October 24 - 30, 2021: Issue 515

Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2021

The 2021 event will run from October 18‒24 during National Bird Week. Register as a counter today at: https://aussiebirdcount.org.au/

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is one of Australia’s biggest citizen science events. This year is our eighth count, and we’re hoping it will be our biggest yet!

Join thousands of people around the country in exploring your backyard, local park or favourite outdoor space and help us learn more about the birds that live where people live.

Taking part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to connect with the birds in your backyard, no matter where your backyard happens to be. You can count in a suburban garden, a local park, a patch of forest, down by the beach, or the main street of town. ⁠

To take part, register on the website today, then during the count you can use the web form or the app to submit your counts. Just enter your location and get counting ‒ each count takes just 20 minutes!

Not only will you be contributing to BirdLife Australia's knowledge of Aussie birds, but there are also some incredible prizes on offer. ⁠

Head over to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count website to find out more.

echidna at mona vale

This echidna, photographed at Mona Vale on Friday October 22, was having a stroll around. One of several spotted lately, a pair at Bayview. For most of the year the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is a solitary animal, although each animal’s territory is large and often overlaps with that of other echidnas. The short-beaked echidna is protected in NSW and although relatively abundant and widely distributed within NSW and Australia it is not readily seen in the wild because of its quiet, reclusive nature.

In temperate climates, echidnas are most often seen during early morning and in the late afternoon, as they tend to avoid temperature extremes.

Echidnas breed from the end of June to early September. A female lays a single egg, which is incubated in the pouch and takes about ten days to hatch. The young echidna is suckled by its mother from mammary glands in the pouch, and is carried in the pouch for about three months. During this time the female will sometimes leave the young animal in a burrow, made by the female for its protection, so she may go and eat.

Termites and ants are its preferred food and this is why the animal is often called the ‘spiny anteater’. Earthworms, beetles and moth larvae are also part of the echidna’s diet - a good reason to not use harmful chemicals in your garden, or in this case, the local street. This one was eating lots of tiny ants.

An echidna will use its fine sense of smell to find food and has a beak which is highly sensitive to electrical stimuli. It tracks down its prey and catches it with its long, sticky tongue. Echidnas do not have teeth and they grind their food between the tongue and the bottom of the mouth.

When the infant leaves the pouch, its spines have started to develop, but it still stays close to its mother and may continue to suckle. The young echidna will leave the burrow at around 12 months of age, weighing 1–2 kg (Strahan 1995). When grown, echidnas measure 30–53 cm long with males weighing about 6 kg and females about 4.5 kg.

Echidnas have been known to live for as long as 16 years in the wild, but generally their life span is thought to be under 10 years.

photos by and courtesy Alex Tyrell - information: NSW Dept. of Environment.

cicada shell

yes; we're on the verge of Summer 2021-2022
photo by courtesy Selena Griffith

The Flannel Flower: Australia’s symbol for Mental Health Awareness During Mental Health Month - october

There are HEAPS of Flannel Flowers out at present. In Aboriginal or Indigenous Lore and storytelling they are a flower of close relationships, intimacy and healing, and sharing those healing pathways for people.

The Flannel Flower, an Australian native, has been chosen as the national symbol to promote mental health awareness in Australia.

The Australian bush has an inherent beauty and strength. It is also known for its extremes of weather and landscape. Varieties of the Flannel Flower are commonly found growing wild in the bush throughout Australia. The Flannel Flower, as with all native Australian plants, needs to be adaptable and enduring in order to survive.

In the same way all of us, regardless of our life circumstances, develop resilience and the ability to adapt to change, in order to maintain good mental health.

Being open and empathetic to a person’s expression of distress can assist in the recovery of a person living with mental health illnesses and change the negative attitudes of our society as a whole. 

Start a Conversation
R U OK? inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with those in their world who may be struggling with life.
You don't need to be an expert to reach out - just a good friend and a great listener. 
Use these four steps and have a conversation that could change a life:
1. Ask R U OK?
2. Listen
3. Encourage action
4. Check in

Tuckeroo becoming troublesome in Pittwater

Tuckeroos, now a weed in the area, with hundreds of seedlings being seen in bushland, the dunes, will displace everything else if we don't pull up seedlings. Indian/Common Mynas feeding on these in Mona Vale and flying off to feed their offspring in recent weeks, mean more may appear.

Planting tuckeroos as a safe street tree started about 15 years ago by Council landscape architects, oblivious to the warnings they would become a weed by Natural Environment staff. Although they are a native plant, they are not native to Pittwater, as they were never seen in 1991, when some bush regeneration sites commenced. 

The fruit is an orange to yellow capsule with three lobes. There is a glossy dark brown seed inside each lobe. The seeds are covered in a bright orange aril. Fruit ripens from October to December, attracting many birds including Australasian figbird, olive-backed oriole and pied currawong. 

Image per Wikipedia

If you see seedlings sprouting, please pull them out so we can maintain the diversity of other plant species and the wildlife that needs these.

Waratahs: look but don't steal

The NSW Government announced on Friday rangers and volunteers have applied a non-toxic blue paint to waratah petals and stems to deter flower pickers. Thieves caught blue-handed may face a $300 fine.
If you see one when out walking please look but don't touch. Native plants are an important part of these ecosystems. 
They once were everywhere in Pittwater. Visit: A Bunch Of Wildflowers: Historical Spring September Songs

Birds in your garden: wish you had more?

If you plant hybrid Grevilleas that flower constantly, you will not get small birds.
Noisy Miners defend these as a year-round source of nectar. 
Their family groups set up territories and gang up furiously on any smaller birds that come by. They can kill them and also destroy their nests.

Information courtesy Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA). Photos: Joe Mills -  Honey Gem Grevillea, AJG - Noisy Miner

Avalon Preservation Association AGM 2021

Speaker: Angus Gordon OAM
“Global warming, is it real?”
The 2021 Annual General Meeting for Avalon Preservation Association (APA) will be held from 7.00pm on Thursday 11 November 2021 at the Avalon Beach surf life saving club.
Our special guest speaker is Angus Gordon OAM. Angus will talk on the controversial and very timely topic “Global Warming, Is it Real?”

Angus was General Manager of Pittwater Council from 1996 to 2005. He has a Master’s degree in Water and Coastal Engineering. In 2018 Angus received the Medal of the Order of Australia for “service to environmental management and planning, and to the community”.

Over the past 40 years he has undertaken projects in all states of Australia and in a number of overseas countries in coastal engineering, coastal zone management and flood management and engineering. Angus has served as a UN expert and was tasked with the development of the NSW Coastal Protection Act.

Angus Gordon OAM. AJG pic.

Due to the current health situation, APA will hold the AGM strictly in line with the NSW Public Health Orders in force at the time. This may restrict the number of members and guests able to attend and guests may need to check in with a QR code, wear facemasks and show that they have been fully vaccinated.

Avalon Preservation Association
PO Box 1 Avalon Beach 2107

November 2021 Forum for Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Fishing Bats and Water Rats (Rakali)

7pm Monday November 29, 2021 by Zoom
Brad Law, Geoff Williams and Yianni Mentis

Dr Brad Law and Dr Geoff Williams will tell us about the behaviours and environmental requirements of two fascinating species of aquatic mammals - Fishing Bats and Water Rats (Rakali) - that forage in, on and near Narrabeen Lagoon. Yianni Mentis will explain how Northern Beaches Council is working to protect the environment, especially the water quality, needed by these aquatic creatures.

Dr Brad Law is a Principal Research Scientist at the Forest Science Unit of the Department of Primary Industries
Dr Geoff Williams is the Director of the Australian Platypus Conservancy
Yianni Mentis is Executive Manager or Environment and Climate Change at Northern Beaches Council.

We hope that members of the local community will start to look for Fishing Bats and Water Rats (Rakali) AUSTRALIA’S NATIVE “OTTER” in and around Narrabeen Lagoon and report all reliable sightings for entry into the Atlas of Living Australia.
Bookings via the website are essential: https://www.narrabeenlagoon.org.au

Migratory Bird Season

A reminder that many of the birds that migrate to our area are arriving exhausted from having flown thousands of miles to be here. Please keep yourselves and your pets away from these shores during these months. They need their rest.

Baby Wildlife Season

Sydney Wildlife volunteer carers are reminding residents that it's baby season in the wildlife world. 
If you find a Joey on its own, it needs help. A sub-adult may be ok, but a Joey is not. If you find one, please try to contain it and keep it safe from predators and exposure and call either Sydney Wildlife (Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services) or WIRES. If you find a dead possum (ringtail or brushtail), check the pouch for a Joey. Brushtails generally have one but ringtails will have 2, sometimes three. If you are unable to, that’s ok, but please call it in to a wildlife organisation so someone can attend to it. 
Sydney Wildlife Rescue - 02 9413 4300
WIRES - 1300 094 737

Harry the ringtail possum.  Sydney Wildlife photo

Broken offsets system driving species to extinction

October 22, 2021
Threatened species across NSW face extinction if the state’s ineffective offset legislation is not scrapped and rewritten to better protect them, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

Amid revelations in a Guardian report that mining companies are able to use the very pits that they dig and plan to rehabilitate - many years down the track - as offsets, the Alliance is calling for a new set of rules that protect threatened species and ecological communities, rather than hastens their decline.

LTGA’s submission to the Inquiry into the NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme details how offsetting is likely hastening, rather than preventing, the loss of species and ecological communities. The public hearing of the inquiry begins today.

“Offsetting is a dubious practice at best, and must always be implemented as the very last resort when projects are approved,” said Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Carmel Flint.

“In practice in NSW, not only is offsetting no longer a last resort, but it has become the assumed approach.

“The legislation in place in NSW is utterly devoid of scientific rigour - it is just a box for mining companies to tick that does nothing to preserve this state’s natural heritage.

There are some ecological communities that are so endangered, such as Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest, that their destruction simply cannot be offset - yet the current legislation allows mining companies to bulldoze them anyway.

“We now find ourselves in the situation where mining companies are clearing critically endangered ecosystems like this, with nothing more than an intention to replant saplings on the disturbed site decades down the track when mining has ceased.

“You don’t need to be an ecologist to understand why this is ineffective at preserving or restoring the biodiversity that was lost.

“Regional extinctions are likely occurring right now due to this dodgy offsetting practice, and it’s why the system requires a total overhaul.”

Consultations open on national reforms to support clean hydrogen and biogas blending

October 21, 2021: Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, The Hon. Angus Taylor
Consultations have opened today on national reforms that will support the next steps in the roll-out of hydrogen, biomethane and other renewable gases to be used in Australia’s gas networks.

Energy Ministers agreed in August to expedite reforms to support investment in projects that will help to scale-up Australia’s clean hydrogen and biomethane industries. 

The aim of these reforms is to ensure regulation allows for safe, low-level blending of hydrogen, biomethane and other renewable gases into existing gas distribution systems and for use in gas appliances in Australian businesses and homes.  

The consultations will seek feedback on what changes are needed to the National Gas Law and National Energy Retail Law. The Australian Energy Market Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator will also be seeking feedback on required changes to relevant rules and procedures. 

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the reforms support the Government’s actions to build a clean hydrogen industry and expand biomethane opportunities through reducing regulatory barriers. 

“These reforms will encourage even more innovative projects to be rolled out across Australia by ensuring regulation doesn’t restrict investment. This will also ensure consumers are adequately protected if using these low emission technologies,” Minister Taylor said. 

