November 27 - December 3, 2022: Issue 564

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew South Curl Curl Beach Clean Up: Sunday November 27

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew, meets the last Sunday of every month at 10am on Sydney's northern beaches. We update our location every month. Come and join us for our South Curl Curl clean up. It will be our last clean up this year, because the last Sunday in December falls on Christmas Day. We'll meet in the grass area, close to the beach - see the map on our website or social media. For exact meeting point look at the map or type in "75 Carrington Parade, Curl Curl in NSW" - we'll be at opposite that address.

We have clean and washed gloves, bags and buckets. We'll clean up the surrounding area and the beach, to try and catch the litter before it hits the beach, trying to remove as much plastic, cigarette butts and rubbish as possible.

The ones in the crew that are certified wildlife rescuers will also look for an entangled seagull that has been reported needing help.

We're a friendly group of people and everyone is welcome to this family friendly event (just leave political, religious and business messages at home so everyone feel welcome). It's a nice community - make some new friends and do a good deed for the planet at the same time. Send us a message if you are lost - email or on our social media. Please invite family and friends and share this event.

We meet at 10am for a briefing. Then we generally clean between 60-90 minutes. After that, we sort and count the rubbish so we can contribute to litter research. We normally finish around 12.30 when we go to lunch together (at own cost). Please note, we completely understand if you cannot stay for the whole event. We are just grateful for any help we can get. No booking required. Just show up on the day. Looking forward to meeting you at South Curl Curl beach.

Help guide future decisions for Manly Dam

The Council are calling for expressions of interest from the community to sit on the advisory committee that will guide decisions about how Manly Dam is managed over the next four years.

Officially known as the Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park, we’re seeking to appoint three community members to the Advisory Committee including:

  • an environment representative
  • a recreational representative
  • a community representative.

Manly Dam is a popular spot for enjoying picnics, bushwalking, mountain biking, swimming, and water-skiing. Loved by locals and visitors, this dedicated war memorial and State Park is home to a wide variety of significant ecological communities and flora and fauna.

This is your opportunity to have your say on how this beautiful park is managed over the next four years.

The Manly Warringah War Memorial State Park Advisory Committee includes three community members, and representatives from Council and the NSW Government.

If you’re interested in a position, submit your expression of interest on the council  website before 11 December 2022

Orchid at Manly Dam. Photo: Selena Griffith

Gilead Stage 2 development

The proposal for Gilead Stage 2 has been opened for submissions this week with the closing date of December 19th, 2022. The documents show the application proposes to 'directly impact' 268.72 ha of the assessment area of which 53.50 ha is mapped as native vegetation and threatened species habitat, including the local population of koalas.

The planning proposal, which has already been approved through a gateway decision by the NSW Department of Planning, seeks to rezone land at Gilead Stage 2 to facilitate around 3,300 dwellings.

The proposal was announced as one of three being 'fast-tracked' by the NSW Department of Planning by Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts on November 2nd, 2022.

Mr Roberts said while planning proposals are normally lodged with councils in the first instance, the State will assess these proposals.

“The Department of Planning and Environment will undertake the assessment of these proposals, which are all located in the Greater Macarthur Growth Area, so councils don’t need to. However, it will be required to work closely with councils and other agencies to resolve any potential issues,” he said.

“Nothing about the assessment process changes including the important need for community consultation.”

The webpage underlines this approach, notifying that any decision will not be made public and follows on for the approach taken by the state government in regard to their being both the proponent partner and decision maker in the proposal for Lizard Rock at Belrose.

The application proposes to permanently protect and manage for conservation, 225.76 ha of lands, 218.93 ha of which, the documents state, will generate ecosystem credits. 

These same BSA sites, the biodiversity report states, will generate 6,232 species credits; 1,348 for Koala, 1,347 Squirrel Glider, 1,181 Cumberland Plain Land Snail, 856 Southern Myotis and 1,500 Pomaderris brunnea species credits i.e. there will be a deficit of 108 Koala credits and significant surpluses for all other species. 

The deficit of Koala credits (108) will be met by retiring 99 Koala species already held by Lendlease (Credit ID holder 650) from the Campbelltown Koala population purchased from the Noorumba Reserve Biobank site (BA239) and the purchase of 9 Koala credits from registered biobank sites outside the BCAA or Biodiversity Stewardship sites or the BCT (subject to an assessment of credit equivalency).

The initial application for Biodiversity Certification was publicly exhibited for 64 days by Campbelltown City Council between 15 December 2020 and 17 February 2021. The Council received 626 submissions during the exhibition period and a further 53 after the close of exhibition. 

The Biodiversity assessment report states it has been updated in light of these submissions. 

The submissions raised a number of concerns in regards to a lack of a strategic approach, the inadequacy of surveys for threatened species, unacceptable impacts to the Campbelltown Koala population (inadequate Koala corridors) and unacceptable impacts to listed endangered ecological communities. 

Those who have campaigned or written feedback for the earlier version have stated the Biodiversity document, its latest edition, amounts to stating that it is alright to destroy over 268 hectares of habitat because you're not going to destroy a portion of that habitat and that koalas living there, even though now listed as Endangered in NSW, can still be killed or displaced if you purchase 'koala credits'.

Other species found at the site were six species of threatened microchiropteran bats, all listed as Vulnerable, the Squirrel Glider was recorded in seven locations (with only the 'higher quality vegetation' being mapped as habitat, isolated individual trees and small patches of vegetation without a mid-storey and greater than 30 m from intact vegetation were not considered suitable habitat), along with hundreds of species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, bird species, mammals (non-flying, and mammals (flying). 

However, at present, only Koala, Squirrel Glider, Southern Myotis and Cumberland Plain Land Snail are species 'credit species' and have been identified as being impacted by the land to be certified. The other species that have been recorded or have the potential to occur within the BCAA which are species credits species (Little Bentwing Bat, Eastern Bentwing Bat, Large-eared Pied Bat and Grey-headed Flying Fox) are only species credit species when breeding habitat is being impacted. No breeding habitat was recorded within the land to be certified so these species do not require further assessment as species credit species in this assessment.

All the other species don't count at all - 'another way to underline why our nation has the highest extinction rate in the world'.

Subject to the Minister’s approval of the request for a red flag variation, the proposal, the documents state, can meet an ‘improve or maintain’ outcome and is eligible for biodiversity certification. 

Once the Minister confers biocertification on the requested land, which has been the stated and published intent from the incumbent government's Minister for Planning, the local Council, as the consent authority for future development applications, is;

''no longer required to assess impacts to ‘biodiversity values’ as these have already been addressed by the Minister and ‘conservation areas’ will be required to be managed in perpetuity for conservation''.

Mark Pearson MLC of the NSW Animal Justice Party has pointed out:

''The NSW Biodiversity Offsets scheme is a sham. As I said in a speech in Parliament last month, this project is used to justify maiming, distressing and killing animals and harming the environment and it's absolutely not acceptable. 

Not only is it unacceptable that individual animals are killed under this scheme, but it is a scheme that does not protect biodiversity.

The Auditor‑General's review found there is an undersupply of in‑demand credits for numerous endangered species. Seven endangered and 10 vulnerable flora species are likely to have a large credit undersupply, as are at least three endangered and 15 vulnerable fauna species, including the swift parrot, eastern pygmy possum and bush stone‑curlew. 

Biodiversity gains made through the scheme will not be sufficient to offset the losses resulting from development and the outcome of irreversible habitat and species loss. The Auditor‑General found that the Department of Planning and Environment has not established a clear strategy to develop the biodiversity credit market or determine whether the scheme's operation and outcomes are consistent with the purposes of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. 

We are slipping backwards with species and habitat loss. The Government's 2020 NSW Biodiversity Outlook Report estimates that, without effective management, only 50 per cent of species and 59 per cent of ecological communities that are listed as threatened in New South Wales will still exist in 100 years. The NSW State of the Environment 2021 report identifies habitat destruction and native vegetation clearing as presenting the single greatest threat to biodiversity in the State—not introduced wild animals. Demand for offset credits is growing rapidly, predominately driven by major projects. 

The Government needs to curtail development in sensitive areas. Intuitively, clearing land for development and killing animals in one place and then paying for a credit to protect animals elsewhere is not acceptable.''

Invitation-Northern Beaches ACF and Save Sydney's Koalas 
FREE Film Screening + Q&A of Simon Reeve documentary Koalas: The Hard Truths Thursday 8 December at Narrabeen Tramshed 6.45 - 8.30pm Please click on below link to register:

Land Court in Queensland Recommends against Clive Palmer’s Coal Mine

November 25, 2022
Queensland's Land Court has ruled human rights would be unjustifiably limited by a proposal to dig the state's largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland.

Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance challenged the project with the assistance of the Environmental Defenders Office on the grounds it would destroy the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, and would pose an unacceptable risk to the climate, and that human rights of First Nations People would be negatively impacted as a result.

In May, the court travelled to Erub (Darnley) Island and Poruma (Coconut) Island in the Torres Strait to hear first-hand how climate change is negatively impacting communities and eroding their ability to practise culture, now legally protected by cultural and human rights under the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019. 

Land Court President Fleur Kingham recommended the Resources Minister and the Department of Environment and Science refuse the Mining Lease and Environmental Authority on environmental, climate, and human rights grounds and said she would not be recommending Waratah Coal's application for a mining lease and environmental approval to be granted.

"The importance of preserving the rights weighs more heavily in the balance of the economic benefits of the mine and the benefits of contributing energy security for South-East Asia," she said.

Waratah Coal had argued the Galilee Coal Project would contribute $2.5 billion in economic benefits over its 30-year life span. 

"With declining demand for thermal coal, there is a real prospect the mine will not be viable throughout its projected life and not all the economic benefits will be realised," Ms Kingham said.

Youth Verdict stated; ''This landmark win will have far-reaching impacts for climate and nature. Crucially, it will set a new standard for how First Nations communities can object to fossil fuel proposals that threaten their cultures and ways of life.   

Murrawah Bulloo Johnson, the First Nations Campaign lead and co-director stated:

"We are overjoyed. The voices of First Nations Queenslanders have been heard. A court has recognised the human and cultural rights of First Nations peoples are impacted by climate change and has recommended that this mine not be approved. 

"As a Wirdi woman I am proud that this case was able to raise the bar for the respect given to First Nations knowledge and customs in the western courtroom. We are excited that we were able to use the Human Rights Act to advocate for changes to Land Court process based on cultural rights grounds.”  

The fight is far from over – the land court decision is a recommendation to the QLD Government, a government that loves coal and gas. We're gonna need everyone to make sure that this mine never goes ahead.
Clive’s coal project is just one of 32 mines that billionaires want to build in the Galilee and Bowen basins, so our case sets an important precedent for the future of coal in the region. We need everyone to join us to support First Nations resistance to extractive industries in Queensland. By fighting for First Nations cultural rights, we’re fighting for a safe and healthy climate for us all. ''

Murrawah Bulloo Johnson addressing the media after the decision was made public. Photo:  Bimblebox Nature Refuge via Facebook

Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland director Coral Rowston warmly welcomed the decision.

“We hope today’s decision will mean other coal mining companies will think twice before attempting to force new climate wrecking proposals on Queenslanders,” she said.

“Despite what the coal lobby likes to think, Central Queensland is a place of remarkable natural beauty and vibrant communities. As Land Court President Fleur Kingham ruled today, Clive Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project directly threatened Central Queenslanders and our way of life.

