the water management principles of the Water Management Act 2000.

“The environmental, cultural, social and economic future of inland NSW depends completely on the health of our rivers and wetlands. Licencing flood waters at these volumes won’t allow river ecosystems to survive. They also ignore a very clear message provided to the Perrottet Coalition Government a record four times already; the community expects more than a death sentence for the rivers.

“The Coalition is ignoring the repeated decisions of the Upper House, disregarding the democratic process. The Perrottet Government has just doomed the inland rivers. It’s extremely disappointing.”

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Monitoring, Evaluation and Research program’s 2022 survey found not one single Murray Cod between Bourke and Louth.

Before the development of inland rivers with thousands of weirs, huge public dams and industrial scale corporate irrigation, the Darling-Baaka River teemed with an amazing array of aquatic life. The territorial Murray Cod could grow to 1.8 metres in length and weigh over 10 kilograms.

Ms Mumford says the fate of the Murray Cod is an alarming taste of what’s to come for the Basin unless more water is bought back to stay in rivers.

“The NSW Government can try all it likes to convince us that the Darling-Baaka used to regularly dry up like it did in 2019, but the disappearance of an entire species doesn’t lie. The collapse of the Darling-Baaka is happening before our eyes as a result of the politics of greed.”

The NSW Minister for Lands and Water, Nationals MP Kevin Anderson, has made no statement regarding the gazettal.

Currently the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council have adjourned until Tuesday 28 February 2023. However, this is a nominal date only, as the Parliament is not expected to sit again prior to the State Election in March 2023. 

Following the election, the first meeting date of the new Parliament will be announced by the Governor and is likely to be in early May 2023.

Plastic Ramp Put In At South Avalon Beach 

To provide access over steepening beach perimter and exposed rocks:

Tawny Frogmouth - Warriewood

Photo by Kevin Murray
The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a species of frogmouth native to the Australian mainland and Tasmania and found throughout. It is a big-headed, stocky bird, often mistaken for an owl, due to its nocturnal habits and similar colouring, and sometimes, at least archaically, referred to as mopoke or mopawk, a name also used for the Australian boobook, the call of which is often confused with that of the tawny frogmouth.

Tawny frogmouths belong to the frogmouth genus Podargus, which includes the two other species of frogmouths found within Australia, the marbled frogmouth and the Papuan frogmouth. The frogmouths form a well-defined group within the order Caprimulgiformes. Although related to owls, their closest relatives are the oilbirds, potoos, owlet-nightjars, and true nightjars.

One of the best examples of cryptic plumage and mimicry in Australian birds is seen in the tawny frogmouth, which perch low on tree branches during the day camouflaged as part of the tree. Their silvery-grey plumage patterned with white, black, and brown streaks and mottles allows them to freeze into the form of a broken tree branch and become practically invisible in broad daylight.

Tawny frogmouths are carnivorous and are considered to be among Australia's most effective pest-control birds, as their diet consists largely of species regarded as vermin or pests in houses, farms, and gardens. The bulk of their diet is composed of large nocturnal insects, such as moths, as well as spiders, worms, slugs, and snails but also includes a variety of bugs, beetles, wasps, ants, centipedes, millipedes, and scorpions.

Tawny frogmouths form partnerships for life, and once established, pairs usually stay in the same territory for a decade or more. Establishing and maintaining physical contact is an integral part of their lifelong bond. During breeding season, pairs roost closely together on the same branch, often with their bodies touching. The male carries out grooming by gently stroking through the plumage of the female with his beak in sessions that can last for 10 minutes or more.

The breeding season of tawny frogmouths is from August to December, but individuals in arid areas are known to breed in response to heavy rains. Males and females both share in the building of nests by collecting twigs and mouthfuls of leaves and dropping them into position. Nests are usually placed on horizontal, forked tree branches and can reach up to 30 cm in diameter.

The clutch size of the tawny frogmouth is one to three eggs. Both sexes share incubation of the eggs during the night, whilst during the day, males incubate the eggs. For the duration of the incubation period, the nest is rarely left unattended. One partner roosts on a nearby branch and provides food for the brooding partner. Once hatched, both parents cooperate in the supply of food to the young. The fledging period of the tawny frogmouth is 25 – 35 days, during which they develop half their adult mass.

Tawny frogmouths face a number of threats from human activities and pets. They are often killed or injured on roads during feeding, as they fly in front of cars when chasing insects illuminated in the beam of the headlights. Large-scale land clearing of eucalypt trees and intense bushfires are serious threats to their populations, as they tend not to move to other areas if their homes are destroyed. House cats are the most significant introduced predator of the tawny frogmouth, but dogs and foxes are known to also occasionally kill the birds. When tawny frogmouths pounce to catch prey on the ground, they are slow to return to flight and vulnerable to attack from these predators.

As they have adapted to live in close proximity to human populations, tawny frogmouths are at high risk of exposure to pesticides. Continued widespread use of insecticides and rodent poisons are hazardous as they remain in the system of the target animal and can be fatal to a tawny frogmouth that eats them.

Information: BirdLife Australia, Wikipedia.

Pittwater Spotted Gum Nest Hollows

another 2022 Greening our City grant for council

The fourth round of grant funding awarded $9.9 million in October 2022 to 17 councils for a total of 21 tree planting and green cover projects across Greater Sydney.

The NSW government states this funding will support local councils to undertake priority tree planting and greening projects in their local government area, with a focus on cooling and greening streets, parks, active transport routes and aligning with outcomes being delivered through the Greener Neighbourhoods Program.

Once again a Council prject was selected:

Coastal Weeds into Coastal Trees - Curl Curl and Mona Vale Dunes
Northern Beaches Council 
Summary: This project aims to plant 2000 trees and 5000 coastal plants to replace dense areas of uncontrolled weeds at the entry points of two popular walking and biking corridors: Griffin Road, Curl Curl and Bicentennial Walkway, Mona Vale.
Funding amount: $97,350
Category: 2022 Greening our City grant
Number of trees to be planted: 2,000
From https://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/premiers-priorities/greening-our-city/greening-our-city-grant

The Council will provide further details to Pittwater Online on Coastal Weeds into Coastal Trees once finalised with the state government.

Earlier in 2022 the Greener Neighbourhoods grant program awarded $1.37 million to 28 councils across Greater Sydney to deliver 32 projects. This funding will help councils strategically plan for and manage urban forests in their local government area.
The successful projects included:
  • developing or updating urban forest strategies and street tree master plans
  • developing and enhancing tree asset databases
  • analysing tree canopy data to identify priority planting areas
  • engaging the community through workshops and educational campaigns to promote the benefits of trees and canopy cover.
Under this Northern Beaches Council  was awared $50,000 for the Northern Beaches Urban Tree Plan, 'The Tiny Forest Project'.

The Council has also been awarded, under the Greening our City grant program;

Reduction heat Island effect /Greening of Brookvale industrial area
Northern Beaches Council

Summary: This project will create green corridors within the high heat index areas of Brookvale industrial area, Roseberry Street industrial area and John fisher Park Curl Curl to reduce the heat island effect by planting 250 canopy trees in the streetscape, footpath and carpark frontage areas. These locations are heavily urbanised with primary surface areas comprising road, footpath and expanses of bitumen with an intense level of summer heat absorption and reflection. The locations have a current canopy cover of 0 – 10% and the streets and carparks have few to no trees making these sites intensely hot in summer.

Funding amount: $134,937 - Category: 2021 Greening our City grant. Number of proposed trees: 250

Green Canopy - Condamine St, Manly Vale
Northern Beaches Council 

Summary: The project aims to green and cool Manly Vale, planting up to 50 trees along Condamine street and its entry points. The main thoroughfare will be enhanced by the variety of native plantings. The plantings will provide year-round greenery and seasonal colourful flowers.

Funding amount: $121,000 - Category: 2020 Greening our City Grant Stream 1 Cooler Suburbs. Number of proposed trees: 50

Belrose Gets A New Mountain Bike Track

On January 30 2023 Council announced the opening of another mountain bike trail at Belrose. Wyatt Ave Bike Park in is a purpose-built facility for youngsters and new riders to safely practice and learn skills before progressing to more challenging trails like Bare Creek and Manly Dam.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said Council’s own Landscape Construction Team worked with Trail Care to deliver a high-quality result and ensure the best outcome for the riding community.

“Riders of all ages will be super pumped to have a site they can call their own to practice their skills before they even consider going to the much more advanced Bare Creek and Manly Dam tracks.

“The site’s loop trail includes a beginner loop and mini flow loop; climb and descent, technical features, and gravity zone features, as well as bike launching area, a viewing platform, and so many environmentally conscious elements including 1050 new trees planted.

“This project would not have been possible without the instrumental work of local mountain biking advocacy and consultancy group Trail Care who helped design the park based on feedback from local skills coaches and parents of local riders to gain a clear understanding of what the community needed.” Mayor Regan said.

Trail Care’s Matt Ward is thrilled Council is supporting and investing in this growing sport.

“The new park provides awesome opportunities for kids and new riders to progress.  Perhaps they've never ridden a bike on dirt before; here they can build confidence on corners, rock rolls, drops, and jumps.  It's the ideal stepping stone towards other Council facilities like Bare Creek and Manly Dam. 

“Working in collaboration with Council on this project has led to great outcomes, bringing together amazing landscaping work with local trail design knowledge.  The end result is one of the best-looking skills parks I've seen.” Matt Ward said.  

“We’re also so grateful to the local member for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea, for securing use of the site and advocating for this project. He has been instrumental since its inception, and it will be one of the many projects which will become his legacy.” Mayor Regan said.

Member for Davidson, The Hon, Jonathan O’Dea said he’s delighted to see all the hard work on the project has paid off.

“I was pleased to negotiate for the State Government to dedicate the land for community recreation on the basis that Northern Beaches Council took responsibility for planning and developing a new facility.

“Wyatt Ave Bike Park is designed for younger and less experienced riders and provides a safe introduction to an exciting and energetic sport. It is a wonderful complement to the neighbouring Bear Creek Bike Park” Mr O’Dea said.

In addition to 1050 new plants, 950 tonnes of excavated construction material from local construction sites formed the trail subbase, as well as 120 cubic metres of recycled mulch.