“Blending biomethane and hydrogen into our gas networks is an important measure to increase domestic demand and grow these new industries. This scale is needed to help reach our ‘H2 under $2’ goal under the Technology Investment Roadmap and be a major global player in clean hydrogen by 2030.  

“Gas blending will also advance our vision of establishing hydrogen hubs in regional Australia under the Government’s $464 million Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs program.” 

The Government is investing more than $1.2 billion to make Australia a global leader in clean hydrogen production and export, with enabling hydrogen blending identified as a priority in the National Hydrogen Strategy. Government-supported trial projects are underway and larger-scale hydrogen blending and biomethane injection projects are in development.

The Government is also developing an Emissions Reduction Fund method that will credit the emissions avoided from displacing the consumption of natural gas with biomethane, and has announced the development of a similar method for hydrogen blending will be a priority in 2022.

Stakeholders and interested parties can find the consultation papers and provide feedback through the Energy Ministers’ website webpage at: 

Responses can be submitted using this template and are due by 5pm AEST on 26 November 2021 to renewablegas@industry.gov.au

Energy Ministers will consider the draft reforms in mid-2022, following further consultation in 2022 on draft legislative changes.

Greater Sydney Water Strategy open for feedback

The NSW Government has launched the draft Greater Sydney Water Strategy, an unprecedented 20-year roadmap to providing a safe, secure and sustainable water supply for Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the Strategy, now on public exhibition, will guide water management to 2040 to support economic growth, meet the needs of the growing population and prepare for our changing climate.

“A secure water supply is vital and this plan ensures we are able to support economic growth as we recover from the pandemic and set the foundations for the future,” Mrs Pavey said.

"We need to plan now for how our growing city and region will use water wisely as Sydney’s population is set to grow to 7.1 million by 2041.

“During the most recent drought, our dam levels depleted faster than we’ve experienced since records began – at a rate of 20 per cent per year.

“Thankfully our dams are now full, but we need to act decisively to secure sustainable water for the long-term – by exploring options for new water sources not dependent on rainfall, by conserving more, and by doing more with less.”

Options for consultation in the draft Strategy include:
  • Improving water recycling, leakage management and water efficiency programs, which could result in water savings of up to 49 gigalitres a year by 2040.
  • Extending a water savings program, which has been piloted in over 1000 households and delivered around 20 per cent reduction in water use per household and almost $190 in savings per year for household water bills.
  • Consideration of running the Sydney Desalination Plant full-time to add an extra 20 gigalitres of water per year.
  • Expanding or building new desalination plants to be less dependent on rainfall.
  • Investigating innovations in recycled water to improve sustainability.
  • Making greater use of stormwater and recycled water to cool and green the city and support recreational activities.
The draft Strategy also proposes improvements to the decision making process for water restrictions to better reflect prevailing conditions and forecasting.

“Instead of having inflexible trigger points, decision makers will use a new holistic approach to consider things like rainfall events, inflows to dams and dam depletion rates, water demand and weather forecasts,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The draft Greater Sydney Water Strategy is a critical part of the NSW Government’s plan to grow the NSW economy and I encourage the community and industry to have their say.”

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will hold public webinars and information sessions during September and October.

The draft Greater Sydney Water Strategy will be on display until November 8, 2021. To read the Strategy and provide feedback visit www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/greater-sydney-water-strategy.

Sydney Desalination Plant May 2021. Photo: Catherine Parker (WaterCommsDPIE)

Warragamba Dam Raising Project EIS on public exhibition

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Warragamba Dam Raising Project for flood mitigation is on public exhibition from the 29th of September 2021, for a period of 45 days closing on the 12th of November 2021, during which public submissions will be received.

In May 2017, the NSW Government released the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy – ‘Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities.’  

The strategy is designed specifically for the valley as the most flood-prone region in NSW, if not Australia. It is a long-term plan to minimise significant risks to life and livelihoods; damage to urban and rural property; and, the major dislocation of economic activity from rapid, deep flooding.

It is the framework for the government, councils, businesses and communities to work together to reduce and manage flood risk in the valley.

The strategy recommends that raising Warragamba Dam to create a flood mitigation zone of around 14 metres is the best option to reduce the risks to life, property and community assets posed by floodwaters from the extensive Warragamba River catchment.

While a range of other infrastructure and non-infrastructure outcomes are included in the strategy and must be part of the solution for managing ongoing risk, no other mitigation measures can achieve the same risk reduction as the Warragamba Dam Raising Proposal.

WaterNSW, as owner and operator of the dam, is consulting widely about the effects and benefits of the proposal to inform the environmental assessment, concept design and, subject to all planning approvals, a business case to assist decision-making in 2022 about whether to proceed with these major flood mitigation works.

Visit the project portal and virtual engagement room to review the EIS document, interact with explanatory material, make submissions and register to attend webinars.

Warragamba Dam, NSW. Photo: Maksym Kozlenko

NSW Government plan to revitalise Peat Island and Mooney Mooney released

The NSW Government’s proposal to breathe new life into old assets and open Peat Island to the public, while also revitalising Mooney Mooney with new housing, community facilities and job opportunities, has been released.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the rezoning proposal is now open for public exhibition on Central Coast Council’s website.

“For over a century Peat Island has been closed off to the public and the NSW Government is working to unlock this under-utilised publicly-owned land in this stunning Hawkesbury River setting,” Mr Crouch said.

Key features of the proposal include:
  • Nearly 270 new homes at Mooney Mooney to deliver more housing supply,
  • Retention of nine unlisted historical buildings on the island, and four on the mainland, to be restored and used for new community and commercial opportunities,
  • New retail and café or restaurant opportunities,
  • Approximately 9.65 hectares of open space, including opportunities for walking and cycling tracks, parklands and recreational facilities,
  • Retention of the chapel and surrounding land for community use, and
  • 10.4 hectares of bushland dedicated as a conservation area.
“The NSW Government has been consulting widely, culminating in this rezoning proposal that strikes a balance between future land uses and achieving the best social and economic outcomes for the Mooney Mooney community.”

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the proposal will provide more than two kilometres of public access to the Hawkesbury River foreshore and Peat Island, opening it up for the first time in 100 years, as well as the opportunity for tourism uses including short-stay tourist accommodation.

“This is an area of great significance to the region, local and Aboriginal communities, and many other stakeholders, including those with links to Peat Island’s institutional past,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Any future uses will recognise and protect the site’s significant Aboriginal and European heritage.”

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to understand the NSW Government’s vision for Peat Island and Mooney Mooney, community information webinars will be held over coming weeks. Details will be available shortly.

Mrs Pavey said in parallel to the broader community engagement on the proposal, the NSW Government would continue to work with the Peat Island/Mooney Mooney Community Reference Group on the future of the area’s community facilities and public spaces.

“At the heart of this will be how the Peat Island chapel precinct at Mooney Mooney can be retained by the community and put to its best possible use,” Mrs Pavey said.

The rezoning proposal will also remain open to feedback from the public until Monday, 20 December 2021.

Government supporting Australia's biggest electric bus fleet

October 21, 2021
Joint media release with Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister The Hon. Angus Taylor, NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment the Hon. Matt Kean MP and NSW Minister for Transport and Roads the Hon. Rob Stokes MP 

The Australian Government is backing the nation’s largest fleet of electric buses through a new pilot program that will see 40 new vehicles deployed across Sydney. 

The project will be an Australian first, transitioning diesel buses to electric, in addition to upgrading the charging infrastructure and retrofitting the bus depot in Leichhardt, NSW.

The Government is supporting the pilot with a $29.5 million investment, including $24.5 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and $5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 

The project is being delivered through a joint venture between Transgrid and Zenobe, with support from Transit Systems and Transport for NSW.

Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the Morrison and Perrottet Governments are working together to reduce emissions through a focus on technology and testing innovative commercial models.

“This project demonstrates the importance of governments and industry working together to reduce emissions in hard to abate sectors like road and transport,” Minister Taylor said. 

"The aim of the pilot is to show the technical and commercial viability of using electric buses travelling a full route without the need to stop to recharge along the way.

“This significant investment will establish the nation’s first fully-integrated electric bus depot, allowing other fleet operators to better understand commercial implications and make informed choices about new technologies.

NSW Minister for Transport Rob Stokes said NSW is leading the way with the largest fleet of electric buses in Australia.

“We’ve set an ambitious target to transition our fleet of 8,000 buses to Zero Emission technology by 2030 and this project is a huge step in that direction,” NSW Minister Stokes said.

“The innovative financing model adopted means we’re able to deliver 40 new electric buses for the Inner West quickly, at no extra cost to the NSW taxpayer. 

“We will also upgrade the infrastructure at the Leichhardt depot, shifting from diesel pumps to smart charging stations, solar panels and large scale energy storage.” 

NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy and the Environment Matt Kean said he was looking forward to more innovative projects focused on driving a cleaner future for public transport.

“Transport is one of the major sources of carbon emissions which is why we need to forge ahead with initiatives that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and drive us towards a cleaner and greener future,” NSW Minister Kean said. 

The Leichhardt depot retrofit will include a combination of 324 kWh and 422 kWh batteries, 5x120 kW electric bus chargers - capable of charging two buses at a time and 31x 80 kW electric bus chargers, 2.5 MW / 4.9 MWh of stationary battery storage, and 388 kW of rooftop solar PV.

The first 12 of the 40 new electric buses will start entering service this month, with the rest of the fleet arriving over the next 6 months.

The first 12 of the 40 new electric buses will hit the roads in Sydney. Picture: Supplied

Australia's 100 Priority Species

October 22, 2021
From the Quokka, Green Sea Turtle, the Australian Sea Lion, the Greater Bilby, the Koala to the Orange-Bellied Parrot, the Morrison Government has announced 100 Priority Species that will be the focus of further conservation efforts under its 10-year Threatened Species Strategy, and an immediate $10 million in community grants for on ground activities.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said that extensive consultation with scientists, community groups, Traditional Owners and other stakeholders helped to identify the priority species.

“In prioritising 100 species through a decade long threatened species strategy, we are highlighting the importance not only of our mammals and plants but our, reptiles, insects, frogs and other freshwater and marine species," Minister Ley said.

“This is about halting and reversing historic declines and establishing the ways we can live together with our native species.

“In announcing the opening of $10 million in community grants, I am highlighting the importance of local communities being a part of a strategy that is supported by our investments through the more than $1 billion National Landcare Program, our $149 million commitment to National Environmental Science, our $200 million Bushfire recovery funding, and the $100 million being invested in Oceans Leadership.

“The expanded list will drive recovery actions for an array of plants and animals in diverse environments, from the arid deserts to the rainforests, the forests to grasslands, inland waters and seas.”

The ten year threatened species strategy will be underpinned by separate five-year action plans, the first of which will be released this year to reflect the priority species list. 

Grants will be available to support a wide range of actions to directly benefit the 100 priority species on the ground, including weed and pest management, feral predator control, environmental restoration and protection, off-site conservation activities, and community and citizen science programs.

Further information on the national 100 Priority Threatened Plants and Animal Species can be found here: www.awe.gov.au/environment/biodiversity/threatened/publications/strategy-home   

Major food businesses sign up to halve food waste in Australia

October 21, 2021
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Trevor Evans MP, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management

Some of the world’s biggest and most competitive food retailers and manufacturers have come together in a bid to halve Australia’s food waste, signing up to a new agreement with the Australian Government to meet or beat the ambitious target by 2030.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Australian Food Pact, a voluntary agreement between retailers, manufacturers, growers and suppliers has the backing of industry heavyweights Woolworths Group, Coles, Goodman Fielder, Mars Australia, Simplot Australia, McCain and Mondelez Australia.