“This is a fantastic decision and it shows burning coal threatens our climate and contributes to extreme weather events. No matter where coal is exported, it impacts on people’s human rights everywhere. 

“The decision also shows how the environmental costs to the Bimblebox Nature Refuge and of burning more coal cannot be outweighed by any perceived economic arguments.

“This project would tip the balance against humanity retaining any hope of remaining within its carbon budget.”   

Environment advocates Lock the Gate Alliance's Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “We hope today’s Land Court decision will have far reaching consequences for new coal mines planned for Queensland. Land Court President Fleur Kingham was clear in her reasons - coal burnt from Queensland mines is worsening the climate crisis, and Queenslanders are directly suffering as a result.

“Huge congratulations must go to Youth Verdict, the Torres Strait Islander community members who gave evidence, the farmers who have fought this project for more than a decade, and all those who fought alongside them, especially the tremendous lawyers at the Environmental Defenders Office.

“It takes a lot of courage, time, and energy to stand up against the might of the coal mining industry, and these groups did so valiantly.

“This was a mine that proposed to mine under a Nature Refuge. It was in the wrong place and was definitely proposed at the wrong time in human history.

“Today’s Land Court decision shows how important it is for communities to have their day in court so that these decisions can be reviewed by an independent court. It is a great shame that the Queensland Palaszczuk Government is now putting these rights at risk with a review of community merits rights. Today’s decision demonstrates how critically important these rights are.

“We call on the Minister and the department to swiftly implement the court’s recommendation so that these communities can move on with their lives.”

BirdLife Australia Photography Awards 2022 Winners announced

BirdLife Photography received nearly 6000 entries for the BirdLife Australia Photography Awards this year, and they were divided into nine different categories: Bird portrait; Birds in flight; Bird behaviour; Backyard birds; Human impact; Birds in the landscape; Special theme (Australasian robins); Youth; and Portfolio.

This impressive level of interest provided the panel of judges with the unenviable and gargantuan task of gradually sifting through all the images, whittling them down until just a handful remained as potential winners in each category — and then it was just as difficult to decide which of them would be the ultimate winning entries!

The winners of the 2022 BirdLife Australia Photography Awards are: Danny Lee, Glenn Faithfull, Elmar Akhmetov, John Harrison, Cheng Kang, Rebecca Harrison, Maria Coleman, Desmond Wang, Mitchell Roberts and Nathan Watson. Congratulations to you all for taking out the top prize in each category.

To view the winning entries, click here.

regent honeyeaters being helped to find their songs again

November 20, 2022
The wild population of one of Australia's rarest birds is being boosted after the release of 50 conservation-bred birds on Wonnarua Country in the Lower Hunter Valley this week.
Minister for Environment James Griffin said this is the second large-scale release of conservation-bred regent honeyeaters undertaken in New South Wales.

"The regent honeyeater used to flock in its thousands from Queensland to South Australia, but now there are only around 300 birds left in the wild," Mr Griffin said.

"We're releasing conservation-bred birds to boost numbers in the wild as part of a national effort to save this critically endangered species.

"We recently learnt that wild regent honeyeaters are losing their song culture because there are fewer older birds for young regent honeyeaters to learn from.

"The ability for the regent honeyeater to sing and call is vital to attracting a mate, and the introduction of the Taronga Zoo-bred birds will give these wild birds the chance to learn their songs again, find mates and ensure the species can survive and thrive into the future."

In 2021, 58 regent honeyeaters were released in the Lower Hunter Valley, and breeding activity was documented along with assimilation of zoo-bred birds into wild flocks.

Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) CEO Tara Dever said the successful release on Mindaribba LALC land reflected the deep and intergenerational relationship between the birds and the Country at the foot of Mount Tomalpin.

"This Country, like its People and this wonderful bird, has survived massive change and upheaval over the past 250 years," Ms Dever said.

"While conditions need to be just right, to ensure the birds have enough food and shelter, the deep connection between First Nations People and this land has assisted with the success of the release."

The breeding program is led by Taronga Conservation Society Australia, BirdLife Australia and the NSW Government's $175 million Saving our Species program.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia Wildlife Conservation Officer Monique Van Sluys said almost 600 regent honeyeaters have been bred at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo since 2000.

"Over the past 20 years, Taronga has refined its approach to conservation breeding and increased our understanding of this beautiful and rare species," Ms Sluys said.

"Juvenile zoo-bred regent honeyeaters are now housed in aviaries with wild adult birds to be exposed to their wild regent honeyeaters song prior to release. This crucial step allows the birds to learn and refine their distinctive song.

"By integrating science and husbandry, we have been able to determine which factors – such as song-tutoring and building pre-release fitness – best assist in post-release survival of zoo-bred birds."

BirdLife Australia's NSW Woodland Bird Program Manager Mick Roderick said around 39 birds will be monitored for up to 10 weeks by BirdLife Australia thanks to support from the Commonwealth Environment Restoration Fund and the NSW Government's Saving our Species program.

"Monitoring will involve a small radio-tracking crew, following transmitter signals and recording individual bird locations and behaviour to understand survival, breeding attempts and dispersal patterns," Mr Roderick said.

"It's incredibly rewarding to see zoo-bred birds form mixed flocks with wild birds, and to know this fledgling flock is supported by so many agencies, groups and communities across Australia."

The community is encouraged to report any sightings of regent honeyeaters to BirdLife Australia on or 1800 621 056.

Help needed to save sea turtle nests as third La Nina summer looms

Those who recall Green Turtle Eggs being found at North Steyne in January 2020 will know our area is now part of where turtles may make nests. Crews found 144 of the white, ping pong ball sized eggs, their shells still soft and leathery. Although it was said then that incidents of turtles laying their eggs so far south are extremely rare, more recent studies have shown the shift of what was once north to the south in our oceans and what was once south moving north. 

The NSW Department of Environment has stated on Monday October 17th, Beachgoers spotting and reporting sea turtle tracks and nests could save hundreds of baby turtles as sea turtle nesting season kicks off in November and a third La Nina summer looms.

Holly West from NSW TurtleWatch said that last year, reports and support from members of the public meant 4 nests were relocated to higher ground that would otherwise have been washed away during the summer storms.

"Green and loggerhead sea turtles which nest on NSW beaches are both threatened species, so it's vital we do everything we can to protect every nest and every egg during this critical breeding period," said Ms West.

"From the nests we successfully relocated last year, 376 baby turtles hatched and made their way to the ocean.

"That's almost 400 baby turtles saved by those members of the public who gave us a call.

"With another La Nina summer predicted, sea turtle nests will be in the firing line from increased storm activity.

"Nesting turtle tracks disappear from the beach very quickly, so the earlier we are notified about tracks or the location of a potential nest, the better.

"This allows us to monitor the nest from the get-go and act to save the eggs if the nest is at risk of being inundated by high tides or impacted by other threats, such as predators, erosion or light pollution," she said.

In 2021–22, 11 sea turtle nesting activities were recorded on NSW beaches.

"Each nesting season, in collaboration with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, we collect data on how many sea turtles are utilising the NSW coastline to nest," said Ms West.

"The more we understand about how, where and when marine turtles nest, the more we will be able to protect them," she said.

Female turtles typically come out of the water between dusk and dawn to lay their eggs so beachgoers should keep an eye out for tracks in the sand if they are on the beach early in the morning.

Sightings of nesting turtles, turtle tracks or nests should be reported to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on 13000 PARKS or to NSW TurtleWatch on 0468 489 259.

NSW TurtleWatch is developed by Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue and supported by the NSW Government through the Saving our Species program, the Marine Estate Management Strategy and NPWS.

Photos: the eggs found in our area in 2020. Photos courtesy  and from Northern Beaches Police Area Command Facebook page. Those eggs were carefully placed in sand at an undisclosed location near Coffs Harbour, where they were more likely to hatch.

Watch out - shorebirds about

Spring 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local wildlife rescuers and carers state that ongoing heavy rains are tough for us but can be tougher for our wildlife:

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

You can help by:

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

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

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

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

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

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

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

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

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

sydney wildlife rescue: helpers needed

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

They might not have a spine, but invertebrates are the backbone of our ecosystems. Let’s help them out

Peter Contos, La Trobe University and Heloise Gibb, La Trobe University

Many of Australia’s natural places are in a poor state. While important work is being done to protect particular species, we must also take a broader approach to returning entire ecosystems to their former glory – a strategy known as “rewilding”.

Rewilding aims to restore the complex interactions that make up a functioning ecosystem. It involves reintroducing long-lost plants and animals to both conserve those species and restore an area’s natural processes.

You might imagine this involves an ecologist releasing cute, furry bilbies, or an endangered songbird. This is a logical assumption. Research shows a marked bias in reintroduction programs towards vertebrates, especially birds and mammals.

Meanwhile, invertebrates are often overlooked. But our new research shows rewilding with invertebrates – insects, worms, spiders and the like – can go a long way in bringing our degraded landscapes back to life.

spider in web in front of tree
Invertebrates are crucial to functioning ecosystems. Shutterstock

A shocking decline

Invertebrates make up 97% of animal life and drive key processes such as pollination and cycling nutrients. But they’re the focus of just 3% of reintroduction projects.

This reflects a taxonomic bias in conservation. Overseas, this has led to rewilding projects centred on large keystone mammals that alter ecosystems on a broad scale, such as wolves and bison.

Of course, traditional vertebrate rewilding projects are very important for ecosystem restoration. In Australia, for example, they are vital in restoring mammal communities decimated by cats and foxes.

But invertebrate species are declining at shocking rates around the world, especially as climate change worsens. They also need our help to re-colonise new areas.

man and child look on as woman releases bilby
Mammal rewilding projects are very important for ecosystem restoration, but invertebrates need help too. Bobby-Jo Photography/AAP

No beetle is an island

Picture an island in the middle of the ocean. The further from shore it is, the more animals on the mainland will struggle to reach it – especially if they’re tiny and wingless, like many invertebrates.

My colleagues and I built our study around this analogy.

Instead of islands, our research involved six isolated patches of revegetated land on farms. And instead of an ocean, invertebrates had to cross a sea of pasture which, for many litter-dwelling invertebrates, is a barren, unsheltered wasteland.

The farm sites were “biologically poor”. That is, despite the habitat quality improving following revegetation, they contained lower-than-expected invertebrate biodiversity.

We surmised that invertebrates from surrounding “biologically rich” national parks were struggling to reach and recolonise the isolated revegetation patches.

Our study involved giving invertebrates a hand to find new homes. We moved leaf litter – and more than 300 invertebrates species hiding in it – from national park sites into six revegetated farm sites in central Victoria.

We moved litter samples several times between 2018 and 2020, over different seasons. Sites were “paired”, so a national park site was paired with a revegetated one that would have been similar had degradation had not occurred.

The litter community of invertebrates is incredibly complex and can be broken into three groups: macroinvertebrates (more than 5 mm), mesoinvertebrates (less than 5 mm) and microbes. We focused on mesoinvertebrates, which mostly comprise mites, ticks, ants, beetles and springtails (small, wingless arthropods).

We found among this group, beetles were most likely to survive and thrive in their new habitat, which was much drier than the one they left. Rove beetles did particularly well.

red and black beetle on leaf
Numbers of beetles – particularly the rove beetle, pictured – bounced back quickly after being moved. Shutterstock

Beetles are hardy little things with strong exoskeletons that protect them from drying out. In fact, as early as seven months after being moved, beetle numbers at the new sites reached levels similar to that in pristine national parks that we sourced leaf litter from.

