June 26 - July 2, 2022: Issue 544

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complex cliff failure at long reef

June 13, 2022 by Pittwater Pathways
Exceptional rainfall in early 2022 caused many cliff failures, as detailed here at Long Reef where cliff retreat is faster than the norm. Global warming is accelerating change at all levels, in organisms, plants and even rocks. Script by Dr Peter Mtchell OAM. Song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

My Wonder World of Rocks

June 14, 2022 by Pittwater Pathways
Denise Barry’s art is infused with the spirit of the extraordinary rocks – “my guardians’’ – that are central to her fascinating work. These 240 million year old Hawkesbury Sandstone monoliths occur at the bottom of the sequence where remarkable patterns were formed by wet slump folding as explained by Dr Peter Mitchell OAM.

Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services: Possums In Your Roof

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Wildlife photos

Pelicans heading to the coast now: Winter Migrations

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

The Story of Narrabeen Lagoon - part 2

September 2011

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Tours

Enjoy a Barrenjoey Lighthouse tour any Sunday afternoon. It stands at Sydney's northern-most point. The views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the mighty Pacific are unforgettable.
When: Tours will run every Sunday from Sunday 15 May 2022 to Sunday 25 June 2023. Tour times: 11am to 11.30am, 12pm to 12.30pm, 1pm to 1.30pm, 2pm to 2.30pm and 3pm to 3.30pm.
Tours will not run on: Christmas Day - Sunday 25 December 2022 or New years Day - Sunday 1 January 2023.
Price: Adult $10 per person. Concession $8 per person. Child $5 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Accompanying adults need to book and pay. 
Bookings: Bookings required. Phone 1300 072 757 or book online at: https://nswparks.sales.ticketsearch.com/sales/sales/sales?ev=17683,54324,54344,54348
Meeting point: Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Give yourself at least 40mins to walk from the carpark to the lighthouse before your tour departs.

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

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

You can help by:

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

There are 2 rescue groups in the Northern Beaches:

Sydney Wildlife: 9413 4300

WIRES: 1300 094 737

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

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

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

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

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

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

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

sydney wildlife rescue: helpers needed

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

Midwinter Swim At Mawson

Published June 21, 2022
Today at our four Australian research stations in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic – Casey, Davis, Mawson and Macquarie Island – and in Tasmania, we celebrate Midwinter Day (Winter Solstice).
As tradition demands, the team of 15 at Mawson cut through metre-thick sea ice to create a sub-zero swimming pool.

Environmental assessment of Illawarra's mountain bike network released: Have your say

June 20, 2022
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is progressing plans for a 50-kilometre mountain biking network in the Illawarra, with the Draft Review of Environmental Factors (REF) now on public exhibition.

Kane Weeks from NPWS said the draft REF covers the first stage of the proposed mountain bike network in the Mount Kembla area.

"The draft REF includes environmental, cultural heritage and geotechnical assessments. It identifies the potential impacts of the mountain bike trails and outlines the mitigating measures," said Mr Weeks.

"NPWS supports high quality, sustainable cycling experiences in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area and riding is a fantastic way for people of all ages to enjoy the reserve.

"But this needs to be balanced with protecting the unique environmental and cultural values of this dedicated conservation area.

"We have taken the time to get this right. The proposed network outlined in the draft REF caters for different riding levels while also protecting the conservation values and cultural significance of the Escarpment.

Importantly the draft REF also acknowledges that the Illawarra Escarpment, in particular Mount Keira (Djera) and Mount Kembla (Djembla), continue to carry great cultural significance to the Aboriginal community.

The draft Review of Environmental Factors will be on public exhibition for 28 days from 20 June to 18 July 2022.

To view the draft REF and have your say, go to: Illawarra Escarpment Mountain Bike Project

Further information about the proposed network at Balgownie will be provided when the Illawarra Mountain Bike Strategy is finalised. The draft REF for this section of trails will also go on public exhibition later for comment.

The start date for any trail construction is pending approval of the REFs. Trails that do not form part of the final network will be progressively closed and rehabilitated.

Woodside, we'll see you in Court

June 22, 2022: Australian Conservation Foundation
Today, we commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against Woodside Energy.

I wanted to make sure we alerted you to this breaking news as early as we could.

If we win, we will set an urgently-needed legal precedent – climate impacts must be considered under our national environment law.

Woodside Energy's Scarborough Gas Project and its Pluto extension is the most polluting new fossil fuel proposal in Australia. If it goes ahead, it would result in yearly climate pollution equal to the annual pollution from 15 coal-fired power stations!

And to make matters worse, they plan to build it on one of the most captivating marine environments in the world and in an area of immeasurable significance to First Nations Peoples. The Burrup Peninsula is part of the Dampier Archipelago in the north-west of Western Australia – a thriving coastal wonderland, where there is no place for gas.

Our case in the Federal Court aims to stop the Scarborough Gas Project in its tracks, until its climate impacts are properly assessed!
In order to access this toxic fossil gas resource, Woodside plans to dredge the seabed, and hammer giant concrete piles into the ocean floor, before dumping millions of tonnes of seabed spoil across the Archipelago.

The Scarborough project would cause immensely disruptive activity, which is a serious risk to life for the turtles, dolphins, dugongs and migrating humpback whales who call these waters home.

But shockingly, Woodside Energy has already been given state-based environmental approvals and will shortly commence the construction phase.
We’ll be arguing the Scarborough Project’s enormous greenhouse gas emissions will have a significantly detrimental impact on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Therefore, this project should not be allowed to start production without interrogation under our national environment law.

Although the gas would be extracted in waters off Western Australia and much of it burned overseas, it would fuel climate damage that is already bleaching coral a ghostly white on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. We know that the use of coal and gas threatens our way of life and the places we love, no matter where they’re burned.

The Scarborough Project was never referred to the Federal Environment Minister for assessment, even though Woodside must know how destructive it will be to our climate and reefs! Gas and oil projects assessed by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority currently have an exemption from the national environment law.

However, and this is where our legal case comes in, that exemption does not apply if an offshore project is likely to have a significant impact on the World Heritage or National Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef.

When you have the head of the International Energy Agency saying “climate chaos is guaranteed if proposed oil and gas mega-projects go ahead”, it makes you wonder how these sorts of destructive projects are being approved in the first place.
If we win this case, and we are hopeful we will, this will draw a line in the sand that the climate impacts of projects – whether offshore or onshore – must be assessed under our national environment law.

In the times we're in, no polluting gas project should be allowed to proceed without consideration of the climate impact on the precious Great Barrier Reef.

And we won’t stop until we have exhausted all legal options to get the climate consequences of this project properly considered.