Council encourages all riders at any of the bike parks to wear appropriate safety gear.

Update: 1105 Barrenjoey Rd Palm Beach Development Proposal Refused - Appeal Dismissed

The Decision on this development, which went to the L&E Court, was handed down on Friday January 3rd. The appeal was dismissed. Development application DA2021/2362 for a three-storey building over basement parking at 1105 Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach and 43 Iluka Road, Palm Beach (Lot CP SP 87024 and Lot CP SP 87022) is 'determined by refusal of consent'.
The full judgement may be read here.

The applicable height of building standard under clause 4.3 of Pittwater LEP is 8.5m. The proposed works have a building height measured to the top of the lift overruns of between 10.96m and 10.98m representing a variation of between 2.41m (28.3% exceedance) and 2.48m (29.1%). The roof parapet would exceed the standard by between 1.75m (20.5%) and 2m (23.5%). The proposed acoustic screen around an internal roof top service area is suggested to have a building height of about half a metre higher than the lift overruns.

The area falls within the land subject to clause A4.12 Palm Beach Locality under Pittwater DCP. The “desired character” commentary to this clause includes the following:

“Future development will maintain a building height limit below the tree canopy and minimise bulk and scale whilst ensuring that future development respects the horizontal massing of the existing built form. Existing and new native vegetation, including canopy trees, will be integrated with the development. Contemporary buildings will utilise facade modulation and/or incorporate shade elements, such as pergolas, verandahs and the like. Building colours and materials will harmonise with the natural environment. Development on slopes will be stepped down or along the slope to integrate with the landform and landscape, and minimise site disturbance. Development will be designed to be safe from hazards.

The design, scale and treatment of future development within the commercial centres will reflect a 'seaside-village' character through building design, signage and landscaping, and will reflect principles of good urban design. Landscaping will be incorporated into building design. Outdoor cafe seating will be encouraged.

A balance will be achieved between maintaining the landforms, landscapes and other features of the natural environment, and the development of land. As far as possible, the locally native tree canopy and vegetation will be retained and enhanced to assist development blending into the natural environment, to provide feed trees and undergrowth for koalas and other animals, and to enhance wildlife corridors.”

The requirement to demonstrate that there are sufficient environmental planning grounds to justify the contravention (PLEP cll 4.6(3)(b) and 4.6(4)(a)(i), in part) were not demonstrated by the proponents.

Unfortunately all but one tree has been cleared from the plaza in recent days - why?

Photo: supplied

Council land at Bangaroo Street North Balgowlah: Update

The Northern Beaches Council Property Steering Committee resolved at its meeting on Thursday 2 February 2023 to terminate the Expression of Interest (EOI) process in relation to 2 Bangaroo Street North Balgowlah. 

The Committee has determined that the future of this Council owned parcel of land will be reconsidered following the adoption of the new Northern Beaches Local Environment Plan (LEP).

The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee teamed up with friends in North Balgowlah and Seaforth to try and protect Burnt Bridge Creek and the riparian zone in a bid to try and stop the Northern Beaches Council selling off land for development. 

A Motion for the last Council Meeting of the year, December 13, 2022 was submitted by Councillor Candy Bingham calling on a Pause of the Expression of Interest process for Council-owned lands Lot 1 DP 130467 and Lot 873792, also known as 2 Bangaroo Street, North Balgowlah, to allow for further assessment and consultation.

Cr. Bingham also called for the Council to undertake a community-wide consultation in recognition of the value of the Burnt Bridge Creek to the wider community, as the community has not, as yet, had any say on the sale of this land.

The Notice of Determination for DA2015/1156 was issued on May 30, 2016, by Northern Beaches Council, while under the governance of the Administrator, shortly after it was formed. This DA2015/1156 would have ordinarily expired on June 6, 2021, but was extended for two years to June 6, 2023 due to COVID 19.

Acting upon Resolution 7.1 of Warringah Council's Minutes of Council Meeting of 11th April, 2006, Northern Beaches Council's newly-formed Property Strategy Committee commenced the sale of this land. A real estate agent was engaged and advertisements noting DA approval to subdivide the land into three lots were placed calling for "Expressions of Interest". This process closed on 2 December, 2022.

A message from those in Manly, North Balgowlah and Seaforth was recieved;
''Please help us save Burnt Bridge Creek from development! Its riparian wildlife corridor helps protect so many of our local species, including our endangered grey-headed flying fox camp. Northern Beaches Council has put on sale for subdivision and development a large area of riparian bush, at 2 Bangaroo St. This is despite this land being classified in the Council's own recent Waterways study as of 'high environmental value' and within a proposed protected riparian buffer zone. 

The sale is legal only because the Council is using a zoning loophole, dating back to Warringah Council days. The sale of this land has never been put to our elected Council representatives, or the community.
Fortunately, our Manly Ward Councillors have a Notice of Motion on the agenda for the last meeting of the year, this Tuesday, December 13 - calling for the sale process to be paused and environmental factors to be taken into account. 

For more information go to: https://2bangaroostreet.com/actions

Ace Demolition & Excavation Pty Ltd convicted of supplying information about waste knowing that the information was false or misleading

On 2 February 2023, Ace Demolition & Excavation Pty Ltd was convicted by the Land and Environment Court of NSW of three offences of supplying information about waste knowing that the information was false or misleading in a material respect pursuant to section 144AA(2) of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW), and one offence of supplying information about waste that was false or misleading in a material respect pursuant to section 144AA(1) of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW).

In April, June and December 2017, Ace Demolition & Excavation Pty Ltd supplied a total of approximately 603 weighbridge disposal dockets (also known as tipping dockets) and three documents containing summaries of information relating to the disposal of waste which variously misrepresented or falsely recorded the source site of asbestos and other waste deposited at three landfill facilities.

The weighbridge disposal dockets and summaries were supplied by Ace Demolition & Excavation Pty Ltd to two separate entities who were clients of the company, as well as to the environmental consultants for one of the entities, in relation to two separate development sites located in Wolli Creek and Zetland in Sydney, respectively.

Ace Demolition & Excavation Pty Ltd was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority and pleaded guilty to the four offences. The company was sentenced by the Land and Environment Court to:
  1. pay fines totalling $943,650; and
  2. pay the Environment Protection Authority’s legal costs.
Full judgement, and where truckloads of contaminated waste was put, here

NSW Government mulls approval for coal project that would produce 8 times NSW yearly greenhouse emissions: has approved 18 new coal  and gas projects during current term

January 30, 2023
Newly released documents reveal Glencore and Yancoal’s Hunter Valley Operations Continuation coal project would be responsible for 1.2 billion tonnes of total carbon emissions and would be the most polluting project in NSW since the Paris Agreement.

The emissions figures were published at the beginning of the public submission period for the project, which would require the mining of about 400 million tonnes of ROM coal during approximately 25 years - another record amount for the state since the world agreed to halt warming to as near as possible to 1.5 degrees.

The mine’s owners, Glencore and Yancoal, released an environmental impact statement (EIS) on Monday which outlines the proposed expansion and extension of the life of its Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) open-cut mine, which in 2020 produced 17 million tonnes of thermal coal.

If built, the HVO Project would produce nearly eight times the annual emissions of the entire state of NSW. 

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator Nic Clyde said the simple fact the NSW Government was even considering such a polluting project showed Australia’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions was ineffective, and put communities at risk of fire, flood and other extreme weather events.

“If the Albanese Government is serious about reducing emissions, if the Perrottet Government is serious about reducing emissions, projects like Glencore and Yancoal’s HVO coal project must not stand a chance of being approved,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the NSW Government has a track record of backing new and expanded coal mining, and has failed to adopt policies to prevent coal mines from blowing NSW’s 2030 and 2050 emission targets.

“This year, the NSW Government looks set to consider the most new and expanded coal mining capacity in the state since the Paris Agreement. This is an absurd position for a government that claims to have good climate credentials.

“Considering such a carbon polluting bomb makes a mockery of any commitments our governments have to reduce emissions and puts Australian communities at risk from severe weather. 

“Offsets are essentially a giant con, but the idea that 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions could be offset is beyond laughable.

“It’s particularly galling that our governments are prepared to put our future at risk for a company like Glencore - a global commodity trader which has been found guilty of systematic bribery overseas, and is the subject of a complaint to ASIC and the ACCC over greenwashing

On December 23rd 2022, Jacqui Scruby, Independent for Pittwater in the upcoming 2023 State Election said, ''The state government's announcement today on emissions is exactly why it's so important for communities to raise their voices on climate change: it's no coincidence that when the Liberals face serious challenges from independent candidates backed by their communities, the party starts getting serious on climate change.''

On December 23rd 2022, also the date the NSW Planning Department's Northern Planning Panel announced it had decided to allow to proceed to a gateway determination a proposal to raze bushland at Lizard Rock Belrose for a housing development, the state’s treasurer, Matt Kean, stated 'NSW would beat its current target of halving emissions compared to 2005 levels by 2030 through its existing policies….’

''The job is far from done. We need no new coal and gas projects, and we need to save our beautiful beaches and forests.'' Ms Scruby said

''Since the Paris Agreement, the NSW Liberals have approved 26 new coal and gas projects. In this term alone they have approved 18 new coal and gas projects. Earlier this year, the state government approved the Narrabri coal mine, which will be the highest emitting coal mine in the country. The total emissions from all 26 new coal and gas projects is equivalent to 34 times NSW's annual domestic emissions.'' Ms Scruby said

''While emissions reductions within NSW are welcome, the reality is that the approval of these new coal and gas projects is catastrophic for the environment. To protect our climate for our children and grandchildren, it is vital the state government never approves a coal or gas project again. Right now, the government’s positions on emissions and coal mines are simply incompatible.

''What's more, our native forests are being logged at dangerous rates, reducing our crucial carbon stores and killing our iconic koalas – all at the taxpayer’s expense. 