We did not have the same success with other types of invertebrates. For example, springtails are a massive component of leaf litter communities in national parks. But they’re soft-bodied and dry out easily, so were more likely to die when moved to a new, drier environment.

Understanding why some groups are more likely to survive leaf litter transplants than others is a vital step in the development of invertebrate rewilding. Nonetheless, our results show the relatively simple act of moving leaf litter can lead to comparatively large increases in species richness in a short time.

ant in leaf litter
Moving leaf litter can quickly lead to comparatively large increases in species richness . Shutterstock

Loving our creepy crawlies

Our study showed how a simple method of rewilding with invertebrates can effectively reintroduce multiple species at once. This is an important finding.

More research into the method is needed across different types of sites and over longer timeframes. However, our method has the potential to be applied widely in the fight against global invertebrate declines.

The method is cheap and easy. In contrast, rewilding projects involving vertebrates can be hard to execute and expensive, and often require breeding animals for release.

Invertebrates are the bulk of terrestrial diversity and the backbone for proper ecosystem functioning. We need to start putting them at the centre of rewilding projects.

Our results are just one small piece in the puzzle. Many other invertebrate communities will need safeguarding and restoring in the future.

Recent research has challenged the assumption that humans naturally find vertebrates more engaging than invertebrates. We might be pleasantly surprised to find the public is as engaged with invertebrate rewilding projects as those focused on cute and cuddly critters.The Conversation

Peter Contos, PhD Candidate, La Trobe University and Heloise Gibb, Professor, La Trobe University

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

That siren-imitating lyrebird at Taronga Zoo? He lost his song culture – and absorbed some of ours

Alex Maisey, La Trobe University

A fortnight after five lions escaped at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, an amused zoo visitor captured footage of Echo the superb lyrebird as he mimicked alarm sirens and evacuation calls with astonishing accuracy.

News outlets were quick to link the lyrebird’s alarm impersonation with the lion’s great escape. But while this tale made for a great headline, the truth of this story is far more interesting.

Superb lyrebirds are arguably the bird world’s greatest mimics. Using their phenomenal voiceboxes, males will sing elaborate songs and perfectly imitate sounds made by other birds to impress prospective mates.

Not only this, they share songs in a form of cultural transmission. In the wild, some songs become more popular while others wane. Think of it as pop charts for the bush.

But Echo was bred in captivity. He wasn’t exposed to wild song culture. Instead, he learned from what he was exposed to – and that includes “songs” like the alarm call. Echo had been practising this call for years to get it that good – not just the two weeks after the lions escaped.

The ability of these birds to imitate sounds is rightly world-famous. But for their song culture to continue, we need healthy wild populations. Otherwise, they could face a future like critically endangered regent honeyeaters, which are now borrowing mating songs from other birds.

Why do lyrebirds learn human-made sounds and songs?

Many of us are familiar with the famous sequence in David Attenborough’s Life of Birds where a lyrebird accurately imitates camera clicks, a chainsaw motor and construction sounds.

Millions of people have watched this clip of a lyrebird imitating cameras and machinery.

But most watchers wouldn’t have guessed the bird’s secret – it was bred in captivity. That’s why it was so good at imitating our sounds.

Similarly, Echo of Taronga Zoo was also captive-bred. Mimicking a human-origin sound such as the alarm is a behaviour not commonly seen in the wild, other than in heavily visited areas such as in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges where wild lyrebirds may hear, say, human voices every day.

Superb lyrebirds can mimic human speech, as in this clip from Victoria’s Sherbrooke Forest. Alex Maisey, Author provided523 KB (download)

That’s because lyrebirds seem to learn which songs to sing by listening to their peers, rather than simply soaking up sounds around them like a sponge.

In Victoria’s Sherbrooke Forest, lyrebirds mimic the familiar melodic whip-crack of the whipbird above all other mimicked sounds. But in Kinglake forest just 60 kilometres north, the whipbird’s call was only the 12th most popular for local lyrebirds, while the calls of the grey shrike-thrush and laughing kookaburra took top billing.

This is culture – the songs and sounds are passed from one bird to the next, between generations, and undergo change over time.

But how do they do it?

It’s not magic – it’s a complicated organ. Our voicebox – the larynx – is in our throats. But birds have theirs – the syrinx – further down, at the bottom of their windpipes. As they breathe out, they pass air through the syrinx to make their calls and songs.

Remarkably, many songbirds can control airflow from each lung, meaning they can produce sound in mono or stereo and have greater control over the types of sound they can make. They can use one side of the syrinx, both together, or switch back and forth.

Lyrebirds take it a step further again. They have fewer pairs of muscles around their syrinx, but the ones they do have are extremely well adapted to the job of making sound. Some lyrebird researchers believe this may be the reason they can produce such an extraordinary range of sounds, but this has yet to be conclusively shown.

lyrebird vocal organ
Lyrebirds can independently moderate the air flow through each side of their syrinx. The trachea and syringeal muscles are in yellow. Alex Maisey, Author provided

Even so, they’re not born superstars. Young lyrebirds struggle to reproduce mimicked sounds as perfectly as adult lyrebirds can. This suggests a lyrebird’s voice improves over years of practice.

Added to that is the dancing. Male courtship displays involve dance moves accompanying their song. That’s a cognitively challenging task, which is why not all of us are capable of being K-Pop stars.

To combine song and dance needs a large and well-developed brain. And that, after all, may be the point – the male’s ability to coordinate and song with dance is thought to be the key selection criteria for females choosing their mates.

So for Echo to perfect his fire alarm song, he had to practice and practice and practice to get it to the point where we can recognise it. Like humans practising a language or a musical instrument, lyrebirds must work at their songs.

Male lyrebirds have to coordinate song and dance to maximise how impressive they seem.

Why does bird culture matter?

Imagine if Echo was inspired by the lions and escaped. How would he fare in the wild? It’s unlikely he’d ever manage to impress a mate with his “evacuate now” mimicry and siren song. It’s as if a human was raised by wolves – it would be all but impossible to reintegrate.

The reason why we watch videos of Echo and find them amusing is because we are instinctively drawn to animal behaviour we can make sense of through our own. Animals acting like humans is amusing and appealing for us. But, alas, there’s a serious point here.

Take the critically endangered regent honeyeater, which once flew through box-ironbark forests in dense, raucous flocks. Now there are only 300 or so left in the wild.

With a population this low, the species loses not only genetic diversity but culture as well. Regent honeyeaters are losing their courtship songs, because the young birds simply don’t have enough peers to listen to and learn from. Without peers, some males only sing the songs of other species.

While lyrebirds are good survivors during natural disasters, there’s no room for complacency. The Black Summer fires put the superb lyrebird at real risk from habitat loss as well as introduced predators. If we’re not careful, the lyrebird too, could lose its culture and its songs. The Conversation

Alex Maisey, Postdoctoral research fellow, Research Centre for Future Landscapes, La Trobe University

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

Stripping carbon from the atmosphere might be needed to avoid dangerous warming – but it remains a deeply uncertain prospect

Anna Sabramowicz/Unsplash, CC BY
Jonathan Symons, Macquarie University and Matt McDonald, The University of Queensland

Australia’s latest State of the Climate Report offers grim reading. As if recent floods weren’t bad enough, the report warns of worsening fire seasons, more drought years and, when rain comes, more intense downpours. It begs the question: is it too late to avoid dangerous warming?

At the COP27 climate summit in Egypt some states began to question whether the target to limit global warming to 1.5℃ this century should be dropped. The commitment was ultimately retained, but it remains unlikely we’ll meet it.

This means attention is turning to other options for climate action, including large-scale carbon removal.

Carbon removal refers to human activities that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it (ideally permanently) – in rock formations, land or ocean reservoirs. The more common, and least controversial, forms of carbon removal are tree-planting, mangrove restoration and enhancing soil carbon.

All forms of carbon removal - including natural and high-tech measures - are defined as forms of geoengineering. All are increasingly part of the global climate discussion.

Proponents argue carbon removal is required at a massive scale to avoid dangerous warming. But the practice is fraught. Successfully stripping carbon from the atmosphere at the scale our planet requires is a deeply uncertain prospect.

Limiting global warming to 1.5℃ is getting harder

In 2015 the international community set a goal of limiting warming to well below 2℃, and preferably to 1.5℃ this century, compared to pre-industrial levels. Seven years later, global emissions are not on track to achieve this.

The State of the Climate Report released this week found Australia has already warmed by 1.47℃. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the planet overall has heated by 1.09℃.

Renewable energy is growing rapidly, but so too is the use of oil and coal. The emissions “budget” that would limit warming to 1.5℃ is almost spent.

The IPCC said in a report this year that large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal was “unavoidable” if the world is to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

It followed an IPCC report in 2018 containing scenarios in which warming could be limited to 1.5℃. These scenarios required significant emission reductions along with carbon removal of between 100–1,000 billion tonnes of CO₂ by 2100. For context, global annual energy emissions are now approximately 31 billion tonnes of CO₂.

Today, policy planners often assume large-scale carbon removal will become necessary. Meanwhile, critics worry that the promise of carbon removal will delay other actions to mitigate climate change.

Indeed, some critics question if large-scale removal will ever be feasible, saying it’s unlikely to be developed in time nor work effectively.

What does carbon removal look like?

Cramming centuries of carbon pollution into the biosphere won’t be easy. One key challenge is making the storage permanent.

Consider trees. While forests store a lot of carbon, if they burn then the carbon goes straight back into the atmosphere. What’s more, there’s not enough land for forests to deliver negative emissions on the scales we require to limit global warming.

Carbon removal by planting new forests (afforestation) can also create social injustices. In some cases Indigenous communities have lost control of homelands appropriated for carbon storage.

As a result, some experts and civil society groups are calling for more complex methods of carbon removal. Two widely discussed examples include “direct air capture and storage” (use fans to force air through carbon-capturing filters) and “bioenergy, carbon capture and storage” (grow forests, burn them for electricity, capture and store the carbon).

In each case, the goal is to permanently sequester captured carbon in underground geologic formations. This will likely offer more permanent carbon removal than “natural solutions” such as planting trees. Their lower land requirements mean they should also be easier to scale.

However, these higher-tech methods are also more expensive and often lack public support. Consider plans for the Sizewell Nuclear Power Station in the United Kingdom to power “direct air capture” of carbon dioxide. Sizewell is promising carbon negative electricity, but nuclear-powered negative emissions are unlikely to be popular or cheap.

One Australian start-up has plans for solar-powered direct air capture of CO₂. However, this project’s costs are prohibitively high.

Much social learning will be needed before large-scale carbon removal of any type can become a thing. For now, we need to democratically review which, if any, carbon removal methods are actually a good idea.

Carbon removal credits could be dodgy

As governments begin to grasp the difficulties in decarbonising sectors such as agriculture and aviation, they have begun to look to carbon removal technologies to meet their net-zero emissions pledges.

For example, in the United States, the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction and CHIPS Acts promise massive new carbon removal programs.

At COP27, negotiators considered how carbon removals should be defined internationally. At stake is which carbon removal projects will be able to generate “tradeable” offsets.

Most decisions at COP27 ended up being delayed or referred to working groups. Nevertheless, civil society observers worried that dodgy carbon removal credits might undermine the Paris Agreement’s integrity.

