September 17 - October 7, 2023: Issue 599

Please look out for wildlife during this spring heatwave

September 15, 2023 
New South Wales is set to experience a significant heatwave over the next six days.

These prolonged weather conditions can cause native wildlife to become heat-stressed as they suffer from high temperatures; here is how you can identify a heat-stressed animal and how you can help.
Always remember:

If you find an injured, orphaned or sick native animal, call WIRES on 1300 094 737 or Sydney Wildlife Rescue on 9413 4300.

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

Extraordinary meeting of the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel (NBLPP) called: Construction of coastal protection works at Narrabeen - you must register to speak

Northern Beaches Council has called an extraordinary meeting of the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel (NBLPP) to be held at Council Chambers Dee Why, 725 Pittwater Rd on Monday 25th September at 10.30am.  This is to discuss the construction of coastal protection works, specifically the continuation of the vertical concrete wall in front of private properties.

Application No. DA2021/1612
Address: 1 Clarke Street Narrabeen & 1192 Pittwater Road Narrabeen & 1194 Pittwater Road Narrabeen & 1196 Pittwater Road Narrabeen & 1204 Pittwater Road Narrabeen.

Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches has stated, ''If you can please turn up to the meeting, or better still, ask to state your case for our beach's preservation.  This brutal amouring and diminishment of public amenity must  stop. Northern Beaches Council should be setting the example of "best practice" for urban coastal zone protection and design, not the worst. If you objected (and many of you did) you should have received an email offering you a chance to address the issue. ''

The development application seeks consent for coastal protection works entirely on private land between Clarke and Mactier Streets (excluding a portion of land containing South Narrabeen Surf Club).

The application is being referred to the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel (NBLPP) for determination due to receiving 178 submissions. Concerns raised in the submissions predominantly relate to whether the works: will increase coastal erosion, will cause a loss of public access to the beach, will be visually unappealing, are these the most appropriate design for this site, will impact on the surf/wave quality and, whether there has been sufficient public consultation.

If you would like to address the Panel, you will need to register by 4.00pm the day before the scheduled meeting by email ( and including the DA number, your name, address and if you are speaking for or against the application or by phoning 1300 434 434.

Speakers will be limited to three minutes with time extended at the discretion of the Chair. 
Where there are a number of objectors with a common interest, the panel may, in its absolute discretion, hear a representative of those persons.

Palm Beach to Ettalong: Dredging update

The Dredger is getting close to finishing operations in the Ettalong Channel. Next week TfNSW will commence hydrographic soundings of the channel. 

Palm Beach Ferries will begin its own refamiliarization and training within the channel.  An update will be made by Wednesday the 20th of September on when it should be safe to resume services to Ettalong & Wagstaffe.

Liesl Tesch MP, Member for Gosford, and 7 time Olympian (RPAYC) was out on the water on Friday September 15 to see the work of the Port Frederick dredge up close.

Liesl Tesch MP said, ''I appreciated the opportunity to see the environmental monitoring taking place to ensure that our environment is protected while dredging continues.
Thank you Andy Hartley from Maritime and Civil Delivery Group for showing me how the turbidity monitor works to keep an eye on our oceans health - the geography teacher in me was in heaven.''

Photos: Liesl Tesch MP earlier today out on the water  to see the work of the Port Frederick dredge up close.

More available in earlier September 2023 report Dredging Of Ettalong Channel Underway 

Palm Beach Ferries provides exceptional ferry services between Palm Beach, Wagstaffe, and Ettalong Beach. Departing regularly from the Palm Beach Wharf, the picturesque journey takes just 30 minutes, passing by Barrenjoey Headland. Visit:

flannel flower

photo: Selena Griffith, Spring 2023

Trafalgar Park Newport: Playground Renewal - Feedback Invited

Comments close: Sunday 1 October 2023
As part of the 2023/24 Capital Works Playground Renewal Program, the council are proposing to undertake the replacement of Trafalgar Park Playground in Newport. 

The council propose to replace the existing play equipment and introduce rubberised surfacing, new edging, new retaining walls, new seating and new path connections (material for new paths not specified on plan). The council propose to change some of the shape and size of play areas as well.

The council now offers an opportunity to provide input on what you like and value about the park and playground before they finalise the plans now on exhibit and engage their contractor.

The council has stated they have already visited Newport Public School and spoke to Year 1 students about the playground and the upcoming renewal project. 

''We listened to a few ideas and answered questions to help with their learning project. As part of this session, we asked which style of senior play equipment (aimed at children aged 6 to 10 years) they preferred. Now we would like to ask the same question to the wider community.'' the council states

Please note that the outcome of this vote may not necessarily result in this piece being selected by the council for Trafalgar Park, but it will help guide their decision-making for Trafalgar Park or other upcoming projects.

Take a look at the concepts and share your thoughts by:
All comments in their entirety are made publicly available in the Community Engagement Report. Personal identifying information and inappropriate language are redacted.

Council state they aim to engage a playground contractor to carry out works in early 2024.

Trafalgar Park has been classified as a ‘neighbourhood’ playground and hence the current size is considered appropriate. The current playground size provides a good balance between the playground and open space that can be used for play or other recreational purposes.

The current project and budget only allow for the renewal of the playground and associated landscaping. Other facilities such as toilets and lighting and currently not planned or budgeted for. The council states 'these types of facilities would require further planning, investigation and thorough community consultation'.

The playground is located among established trees and open space of Trafalgar Park. The playground is used by school children from the neighbouring Newport Public School.

September is biodiversity month: time to repair, restore, respect our plants and wildlife

September is a special month  – it’s biodiversity month.

Biodiversity helps our environment stay healthy and vibrant. From vast deserts to lush forests, Australia is home to a huge range of plants, animals, and ecosystems.

Every plant, animal, and microbe play a role. Together, they maintain balance and provide resources. This includes clean air, water, and food.

Recognise the unique and varied life on our beautiful country. Australia has up to 700,000 different species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

But human activity has put many of these unique species at risk. The Australian government have developed a Threatened Species Action Plan which it hopes maps a pathway to protect, manage and restore Australia’s threatened species and important natural places. By reading the plan and spreading the word, you can raise awareness of our threatened species and places.

It’s not just about threatened species. Biodiversity month is about protecting, repairing, and managing nature better. 

The government is working towards a Nature Positive Australia, through significant projects and reform, to support conditions where nature – species and ecosystems – is being repaired and is regenerating rather than being in decline.

This month, they are asking everyone to join in and help celebrate. There are many ways you can support biodiversity month:
  • go on a Bush walk in your area,
  • look out for and after our wildlife and plants
  • keep a nature journal or connect with nature,
  • share your observations with the iNaturalistAU community.
Share your love of nature on social media by uploading photos, videos and stories with the hashtags #GetIntoNature, #biodiversitymonth #ConnectingWithCountry 

Black Cockatoo Crisis is a visually stunning movie by Jane Hammond that highlights the plight of black cockatoos in Western Australia but ends with a message of hope and a call to action. Bring your friends and family to this community event and learn more about the devastating impact of land clearance and logging on the Black Cockatoos in Western Australia.

The habitat of the Glossy Black Cockatoos and Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos on the Northern Beaches will suffer a similar fate of fragmentation and destruction if the development of bushland areas such as the Patyegarang planning proposal at Belrose is approved (previously known as Lizard Rock). Learn also about the bigger picture across NSW in relation to preventing logging of native forests and protection of native wildlife. 

Come along and meet like-minded people in your community, share a drink, make new friends and find out how you can help. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see Black Cockatoos Crisis, only screened a few times in Sydney and not available online. 

Tickets are free to make the event accessible to all however donations towards the cost of the privately funded venue and film license fees are appreciated.

Any additional funds raised will be split equally between the Black Cockatoos Crisis Project and the Northern Beaches Bushland Guardians. Thank you to Dee Why RSL for a generous discount on the cost of the venue. 

Event Program:
  • 6:30 pm arrival for a 7:00 pm start
  • 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm - Screening of Black Cockatoos Crisis Movie and Guest Speakers
  • 9:00 pm - 9:30 pm - Social drinks
- Uncle Neil Evers will give the welcome to country as a Garigal man and explain the significance of black cockatoos.

- Professor Rico Merkert and Mr David Li from the University of Sydney Business School will explain the impact on carbon emissions of the proposed land development at Lizard Rock and the importance of reducing carbon emissions across all sectors of society.

- Our Independent Federal M.P for Mackellar, Dr Sophie Scamps will talk about the exciting projects that she’s been working on at the Federal level to protect our native forests and wildlife, find out what you can do to support her.

Spring Surfing Celebration

Do you some boards that are lingering in the yard unused?
Come and sell/swap or trade them on Saturday 23rd Sept, between 12 noon and 4pm at Surfrider Gardens, Narrabeen.

The legendary Mick Mock will be there, chilled tunes from @borderlines___ , Surfboard Souls Manly will host sustainable surfboard art activities for adults and kids, and 2nd hand boards  raffle from Aloha Manly Style. Thank you legends.

Bring your boards for a Spring Surfing celebration!
Let's recycle, repurpose and reuse our boards.

Surfrider Foundation Northern Beaches

The Powerful Owl Project:  It’s Fledging Time! 

Our favourite time of year is here. 
Powerful Owlets have taken that great leap of faith from several hollows in Greater Sydney and the delightful sound of trilling owlets is floating out from many more.
These gorgeous balls of fluff are very vulnerable for the first few weeks after they fledge. They’re still learning to fly and they’re easily frightened. Frightened owlets might trill or flush from their roost and then be mobbed by day birds.

If you’re lucky enough to come across owlets, observe quietly and from a distance. 

If you take your dog with you when you go walking, please keep it on-leash, especially in parkland and in the bush, to help keep newly fledged owlets safe.

NB: Dogs are prohibited in Pittwater Wildlife Preservation Areas.
Photo: PO Project

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: Newport Beach clean up - Sunday September 24

Time: 10am to 12.15
Come and join us for our Newport beach clean up. We'll meet at Bert Payne Park, just south of clubhouse. We have clean and washed gloves, bags and buckets. We'll clean up the grass area to try and catch the litter before it hits the beach as well as cleaning the beach, trying to remove as much plastic, cigarette butts and rubbish as possible. No booking required. Just show up on the day. We'll be there no matter what weather.