''Our coastline faces its biggest environmental threat in a generation with PEP-11, an oil and gas drilling project kilometres off our beaches, remaining a live issue. It is deeply concerning that the state government has been all but silent on PEP-11 when they should be exploring every avenue possible to stop the project and save our beaches. The state government must explore enacting legislation that prevents PEP-11: this could include barring exploration in state waters along our coastlines, and blocking gas mined under the PEP-11 licence from being transported via state infrastructure.''

The applicant, HVO -  owned by subsidiary companies of Yancoal and Glencore, as participants in the unincorporated HVO Joint Venture (JV) - proposes the continuation of the life of HVO North and HVO South, from the current approved mining completion dates of 2025 and 2030 respectively, to approximately 2050 at HVO North and 2045 at HVO South.

Singleton Council pointed out in January 2021, when the applicant had commenced seeking an extension, that, re;  Rehabilitation and Mine Closure - 

HVO North is within five (5) years of mine closure. As such, detailed mine closure planning for the HVO North operations should have commenced in accordance with its current conditions of approval. The Scoping Report identifies that mine closure and final rehabilitation will be deferred, as the Project will be extended for a further 25 years.

Council considers that reliance on the potential for a new Project approval is not an adequate justification to delay mine closure planning for the current operations. In addition, given the short time frame until the current approval expires, Council considers that it would be imperative to include detailed mine closure planning the EIS, and that the EIS must include a timetable for completion of a detailed mine closure plan and a stakeholder engagement plan to underpin closure planning outcomes, under both scenarios – if the Project gains approval, and if it does not. 

The HVO North Open Cut Coal Continuation Project and HVO South Open Cut Coal Continuation Project are open for submissions until February 27, 2023.

Both have been listed by the NSW Government as a 'State Significant Development'.

HVO North Open Cut Coal Continuation Project webpage for documents: www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/hvo-north-open-cut-coal-continuation-project
HVO South Open Cut Coal Continuation Project webpage for documents: www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/hvo-south-open-cut-coal-continuation-project

hunter gas pipeline approval will damage climate, culture, koalas, farming communities state those in its path: liverpool plains in santos sights

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has trashed his government’s vaunted climate credentials and enraged hundreds of farmers with the granting of an authority for Santos’ Hunter Gas Pipeline, Liverpool Plains residents have stated.

Mr Kean revealed on breakfast radio that he had granted an Authority to Survey for the gas pipeline which, if built, would carve through hundreds of kilometres of farmland between Narrabri and the coast.
The approval was granted on January 13, 2023.

The decision came weeks after farmers travelled to Sydney to stage a protest outside Mr Kean’s electoral office, and demanded he reject the ATS. They presented a petition opposing the pipeline signed by more than 200 landholders along the route.

“The damage this high pressure pipeline would do to some of NSW’s richest farming country is immense,” said Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord spokesperson and cattle farmer Margaret Fleck.

“Matt Kean’s support for Santos shows his disdain for the hundreds of farmers who are opposed to the project, and exposes his hypocrisy on climate concerns.

“Santos and the Perrottet Government will find that opposition to this pipeline in our region is not going away, and farmers will not back down.

“This gas pipeline threatens precious black soils on the Liverpool Plains as well as several of the most significant koala habitats in NSW.

“Governments should be cracking down on gas cartel operators like Santos and its corporate profiteering, not paving the way for them to do more damage.”

The Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord (MGPA) community action group brought judicial review proceedings challenging the decision of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to grant development consent to the Narrabri Gas Project proposed by Santos NSW (Eastern) Pty Ltd (Santos). The Project proposes the development of a new coal seam gas field and associated infrastructure over 95,000ha in Narrabri in north-western New South Wales. The Project will include the construction of up to 850 gas wells and up to 425 well pads over approximately 25 years and gas processing and water treatment facilities.

The approval was based on a “State significant” development status under section 4.36 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EPA Act), due to it supporting petroleum production. On September 30, 2020, the IPC approved Santos NSW’s SSD 6456 application. 

MGPA argued that the IPC failed to properly assess the impacts of the project’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. MGPA challenges two aspects of the IPC’s rationale: (i) its assessment of the expected GHG emissions advantage compared to coal and (ii) its determination that the downstream GHG emissions (Scope 3) are outside the direct control of Santos and therefore not able to be reasonably conditioned.

The judicial review proceeding filed by MGPA was heard in the NSW Land and Environment Court in August 2021. On October 18, 2021, the court dismissed the legal challenge to the IPC approval of the Narrabri Gas Project. 

The court found that MGPA had not established that (i) the IPC erred to consider the expected GHG emissions, relevant to section 4.15(1)(b) of the EPA Act, and (ii) the judgement stated that as the Scope 3 emissions were inside Santos’ direct control, the IPC’s decision to exclude these conditions was unreasonable. The Court further found that the IPC did not fail to consider the impacts of any potential gas transmission pipeline into consideration in its determination of the development application for the project, relevant to section 4.15(1)(b), because “the impacts of any potential gas transmission pipeline were sufficiently remote in the chain of likely consequences as not to be likely impacts of the project.”

The Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord was formed in 2011 ''to protect the Liverpool Plains against the development of inappropriate Coal Seam Gas (CSG) infrastructure''.
The group has been fighting against the pipeline for well over a decade.

Mr Kean’s comments came days after Gomeroi Traditional Owners lodged a legal appeal against the Native Title Tribunal decision that favoured Santos late last year.

Studies have shown that in addition to destroying some of the best farmland in the state, the Hunter Gas Pipeline would also carve through important cultural heritage sites and critically important ecological areas, including koala habitat.

Lock the Gate Alliance national coordinator Carmel Flint said, “Matt Kean’s support of the Hunter Gas Pipeline and the Santos gasfield shows he can’t be trusted on climate.

“It also shows his utter lack of respect for Traditional Owners and farmers who are fighting tooth and nail to stop Santos’ dirty and polluting gas projects.

“This coal seam gas project will blow NSW’s greenhouse gas reduction targets and keep NSW at the whim of profiteering gas companies who have been fleecing Aussies with exorbitant prices.

“The NSW Government ought to side with the public. Instead, it has sided with a giant gas company that is only interested in keeping prices high so it can continue making obscene profits at the expense of NSW communities,” she said.

In April 2022 the New South Wales government renewed the licence for Santos to explore for petroleum (PEL) for a further five years, until April 2028.

On Sunday January 29th over 60 farmers used their vehicles to block Santos trucks from accessing the Wondoba State Conservation Area, south of Gunnedah.

One of those farmers, Rosemary Nankivell, said the group feared the work would cause harm to native animals and water.

"The Liverpool Plains sit over the Namoi catchment. There are heaps of communities, farmers, and livestock that depend on our water," she said  to the ABC.

Ms Nankivell said farmers were concerned fracking would be used if the seismic testing progressed to full-scale gas production.

"Coal and gas extraction is not welcome on the Liverpool Plains and never will be," she said.

Santos said it had no intention of using the controversial practice. "Santos has no plans to use hydraulic fracture stimulation as part of the Narrabri Gas Project. We are not seeking approval for its use as part of the Narrabri Gas Project EIS," a spokesperson said.

However Santos did call the police to remove those blockading the Conservation area. One attendee stated:

''A peaceful protest on a public road near Gunnedah this morning against Santos’ seismic testing for CSG quickly turned ugly when Santos called police. The Liverpool Plains’ community is strongly opposed to any threat to its soil and water. Pushing them around is not a good look. It will be fought all the way.''

''State capture leads to our cops protecting the actions of a corporation that is literally killing us all. Shame on Santos. Shame on the cops and shame on every bureaucrat and pollie trying to shove this ecocide on us all.'' another said

However, the approval to explore granted by Mr. Kean draws attention to Santos' intentions in the Liverpool Plains. Santos is back in the Liverpool Plains via this approval and conducting seismic testing to explore land for further gas field development, and can do even in Conservation Areas.

The different local community grouyps along these stretches of NSW have launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to stop plans for the Pilliga and the Liverpool plains food bowl.

Police were called to move the protesters. Photo supplied.

Liverpool Plains Farmers - Landholders want gas exploration to cease in order to protect the prime agricultural land and precious underground water reserves they need to produce food and fibre. Photo supplied

Greens Announce Plan to Solve Soft Plastics Crisis

Saturday February 4, 2023
The NSW Environment Minister must intervene in the soft plastics crisis and find a temporary safe storage solution to stop mountains of plastic waste going to landfill, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has said. 

The Greens today launched their plan to solve the soft plastics crisis in Balmain today out the front of Woolworths with local residents who have collected soft plastics they are now unable to recycle. 

The plan comes the day after revelations that Coles and Woolworths have been ordered to dump tonnes of REDcycle soft plastics into landfill. 

The Greens plan will:
  • Immediately redirect the entirety of the more than $800 million per annum waste levy towards dealing with the waste crisis
  • Dedicate $100 million from the Waste Levy towards establishing soft plastics recycling schemes.
  • Establish a ‘Plastics Reduction Taskforce’ to develop a s soft plastics recycling strategy
  • Mandate procurement targets for recycled plastic content in single use plastics as well as products like roads and pathways, railway bollards and street furniture.
  • Expand the trial of curbside soft plastics recycling to Sydney.
  • Support and invest in small businesses with existing soft plastics recycling schemes to scale up. 
Cate Faehrmann, NSW Greens MP and waste spokesperson said, “I call on the Environment Minister to immediately invest the $800 million the government receives each year from the waste levy into actually solving the waste crisis and building a circular economy. The Minister also needs to rule out this waste going to landfill,” said Cate Faehrmann.

“The Minister needs to find a safe storage solution and invest in those businesses that already have soft plastic recycling schemes to be able to scale them up. 

“The collapse of RedCycle and the discovery of millions of tonnes of stockpiled soft plastics that are now on their way to landfill has revealed a deeply broken plastics recycling system. The Greens plan will create a sustainable soft plastics recycling scheme that won’t disappear overnight.

“Mandated procurement targets will ensure that there is a market for recycled soft plastics and that soft plastics recycling schemes not only survive but thrive.

“The Liberal-National Government’s failure to do this has left NSW without a market for recycled plastics and caused the collapse of our largest soft plastic recycling scheme.

“Only 13% of the $800 million waste levy actually goes towards reducing waste. The rest goes into government coffers. The Greens plan will put that money towards solving the waste crisis and environmental programs, including ensuring consumers can recycle their soft plastics.