When credits are awarded to projects that don’t really capture carbon or do so only temporarily, then carbon reduction schemes lose all credibility.

How to avoid integrity issues

Assessing the material and social impacts of carbon removal – whether via a “natural solution” or a new technology – will first require small-scale deployment.

To avoid integrity issues, the world will need robust regulations on how carbon removal is conducted. This includes:

  • agreed standards to measure carbon removal in ways that rule out dodgy or temporary carbon removal

  • more advanced carbon removal technologies that bring down the cost and reduce land and energy requirements

  • more sophisticated ways of aligning carbon removal with social justice so that sovereignty and humanity rights are prioritised over carbon markets

  • a system of incentives to encourage carbon removal. States, companies and other actors should be rewarded for their climate restoration work, but these efforts must be additional to actual emissions reduction.

Of course, the best thing to do is to stop emitting carbon. However, preserving a safe climate will likely require us to go further. It’s time to start a democratic discussion about carbon removal.The Conversation

Jonathan Symons, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie School of Social Sciences, Macquarie University and Matt McDonald, Associate Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland

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

State of the climate: what Australians need to know about major new report

David Crosling/AAP
Matthew England, UNSW Sydney

The latest State of the Climate report is out, and there’s not much good news for Australians.

Our climate has warmed by an average 1.47℃ since national records began, bringing the continent close to the 1.5℃ limit the Paris Agreement hoped would never be breached. When global average warming reaches this milestone, some of Earth’s natural systems are predicted to suffer catastrophic damage.

The report, released today, paints a concerning picture of ongoing and worsening climate change. In Australia, associated impacts such as extreme heat, bushfires, drought, heavy rainfall, and coastal inundation threaten our people and our environment.

The report is a comprehensive biennial snapshot of the latest trends in climate, with a focus on Australia. It’s compiled by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, drawing on the latest national and international climate research.

It synthesises the latest science about Australia’s climate and builds on the previous 2020 report by including, for example, information from the most recent assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

And the take home message? Climate change continues unabated. The world is warming, sea levels are rising, ice is melting, fire weather is worsening, flooding rains are becoming more frequent – and the list goes on.

What follows is a summary of major findings in three key categories – and an explanation of what it all means.

building with red sun
The report synthesises the latest science about Australia’s climate. Steven Saphore/AAP

1. Warming, heat extremes and bushfire

The 2020 report said Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44℃ since national records began in 1910. That warming has now increased to 1.47℃. This mirrors trends across the world’s land areas, and brings with it more frequent extreme heat events.

The year 2019 was Australia’s warmest on record. The eight years from 2013 to 2020 are all among the ten warmest ever measured. Warming is happening both by day and by night, and across all months.

Since the 1950s, extreme fire weather has increased and the fire season has lengthened across much of the country. It’s resulted in bigger and more frequent fires, especially in southern Australia.

woman floats in water at beach
The warming climate brings more frequent extreme heat. Kelly Barnes/AAP

2. Rain, floods and snow

In Australia’s southwest, May to July rainfall has fallen by 19% since 1970. In the southeast of Australia, April to October rainfall has fallen by 10% since the late 1990s.

This will come as somewhat of a surprise given the relatively wet conditions across eastern Australia over the past few years. But don’t confuse longer term trends with year-to-year variability.

Lower rainfall has led to reduced streamflow; some 60% of water gauges around Australia show a declining trend.

At the same time, heavy rainfall events are becoming more intense – a fact not lost on flood-stricken residents in Australia’s eastern states in recent months. The intensity of extreme rainfall events lasting an hour has increased by about 10% or more in some regions in recent decades. This often brings flash flooding, especially in urban environments. The costs to society are enormous.

Warm air can hold more water vapour than cooler air. That’s why global warming makes heavy rainfall events more likely, even in places where average rainfall is expected to decline.

Also since the 1950s, snow depth and cover, and the number of snow days, have decreased in alpine regions. The largest declines are happening in spring and at lower altitudes.

Extremely cold days and nights are generally becoming less frequent across the continent. And while parts of southeast and southwest Australia have recently experienced very cold nights, that’s because cool seasons have become drier and winter nights clearer there, leading to more overnight heat loss.

Any camper will tell you how chilly it can get on a clear starry night, without the warm blanket of cloud cover.

man photographs flooded road
Heavy rainfall events are becoming more intense. Jason O'Brien/AAP

3. Oceans and sea levels

Sea surface temperatures around the continent have increased by an average 1.05℃ since 1900. The greatest ocean warming since 1970 has occurred off southeast Australia and Tasmania. In the Tasman Sea, the warming rate is now twice the global average.

Ongoing ocean warming has also contributed to longer and more frequent marine heatwaves. Marine heatwaves are particularly damaging to ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef, which is at perilous risk of ruin if nothing is done to address surging greenhouse gas emissions.

Oceans around Australia have also become more acidic, and this damage is accelerating. The greatest change is occurring in temperate and cooler waters to the south.

Sea levels are rising globally and around Australia. This is driven by both ocean warming and melting ice. Ice loss from Greenland, Antarctica and glaciers is increasing, and only set to get worse.

Around Australia, the largest sea level rise has been observed to the north and southeast of the continent. This is increasing the risk of inundation and damage to coastal infrastructure and communities.

damaged coastline including pool fallen onto beach
Rising sea levels increase the risk of damage to coastal infrastructure. David Moir/AAP

What’s causing this?

All this is happening because concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere continue to rise. The principal driver of these gases is human burning of fossil fuels. These long-lived gases form a “blanket” in the atmosphere that makes it harder for Earth to radiate the Sun’s heat back into space. And so, the planet warms, with very costly impacts to society.

The report confirmed carbon dioxide (CO₂) has been accumulating in the atmosphere at an increasing rate in recent decades. Worryingly, over the past two years, levels of methane and nitrous oxide have also grown very rapidly.

What comes next?

None of these problems are going away. Australia’s weather and climate will continue to change in coming decades.

As the report states, these climate changes are increasingly affecting the lives and livelihoods of all Australians. It goes on:

Australia needs to plan for, and adapt to, the changing nature of climate risk now and in the decades ahead. The severity of impacts on Australians and our environment will depend on the speed at which global greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced.

This point is particularly confronting, given the abject failure of the recent COP27 climate talks in Egypt to build on commitments from Glasgow only a year earlier to phase out fossil fuels.

It’s no surprise, then, that the insurance sector is getting nervous about issuing new policies to people living at the front-line of climate extremes.

While the urgency for action has never been more pressing, we still hold the future in our hands - the choices we make today will decide our future for generations to come. Every 0.1℃ of warming we can avoid will make a big difference.

But it’s not all bad news. Re-engineering our energy and transport systems to be carbon neutral will create a whole new economy and jobs growth - with the added bonus of a safer climate future.

Do nothing, and these State of the Climate reports will continue to make for grim reading. The Conversation

Matthew England, Scientia Professor and Deputy Director of the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS), UNSW Sydney

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

COP27: how the fossil fuel lobby crowded out calls for climate justice

Alix Dietzel, University of Bristol

COP27 has just wrapped up. Despite much excitement over a new fund to address “loss and damage” caused by climate change, there is also anger about perceived backsliding on commitments to lower emissions and phase out fossil fuels.

As an academic expert in climate justice who went along this year, hoping to make a difference, I share this anger.

“Together for Implementation” was the message as COP27 got underway on November 6 and some 30,000 people descended on the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheik. The UNFCCC strictly regulates who can attend negotiations. Parties (country negotiation teams), the media and observers (NGOs, IGOs and UN special agencies) must all be pre-approved.

I went along as an NGO observer, to represent the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment. Observers have access to the main plenaries and ceremonies, the pavilion exhibition spaces and side events. The negotiation rooms, however, are largely off limits. Most of the day is spent listening to speeches, networking and asking questions at side-events.

Woman sits in large conference room
The author at the COP27 opening plenary. Colin Nolden, Author provided

The main role of observers, then, is to apply indirect pressure on negotiators, report on what is happening and network. Meaningful impact on and participation in negotiations seems out of reach for many of the passionate people I met.

Who does – and doesn’t – get a say

It has long been known that who gets a say in climate change governance is skewed. As someone working on fair decision making as part of a just transition to less carbon-intensive lifestyles and a climate change-adapted society, it is clear that only the most powerful voices are reflected in treaties such as the Paris Agreement. At last year’s COP26, men spoke 74% of the time, indigenous communities faced language barriers and racism and those who could not obtain visas were excluded entirely.

Despite being advertised as “Africa’s COP”, COP27 further hampered inclusion. The run up was dogged by accusations of inflated hotel prices and concerns over surveillance, and warnings about Egypt’s brutal police state. The right to protest was limited, with campaigners complaining of intimidation and censorship.

Conference area with 'AfricaCOP27' sign
Africa’s COP? Alix Dietzel, Author provided

Arriving in Sharm El Sheik, there was an air of intimidation starting at the airport, where military personnel scrutinised passports. Police roadblocks featured heavily on our way to the hotel and military officials surrounded the COP venue the next morning.

Inside the venue, there were rumours we were being watched and observers were urged not to download the official app. More minor issues included voices literally not being heard due to unreliable microphones and the constant drone of aeroplanes overhead, and a scarcity of food with queues sometimes taking an hour or more. Sponsored by Coca Cola, it was also difficult to access water to refill our bottles. We were sold soft drinks instead.

Outside of the venue, unless I was with a male colleague, I faced near constant sexual harassment, hampering my ability to come and go from the summit. All these issues, major and minor, affect who is able to contribute at COP.

Fossil fuel interests dominated

In terms of numbers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) registered the largest party delegation with more than 1,000 people. The oil and gas-rich nation of just 9 million people had a delegation almost twice the size of the next biggest, Brazil. More troublingly, the oil and gas lobby representatives were registered in the national delegations of 29 different countries and were larger than any single national delegation (outside of the UAE). According to one NGO, at least 636 of those attending COP27 were lobbyists for the fossil-fuel industry.

Large oil tanker goes past city skyline
The UAE has some of the world’s largest reserves of both oil and gas. Nick Fox / shutterstock

Despite the promise that COP27 would foreground African interests, the fossil lobby outnumbers any delegation from Africa. These numbers give a sense of who has power and say at these negotiations, and who does not.

Protecting the petrostates

The main outcomes of COP27 are a good illustration of the power dynamics at play. There is some good news on loss and damage, which was added to the agenda at the last moment. Nearly 200 countries agreed that a fund for loss and damage, which would pay out to rescue and rebuild the physical and social infrastructure of countries ravaged by extreme weather events, should be set up within the next year. However, there is no agreement yet on how much money should be paid in, by whom, and on what basis.

Much more worryingly, there had been a push to phase out all fossil fuels by countries including some of the biggest producers: the EU, Australia, India, Canada, the US and Norway. However, with China, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Iran pushing back, several commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow were dropped, including a target for global emissions to peak by 2025. The outcome was widely judged a failure on efforts to cut emissions: the final agreed text from the summit makes no mention of phasing out fossil fuels and scant reference to the 1.5℃ target.

Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, blamed the host country, Egypt, for allowing its regional alliances to sway the final decision, producing a text that clearly protects oil and gas petrostates and the fossil fuel industries.