We will clean up for about 90 min (to about 11.30am, and then take a group pic with all the rubbish. We often go for lunch together afterwards (at own cost) - it's a great opportunity to get to know everywhere.
We're a friendly group of people and everyone is welcome to this family friendly event (just leave political, religious and business messages at home so everyone feel welcome). It's a nice community - make some new friends and do a good deed for the planet at the same time. Send us a message if you are lost. Please invite family and friends and share this event.

The Turimetta Beach Clean Crew- August 2023 - and what was recovered. Photo NBCUC

Bushwalk fundraiser

In recent years, Garden Life has held a series of bushwalks on Guringai country / Pittwater, in support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an organisation that is dedicated to lifting literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities around Australia. All ticket proceeds are donated to the Foundation, with more than $30,000 being raised so far.

Garden Life founder, Richard Unsworth, and bush expert, Paul Webb, host the private guided tours of the glorious and pristine bushland in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, which features an abundance of native flora and fauna, bushfoods, waterfalls and remarkable Indigenous carvings. The walks conclude with a delicious three course lunch at Trincomalee, Richard’s home and garden in Pittwater, before returning to Church Point via ferry.

Enjoy a truly inspiring day out, just an hour’s drive from the CBD, and support a wonderful organisation in the process. Private walks for groups of up to 10 people can also be organised – perfect for social groups or work team building.

Upcoming Walks:
  • Friday 29 September 
  • Friday 10 November  
  • Friday 8 December  

If you are interested in booking a private walk, please email  If you’d like to be notified of any upcoming walks, please subscribe to our newsletter.

About the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
The foundation is dedicated to lifting literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities, so all children across Australia have the same choices and opportunities. The purpose of the foundation is to make a difference to the lives of Indigenous families by not only gifting thousands of new culturally appropriate books – with a focus on early literacy and first language – but also by running programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories. More at:

Above photos: AJG/PON

 'Scotland Island, Newport, Pittwater, N.S.W.', photo by Henry King, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1886. and section from to show cottage on neck of peninsula at western end with no chimneys through roof. From Tyrell Collection, courtesy Powerhouse Museum

Palmgrove Park Avalon: New Bushcare Group Begins 

Palmgrove Park Avalon is a remnant of the Spotted Gum forest that was once widespread on the lower slopes of the Pittwater peninsula. This bushland’s official name and forest type is Pittwater and Wagstaffe Endangered Ecological Community, endangered because so much has been cleared for suburban development. Canopy trees, smaller trees and shrubs, and ground layer plants make up this community. Though scattered remnant Spotted Gums remain on private land, there is little chance of seedlings surviving in gardens and lawns. More information HERE

A grant to PNHA from Council in 2021 funded revegetation of a section between Dress Circle Rd and Bellevue Rd. The tubestock planted there late in 2022 by students from Avalon Primary and bush regeneration contractors is flourishing.

More tubestock was planted on National Tree Day on July 30 2023.

A new Bushcare group will now be working there from Saturday August 5, starting at 9am and working for up to three hours. Your help would be wonderful.

Contact Pittwater Natural Heritage Association on to find out more.

Avalon Dunes Bushcare Update: Next session on October 1st

Even more progress on the dunes last Sunday, September 3rd. Amanda scored the biggest Turkey Rhubarb of the morning, a weed featuring in last week's Gardening Australia. 
Morning Tea with Apple Cake, Coastal Teatree in glorious bloom. 

Next work morning: October 1. Don't miss it!

Meet 8.30 near the Montessori School off Tasman Rd North Avalon.  
We finish at 11.30 but any time you can spare is great. Morning Tea, cake and Tools provided, BYO gardening gloves. 
We work as the Avalon Dunes Bushcare on the FIRST SUNDAY of the month.

To find out more please email

Coastal Teatree, Leptospermum laevigatum. This is favourite food of Ringtail Possums. A possum drey /nest was above our morning tea spot.

Amanda with her prizewinning Turkey Rhubarb tubers. Rumex sagittatus, synonym Acetosa sagittata, native to South Africa and an invasive weed here.

Want the recipe? Join our bushcare group.

Avalon Dunes Bushcare Group after September 2023 session in their War on Weeds. Missing from this photo: Marita Macrae (behind the camera)

$850,000 in funding open to improve fish habitat

Keen local anglers, farmers, land managers and community groups are invited to apply for the latest round of the Habitat Action Grants to see their local waterways flourish with more than $850,000 available, Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty announced.

Habitat Action Grants are open from 8 August 2023 to 29 September 2023.

Ms Moriarty said that recreational fishing groups, community organisations, local councils and natural resource managers across the state would have until September 29 to apply for funding for their projects to improve habitat for native fish.

“These grants will see up to $40,000 awarded per project for both our inland waterways and our coastal systems,” Ms Moriarty said.

“The Habitat Action Grant program is a fantastic opportunity to improve your local creek, river, estuary or surrounding area to promote healthy waterways and to encourage more native fish, naturally.

“I encourage as many submissions as possible – so we can improve fish habitat to give our local fishers some great opportunities to make a difference in their area.

“As locals, you know your waterways better than anyone, so it’s time to float your ideas and come up with some fantastic ways to enhance our aquatic environments. We are particularly interested in your concepts for rehabilitating Trout cod and their freshwater habitats.”

Habitat Action Grants are supported by the Recreational Fishing Trusts, with funds being raised by the NSW Recreational Fishing Fees.

“This is your opportunity to put your recreational fishing fees to work to make more fish”

In the past, habitat rehabilitation projects which have been funded have included:
  • removal or modification of barriers to fish passage
  • rehabilitation of riparian lands (riverbanks, wetlands, mangrove forests, saltmarsh)
  • re-snagging waterways with timber structure
  • the removal of exotic vegetation from waterways and replacement with native plants
  • bank stabilisation works
  • fencing to exclude livestock.
“There are some long-term benefits for completing this work and ultimately, it’s about making sure we have functional fish habitat and happy native fish here in NSW.”

Since 2009, the Recreational Fishing Trusts have invested nearly $8 million into the Habitat Action Grants program, seeing significant improvement to fish habitat across NSW.

For more information and to apply for this round, visit

Sydney Wildlife Rescue: next Rescue and Care course commences October 28

Want to get involved? Become a wildlife volunteer by completing our next course. Course is 3 weeks of online learning (approx 12hrs of ‘work’) followed by a practical day at a location in Sydney. Join a wonderful, close knit, like minded group of volunteers who’s focus is to rescue, rehabilitate and release our native wildlife.

Visit Rescue and Care course  to sign up

The Rescue and Care Course is designed and run by the Sydney Wildlife Training Committee and complies with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment species codes of practice and training standards. We run it on a cost-neutral basis. 

To complete registration you must upload a clear, passport-style photo (head and shoulders only) of yourself and Pay the $120 fee. 

Your membership will not progress until these are received. During the practical component, proof of identity will be required to receive your Sydney Wildlife ID card.

Once you have finished the practical component we'll give you a rescue basket containing equipment and supplies for initial rescues and care. This includes packages of Insectivore Mix, Lorikeet and Honeyeater Mix, Neocare supplement for chicks, calcium, oral rehydration fluid, and a versatile lightweight net. Depending on availability, other items are usually added. Your first annual Wildlife Carer’s Licence cost of $30 is included in this payment.

As a member you will be given a 'buddy'; an experienced member in your branch who will be available to you as a mentor to help you in your early days as a wildlife carer. Your buddy, along with our Branch Species Coordinators will ensure that you have someone to turn to when you need help and advice. You will be joining a local group, one of five branches within an organisation of friendly wildlife carers, with all the benefits of a large network.

Seen any glossies drinking around Nambucca, Bellingen, Coffs or Clarence? want to help?: join the glossy squad

If you've seen a black cockatoo with a red tail drinking at a watering spot in the late afternoon, please let the NSW Dept. of Environment know.
The threatened glossy black-cockatoo's peak nesting season is now, and the Biliirrgan Project's Glossy Squad is keen to protect glossies' nests.

Led by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's Saving our Species program with partners including BirdLife Australia, Landcare, and the Clarence Environment Centre, the project wants to hear of any sightings across the area.

Glossies are the only black cockatoo with red tails in northern New South Wales. The females have yellow on their heads and pairs mate for life.

Female glossies lay a single egg in a vertical tree hollow, then stay put for a month while it incubates. During that time, the female relies entirely on her mate to feed her. He eats for 2, gorging himself on she-oak (allocasuarina) seeds each day.

Late in the afternoon he drinks – again for 2 – before returning with food supplies to his nesting hen who can be heard 'begging' or calling for food. Only after the chick hatches does the hen leave the nest.

The Black Summer fires of 2019–20 burnt nearly half of the glossy habitat in northern New South Wales, resulting in a significant loss of feed and nest trees.

Protecting nest trees is crucial to conserving the glossy black-cockatoo, however at this stage there are only a handful of nests known across the whole of northern New south Wales.

The Glossy Squad needs eyes on the ground to find more active nests so the remaining birds can be monitored and protected.

Let the Squad know if you see glossy black-cockatoos drinking in the late afternoon, or any of these nesting signs:
  • a female bird (identifiable by yellow on her head) begging and/or being fed by a male (with plain black/brown head and body and unbarred red tail feathers)
  • a lone adult male, or a male with a begging female, flying purposefully after drinking at the end of the day.
Glossies only eat the seeds from she-oak (allocasuarina) cones and need to drink water each evening. They can be seen at watering holes, dams or other fresh water sources at dusk.

Please report any sightings through the online survey, which can also be accessed by the QR code below, or by emailing

Want to be more involved? Join the Glossy Squad and actively help find new nests of this important species. Just email to find out how.

The Biliirrgan Project aims to conserve the glossy black-cockatoo (Biliirrgan in Gumbaynggirr) on Gumbaynggirr, Yaegl and Bundjalung country in northern New South Wales. The project was initially funded through a Commonwealth Bushfire Recovery grant.

2 female glossies and a male. Glossy black-cockatoos tend to travel in small families of between 3 and 6. Photo: Laurie Ross

Glossy black-cockatoo id

Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Plan of Management: public consultation

The Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Plan of Management is on public exhibition until 26 September 2023.
Public exhibition of the draft plan provides an important opportunity for community members to have a say in the future management of the Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd national parks. Once adopted, this plan of management will replace the existing plans for these parks, which were adopted in 2001.