Together, we can set an important precedent for the future.

FCNSW in court for alleged breaches of 2019/20 bushfire harvest rules

June 20, 2022
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has launched a prosecution alleging Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest, near Eden after the 2019/20 bushfires.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has launched a prosecution alleging Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest, near Eden after the 2019/20 bushfires. The EPA alleges more than 50 trees were cut down in an “unburned” and “partially burned” environmentally significant areas.

The Authority alleges that between March and July 2020, FCNSW’s contractors carried out harvesting operations, including operating machinery and cutting and removing 53 trees in a Category 1 Environmentally Significant Area in the Yambulla State Forest.

These actions if proven, would contravene the conditions of forestry rules, the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, and the Site-Specific Operating Conditions issued by the EPA after the 2019/20 bushfires.

EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Greg Sheehy said the EPA imposed these Site-Specific Operating Conditions to protect areas in forests across NSW, of environmental importance, that were less affected by the fires.

“Bushland along our South Coast was severely damaged by the devastating fires, and the EPA established additional protections for bushfire affected forests like the Yambulla State Forest in order to limit further harm,” Mr Sheehy said. 

“These conditions were imposed to prevent FCNSW harvesting trees in areas considered environmentally significant that were less damaged or completely untouched by the fires.

“The additional protections, applied to certain forests in NSW were designed to help wildlife and biodiversity recover in key regions,” Mr Sheehy said.

The EPA alleges the breach occurred because FCNSW failed to mark the area as off-limits in the operational map used for the harvest.

It alleges the map used by FCNSW’s contractors did not show two known Environmentally Significant Areas, one being a “partially burned area” and the other being the “unburned area”.

“Mapping activities are a legal requirement and must be carried out correctly by forestry operators,” Mr Sheehy said.

“These laws protect areas in our forests that may be home to important shelters and food resources for local wildlife or unique native plants.”

Prosecution is one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes. Our regulatory approach includes a wide variety of options. Find out more about them here https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-reports/regulatory-strategy.

Non-compliance with forestry regulations costs Forestry Corporation NSW

June 23, 2022
Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) has been fined $15,000 for allegedly failing to comply with a post bushfire condition imposed to protect critical habitat in a forest near Batemans Bay.

The Site Specific Operating Condition required FCNSW to permanently retain all hollow bearing trees. Hollow bearing trees are important to many native animals in the forest, including threatened species that are dependent on these trees for their survival.

EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Regional Greg Sheehy said these conditions were aimed at protecting our environment from further harm after the forest was damaged by fires.

“The requirement to retain all hollow bearing trees was clear and it’s concerning that better systems were not put in place to ensure compliance.

“FCNSW forest management and activities did not meet our expectations and the EPA has put them on notice that failing to meet standards is unacceptable,” Mr Sheehy said.

The Penalty Infringement Notice was issued for allegedly failing to comply in Compartment 58A in South Brooman State Forest.

In July 2020 the EPA issued FCNSW with a Stop Work Order to stop the harvesting of trees in part of the forest for 40 days, after an inspection found hollow bearing trees that were either damaged or felled.

The penalty followed the resumption of logging in that area, after FCNSW were required to put in place additional checks to ensure they met the conditions.

$15,000 is the largest fine the EPA is able to issue under the legislation.

Penalty notices are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes. Find out more about our regulatory approach: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-reports/regulatory-strategy.

Budget boost to biodiversity

June 21, 2022
Improving biodiversity is a clear focus in the 2022-23 NSW Budget, with major investments in ground-breaking programs that support landholders to protect and conserve their land, and more than $2 billion invested in programs focusing on protection, conservation and natural capital investment.

Minister for Environment and Heritage James Griffin said the Budget investment demonstrated the NSW Government's commitment to protecting the environment and growing a clean economy.

"I'm proud to be part of a Government that has a strong track record in conserving our environment, and this massive new round of funding ensures we can continue this critical work right across New South Wales," Mr Griffin said.

"This Budget delivers hundreds of millions of dollars to encourage landholders to conserve biodiversity and sequester carbon on their land, which is critical because private landholders own and manage about 70% of land in New South Wales and many sensitive ecosystems are found there.

"Our $206.2 million Sustainable Farming Program will ensure farmers can opt to receive benefits for sustainable land management practices, while improving biodiversity and lowering emissions.

"This Budget is also delivering a $106.7 million Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund, which will ultimately pay landholders for generating biodiversity offset credits, while conserving biodiversity.

"By partnering with landholders through these new programs, we can continue enhancing existing biodiversity conservation, which is great news for the environment and future generations."

The 2022–23 NSW Budget also includes $598.2 million over 10 years for the National Parks and Wildlife Service as part of the Government's continued response to the risk of bushfires.

"This funding will maintain record levels of national park firefighters, delivering 250 permanent jobs, including 200 firefighters, as well as critical infrastructure and fleet upgrades," Mr Griffin said.

"After significant flooding and rain this year, the Budget is committing $18.5 million to expand Beachwatch to ensure we can continue meeting community expectations for monitoring the quality of water at swimming spots statewide.

"We're continuing our massive investment in our national parks and enticing more domestic and international tourists to visit by delivering another ecotourism drawcard in the Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk on the Mid-North Coast, a world-class feature showcasing our spectacular environment.

"Major changes to the way we deal with waste and plastic in New South Wales are coming too, thanks to a $286.2 million investment over 4 years in the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 and NSW Plastics Action Plan."

New funding for environment and heritage in Budget 2022–23 includes:
  • $598 million over 10 years for National Parks and Wildlife Service to deliver 250 permanent jobs, including 200 firefighters, and critical infrastructure and fleet upgrades
  • $286.2 million over 4 years to implement the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 and NSW Plastics Action Plan
  • $206.2 million over 10 years in natural capital for a Sustainable Farming Program, rewarding farmers who opt into an accreditation program to improve carbon and biodiversity outcomes
  • $148.4 million over 2 years to manage the clean-up and removal of flood and storm-related damage, debris and green waste from the 2022 floods
  • $106.7 million over 3 years to increase the supply of biodiversity offset credits through a new Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund
  • $56.4 million over 4 years for a new Arc Rainforest Centre and Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk in the Dorrigo National Park
  • $44.8 million over 10 years for a state-wide environmental and air-quality monitoring program
  • $42.9 million over 4 years for the Me-Mel (Goat Island) Remediation, paving the way for the transfer of the island to the First Nations communities
  • $32.9 million over 4 years to safeguard the future of the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island by rolling out a biosecurity regime targeting invasive species
  • $18.5 million over 10 years to expand Beachwatch to a state-wide program, meeting community demand for water-quality monitoring in NSW swim sites.
Funding is continuing for major programs, including more than $450 million from 2020–23 for NPWS visitor infrastructure, $60 million for the Saving our Species program, $5 million for the NSW Blue Plaques Program, and $3 million for the Heritage Grants Program to support items listed on the State Heritage Register or declared as an Aboriginal Place.