“The community is crying out for options to recycle their waste, this should be a no brainer.

Kobi Shetty, Greens candidate for Balmain and Inner West Councillor

“The current soft plastics crisis demonstrates the abject failure of this government to take responsibility for plastic waste. We desperately need reliable, domestic solutions to keep plastics out of landfill and protect our precious oceans.

“So many people have been doing the right thing and diligently separating their soft plastics for recycling. They want to see urgent action, and want the NSW Government to take this issue seriously.

Supermarkets on notice to clean-up soft plastic stockpiles: NSW EPA

February 3, 2023
Australia’s largest supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths have been served by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) with a draft Clean-up Notice to remove more than 5200 tonnes of soft plastic stockpiled at 15 sites across the state.

NSW EPA CEO Tony Chappel said after widely promoting the REDcycle soft plastics collection program to their customers, the retailers have a responsibility to address the stockpiled waste.   

“Thousands of customers diligently collected soft plastics and dropped them into their local supermarket’s collection bin because they trusted their waste would be diverted from landfill and recycled,” Mr Chappel said.  

“The extent of soft plastic waste sitting in warehouses across NSW is very concerning and I know customers will be disappointed. 

“As we transition to a circular and net zero economy, supermarkets have a responsibility to customers and the environment to address plastic packaging and take positive actions that contribute to solutions rather than the problem.  

 “These stockpiles are stored from the floor to the ceiling, blocking entry ways and preventing adequate ventilation with the soft plastic estimated to fill about three and a half Olympic sized swimming pools.  

“To protect our communities and environment, these materials need to be removed to reduce the risk of a fire.” 

The EPA has notified Fire and Rescue NSW of the high-risk storage facilities in 11 local government areas and requested the operators of these sites take immediate action to mitigate risks. 

Mr Chappel said these materials, once bound for recycling may unfortunately end up in landfill but the regulatory action had to be taken to protect NSW communities.  

“Despite this setback, which is a major blow to consumer confidence, we want to reaffirm our commitment to triple the recycling rate of plastics by 2030. 

“Each year, NSW recycles around 66% of all waste but we know there is more work to do when it comes to plastic waste.  

“Our largest retailers have an important role to play in how we continue to reduce plastic waste and we are committed to working together so we can support opportunities and minimise risk.  

“We are also working closely with our counterparts in other jurisdictions to ensure we take a co-ordinated approach and understand the issues that impacted REDcycle’s collapse.” 

Both supermarkets have six days to comment on the draft notices.  

Through the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy and NSW Plastics Action Plan, the NSW Government is investing $356 million to develop new markets and infrastructure which will drive a circular economy and address problematic plastics and waste.  

The EPA is currently finalising its $9 million Circular Plastics Program supporting businesses to transform and increase their access to the latest plastic recycling technology. For more information visit the EPA’s website.

Prune Viburnum hedge Agapanthus flowers to prevent spread into bush reserves

PNHA: January 11, 2023

Now is the time to prune the berries off the Viburnum hedge and dehead those old Agapanthus flowers. Put these prunings  into your green waste bin. Both are now weeds of bushland as their seeds travel.

Photos: Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)

Sydney Wildlife (Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services): Rescue Care Course - February 2023

Our next course starts on the 4th of February. It runs for 3 weeks in a self-paced format online and then a 1 day practical session at the end on the 26th February. Both sessions must be passed to join Sydney Wildlife Rescue and rescue and care for our native wildlife. 

Visit the sign on page for full details: https://smws.wildapricot.org/RCC-Trainee-Application-Form

The cost of the course is $120 and you will receive membership, manuals and equipment to help you. All new members are fully supported with a mentor when they join. Join us and make a difference to the wildlife in your area.

New marine wildlife rescue group launched on the Central Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out - shorebirds about

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possums In Your Roof?: do the right thing

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Wildlife photos

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

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

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

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

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

We’ve lost a giant: Vale Professor Will Steffen, climate science pioneer

John Finnigan, CSIRO; Pep Canadell, CSIRO, and Steven J Lade, Stockholm University

One of Australia’s leading climate scientists, Professor Will Steffen, died on Sunday. Steffen has been hailed as a leading climate thinker, selfless mentor and gifted communicator. He is survived by his wife Carrie and daughter Sonja. Steffen’s colleagues and friends remember him here.

John Finnigan - Honorary Fellow, CSIRO

The last time I talked to Will was in early January. We had a drink or two before I left for a few weeks work in the United States. He was looking forward with optimism to an operation to get rid of the cancer he had dealt with for a year so he could get on with his life. Unfortunately, there were complications.

The world has lost an enormously influential environmental scientist. And I’ve lost a very dear friend.

Will Steffen and I were close friends for more than 40 years. I came from England to Canberra in the 1970s, and Will came from the US. At that time, it seemed like everyone in Canberra was from somewhere else. As a result, we formed a kind of family. We’d look after each other’s children, or do babysitting so the others could go cross-country skiing. Will and his wife Carrie looked after our kids and we looked after theirs.

I was a scientist at CSIRO when Will joined us as an editor and information officer. Very soon, his obvious scientific intelligence meant he was headhunted to the nascent International Geosphere Biosphere Program, an international consortium of scientists. This was the early 1980s, when the field now known as Earth system science was just taking off. Will proved enormously effective, not just as a manager but as a synthesiser and broadcaster of his group’s ideas.

Many of those ideas are now mainstream but back then, they were radical. Ideas such as the Great Acceleration – the sudden increase in our impact on the environment since the 1950s, brought about by trends such as spiking fossil fuel use, and population growth.

After Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen proposed that the world had entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, Will ran with the concept. He helped popularise the idea that our collective activity is now a force as potent as natural forces in shaping our planet.

Will was also a skilled rock and ice climber who climbed mountains all over the world. In 1988 he was part of the ANU expedition which climbed Nepal’s 7,162 metre Mount Baruntse, an icy spire east of Everest. Of his climbing, Will once said:

Climbing is like science. To get up a hard rock or ice climb, just like when you’re solving a problem in the carbon cycle, you have to be ultra-focused, you have to make holistic decisions and you have to be absolutely aware of your surroundings. When you come off a big climb, you really appreciate the beauty of what’s around you. That’s the buzz you get in science when you solve a big problem and suddenly see how it all fits together.

In the best of ways, Will could also be a stubborn bugger. He refused to let things defeat him – whether on the mountain or taking on climate deniers. On the latter, he was never accommodating. And he’d never fall for their leading questions. He knew how easy it was to edit an interview to twist his words and was smart enough to insist interviews were live.

I remember one interview where he was asked if he accepted carbon dioxide was good for humanity. I might have made the mistake of saying “yes, at certain levels”. But Will knew how to avoid those traps. He said something like: “No. That’s the wrong way to think of it.” He never got boxed in.

During the decade of political climate wars in Australia, Will got a lot of abuse on social media. At one stage, his office at the Australian National University had to be locked down due to death threats. It didn’t stop him.

people rally and hold signs
Steffen shrugged off the social media abuse he copped during the political climate wars. Alan Porritt

He never saw deniers or obstructionist politicians as his personal enemies. He didn’t waste his time on the negativity of climate politics. While he was angry at the way the selfish actions of vested interests were sacrificing the future of coming generations, including his daughter, Sonja, he did not despair. Instead, he channelled his anger into action.

When the Abbott government shut down the Climate Commission in 2013, Will and his colleagues – Tim Flannery, Lesley Hughes and Amanda McKenzie – didn’t just quit. Instead they crowd-sourced A$1 million in a week and founded the Climate Council, now a leading independent source of climate advice in Australia.

As well as a hugely influential scientist, Will was a really nice bloke and a true friend. He was calm, not confrontational. He had a wry sense of humour and could see the funny side, even when the climate politics were crazy.

Would he have been happy about recent efforts to speed up action on climate change? Yes and no.

He felt, as I do, that things are much further advanced and much worse than generally recognised. He felt limiting global warming to 1.5℃ was already well out of reach and that it was going to be very difficult to keep it under 2℃.

While he was heartened by recent progress, he knew it was all but impossible to change fast enough to keep warming to a safer level. But he knew we had to try.

bird flies in front of sun
Steffen knew keeping warming to a safe level was all but impossible – but he knew we had to try. Dave Hunt/AAP

Pep Canadell - Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO

Will Steffen took global environmental research to a whole new level.

Beginning when fax machines were the main tool to communicate across multiple time zones, Will developed unparalleled skill in scientific diplomacy and leadership. His work helped create research networks across the world involving tens of thousands of scientists.

In the 1980s, environmental research labs and individual scientists were mostly still working on their own. The new scientific networks spurred on by Will’s brokering made globally coordinated research possible. This was necessary to understand the planetary changes caused by human activity.

Will achieved this global impact through positions such as executive director of the highly influential International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). His most powerful tools were his never-ending appetite for the very latest science, his kind nature and genuine people skills, his focus and hard work ethic, and his exceptional communication abilities which let him convey the gravity of complex problems and the need for immediate action.

I came to Australia in the late 1990s to take the job Will had left when he moved to Sweden to become the director of the IGBP. I was never able to fill his shoes. But I have tried, with colleagues, to build on his work in bringing together many strands of research.

Will was a visionary in many ways. He understood the environmental problems we were trying to solve spanned many academic disciplines and were deeply interconnected. Few people had his ability to absorb so many diverse types of science and to work with the diverse research communities whose expertise was urgently needed as part of the solutions.

Steve Lade - ARC Future Fellow, Australian National University

I first encountered Will during one of his talks in Canberra. He was an incredible public speaker and a role model for how a scientific specialist could broaden themselves into a holistic thinker on the most important topics imaginable. Hearing him as a PhD student changed the direction of my career.

My scientific interactions with Will began in the mid-2010s as a researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where he was a frequent visitor. Will had recently co-developed the planetary boundaries framework, now one of the most influential ideas in sustainability science.

These boundaries show us the environment is not boundless and elastic, able to absorb all that we throw at it or take from it. Our planet has limits – and if we push too far, we will break something, leading to dramatic changes to the only life-bearing planet we know of.