The draft plan is accompanied by the Blue Mountains National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park Draft Planning Considerations report. It is recommended that readers of the plan refer to the planning considerations report for detailed explanations of the parks' values and management considerations.

These parks are a part of Darug and Gundungurra Country. The parks form the core component of one of the largest and most intact stretches of protected bushland in New South Wales. They are part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area World and National Heritage property, contain significant areas of wilderness, occupy a large part of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment, and are one of the key attractions in a major tourism region.

Key management directions and new uses for buildings or new campsites proposed in the draft plan includes:
  • improving recognition of the parks significant values, including World and National Heritage values, and providing for adaptive management to protect the values
  • recognising and supporting the continuation of partnerships with Aboriginal communities
  • providing outstanding nature-based experiences for visitors through improvements to visitor facilities - including:
  • Opportunities for supported or serviced camping, where tents and services are provided by commercial tour operators, may be offered at some camping areas in the parks 
  • Jamison Creek, Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Leura Amphitheatre Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Mount Solitary Jamison Valley Walk-in camping Potential new camping
  • Maxwell’s HuC Kedumba Valley Cabin/hut Potential new accommodation
  • Kedumba Valley Maxwell’s Hut (historic slab hut) - Building restoration in progress; potential new Accommodation for bushwalkers
  • Government Town Police station; courthouse - Potential new Visitor accommodation
Documents available at: HERE

Have your say
Public exhibition is from 28 July 2023 to 26 September 2023.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

Post your written submission to:
Manager, National Parks and Wildlife Service Planning and Assessment
Locked Bag 5022
Parramatta NSW 2124
All submissions must be received by 26 September 2023.

Our response to your submission will be based on the merits of the ideas and issues you raise rather than the quantity of submissions making similar points. For this reason, a submission that clearly explains the matters it raises will be the most effective way to influence the finalisation of the plan.

Submissions are most effective when DPE/NPWS understand your ideas and the outcomes you want for park management. Some suggestions to help you write your submissions are:
  • write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you
  • note which part or section of the document your comments relate to
  • give reasoning in support of your points - this makes it easier for us to consider your ideas and will help avoid misinterpretation
  • tell us specifically what you agree/disagree with and why you agree or disagree
  • suggest solutions or alternatives to managing the issue if you can.
Your submission will be provided to relevant National Parks and Wildlife Service advisory bodies. See our privacy policy at link above for information on how they will treat any personal information you provide.

Areas closed for West Head lookout upgrades

NPWS advise that the following areas are closed from Monday 22 May to Thursday 30 November 2023 while West Head lookout upgrades are underway:

  • West Head lookout
  • The loop section of West Head Road
  • West Head Army track.

Vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians will have access to the Resolute picnic area and public toilets. Access is restricted past this point.

The following walking tracks remain open:

  • Red Hands track
  • Aboriginal Heritage track
  • Resolute track, including access to Resolute Beach and West Head Beach
  • Mackeral Beach track
  • Koolewong track.

The West Head lookout cannot be accessed from any of these tracks.

Image: Visualisation of upcoming works, looking east from the ramp towards Barrenjoey Head Credit: DPE

More at:

PNHA Guided Nature Walks 2023

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

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

The whole PNHA 2023 Guided Nature Walks Program is available at:

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

Report fox sightings

Fox sightings, signs of fox activity, den locations and attacks on native or domestic animals can be reported into FoxScan. FoxScan is a free resource for residents, community groups, local Councils, and other land managers to record and report fox sightings and control activities. 

Our Council's Invasive species Team receives an alert when an entry is made into FoxScan.  The information in FoxScan will assist with planning fox control activities and to notify the community when and where foxes are active.

marine wildlife rescue group on the Central Coast

A new wildlife group was launched on the Central Coast on Saturday, December 10, 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast has a Facebook page where you may contact members. Visit:

Watch out - shorebirds about

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possums In Your Roof?: do the right thing

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Wildlife photos

Aviaries + Possum Release Sites Needed

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

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

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

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367 or visit Council's bushcare webpage to find out how you can get involved.

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

logging stopped in future koala park by minns NSW Government

The NSW Government announced on Tuesday September 12 that a halt to timber harvesting operations in the 106 koala hubs within the area being assessed for the Great Koala National Park as well as the process to establish the park. Operations were paused on Friday 1 September 2023 by agreement with Forestry Corporation of NSW.

''The creation of the Great Koala National Park on the NSW Mid North Coast is the NSW Government's largest environmental commitment and a crucial part of the overall strategy to save koalas from extinction in New South Wales.

The NSW Government’s action will balance our commitment to protecting environmentally sensitive areas with the development of a plan to sustain a viable timber industry and jobs.

While the work to establish the park is carried out, the government will implement a halt to timber harvesting in koala hubs within the assessment area for the park.'' the government said in a statement

''The 106 koala hubs cover more than 8,400 hectares of state forest. Koala hubs are areas where there is strong evidence of multi-generational, high-density populations of the iconic animal. Koala hubs cover approximately 5% of the Great Koala National Park assessment area, but contain 42% of recorded koala sightings in state forests in the assessment area since 2000.

The NSW Government will immediately discuss with Forestry Corporation of NSW the next steps of the cessation and determine timber supply options.''

The process to establish the park will involve three key components:
  1. An independent economic and social assessment which will consider the impacts on local jobs and communities
  2. The establishment of industry, community and Aboriginal advisory panels to provide input to the creation of the park
  3. An expert environmental and cultural heritage assessment to safeguard the unique environmental and cultural heritage of the region and ensure the Great Koala National Park aligns with the highest standards of environmental protection and respect for cultural heritage.
Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe said,

'The creation of the Great Koala National Park is essential to saving koalas from extinction in New South Wales.

'The Government is taking serious steps towards its creation and will work closely with the community, Aboriginal organisations and industry as the areas for inclusion in the park are assessed.'

Minister for Agriculture and Regional NSW, Tara Moriarty aid,

'The Great Koala National Park is a high priority and we are working hard across Government to establish this significant undertaking.

'The Government commits to working closely with the industry to develop a blueprint for the future timber sector that accommodates both the park and the production of timber products.'

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, welcomed the announcement by Ministers Sharpe and Moriarty that critical koala habitat in the future Great Koala National Park will be granted immediate protection from logging.  

Photo: WWF

“This is a historic step forward by the Minns Government.  “From today, 8400 hectares of the most important koala habitat in the world will be protected from logging,” said Nature Conservation Council acting CEO Dr Brad Smith. 

The move comes after analysis by the Nature Conservation Council released in June found that 17.7% of state forest that constitutes the Great Koala National Park proposal was to be targeted for logging over the next 12 months – a 300% increase on the previous two years.  

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

"This is a big win for the environment movement, koalas and the forests of the mid north coast” Dr Brad Smith, NCC Acting CEO said. 

“What we’ve seen today is Ministers Sharpe and Moriarity recognise and respond to the community who want to protect their local forests, koalas and First Nations heritage from the devastating impact of logging.”  

“This decision is a win for the people of NSW, who rallied, protested and demanded better - in some cases tying themselves to the giant trees that will now remain standing. “ 

“This decision is also a recognition that logging has a devastating impact on koalas and biodiversity. We applaud them for ensuring that the most important areas of koala habitat in NSW be protected.” 

“Protecting the most precious 5% of the Great Koala National Park area gives these koala populations a fighting chance.  

“Of course we’re also concerned about the remaining 95% of the proposed park area, and we look forward to working through that assessment to ensure it’s also protected from logging as soon as possible. 

“We also welcome the confirmation that 8400 hectares constitutes 5% of the park, meaning the Minns Government is delivering on their election promise by assessing all 175 000 hectares of forest that constitutes the Great Koala National Park proposal.” 

The NCC has stated they will be running a series of workshops of the coming months to support people to monitor, report and stop illegal logging activities.  More information available here. 

Full map of the Great Koala National Park -White outline is entire area of the park. Green outline is the state forest proposed to be protected as national park. White dots are koala hubs that will now be protected from logging. Red are areas that were proposed to be logged as of August 2023.  

Mackellar MP Dr Sophie Scamps MP stated,
''The NSW Government should be applauded for its announcement that logging in some areas of the proposed Great Koala National Park will end. The news that logging in “koala hubs” will cease is a win for koalas and all other species that call these forests home, for the local tourism industry and for local Indigenous communities who have campaigned strongly against the destruction of this crucial habitat.

Last month I travelled with Independent NSW MP Michael Regan and WWF Australia to an area of forest near Woolgoolga that had been heavily logged. This was despite the area being important koala habitat and being located within the proposed boundaries of the Great Koala National Park.

While it was devastating to see the sheer scale of destruction at this site, the saddest part of the trip was learning that much of this wood, from logged native forests, was to be used to produce lowvalue products such as tomato stakes, pallets, wood chips and toilet paper.

Since being elected, my local community has consistently told me that protecting our environment, our threatened species and our forests are some of the top issues they wanted me to address and advocate for on their behalf. So after working with the crossbench to make ending logging a federal policy issue, and visiting areas of Australia under threat from logging, today’s announcement is an incredibly welcome step in the right direction.

Logging native forests in NSW is a loss-making exercise. Over the last two years the NSW Government has subsidised the native forest logging division of NSW Forestry Corporation to the tune of $30 million just to keep it afloat.

Today’s announcement is a small step in the right direction. NSW taxpayers should not continue to fund the destruction of our native forests and NSW should follow the examples set by Victoria and WA and end native forest logging for good. It’s important to recognise that as we end native forest logging, we must also fund the transition to a sustainable plantation based industry – this is crucial for regional communities who have relied on this industry in the past.

The Albanese Government should also show some leadership. The government should amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) to remove exemptions for Regional Forestry Agreements (RFAs). This would ensure the environmental impact of logging projects must be assessed by the Federal Environment Minister. The Albanese Government should also partner with state governments to fund the transition to a sustainable plantation based sector.

Today’s announcement is hugely welcome – but it’s just one step governments around the nation must take to protect our native forests, and iconic species such as the koala.''