“Each year we waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food which is why the Australian Government has set an aggressive target of halving food waste by 2030,” Minister Ley said.

“That challenge goes right across the supply chain – from the grower to the home - the Australian Food Pact is the first time we will have the major players in the same room working towards that goal.

“With food waste costing the economy roughly $36 billion a year, we need collaboration between business and government without the threat of regulation.

“Australian Food Pact creates that space for businesses to come together, to work through their food waste issues and to collaborate up and down the supply chain.”

Assistant Minister for the Environment Trevor Evans said the Australian Food Pact will be good for consumers, boost jobs and help to protect the environment.

“By signing up to the voluntary agreement, business is demonstrating leadership in the push for circularity in food production, sustainability and environmental protection,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

Supported by $4 million in Morrison Government funding, organisation Stop Food Waste Australia will drive the policies and collaboration between businesses that sign up to the Australian Food Pact.

Stop Food Waste Australia CEO Dr Steven Lapidge said Australians waste 7.6 million tonnes of food each year, equivalent to more than 300kg of wasted food per person per year.

“The Australian Food Pact will bring together businesses from along the length of the supply chain – from farm to fork – to work together to reduce food loss and waste,” Dr Lapidge said.

“We’ve been heartened by the response of the Australian food industry to joining the Australian Food Pact, which will see signatories tackle waste, improve profitability, respond to supply risks, provide innovative solutions, be more competitive, and provide quality products with lower environmental impacts.”

The inaugural signatories for the Australian Food Pact are:
  • Simplot Australia
  • Woolworths Group
  • Coles
  • Mars Australia
  • Mondelēz Australia 
  • Goodman Fielder 
  • ARECO Pacific
  • McCain Foods
For more on the Australian Food Pact: https://www.stopfoodwaste.com.au/australian-food-pact/ 

About the Australian Food Pact

The Australian Food Pact is a voluntary agreement bringing together organisations from ‘farm-to-fork’ across the Australian food industry. It is a pre-competitive collaboration including the primary production, processing and manufacturing, wholesale, retail, hospitality, institutions, and household sectors, and is designed to make the Australian food system more sustainable, resilient, and circular as part of Australia’s goal of halving its food waste by 2030.

About Stop Food Waste Australia

Stop Food Waste Australia (SWFA) was established in January 2021 with funding from the Australian Government, and is a partnership including federal, state, and local governments, the food industry and food rescue charities. SFWA is part of independent non-profit company and charity, Fight Food Waste Limited, which also operates the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre.

Australia ranks last out of 54 nations on its strategy to cope with climate change. The Glasgow summit is a chance to protect us all

Johanna Nalau, Griffith University and Hannah Melville-Rea, New York University

The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is widely discussed, but the other side of climate action is less often talked about: adapting to impacts already locked in. Even if we drastically reduce emissions, the cost of natural disasters in Australia will reach an estimated A$73 billion per year by 2060.

Intense heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazards. In the summer of 2019-2020, unprecedented bushfires devastated Australia’s southeast, and changes in seasonal conditions over the past two decades has seen average farm profits fall by 23%.

The Morrison government is developing a new National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy, to be released ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow next month.

The strategy must ensure Australia does better to manage climate damage already happening, as well as prepare for future disasters. Australia once led the world in climate adaptation, but efforts have fallen by the wayside over the past decade or so. The longer we fail to act, the greater the costs and difficulty we will face.

ocean rises up to homes
Climate change threatens Australia in myriad ways. UNSW WATER RESEARCH LABORATORY

Australia was once a global leader

According to the United Nations, adaptation refers to any change to processes, practices and structures in response to the climate change threat.

It can include anything from building flood defences, setting up early warning systems for cyclones and switching to drought-resistant crops, to redesigning communication systems, business operations and government policies.

In 2007, the newly elected Rudd government recognised the need for Australia to adapt to the climate changes ahead. For example, it established a federal Department of Climate Change and Water inside the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, to coordinate emissions reduction, climate adaptation and international efforts.

Australia was one of the first countries to invest millions in adaptation, including establishing the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility in 2008.

But the growing politicisation of climate action over subsequent years meant funding waned at the federal level, and Australia’s national adaptation efforts slowly deteriorated.

Read more: Australia's states are forging ahead with ambitious emissions reductions. Imagine if they worked together

The Abbott government dissolved the Department of Climate Change in 2013. Today, responsibility for emissions reduction, adaptation and climate diplomacy is split across various government departments.

Historically, Australia has chronically underinvested in disaster prevention. In 2014, the Productivity Commission examined the federal government’s initiative to provide disaster relief and recovery payments and found only 3 cents in every dollar are spent on mitigating risks, while 97 cents are spent on clean-up and recovery.

The absence of an overarching adaptation plan can lead to ad hoc, counter-productive policies. For example, the federal government recently announced a A$10 billion insurance guarantee in Northern Australia to protect residents from cyclone and flood damage. But this risks backing in residents to remain in disaster-prone areas.

Australia has also never conducted a national climate risk assessment. This leads to confusion at the local government level, especially around sea level rise. For example, in 2019 Shoalhaven city council in New South Wales reportedly voted to plan for unrealistically optimistic sea level rise projections that cannot be reached under current emissions scenarios.

Looking ahead to COP26

This fragmented approach to climate policy has seen Australia fall behind other nations on climate action and resilience.

Under the Paris Agreement, each nation should have a National Adaptation Plan to sufficiently prepare for and manage climate change impacts. While at least 106 other countries have such policies and plans for adaptation, Australia does not.

Instead, we have the National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy. Unlike National Adaptation Plans abroad, this strategy lacks enforceable targets or policies. As such, it was ranked last out of 54 comparable strategies in a 2019 study.

Read more: Who's who in Glasgow: 5 countries that could make or break the planet's future under climate change

An updated strategy will be released prior to or at the Glasgow summit. The government says it will support governments, communities and businesses to better adapt to the physical impacts of climate change.

Australia needs a long-term and proactive approach to climate resilience, and the updated national strategy should commit to spending as much on prevention as it does on recovery. Important proactive measures include:

  • greater funding for First Nations cool burning programs to prevent catastrophic bushfires

  • more green spaces in urban centres to mitigate urban heat

  • partnerships with insurance providers to evaluate projected costs of climate risks and adaptation for all new infrastructure decisions.

Read more: 'Top down' disaster resilience doesn't work. The National Recovery and Resilience Agency must have community at its heart

The recent 2019-2020 bushfires were a brutal reminder of the need to adapt to climate change. In response to a recommendation by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, the Morrison government established the National Recovery and Resilience Agency in May this year.

It includes A$600 million toward communities to help them prepare for future disasters. But as other experts have noted, the investment pales in comparison to the billions of dollars lost through disasters, and must become core funding.

Others have also questioned how the new agency will coordinate with the Emergency Management Australia and state recovery agencies, and how the agency’s success will be measured.

On top of business-as-usual management, climate change adaptation requires understanding how the disasters and other impacts will worsen in future, and how we can start preparing.

Preventative measures give you the most bang for your buck. Some studies estimate every dollar spent on disaster prevention saves as much as A$15 in recovery efforts.

Burnt forest
Traditional burning is one way to help mitigate catastrophic bushfires. Shutterstock

It’s not too late

The window of opportunity is still open to urgently reduce global emissions and help communities respond to the unfolding climate crisis.

The federal government must reinvest in climate adaptation science, carry out risk assessments and roll out policies that protect us from floods, fires, drought and increasing temperatures.

The Glasgow summit is shaping as a strong catalyst for more action on adaptation. For the first time, countries will submit “Adaptation Communications” that outline their progress, and these will be updated and assessed by the United Nations every five years.

Collectively, they’ll help track global progress on adaptation measures and investments, to ensure no country gets left behind.The Conversation

Johanna Nalau, Research Fellow, Climate Adaptation, Griffith University and Hannah Melville-Rea, Research fellow, New York University

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

Widespread collapse of West Antarctica’s ice sheet is avoidable if we keep global warming below 2℃

Dan Lowry, GNS Science; Mario Krapp, GNS Science, and Nick Golledge, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Rising seas are already making storm damage more costly, adding to the impact on about 700 million people who live in low-lying coastal areas at risk of flooding.

Scientists expect sea-level rise will exacerbate the damage from storm surges and coastal floods during the coming decades. But predicting just how much and how fast the seas will rise this century is difficult, mainly because of uncertainties about how Antarctica’s ice sheet will behave.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level rise show considerable overlap between low and high-emissions scenarios.

But in our new research, we show the widespread collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is avoidable if we can keep global warming below the Paris target of 2℃.

In West Antarctica, the interior of the ice sheet sits atop bedrock that lies well below sea level. As the Southern Ocean warms, scientists are concerned the ice sheet will continue to retreat, potentially raising sea level by several meters.

When and how quickly this process could happen depends on a number of factors that are still uncertain.

Our research better quantifies these uncertainties and shows the full impact of different emissions trajectories on Antarctica may not become clear until after 2100. But the consequences of decisions we make this decade will be felt for centuries.

People standing on a ridge in Antarctica.
New modelling shows if warming stays below 2℃, West Antarctica’s ice sheet remains intact. Author provided

A new approach to projecting change in Antarctica

Scientists have used numerical ice-sheet models for decades to understand how ice sheets evolve under different climate states. These models are based on mathematical equations that represent how ice sheets flow.

But despite advances in mapping the bed topography beneath the ice, significant uncertainty remains in terms of the internal ice structure and conditions of the bedrock and sediment below. Both affect ice flow.

This makes prediction difficult, because the models have to rely on a series of assumptions, which affect how sensitive a modelled ice sheet is to a changing climate. Given the number and complexity of the equations, running ice-sheet models can be time consuming, and it may be impossible to fully account for all of the uncertainty.

Read more: Scientists still don’t know how far melting in Antarctica will go – or the sea level rise it will unleash

To overcome this limitation, researchers around the world are now frequently using statistical “emulators”. These mathematical models can be trained using results from more complex ice-sheet models and then used to run thousands of alternative scenarios.

Using hundreds of ice-sheet model simulations as training data, we developed such an emulator to project Antarctica’s sea-level contribution under a wide range of emissions scenarios. We then ran tens of thousands of statistical emulations to better quantify the uncertainties in the ice sheet’s response to warming.

Low emissions prevent ice shelf thinning

To ensure our projections are realistic, we discounted any simulation that did not fit with satellite observations of Antarctic ice loss over the last four decades.

We considered a low-emissions scenario, in which global carbon emissions were reduced quickly over the next few decades, and a high-emissions scenario, in which emissions kept increasing to the end of the century. Under both scenarios, we observed continued ice loss in areas already losing ice mass, such as the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica.

These maps of Antarctica show the projected change in ice thickness between the present and the year 2300, for a low-emissions scenario (left) and a high-emissions scenario (right), with red indicating ice loss and blue showing ice gain.
These maps of Antarctica show the projected change in ice thickness between the present and the year 2300, for a low-emissions scenario (left) and a high-emissions scenario (right), with red indicating ice loss and blue showing ice gain. Author provided

For the ice sheet as a whole, we found no statistically significant difference between the ranges of plausible contributions to sea-level rise in the two emissions scenarios until the year 2116. However, the rate of sea-level rise towards the end of this century under high emissions was double that of the low-emissions scenario.