Magnificent new multiday walk puts NSW on global ecotourism map

June 19, 2022
The ancient Gondwana Rainforests on the NSW mid-north coast will host a spectacular new multi-day walk as part of a $56.4 million investment in the NSW Budget.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the four day Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk will increase access to one of Australia’s most beautiful rainforests and attract an extra 200,000 visitors to the region.

'Through the NSW Budget, we’re investing $56.4 million to offer a new way for people to enjoy the ancient World Heritage environment,' Mr Kean said.

'This project will drive increased nature-based tourism in NSW, further bolstering the contribution that national parks make to the State economy.'

National park management and visitation generates $18 billion in economic activity annually and supports over 74,000 jobs, with 75 per cent of economic benefit occurring in regional areas.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the project is part of the largest capital investment program ever undertaken in NSW national parks.

'Along with Snowies Alpine Walk, the Wollemi Great Walk, and the Great Southern Walk, our signature multi-day walks are providing new experiences in NSW while expanding access to our national parks,' Mr Griffin said.

'The rainforest at Dorrigo National Park is even more spectacular than the Daintree, and I’m proud to say that with this magnificent new 46 kilometre walk, we’ll be happily tempting domestic and international tourists away from Queensland.

'I want everyone who comes to our NSW national parks as a visitor to leave as a conservationist, and this world-class Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk helps us achieve that.'

The starting point of the Dorrigo Great Walk will be the new Arc Rainforest Centre, featuring a hanging boardwalk overlooking the World Heritage rainforest.

The walk will include four low impact walkers’ hut precincts, new camping areas, three suspension bridges and 46 kilometres of walking trails.

It will also become a place for visitors to learn and connect with the culture of the traditional custodians, the Gumbaynggirr people.

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said the new Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk would help put NSW on the global map for tourism and national parks.

'We’re building a network of multi-day walks to bring people from all over the world to NSW, boosting local tourism businesses, jobs and regional economies,' Mr Ayres said.

'The Dorrigo project will be one of the first of its kind to combine two new, world class nature-based attractions - the Arc Rainforest Centre and the multi-day walk - providing access for all abilities to the Gondwana rainforest.'

For more information, visit the Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk webpage.

In text image: The walk features tall waterfalls - Red Cedar Falls. Credit: Rob Cleary/DPE. Above: Artists Impressions of the Arc Rainforest Centre. Credit: NSW Government

Farmers supported to build natural capital

June 19, 2022
Farmers around the State will be supported to adopt additional sustainable practices through a groundbreaking $206 million program delivered in the NSW Budget.
Treasurer Matt Kean said this landmark investment will reward farmers who voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions and protect biodiversity.

'This is great news for farmers and the environment. This funding will help improve biodiversity and lower emissions across NSW, and our farmers will receive tangible benefits for sustainable land management practices,; Mr Kean said.

Mr Kean said New South Wales has an early mover advantage to secure a leading position in the emerging global marketplace for low carbon food and fibre from producers who are also improving our biodiversity.

'This new era of natural capital could unlock up to $10 billion of ‘Environment, Social and Governance’ financing in Australia,' Mr Kean said.

'Natural capital will reduce farmers’ risks from climate change and biodiversity loss while improving long-term farm productivity.'

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the Sustainable Farming Program will help to shore up the long-term health of the environment and the agricultural sector.

'This $206 million new program is completely voluntary. We’re proposing to develop an accreditation scheme for farmers who manage their land for biodiversity and carbon, while enhancing their productivity,' Mr Griffin said.

'Just as we know what the Forestry Stewardship Council certification system represents, this is about developing an easily recognisable accreditation for sustainable farms.

'We know that investors and consumers are increasingly looking for sustainably produced products, and this program will support our producers to meet that demand.'

Many farmers are already undertaking sustainable practices as part of their day to day operations and this program represents an opportunity for diversified income, with the program offering farmers payments to secure and maintain accreditation.

In turn, the accreditation has potential to increase their market access globally, helping farmers sell their products at a premium and access emerging environmental markets. The accreditation will not impact existing accreditation schemes such as those used to access the European beef markets.

Accreditation could be achieved by actions such as restoring habitat, fencing for dam and riparian areas, rotating crops, and using best-practice feed and fertiliser practices.

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the program will be developed in close consultation with farmers and landowners.

'The NSW Government will work with farmers and landholders on options to tap into the emerging natural capital market,' Mr Saunders said.

'Farmers in NSW are already natural capital specialists and should be rewarded for the productive and environmental outcomes they generate.

'This announcement will give farmers and other landholders more options to diversify their income while maintaining ultimate decision making power on how to sustainably and productively manage their property.'

Farmers will receive a payment for reaching milestones on agreed sustainable practices under an accreditation framework.

The accreditation program will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and complements existing private land conservation programs offered by the NSW Government.

In text image: fencing a creek line prevents cattle entering waterways and reduces nutrients and sediment run-off as trees grow Credit: Chris Sheedy/DPE

NSW takes the lead with EV charger boost

June 20, 2022
Electric Vehicle (EV) drivers will benefit from a further $38 million in charging infrastructure announced as part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget to accelerate the EV revolution across New South Wales.
Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said the additional funding increases the State's EV investment to $633 million under the NSW Electric Vehicle Strategy.

"Rolling out extra chargers will allow more EV drivers to benefit from their cheaper running costs and a cleaner, quieter and more sustainable road network," Mr Kean said.

"You'll never be far from a charger on our major highways, in regional destinations, apartment buildings and on kerbsides in metropolitan areas with limited off-street parking."

The funding will leverage significant private sector investment to service growing demand. It includes:
  • $10 million to co-fund 500 kerbside charge points to provide on-street charging in residential streets where private off-street parking is limited.
  • $10 million to co-fund around 125 medium and large apartment buildings with more than 100 car parking spaces to make EV charging electrical upgrades.
  • $18 million for more EV fast charging grants to speed up the rollout of stations. It will also increase the number of charging points – from the current four to at least 8 – at charging stations located in high density urban areas.
"This funding will help communities stay connected and help holidaymakers hit the road to enjoy weekend trips as NSW motorists gear up for the next era of driving," Mr Kean said.

The NSW Electric Vehicle Strategy is the biggest EV plan in Australia, which includes a $3,000 rebate and stamp duty waivers for eligible new EVs.

It also includes a $149 million plan to support private industry to roll out ultra-fast charging stations, and $20 million for chargers at regional businesses and tourist locations.