The final outcomes demonstrate that, despite the thousands who were there to advocate for climate justice, it was the fossil fuel lobby that had most influence. As a climate justice scholar, I am deeply worried about the processes at COPs, especially given next year’s destination: Dubai. It remains to be seen what happens with the loss and damage fund, but time is running out and watered down commitments on emissions are at this stage deeply unjust and frankly dangerous.The Conversation

Alix Dietzel, Senior Lecturer in Climate Justice, University of Bristol

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

After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degrees global warming limit – here’s what we can still do about it

Young activists have been pushing to keep a 1.5-Celsius limit, knowing their future is at stake. AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty
Peter Schlosser, Arizona State University

The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, 2022, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder.

Attempts at the climate talks to get all countries to agree to phase out coal, oil, natural gas and all fossil fuel subsidies failed. And countries have done little to strengthen their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the past year.

There have been positive moves, including advances in technology, falling prices for renewable energy and countries committing to cut their methane emissions.

But all signs now point toward a scenario in which the world will overshoot the 1.5 C limit, likely by a large amount. The World Meteorological Organization estimates global temperatures have a 50-50 chance of reaching 1.5C of warming, at least temporarily, in the next five years.

That doesn’t mean humanity can just give up.

Why 1.5 degrees?

During the last quarter of the 20th century, climate change due to human activities became an issue of survival for the future of life on the planet. Since at least the 1980s, scientific evidence for global warming has been increasingly firm , and scientists have established limits of global warming that cannot be exceeded to avoid moving from a global climate crisis to a planetary-scale climate catastrophe.

There is consensus among climate scientists, myself included, that 1.5 C of global warming is a threshold beyond which humankind would dangerously interfere with the climate system.

We know from the reconstruction of historical climate records that, over the past 12,000 years, life was able to thrive on Earth at a global annual average temperature of around 14 C (57 F). As one would expect from the behavior of a complex system, the temperatures varied, but they never warmed by more than about 1.5 C during this relatively stable climate regime.

Today, with the world 1.2 C warmer than pre-industrial times, people are already experiencing the effects of climate change in more locations, more forms and at higher frequencies and amplitudes.

Climate model projections clearly show that warming beyond 1.5 C will dramatically increase the risk of extreme weather events, more frequent wildfires with higher intensity, sea level rise, and changes in flood and drought patterns with implications for food systems collapse, among other adverse impacts. And there can be abrupt transitions, the impacts of which will result in major challenges on local to global scales.

Tipping points: Warmer ocean water is contributing to the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier, a major contributor to sea level rise with global consequences.

Steep reductions and negative emissions

Meeting the 1.5 goal at this point will require steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, but that alone isn’t enough. It will also require “negative emissions” to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide that human activities have already put into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, so just stopping emissions doesn’t stop its warming effect. Technology exists that can pull carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it away. It’s still only operating at a very small scale, but corporate agreements like Microsoft’s 10-year commitment to pay for carbon removed could help scale it up.

A report in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that meeting the 1.5 C goal would require cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50% globally by 2030 – plus significant negative emissions from both technology and natural sources by 2050 up to about half of present-day emissions.

A direct air capture project in Iceland stores captured carbon dioxide underground in basalt formations, where chemical reactions mineralize it. Climeworks

Can we still hold warming to 1.5 C?

Since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015, countries have made some progress in their pledges to reduce emissions, but at a pace that is way too slow to keep warming below 1.5 C. Carbon dioxide emissions are still rising, as are carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program highlights the shortfalls. The world is on track to produce 58 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 – more than twice where it should be for the path to 1.5 C. The result would be an average global temperature increase of 2.7 C (4.9 F) in this century, nearly double the 1.5 C target.

Given the gap between countries’ actual commitments and the emissions cuts required to keep temperatures to 1.5 C, it appears practically impossible to stay within the 1.5 C goal.

Global emissions aren’t close to plateauing, and with the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, it is very likely that the world will reach the 1.5 C warming level within the next five to 10 years.

With current policies and pledges, the world will far exceed the 1.5 C goal. Climate Action Tracker

How large the overshoot will be and for how long it will exist critically hinges on accelerating emissions cuts and scaling up negative emissions solutions, including carbon capture technology.

At this point, nothing short of an extraordinary and unprecedented effort to cut emissions will save the 1.5 C goal. We know what can be done – the question is whether people are ready for a radical and immediate change of the actions that lead to climate change, primarily a transformation away from a fossil fuel-based energy system.The Conversation

Peter Schlosser, Vice President and Vice Provost of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University

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

COP27 flinched on phasing out ‘all fossil fuels’. What’s next for the fight to keep them in the ground?

Fergus Green, UCL and Harro van Asselt, Stockholm Environment Institute

The latest UN climate change summit (COP27) concluded, once again, with a tussle over the place of fossil fuels in the global economy.

An agreement by the world’s governments to phase out all fossil fuels would have been a welcome progression from last year’s Glasgow climate pact. It called on countries to “[accelerate] efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, making it the first UN treaty to acknowledge the need to do something about the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But at COP27, widespread anxieties about the cost and availability of energy made many governments cautious about expressing a clear intention to phase out all fossil fuels in the resulting agreement. The COP27 text reiterated the COP26 decision but failed to broaden it to encompass oil and gas, despite a proposal by India to that end (a move that would have helped take the emphasis off coal, of which it is a major consumer).

Still, growing support for such an extension is evident. More than 80 countries (including the EU and US) supported India’s proposal. Many nations are building international agreements outside of the UN negotiation process. After the failure of COP27, the question is what should happen next in the fight against continued fossil fuel use.

There is no doubt that, to preserve a liveable climate, the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas must be rapidly reduced and, depending on how optimistic you are about carbon capture technologies, phased out altogether.

Despite large planned increases in fossil fuel production, recent research (released just before COP27) found, for the first time, that global demand for each of the fossil fuels will peak or plateau in all scenarios within 15 years. This is partly due to attempts to reduce energy use and increase renewables in the wake of the gas shortage created by sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

As the dangers of extracting and burning fossil fuels have become increasingly apparent, many experts, campaigners, international organisations and, increasingly, governments have contested the moral legitimacy of these activities. In a recent journal article, we argued that the Glasgow agreement represented a breakthrough (albeit a modest one) in the emergence of international anti-fossil fuel norms.

An international norm is a morally appropriate standard of behaviour among states (for example, prevailing norms prohibit foreign aggression, piracy, or the testing and use of nuclear weapons). International conferences such as COP27 catalyse emerging norms by specifying them in formal declarations.

COP decisions are not binding and the language on fossil fuels at COP26 was watered down during negotiations. But the Glasgow text reflected a growing sense among governments that certain activities relating to fossil fuels (like generating electricity from coal without capturing the CO₂ and policies which make fossil fuels cheaper to extract and consume) are becoming illegitimate.

Three smokestacks on a power plant.
Coal power: increasingly indefensible. Bilanol/Shutterstock

The lack of progress on fossil fuels reflects the upheavals in the energy sector as well as the constraints of the climate negotiations themselves, which operate by consensus. This often produces decisions that reflect the lowest common denominator among nearly 200 countries with diverse energy profiles and interests, and COP27 was no exception.

Large oil and gas producers are profiting handsomely from current market prices and have lobbied governments to permit them to explore and drill for yet more oil and gas. At COP27, there were more oil and gas industry lobbyists than the combined number of delegates from the ten countries most affected by climate change. Little wonder COP27 did not yield consensus on phasing down all fossil fuels.

Other international initiatives are not bound by such procedural constraints, and there was more progress on the sidelines of COP27. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (Boga), an initiative launched around the time of COP26 by Denmark and Costa Rica that aims to phase out oil and gas production, attracted new members Chile, Fiji and the US state of Washington, with Portugal upgraded to “core member” status.

Emulating a deal between South Africa and several wealthy countries from a year earlier, a new just energy transition partnership was launched between Indonesia and Japan, Canada, the US, Denmark and others, to help Indonesia transition from coal to renewables.

What more can be done?

In the coming years, there will be growing civil society and diplomatic pressure for a phase-out of all fossil fuels in a COP decision. But independent initiatives among states, like Boga, must be nurtured in parallel, and the high-level pledges made in these initiatives must be implemented.

For instance, a group of nations pledged at COP26 to end public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022. While some countries are on track to meet this goal, others are not following through.

Countries should also develop an international agreement to restrict and phase out fossil fuels. Building on a global campaign for such an agreement, the small island nations of Tuvalu and Vanuatu have called for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty. We suggest two ways to advance these efforts which draw on our recent research.

First, Tuvalu and Vanuatu could encourage their Pacific Island counterparts to create a regional fossil free zone treaty that prohibits the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels throughout the territories and territorial waters of members.

Second, more must be done to name and shame governments, especially rich ones, who are expanding how much fossil fuel they extract and burn. This effort demands greater transparency around government activities. A new global registry of fossil fuels is helping to catalogue this information. But governments should also disclose all fossil fuel infrastructure that is being planned or considered on their territory, or with their support.

The COP27 outcome is a timely reminder that curbing the growth in fossil fuels will not come about through consensus-oriented negotiations among governments that include those corrupted by the fossil fuel industry. It will require social movements pressuring leaders to legislate a managed phase out of fossil fuels, while ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities. And it will require pioneering governments to work together internationally to forge new alliances that accelerate this goal.

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Fergus Green, Lecturer in Political Theory and Public Policy, UCL and Harro van Asselt, Professor of Climate Law and Policy, University of Eastern Finland, Visiting Researcher, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University & Affiliated Researcher, Stockholm Environment Institute

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

Adapting to a hotter planet has never been more important, and progress edged forward at COP27

Johanna Nalau, Griffith University

As the COP27 climate summit drew to a close over the weekend, it’s important to acknowledge that progress was made on climate adaptation – even if more can be done.

“Climate adaptation” is a term for how countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. It could be, for instance, by strengthening infrastructure to better withstand disasters, moving towns out of floodplains, or transforming the agriculture sector to minimise food insecurity.

As the costs of disasters climb, working out who will finance climate adaptation has become increasingly urgent for developing nations. For decades, they’ve called upon wealthy countries – largely responsible for causing the climate crisis in the first place – to foot the bill.

So let’s explore what COP27 achieved, how these achievements might translate into tangible commitments, and what must happen now to give everyone a fighting chance to survive on a hotter planet.

Adaptation & Agriculture day at COP27.

A thorny issue

The thorniest issues at climate change negotiations are about finance: who is giving, who is receiving, how is the money received and what kind of finance is made available.

Developed countries don’t have a good track record on this. In 2009, they committed to mobilising US$100 billion per year of climate finance by 2020 – a target that remains unmet.

What’s more, most climate finance so far has been directed towards helping developing nations mitigate their emissions, rather than for adaptation.

As Dina Saleh, the Regional Director of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development, explained during the conference, failing to help rural populations adapt could lead to more poverty, migrations and conflict. She said:

We are calling on world leaders from developed nations to honour their pledge to provide the $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing nations and to channel half of that [for] climate adaptation.

Adaptation finance still falls short

The United Nations has established different funds to channel adaptation finance, including the Least Developing Countries Fund, Special Climate Change Fund and Adaptation Fund.

At COP27, eight countries pledged US$105.6 million for adaptation via the Least Developing Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund, including Sweden, Germany and Ireland. Others, such as the United States and Canada, expressed potential future financial commitments.

These funds are in addition to the US$413 million promised at COP26 in Glasgow last year, via the Least Developing Countries Fund. The money will target the most urgently needed adaptation efforts, such as strengthening infrastructure, social safety nets and diversifying livelihoods.