In Issue 597, September 2023
Previous reports:

Locking in the water gains ahead of dry times: the Darling-Baaka and Murray rivers 

September 14, 2023
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has stated it will use water this year to support the new waterbird fledglings and young native fish born during the flood years, while keeping a close eye on the anticipated return of El Niño, which could bring drought and heatwaves in Australia.

Over the past 12 months, the Darling-Baaka and Murray rivers flowed at the highest levels in decades, replenishing wetlands, floodplains and forests. Rivers reconnected throughout the Murray–Darling Basin, with native fish like the Golden perch spawning and travelling thousands of kilometres.

Flooding and water for the environment paved the way for waterbirds like Pelicans, Straw-necked Ibis, Royal Spoonbill and Egrets to breed in massive numbers, including at internationally significant Ramsar wetlands across the Murray–Darling Basin.

High flows also flushed salt out of the Murray Mouth and significantly reduced salinity levels in the Coorong to healthy levels that support native fish, wetland plants and animals.

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Dr Simon Banks said the focus is building on the gains provided by the floods over the last couple of years with environmental flows already underway for the 2023–24 water year, but there is more to do.

“Commonwealth environmental water has worked hand-in-hand with wet conditions to breathe life back into our rivers and wetlands, benefiting waterbirds and native fish and other water-dependent species,” Dr Banks said.

Waterbird populations have experienced continuous decline over the past 40 years. Native fish populations have declined by 90 per cent over the past 150 years. Reversing these declines requires long-term action with careful and strategic use of water for the environment.

“With lots of young, hungry waterbirds to feed, water for the environment will be used this year to ensure wetland habitat is available for shelter and food.

“For native fish, our focus is ensuring there are river flows that provide cues for them to breed and move between rivers. We’re also targeting areas that were affected by poor water quality caused by flooding.”

Dr Banks said effective water management also meant knowing when not to use environmental water.

“Working with our water delivery partners, we’ll also introduce drying phases in some wetlands, particularly those that have been overrun with carp, which has a devastating impact on the natural environment,” he said.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s Water Management Plan includes options to sell water this year and carry over water into 2024-25.

“Like other water users, we need to plan for multiple years, and carrying water over is a useful tool to allow us to respond to future conditions. With warm and dry conditions returning, we need water set aside to reconnect rivers, fill waterholes and provide drought refuge for native fish and waterbirds,” Dr Banks said.

Our Water Management Plan outlines what we will do in all scenarios – wet, dry and in between – we must plan for them all.

“If we decide to sell annual water allocations, the funds raised will be used for environmental activities such as upgrading fishways or installing new infrastructure that allows us to further improve the outcomes we get from water for the environment.

“We partner with state agencies, First Nations peoples, community members, scientists and industry to carefully plan where and when water for the environment will be used.

"Input and support from our partners ensures we are considering local needs when delivering water and making decisions that are backed by science. We look forward to working with our partners over the next 12 months.”

You can find more information on the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s annual Water Management Plan at: Water Management Plan 2023-24: A summary

For more information on environmental outcomes observed in 2022-23 visit: Largest bird-breeding in decades as water for the environment flows

To find out more about how the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder uses proceeds of trade for environmental activities visit: CEWO Environmental Activities Framework (CEAF)

National parks seeking volunteers for annual koala survey

September 14, 2023
If you’ve got the eye for spotting fluffy, iconic Australian species, then the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) needs you. NPWS is seeking volunteers for the 2023 Community Koala Surveys in Bongil Bongil National Park, which begins on Tuesday 26 September.

NPWS Ranger Martin Smith said Bongil Bongil National Park is an important conservation area for koalas and is home to one of NSW’s largest wild koala populations.

'The purpose of this popular, long-running citizen science survey is to collect annual data on the size and distribution of the Bongil Bongil koala population,' said Mr Smith.

'NPWS uses this data to determine if any changes are occurring within the population so that appropriate conservation actions can be planned and implemented.

'We time the annual survey to align with koala breeding season, which typically runs from late September to early October. During this time, the local koala population is on the move, vocal and easy to spot.

'2023 marks the 10th year of the citizen science survey, which has been running since 2013. Over the past decade, hundreds of community volunteers have helped NPWS to collect vital data about the park’s koala population,' said Mr Smith.

Volunteers are asked to sign up for five night-time surveys between Tuesday 26 September and Thursday 12 October. Surveys are held every four nights, with each survey beginning at 6.30pm and taking approximately two hours to complete.

Volunteers walk along gravel fire trails in Bongil Bongil National Park, using spotlighting and audio call-back technology to survey the koalas. All equipment and training is provided by NPWS.

'If you’re interested in koala conservation, or up for a leisurely night time stroll through the beautiful Bongil Bongil National Park, this is the program for you.

'We have a growing team of dedicated volunteers who look forward to the annual survey and come back each year to help us collect this important information about our furry friends,' said Mr Smith.

A short, mandatory information and training session for prospective volunteers will be held at the NPWS office near the Coffs Harbour Jetty at 6 pm on Monday 25 September.

If you’re interested in participating in the program or would like to know more, contact the NPWS Coffs Harbour office on (02) 6652 0900 or with the subject line '2023 Community Koala Surveys'.

Koala in south-west Sydney. Photo Credit: DPE/Justin Mallee

Call for volunteers to count NSW coastal emus this October

If you live in or around the Clarence Valley or Bungawalbin, or plan to visit the area in October, the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program invites you to be part of a vital mission to count and protect the region’s endangered coastal emu population.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment Threatened Species Officer Lia Hooper said the coastal emu is a genetically distinct population and these remarkable birds are found exclusively on the north coast of New South Wales.

'Formerly widespread across north-eastern New South Wales, coastal emus are now restricted to an area between Evans Head, Red Rock and Bungawalbin,' said Ms Hooper.

'These birds play a crucial ecological role by aiding in the dispersal of fruits and seeds over vast distances across the landscape. Coastal emus also hold significant cultural importance to local Aboriginal communities, further underscoring the need for their protection.

'With an estimated population of fewer than 50 individuals, every single bird counts.

The Coastal Emu Population Survey is happening from Friday 13 October to Sunday 15 October, and your participation will make a substantial difference to our conservation efforts, said Ms Hooper.

There are multiple ways to get involved:
  • Join a registered volunteer team: Partner with a threatened species officer from the Saving our Species program to explore designated coastal emu habitat areas.
  • Conduct surveys on your property: If you own property within the coastal emu habitat area, you can conduct surveys on foot or by vehicle. Report your sightings using the population survey app or provided paper survey sheets.
  • Set up motion cameras on your property: If you have a property within the habitat area, you can also assist by monitoring a site using motion camera devices provided to you.
'Participating in the survey will provide the Saving our Species team with valuable data that will aid in the protection of this unique and endangered population of birds,' said Ms Hooper.

To find out more about the 2023 Coastal Emu Population Survey and to register, visit Keeping up with coastal emu conservation. 

The NSW Government’s Saving our Species program leads the delivery of the coastal emu conservation project, in collaboration with project partners and stakeholders including Clarence Valley Council, Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental, Glen Ian Ostrich and Emu Farm, Yaegl Traditional Owners Corporation, Transport for NSW, private landholders, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and North Coast Local Land Services.

Coastal emu eggs and juveniles up to 18 months of age are at the greatest risk of mortality from feral pests. Photo Credit Blackrocket/DPE

Spring chicks signal start of shorebird season

September 15, 2023
Two newly hatched, fluffy pied oystercatcher chicks, no bigger than golf balls, were spotted at a beach in the Jervis Bay area last week, the first shorebird chicks to hatch this season on the south coast.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) shorebird ranger, Anna Muller, says the one-day-old chicks were spotted by a local volunteer group with the very first feathered family portraits captured by local photographer Chris Grounds.

'These tiny chicks are a real reminder to the community of the need to share the shore this summer,' Ms Muller said.

'While small in size, their hatching is big news for the endangered pied oystercatcher population, with only around 40 fledglings recorded on the New South Wales south coast last season.

'With more and more birds nesting from now until the end of summer, it’s vital that people give nesting shorebirds space.

'Not only are chicks well camouflaged in the sand, but parents can be very unsettled by disturbance from beachgoers and dogs and are known to abandon nests.

'While our group of dedicated NPWS shorebird volunteers will be out all spring and summer to record and monitor nests, there are also simple steps the community can do to keep these birds safe.

'Look out for bird nesting signs or fenced-off nesting areas on the beach, stay well clear of these areas and give the parent birds plenty of space.

'Walk dogs only on designated dog-friendly beaches and always keep them on a leash if shorebirds are present, especially during the Spring/Summer nesting season.

'Chicks are mobile and don’t necessarily stay within fenced nesting areas. Stick to the wet sand to avoid accidentally stepping on a chick.

'Sharing the shore is really a very simple thing we can all do that will have a direct impact on the survival of these threatened species that also call the south coast home,' Ms Muller said.

Each summer endangered pied oystercatchers, little terns and critically endangered hooded plovers lay eggs in shallow scraped-out nests on beaches and sandy shores in New South Wales.

For more information on beach-nesting birds in New South Wales, visit Four Ways to Share the Shore.

Endangered pied oystercatcher parents and chicks on the south coast, Sept. 23. Photo Credit: Chris Grounds

Australia delivers on key Paris Agreement commitment: cancels 'dodgy carryover credits'

September 15, 2023
The Albanese Government states it is delivering real climate action and ending accounting loopholes for good by permanently cancelling Commonwealth-held Kyoto ‘carryover’ credits.

'While the Albanese Government has always been committed to not using these carryover credits – their permanent cancellation means no future Government can use this loophole to meet their climate targets either.

Their use was rightly characterised at home and abroad as an accounting trick – and an excuse not to have any climate or energy policy.' the government has stated

'Without this strong action, more than 700 million credits – representing more than a year’s worth of national emissions, could have been used in dodgy accounting in years to come.

Australia now has an ambitious but achievable target of 43% emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050.

Because we know that good climate and energy policy is good for the economy.

So we’re getting there with measures that invest in our nation’s future competitiveness and growth.

Like our landmark Safeguard Mechanism Reforms which will deliver over 200 million tonnes of emissions reduction by 2030 – the equivalent of taking two-thirds of Australia’s cars off the road.