By 2300, under high emissions, the Antarctic ice sheet contributed more than 1.5m more to global sea level than in the low-emissions scenario. This is because the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses.

The earliest warning sign of a future with a multi-metre Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise is widespread thinning of Antarctica’s two largest floating ice shelves, the Ross and Ronne-Filchner.

Read more: Antarctica's ice shelves are trembling as global temperatures rise – what happens next is up to us

These massive ice shelves hold back land-based ice, but as they thin and break off, this resistance weakens. The land-based ice flows more easily into the ocean, raising sea level.

In the high-emissions scenario, this widespread ice-shelf thinning happens within the next few decades. But importantly, these ice shelves show no thinning in a low-emissions scenario — most of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet remains intact.

Planning our future

The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep warming well below 2℃. But current global government pledges commit us to 2.9℃ by 2100. Based on our emulator projections, we believe these pledges would lead to a 50% higher (70cm) Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise by the year 2300 than if warming remains at or under 2℃.

But even if we meet the Paris target, we are already committed to sea-level rise from the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as from Greenland and mountain glaciers around the world for centuries or millennia to come.

Continued warming will also raise sea levels because warmer ocean water expands and the amount of water stored on land (in soil, aquifers, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs) changes.

To avoid the worst impacts on coastal communities around the world, planners and policymakers will need to develop meaningful adaptation strategies and mitigation options for the continued threat of sea-level rise.The Conversation

Dan Lowry, Ice Sheet & Climate Modeller, GNS Science; Mario Krapp, Environmental Data Scientist, GNS Science, and Nick Golledge, Professor of Glaciology, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

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

Australia is undermining the Paris Agreement, no matter what Morrison says – we need new laws to stop this

Peter Christoff, The University of Melbourne

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is poised to take a 2050 net-zero emissions target to Glasgow. While this may seem like a milestone, Australia is still failing to abide by one of the core requirements of the Paris Agreement.

At Paris in 2015, Australia – like the rest of the world – signed up to toughening our emissions reduction targets every five years. We’ve now reached that point (factoring in a one-year COVID delay).

Yet Australia’s current 2030 targets remain no more ambitious than those we produced six years ago, and Morrison has all but ruled out increasing them ahead of the Glasgow summit.

This means Australia is undermining the international treaty central to combating climate change – and highlights yet again the need for Australia’s climate agreements to be written into domestic law.

sunset and smoke stack
Under the Paris Agreement, nations should increase their climate ambition every five years. Shutterstock

What is the Paris Agreement?

The 2015 Paris Agreement is a curious instrument, allowing countries to nominate their own emissions-reduction targets and related actions. This discretionary arrangement was the only option to ensure support and compliance by individual states, especially the United States and China.

In 2015, Australia’s first target was to reduce emissions by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. It was well below the 45–65% reduction recommended by Australia’s Climate Change Authority.

In combination, the first emissions-reduction pledges made by the 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement was insufficient. They put the world on track for global warming of at least 3.5℃ above pre-industrial levels this century – far higher than the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2℃, while aiming for no more than 1.5℃ .

So the Agreement also requires nations to amend their targets every five years. These amendments are required to “represent a progression” beyond the last plan and “reflect a country’s highest possible ambition”.

Specifically, each country with a 2030 target – such as Australia – is expected to update its contribution by 2020 (a deadline pushed out by COVID to 2021).

Read more: What is COP26 and why does the fate of Earth, and Australia's prosperity, depend on it?

World leaders pose for a group photo at the Paris conference in 2015.
The Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016, following the Paris climate change conference in 2015. Jacky Naegelen/AP/AAP

Breaking our legal obligations

A fundamental principle of international law – and arguably the oldest – is “pacta sunt servanda”, which means “agreements must be kept”. It is essential to the functioning of the global treaty system.

Although the Paris Agreement does not include enforcement mechanisms, it is nonetheless a legally binding treaty and so, according to the “pacta sunt servanda” principle, must be implemented in good faith.

In practice, major developed countries have shown they understand “updating” to refer to toughening short-term targets, separate from a commitment to the longer term aim of net-zero by 2050.

For example, in December 2020 the United Kingdom lifted its 2030 target from 57% to 68% below 1990 levels. Germany has increased its target from 55% to 65% below 1990 levels. The United States will now aim for a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia, on the other hand, has not budged on its short-term ambition. Its 2020 formal communication to the United Nations lists a raft of policy initiatives. But there is no change to its old 2030 target.

This failure builds on Coalition’s record of undermining international climate agreements, stretching back to 1997 when the Howard government first negotiated extraordinarily favourable emissions targets but ultimately refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Howard’s recalcitrance contributed to an eight-year delay before the protocol came into legal force, and slowed global efforts to reduce emissions. Australia finally ratified the Protocol in 2007, under the Rudd government.

Morrison adds to this record as he continues to dither. His failure is puzzling, given the absence of threats to his prime ministership, and the clear support for tougher emissions targets from business, farmers and in crucial rural seats.

What’s more, Australia is actually already tracking towards emissions reductions of 30-38% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Read more: Yes, Australia can beat its 2030 emissions target. But the Morrison government barely lifted a finger

The Morrison government has not increased the ambition of its 2030 target. AAP

National climate target law

So how can we ensure Australia abides by international laws, both in terms of the letter and the spirit?

Under our Constitution, unless the substance of an international treaty signed by Australia is also enacted in Australian law, that treaty has no legal hold over domestic behaviour.

No federal government – Coalition or Labor – has embedded Australia’s emissions-reduction targets in law. Most recently, in 2018, then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to do so as part of the proposed National Energy Guarantee. Internal party tensions forced him to dump that legislative plan – but not soon enough to prevent him being dropped as leader.

Those times have passed; parliamentary support for climate action is now overwhelming.

Read more: Climate wars, carbon taxes and toppled leaders: the 30-year history of Australia’s climate response, in brief

The absence of legislative teeth means no one can be held accountable if Australia misses its emissions goals. That means the Morrison government has been able to approve new coal mines and subsidise coal-fired power generation and gas expansion without fear of punishment or redress.

By contrast, many other countries - for instance, the UK, Austria, Denmark and Scotland - have established effective national climate laws, setting long-term and interim targets with associated mechanisms for reviewing and requiring progress.

Many include mechanisms for systematic review and are regularly amended to bring them into line with the targets and other provisions of the Paris Agreement.

The recognised gold standard for such climate legislation is the UK Climate Change Act 2008, which includes:

  • interim and final targets, and related implementation mechanisms
  • an independent committee with science-informed processes for reviewing progress
  • mechanisms for setting and regularly increasing ambition over time
  • parliamentary accountability mechanisms and the basis for whole-of-government planning and coordination.

Four Australian states and territories – Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT - have developed similar tough framework legislation. Indeed, recent research shows we were once global leaders: South Australia was the first jurisdiction in the world to enact such a law.

man at lectern
The administration of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has enshrined the nation’s climate targets in law. AP

Overcoming past failures

Without a stringent and binding plan to minimise national emissions in the short term, a 2050 net-zero target is vacuous.

Without a national climate law, the problems of the past will persist. National policies and effort will remain uncoordinated, investors will face continued uncertainty and economic opportunities will continue to be lost.

If Australia is really serious about climate action, Morrison must announce a new, tougher 2030 goal and enshrine it in law. This law must also include clear processes for coordinating, reviewing and enhancing national climate action.

The urgency and scale of the climate crisis demands it.The Conversation

Peter Christoff, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor, Melbourne Climate Futures initiative, The University of Melbourne

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

Barnaby Joyce has refused to support doubling Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction targets – but we could get there so cheaply and easily

Andrew Blakers, Australian National University

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison tries to land a Coalition climate policy deal ahead of the international COP26 summit in Glasgow, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce on Sunday ruled out supporting more ambitious 2030 targets.

The current 2030 target aims to cut emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels, and has been criticised by scientists and the international community as far too weak.

But ahead of a Nationals party room meeting on Sunday to discuss changes to national climate policy, Joyce declared it “highly unlikely” he would support a doubling of the 2030 target, according to ABC reports.

If Australia was to adopt the bolder target, it would bring us in line with our key ally and trading partner, the United States, and would be broadly in line with the targets of other allies, the European Union and the United Kingdom. It would see Australia become a valued and relevant party to the negotiations at Glasgow, rather than a resented freeloader.

As a professor of engineering and an author of many research papers considering what’s needed to reach 100% renewable energy, I believe Australia could halve its 2030 emissions with minimal cost and inconvenience. Here’s how it could be done.

man in blue shirt talks to journalists
Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says it’s ‘highly unlikely’ he will support a doubling of Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target. Mick Tsikas/AAP

By the megatonnes

The top three sources of Australia’s emissions are electricity (34%), heating from burning fossil fuels in homes and factories (20%), and transport (18%).

Australia’s emissions baseline year is 2005, when the total emissions were 612 million tonnes (megatonnes) of carbon dioxide equivalent.

By 2020, emissions had fallen to 498 megatonnes, mostly because the rates of land clearing, another big source of emissions, are much lower now than in 2005.

This puts us well on track to meet and beat Australia’s current 2030 target, which equates to about 453 megatonnes. We will easily reach this soft target by continuing to displace coal generation of electricity with solar and wind at the current rate of 7 gigawatts per year, provided we avoid new sources of emissions.

Earlier this year, United States President Joe Biden announced his commitment to reduce US emissions 50-52% by 2030.

Australia should offer to match this at the Glasgow summit. Cutting, say, 51% of Australia’s 2005 levels would bring Australia’s emissions down to just 300 megatonnes in 2030.

Read more: Yes, Australia can beat its 2030 emissions target. But the Morrison government barely lifted a finger

OK, so how do we do it?

The task of reaching 300 megatonnes in 2030 is straightforward, and with around zero net cost. It would see:

  • 90% of electricity generation coming from solar, wind and hydro in 2030 (three-quarters of the task)

  • 90% of new sales of vehicles and heating equipment be electric from 2027 (one-quarter of the task)

  • no new emissions sources. For example, encouraging fossil gas companies to frack large new areas makes the task more onerous because of methane leakage.

Let’s look at transport first. Curtailing sales of petrol vehicles with a combination of incentives and regulation would see nearly all vehicles become electric by the mid-2030s, as old cars retire.

While the federal government has been famously unenthusiastic about electric vehicles, states and territories are already offering modest incentives.

Read more: Up to 90% of electricity from solar and wind the cheapest option by 2030: CSIRO analysis

All vehicles could become electric when older cars retire. Shutterstock

The bulk of emissions cuts will come from the electricity sector, because the cost of solar and wind technology has fallen below coal and gas.

As of this month, Australia’s National Electricity Market derives 36% of its electricity demand from renewables (mostly solar and wind), and is tracking towards 50% in 2025. Coal burning makes up 60%, but is falling quickly because of growing competition from solar and wind. Gas generation has fallen to just 4%.

The wholesale market price has also fallen sharply from 2020, as a flood of new solar and wind farms entered the market. This means the faster we deploy solar and wind, the lower electricity prices will be and the faster we reduce emissions.

The biggest impediment to rapid deployment of solar and wind is a lack of new transmission cables to bring new solar and wind power from the regions to the cities. The government needs to facilitate a national transmission network to get rid of congestion when transmitting renewable electricity — then stand back as solar and wind farm companies rush to utilise it.