Budget fails to tackle key threat to biodiversity — habitat destruction

June 21, 2022
In response to spending in the environment portfolio announced in today's state budget, Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said:    

“We welcome new funding in the budget for national parks and private land conservation — farmers should be supported to do the right thing on their land. 

“We’ve been calling for some time for the government to do more to support farmers who want to conserve biodiversity. 

“This is very welcome, but government policy is contradictory and pushing farmers in opposite directions. 

“On the one hand the government forks out millions to support conservation projects on farms. 

"On the other, it has land clearing laws that incentivise habitat destruction, which is now happening at record rates. 

“The measures announced in today’s budget will not halt habitat destruction that is facilitated by weak protections in the government’s  land clearing laws. 

“Habitat loss from land clearing and logging is the biggest threat to koalas and other wildlife.  

“If the government is serious about tackling the biodiversity crisis, it must embrace reform in this area.” 

Precious Callala Bay wildlife habitat must be protected

June 21, 2022
Threatened species including greater gliders, eastern pygmy possums and powerful owls will all lose vital habitat if the NSW Government allows a property developer to destroy 40 hectares of mature coastal forest at Callala Bay. [1] 

“The bushland around Callala Bay and Lake Wollumboola is a critical refuge for wildlife that were hammered by the Black Summer bushfires,” Nature Conservation Council Forest Campaigner Wilson Harris said. 

“Those fires incinerated millions of animals. Many that survived the firestorm later starved to death or were picked off by feral cats and foxes. 

“The mature coastal forests around Callala Bay and Lake Wollumboola have always been important, but after the fires it became critical. They must be conserved. 

“Greater gliders, eastern pygmy possums and powerful owls are just a few of the species that with be harmed. Glossy-black cockatoos, gang-gangs and grey-headed flying-fox will also lose roosting sites and feed trees. 

“The extinction risk for greater gliders and yellow-bellied gliders was recently increased to ‘vulnerable’ because their numbers have been plummeting due to habitat loss, especially in the Shoalhaven where their numbers were decimated by the Currowan bushfire.” 

The Nature Conservation Council has added its weight to the campaign by the Callala Environmental Alliance to conserve this forest by making a submission to the Planning Department urging that it reject the plan rezone 40 hectares for destruction. [2] 

“There is plenty of land that has already been cleared that could be used for housing — we don’t need to clear more critical bushland to make developers rich,” Mr Harris said.   


Santos’ raised zombie to begin inflicting destruction on Liverpool Plains

Liverpool Plains farmers are vowing to resist Santos’ intrusion into the food growing powerhouse every step of the way, after the oil and gas giant revealed new plans to conduct seismic testing and explore for gas in the region.

In a newspaper advertisement (available here), the company said it would conduct seismic testing in an area to the south west of Gunnedah in order to explore for gas. Santos neglected to state the country it is targeting for coal seam gas is on the Liverpool Plains, renowned as Australia’s foodbowl.

The move comes after the NSW Perrottet Government raised numerous Santos-owned or part owned “zombie” coal seam gas exploration licences from the dead, which collectively cover more than one million hectares across the Liverpool Plains and northwest.

It also comes after farmers won a long battle against coal mining company Shenhua, and then Deputy Premier John Barilaro told locals there would be no mining on the Liverpool Plains.

Mullaley cattle farmer Margaret Fleck, whose property is covered by PEL 12 said, “Santos’ attempts to expand its polluting gas operations in NSW are a farmers’ worst nightmare. 

“We’ve seen how coal seam gas has expanded rapidly in southern and inland Queensland, causing land to subside and water bores to run dry. 

“Santos and the Perrottet Government appear hell-bent on inflicting the same devastation on the precious farming country of the Liverpool Plains and northwest. 

“We are utterly reliant on groundwater here - any gas mining that drains the aquifer beneath us threatens our very ability to produce food and fibre for Australians.

“Santos’ attempts to carve up the Liverpool Plains for unconventional gas will be met with fierce resistance from landholders. Santos will never build gasfields on the Liverpool Plains.”

Support for Santos from new Resources Minister disrespectful, ill-informed

Comments made by new Resources Minister Madeleine King concerning Santos’ destructive Pilliga gasfield are appalling and show she has little respect for the ongoing Native Title Tribunal process, say Gomeroi Traditional Owners, local farmers, and their supporters.

Earlier this year, Gomeroi Traditional Owners voted 162 to 2 to oppose the gasfield, which would involve the drilling of 850 coal seam gas wells in and around the Pilliga Forest, which is considered sacred by Gomeroi people.

The legal decision is yet to be handed down, and Karra Kinchela, a Gomeroi Traditional Owner from Narrabri, said Ms King’s comments in the media in support of the project were disrespectful.

“We are respecting the tribunal process, we’re waiting patiently, there hasn’t been an outcome yet and Madeleine King should likewise be respectful,” she said.

“What gets me the most is that if we had started the transition to renewable energy ten years ago, the Pilliga wouldn’t be at risk now. The government wouldn’t be putting our Pilliga, our climate, and our water at risk.

“There has been resistance to Santos’ project for more than a decade, and that’s not going to change just because Ms King wants it to. She’s underestimating the determination of groups who are opposed to the gasfield if she thinks we’re just going to let Santos bulldoze the Pilliga.”

Liverpool Plains farmer Scott McCalman, whose property is covered by a recently renewed, Santos-owned coal seam gas exploration licence, said Ms King’s comments were disappointing given the new Albanese Government had been voted in with a mandate to boost renewable energy.

“The government was voted in because people want change, they want commitment to address climate change and they want our energy network to facilitate that change, and not be reliant on coal seam gas. Drilling for gas and supporting Santos’ project at Narrabri is extremely short-sighted,” he said.

“The Santos gasfield would be a costly, and environmentally damaging exercise and being years off production, it can’t play any role in the current energy crisis. Madeleine King only needs to look to Queensland where the land is slumping, there’s groundwater drawdown, and a massive, unresolved problem with salt waste, all thanks to coal seam gas.

“Santos’ gasfield will do nothing to address the energy crisis. We’ve got a renewable energy transition happening and we need the Federal Government to stick to it. They can come up with smarter ways to address short term issues that don’t involve sacrificing our best farming country to companies like Santos.

“Our food security is crucial. Madeleine King’s support of the Santos project threatens that.”

Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Georgina Woods said Santos and other gas companies had been exploiting the high gas prices and tight market they engineered to exert political pressure for more damaging gasfields for years.

“Santos is the architect of the gas supply crisis we now face," she said.