Like our $1.7 billion for our Energy Savings Package which will deliver energy upgrades for households, businesses and communities to save on energy, power bills and emissions.

Like our $20 billion Rewiring the Nation Plan and our Capacity Investment Scheme, which will help unlock cleaner, cheaper, firmed renewable energy to reach 82% renewables by 2030.

The Morrison Government couldn’t let go of these Kyoto carryover credits, because they knew they’d need to use them to meet their inadequate emissions reduction targets.'

Previous abatement represented by Kyoto units will not count towards Australia’s Paris Agreement targets. Instead, the Albanese Government is driving policies to deliver real, new emissions reduction to not just to meet climate targets but to prepare the Australian economy for a net zero global economy.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen said,

“The Albanese Government has delivered on its election commitment to legislate our ambitious but achievable climate targets – and we’re now back at the decision-making table for the global economy, attracting critical investments in cleaner, cheaper energy, and protecting industry for the future.”

“After a decade of chaos, denial and delay, the LNP still can’t decide if they believe in climate change or if they’re committed to net zero – so we’re closing the loophole for dodgy accounting tricks they’ve tried to use in the past.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Jenny McAllister stated

“The Albanese Government is doing what we said we would – acting on climate change after a decade on denial and delay and chart a clear path to net zero. The cancelling of these credits is a clear milestone that shows the government is meeting its commitments. 

“Our government has legislated an ambitious 2030 target, along with net zero by 2050, policies like the Safeguard Mechanism, Rewiring the Nation and the Capacity Investment Scheme will help deliver on these targets,” Assistant Minister McAllister said.

“We are cleaning up after a decade of neglect and denial, while rapidly decarbonising our economy to become a renewable energy superpower."

In June 2022, the government formally submitted Australia’s updated NDC to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including Australia’s new target to reduce emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia’s compliance with its Kyoto Protocol CP2 target will be officially confirmed through international review processes under the Kyoto Protocol scheduled for early 2024.

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage status confirmed: dodges 'in danger' status again

September 13, 2023
The Australian and Queensland governments have welcomed the decision from the World Heritage Committee not to list the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’, again.

This confirms the draft decision from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation handed down last month which cites “significant progress” being made on climate change, water quality, and sustainable fishing – all putting the Reef on a stronger and more sustainable path.

As sources close to UNESCO recently told the French newspaper Le Monde, on climate change and the environment “…the approach [from the Australian government] has changed completely. Between the new government and the old one, it’s a bit like night and day”.

The Australian Government states it has:
  1. Invested a record $1.2 billion in the Reef.
  2. Legislated to reach net zero, with a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and committed to reaching 82 per cent renewable energy supply by 2030.
  3. Invested $150 million to improve water quality through projects such as revegetation, grazing management and engineering work like gully stabilisation.
  4. With the Queensland Government, announced the phase-out of gillnets in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a $160 million package.
  5. Rejected a coal mine that could have direct impacts on the Reef.
  6. Withdrawn federal funding for dams that would have had a detrimental impact on Reef water quality.
  7. Invested an extra $163.4 million in the May budget to guarantee the future of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, doubling funding for Reef science.
  8. Committed to rewriting Australia’s broken environmental laws.
  9. Engaged more Indigenous Rangers to manage sea country, including combatting crown of thorns starfish outbreaks, marine plastics and ghost nets.
''This is welcome news, however, we know there is more work to do.'' the government stated

''We need to act on climate change. We need to protect our special places and the plants and animals that call them home. And that is precisely what we are doing.

We will continue to work with the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO to ensure the protection of the Reef and all World Heritage properties impacted by climate change, right around the globe.'

Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek MP said,

“Labor is committed to better protecting the Great Barrier Reef – and today the World Heritage Committee has recognised that commitment. 

“Labor is acting on climate change, improving local water quality, protecting our marine life, dealing with invasive species, and investing a record amount of money into reef programs.

"Today’s decision is welcome news, but it wasn’t inevitable. Before Labor was elected, the Reef was on the verge of being listed as in danger, because of Scott Morrison’s weak policies on climate and the environment. 

“That has changed under Labor. Our government will always protect Australia’s special places. And we will always support the millions of Australians who rely on a healthy environment for their work.

“Our Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of the world. I encourage people from around the globe to come and see it for themselves – you’ll be very welcome.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green stated,

“On the ground at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Riyadh, I’ve been delighted to receive so much support from the global community in relation to the Australian Government’s efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“There is of course more work to do but as Special Envoy I will continue to be focused on delivering our substantial commitments and enhancing Australia’s reputation through the World Heritage convention.

“This decision is welcome news to all Australians, but especially those regional Queenslanders whose livelihoods depend on the Great Barrier Reef. The decision recognises our world class management - by our partners, agencies and stakeholders right across Queensland.”

Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard said,

“UNESCO’s decision to not list the Great Barrier Reef as being in danger is an acknowledgement of the hard work the Palaszczuk Government has been doing since 2015 to protect it.

“This work has included investing more than $1 billion to protect the reef, including committing $270 million to the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program, which works with industry, agricultural producers and communities to tackle water pollution and drives water quality improvements by preventing pollutants such as sediment, nutrients, and pesticides from running into reef waters and affecting the health of coral and seagrass ecosystems.

“We have also introduced robust and responsible tree clearing laws. We know these laws are working because the latest data shows a 70 per cent reduction in regulated vegetation clearing over three years. A further 59,654 hectares of vegetation regrowth has also been detected. 

“In partnership with the Albanese Government, we are implementing important reforms to protect the reef and precious threatened species by significantly reducing net fishing and other high risk fishing activities impacting the Reef, including ensuring the Great Barrier Reef is gillnet free by mid-2027.

“And we have worked hard to drive down carbon emissions. Queensland has already reduced emissions by 29 per cent based on the latest 2021 data and we continue to work to meet our commitment to zero net emissions by 2050, in line with leading global economies.

“We are also implementing our $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan which includes an historic expansion of solar and wind power, supported by two world class pumped hydro facilities, which will deliver a 90 per cent reduction of electricity emissions on 2005 levels by 2035-36.

“However, the job is not over and the work to protect this iconic ecosystem continues. We will continue to proactively protect the Great Barrier Reef, working with the Albanese Government, the science community, industry, conservationists, the community and, of course, UNESCO to protect this natural wonder so it can be enjoyed by future generations.”

EPA launches the Bust the Dust Campaign on coal mines

September 14, 2023
Coal mines in the Hunter region are again on notice as NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) officers head out to monitor air quality as part of its ongoing Bust the Dust campaign conducted over drier weather months.

Director Operations David Gathercole said previous Bust the Dust campaigns in 2019 and 2020 had been very successful with most mines adjusting their operational activities on high-risk windy days, and further improvement was expected this year.   

“Dust from mining activity in the Hunter Valley is a key concern for the community and the EPA expects all coal mines to be vigilant and take extra precautions to ensure better air quality for the community,” Mr Gathercole said. 

“After two years of wet La Nina conditions, we’re expecting dry weather this spring and summer and this will increase the risk to air quality, so dust monitoring will be a priority for us.  

“EPA officers will be on the ground using the latest technology, including drones, to locate the source of any dust emissions and ensure mines have appropriate controls in place. 

“In addition, anyone with concerns about mining dust can make a report to our Environment Line on 131 555 and that will be directed to our Bust the Dust officers in field to help us target any areas of concern.”

The EPA regulates air quality at mine sites through the Environmental Protection Licences and coal mines are required to implement procedures to reduce dust from their operations. 

Community members can report concerns regarding dust risk directly to the mine or to EPA on 131 555.

EPA prosecutes Delta over Vales Point fish kill

September 8, 2023
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has commenced a prosecution against Sunset Power International Pty Ltd trading as Delta Electricity (Delta) in the Land and Environment Court in relation to a fish kill occurring near the Vales Point Power Station at Lake Macquarie in September 2022.

The EPA alleges that Delta failed to maintain their chlorine dosing plant in a proper and efficient condition, resulting in a faulty valve that caused a discharge of concentrated sodium hypochlorite into waters leading to Wyee Bay.

NSW EPA Chief Executive, Tony Chappel said the prosecution follows a comprehensive investigation using all available resources.

“Alongside the community, we expect Delta to meet high standards given the proximity of the Vales Point Power Station to Lake Macquarie,” Mr Chappel said.

“Our investigation found that Delta could have prevented the fish kill if they had adequate equipment and processes in place.

“We’re pleased that Delta have upgraded their systems and the water quality in the Lake has returned to normal levels.

“We will continue to ensure Delta acts in accordance with its environmental responsibilities to prevent future events and protect the environment in Lake Macquarie.

“We know this was a distressing event for the community and I want to thank them for their patience as we worked through the investigation.”

The EPA alleges the incident is a breach of Delta’s environment protection license and an offence against section 64 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) which carries penalties of up to $1 million.

Following the 2022 fish kill events, the EPA arranged for DPE Science, Economics and Insights to install a Smart Buoy data logger to monitor water quality in Lake Macquarie at Wyee Bay.

The EPA issued Delta with a licence variation last year to maintain significantly tightened emission standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) from Vales Point.

Delta is also required to undertake a range of activities to protect the local environment including to implement a seagrass monitoring program and a Coal Ash Repository water sampling plan.

NSW EPA takes action against Metro Collieries

September 8, 2023
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is prosecuting Metropolitan Collieries Pty Ltd after two significant pollution incidents at Camp Gully Creek, which flows into the Hacking River in the Royal National Park.

The EPA alleges that Metropolitan Collieries failed to maintain surface water facilities at the mine site near Helensburgh which meant they were unable to cope with additional rainfall resulting in two discharges of coal contaminated water in September and October 2022.

During the second incident in October, it is alleged that Metropolitan Collieries breached the requirements of an EPA Prevention Notice when it failed to implement preventative actions around water management practices and monitoring, and more stringent water quality standards.

NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer, Tony Chappel said these incidents are incredibly disappointing and failed to meet the high expectations we have of industry, especially those neighbouring our beautiful national parks.

“This pollution incident put both the environment and wildlife at risk not once but twice,” Mr Chappel said.

“The standards we set are critical to protecting the environment and we expect all industries to meet their obligations to ensure our ecosystems are protected for generations to come.