Australia has a wealth of sunlight, giving us huge potential for deploying solar power. Shutterstock

Australia’s natural advantage

Not only is the market for renewable energy dramatically improving, Australia also has a natural advantage. Compared with most other developed nations, Australia has excellent solar and wind resources where most people actually live, near the sea.

Australia also has a big head start on installing rooftop solar, solar farms and windfarms, helped along by strong Australian-developed solar technology and political support between 2007 and 2013.

In fact, in 2020 Australia was among the top three global leaders in deploying new renewable energy capacity, alongside the Netherlands and Norway, as the chart below shows. These three nations deployed new renewables per capita at 10 times the global rate, and between three and five times faster than China, Japan, Europe and the USA.

The fastest change in global energy systems in history is underway. Due to their their compelling economic advantage, solar and wind provided three-quarters of new electricity generating capacity worldwide, and 99% of new capacity in Australia, in 2020.

Data for this chart is from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Andrew Blakers, Author provided

Cutting further to 100 megatonnes

Reducing emissions to 300 megatonnes in 2030 would place Australia on track to just 100 megatonnes sometime in the 2030s, at low cost. We’d eventually see emissions fully removed from electricity, land transport and heating as, for example, electric vehicles replace retiring older cars and retiring gas heaters are replaced.

It’s also important to note that every year, coal and gas mining releases around 50 megatonnes of “fugitive” methane emissions — leaks from coal mining and gas fracking. But this, too, will vanish in Australia when other countries stop buying Australian coal and gas. Presumably, this will be before 2050 as other countries make good on their promises to decarbonise.

The technology we need to reach 100 megatonnes of emissions is already available at low cost from vast production runs: solar, wind, energy storage (via pumped hydro and batteries), transmission cables, electric vehicles, heat pumps and electric furnaces. Continued research and development will make these costs even lower.

So what’s left over to get to net-zero?

Remaining emissions come from aviation, shipping, industry (cement, chemicals, metals), land clearing and agriculture. These sectors need plenty of research and industrial development to decarbonise, but we have time to do this over the next decade if we halve emissions by 2030.

Given Australia has plenty of land, good wind and much better solar than its rivals, it would be unconscionable for Australia to have a softer emissions target than the US, UK and EU at the Glasgow.

We don’t need new taxes, nor hydrogen, nor carbon capture and storage, nor a “gas-led recovery”. But we do need the federal government to either get involved or get out of the way.

Read more: Climate wars, carbon taxes and toppled leaders: the 30-year history of Australia’s climate response, in brief The Conversation

Andrew Blakers, Professor of Engineering, Australian National University

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

Millions of people were evacuated during disasters last year – another rising cost of climate change

Melizabeth Uhi, a school principal, stands in front of her destroyed home in Vanuatu, a week after Cyclone Pam tore through the South Pacific archipelago in 2015. Nick Perry/AP
Jane McAdam AO, UNSW

As world leaders prepare for the COP26 climate talks next month, it’s worth recalling a sobering line from the royal commission’s report into the 2019-20 Australian bushfires: “what was unprecedented is now our future”.

The bushfires saw the largest peacetime evacuation of Australians from their homes, with at least 65,000 people displaced. As climate change amplifies the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, evacuations are likely to become increasingly common – and costly – in human and economic terms.

Numbers of displaced people on the rise

Globally, the displacement of people due to the impacts of disasters and climate change is now at a record high.

In 2020, nearly 31 million people were displaced within their own countries because of disasters, at least a third of which resulted from government-led evacuations. And people in poorer countries are six times more likely to be evacuated than those in wealthier countries, according to some estimates.

Already, close to 90% of the world’s refugees come from countries that are the most affected by climate change – and the least able to adapt.

Read more: We can no longer ignore the threats facing the Pacific — we need to support more migration to Australia

Evacuations are an important life-saving emergency response – a temporary measure to move people to safety in the face of imminent harm. Under human rights law, states are obligated to protect people from threats to life, including the adverse effects of disasters and climate change.

At times, this may include an obligation to evacuate people at risk.

However, without careful planning and oversight, evacuations can also constitute arbitrary displacement. They can uproot “significant numbers” of people for prolonged periods of time. And they can expose people to other types of risks and vulnerabilities, and erode human rights.

For example, in 2020, wildfires and flooding exacerbated the existing humanitarian crisis in Syria, prompting the evacuation of thousands of already internally displaced persons who were forced to move yet again.

Too little support after disasters

Unfortunately, the “rescue” paradigm that characterises the way we typically think about evacuations means such risks are too often overlooked. As a result, national responses may fail to appreciate the scale of internal displacement triggered by evacuations, or to identify it at all.

In practice, this may mean there is insufficient support for those who are displaced, and little accountability by the relevant government authorities. Moving people out of harm’s way during a disaster may be one element of an effective government response. Ensuring people can return, safely and with dignity, however, is crucial to economic and social recovery.

Read more: In the face of chaos, why are we so nonchalant about climate change?

This is particularly prescient given that evacuations can create significant economic and social disruption.

For instance, the cost of a year’s temporary housing for Australia’s 2019–20 bushfire evacuees amounted to A$60–72 million. Each day of lost work cost A$705 per person.

Such costs are amplified in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounted for 80% of global disaster-related displacement from 2008–18.

Small island states are particularly affected by disasters and the impacts of climate change. For instance, large proportions of Vanuatu’s population were displaced by Cyclone Pam in 2015 and by Cyclone Harold just five years later.

According to a UN forecast, such countries could face average annual disaster-related losses equivalent to nearly 4% of their GDPs. The impact on the long-term prosperity, stability and security of individuals and communities cannot be overstated.

The point is that with greater investment in disaster risk reduction and planning, many of these outcomes could be avoided.

Currently, the amount of money allocated in development assistance to prepare for disaster risks is “miniscule” compared to aid funding for post-disaster responses.

This is clearly is the wrong way around – especially when the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction estimates each dollar spent on preparation could have a 60-fold return.

What leaders at COP26 need to do

The ABC television’s miniseries Fires shows that people’s decisions about whether to stay or go in an emergency are not simple. People are influenced not only by their perceptions of the risk of harm, but also by the desire to protect relatives, property and animals, or a belief that they can withstand the disaster.

Well-planned, evidence-based strategies are important when an emergency requires rapid decision-making, often in changing conditions and with limited resources to hand. If lines of authority are unclear, or there is insufficient attention to detail during the planning process, evacuation efforts may be hampered further, putting lives and property at greater risk.

Read more: Rising seas will displace millions of people – and Australia must be ready

It is essential for policymakers to recognise that a government’s “life-saving” response to a disaster, such as an evacuation, can itself generate significant human and financial costs. Governments need to incorporate principles from human rights law into their response plans to help protect people from foreseeable risks and to enhance their rights, well-being and recovery.

Climate change is only going to exacerbate increasingly extreme weather events that force people from their homes. At next month’s climate talks, leaders must agree on climate change mitigation targets and adaptation policies that avert the need to evacuate people in the first place.

However, achieving change on the ground will require a far more linked-up and integrated approach to climate change, disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and mobility. This includes systematically implementing the recommendations not only of the Paris Agreement, but other international agreements focused on these goals.

The Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW is holding a conference this week bringing together experts to share evidence, experiences and solutions for people at risk of displacement in due to climate change and disasters. A schedule of events and more information can be found here.The Conversation

Jane McAdam AO, Scientia Professor and Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW

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

Great Barrier Reef the winner as bid to repeal vital water laws is rejected

October 21, 2021
The failure of Katter’s Reef Regulation Reversal Bill to gain support in a Queensland Parliamentary Committee is good news for our Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.

Members of the Queensland Parliament’s Health and Environment Committee recommended the Bill not be passed. If enacted, the Bill will repeal vital water pollution laws and result in more damaging chemicals and sediments flowing from farms into inshore areas of the Reef and harming dugong and turtle habitats.

AMCS’s Reef Water Quality Manager Jaimi Webster said the recommendation supported the scientific consensus on the effects of water pollution and sediment flowing into the Reef from agricultural lands. It also ensures all the investment and efforts of farmers and graziers who are already complying with the targets will not go to waste.

“In the face of global warming impacts and unsustainable fishing practices, our Reef needs less water pollution not more to help it be as resilient as possible,” she said. “Any repeal of the essential Reef regulations would be a huge step backwards and hugely disappointing for the tens of thousands of people in our tourism industry, whose jobs rely on a healthy Reef.

“Katter’s Bill has already been a waste of time and taxpayers’ money for all involved as well as a delaying tactic from some farming groups who should be focusing on helping their members comply with the water quality laws.

“The Reef regulations are not going to go away and there are plenty of farmers and graziers in Queensland who follow water pollution laws and do the right thing, bringing benefits to their lands as well as doing their bit to help protect our global icon in Queensland.

“Helping farmers by funding innovation and incentives to do the right thing, is what is best for the Reef.

“The World Heritage Committee has Australia’s management of the Reef under a spotlight right now. They have called for increased measures to protect our Reef from water pollution. It is unfathomable that some politicians would be trying to repeal the Reef’s vital water pollution laws at this time.”

The Committee’s report will be tabled in Parliament and debated. A vote will be taken on whether to support the Committee’s recommendation that the Bill not be passed. With such strong scientific consensus and stakeholder support for improving water pollution, it is expected the recommendation will be supported and the Bill in its current form will be dead.

The Reef Protection Regulations were passed in Queensland in 2019 and began rolling out in 2020. The regulations will finish rolling out in 2022.

For around two decades the Australian and Queensland governments spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to improve Reef water quality through a variety of voluntary schemes. Voluntary measures to stop water pollution have been insufficient to clean up the water flowing into our Reef, which is why the laws were introduced.

Water quality targets have been set out in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan and are based on the quality of water that corals and seagrasses need to be healthy.

The 2015 Reef 2050 Plan, containing 151 actions, was developed by the Queensland and Australian governments in response to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) considering listing the Reef ‘in danger’ in 2014.

An updated Reef 2050 Plan is due to be released imminently. It follows UNESCO’s recommendation to add the Reef to the list of World Heritage Properties ’in Danger’ due to climate and water quality impacts.

Aerial View of the Great Barrier Reef. Image: rheins

Fish stocks report shows urgent reforms needed to counter climate crisis impacts

October 18, 2021
The latest ABARES evaluation of 100 Australian fish stocks shows that many are declining and urgent reforms are needed to fisheries management to counter the impacts of the climate crisis, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.

The evaluation of 22 Commonwealth-managed fisheries by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) found that around a third (33 of the 100) of fish stocks assessed were classified as uncertain, overfished or subject to overfishing.

More fish stocks were assessed for the 2021 report than last year’s evaluation. There has been little or no progress made to improve stocks classified as uncertain, overfished or subject to overfishing in that time.

AMCS Sustainable Seafood Program Manager Adrian Meder said the figures, combined with a recently released CSIRO report on the projected impacts to seafood species in Australia from global warming, show reforms to fisheries management are urgently required, particularly in the south east.

“These reforms will be needed in order to maintain healthy and sustainable fish stocks that support fishing communities and balanced ocean environments in the south east – a known climate change hotspot, warming at 3 to 4 times the global average,” he said.

“There are management problems in these fisheries which have been problematic for many years. Some stocks, like the endangered school shark, have been overfished since the ‘90s. Climate change impacts are going to make these management issues even worse.