Planetary boundaries are just one of his discipline-changing contributions to sustainability science - others include co-developing the concept of the Great Acceleration and promoting the concept of the Anthropocene. His ideas were grounded in his view of the Earth as a complex, interconnected, evolving system.

Viewing the world in this way helps us understand what we have done to our environment – and how to begin fixing the problems.

Will’s scientific, policy and advocacy efforts were directed at helping us recognise our role as planet-shapers. He knew we must transform our mindset from exploitation to stewardship if we, and our planet as we know it, are to survive.

His career is an exemplar of how to be an interdisciplinary, inclusive, caring and socially responsible sustainability scientist. Let us continue his legacy.The Conversation

John Finnigan, Leader, Complex Systems Science, CSIRO; Pep Canadell, Chief Research Scientist, Climate Science Centre, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere; Executive Director, Global Carbon Project, CSIRO, and Steven J Lade, Resilience researcher at Australian National University, Stockholm University

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

Enough with the koala cakes – the government’s annual Threatened Species Bake Off seriously neglects fish, plants and other lesser-loved species

Overall winner of the 2018 competition, a Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis) by EnviroDNA @enviro_DNA. @enviro_DNA, CC BY-NC
Eliza Middleton, University of Sydney; Caitlyn Forster, University of Sydney, and Dieter Hochuli, University of Sydney

Almost 2,000 native species are officially listed as “threatened” in Australia – but how many have you actually heard of?

Each year, the federal government holds the Threatened Species Bake Off, a social media competition where entrants represent a threatened species in cake form. It aims to build awareness of Australia’s vast diversity of wildlife facing extinction – but our new research found a serious problem with bias towards cute and cuddly animals.

We trawled over 700 entries between 2017 and 2021, and found koalas, echidnas, and wombats consistently depicted. These are the typical poster children of conservation.

Koalas, for example, are frequently allocated large sums of money for conservation. Compare this to many lesser known, more impactful and at-risk species including the grey nurse shark and foundation species such as seaweeds.

Australia is a world leader in extinctions and, indeed, many at-risk plants and animals aren’t even on the official threatened species list, but should be. While the bake off is well-intentioned, our results highlight a massive gap in conservation messaging.

Unless we build the profile of our lesser-loved plants, invertebrates, frogs and fish, we’ll certainly see more species vanish.

What species do people like to bake?

The Threatened Species Bake off begins on September 7, when Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter get flooded with photos of baked goods with elaborate animal or plant designs. Since its inception in 2017, the competition has become increasingly popular and has even garnered celebrity judges including Dawn French, Costa Georgiadis and Kat Sabbath.

It reflects the urgent need to explore creative and novel ways to engage with diverse audiences about Australia’s extinction crisis. But whether it can actually makes a difference to wildlife depends on what people choose to depict.

The charts below show the top ten most popular species baked in the Threatened Species Bake Off on Instagram and Twitter since 2017. Birds and mammals have proven most popular – koalas, echidnas, orange-bellied parrots and other iconic species come out on top. The corroboree frog is the exception to this trend, topping popularity on Twitter and in the top five on Instagram.

The top ten most popular species baked in the Threatened Species Bake Off on Instagram. Author supplied
Top ten species baked on Twitter in the Threatened Species Bake Off. Author supplied

Most of the nearly 2,000 species listed as threatened by the federal government are plants – 1,411 plants compared to 562 animals. But very few contestants depict plants in the Threatened Species Bake Off. Just 3% of the listed threatened plants have been depicted, compared to 40% of the listed mammals and 30% of the listed birds.

This highlights a global issue with “plant blindness” – a phenomenon where plants are frequently forgotten when considering the nature in an area, leading to limited interest and funding for their conservation.

In fact, many of the species in the Albanese government’s 2022-2032 Threatened Species Action Plan are birds and mammals – species considered much more charismatic than a plant or invertebrate. The action plan includes 14% of threatened mammals and 13% of threatened birds – and just 2% of threatened plants.

What the bake off revealed about conservation gaps

This brings us to Australia’s invertebrates – the bedrock of ecosystems. We found 50% of invertebrates on the official threatened species list were featured in bake offs (that’s 34 of 68 listed species).

This prevalence, however, is misleading. It masks one of the most significant deficiencies in threatened species management: the lack of invertebrates on threatened species lists. In fact, invertebrates are simply classified as “other animals” under Australia’s threatened species legislation.

Their relative absence from lists of protected groups highlights two major gaps in our knowledge:

  1. many invertebrates are yet to be scientifically described and named – the key entry point to being included on these lists

  2. we know very little about most invertebrates that have been scientifically described and named – we know only where they were found.

To adequately conserve Australia’s biodiversity, we need to urgently prioritise research on such crucial animals.

Social media can help and hamper conservation

The bake off’s popularity shows social media can be powerful conservation messaging tool. But promoting conservation via social media walks a fine line between protecting and endangering threatened species.

For example, a social media post of a scenic location inhabited by threatened species may drive increased tourism to the location, adding more pressure to the species and its habitat. Indeed, a study in 2019 drew potential links between the rise in videos posted to YouTube of otters as pets with an increase in illegal otter trade.

On the other hand, the use of social media has led to great success in controlling populations of the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean.

To reduce populations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has held fishing tournaments since 2014, advertising via social media. The event has evolved into a multi-day festival with art booths, lionfish tastings, and filet demonstration.

What these examples and the bake off shows is the need for a tailored approach for each conservation message.

But so far, the conservation message of the bake off is not clear given people have baked species that aren’t even listed as threatened such as the platypus, brolga, and Mount Lewis spiny crawfish, as well as species that aren’t even Australian, such as tigers and pandas.

Try something different this bake off

We need to find ways to ensure all species, not just koalas, are on the receiving end of conservation action. Here are some ways we can encourage this.

First is to increase their visibility by providing images of threatened species. For example, researchers and nature enthusiasts could make their images free to use on websites such as Wikimedia Commons. Or, they could upload images to iNaturalist or Atlas of Living Australia, two websites that catalogue the sightings of species submitted by researchers and the public.

Giving newly discovered species interesting or funny names can also create emotional connections, encouraging people to care more about them – like the Amazonian Agra beetle species, which include names such as Agra vation and Agra cadabra, or the Australian wasp species Aha ha.

Previous bake offs have incorporated themes including “species I’ve seen” and “ecosystem engineers”. Organisers should introduce a new theme: “species I’ve never heard of”, or “the species under my feet”.

So next bake off, how about baking a small-flowered snottygobble , a Kangaroo Island Assassin Spider, a red handfish, or a cauliflower soft coral?The Conversation

Eliza Middleton, Biodiversity Management Officer, University of Sydney; Caitlyn Forster, Associate Lecturer, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, and Dieter Hochuli, Professor, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

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

Why Queensland is still ground zero for Australian deforestation

Michelle Ward, The University of Queensland and James Watson, The University of Queensland

Five years ago, bulldozers with chains cleared forests and woodlands almost triple the size of the Australian Capital Territory in a single year.

Brazil? Indonesia? No – much closer: Queensland. In 2018-19, truly staggering land clearing, mostly by farmers and cattle graziers, saw around 680,000 hectares of habitat destroyed – more than the preceding 18 years. Even though the state Labor government tightened land clearing rules in 2015, the new rules were riddled with loopholes. If Queensland was a country, it would have been the ninth highest forest destroying nation globally in 2019 – just above China.

Clearing is slowing – but nowhere near fast enough. At the end of 2022, Queensland quietly released its latest figures, showing clearing rates in 2019-20 had fallen to under two Australian Capital Territories that year (around 418,000 hectares). The government celebrated it as a win, as did some farming groups. But it’s nothing to be celebrated.

Yes, it’s better than the worst year in the last two decades. But as our climate and extinction crises worsen and as the Great Barrier Reef teeters on the brink, clearing as usual is no longer good enough.

Queensland’s historical forest and woodland clearing rates by political party in power.

Why is Queensland still clearing so much – and why does it matter?

In a word, beef. Like Brazil, Queensland tears down its forests and woodlands largely to make way for grass to feed livestock – mainly cattle. The latest 2019-20 figures show 85% of all clearing was done to create new pasture.

You might have heard defenders of land clearing claiming the land being cleared is home to low-value vegetation or trees that regrow easily, such as mulga acacia. This is not true. About 52% of all vegetation cleared in 2019-20 was classified as old growth or older than 15 years. The Brigalow Belt and the Mulga Lands accounted for three-quarters of all clearing. Of the clearing in these regions, 80% was full clearing, meaning bulldozing turned forests or woodlands into areas with less than 10% canopy remaining.

cattle queensland
Nature is forced to give up habitat so cattle have grass to eat. Shutterstock

This matters, because Queenslanders are the custodians of more biodiversity than any other Australian state, most of which is found in its woodlands and forests.

Queensland’s thousands of unique plant species provide homes and resources for many of Australia’s famous animals. More than 1,800 species of Australian plants and animals are now threatened with extinction – and Queensland’s land clearing is a key threat for many.

It can be hard to connect bulldozers clearing trees and the reality of what it does to the animals relying on them. So we cross-referenced the cleared land with threatened species distribution maps. Approximately 417 threatened species lost some of their habitat, with the worst hit including grey falcon, the newly endangered koala, and squatter pigeon. The clearing is a double blow, as many of these species were devastated by the Black Summer fires.

This large scale destruction also hampers Australia’s ability to meet climate targets. The agriculture, forestry and other land use sector on average, accounted for almost a quarter (23%) of the world’s human-caused emissions. Of these, 45% were from deforestation.

If we leave woodlands and forests intact, they look after our interests too. They improve water quality and availability for our uses and for nature. They control erosion by protecting soils and riverbanks. And they increase the productivity of nearby cropland by hosting pollinators and species which prey on plant pests. Ripping out the forests and woodlands not only reduces the carbon they sequester but also makes the ground immediately warmer, making many parts of Queensland even hotter and more drought prone.

Native vegetation cleared for pasture near Marlborough. Martin Taylor

Destroying old, biologically important woodland and forests at such scale is a terrible idea. It flies in the face of global pledges to end deforestation and maintain the integrity of all of Earth’s ecosystems. Australia is a signatory to both of these.