There is also a specific new funding for small-island developing states. While this development has been welcomed by the Alliance of Small Island States, it also says faster processes are needed to make the money available.

Small island nations such as Tuvalu are already experiencing severe climate impacts, and the projections are dire. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found some atoll islands are likely to experience coral bleaching every year by 2040.

These islands are also particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones. One single large event can set development back years. For example, in 2016 tropical cyclone Winston took out over a third of Fiji’s GDP in about 36 hours.

Similarly, other highly vulnerable nations across Africa and Asia are asking for easier access to adaptation finance. The Adaptation Fund included an innovation that gave countries easier access to money, and ensured it responds directly to each country’s needs.

At COP27, this fund received over US$230 million in new pledges. However, it currently has unfunded adaptation projects worth US$380 million in the pipeline, signalling the urgent need to ramp up finance.

Progress is edging forward

The Paris Agreement in 2015 set the “global goal on adaptation” to drive collective progress on climate adaptation worldwide. At COP27, countries agreed to develop a framework for this goal in 2023. This includes gender-responsive approaches, and science-based metrics and targets to track progress.

Another big-ticket item is the “global stocktake” on adaptation, which measures progress at the national level on fulfilling Paris Agreement obligations.

At COP27, it was noted only 40 countries so far have submitted their national adaptation plans, which identify adaptation priorities and strategies for reducing climate vulnerability. Questions remain about how to accelerate the planning, implementation and financing of these plans.

The Sharm-el-Seikh Adaptation Agenda was also launched by the two UN-appointed High-Level Climate Champions. These seek to engage non-state actors, such as cities, businesses and investors, to boost ambition for climate adaptation.

The agenda’s ultimate aim is to help 4 billion people become more resilient to climate change impacts by 2030. It has 30 adaptation outcomes to aim for, including:

  • protecting 3 billion people from disasters by installing smart and early warning systems in the most vulnerable communities

  • investing US$4 billion to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves worldwide

  • mobilising US$140-300 billion across both public and private finance sources for adaptation.

What now?

Many pledges on adaptation finance have been made in COP26 and COP27, and the next step is to get the money where it is most urgently needed.

As climate impacts are already unfolding rapidly, communities worldwide must develop the capacity to plan for climate adaptation. This requires action at every level, and shouldn’t be left to local communities alone.

Making progress on climate adaptation in the coming years is crucial. Early action and planning can save thousands of dollars, but only if we have robust processes in place to make decisions before impacts occur. This calls for more planning, investments and collaboration across local, regional, state and international levels.

But most important is the willingness to change our mindset. We must stop operating in a business-as-usual model and push for a more sustainable world in this changing climate. The Conversation

Johanna Nalau, Research Fellow, Climate Adaptation, Griffith University

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

Wildfires often lead to dust storms – and they’re getting bigger

Firefighters battling to extinguish a wildfire. Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock
Matt Telfer, University of Plymouth

Wildfires affect large areas of the Earth’s surface and many of their effects occur at an alarming speed. The fires that consumed half of Australia’s Kangaroo Island in 2019 left a trail of animal corpses in their wake. In 2021, wildfires burned over 2.5 million acres of land in California.

A wildfire tearing through Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

But wildfires have other harmful effects that are slower to materialise. Wildfires reduce vegetation cover and can damage soil to the extent that it retains less moisture. As wind blows over the scarred landscape this can lead to the increased release of dust made from fine mineral grains (often less than 0.01 mm in diameter).

The wind lifts the dust emissions into the air where they can find themselves suspended in a global atmospheric process that transfers them around the world. Dust events can therefore affect areas far from the land close to a wildfire.

Scientists have long established that concentrations of atmospheric dust increase following large wildfires. But the global extent of post-fire dust events has been an underresearched aspect of the study into the impact of wildfires. Now researchers from Peking and Princeton universities have identified that the duration and scale of post-fire atmospheric dust storms may be far greater than previously understood.

Larger dust storms

Using two decades of satellite observations, the researchers found that over 150,000 large wildfires had occurred worldwide between 2003 and 2020. At least 20 1km by 1km squares within an area of approximately 100km² had to include detectable fires for at least seven consecutive days for a fire event to be defined as a large wildfire.

A large cloud of dust moving down a road against a clear blue sky.
Post-fire dust events are now lasting longer than they did before. Caleb Holder/Shutterstock

Over half of the large wildfires identified were followed by dust events. In these events, the concentration of atmospheric dust in the area surrounding the fire-affected region increased more than threefold on average.

Most of the dust storms continued for a few days after a fire. But in 10% of the events occurring in savannah and grassland areas, dust concentrations were still exceptionally high ten days later and occasionally more than three weeks after the fire.

Across the period of study, the researchers found that the duration of post-fire dust events increased significantly. A dust event that occurred in 2020 lasted 24 hours longer on average than it did in 2003.

Should we be concerned?

Atmospheric dust storms can have serious impacts on ecology and human health.

Dust emissions are rich in chemical nutrients including phosphorus, nitrogen and iron. Nutrients such as these are key elements of soil productivity. As the nutrient-rich top layer of soil is removed by wind, soil quality in the area affected by a fire is depleted.

But dust can also be transported vast distances via the global dust cycle. When deposited, nutrient-rich dust emissions can fertilise soils and oceans far from the affected area.

Orange coloured phytoplankton slicks in the ocean viewed from the top of a cliff.
Dust emissions contain the nutrients needed for phytoplankton to grow. Ludmilla Gatelier/Shutterstock

Research has linked Australia’s wildfires in 2019–2020 to extensive phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean. Dust emissions can provide phytoplankton with the nutrients needed for rapid growth, leading to the formation of blooms. Such blooms can harm local marine ecosystems by reducing the oxygen content of the water.

Smoke is an obvious health concern associated with wildfires. Small, inhalable, coarse particles within smoke can cause respiratory damage. Research links airborne particulate matter to over two million deaths worldwide each year.

Fine dust particles are even smaller (2.5 micrometres in diameter) and pose a similar threat. The researchers suggest that the risks posed by large wildfires to human health may extend well beyond the immediate plume of smoke and may continue long after the smoke has cleared.

Does climate change have a role?

It might be tempting to ascribe the observed increase in the duration of post-fire dust events to our warming climate. Climate change can make hot and dry weather conditions more common and create the conditions for dangerous wildfires.

Yet the researchers are cautious to adopt this explanation. They note only that enhanced dust emissions correlate with the number of previous fires at a given location.

A small wildfire burning shrubs in a savannah landscape.
Wildfires are an essential part of savannah ecosystems. Belikova Oksana/Shutterstock

Fire is a natural part of many ecosystems and evidence for increasing wildfire frequency is complex. Savannah ecosystems, which the study identifies as the landscape most prone to post-fire dust emissions, owe their existence to the presence of fire. Regular fires remove young trees and return the grassland community to its original state.

Determining whether a wildfire has been caused by direct human actions or climate change is also difficult. Just as for climate change, human actions can influence wildfire activity. The use of fire to burn farming or logging residue, for example, increases the risk of wildfire.

Scientists increasingly understand that wildfires are a feature of the natural world. But their impacts can be dangerous and extend well beyond the margins of the fire itself.The Conversation

Matt Telfer, Associate Professor of Physical Geography, University of Plymouth

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

How to design clean energy subsidies that work – without wasting money on free riders

How long should a solar subsidies, or any subsidy, last? Artur Debat/Moment via Getty Images
Eric Hittinger, Rochester Institute of Technology; Eric Williams, Rochester Institute of Technology; Qing Miao, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Tiruwork B. Tibebu, Rochester Institute of Technology

The planet is heating up as greenhouse gas emissions rise, contributing to extreme heat waves and once-unimaginable flooding. Yet despite the risks, countries’ policies are not on track to keep global warming in check.

The problem isn’t a lack of technology. The International Energy Agency recently released a detailed analysis of the clean energy technology needed to lower greenhouse gas emissions to net zero globally by 2050. What’s needed, the IEA says, is significant government support to boost solar and wind power, electric vehicles, heat pumps and a variety of other technologies for a rapid energy transition.

One politically popular tool for providing that government support is the subsidy. The U.S. government’s new Inflation Reduction Act is a multibillion-dollar example, packed with financial incentives to encourage people to buy electric vehicles, solar panels and more.

But just how big do governments’ clean energy subsidies need to be to meet their goals, and how long are they needed?

Our research points to three important answers for any government considering clean energy subsidies – and for citizens keeping an eye on their progress.

Why subsidize at all?

An obvious first question is: Why should governments subsidize clean energy at all?

The most direct answer is that clean energy helps to reduce harmful emissions – both of gases that cause local pollution and of those that warm the planet.

Reducing emissions helps to lower both public health costs and damage from climate change, which justifies government spending. Reports have estimated that the U.S. spends US$820 billion a year just on health costs associated with air pollution and climate change. Globally, the World Health Organization estimated that the costs reached $5.1 trillion in 2018. Taxing and regulating polluting industries can also cut emissions, but carrots are often more politically popular than sticks.

A female scientist holds a solar cell between tweezers
Subsidies helped launch the solar industry. Buyers today can get a 30% tax credit for home solar installations. Joe DelNero/NREL

A less obvious reason for subsidies is that government support can help a new and initially expensive technology become competitive in the market.

Governments have been central to the development of many technologies that are pervasive today, including microchips, the internet, solar panels and GPS. Microchips were fantastically expensive when first developed in the 1950s. Demand from the U.S. military and NASA, which could pay the high price, fueled the growth of the industry, and costs eventually dropped enough that they’re now found in everything from cars to toasters.

Government support has also helped to bring down the cost of solar power. Rooftop solar system costs fell 64% from 2010 to 2020 in the U.S. because cells became more efficient and higher volumes drove prices down.

How much money?

So, subsidies can work, but what’s the right amount?

Too low, and a subsidy has no effect. Giving everyone a coupon for $1 off an electric car won’t change anyone’s buying plans. But subsidies can also be set too high.

The government doesn’t need to spend money persuading consumers who already plan to buy an electric car and can afford one, yet studies show clean energy subsidies disproportionately go to richer people. When people who would have purchased the item anyway receive subsidies, they’re known as “free riders.”

The ideal subsidy attracts new buyers while avoiding free riders and overspending on people who are already convinced. The subsidy can only work when it convinces a previously uninterested consumer to buy a product.

Chart shows costs falling as solar purchases rise.
Between 2009 and 2017, solar prices fell 50% and solar purchases increased tenfold with the help of subsidies. Lower cost makes a technology more attractive, while a growing solar industry is able to produce panels at lower cost. Barbose et al., 2021; Solar Market Insight Report/SEIA

How long should subsidies last?

Timing is also important when thinking about the size of subsidies. When a promising technology is new and expensive, free riders are less of an issue. A large subsidy may be needed to attract even a few buyers, build out the emerging market and support the industry’s growth.

Solar power is a good example: In 2005, solar was several times more expensive than traditional electricity sources. Subsidies, like the 30% Investment Tax Credit established that year, helped lower the cost, and today’s solar is about one-tenth the price and cost-competitive with other electricity sources.

Once a clean technology is competitive, subsidies can still play an important role in speeding up the energy transition, but at a lower level than in the past.

In our research on residential solar panels, we estimate that the ideal subsidy for rooftop solar should have been initially higher than the actual federal tax credit but fall more quickly, declining to zero after 14 years from its start date.