One of the fisheries most concerning to us is the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF), which operates across south-eastern Australia. This huge fishery has driven several fish stocks that used to be among its mainstays such as school shark, orange roughy  and the eastern gemfish onto Australia’s endangered species list. More than 60% of the fish stocks caught in this fishery are continuing to decline or failing to recover.

“Recently released CSIRO climate projections predict a 40% decline in the next 20 years for some of the current major targets of the fishery, including blue grenadier and orange roughy. Instead of climate-safe management, both these fisheries have allowed a massive increase in effort from a New Zealand-owned fleet of industrial freezer trawlers in recent years. Yet current management arrangements do not explicitly consider the rapidly changing climate these fisheries operate in.

“Unless reforms are introduced, we are now expecting more fish stocks in the SESSF to end up on Australia’s endangered species list than on any list of fully recovered stocks in the foreseeable future. That is no good place for our Commonwealth-managed fisheries to be.”

Mr Meder said the SESSF needs to immediately introduce climate-resilient catch limits, and introduce cameras on boats to reduce the uncertainties around how much fish is being caught and brought to market, and how much is being discarded at sea and unreported. The data will help fisheries managers make more informed decisions to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks.

Mr Meder added the ABARES figures show that progress made in rebuilding fish stocks following a $220m taxpayer-funded bail out 16 years ago appear to have ceased.

“The goal back then was to rebuild all these fish stocks, and much of it should have happened by now. But the progress made appears to have halted around five years ago,” said Mr Meder.

“Some of that money should have been spent on cameras on boats. In 2021, there are cameras on boats in only three of the 22 AFMA-managed fisheries.”

If a fish stock is assessed as ‘subject to overfishing’, it means this stock is subject to a level of fishing that would move the stock to an overfished state.

If a stock is assessed as ‘overfished’, it means its biomass is at a level where recruitment is likely to be significantly impaired. In other words, the stock is overfished to a level where its stock is not being replenished fast enough.

If a stock is assessed as ‘uncertain’, it means there is inadequate information to determine how many fish there are in that stock or whether the level of fishing could be classed as overfishing.

AMCS notes that most if not all of the stocks now classified as ‘uncertain’ were on a negative trajectory before being labelled this way.

NT Government approves Empire Energy fracking project

October 20, 2021
The Protect Country Alliance have condemned the NT Gunner Government’s approval of the Empire Energy fracking project.

The approval, which was granted on October 17 but appeared on the government’s website days later, allows Empire subsidiary Imperial Oil and Gas to frack up to seven horizontal wells near the community of Borroloola.

The project was the subject of a Senate Inquiry earlier this year, following revelations the company, which has close ties to the Liberal Party, received $21 million in taxpayer funded federal grants.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said, “History will not look kindly on the Gunner Government and its foolish decision to approve this polluting fracking project.

“With this approval, Eva Lawler has thrown petrol on a burning house and we are all trapped inside.

“We are just weeks away from the most important climate meeting since the Paris Agreement was forged. We need immediate action to halt the worst impacts of the climate crisis. 

“The Gunner Government has not even completed the basic recommendations of the Pepper Inquiry. It has clearly decided to backflip on its promise to make sure fracking companies offset their emissions.

“Fracking the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to unleash a greenhouse gas bomb of up to 1.4 billion tonnes - that’s two and a half times the amount of Australia’s annual carbon emissions. 

“Traditional Owners have expressed clear concerns about this project, the money it has received, and the way it was assessed.

“This approval utterly flies in the face of science and due process in relation to the Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA) - studies the Pepper Inquiry said were needed. The dismissal of concerns about Stygofauna is also astounding. 

“On top of the $21 million in federal fracking cash, Empire Energy also received a $5 million tax concession from the Morrison Government, and is the only gas company that currently stands to benefit from a $217 million roads funding grant. This is corporate welfare on a shocking scale.

“Every way you look at it, the Gunner and Morrison governments are greasing the wheels of the fracking industry at a time when those wheels should be ripped off and thrown in the bin of history.

“Young people and future generations will pay the price for stupid decisions like this.”

Inland rail must not be coal-laden bargaining chip in LNP climate negotiations

October 22, 2021
The Lock the Gate Alliance is sounding the alarm against any net-zero carbon emissions deal the Coalition reaches that involves opening up a new, taxpayer subsidised coal basin via the heavily criticised Inland Rail project, that would turbo-charge climate change and hurt farmers.

Over recent weeks, Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has repeatedly called for the rail line to be extended to Gladstone, taking it close to undeveloped coal projects near Wandoan and Taroom in the Western Surat Basin. The Morrison Government has already allocated $10 million for a feasibility study into the extension.

Large proposed coal projects in the area like Glencore’s 22Mtpa coal project at Wandoan have been discussed for years, but have not been developed due primarily to a lack of infrastructure and the additional costs required if companies wanted to export the coal.

A pre feasibility study has demonstrated that if this rail line was built, it would “unlock coal reserves in the Surat Basin and offer an alternative and more efficient access to export coal markets”.

The nine new coal mines that would benefit from the rail line, if built, would be responsible for 67 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum at a time when urgent action to mitigate global warming is required (see Appendix A of pre-feasibility study for list of projects). 

The emissions from these  mines would be huge - amounting to 160Mt CO2e per annum - which is almost a third of Australia’s total carbon emissions (Calculated using the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors).

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, "Using climate negotiations to divert the Inland Rail as a means to dig new coal mines is disgraceful. 

“Opening a massive new thermal coal basin will effectively doom any net-zero carbon emissions commitment from the outset - it would expose Coalition climate policy as nothing but a giant con job.    

"It will also be a major waste of taxpayer funds - public money shouldn’t be blown on coal projects that will be unviable in the near term as customer countries stop burning coal.”

Richard Moffat is a Taroom grazier and former Wandoan grazier, whose property is partially covered by a coal lease owned by North Surat Coal, a subsidiary of New Hope.

The company has just completed ten exploratory drill holes on his farm, however with no current way to transport the coal to port, Mr Moffat believes the drilling is so the company abides by its lease conditions.

“We are at the frontline of the coal industry," he said.

"They want to open-cut mine on my land. Our country is prime grazing, cattle fattening land, and there’s no way of making any more of it.

“I’ve been to the New Hope rehabilitation site at New Acland. They can make the country pretty, but they can’t put the productivity back into the grass that was there before they dug it up. That’s our beef with them, because we know that will happen here if they mine.”

When native title fails: First Nations people are turning to human rights law to keep access to cultural sites

For over six weeks, Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners have been performing continuous cultural ceremony at the edge of Adani’s Carmichael mine in central Queensland. Leah Light Photography
Shelley Marshall, RMIT University; Carla Chan Unger, RMIT University, and Suzi Hutchings, RMIT University

In a shift from their usual conduct, Queensland police have recognised the cultural rights of Wangan and Jagalingou cultural custodians to conduct ceremony under provisions of the 2019 Queensland Human Rights Act.

Because of this act, the police were able to refuse to action a complaint from Adani to remove Wangan and Jagalingou cultural custodians camping on their ancestral lands adjacent to the Adani coal pit.

The police also issued a “statement of regret” for removing the group several months earlier.

The ceremonial grounds are on highly contested land that has been granted to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine by the state government.

In August 2019, Adani was granted freehold title over critical infrastructure areas of the Carmichael mine site by the Queensland government, without first notifying the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples.

This extinguished their native title over the site, affecting a number of peoples including the Juru, Jaang and Birrah, as well as the Wangan and Jagalingou.

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners maintaining presence at the Carmichael mine in central Queensland.
Police officers told the group of Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners they recognise their cultural rights to conduct ceremony under provisions of the 2019 Queensland Human Rights Act. Leah Light Photography

Why was practising cultural ceremony so controversial?

Over the past six weeks, Jagalingou cultural custodians have been conducting the Waddananggu ceremony, translated to English as “The Talking”. Describing the ceremony, Cultural Custodian Coedie McAvoy has said

We have set up a stone Bora ring and ceremonial ground opposite Adani’s mine and are asserting our human rights as Wangan and Jagalingou people to practice culture.

Since the leases were granted to Adani, police have repeatedly removed the Wangan and Jagalingou people from their traditional lands when conducting ceremonies. They have also been accused by journalists of acting as a “shield” to Adani’s corporate interests.

Adani’s proposed Carmichael open-cut and underground coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland covers 200 square kilometres of land.

If built, it will be Australia’s largest and the world’s second largest coal mine. The project includes the construction of a 189-kilometre rail connection between the proposed mine and the Adani-operated Abbot Point Terminal adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

The proposed mining and railway developments encompass much of the Wangan and Jagalingou ancestral lands.

Read more: Protest art: rallying cry or elegy for the black-throated finch?

What led to the change in police attitudes?

Cultural Leader Adrian Burragubba brought a complaint to the Queensland Human Rights Commission after police broke up a Wangan and Jagalingou ceremonial campsite in August 2020. The complaint resulted in mediation between the police and Burragubba on behalf of his family and community over March to July of this year.

One outcome of the mediation was the Queensland police’s “statement of regret”, in which Assistant Commissioner Kev Guteridge said police recognise that Burragubba represents a group of traditional owners “aggrieved by Adani’s occupation of the land”, adding:

We acknowledge that the incident on 28 August, 2020, was traumatic for Mr Burragubba and his extended family, and caused embarrassment, hurt and humiliation.

According to The Guardian, Burragubba is thought to be the first Indigenous person to extract a public apology from a state agency since the enactment of the Queensland Human Rights Act.

Section 28 of the Act recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hold distinct cultural rights as Australia’s First Peoples:

They must not be denied the right, with other members of their community, to live life as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is free to practice their culture.

An Aboriginal person painted up, stands under a flag.
Leah Light Photography

This is modelled on article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 8, 25, 29 and 31 of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The inclusion of this section is highly significant given Australia only endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2019. Australia is yet to implement the declaration into law, policy or practice at a federal level.

The Greens senator Lidia Thorpe said the inquiry’s recommendation of “free, prior and informed consent” did not go far enough to protect traditional owners.

Burragubba’s complaint under the Queensland Act was likely strengthened by the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples’ ongoing legal assertion of native title. 44b of the Native Title Act confers rights of access for traditional activities to a native title claim group.

This legal principle of “right of access” was bolstered by the findings in the case of Western Australia v Brown, 2014, which confirmed title was not wholly extinguished by the lease of land as long as native title is “not inconsistent with the lease”.

The significance of this police action could be far reaching

The new respect shown by Queensland police for the cultural rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou will not reinstate Wangan and Jagalingou native title. Nor will it stop the Adani mine.

But it means the Wangan and Jagalingou can continue to practice culture on Country, as they have for thousands of years, instead of being treated “like trespassers on their own land”. Their living connection to Country is not broken by the lease of land to Adani.

For Adani, it means the Wangan and Jagalingou people are an ongoing presence: a public reminder of cultural claim over the land where the mine is situated.

For the police, the significance goes beyond the struggle over the Adani mine. This change in police conduct could mark the end of police complicity in removing First Nations people from their ancestral land in the state of Queensland. Other state agencies will now also be forced to take the cultural rights of First Nations custodians seriously.

Read more: Australia listened to the science on coronavirus. Imagine if we did the same for coal mining

It is an important step on a national journey towards recognition of First Nations’ cultural rights. Like the Queensland Human Rights Act, Victoria and the ACT also enshrine human rights in state law, providing legal avenues validating cultural practice on Country against public authorities. If the federal government adopts the findings of the parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters, handed down earlier this week, First Nations’ cultural rights will be further protected.