Cynics might wonder whether the rush to clear pasture is linked to the fact many of our trading partners are looking to import beef not linked to deforestation. In December, the European Union passed laws requiring beef exporters to show their operations haven’t contributed to deforestation. Cattle must not have been raised on land cleared after December 2020. Though the EU is not the largest beef market for Australian farmers, the National Farmers Federation reacted angrily.

Even in Australia, huge companies such as Woolworths and McDonalds have committed to remove deforestation from their supply chains.

Some companies are doing the right thing, but the sheer scale of felling and clearing shows many are not. Both the Queensland and federal governments must fix the problem with better regulation and adequate enforcement, access to data to demonstrate deforestation-free credentials, and incentives for producers to improve their land use to the emerging global standards. In the age of ubiquitous satellite imagery, it’s impossible to hide what you’re doing. One option could be to make the deforestation images publicly available in real time.

Brigalow forest cleared for pastures Central Queensland. Credit Martine Maron.

Labor has pledged action federally – but the state Labor government must do more

There’s a strange disconnect developing where Labor, federally, has signalled they want to reverse Australia’s biodiversity crisis, while at state level, their actions are nowhere near enough. Federal Labor recently signed national and international commitments aimed at halting species extinctions, reversing biodiversity loss, and stopping further land degradation. For that to actually happen, though, it will need the states to play ball – especially Queensland.

Lopper removing tree by tree in koala habitat for housing in Springfield Qld. Credit Martin Taylor.

Why is Queensland ground-zero for deforestation in Australia? It has water, arable land, and a decentralised population often reliant on farming or mining work outside the major cities. Sugarcane plantations, mango farms, beef cattle, dairy, bananas – it’s hard to shift a long-set path.

But if the state government is unable to close the obvious loopholes such as Queensland’s questionable land clearing Category X and stop rampant land clearing, the environmental, social and economic bill will come due. Extinctions, coral death, climate damages, degraded human health and the reputational risk of becoming a pariah.

It doesn’t have to be that way. By working with farmers and graziers, they can end the policy ping-pong with laws to encourage all food producers to shift to deforestation-free produce. We can get there. The Conversation

Michelle Ward, Postdoctoral research fellow, The University of Queensland and James Watson, Professor, The University of Queensland

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

Losing the natural world comes with major risks for your super fund and bank

Madeline Combe, University of Technology Sydney; Megan C Evans, UNSW Sydney, and Nathaniel Pelle, University of Sydney

As the economist Herman Daly pithily said, the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment – not the reverse. Nature makes our lives possible through what scientists call ecosystem services. Think healthy food, clean water, feed for livestock, building materials, medicine, flood and storm control, recreation, and attractions for tourists.

Despite this, Australian businesses and financial institutions have so far failed to track how their activities both rely on and affect nature. This means our investments and superannuation could be exposed to hidden financial risks because of nature loss – and may also contribute to the destruction of nature.

That’s set to change. The private sector is waking up to nature’s value (and the risks of losing it). The world’s biodiversity rescue plan agreed to last year could help motivate governments and businesses to clean up their investments by directing more money to protect nature and less towards bankrolling extinction.

There’s one crucial plank we’re missing though – mandatory reporting of how businesses both depend on and impact nature.

Nature and financial health are inextricably linked

Fully half of the world’s total economic activity – around A$61 trillion – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services.

In Australia, that figure is very similar: around half of our GDP – $896 billion – has a moderate to very high direct dependence on ecosystem services provided by nature.

Australia’s economy and industries are dependent on nature. GVA refers to gross value added to the economy by industry. Australian Conservation Foundation

What happens when we breach nature’s limits? Ecosystem services seize up or collapse, eventually disrupting these sectors. The tireless pollination work of honeybees, for instance, is valued at $14 billion a year. Or take Australia’s wheatbelt, where poor soil health is now costing farmers almost $2 billion a year in lost income.

Ecosystem services are not hypothetical. They have real value – and we will absolutely notice if they are gone.

Bee on apple blossom
Without pollinators, many agricultural businesses would struggle. Shutterstock

What does this have to do with my super?

Australia’s super sector is responsible for the retirement savings of around 12 million Australians. Super funds are directly exposed to financial risk from nature loss through their investment portfolios.

Just as farmers can’t grow crops without healthy soils or pollinators, developers can’t build apartments without timber or environmental permits. In turn, that has implications for their value as investments.

And because so many sectors are exposed, classic investment strategies such as diversification may no longer protect your super from losses.

So what are our super funds and banks doing about it?

To find out, we surveyed ten super funds and ten retail banks about their responses to nature-related risks. The survey – commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation – is the first time this has been done in Australia.

The findings? Not ideal. Every participating super fund and bank agreed the loss of nature now presented a serious risk to investment returns. They all agreed it was part of their responsibility to members and customers to measure and manage these risks. But only 20% of super funds and 10% of banks had attempted to assess how exposed they were.

Of the ten super funds and ten banks we surveyed, just 10% of banks (left) and 20% of super funds (right) had assessed their nature-related risks or opportunities. Half of the banks and 30% of super funds had plans to, while 40% of banks and 50% of super funds had no plans yet. Australian Conservation Foundation

Again, this is not abstract. Super funds often have large holdings in the big four banks. Together, these banks have $170 billion in exposure to agriculture, mining, fisheries, and forestry – sectors directly reliant on a functioning natural world.

So why isn’t it a higher priority? One issue may be that many financial institutions are currently focused on climate change, given how rapidly impacts are mounting. But climate change and the breakdown of natural systems are twin crises. Nature offers far and away the largest method of taking carbon back out of the atmosphere, for instance. But that only works if salt marshes and wetlands and forests are intact.

Net zero targets for our banks and super funds are not fully credible unless there is a commitment to end the financing of deforestation. Only one organisation, Australian Ethical, had made such a commitment.

You would think Australia’s super funds and banks would be interested to find out how exposed their investments were to this growing risk. Tools to do this such as IBAT and ENCORE are readily available.

But to date, our survey findings don’t indicate banks and funds will do this voluntarily.

Banks and super funds may soon have to report these risks

The biodiversity rescue plan agreed to last year – known as the Kunming-Montreal agreement – is intended to set expectations for responsible finance and business globally, as the Paris Agreement did for climate change.

That means Australia will be expected to introduce disclosure requirements. If this comes to pass, banks, super funds, and the businesses they invest our savings in will have to measure and publicly report their impact on nature – as well as how much they rely on nature to make a profit.

First, though, the Australian government must introduce mandatory nature risk reporting. It’s already moving ahead with plans to make climate risk disclosures mandatory.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has indicated nature is also on his radar.

The question then will be whether making this information public will actually do what we hope it will and use money to help natural systems rather than extract from them.

sugar cane and forest
For farms to function, they need natural services such as clean water, pollinators and healthy soil. Shutterstock

What happens next?

Since taking office, the Labor government has pledged to take action on the perilous decline of the natural world with plans such as bringing the value of nature into our national accounts.

While positive, the real action won’t happen until nature risk reporting is mandatory, environment laws with teeth are introduced, and until both governments and private industry direct serious money into helping nature, not harming it. Risky nature credit markets aren’t going to cut the mustard.

You don’t have to sit back and wait. Why not ask your super fund and bank what nature-related risks they are exposing your money to? The Conversation

Madeline Combe, Doctoral student, University of Technology Sydney; Megan C Evans, Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow, UNSW Sydney, and Nathaniel Pelle, Honorary Associate, Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney

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

Win-win: how solar farms can double as havens for our wildlife

Eric Nordberg, University of New England

Australia’s renewable energy transition has prompted the construction of dozens of large-scale solar farms. The boom helps reduce Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels, but requires large areas of land to be converted to host solar infrastructure.

Solar farms are mostly built in rural areas. This has raised concerns about a potential decline in both agricultural production – as arable land is used for solar energy production – and wildlife habitat.

But there are ways to expand solar infrastructure so both nature and people win. We’ve already seen this in so called “agrivoltaics”, where land under and around solar panels is used to grow crops and graze livestock. But what about “conservoltaics”, combing conservation and solar energy?

My new research examines whether solar farms could also be used to help conserve native species. I found solar panels can provide valuable habitat for wildlife – and potentially benefit both the land and farmers.

sheep graze among solar panels
‘Agrivoltaics’ involves combining solar generation with agriculture – but what about ‘conservoltaics’? Shutterstock

A new place to call home

Our wild landscapes are diminishing and protected areas, such as national parks, cover only about 9% of Australia.

Many agricultural landscapes have been cleared of trees to provide pasture for livestock. It means wildlife that rely on trees have lost vast tracts of habitat.

So we must find new places for wildlife to forage, rest, shelter and breed.

My work examines how solar parks on agricultural land can double as wildlife habitat. It involves surveys and trapping to identify what plants and animals occupy solar farms, how long they take to recolonise, and how we can promote even more biodiversity.

My new paper coins a new term for this dual land-use: conservoltaics. I highlight research from overseas into how solar parks can bring conservation benefits, and describe the research still needed.

Solar panels add three-dimensional structure and complexity to an environment. They can provide animals shelter from predators and the elements, much like artificial reefs in lakes and oceans. They can also act as perch or nesting structures.

Solar infrastructure also creates a mosaic of sun and shade patches – and so provide many “micro-habitats” for plants and animals.

Research from Europe has shown large solar farms can enhance the diversity and abundance of plants, grasses, butterflies, bees and birds.

What’s more, vegetation between solar panel rows can also provide travel corridors, nesting sites and shelter for wildlife.

butterfly on plant in front of solar panel
Research shows solar arrays can increase the presence of pollinators such as butterflies. Shutterstock

Management is key

Research suggests several management strategies that can maximise the benefits of solar farms for wildlife.

Land managers should provide a diverse mix of flowering plant species to encourage pollinators. And grass between solar panels should not be mowed too short or too often. Pollinators prefer tall vegetation where they can forage – though vegetation should not be so tall that it shades the solar panels.