“No-one in NSW wants to see our pristine national parks at risk, especially the local communities that surround them.

“I want to thank the community for being vocal advocates for the park during these distressing events and acknowledge the tireless work of our officers with their investigations.”

Each of the five alleged offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 carries a maximum penalty for a corporation of $1,000,000. The matter is listed for directions in the NSW Land and Environment Court on 20 October 2023.

Earlier this year, the EPA imposed a suite of strict operating conditions on the mine after a review of its licence.

Koalas need their booster shots too. Here’s a way to beat chlamydia with just 1 capture and less trauma

Kenneth W Beagley, Queensland University of Technology and Tim Dargaville, Queensland University of Technology

Chlamydia is a major threat to koala populations across Australia. This bacterial disease infects between 20% and 90% of individuals in koala populations. It’s a major cause of the rapid decline of many wild populations, particularly in South-East Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Our group at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has developed two vaccines to target chlamydial infections. One of these vaccines, now being trialled in collaboration with Dr Michael Pyne and his staff at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, has recently had some outstanding results in a wild koala population on the Gold Coast. This population had been declining rapidly due to high rates of the disease.

Two years into the five-year trial, we have seen more than 25 joeys born to vaccinated females. The program involved vaccinating, collaring and releasing 10-20% of young animals each year. All joeys and mums were chlamydia-free. In addition, 11 out of 13 young males vaccinated remain negative at 12–24 months after vaccination.

Like most vaccines, however, this vaccine requires two shots, 30 days apart. This means wild animals must be held in captivity for a month, which many don’t like, or released and recaptured for the booster dose. This is both expensive and traumatic for the animals.

It was during a chat over coffee a few years ago that we first pondered the question, “Could we develop a delayed-release vaccine implant that is given at the same time as the first vaccine and releases the booster vaccine dose 30 days later?”

Why vaccination is the best approach

Chlamydia is spread by direct physical contact between koalas. Symptoms include blindness, urinary tract infections (wet bottom), infertility in females and sperm damage in males.

While antibiotics can be used to treat the eye disease, they cannot be used to treat infertility. This is because antibiotics can destroy the gut bacteria essential for koalas to digest their food, eucalypt leaves.

The vaccine is the best option and is also very safe. We detected no adverse side-effects across multiple studies. The only complication is the need for a booster shot.

So are implants a solution? Our recent research suggests the answer is yes, at least in a sheep model. We have now received a grant from the federal Saving Koalas Fund to develop this implant technology for a koala vaccine against the Chlamydia bacterium.

In our sheep trial of a first-generation implant, animals that received the primary vaccination by injection plus a booster implant developed immune T cell numbers equivalent to animals receiving two vaccinations by injection, together with slightly reduced antibody levels.

The implant (shown next to a 10-cent coin for a size comparison) is inserted into a koala when it receives its first vaccination, meaning the animal has to be captured only once. Kenneth Beagley

How does the implant work?

The implant is a polymer tube developed by the QUT team. It borrows from technology already used by the group for making polymer scaffolds to support tissue growth. The team screened a range of biodegradable polymers for ones that would degrade over just a few weeks. They also had to be flexible enough to not break prematurely when implanted beneath the skin.

Manufacturing the polymer pellets into tubes allows the booster vaccine to be filled into the tube. It’s similar in size to the human Implanon contraceptive implant.

When the koala is injected with the first dose, the implant is also inserted under the skin. This starts a process of slow degradation of the implant until the walls of the tube fail and the vaccine is released as a burst. What is left of the implant dissolves as chemicals naturally found in the body.

What’s the next step?

To scale up the implants we are working with a company in the United States to develop methods to manufacture thousands of implants at once. Our federal funding will allow us to fine-tune a second-generation implant to deliver the chlamydia vaccine to koalas. We will test it for safety in sheep and then evaluate the implant in captive-bred koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Our ultimate aim is to be able to capture a wild koala once only and test it for chlamydia. This would be done using a rapid test we have developed. The test can be done in the back of a 4WD vehicle and takes 20–30 minutes.

If the koala is chlamydia-free, we would then vaccinate with the implant and release the animal back into the wild.The Conversation

Kenneth W Beagley, Professor of Immunology, Queensland University of Technology and Tim Dargaville, Professor of Polymer Chemistry, Queensland University of Technology

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

Tim Flannery’s message to all: rise up and become a climate leader – be the change we need so desperately

Totem Films
Tim Flannery, The University of Melbourne

As humanity hurtles towards a climate catastrophe, the debate has shifted – from the science to solutions. We know we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. But progress has been painfully slow.

It’s clear the world is lacking climate leadership. So what makes a great climate leader and why are we not seeing more of them?

For two years now I’ve been on a journey, a quest if you like, to find good climate leaders. This is the subject of my new documentary, Climate Changers with director Johan Gabrielsson.

Missed opportunities and wasted time

Saul Griffith is an engineer who wants to “electrify everything”. The co-founder of non-profit group Rewiring Australia decried the “dearth of political leadership” when he told us:

We haven’t had any head of state, of any major nation, positively and proactively engage on climate as an emergency, as an opportunity […] we haven’t had a Churchill or Roosevelt or John F Kennedy ‘let’s go to the moon’ that says: ‘here’s a threat, here’s an opportunity, here’s a vision for how we collectively get there’.

If we’d been on the right emissions reduction trajectory a decade ago, we’d have more time to deal with the problem. But we’ve wasted ten years.

Over that period, probably 20% of all of the carbon pollution we’ve ever put into the atmosphere has been emitted.

A lot of money was made creating those emissions, and that has only benefited a few. But of course the consequences of the emissions will stay with humanity for many, many, many generations.

Introducing Climate Changers.

A different style of leadership

Unfortunately, modern Western politics doesn’t select for great leaders. But there are a few scattered about.

One such example is Matt Kean in New South Wales. In 2020, as state energy minister and treasurer during the Liberal Berejiklian government, he managed to get the Nationals, the Liberals, Labor and the Greens all supporting the same bill, on addressing climate change through clean energy. In my opinion, that is true leadership.

As Kean told us:

What you’ve got to do if you’re going to try and solve the challenge is find those areas of common ground. […] it was about finding the big things that everyone could agree on and designing policy that brought everyone together. And I think that was the key to our success.

Climate leadership requires humility. It requires listening to your political antagonists as well as your allies.

That sort of leadership is rare in our political system. And yet you see it in Indigenous communities and in the Pacific nations where I’ve done a lot of work over the years, that sort of leadership is much more common. Because people understand they need to be consultative. And transparent.

West Papuan activist and human rights lawyer, Frederika Korain, and Solomon Island Kwaio community leader and conservationist, Chief Esau Kekeubata, are shining examples. They show individual bravery and diligence, but they’re also humble and listening.

On the subject of leadership, they share similar sentiments with Australia’s Dharawal and Yuin custodian and community leader Paul Knight.

It’s about bringing other people along with you. It’s not some strong-arm thing, like you often see at our federal level, in our politics. It’s about listening, developing a consensus. It takes time, a lot of effort, and you’ll probably never get full consensus, but we’ll get most of the way there, convincing people.

I’ve seen Chief Esau work. He says very little in the most important meetings, but when someone says something he thinks is on the right track, he’ll say, “Oh, that’s really interesting. Can you can you tell us a bit more”. He directs the conversation.

So in a species like ours, that’s what true leadership consists of. Intelligence, persistence, bravery bordering on heroism sometimes, because climate change is the enemy of everyone.

What’s holding us back?

There’s a very strong relationship in Australia between political power and fossil fuels. The links are interwoven, with people moving from the fossil fuel industry to politics and back.

And we still allow people to become extremely rich at the expense of all of us. I think that’s what’s holding us back.

I expect those who are very wealthy, who have made their money in fossil fuels, imagine they’ll be able to retire to some gated community and live their life in luxury.

But we all depend on a strong global economy and trade, which is under threat as the climate breaks down.

The idea that you can somehow isolate yourself from the environment and the rest of society is one of the great failings of human imagination that has brought us so close to catastrophe.

Rise up

I do see individual people rising to the occasion. And the story is usually somewhat similar: people realise they could lose something very precious. We heard it time and time again in the making of this documentary.

For community campaigner Jo Dodds the trigger was the Black Summer bushfires, the near-loss of her house and the loss of her neighbours’ houses. For former US Vice President Al Gore it was having his son in critical care for 30 days, having to put aside his politics and think about what his life was really about. Those sort of moments do bring out great climate leaders. Even Kean talked about bringing his newborn son home from hospital, shrouded in bushfire smoke.

The level of public awareness is far greater now than when I came to this issue in the early 2000s.

The most important thing I can do now is inspire and enable others to be climate leaders. Because we need a diversity of voices out there. We need women. We need younger people. We need people from the Pacific Islands, and First Nations people.

This documentary is about trying to inspire and encourage emerging leaders to give us the diversity of voices we need to make a difference. It’s never too late – we can always prevent something worse from happening.

Climate Changers launches nationally with a livestreamed Q&A on September 17 and will screen in cinemas and at community events.

The Conversation

Tim Flannery, Honorary fellow, The University of Melbourne

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

Climate Changers - Special Q&A screening with Tim Flannery, Kylea Tink and Zali Steggall live on stage: Thursday September 21

Thursday Sept 21. 
Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
380 Military Rd, Neutral Bay
Join Australian scientist and conservationist Tim Flannery in his global search for genuine leadership on climate change, as he reflects on his own environmentalist journey.

Medical sector calls for urgent action on climate change and investment in healthcare sustainability

September 13, 2023
The Australian Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) are calling on federal, state and territory governments and the wider healthcare sector to take urgent action against climate change.

The two medical groups have signed a joint statement, which was also supported by five medical colleges, calling for a net zero target for the healthcare system by 2040, with an interim reduction target of 80 per cent by 2030, and extra government resources to help tackle climate change.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said adverse health impacts resulting from climate change were increasing in severity and frequency.

“Health issues associated with climate change are only becoming more severe due to the rapid rate of global heating caused by greenhouse gases,” Professor Robson said.

“The medical sector is increasingly leading in climate change action, which is why the AMA, DEA and medical colleges have signed this joint statement, highlighting the importance of decisive and urgent action to protect the health of Australia and the world.”