The Inquiry committee recommended new Commonwealth legislation for stricter protection of sacred sites, and improvements to the Native Title Act. The committee has said new legislation should be underpinned by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The practice of Waddananggu is significant for the whole country. It is an opportunity for all of us to respectfully witness, talk and learn towards meaningful reconciliation.

McAvoy issued a broad invitation to the Waddananggu:

Stand with us to protect our human rights to practice ceremony and culture, and protect our homelands. ngali yinda banna, yumbaba-gi. We need you, to be heard.The Conversation

Shelley Marshall, Associate Professor and Director of the RMIT Business and Human Rights Centre, RMIT University; Carla Chan Unger, Research Associate, RMIT University, and Suzi Hutchings, Associate Professor, RMIT University

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

Fixing Australia’s shocking record of Indigenous heritage destruction: Juukan inquiry offers a way forward

Deanna Kemp, The University of Queensland; Bronwyn Fredericks, The University of Queensland; Kado Muir, Indigenous Knowledge, and Rodger Barnes, The University of Queensland

On May 24 last year, mining giant Rio Tinto legally destroyed ancient and sacred Aboriginal rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia to expand an iron ore mine.

Public backlash prompted a parliamentary inquiry. After almost 18 months of submissions and hearings, the joint standing committee released its final report titled A Way Forward this week.

In tabling the report, committee chair and Liberal MP Warren Entsch said while the destruction was a disaster for traditional owners – the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples – it was “not unique”.

Rio Tinto’s actions form part of a broader discriminatory pattern of development in Australia. Traditional owners are denied the right to object and as a result, Aboriginal heritage is routinely destroyed.

The committee’s final report grapples with the complex issues of cultural heritage protection in Australia. It recommends major legislative reforms, including:

  • a new national Aboriginal cultural heritage act co-designed with Indigenous peoples

  • a new national council on heritage protection

  • a review of the Native Title Act 1993 to address power imbalances in negotiations on the basis of free prior and informed consent.

The report is strong on the need for change, although achieving this will be far from straightforward.

Hard-to-resolve issues

The committee’s interim report, was released in December last year. From it, we learned how Rio Tinto silenced traditional owners and prevented their cultural heritage specialists from raising concerns. Rio Tinto prioritised production over heritage protection.

A Way Forward places the tragedy of Juukan Gorge in a broader context. It shines a light on how the regulatory system empowered Rio Tinto to destroy the caves and prevented the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples from doing anything about it.

It also demonstrates how the system has run roughshod over Indigenous interests for decades. Governments have been able to make determinations about cultural heritage without proper consultation and consent.

The report focuses on getting the regulatory framework right. It succeeds in bringing a wide and complex set of controversial issues together in the one place. But many of these issues are highly contested, which has hindered previous attempts to solve them.

Already, two committee members, Senator Dean Smith and MP George Christensen, disagree with the rest of the committee on the need for the Commonwealth to set standards for states’ cultural heritage protection laws. They say this would constrain the mining industry and give anti-mining activists too much power.

In contrast, Greens Senator and Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman Lidia Thorpe supports traditional owners having a “right to veto” the destruction of their cultural heritage.

Read more: Juukan Gorge inquiry: a critical turning point in First Nations authority over land management

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan and some industry organisations have dismissed the inquiry’s calls for a stronger federal government role in protecting cultural heritage across Australia. Western Australia is yet to pass its draft heritage law, which the premier says will address the issues raised in the final report.

Aboriginal groups disagree that ultimate control over the destruction of cultural heritage should rest with the minister. These groups have tabled their issues at the United Nations.

One of the most contentious matters addressed in the final report is the need to obtain free prior and informed consent of traditional owners under Australia’s federal and state laws, affording them the right to manage their own heritage sites.

Change is needed despite Australia’s economic recovery pressures

It is not an ideal time to be driving this type of major change. Australia is heading towards a federal election. The federal government is focused on COVID-19 vaccinations, opening borders and the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The mining sector sits at the centre of Australia’s economic recovery, with climate change driving demand for energy transition minerals. Australian states and territories are focused on mining these minerals for green and renewable technologies.

Green technologies will require more extraction of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, and other critical minerals, often located on Indigenous peoples’ lands and territories. This will put added pressure on the consent processes that A Way Forward recommends so strongly.

Read more: How Rio Tinto can ensure its Aboriginal heritage review is transparent and independent

Will anything actually change?

So far, none of the big mining companies have come out in support of the committee’s recommendations for regulatory reform. But there are some positive prospects for change.

An Aboriginal flag flown in protest against mining at the Adani Bravus Carmichael mine site in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland.
An Aboriginal flag flown in protest against mining at the Adani Bravus Carmichael mine site in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland. Shutterstock

The inquiry has helped generate public awareness and a greater appreciation of Australia’s Indigenous heritage and the need to protect it. Australia’s commitments to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have come under national and international scrutiny. This has added weight to the inquiry’s recommendations to elevate the importance of free prior and informed consent.

Institutional investors such as HESTA and Australian Council of Superannuation Investors have publicly supported the inquiry’s recommendations.

In the absence of regulatory reform to address systemic issues, Indigenous groups such as the National Native Title Council continue working with investor groups and peak industry bodies for change through developing voluntary guidelines and other formal commitments.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt, along with the National Indigenous Australians Agency, has demonstrated capacity for co-design through their work on the Closing the Gap refresh.

Returning responsibility for cultural heritage to the Indigenous affairs minister’s portfolio, as recommended in the final report, could be a positive step.

Nothing short of the recommended reforms in the report will address the lessons learned from Juukan Gorge. The public must be vigilant in holding business, investors, and politicians to account by insisting on meaningful change.

Read more: We need lithium for clean energy, but Rio Tinto's planned Serbian mine reminds us it shouldn't come at any cost The Conversation

Deanna Kemp, Professor and Director, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland; Bronwyn Fredericks, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), The University of Queensland; Kado Muir, Chair of National Native Title Council and Ngalia Cultural Leader, Indigenous Knowledge, and Rodger Barnes, Research Manager, Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland

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

Nature doesn’t recognise borders but countries can collaborate to save species. The Escazú Agreement shows how

Rebecca K. Runting, The University of Melbourne; Leslie Roberson, The University of Queensland, and Sofía López-Cubillos, The University of Queensland

Nature rarely recognises national borders. Many Australian birds, for example, are annual visitors, splitting their time between Southeast Asia, Russia, and Pacific Islands.

Yet, most efforts to protect ecological processes and habitats are designed and implemented by individual nations. Not only are these traditional approaches to conservation too geographically limited, they don’t address problems that seep across borders and drive ecosystem decline.

Our new research shows international collaboration and environmental management across national borders – a truly transboundary approach – is essential. We focused on an international environmental agreement that recently came into force across the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Known as the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean – or, more commonly, as the Escazú Agreement – it offers a hopeful example of new strategies to rise to this transboundary challenge.

What is the Escazú Agreement?

In 2018, 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries were invited to sign and ratify the landmark Escazú Agreement, the first legally binding environmental agreement to explicitly integrate human rights with environmental matters.

It has so far been ratified by 12 signatory countries; 11 additional signatory countries have signed it but not yet ratified.

As we detail in our recent paper:

The agreement outlines an approach to enhance the protection of environmental defenders, increase public participation in environmental decision-making, and foster cooperation among countries for biodiversity conservation and human rights.

The Escazú Agreement and human rights

Countries from this region share transboundary species such as jaguars, as well as marine reserves containing immense biodiversity (including 1,577 endemic fish species).

But the Escazú Agreement isn’t just about flora and fauna. It also highlights the importance of human rights and public participation in environmental management – elements that are also vitally important for transboundary conservation.

Countries from the Latin America and the Caribbean region share transboundary species such as jaguars. Shutterstock

Latin America and the Caribbean have a history of disputed maritime claims and a mismatch between management of terrestrial and marine jurisdictions.

Environmental protections and jurisdiction complexities have, in the past, curtailed the rights of Indigenous people who traditionally fish in these areas.

This is where the Escazú Agreement could have contributed. It sets out guidelines for public engagement and may have helped Indigenous people have their voices heard.

But Colombia and many island states are yet to ratify the Escazú Agreement. Doing so would help with these issues in future.

Many biodiverse countries with high levels of human rights violations and sharing multiple ecosystems and species have not yet ratified the agreement.

Read more: This bird's stamina is remarkable: it flies non-stop for 5 days from Japan to Australia, but now its habitat is under threat

Marine transboundary conservation needed

Ocean borders are extra messy. Some 90% of marine species compared to 53% of terrestrial species have habitat and migration ranges that cross national borders. Countries with large numbers of transboundary marine species include the US, Australia and Japan.

Many of Australia’s iconic ocean species – such as great white sharks, sea turtles, and humpback whales – are international migrants found in over 100 countries.

Even species that don’t move at all, like plants or corals, are often widely distributed. Take the slimy sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), which grows along the coasts of almost 200 countries.

Marine species essentially share one ocean, making transboundary management extra challenging. Not only can threats such as pollution rapidly spread large distances over ocean currents, our traditional concept of sovereignty and borders makes even less sense on the ocean than it does on land.

Many countries must cooperate to protect species ranges across vast tracts of ocean.

A great white shark goes through the ocean.
Many of Australia’s iconic ocean species such as great white sharks are international migrants found in over 100 countries. Shutterstock

Australia plays a key role

Australia must step up as a leader of domestic and transboundary management. After the US, it has the most transboundary marine species in its ocean territory.

Most species are shared with Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the high seas. As a well-resourced country, it is imperative Australia is part of international efforts to preserve this biodiversity.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Australia has a poor record on protecting its terrestrial biodiversity, and is ranked among the top nations that import shark fins.

Our patchwork legislation leaves the door open for unsustainable and illegal shark finning.

Australian governments need to collaborate with other countries, industries, and socio-environmental NGOs, and local communities leading the way in best practice in environmental conservation.

The Escazú Agreement shows how this can be done.

A beacon of hope

There’s no doubt international collaboration adds challenges to environmental management.

Yet the recent Escazú Agreement offers a beacon of hope in forming just international environmental agreements that protect both the environment and human rights.

Signing agreements like these is just the first step. Then, we must work to implement them consistently on land or sea, across countries and in a way that’s inclusive of local stakeholders.

The world’s nations have accepted the idea we must cooperate to combat climate change. We’ll also need international collaboration to protect the vast majority of Earth’s biodiversity and natural systems.

Read more: What is COP26 and why does the fate of Earth, and Australia's prosperity, depend on it? The Conversation

Rebecca K. Runting, Lecturer in Spatial Sciences and ARC DECRA Fellow, The University of Melbourne; Leslie Roberson, Postdoctoral research fellow, The University of Queensland, and Sofía López-Cubillos, Postdoctoral research fellow, The University of Queensland

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

Glasgow showdown: Pacific Islands demand global leaders bring action, not excuses, to UN summit

Wesley Morgan, Griffith University

The Pacific Islands are at the frontline of climate change. But as rising seas threaten their very existence, these tiny nation states will not be submerged without a fight.

For decades this group has been the world’s moral conscience on climate change. Pacific leaders are not afraid to call out the climate policy failures of far bigger nations, including regional neighbour Australia. And they have a strong history of punching above their weight at United Nations climate talks – including at Paris, where they were credited with helping secure the first truly global climate agreement.