The use of herbicides and other chemicals should be avoided where possible. And solar farms should be connected to other vegetated areas, using features such as hedgerows and wildflower strips, so wildlife can move between the solar farm and other habitats.

Landholders who combine solar farms with wildlife habitat may reap several benefits.

They could receive financial returns by earning environmental credits through schemes that reward carbon sequestration and biodiversity improvements.

They may also improve the health of their land by, for example, increasing pollination or providing habitat for predators such as raptor perches or nest boxes – which in turn could help control pests.

Much work remains, however, to understand these opportunities.

small frog on human hand in front of solar panels
Farm management strategies can maximise the benefits of solar farms for wildlife. Eric Nordberg

Looking ahead

The benefit of renewable energy in reducing carbon emissions is well known. But more work is needed to understand how solar farms can benefit wildlife.

Research is also lacking on how to locate, configure and manage solar farms to best enhance biodiversity. Collaboration between industry, land managers and researchers is needed so clean energy production and conservation can go hand-in-hand.The Conversation

Eric Nordberg, Senior Lecturer (Applied Ecology and Landscape Management), University of New England

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

Planting more trees could reduce premature deaths in European cities by a third – new research

Amsterdam, Netherlands. Planting trees in urban areas can reduce the impacts of urban heat islands. Dutch_Photos/Shutterstock
Meelan Thondoo, University of Cambridge; Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Australian Catholic University, and Tamara Iungman, Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Urban development leads to fewer shaded areas and more heat-absorbing paved surfaces. Cities tend to be warmer than their rural surroundings as a result, a phenomenon known as the urban heat island (UHI) effect. During the summer daytime, cities can be up to 12℃ hotter than rural areas.

UHIs are a major environmental hazard for urban dwellers. Research suggests that for each 1℃ rise in temperature, the risk of death increases by between 1% and 3%. Heat exposure also increases the risk of suffering cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

Our research calculated the death rates of urban inhabitants across 93 European cities (57 million people in total) between June and August 2015. We found that 6,700 premature deaths during this period were linked to UHIs.

But the pace of global warming is accelerating and 2–3 billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050. The health impacts of UHIs will likely worsen in the coming years.

Several strategies exist to protect urban residents from the impacts of heat. These include covering roofs and facades in vegetation (green roofs), decorating them in lighter colours, and replacing paved surfaces with areas of vegetation. Our modelling revealed that one-third (2,644) of UHI deaths in Europe could be prevented by increasing tree canopy cover to 30% in every urban neighbourhood.

A graphic showing why urban areas are hotter than nearby rural areas.
The urban heat island effect. Èlia Pons/ISGlobal, CC BY-NC-ND

Urban tree guidelines

This target was established last year by a study published in the Journal of Forestry Research. Since then it has been adopted by several cities worldwide, including Barcelona (Spain), Bristol (UK), Philadelphia (US), Canberra (Australia) and Seattle (US).

Urban forests regulate a city’s microclimates effectively. Research found that urban forests cooled the average temperature of 601 European cities by 1.1°C and by as much as 2.9°C.

Leafy neighbourhoods are also linked to improved mental and physical health. In California, a 10% increase in neighbourhood tree cover has been associated with a 19% reduction in rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Surrounding greenness, particularly greenness at schools, can be important in the cognitive development of children. Cognitive testing of schoolchildren in Barcelona revealed a 6% better working memory development in children at schools with the highest levels of greenness compared to those at the least-green schools.

More trees means less heat

We found substantial variation in UHI death rates across European cities. In 2015, Gothenburg in Sweden recorded no premature UHI deaths, while urban heat was responsible for 32 premature deaths per 100,000 people in the Romanian city Cluj-Napoca.

The cities with the highest UHI death rates were in southern and eastern Europe. Most of these cities generally had low tree coverage and recorded the highest UHI effect.

Just 3.3% of Thessaloniki in Greece is covered by trees, resulting in urban temperatures 2.8℃ higher than the surrounding area. By contrast, 27% of Gothenburg is covered by trees, delivering an UHI effect of just 0.4℃.

Overall, southern European cities will benefit most from increasing their tree cover. Our model estimates that Barcelona could reduce its UHI death rate by 60% by meeting the 30% tree coverage target.

A street view of Gothenburg with trees lining the road and colourful buildings in the background.
The urban heat island effect is minimal in Gothenburg, Sweden. trabantos/Shutterstock

The way forward

But the intensity of the UHI effect depends on multiple factors and is specific to each city. While vegetation cover influences urban temperatures during the day, nighttime temperatures are driven by the height of the urban canyon.

The cooling capacity of a tree canopy also varies. This depends on the type and size of trees, which are themselves contingent on the city’s natural climate and the degree to which trees are maintained.

Drier climates, like Thessaloniki, favour smaller trees that have fewer leaves. By contrast, Gothenburg’s cooler and wetter climate favours larger and leafier trees that provide better protection from daytime heat.

Due to this variation, we built a tool called the Cooling Efforts Index. The index assesses how much cooling can be achieved in each city for every 1% increase in tree cover. We also generated high-resolution maps for each city to identify the areas where tree coverage is needed most urgently.

In some cities, the majority of urban forests will grow on private land. Tree planting programmes must therefore encourage residents to plant trees.

In Victoria, a city on Canada’s western coast, neighbourhoods are offered a CAD$1,000 (£610) grant to plant residential trees. So far, over 78 trees have been planted on private property across the city.

Space can also be a major constraint in compact urban areas. So increasing tree cover to 30% may be challenging for some European cities.

But each city can adapt this target to its local context. For example, a lower tree canopy target can be combined with alternative measures like green roofs in compact urban areas.

Terrace roofs account for 67% of Barcelona’s roof surface area. As the city’s urban population continues to rise, the city council has launched a guide to transform roofs into areas with partial or total plant cover. The guide sets out the social and environmental benefits of green roofs and offers advice for choosing the right kind of terrace roof for the building.

View from the rooftop terrace overlooking Barcelona's skyline.
Terrace roofs account for 67% of Barcelona’s roof surface area. Kirk Fisher/Shutterstock

Incorporating urban green infrastructure into cities should make them more resilient to climate change. But planting trees may not be enough. Tree growth is a long processes and around half of newly-planted trees die within two years. Preserving existing trees and complementing tree planting schemes with other measures that reduce the intensity of UHIs, such as reducing car use, are similarly important.

Urban trees provide substantial public health and environmental benefits. Our study suggests that by increasing tree coverage, premature UHI deaths in European cities can be reduced. But for the resilience of cities to increase, it remains important to combine greater tree coverage with other urban green infrastructure.

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Meelan Thondoo, Research Associate, University of Cambridge; Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Research Professor ISGlobal Barcelona and Professorial Fellow, ACU Melbourne, Australian Catholic University, and Tamara Iungman, PhD researcher, Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

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

It’s hot, and your local river looks enticing. But is too germy for swimming?

Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Ian A Wright, Western Sydney University and Nicky Morrison, Western Sydney University

Swimming in rivers, creeks and lakes can be a fun way to cool off in summer. But contamination in natural waterways can pose a risk to human health.

Waterborne pathogens can cause acute gastrointestinal illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting. Other common illnesses include skin rashes, respiratory problems, and eye and ear infections.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to find out if a waterway in Australia is safe for recreation. By contrast, a comprehensive system in Aotearoa-New Zealand, called Can I Swim Here?, provides timely water quality information for 800 beach, river and lake sites.

We have investigated the benefits and barriers associated with opening up waterways for recreation. Unsurprisingly, ensuring a local swimming site is safe is key to getting people using it. That includes giving people access to accurate information about water quality.

two women jump into waterway
It can be hard to find out if a waterway in Australia is safe for swimming. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

Can swimming really make you sick?

Contaminated water can exist in swimming pools and spas, as well as oceans, lakes, and rivers, exposing humans to a range of pathogens.

According to official advice in New South Wales, common waterborne pathogens include:

  • enteric bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E.coli) or Enterococci, that live in the intestinal tracts of all warm-blooded animals and can enter water as faecal matter (or poo). They can cause gastroenteritis, skin and ear infections and dysentery

  • viruses such as noroviruses and hepatitis. They can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, hepatitis and respiratory disease

  • protozoa such as giardia which, once ingested, can live as parasites in humans and animals and cause diarrhoea.

Australian research has documented a link between gastroeneritis and people swimming in public pools and freshwater sites such as rivers, lakes and dams.

Other water quality hazards for swimming include toxic blue-green algae and exposure to chemical pollutants.

Recent floods in Australia have led to an elevated risk of water contamination. As others have noted, flood waters can be highly polluted with disease-causing organisms, including from sewerage overflows.

So how do swimming locations get contaminated? Pollution can come from untreated sewage, or runoff containing animal poo or fertilisers. The source could be chemicals from nearby industrial activities, or the water users themselves.

Thankfully, most disease outbreaks from swimming are not fatal. An exception is the amoeba Naegleria fowleri. It lives in warmer waters and can cause amoebic meningitis, a potentially fatal brain disease.

Rubbish-strewn water with bird flying above
Rain and flooding can cause pollutants to run into waterways. James Ross/AAP

How safe is your local swimming hole?

In Australia, guidance on recreational water quality tends to focus on ocean beaches. For example, NSW’s Beachwatch program cover more than 200 NSW coastal (and some estuary) beaches. The advice is based on likelihood of rain combined with testing swimming sites for faecal bacteria.

The Victorian government also provides coastal swimming guidance for 36 beaches in Port Phillip Bay.

But away from the coast, information on the water quality of our local rivers, creeks and lakes, is sparse.

In NSW, advice exists for swimming and boating at four sites on the Nepean River in Western Sydney. Information is provided for a recently reopened swimming site at Lake Parramatta and for swimming at some Blue Mountains sites.

In Victoria, the Yarra Watch program monitors four swimming sites in freshwater stretches of the Yarra River, upstream of Melbourne.

And authorities in Canberra provide regular water quality monitoring and swimming advice for lakes and rivers.

But in contrast to Australia, New Zealand provides far more detailed and broad guidance.

people swimming in river
Authorities in Canberra provide regular water quality monitoring and swimming advice. Lukas Coch/AAP

How New Zealand does it

New Zealand’s world-leading national program Can I swim here? enables people to find the best places to swim across 800 beach, river and lake sites across the country.