"It’s embarrassing for the new Labor government to have a Minister duped by the gas industry’s self-serving campaign. Sacrificing the beautiful Pilliga to hundreds of gaswells will do nothing to reduce the high price of gas. What our country needs is a pathway to zero emissions and a government that puts people and the environment first.

“The last thing a new Federal Government should be doing is locking Australians into a future reliant on high gas prices. The renewable energy revolution is well and truly underway. That’s where Madeleine King should be focusing her energy.”

The national electricity market is a failed 1990s experiment. It’s time the grid returned to public hands

Dean Lewins/AAP
John Quiggin, The University of Queensland

A crisis, as the saying has it, combines danger and opportunity. The dangers of the current electricity crisis are obvious. The opportunity it presents is to end to the failed experiment of the national electricity market.

Having suspended the market last week, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is now directing generators when to supply electricity. It’s also paying them lavish compensation for the financial shortfalls they suffer as a result.

These emergency measures are unsustainable. But they provide the starting point for a restructured electricity supply industry – one that’s better balanced between markets and planning.

Now’s the time to create a national grid that serves the Australian public and meets the challenges of a warming world. A new government-owned and operated body should take control of Australia’s electricity system. And decarbonising the grid, while ensuring reliable and affordable energy, should be its core business.

string of light bulbs in dark
Decarbonising the grid should be a key goal of electricity reforms. Dave Hunt/AAP

Privatisation and poor design

The National Electricity Market is where energy generators and retailers trade electricity. It was established about 25 years ago after technological advances allowed electricity grids to be connected across all states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Before the market began, each state operated its own electricity industry with only limited interconnection. Back then, electricity companies were publicly owned. Most were also fully integrated, with one company responsible for the entire electricity supply chain, from generation to distribution and billing.

The national grid’s arrival coincided with the peak of enthusiasm for micro-economic reform. So, instead of a unified national enterprise, state utilities were broken up into separate parts – generation, transmission, distribution and retail – with the intention they would be privatised then engage in market competition.

Driving the trend towards privatisation was a widespread view that state-owned electricity enterprises had not performed well – particularly in investing to expand access to electricity.

Reflecting this view, the industry became fully or mostly privatised in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. Other states opened electricity generation and retail to competition.

The market was created just as the global need to reduce carbon emissions was being recognised. Despite this, the climate problem was not considered in the design of the market, which was based on a mix of coal and gas plants.

Until AEMO suspended the market last week, bids from generators determined the wholesale price of electricity at five-minute intervals. Retailers supplied electricity to consumers at prices that shielded them from the fluctuations in wholesale prices.

Prices typically sat around A$50 per megawatt hour. But in periods of very high electricity demand, the price can reach the market “price cap”, currently set at $15,100 per megawatt hour.

Meanwhile, electricity distribution – getting the power to homes and businesses using poles, wires and other infrastructure – was handed to a set of regulated monopolies, which were awarded high rates of return on low-risk assets.

steam emitted from coal-fired power station
The climate problem was not considered in the design of the market. Dan Himbrechts/AAP

What went wrong

The designers of the national electricity market hoped it would lead to better efficiency and more rational investment decisions. The market also aimed to lower consumer power bills and promote competitive retail offers tailored to individual needs. But none of this happened.

In fact, consumer electricity prices – after falling for the better part of a century in real terms under public ownership – rose dramatically.

This was partly due to high returns to private electricity distribution companies, and the need for infrastructure investment to improve reliability. A proliferation of highly paid marketers, managers and financiers were also required to run the market.

Over time, the failures of the original design led to an alphabet soup of agencies needed to run the industry. They include AEMO, AEMC, AER, ARENA and a bunch of state-level regulators. Finally, the Turnbull government created the misnamed Energy Security Board (ESB), which sat on top of the whole process.

All this delayed the transition from an old and unreliable coal-based system to its necessary replacement by a combination of solar, wind and storage.

Now, this rickety system has failed to deal with a major supply crisis. The temptation is to slap on another patch and restore “normal” market conditions. The ESB’s proposal to pay coal and gas generators to be on standby if needed is one such quick fix. But much more comprehensive reform is needed.

composite image of electricity infrastructure and numbers
The national electricity market has failed to achieve its key aims. Shutterstock

Where to from here?

A combination of public and private investment is now needed to secure affordable electricity and transition to renewable energy generation.

The plethora of bodies regulating the market should be replaced by a single government agency that buys wholesale electricity from generators. This organisation could then sell electricity directly to customers or supply it to electricity retailers.

The emergency purchasing arrangements AEMO currently has in place should be replaced by “power purchase agreements”. These are long-term contracts between a buyer and a generator to purchase energy, in which prices, availability and reliability are set.

Within those terms, generators that consistently produce electricity at very low prices are the first to be called on. This dispatch method, known as merit order, has been shown in Germany to lead to lower prices for consumers.

At the same time, the Australian electricity grid should be returned to government ownership and operation. And its guiding principle should be moving to a decarbonised energy system, rather than the “net market benefit” test AEMO currently uses when deciding where to approve investment.

Labor’s Rewiring the Nation policy provides a starting point for reform. It should invest directly in the expanded transmission network needed to support the transition to renewable energy.

Australian energy policy took a wrong turn in the 1990s. It’s time to get back on course.The Conversation

John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland

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

Grape growers are adapting to climate shifts early – and their knowledge can help other farmers

Bill Skinner, University of Adelaide; Douglas Bardsley, University of Adelaide, and Georgina Drew, University of Adelaide

It’s commonly assumed Australia’s farmers and cities are divided over climate issues. This is not true. After all, farmers are on the front line and face the realities of our shifting climate on a daily basis.

In regional Australia, our research has found many farmers are already responding to climate change threats and finding ways to adapt.

Wine grape growers are among those who are responding fastest. That’s because their crop is extremely sensitive to weather and climatic shifts. Growers have had to learn quickly how to adapt to safeguard their industry. Think pruning for better canopy management, growing cover crops to keep the ground cooler and promote soil health, and reducing how much water they use in irrigation.

Establishing a vineyard takes a long time – up to five years until the vines produce a full yield. Grape growers have to take a medium to long term perspective to farming, weighing up forecasts about climate change and market trends a decade or more in advance. Successful vignerons recognise the need to work together in a coordinated way to achieve positive outcomes. Maintaining local agency is crucial, and relinquishing this can open up new risks.

Australia’s broader farming community will have to draw on similar adaptations – preparing for less rainfall in some areas, or finding ways to capture the enormous but less frequent rain bursts predicted for other areas.

grape vines irrigation
Vineyards have had to reduce water use. Shutterstock

Why have wine grape growers moved early?