The momentum is with Pacific island countries at next month’s summit in Glasgow, and they have powerful friends. The United Kingdom, European Union and United States all want to see warming limited to 1.5℃.

This powerful alliance will turn the screws on countries dragging down the global effort to avert catastrophic climate change. And if history is a guide, the Pacific won’t let the actions of laggard nations go unnoticed.

A long fight for survival

Pacific leaders’ agitation for climate action dates back to the late 1980s, when scientific consensus on the problem emerged. The leaders quickly realised the serious implications global warming and sea-level rise posed for island countries.

Some Pacific nations – such as Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu – are predominantly low-lying atolls, rising just metres above the waves. In 1991, Pacific leaders declared “the cultural, economic and physical survival of Pacific nations is at great risk”.

Successive scientific assessments clarified the devastating threat climate change posed for Pacific nations: more intense cyclones, changing rainfall patterns, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, coastal inundation and sea-level rise.

Pacific states developed collective strategies to press the international community to take action. At past UN climate talks, they formed a diplomatic alliance with island nations in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, which swelled to more than 40 countries.

The first draft of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – which required wealthy nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – was put forward by Nauru on behalf of this Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Read more: Australia ranks last out of 54 nations on its strategy to cope with climate change. The Glasgow summit is a chance to protect us all

people stand in water with spears
Climate change is a threat to the survival of Pacific Islanders. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Securing a global agreement in Paris

Pacific states were also crucial in negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol in Paris in 2015.

By this time, UN climate talks were stalled by arguments between wealthy nations and developing countries about who was responsible for addressing climate change, and how much support should be provided to help poorer nations to deal with its impacts.

In the months before the Paris climate summit, then-Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, the late Tony De Brum, quietly coordinated a coalition of countries from across traditional negotiating divides at the UN.

This was genius strategy. During talks in Paris, membership of this “High Ambition Coalition” swelled to more than 100 countries, including the European Union and the United States, which proved vital for securing the first truly global climate agreement.

When then-US President Barack Obama met with island leaders in 2016, he noted “we could not have gotten a Paris Agreement without the incredible efforts and hard work of island nations”.

The High Ambition Coalition secured a shared temperature goal in the Paris Agreement, for countries to limit global warming to 1.5℃ above the long-term average. This was no arbitrary figure.

Scientific assessments have clarified 1.5℃ warming is a key threshold for the survival of vulnerable Pacific Island states and the ecosystems they depend on, such as coral reefs.

Read more: Who's who in Glasgow: 5 countries that could make or break the planet's future under climate change

coral reef with island in background
Warming above 1.5℃ threatens Pacific Island states and their coral reefs. Shutterstock

De Brum took a powerful slogan to Paris: “1.5 to stay alive”.

The Glasgow summit is the last chance to keep 1.5℃ of warming within reach. But Australia – almost alone among advanced economies – is taking to Glasgow the same 2030 target it took to Paris six years ago. This is despite the Paris Agreement requirement that nations ratchet up their emissions-reduction ambition every five years.

Australia is the largest member of the Pacific Islands Forum (an intergovernmental group that aims to promote the interests of countries and territories in the Pacific). But it’s also a major fossil fuel producer, putting it at odds with other Pacific countries on climate.

When Australia announced its 2030 target, De Brum said if the rest of the world followed suit:

the Great Barrier Reef would disappear […] so would the Marshall Islands and other vulnerable nations.

Influence at Glasgow

So what can we expect from Pacific leaders at the Glasgow summit? The signs so far suggest they will demand COP26 deliver an outcome to once and for all limit global warming to 1.5℃.

At pre-COP discussions in Milan earlier this month, vulnerable nations proposed countries be required to set new 2030 targets each year until 2025 – a move intended to bring global ambition into alignment with a 1.5℃ pathway.

COP26 president Alok Sharma says he wants the decision text from the summit to include a new agreement to keep 1.5℃ within reach.

This sets the stage for a showdown. Major powers like the US and the EU are set to work with large negotiating blocs, like the High Ambition Coalition, to heap pressure on major emitters that have yet to commit to serious 2030 ambition – including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Australia.

The chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, has warned Pacific island countries “refuse to be the canary in the world’s coal mine.”

According to Bainimarama:

by the time leaders come to Glasgow, it has to be with immediate and transformative action […] come with commitments for serious cuts in emissions by 2030 – 50% or more. Come with commitments to become net-zero before 2050. Do not come with excuses. That time is past.The Conversation

Wesley Morgan, Researcher, Climate Council, and Research Fellow, Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University

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

Don’t underestimate rabbits: these powerful pests threaten more native wildlife than cats or foxes

Pat Taggart, UNSW and Brian Cooke, University of Canberra

In inland Australia, rabbits have taken a severe toll on native wildlife since they were introduced in 1859. They may be small, but today rabbits are a key threat to 322 species of Australia’s at-risk plants and animals — more than twice the number of species threatened by cats or foxes.

For example, research shows even just one rabbit in two hectares of land can solely destroy every regenerating sheoak seedling. Rabbits are also responsible for the historic declines of the iconic southern hairy-nosed wombat and red kangaroo.

Our latest research looked at the conservation benefits following the introduction of three separate biocontrols used to manage rabbits in Australia over the 20th Century — all three were stunningly successful and resulted in enormous benefits to conservation.

But today, rabbits are commonly ignored or underestimated, and aren’t given appropriate attention in conservation compared to introduced predators like cats and foxes. This needs to change.

Why rabbits are such a serious problem

Simply put, rabbits are a major problem for Australian ecosystems because they destroy huge numbers of critical regenerating seedlings over more than half the continent.

Rabbits can prevent the long-term regeneration of trees and shrubs by continually eating young seedlings. This keeps ecosystems from ever reaching their natural, pre-rabbit forms. This has immense flow-on effects for the availability of food for plant-eating animals, for insect abundance, shelter and predation.

Grazing competition from rabbits has been attributed to the decline of southern hairy-nosed wombats. David Taggart, Author provided

In some ecosystems, rabbits have prevented the regeneration of plant communities for 130 years, resulting in shrub populations of only old, scattered individuals. These prolonged impacts may undermine the long-term success of conservation programs to reintroduce mammals to the wild.

Things are particularly dire in arid Australia where, in drought years, rabbits can eat a high proportion of the vegetation that grows, leaving little food for native animals. Arid vegetation is slow growing and doesn’t regenerate often as rainfall is infrequent. This means rabbits can have a severe toll on wildlife by swiftly eating young trees and shrubs soon after they emerge from the ground.

Rabbits eat a high proportion of regenerating vegetation even when their population is at nearly undetectable levels. For example, it took the complete eradication of rabbits from the semi-arid TGB Osborn reserve in South Australia, before most tree and shrub species could regenerate.

Rabbits also spread weeds, cause soil erosion and reduce the ability of soil to absorb moisture and support vegetation growth.

Rabbits spread weeds and eat seedlings. Shutterstock

If you control prey, you control predators

When restoring ecosystems, particularly in arid Australia, it’s common for land managers to heavily focus on managing predators such as cats and foxes, while ignoring rabbits. While predator management is important, neglecting rabbit control may mean Australia’s unique fauna is still destined to decline.

Cats and foxes eat a lot of rabbits in arid Australia and can limit their populations when rabbit numbers are low. A common argument against rabbit control is that cats and foxes will turn to eating native species in the absence of rabbits. But this argument is unfounded.

Cats and foxes may turn from rabbits to native species in the immediate short-term. But, research has also shown fewer rabbits ultimately lead to declines in cat and fox numbers, as the cats and foxes are starved of their major food source.

Culling rabbits starves feral predators of their major food source. Shutterstock

Regrowth could be seen from space

An effective way to deal with rabbits is to release biocontrol agents - natural enemies of rabbits, such as viruses or parasites. Our research reviewed the effects of rolling out three different biocontrols last century:

  • myxomatosis (an infectious rabbit disease), released in 1950

  • European rabbit fleas (as a vector of myxomatosis), released in 1968

  • rabbit haemorrhagic disease, released in 1995.

Each lead to unprecedented reductions in the number of rabbits across Australia.

Rabbits eventually built up a tolerance to biocontrols. Shutterstock

Despite the minor interest in conservation at the time, the spread of myxomatosis led to widespread regeneration in sheoaks for over five years, before rabbit numbers built back up. Red kangaroo populations increased so much that landholders were suddenly “involved in a shooting war with hordes of kangaroos invading their properties”, according to a newspaper report at the time.

Following the introduction of the European rabbit flea, native grasses became prolific along the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. Similarly, southern hairy-nosed wombats and swamp wallabies expanded their ranges.

By the time rabbit haemorrhagic disease was introduced in 1995, interest in conservation and the environment had grown and conservation benefits were better recorded.

Native vegetation regenerated over enormous spans of land, including native pine, needle bush, umbrella wattle, witchetty bush and twin-leaved emu bush. This regeneration was so significant across large parts of the Simpson and Strzelecki Deserts, it could be seen from space.

When rabbits were controlled, the number of red kangaroos doubled. Shutterstock

Red kangaroos became two to three times more abundant, and multiple species of desert rodent and a small marsupial carnivore (dusky hopping mouse, spinifex hopping mouse, plains rat, crest-tailed mulgara) all expanded their ranges.

But each time, after 10 to 20 years, the biocontrols stop working so well, as rabbits eventually built up a tolerance to the diseases.

So what should we do today?

Today, there are an estimated 150-200 million rabbits in Australia, we need to be on the front foot to manage this crisis. This means researchers should continually develop new biocontrols — which are clearly astonishingly successful.

But this isn’t the only solution. The use of biocontrols must be integrated with conventional rabbit management techniques, including destroying warrens (burrow networks) and harbours (above-ground rabbit shelters), baiting, fumigation, shooting or trapping.

Land managers have a major part to play in restoring Australia’s arid ecosystems, too. Land managers are required by law to control invasive pests such as rabbits, and this must occur humanely using approved and recognised methods.

They, and researchers, must take rabbit management seriously and give it equal, if not more, attention than feral cats and foxes. It all starts with a greater awareness of the problem, so we stop underestimating these small, but powerful, pests.

The authors would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of Dr Graeme Finlayson from Bush Heritage Australia, who is the lead author of the published study.The Conversation

Pat Taggart, Adjunct Fellow, UNSW and Brian Cooke, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Canberra

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

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

Avalon Golf Course bushcare needs you

We're so short of helpers we've had to cancel for the time being. Meanwhile the weeds will go gangbusters. 
We used to meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month. Could you come if we worked on another day or time? say a morning, or on a weekend day? 
Contact Geoff Searl on 0439 292 566 if you'd like to help. He'd love to hear from you. 

We have fun using the Tree Popper, here with our supervisor from Dragonfly Environmental. We can lever out quite big Ochnas, aka Mickey Mouse plant from Africa.  We want to bring back the bush, not let the weeds win!

Ochna or Mickey Mouse plant has yellow flowers in spring, then lots of green berries that turn black when ripe. Seedlings come up in hundreds. Ochna has a very strong taproot but the steady pressure of the Tree Popper lifts the plant out of the ground easily. The alternative control is repeated scraping and painting with Roundup, very slow and time consuming. If you have an Ochna you cant remove, you can enjoy the flowers, then PLEASE prune it so that berries can't develop.

Pittwater Reserves + others

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
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 Headland: Spring flowers Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham's Beach
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 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
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
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
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
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
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
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

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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.