The advice is provided by LAWA (Land, Air, Water Aotearoa), a collaboration between regional councils, the New Zealand government, scientific experts and academics, and a philanthropist organisation.

The data available includes both the latest weekly water quality test results, and results dating back five years.

The guidance also includes an interactive map (see below) where users can zoom to swimming sites in their region.

map of NewZealand showing red, orange and green dots
The ‘Can I swim here?’ site features an interactive map. https://www.lawa.org.nz

More work is needed

Everyone loves to be around, on and in the water, especially during summer. As well as providing a way to cool down, local swimming holes are great places for people to socialise, exercise and engage with nature – especially for those not near a beach.

Governments are recognising the real opportunity to open up underused waterways for recreation across Australia. But for the sake of our communities, more work is needed on improving water quality and sharing information.

Australia has a lot to learn from New Zealand and other countries on how to manage our waterways for recreational use. And ongoing research, partnering with government and industry, is clearly needed.The Conversation

Ian A Wright, Associate Professor in Environmental Science, Western Sydney University and Nicky Morrison, Professor of Planning and Director of Urban Transformations Research Centre, Western Sydney University

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

Australia’s cotton farmers can help prevent exploitation in the global garment industry

Martijn Boersma, University of Notre Dame Australia; Alice Payne, Queensland University of Technology, and Erin O'Brien, Queensland University of Technology

Ten years ago, the garment industry’s worst industrial accident – the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh – killed more than 1,100 workers and highlighted the travesty of conditions for millions of garment workers globally.

It spurred action to address exploitation, but for many workers little has changed.

Just in the past few months, Britain’s Tesco supermarket chain has been accused of profiting from the “effective forced labour” of workers in Thailand (making Tesco-brand jeans), while the world’s biggest clothing retailer, China’s fast-fashion brand Shein, has been exposed for rampant human rights abuses.

Such incidents are meant to have been eliminated, as big brands are supposed to leverage their power to effect change in global supply chains. Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, for example, requires companies with more than A$100 million in annual revenue to publicly report on their efforts to ensure their supply chains are free of labour exploitation.

The expectation has been that pressure from consumers and investors will be enough for retailers (who profit the most from driving down production costs) to drive change. Campaigners for better conditions say these requirements are all too often a “fig leaf”, because audits can easily be fudged.

Limited attention has been given to what suppliers can do to ensure their products aren’t associated with exploitation.

In this, Australia’s cotton industry could make a valuable contribution, as the world’s fourth-largest exporter (behind the United States, Brazil and India). Most of this cotton goes to low-wage countries in Asia to be spun, knitted or woven into cloth, and then turned into garments.

Producers don’t have anywhere near the same influence of buyers. Yet there is more they can do protect the workers overseas who transform their product into material goods.

Extending producer responsibility

We received funding from the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (which is funded by the Commonwealth government and cotton growers) to look at ways the Australian industry can ensure its cotton is not tainted by exploitation.

The idea of sellers taking responsibility for what end users do with a product is not entirely new. The principle of “extended producer responsibility” is credited to a 1990 report by academic Thomas Lindquist.

Since then, producer responsibility (or “product stewardship”) obligations have become accepted as needed to reduce waste and environmental pollution.

In Europe, clothing retailers are being asked by regulators to address the waste caused by consumers disposing of their clothing. They will have to ensure their clothes are more durable and have less impact on the environment. Retailers will also need to provide consumers with information on how to reuse, repair and recycle clothing.

In Australia, the concept has also been applied to animal welfare, following a public furore in 2011 over animal cruelty in Indonesian abattoirs.

In response, the federal government introduced the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.

Exporters now require their buyers to provide information about the supply chain including the port of arrival, transport, handling and slaughter of the livestock.

There is also a push to make coal and gas exporters responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions released by the use of their products.

Taking a book-end approach

Our report examines how to increase transparency and traceability in cotton supply chains. Among other approaches, it looks at extending the Australian cotton industry’s existing certification scheme.

This scheme helps market Australian cotton on its sustainability credentials. Our idea is to extend the existing “chain of custody” checklist – which serves as proof of the cotton’s Australian origin - to include information about working conditions further along the chain in spinning, fabric and garment production.

This could potentially enable Australian growers to sell their cotton at a premium. Buyers already know Australian cotton isn’t tainted by child or forced labour, unlike cotton from many other exporter nations. This assurance could then be extended to the final products made from Australian cotton too.

There is, of course, some debate about the size of the market for ethical materials. But research and growing commitments to ethical standards by major retailers suggest it is growing.

A “book-end” approach that combines actions by producers and retailers is, in our view, the best way to rid the global cotton supply chain of exploitation.

The authors wish to acknowledge the other report contributors: Rowena Maguire and Justine Coneybeer (Queensland University of Technology), and Timo Rissanen and Karina Kallio (University of Technology Sydney).The Conversation

Martijn Boersma, Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame Australia; Alice Payne, Professor in Fashion, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, and Erin O'Brien, Associate Professor, Centre for Justice, Queensland University of Technology

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

How culling Australia’s feral water buffalo could help tackle climate change

Hugh Davies, Charles Darwin University; Brett Murphy, Charles Darwin University; Clément Duvert, Charles Darwin University, and Georgina Neave, Charles Darwin University

The world’s largest wild population of water buffalo now roam Australia. As does the largest wild herd of camels. We have millions of feral goats and deer. For these introduced species, Australia is a paradise. Plenty of vegetation, and not many predators, other than dingoes, crocodiles and humans.

The problem is, these ruminants burp out the potent greenhouse gas methane from fermenting vegetation in their stomachs. While ferals only produce an estimated 5% of the methane produced by Australia’s 24 million cattle and 74 million sheep, feral ruminant numbers are soaring.

Buffalo, in particular, are high methane emitters, pumping out methane at around the same rate as cattle. Their numbers have rebounded after earlier culls to more than 200,000. Of the world’s animal methane emissions, cattle account for 77% and buffalo for 13%.

At present, culling is expensive. But our new research on feral water buffalo in Kakadu shows this could change. If landowners, land managers and governments could claim carbon credits for culling, it would go from an expense to a profit. At a stroke, we could reduce pressure on ecosystems, cut emissions and add another source of income for those doing the work.

water buffalo in kakadu
Water buffalo can destroy sensitive wetlands with hard hooves and a love of mud. Shutterstock

Are feral ruminants really a big problem?

If you live in a big city, you’re unlikely to ever see the full scale of the issue. But that’s changing. Residents in Melbourne and Sydney have become more familiar with feral deer, as they spread up and down the Great Dividing Range.

We’re more familiar with the damage done by other introduced species, including foxes, rabbits, rats and cats. Ruminants are a real problem – just usually not in the places where most people live.

These large herbivores are often much heavier than kangaroos and, unlike any native animal, have hard hooves which trample plants, compact soil and increase erosion. They can foul rivers and lakes, and carry diseases to farm animals.

Why is it hard to control these animals at present? The cost. Historically, keeping feral ruminant numbers down has been done by sending shooters up in helicopters. Since the 1960s, we have spent billions controlling feral ruminants.

Despite this, most of these species are more common than ever. How can that be? Once we stop culling, feral animal populations often bounce back very quickly because of their high breeding rates and through migration from neighbouring areas where culling hasn’t been undertaken.

For land managers, the scale of the task is often bigger than their budget, meaning feral ruminant control is often placed in the “too hard” basket, especially for remote areas. That’s where carbon credits could help. As the carbon economy grows, it has begun to change the economics of land use and land management.

herd of buffalo australia
Buffalo populations have bounced back from earlier culling programs. Shutterstock

Could carbon credits really improve feral ruminant control?

Land managers now have incentives to take action to avoid emissions in a way which can be documented and to increase how much carbon their land can sequester in trees, wetlands or soils.

That’s because these actions can earn them carbon credits. Every tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂-e) kept out of the atmosphere is currently worth around A$30. Credits can be sold to third parties looking to offset their emissions.

How could land managers create credits by controlling buffalo? We could borrow from the success of farmers and managers across northern Australia’s vast and fire-prone savannas who produce credits by using cool burns to reduce fuel loads and prevent devastating late-season fires which release large volumes of greenhouse gases.

Cool burn northern australia
Early cool burns in northern Australia can create carbon credits. Shutterstock

At present, you cannot claim carbon credits for culling. What if you could? We put that to the test in our research to see if the income from carbon credits would make culling self-sustaining.

In short, it would make a major difference. The income from selling carbon credits could far outweigh the costs of culling. Rather than being a huge expense, keeping numbers down on your landholdings would become a substantial source of income.

A water buffalo belches an average of 76 kilograms of methane each year. That’s the equivalent of 2.1 tonnes of CO₂. Over a 25-year lifespan, that’s the equivalent of more than 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

A rare win-win?

We examined the feral buffalo population around the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park, and simulated different culling scenarios. We found effective control would drastically reduce emissions, abating up to 913,000 tonnes of CO₂-e over 20 years. That would make aerial culling very profitable. The net income from these avoided emissions would be more than $26 million in credits – after taking out the cost of culling.

While more research is needed, we hope our research demonstrates the concept is viable. If culling high-emitting ruminants such as buffalo earned carbon credits, we believe it would open the door to far better feral animal control across the Top End.

We could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, open up new income streams for landowners and managers, and give regional ecosystems a health boost.

With buffalo pressure reduced, the wetlands and floodplains they churn into mudpits could recover. That, in turn, would help these natural systems hold their carbon better – and mean the value of buffalo removal would increase even more. At present, however, we haven’t quantified how much extra carbon could be stored.

It’s rare to find an approach in land management that benefits both landholders and the environment. Buffalo carbon credits might just be that rare win-win. The Conversation

Hugh Davies, Research Associate, Charles Darwin University; Brett Murphy, Professor, Charles Darwin University; Clément Duvert, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Darwin University, and Georgina Neave, PhD candidate, Charles Darwin 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 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
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 and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Wilshire Park Palm Beach: Some History + Photos From May 2022
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

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

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

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

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

Shorebird Identification Booklet

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

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format: 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.