Wine grape growers have had to act early because wine has enormous market differentiation based on variety. In turn, choice of varieties depends heavily on water and soil.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Australian wine exports boomed. The lion’s share of the cheap and cheerful Aussie wines bound for supermarket shelves around the world came from grapes from extensive irrigated vineyards throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, where grapes are grown relatively cheaply with lots of sunshine and lots of water. But the days of water abundance are no longer guaranteed.

Our research in South Australia’s Langhorne Creek wine region has found climate change is having most impact in respect to water.

Historically, this region has relied on groundwater or surface irrigation from seasonal floods along local watercourses. But as groundwater suffered from over-extraction, the aquifers became saltier.

In response, farmers sought to minimise reliance on groundwater. Some vineyards even installed desalination plants to make groundwater usable again. Community leaders spearheaded a push to cut their own allocations and seek supply from nearby Lake Alexandrina, which the Murray and other rivers empty into.

Then came the 2001–2009 Millennium Drought, which led to the shallow lake beginning to dry up through lack of inflow. The crisis of these drought years is seared into regional memory. Without a clear end in sight, many began to wonder if the region had a future.

The community backed a new private-public pipeline drawing directly from the Murray. When the new pipeline opened in 2009, it gave Langhorne Creek an important boost to water security. But it did so at the expense of tying its future directly to that of the Murray Darling Basin.

Now, farming in Langhorne Creek is at the mercy of everything that happens upstream. After two years of La Niña rains, there’s plenty of water in the system. For the time being, things are good – but farmers know better than most that good times don’t last.

In response to the broader shifts, many grape growers have increased plantings of southern Mediterranean varieties such as tempranillo or vermentino, better suited to hotter and drier conditions than traditional mainstays like shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes.

To date, Langhorne Creek offers an excellent example of how a strong community can act effectively in the face of environmental threat. As the region becomes integrated into the wider basin, there will be new challenges in navigating basin-wide management policies, a broadening bureaucratisation of decision making, and falling public trust in basin management.

While the technological fix of a new pipeline has helped grape growers overcome an immediate water supply issue, it does not defeat broader climate risk. What it does show is the need for forward thinking. The task for current and future farmers is to remain vigilant in confronting new climate risks, and responding through strong and coordinated local action and political cooperation. The Conversation

Bill Skinner, Postdoctoral research associate, University of Adelaide; Douglas Bardsley, Associate professor, University of Adelaide, and Georgina Drew, Associate Professor and Program Director, Stretton Institute, University of Adelaide

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

After decades of loss, the world’s largest mangrove forests are set for a comeback

Benjamin Brown, Charles Darwin University and Satyawan Pudyatmoko, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Mangroves ring the shores of many of Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands. But in the most populated areas, the world’s largest mangrove forests have been steadily whittled away, and with them, the ability to store blue carbon.

As the world’s fourth-most populous nation has grown, pressure on the mangroves has too. More than 756,000 hectares of mangroves have been cleared and turned into brackish ponds to farm water shrimp and milkfish.

Every year for the past three decades, another 19,000 hectares has been ripped out for aquaculture and increasingly, for oil palm plantations. As of 2015, an estimated 40% of the country’s mangroves had been degraded or lost.

Is this another predictable bad news story about the environment? No. This is a good news story. That’s because Indonesia’s government is, rising to the challenge of conserving its mangroves – and restoring lost forests.

Government investment in mangroves is rising and the political will is in place. Indonesia’s ambitious goal is to restore almost all of what’s been lost, rehabilitating 600,000 hectares of mangroves by 2024.

Why have Indonesia’s mangroves been hard hit?

In a 2012 interview, former Indonesian forestry official Eko Warsito explained why his country’s mangroves were disappearing:

More than 50% of Indonesia’s population lives in coastal areas, and most of them are poor. An ordinary plot of mangroves is worth $84 a hectare. But if it’s cleared and planted with oil palms, it can be worth more than $20,000 a hectare.

Unfortunately, this difference in perceived value has seen mangroves degraded or replaced. You can glimpse the current state of Indonesia’s 3.3 million hectares of mangrove area in the map below, which was released last year by Indonesia’s environment and forestry ministry.

Mangroves are broadly in good condition in the provinces of Papua and West Papua. But in the more populated areas – especially around the densely populated island of Java – mangroves have been largely deforested and degraded.

Adapted from a Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia map

Recent analysis by the World Bank puts the value of mangrove ecosystems at between A$21,000 to $70,000 per hectare per year. Similarly, a 2020 cost-benefit analysis of mangrove conservation versus conversion to shrimp aquaculture in Indonesia’s Papua province estimated the direct and indirect value of mangroves at A$34,000 per hectare per year.

But these valuations are heavily influenced by the role mangroves play in providing ecosystem services. Without these services, mangroves are worth two orders of magnitude less, at around A$340 per hectare.

Their real value lies in their ability to store large amounts of carbon, averaging almost 4000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare. Until now, however, policy bottlenecks at the national level have stopped Indonesia from investing in better mangrove management and producing new revenue streams from stemming mangrove losses.

Mangroves like these from a village forest in Sumatra store an average of 1083 tonnes of carbon in their living tissues and the soil beneath. Benjamin Brown

Indonesia’s mangroves have suffered because of this disconnect between their real value and government policies and institutions. Over 20 institutions have some level of responsibility for mangrove management in Indonesia. It’s no wonder their agendas often conflict.

But progress is being made. Two years ago, President Joko Widodo added mangroves to the mandate of the country’s peatland restoration agency, after its success at restoring damaged peatlands. The goal for mangroves is to restore 600,000 hectares of mangroves by 2024.

There are alternatives to aquaculture

You might think it’s too hard to restore mangroves once they’ve been turned into shrimp farms. Previously, this has been true, with an over-reliance on simply planting more seedlings rather than tackling the harder work of social and economic reliance on former mangrove habitat. In response, Indonesia’s government has mapped around 77,000 hectares of the best restoration candidate areas across 300 villages in Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), working in full collaboration with coastal villagers.

Restoring mangroves requires human labour and machinery, as in this image of villagers in Sulawesi improving water flow and drainage into disused shrimp ponds. Rio Ahmad (Director of Yayasan Hutan Biru)
5° 1'59.95
This Google Earth image shows how quickly mangroves can rebound after hydrological restoration to make water flows more natural. Google Earth

To create alternatives to aquaculture, Indonesia’s national farmer field school program will expand to include hundreds of coastal villages. These coastal field schools help local villages improve their management of the coasts and develop alternative sources of income.

These include learning to use Nypah palms alongside mangroves, to allow villagers to harvest the valuable sugar from the sap. This species is the only palm considered a true mangrove. They can produce 800,000 litres of sap per hectare per year, forming a sustainable commodity base for organic palm sugar production as well as bio-ethanol.