By starting the subsidy about 20% higher, our models found that it would have boosted production faster, which would cut costs faster and reduce the need for high future subsidies.

Should subsidies eventually disappear?

It makes sense for subsidies to disappear altogether once a technology is sufficiently cost-competitive. However, even if a technology is competitive, it might be worth further subsidy if the speed of adoption is important.

The argument for continuing a subsidy depends on whether the additional adoption it stimulates is cost-effective in reducing emissions. Wind power is cheaper than fossil fuel power in many parts of the country. Even so, we found that continuing subsidies for wind power would lead to valuable emission benefits.

That said, sometimes subsidies stick around when they shouldn’t.

Fossil fuels have been heavily subsidized for decades, despite their harm to human health, the environment and the climate, all of which raise public costs. Governments globally spent almost $700 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2021. The U.S. government, in recent years, has spent more on renewable energy tax credits than fossil fuels, which is a promising transition of government support.

Global impact

While the U.S. was the focus of our solar subsidy research, this way of thinking – balancing the costs and benefits of subsidies – can be applied in other nations to design better subsidies for clean energy technologies.

The subsidy is just one policy tool, but it is an important one for both stimulating early-stage technologies and accelerating deployment of more competitive options. As the world attempts the fastest energy transition in history, today’s energy subsidy decisions will affect its ability to succeed.The Conversation

Eric Hittinger, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Rochester Institute of Technology; Eric Williams, Professor of Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology; Qing Miao, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Tiruwork B. Tibebu, Ph.D. Student, Rochester Institute of Technology

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

What planting tomatoes shows us about climate change

Edward Doddridge, University of Tasmania

There’s a piece of gardening lore in my hometown which has been passed down for generations: never plant your tomatoes before Show Day, which, in Tasmania, is the fourth Saturday in October. If you’re foolhardy enough to plant them earlier, your tomato seedlings will suffer during the cold nights and won’t grow.

But does this kind of seasonal wisdom still work as the climate warps? We often talk about climate change in large-scale ways – how much the global average surface temperature will increase.

Nations are trying to keep the temperature rise well under 2℃. Taken as an average, that sounds tiny – after all, the temperature varies much more than that when day gives way to night. But remember – before the industrial revolution, the world’s average surface temperature was 12.1℃. Now it’s almost a degree hotter – and could be up to 3℃ hotter by the end of the century if high emissions continue.

For many of us, climate change can seem abstract. But the natural world is very sensitive to temperature change. Wherever we look, we can see that the seasons are changing. Gardening lore no longer holds. Flowering may happen earlier. Many species have to move or die. Here’s what you might notice.

nothofagus colour change
Seasons shifting: Tasmanias southern beech is Australias only native temperate deciduous tree. Shutterstock

Spring is coming earlier

Warmer temperatures mean spring is arriving earlier and earlier. In Australia, it’s also now five days shorter than the 1950–1969 period, according to Australia Institute research. Trees and plants put out new leaves days earlier.

For some Australian plants, earlier spring means early flowering and fruiting – an average of 9.7 days earlier per decade.

Japan’s famous spring cherry blossoms are blooming earlier than they have in centuries. The cherry blossom peak last year was the earliest recorded bloom in a data record going back to the year 812.

Not only are flowers blooming earlier, birds are also migrating earlier, and may also be delaying their autumn migrations.

Summer is getting hotter and longer

A hotter planet means hotter and longer summers.

It might not feel like it this year with all the rain, but the overall trend is clear. In turn, this means bushfire risk is growing year on year, with more days of high to catastrophic fire danger. Every year for the last three decades, an extra 48,000 hectares of forest has burnt across Australia.

Longer fire seasons are making it harder to schedule fuel reduction burns, and reducing the amount of time for firefighters to rest and recover between fire seasons.

Hotter temperatures are already posing challenges for salmon farmers in Tasmania. Atlantic salmon grow best in cold water and climate change has already pushed ocean temperatures up. In summers now, the waters around Tasmania are close to the fish’s limit. Warmer summers will be a substantial challenge for salmon farmers in the future.

Hotter water has also killed off almost all Tasmania’s giant kelp, and made it possible for warm-water fish to migrate south.

For millennia, the North Pole has been covered by sea ice. This, too, is changing. Arctic sea ice is melting earlier in summer and freezing later in winter. As warming intensifies, the central Arctic is likely to go from permanent ice cover to ice free over summer by 2100.

tasmania salmon farms
Salmon farming only works if the water is cold – and that poses problems for a major Tasmanian industry. Shutterstock

Autumn is falling behind

At the beginning of autumn, the leaves of nothofagus, Australia’s only temperate deciduous tree, change colour and fall to the ground, just as many Northern Hemisphere trees do.

Here, too, we can see the climate changing. Around the world, warmer temperatures and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide are delaying the arrival of autumn colours by up to a month.

Winter is disappearing

Alpine species such as the mountain pygmy possum have life cycles built around winter snow, while many of the world’s cities rely on snow melt for their water supply. In Australia, snowfall has been decreasing in recent decades.

In a warmer world, there’s less snow and ice. That’s posing major challenges for cities like Santiago in Chile, as well as semi-arid areas in the United States which have relied on snowmelt.

Species are on the move

What else might you notice? Different animals, birds, fish and plants. Not only are the seasons changing, but many species are now found in areas they could never have survived before.

Tropical corals have now been found happily growing near Sydney. Coral reef fish, too, are heading south to areas well outside their historic range.

You can see some of the surprising new finds on the citizen science project Redmap, such as sightings of the tropical yellow bellied sea snake in Tasmanian waters.

For First Australians, climate change brings a different upheaval. The seasonal link between, say, a wattle flowering and the arrival of fish species is breaking down.

Changes everywhere

Climate change really does mean change – both large scale and small. From extreme weather to ecosystems changing all the way through to the time when you can plant tomatoes.

For gardeners, this means accepted wisdom no longer holds. In Tasmania, you can now safely plant tomatoes 18 days earlier than you could in the 1900s. That’s because minimum temperatures in October are now about 1℃ warmer than they were in 1910.

Hobart’s daily minimum temperature in October for three time periods: 1882-present, 1882-1990, and 1990-present. The last 30 years have been much warmer on average than the years before.

Climate change is altering our seasons and changing our world in both obvious and subtle ways.

So while planting tomatoes may seem like a trivial example, it’s yet another sign of the climate changing all around us. It’s no longer a problem for the far-off future. It’s our problem, now.The Conversation

Edward Doddridge, Research Associate in Physical Oceanography, University of Tasmania

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

Remaking our suburbs’ 1960s apartment blocks: a subtle and greener way to increase housing density

Photo: Matthew Darmour-Paul, Author provided
Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, University of Sydney and Urtzi Grau, University of Technology Sydney

As cities grow, new buildings gradually replace the older ones. Ideally, the new buildings are higher quality, more sustainable and better suited to today’s needs. But there’s a risk current approaches to urban renewal will produce poorer amenities and buildings that are less flexible and more environmentally damaging than those they replace.

Take, for example, the 1960s walk-up apartment block. These ageing buildings are often derided for being unattractive, utilitarian and cheap.

But these buildings also have design features we have come to celebrate: narrow footprints that allow cross ventilation, flexible floorplans, minimal use of shared walls, low-maintenance design and a modest human scale. We seldom find these features in apartment developments today.

As pressure to renew ageing apartment buildings mounts, we can expect calls to rezone and redevelop these areas at higher densities to make demolition and redevelopment financially viable. We propose a more subtle and sustainable way to remake these buildings. It’s one that will allow us to increase housing density while preserving neighbourhood character.

Remaking Campsie and its old brick apartments

The New South Wales government has identified the Sydney suburb of Campsie as a strategic growth hub in the Sydenham-to-Bankstown urban renewal corridor. A projected 35,000 new homes will be required in the corridor over the next 20 years.

Map of Campsie showing locations of apartment blocks suitable for redevelopment
Apartment buildings in Campsie identified as suitable for redevelopment. Author provided

Like suburbs across Australia, Campsie has hundreds of brick apartment buildings developed in the 1960s and ’70s. How could these 350 or so housing apartment blocks (shaded areas on the map) be reimagined to provide more new homes?

We have come up with a proposal for subtle densification that could transform and preserve Campsie and the neighbouring suburbs of Belmore, Punchbowl and Earlwood. It could also be applied to suburbs with similar housing types across Australia.

Adaptive reuse reduces the damaging impacts of an all-new development. These impacts include emissions from demolition, construction and the energy used for making and transporting both the discarded and new building materials.

Street view of two 1960s  apartment buildings before and after refurbishment
Artist’s impression of typical 1960s apartment blocks before and after proposed refurbishment. Image: The Future of Living goes to Campsie/Choirender, Author provided

Four blocks remade as one

Remaking this awkward yet quintessential housing type offers an alternative path to medium-density living. Let’s start by looking at these apartments not as individual buildings but as groups. Four similar adjoining blocks in an adequate state are perfect candidates for intervention.

We propose to remove the fences between the blocks and create a shared collective space to join them. This new timber structure hosts half-sunk parking and common areas for everyday life. It will include a light semi-outdoor pavilion that could be used for washing, exercising, reading, gardening, hobbies, daydreaming and cooking.

The new common areas shared by the four redeveloped apartment blocks.
Residents of the apartment blocks would share the new common areas. Artist's impression: The future of living goes to Campsie/Choirender, Author provided

It’s a straightforward architectural strategy featuring: a new steel core with stairs and lifts shared between two blocks; semi-interior spaces carved out of the building’s façade; and balconies, winter gardens and new residential units added on top of the buildings.

These new timber structures provide the most generous space possible. And, by increasing the number of dwellings, they make refurbishment financially viable.

In summary, the refurbishment operates at five levels by:

  1. adding the common infrastructure at the heart of the four blocks

  2. adding two new stairways

  3. refurbishing the apartments while offering a mix of outdoor spaces, shaded areas and semi-outdoor terraces, allowing for different weather conditions and connecting seamlessly with indoor spaces

  4. adding a layer of external spaces and winter gardens on the main facades

  5. adding four new dwellings on the rooftop.

With some adjustments, this subtle densification would also work for individual blocks or pairs of blocks.

Interior view of a rooftop unit
Inside one of four added rooftop units. Artist's impression: The future of living goes to Campsie/Choirender, Author provided

Higher density doesn’t have to mean bigger buildings

This approach challenges the idea that much bigger developments are needed to renew suburban housing and increase its density. This alternative strategy can retain existing buildings, their footprints and floor plans.

This renewal approach reduces costs and carbon footprints, while preserving the local social fabric.

Strata ownership does present challenges to this type of renewal – there may well be as many owners as there are units in these developments. Involving developers, local councils, designers, builders and communities in developing these strategies will be essential for success.

The authors explain their idea to subtly increase housing density by adapting existing buildings.

Successful renewal depends on local input

In European cities like Berlin, Paris and Zurich, urban renewal projects are being publicly driven (on public and private property) with incentives to refurbish post-war housing. Municipal and European funds are supporting these upgrades.

There is a role for Australian local councils to promote alternative approaches to urban renewal that are more sustainable than conventional models. Local and state governments might even work together to encourage this more nuanced and localised model of regeneration.

These interventions must be planned at the neighbourhood scale. Local government would provide the framework via a sensitive and detailed master plan.