DEA chair Dr John Van Der Kallen echoed Professor Robson’s position, adding that doctors and all health professionals have a duty of care to act on the climate health emergency.

“As clinicians we have a responsibility to advocate to governments and the health sector to prioritise climate mitigation and adaptation policies to protect the health of present and future generations,” Dr Van Der Kallen said.

“A sustainable healthcare system will allow the health sector to mitigate its own carbon footprint, prepare for climate health impacts and demonstrate to the broader community that we take this problem seriously and are prepared to lead on this vital issue.”

The statement was signed during the AMA and DEA’s annual webinar Australia’s doctors – driving action on climate change held on Tuesday evening.

It was also signed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

During the webinar, the AMA, DEA and the medical colleges acknowledged the urgent need for Australia’s healthcare sector to rapidly reduce its carbon footprint and transition away from greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, presented at the webinar and highlighted the essential role of government, including establishing the National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit, and the recent consultation to develop the National Health and Climate Strategy.

The AMA, DEA and medical colleges commended the federal government for this work, but called for the unit to be properly resourced to effectively deliver the National Health and Climate Strategy.

We just blew past 1.5 degrees. Game over on climate? Not yet

Ailie Gallant, Monash University and Kimberley Reid, Monash University

July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded. And now we know something even more alarming. This week, the European Space Agency announced the July heat pushed the global average temperatures 1.5℃ above the pre-industrial average.

The ominous headlines seemed to suggest we’d blown past the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of holding warming to 1.5℃ – and around a decade earlier than expected.

Is that it? Game over, we lost?

Well, like all things to do with climate change, it’s not quite that simple. The threshold was breached for a month before average temperatures dropped back. And July 2023 isn’t actually the first time this has happened either – the dubious honour goes to February 2016, where we broke the threshold for a few days.

Remind me – why is 1.5℃ so important?

In 2015, the world looked like it was finally getting somewhere with action to combat climate change. After decades of arduous debate, 195 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a formal but non-binding agreement with a clear goal: limit global warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

But there’s nothing magic about this number. Every increase worsens the impacts. So why is 1.5℃ so important?

Essentially, it was thrashed out by experts as a threshold representing heightened danger. The Paris Agreement states avoiding dangerous climate change means keeping global temperatures “well below 2℃” of warming, and so the 1.5℃ threshold was born.

What’s a dangerous level of climate change? Basically, levels of warming where the damage becomes so widespread or severe as to threaten economies, ecosystems, agriculture, and risk irreversible tipping points such as the collapse of ice sheets or ocean circulations. More importantly, this level of warming risks pushing us beyond the limits of being able to adapt.

Put simply, the 1.5℃ threshold is the best estimate of the point where we are likely to find ourselves well up the proverbial creek, without a paddle.

Is it too late to act on climate change?

So, should we all just give up?

Not yet.

The global authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, defines 1.5℃ as a departure from global average temperatures above the 1850 to 1900 (pre-industrial) average.

It’s true that this threshold was exceeded for the month of July 2023. But the climate is more than a single month.

Global average temperatures go up and down every year on top of the global warming trend, because climates naturally vary year-to-year.

The most recent few years have been much warmer than average, but cooler than they could have been because of consecutive La Niña events.

This year, there’s been a significant acceleration in warming, largely due to the brewing El Niño event in the Pacific. El Niño years tend to be hotter.

To iron out year-to-year differences, we typically average data over several decades. As a result, a 2021 IPCC report defines the 1.5℃ threshold as the first 20-year period when we reach 1.5℃ of global warming (based on surface air temperatures).

Recent research shows the best estimate to pass this threshold is in the early 2030s. That means, by IPCC definitions, the average global temperature between the early 2020s and early 2040s is estimated to be 1.5C.

Dangerously close to the red line

All of this means we haven’t yet failed to meet our Paris targets. But the July record shows us we are dangerously close to the line.

As the world keeps heating up, we’ll see more and more months like this July, and move closer and closer to the threshold of 1.5℃, beyond which global warming will become more and more dangerous.

Is it still possible to stay below 1.5℃? Maybe. We would need extremely aggressive cuts to emissions to have a chance. Failing that, we will likely exceed the Paris target within the next decade or so.

Let’s say that happens. Would that mean we just give up on climate action?

Hardly. 1.5℃ is bad. 1.6℃ would be worse. 2℃ would be worse still. 3℃ would be unthinkable. Every extra increment matters.

The closer we stay to the line – even if we cross it – the better.

And there’s now good evidence that even if we overshoot 1.5℃, we could still reverse it by ending emissions and soaking up excess greenhouse gas emissions. It’s like turning around an enormous container ship – it takes time to overcome the inertia. But the sooner we turn around, the better.The Conversation

Ailie Gallant, Senior Lecturer, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University and Kimberley Reid, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Atmospheric Sciences, Monash University

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

Our planet is burning in unexpected ways - here’s how we can protect people and nature

Luke Kelly, The University of Melbourne; David Bowman, University of Tasmania; Ella Plumanns Pouton, The University of Melbourne; Grant Williamson, University of Tasmania, and Michael-Shawn Fletcher, The University of Melbourne

People have been using fire for millennia. It is a vital part of many ecosystems and cultures. Yet human activities in the current era, sometimes called the “Anthropocene”, are reshaping patterns of fire across the planet.

In our new research, published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, we used satellite data to create global maps of where and how fires are burning. We calculated about 3.98 million square kilometres of Earth’s land surface burns each year. We also examined research spanning archaeology, climatology, ecology, Indigenous knowledge and paleoecology, to better understand the causes and consequences of fires.

Our international team found strong evidence fires are burning in unexpected places, at unusual times and in rarely observed ways. These changes in fire patterns are threatening human lives and modifying ecosystems.

But the future does not have to be bleak. There are many opportunities to apply knowledge and practice of fire to benefit people and nature.

Here’s how fire patterns are changing

Exploring multiple approaches and scales enables a deeper understanding of where, when and how fires burn.

Satellite data provide evidence of changes in fire patterns at a global scale. Annual fire season length increased by 14 days from 1979 to 2020 and night fires, which indicate fires that cannot be quickly controlled, increased in intensity by 7.2% from 2003 to 2020.

An image showing a portion of the globe, as seen from space, showing bushfire smoke mixing into the atmosphere.
The coupling of landscape fires with the atmosphere can create storms that inject smoke into the stratosphere. Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. Used with permission from David A. Peterson.

Other changes are apparent only when we look at data from particular regions. An increase in fire size and the frequency of large fires has recently been observed in forests and woodlands of the western United States. Meanwhile fire-dependent grasslands and savannahs across Africa and Brazil have experienced reductions in fire frequency.

It’s also important to consider the timescale and type of fire when interpreting changes. In Australia, satellite records show the frequency of very large forest fires has increased over the past four decades. At longer time scales, charcoal and pollen records indicate the frequency of low-intensity fires decreased in parts of southeastern Australia following British colonisation in 1788.

Changes in fire affect air, land and water

Many animals and plants have evolved strategies that enable them to thrive under particular fire patterns. This means changes to fire characteristics can harm populations and ecosystems.

A closeup photo of epicormic growth in an Australian eucalypt. Small colourful leaves are sprouting from the trunk.
Some eucalypts in southern Australia resprout after fire via epicormic buds along the trunk and branches. Resprouting influences how rapidly the tree layer, important habitat for animals, regenerates. Thomas A. Fairman

Large and intense fires are reducing the available forest habitat preferred by the greater glider. But a lack of fire can be problematic too. Threatened species of native rodents can benefit from food resources and habitats that flourish shortly after fire.

There is evidence that emissions from recent fires are already modifying the atmosphere. The historically exceptional 2019–20 Australian wildfires produced record-breaking levels of aerosols over the Southern Hemisphere, as well as substantial carbon emissions.

The wildfire smoke-related health costs of the 2019–20 wildfires in Australia included an estimated 429 smoke-related premature deaths as well as 3,230 hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.

Changes in fire patterns are modifying water cycles, too. In the western United States, fires are reaching higher elevations and having strong impacts on snow and water availability.

New studies are revealing how the air, land and water that support life on Earth are connected by fires. Smoke plumes from the 2019–20 Australian wildfires transported nutrients to the Southern Ocean, resulting in widespread phytoplankton blooms.

Humans are responsible for the changes

Human drivers such as climate change, land use, fire use and suppression, and transportation and extinction of species are causing shifts in fire patterns.

Increasing global temperatures and more frequent heatwaves and droughts increase the likelihood of fire by promoting hot, dry and windy conditions. A pattern of extreme fire weather outside of natural climate variation is already emerging in North America, southern Europe and the Amazon basin.

Humans modify fire regimes by changing land use for agricultural, forestry and urban purposes. Until recent decades, large fires in tropical forests were uncommon. But deforestation fires used to clear primary forest for agriculture often promotes more frequent and intense uncontrolled fires.

Humans have transported plants and animals across the globe, resulting in novel mixes of species that modify fuels and fire regimes. In many parts of the world, invasive grasses have increased flammability and fire activity.

Social and economic changes propel these drivers. Colonisation by Europeans and the displacement of Indigenous peoples and their skilful use of fire has been linked with fire changes in Australia, North America and South America.

A photograph of an experimental fire in temperate savannah in Minnesota, US, at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. A low flame is visible on the right hand side of the smoky image.
Experimental fires help us learn about ecosystems and sustainability. This is an experimental fire in temperate savannah in Minnesota, US, at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Frank Meuschke

Using knowledge and practice of fire to achieve sustainability goals

The pace and scale of these changes represent challenges to humanity, but knowledge and practice of fire can help to achieve sustainability goals.

This includes:

  • good health and wellbeing, by supporting community-owned solutions and fire practices that increase social cohesion and health
  • sustainable cities and communities, by designing green firebreaks and mixed-use areas with low fuels, strategically located in the landscape
  • life on land, by tailoring use of fire to promote and restore species and ecosystems
  • climate action, by applying low-intensity fire to promote the stability of soil organic matter and increase carbon storage
  • reduced inequalities, by allocating resources before, during, and after wildfires to at-risk communities and residents.

As the world changes, society as a whole needs to keep learning about the interplay between people and fire.