Other options include encouraging production of honey, gluten-free flour, tea, juice, jam, and cosmetics. For some villages, eco-tourism could be an option, or shifting to more sustainable aquaculture.

Ratna Fadillah, an expert in non-timber forest product use, harvests holly mangrove leaves to make herbal green tea. These teas offer a low-cost opportunity to create a business, which many women and youth across Indonesia are adopting. Benjamin Brown

What’s next?

Indonesia’s government is drafting a new mangrove policy, focused on balancing mangrove protection, sustainable use and restoration. We’re already seeing welcome realignment between the nation’s ministries.

These efforts are being funded by a $A573 million loan from the World Bank and a $A27 million grant for the policy reforms and investment in coastal livelihoods. This loan will be repaid with credits from blue carbon. Indonesia’s government is seeking more financial support from other governments and multilateral organisations to scale up their mangrove management to a national scale.

Indonesia’s work to turn around the fate of their ailing mangroves will be shown on the world stage at the G20 summit in Bali in November. By then, there will be a public dashboard to represent progress captured by field-based and satellite monitoring.

World Bank natural resources expert André Rodrigues de Aquino contributed to the research underlying this articleThe Conversation

Benjamin Brown, Postdoctoral research associate, Charles Darwin University and Satyawan Pudyatmoko, Professor of Forestry, Universitas Gadjah Mada

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

Is Migaloo … dead? As climate change transforms the ocean, the iconic white humpback has been missing for two years

Vanessa Pirotta, Macquarie University

It’s that time of year again, when the humpback highway is about to hit peak blubber to blubber as humpback whales migrate up Australia’s east and west coasts from Antarctic waters.

They’re headed to the whale disco – warm breeding waters where males will sing their whale song to attract female company, and pregnant females will birth their calves.

Already this season we’ve seen dolphins dancing with whales, dwarf minke whales with their calves, killer whales and a re-sighting of Curly, the humpback with an unusual curved tail. That’s only just the beginning.

Curly the humpback whale with the unique tail. Photo: Dr Vanessa Pirotta.

We expect more than 40,000 humpback whales to make this annual journey. I’ll be joining the ABC for their special tonight, Southern Ocean Live, to explore the science around this glorious migration first hand.

But as excitement for the whale season builds, there’s just one whale on the minds of many: the famous white humpback whale named Migaloo.

Who is Migaloo?

Migaloo is by far one of the world’s most recognisable whales, because he is completely white. Thanks to genetic sampling of Migaloo’s skin, scientists have identified that he’s male, and his albino appearance is a result of a variation in the gene responsible for the colour of his skin.

Simply by looking different, Migaloo has become an icon within Australia’s east coast humpback whale population. Indeed, Migaloo has his own Twitter account with over 10,000 followers, and website where fans can lodge sightings and learn more about humpback whales.

Migaloo is an all white humpback whale. Jodie Lowe, Author provided

He was first discovered in 1991 off Byron Bay, Australia, and has since played hide and seek for many years, with many not knowing where or when he’ll show up next. He’s even surprised Kiwi fans by showing up in New Zealand waters.

With the last official sighting two years ago, the time has once again come for us to ask: where is Migaloo?

Already this year there have been false sightings, such as a near all white whale spotted off New South Wales. To make things more confusing, regular-looking humpbacks can trick whale watchers when they flip upside down, due to their white bellies.

Not Migaloo: a northward migrating whale upside down photographed during whale snot drone collection, Sydney, Australia. Macquarie University/Heliguy Scientific, Scientific Licence 101743, Author provided

Migaloo as a flagship whale

The annual search for Migaloo connects people with the ocean during the colder months, and is an opportunity to learn more about the important ecological role whales play in the sea.

Migaloo’s popularity has also help drive modern marine citizen science. For example, the Cape Solander Whale Migration study records sightings of Migaloo as part of their 20 year data set. His presence was always a highlight for citizen scientists in the team.

Migaloo also represents the connection whales play between two extreme environments: the Antarctic and the tropics, both of which are vulnerable to climate change.

Humpback whales are the connection between two extreme environments: Antarctica and the tropics. Dr Vanessa Pirotta, Author provided

Earlier this year humpbacks were removed from Australia’s list of threatened species, as populations bounced back significantly after whaling ceased. But climate change poses a new threat, with a paper this year suggesting rising sea surface temperatures may make humpback whale breeding areas too warm.

Other changes to the ocean – such as ocean currents and the distribution of prey – may change where whales are found are when they migrate.

In Australia, for example, we’re already seeing many whales dine out on their migration south. Humpback whales are known to primarily feed once they’re back in Antarctic waters, so scientists are closely watching any new feeding areas off Australia.

Feeding in Australian waters might even become an annual event, and may mean southern NSW waters become an area of importance for migrating humpback whales. This behaviour encourages us to ask more about what’s going on below the surface, and the potential changes in the broader marine ecosystem we just don’t yet know about.

Humpback whales feed on krill in the Southern Ocean, before they travel northwards to breed. Shutterstock

So where is he now? Could he be dead?

Migaloo’s presence – or lack thereof – highlights the variations in whale migration. Some whales may choose to migrate early or late, or even elsewhere such as in New Zealand. Others might choose not to migrate at all and remain in the Southern Ocean.

Migaloo’s presence may be driven by several factors. This includes social circumstances, such as interactions with other whales (including moving between different pods) or biological needs (the desire to head north the reproduce).

Environmental conditions, such as currents and water temperature, may also impact when and where Migaloo chooses to swim.

Unfortunately, Migaloo and other whales do face a number of human-caused threats in the ocean every day, such as entanglement in fishing gear or collisions with ships. They also face natural threats, such as predation by killer whales.

Fortunately, Migaloo’s sighting history has shown us he can turn up when we least expect it, or not. So, there’s still hope we might see him yet. After all, being in his mid 30s, he’s likely in the prime of his whale life.

How to get involved

The continuing search for Migaloo shows how marine citizen science has become a powerful way to learn about wildlife. Many eyes make science work, as a network of citizen scientists can cover vast areas scientists can’t alone.

A team of 200 citizen science scuba divers, for example, surveyed 2,406 ocean sites in 44 countries over a decade to track how warming oceans impact marine life. They found fish may expand their habitat, pushing out other sea creatures.

But participating in marine citizen science is often as easy as recording wildlife observations on your phone next time you’re at the beach. Opportunities include Happy Whale, RedMap, Wild Sydney Harbour and INaturalist.