In our experience, developers typically need at least six to eight levels to be interested in redevelopment after demolishing a building in this sort of neighbourhood. We are arguing for more subtle densification: refurbishment that adds no more than one or two storeys to the building. This would allow neighbourhoods to maintain buildings at three to four levels, quite similar to the existing housing.

Because the walk-up apartment building is so common in Australian suburbs, this incremental change could have a significant wider impact. It is designed to engage local owners and preserve neighbourhood life, while updating old housing to today’s needs and energy standards.The Conversation

Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, Academic Fellow in Architectural Practice, University of Sydney and Urtzi Grau, Senior Lecturer, Director of The Master of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney

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

Queensland’s high-tech plan to make the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games smarter and greener

Davina Jackson, University of Cambridge

With Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympic Games, Queensland is accelerating “smart” and “green” infrastructure projects right across the coast from Coolangatta to Coolum.

So what practical steps is the state government taking to bring Brisbane closer to being a smart city while managing rapid growth? And what differences can city residents realistically expect to see for themselves?

Exploiting a quarter century of technological progress

Vastly more ambitious than the South Bank building boom, which preceded Brisbane’s World Expo 88 in the pre-internet era, Queensland’s current infrastructure programs are exploiting the last quarter-century of technological progress.

Think sensor-triggered street lights, automated air conditioning and watering of parks and green facades. Envision robots for cleaning and construction, satmaps, swipe cards and QR codes. Data technology will be embedded in 32 existing and planned Olympic venues, the future athletes’ village at Northshore Hamilton (near Breakfast Creek) and the international media centres.

An artist's impression of the new 'data' city centre being developed at Maroochydoore by Walker Corporation with the Sunshine Coast City Council.
An artist’s impression of the new ‘data’ city centre being developed at Maroochydoore by Walker Corporation with the Sunshine Coast City Council. Sunshine Coast City Council

Technology will also underpin a substantial city centre at Maroochydore. Here, a mid-rise precinct will be powered via a solar farm at nearby Valdora, and will include fibre-optic telecommunications cables. In what may be a first for Australia, a new system will sluice garbage from chutes through underground vacuum pipes.

A ‘New Norm’ Olympics

All Games facilities must align with a set of 118 reforms the International Olympic Committee (IOC) calls its “New Norm” guidelines.

These were introduced in 2018 to improve energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness and long-term value from the huge development expenditure required of host governments. There had been concerns about integrity and wastefulness in the IOC’s old-school supervision of Games bidding and delivery processes.

Brisbane’s Games win is accelerating and expanding some major public mobility programs offering “turn up and go” transport routes for the 4.4 million people expected to live in South-East Queensland by 2031.

Aerial taxis without pilots

The most provocative proposal – still speculative – is to introduce aerial taxis to fly passengers without pilots, but remotely supervised, between future “vertiports”.

A prototype of the Wisk aerial taxi proposed to be flying passengers around south-east Queensland before the Brisbane Olympics.
A prototype of the Wisk aerial taxi proposed to be flying passengers around South-East Queensland before the Brisbane Olympics. Wisk Aero

A prototype eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft is in Brisbane while its American manufacturer, Wisk Aero, seeks approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to operate commercially before the 2032 Games.

Wisk (backed by Boeing) has completed more than 1,600 test flights with six generations of aircraft. The Brisbane model has 12 lift fans on two 15-metre wings and is powered by a battery in the tail.

Delegates at a recent Smart Cities Council transport workshop I attended noted the potential of autonomous aerial vehicles to change patterns of housing development beyond road and rail links. Even so, Queensland is rapidly expanding its terrestrial network.

Land transport projects

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail line is being extended northwards through a new twin tunnel under Brisbane River and four new underground stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street.

This project uses smart tunnel-boring machines to carve through the tuff (a type of volcanic rock, pronounced toof) that formed Brisbane’s geology more than 200 million years ago.

As well as supporting the new health, science and education precinct near Boggo Road, this rail extension will connect the city’s southern suburbs with the existing line north from Bowen Hills.

One of the new articulated carriages on the G:Link light rail line at Southport on the Gold Coast.
One of the new articulated carriages on the G:Link light rail line at Southport on the Gold Coast. G:Link

And work continues on extending the Brisbane-to-Gold Coast light railway (also known as the G:Link).

This extension will provide eight new stations along a 6.7km track from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads. The G:Link service uses German Bombardier Flexity carriages that are bi-directional and air-conditioned, with low-level floors matching station platforms and storage for wheelchairs, bikes, prams and surfboards. These are electric-powered via 750V overhead cables.

Superfast bus charging

More innovative is the Brisbane Metro project, which is being tested to potentially supply 60 electric buses (or “trackless trams”) to supplement the city’s existing fleet. These would be battery-powered by a combination of 600kW, six-minute, superfast “flash chargers” at end-of-line stations and 50kW, overnight, slow chargers at depots.

Flash (super-fast) charging of a Metro bus via rooftop equipment docking with an overhead charging arm.
Flash (super-fast) charging of a Metro bus via rooftop equipment docking with an overhead charging arm. Brisbane Metro.

Each bus can be recharged up to 85 times faster than an electric car at home – but the flash system degrades batteries more than slow charging overnight.

Artist impression of a Brisbane Metro electric bus emerging from a city tunnel, with an older bus on the ramp.
Artist impression of a Brisbane Metro electric bus emerging from a city tunnel, with an older bus on the ramp. Brisbane City Council.

Healthy footbridges

Although two of Brisbane’s four proposed “green bridges” for pedestrians and cyclists were paused to prioritise flood recovery, new crossings from the city to Kangaroo Point and Newstead to Albion are expected to open in 2024.

Artist impression of the Kangaroo Point to Ann Street green bridge now under construction in Brisbane.
Artist impression of the green bridge between Kangaroo Point and Ann Street now under construction in Brisbane. Queensland government.

The Kangaroo Point green bridge will include a restaurant overlooking the botanic gardens. Newstead bridge will join the 1.2km-long Lores Bonney Riverwalk.

These are examples of a new phenomenon in public transport planning – to not merely move people between destinations but also boost their health and enjoyment outdoors.

As Corey Gray, global CEO of the Smart Cities Council, told me at the Smart Cities Council conference:

Smart cities are not ultimately about data and technology, but improving human systems.The Conversation

Davina Jackson, Visiting Scholar, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

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

What mirrored ants, vivid blue butterflies and Monstera house plants can teach us about designing buildings

Coleen Rivas/Unsplash
Aysu Kuru, University of Sydney

Almost all buildings today are built using similar conventional technologies and manufacturing and construction processes. These processes use a lot of energy and produce huge carbon emissions.

This is hardly sustainable. Perhaps the only way to truly construct sustainable buildings is by connecting them with nature, not isolating them from it. This is where the field of bioarchitecture emerges. It draws on principles from nature to help solve technological questions and address global challenges.

Take desert organisms, for example. How do they survive and thrive under extreme conditions?

One such desert species is the Saharan silver ant, named for its shiny mirror-like body. Its reflective body reflects and dissipates heat. It’s an adaptation we can apply in buildings as reflective walls, or to pavements that don’t heat up.

several ants surround a beetle on the desert sand
Saharan desert ants have highly developed adaptations to stay cool in the desert heat. Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

There are so many aspects of nature we can drawn on. Picture cities with shopping centres based on water lilies, stadiums resembling seashells, and lightweight bridges inspired by cells.

Water lilies can teach us how to design large buildings efficiently with smooth pedestrian circulation. Seashells can inspire the walls of large-span buildings without the need for columns. Cells can show us how to develop lightweight suspending structures.

Bioarchitecture works with nature, not against it

Bioarchitecture can reinvent the natural environment in the form of our built environment, to provide the ultimate and somehow obvious solutions for the threats Earth is facing.

Most industry-led and research-based approaches focus on the “technology to save us” from climate change. In contrast, bioarchitecture offers a more sustainable approach that aims to develop a positive relationship between buildings and nature.

Living organisms constantly communicate with the natural world. They move around their environment, employ chemical processes and undergo complex reactions, patterning their habitat. This means living systems constantly model and organise the environment around them. They are able to adapt and, in doing so, they change their environment too.

Can buildings do the same in cities? If buildings could grow, self-repair and adapt to climate, they might ultimately become truly sustainable.

Early examples of bioarchitecture can be found in traditional and early modern buildings. Their architects observed nature to copy its principles and design more habitable, locally made and environmentally friendly buildings. For example, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, is inspired by natural shapes that give the church its organic form.

Highly decorative interior of church – Gaudi's Sagrada Família
Gaudi`s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is an early modern example of bioarchitecture. Sung Jin Cho/Unsplash

More recent works showcase bioarchitecture that learnt from nature coupled with technology and innovation. Examples include using bio-based materials such as wood, hemp and bamboo, applying biophilia through using greenery on external walls and plants indoors to boost our connection with nature, and restoring the environment by making buildings part of it.

Considering the climate emergency, we should strengthen buildings’ coherence with nature. Bioarchitecture can do this.

So what can a butterfly teach us?

The blue Menelaus butterfly offers another striking example of design solutions from nature. Despite its radiant blue colour, it is not actually blue and does not have any pigments. Producing and maintaining pigments is expensive in nature, as it requires a lot of energy.

The Menelaus butterfly has an ingenious way to achieve its unique colour without pigments. Its brilliant blue shine comes from scattering light, similar to soap bubbles glimmering in rainbow colours under the sun, despite being completely transparent. The light is scattered by micro-grooves on the butterfly’s wings – so small that they can only be seen with an ultra-high-resolution microscope.

Brilliant blue butterfly on dark green leaf
The Menelaus blue butterfly. Damon on Road/Unsplash

This is nature’s way to achieve high performance with cheap forms instead of costly materials. Learning from the Menelaus butterfly, we can have windows with climate-adaptable properties – changing their colour and scattering light according to the position of the sun. Butterfly wings have already inspired the development of new materials, and the next step is to use these on buildings.

In this way, we can design biobuildings that reflect excessive radiation and reduce cooling needs and glare. And the beautiful part is that this may all be done without obstructing views and without the need for shading devices or tinted windows.

And what does a pot plant have to do with buildings?

Image of four large leaves of indoor plant
The leaves of the Monstera plant. Chris Lee/Unsplash

Then there is Monstera, a sought-after indoor plant that climbs up the walls. It’s also called the “Swiss cheese plant” for the holes on its leaves. Have you ever thought about how it thrives and grows like no other plant indoors?

Monstera simply needs to sustain fewer cells to maintain extra large leaves because of their holes. This enables it to capture more of the sunlight it needs to grow and spread out over a bigger area.

Now imagine if we designed hollow building structures such as columns and beams. This could help minimise the need for materials and cut carbon emissions by reducing the embodied energy that goes into making these materials.

Nature offers a vast design catalogue

We can look at nature as a catalogue of designs and solutions to be reimagined as bioarchitecture. So, we could have shiny silver pavements like the silver ant, metallic-coloured but transparent windows like the Menelaus butterfly, and buildings that use the minimum of materials like Monstera’s leaves.

Nature is wealthy, nature is generous. Through bioarchitecture, buildings can dive into that wealth and become a part of the generosity. Truly sustainable biobuildings can be constructed that work with nature and reverse the harm our conventional building technologies have done to the planet.The Conversation

Aysu Kuru, Lecturer in Architecture and Construction, University of Sydney

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
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 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:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more visit:

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

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

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

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

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

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

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

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.


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!

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:

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:

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:

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:

"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

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: 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 :

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.