People taking photos of humpback whales from the side of a boat.
It’s peak season for whale watching in Australia. Shutterstock

This year’s annual migration will last until October or November, so here’s hoping we’ll see Migaloo once again. The power of this unique whale to generate discussion, despite not being seen for years, is true testament to just how curious we are about the mysteries of the deep.The Conversation

Vanessa Pirotta, Postdoctoral Researcher and Wildlife Scientist, Macquarie University

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

Why including coal in a new ‘capacity mechanism’ will make Australia’s energy crisis worse

Tim Nelson, Griffith University and Joel Gilmore, Griffith University

Australia’s electricity generators would be paid extra money to be available even if they don’t actually generate any energy, under a new mechanism proposed by the federal government’s Energy Security Board (ESB).

Controversially, the ESB has recommended all generators be eligible for the payment, including ageing coal-fired generators that are increasingly breaking down.

The proposal comes after federal and state ministers last week requested the ESB advance its work on a “capacity mechanism … to bring on renewables and storage”. The ESB says a mix of generators is crucial for the mechanism to be effective, guaranteeing energy supply to the grid.

So will this capacity mechanism lower energy prices for households? Probably not, because it includes unreliable coal-fired power stations, and consumers are likely to pick up the cost when the plants ultimately fail.

The electricity market is in crisis

Wholesale electricity prices have surged due to two main factors: high coal and gas prices (driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) and roughly one in four coal power stations being out of action at various times in the past few weeks.

The coal stations are unavailable because of maintenance as well as the sudden exit of 3,000 megawatts of power due to breakdowns, with almost all Australian coal-fired power stations now older than their original design life.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has suspended the market in response to the crisis, and it’s unclear when it will restart.

Under the temporary system now in place, generators provide their availability and the market operator tells generators when to run to ensure secure supply. Market prices are then fixed at the past 28-day average for that hour of the day, between A$150 and $300 per megawatt hour.

If generation costs are higher, power station owners can apply for additional compensation, which will be later recovered from consumers. Unfortunately, this means all electricity customers will effectively subsidise the companies that own the unreliable coal generators that caused this crisis.

AEMO last week suspended the National Electricity Market in response to the rising energy prices. Shutterstock

Would a capacity market have helped avoid this crisis?

The short answer is no. The long answer is actually worse: a capacity market is likely to cause further crises such as the one we’re currently in.

The ESB suggests that selling “capacity certificates” three or four years in advance will mean coal generators will signal when they intend to close. But coal generators are unlikely to face penalties if they don’t turn up when needed - they will just hand back the extra payments they’ve received.

This sort of arrangement is what economists call a “free option” - it costs nothing to participate. If the coal stations fail to deliver, as they have done over the last two months, it will be left to consumers to deal with the consequences.

By including all existing generators (including coal), a traditional capacity market is actually more likely to delay investment in new, fast-start, dispatchable technologies (such as batteries, pumped hydro and hydrogen-ready gas turbines) than accelerate them, as ministers want.

Indeed, ESB’s recommendation is already looking difficult to implement. Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen says it will be up to the states to choose which generators are eligible, and Victoria has already said fossil fuels will not be.

Most electricity suppliers also say they don’t want coal included.

What’s the real problem we’re trying to address?

Any capacity mechanism needs to have a solution to unexpected and sudden shortfalls of capacity.

The ESB has noted the biggest risk to consumers is that coal will exit suddenly with little warning because it is old and prone to breaking down. This has been a significant contributing factor to the current crisis.

It also drove higher prices in 2017 when Hazelwood suddenly closed without sufficient time for investment in new capacity to be brought online.

The market operator didn’t foresee any reliability problems less than two months ago - and neither did anyone in the market. The ESB’s proposed capacity market would have implicitly recommended less capacity in the system.

Hazelwood workers left their hats on the power station’s last day. Shutterstock

A capacity mechanism needs to create a reserve

As older coal power stations are increasingly unreliable, it may be prudent to have new generation in place before coal power stations fail.

Governments should create a capacity reserve market. Effectively, a capacity reserve pays new generators for new capacity until it’s needed, whereas a traditional capacity market (like the ESB is recommending) pays all existing generators that would have been available anyway. This is the key difference between a capacity market and a capacity reserve.

Under a capacity reserve, governments could provide payments only to new, modern, reliable, fast-start, firm capacity such as batteries, hydrogen-ready gas turbines and pumped hydro. This could be brought into a “waiting room” and held until it’s needed.

New generators could be deployed immediately when coal power stations fail, helping prevent the type of crisis we’re going through now.

Importantly, consumers would only be paying for new generation, not coal-fired power stations. This will cost less, and is the only way to provide the insurance the market needs.

Wind turbines in a field at sunset
Ministers want a smooth transition to renewables. Shutterstock

We already have the tools in place

Several years ago, the ESB introduced the Retail Reliability Obligation, which requires retailers to hold contracts with generators for their share of peak electricity demand. This is intended to encourage retailers to plan ahead.

The Retail Reliability Obligation framework could be modified to address situations such as what we’re in now.

If coal-fired generators fail and the market operator is forced to intervene like it did last week, then any costs the market operator incurred could be recovered from the retailers without enough generation or contracts in place to supply all of their customers.

This would be better than today, where the operator’s costs are recovered from all electricity consumers.

By strengthening price signals and building some reserves, we can help prevent future crises and deliver what ministers have rightly requested: a smooth pathway to more renewables and storage.

It’s also worth remembering coal-fired generators received a windfall of up to $5 billion under the Clean Energy Future package in 2012. How much more money do coal generators need from taxpayers and energy consumers to simply do the right thing and make their plant reliable? Or to shut it down with sufficient notice to allow new capacity to be built?The Conversation

Tim Nelson, Associate Professor of Economics, Griffith University and Joel Gilmore, Associate Professor, Griffith University

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

Pittwater Reserves: histories + Notes + Pictorial Walks

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
America Bay Track Walk - photos by Joe Mills
An Aquatic June: North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Collaroy photos by Joe Mills 
Angophora Reserve - Angophora Reserve Flowers
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Wilshire Park Palm Beach: Some History + Photos From May 2022
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

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

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

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

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

Shorebird Identification Booklet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surfers for Climate

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

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

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

Add yours to the conversation by signing up here.

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

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

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

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

Green Team Beach Cleans 

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

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

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

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

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

How it works

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

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

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

What you get                                  

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

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

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

Newport Community Gardens

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

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

Avalon Preservation Association

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

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

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

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

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

The Green Team

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

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

Avalon Boomerang Bags

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

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday of the month

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

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

For enquiries contact newportcommunitygardenau@gmail.com

Living Ocean

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

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

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

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

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

Donations are tax-deductable 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

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

Find out more here:


What Does PNHA do?


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

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

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

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

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


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