A deep understanding of fire is essential for achieving a sustainable future – in other words, a better Anthropocene.The Conversation

Luke Kelly, Associate Professor in Quantitative Ecology, The University of Melbourne; David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania; Ella Plumanns Pouton, PhD candidate, The University of Melbourne; Grant Williamson, Research Fellow in Environmental Science, University of Tasmania, and Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Professor in Biogeography, The University of Melbourne

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

We are poised to pass 1.5℃ of global warming – world leaders offer 4 ways to manage this dangerous time

Marcus E Jones, Shutterstock
Jonathan Symons, Macquarie University

For three decades, the goal of international climate negotiations has been to avoid “dangerous” warming above 1.5℃. With warming to date standing at around 1.2℃, we haven’t quite reached the zone we labelled dangerous and pledged to avoid.

But recent scientific assessments suggest we’re on the brink of passing that milestone. Within this decade, global annual temperatures will likely exceed 1.5°C above the pre-industrial average for at least one year. This threshold was already briefly passed for the month of July 2023 during the Northern summer.

The question is, how do we manage this period of “overshoot” and bring temperatures back down? The goal will be to restore a more habitable climate, as fast as possible.

Today an independent group of global leaders released a major report. The Climate Overshoot Commission offers guidance at this crucial time. So far the report’s call for an immediate moratorium on “solar radiation management” (deflecting the sun’s rays to reduce warming) has attracted the most attention. But the details of other recommendations deserve closer inspection.

Introducing the Climate Overshoot Commission (2022)

How can we respond to climate overshoot?

Historically, climate policies have focused on mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions). More recently, adaptation has gained prominence.

But the climate overshoot report identifies at least four different kinds of responses to warming above 1.5℃:

  1. cut emissions to mitigate warming

  2. adapt to the changing climate

  3. remove carbon that is already in the atmosphere or ocean

  4. explore intervening to limit warming by intentionally reflecting a fraction of sunlight into space.

The commission’s task was to examine how all possible responses might best be combined. Their report was written by 12 global leaders – including former presidents of Niger, Kiribati and Mexico – who worked alongside a youth panel and a team of scientific advisers.

The four-step plan to reining in warming

Not surprisingly, the commission argues our central task is mitigation. Transitioning away from fossil fuels remains the first priority.

But reaching net zero emissions is just the first step. The commission argues developed countries like Australia should go further and aim for net-negative emissions.

Why net-negative? In the short term, drawing down carbon can create space for the least industrialised countries to fight poverty while transitioning to clean energy. In the longer term, the whole global economy must achieve net-negative emissions if the planet is to return to our current “safe” climatic zone.

The second step is adaptation. Only a few decades ago former United States Vice President Al Gore branded adapting to climate change a “lazy cop-out”. Today we have no choice but to adapt to changing conditions.

However, adaptation is expensive – whether it is developing new crop varieties or rebuilding coastal infrastructure. Since the poorest communities who are most vulnerable to climate harms have the least capacity to adapt, the commission recommends international assistance for locally controlled, context-specific strategies.

As a third step, the commission agrees with scientific assessments that carbon dioxide “will need to be removed from the air on a significant scale and stored securely” if we are to avoid permanent overshoot beyond 1.5℃ warming. But how to achieve large-scale permanent, carbon removal?

Some environmental activists support natural solutions such as planting trees but oppose industrial methods that seek to store carbon in inorganic form such as carbon capture and storage underground. The commission agrees the organic/inorganic distinction is important. However, it points out while forests bring many benefits, carbon stored in ecosystems is often re-released – for example, in forest fires.

The commission worries many carbon removal approaches are phoney, impermanent or have adverse social and environmental impacts. However, instead of ruling out technologies on ideological grounds, it recommends research and regulation to ensure only socially beneficial and high-integrity forms of carbon removal are scaled up.

The fourth step – “solar radiation management” – refers to techniques that aim to reduce climate harms caused by reflecting some of the Sun’s energy into space. No-one likes the idea of solar radiation management. But no-one likes getting vaccinated either – our gut reactions don’t provide a fool-proof guide to whether an intervention is a worth considering.

Should we trust our guts on this one? While climate models suggest solar radiation management could reduce climate harms, we don’t yet properly understand associated risks.

The commission approaches this topic with caution. On the one hand, it recommends an immediate “moratorium on the deployment of solar radiation modification and large-scale outdoor experiments” and rejects the idea that deployment is now inevitable. On the other hand, it recommends increased support for research, international dialogue on governance, and periodic global scientific reviews.

Time to examine intervention in the climate system?

The idea we can avoid dangerous warming completely seems increasingly quaint. Like baggy jeans, the boy band NSYNC and the iPod shuffle, it reminds us of a more innocent era. Yet, Australia’s climate debate often seems stuck in this era.

The widespread hope we “still have time” means we are not yet discussing the merits of more interventionist responses to the climate crisis. However, there’s increasing reason to be sceptical incremental measures will be sufficient. We may soon be forced to move beyond the non-interventionist, conservation paradigm.

Whether or not its recommendations are taken up, the Climate Overshoot Commission’s work shows how the international community has failed to avert dangerous climate change. Reckoning with the consequences of this failure will dominate public policy for decades to come. This new report takes us a step forward.The Conversation

Jonathan Symons, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie School of Social Sciences, Macquarie University

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

Devastatingly low Antarctic sea ice may be the ‘new abnormal’, study warns

Edward Doddridge, University of Tasmania and Ariaan Purich, Monash University

For most of us, Antarctic sea ice is an abstraction – something far away we may have seen on a documentary. But the radiant white sheets of ice floating on the seas around the snowy continent are a crucial component of Earth’s climate processes.

Sea ice insulates the ocean, reflects heat, drives currents, supports ecosystems and protects ice shelves. It also has an annual seasonal cycle – some of the ice melts, then freezes again.

Every year, the cycle of freeze and melt around Antarctica has been extremely reliable. Until recently.

In a new study published today in Communications Earth & Environment, we have found a preliminary indication that Antarctic sea ice may have entered a new state of diminished coverage.

The seasonal expansion and contraction of Antarctic sea ice (Animation by NASA/GSFC Science Visualisation Studio)

A sudden, dramatic loss

For many years, while the Arctic lost sea ice, the Antarctic did not. Then, in the spring of 2016, Antarctic sea-ice coverage dropped dramatically. Over two years, the Antarctic lost as much sea ice as the Arctic had lost in three decades. Since then, Antarctic sea ice has been below average almost constantly.

This past Southern Hemisphere summer, Antarctic sea ice was the lowest it has ever been, with dire consequences. In late 2022 we saw the heartbreaking loss of 10,000 emperor penguin chicks, when the sea ice they lived on melted before they had grown their waterproof feathers.

On February 19 2023, Antarctic sea ice set a new record minimum of 1.77 million square kilometres, 36% below the 1979–2022 average for the summer minimum.

Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. The winter around Antarctica is cold and dark. Ever since we’ve had satellites to measure it, the surface of the ocean has reliably frozen into sea ice at about the same pace every winter, even following low sea ice summers. Except for this year.

This winter we have seen the largest negative anomaly – deviation from the norm – since reliable satellite measurements began in the late 1970s. What’s more, this record negative anomaly happened at a time of year when there has historically been very little variation from one year to the next.

Something has fundamentally changed Antarctic sea ice this year.

Two main drivers of sea ice

In our study, we used a statistical algorithm to identify three different periods in the sea-ice record. The first was a neutral sea-ice period from November 1978 to August 2007, the second a high sea-ice period from September 2007 to August 2016, and the third a low sea-ice period from September 2016 until now.

Our analysis of the relationship between sea ice and the underlying ocean suggests this current low sea-ice period may represent a new state or “regime” for Antarctic sea ice. What does that mean?

Sea ice forms a thin layer between the ocean and the atmosphere. Therefore, it is affected by both.

On timescales of days and weeks, the atmosphere is what controls sea ice – it forms when the air above is cold, and is blown around by the wind.

However, the ocean is crucial in determining how the sea ice responds to the atmosphere. The waters beneath are what influences sea ice variation and change in the long term.

Lately, sea ice seems to be responding to atmospheric drivers differently than it did in the past, suggesting an influence from the slowly varying ocean may be important.

Research published in 2019 suggested ocean warming may have played a role in the low sea ice extent observed in the 2016/17 summer.

Building on this hypothesis, our study examined the long-term variations in sea ice and ocean temperature, finding that ocean warming has pushed Antarctic sea ice into a new low-extent state.

A clear warming trend

Using data from ocean temperature measurements 100-200m below the surface, we found a clear warming trend over the period for which we have reliable observations.

Importantly, strong subsurface ocean warming began in 2015, in the same regions that lost substantial sea ice in 2016. This is a key indication the ocean was important in driving the low sea ice in 2016. Since then, the warm subsurface ocean seems to be maintaining the low sea-ice coverage.

Prior to 2016 there was no relationship between the amount of sea ice at the summertime minimum and the amount at the following wintertime maximum. Since 2016 there is a strong relationship. This change suggests something has fundamentally altered the relationship between the ocean and the sea ice.

Together, this evidence suggests the overall way of how Antarctic ice behaves in the atmosphere-ocean-sea ice system has changed.

Our results suggest that even though the record-breaking low sea ice we’ve seen this year is shocking, it is likely to be the new abnormal.

We may now be seeing the inevitable decline in Antarctic sea ice, long projected by climate models. The Antarctic region is changing rapidly. To understand these rapid shifts, we urgently need to support fieldwork in sea ice, and develop computer models that will help us to understand the changes we are already seeing, and to predict what the future will look like.

Reduced sea ice will have serious implications for Southern Ocean ecosystems and global consequences for the climate system. Dramatic changes in a seasonal cycle as reliable and critical as Antarctic sea ice underscores the urgency to reduce fossil fuel emissions.The Conversation

Edward Doddridge, Research Associate in Physical Oceanography, University of Tasmania and Ariaan Purich, Lecturer in Climate Variability and Change, Monash University

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

Faster disaster: climate change fuels ‘flash droughts’, intense downpours and storms

Andrew King, The University of Melbourne and Andrew Dowdy, The University of Melbourne

The run of extreme weather events around the world seems to be never-ending. After the northern summer of extreme heat and disastrous fires, we’ve seen more exceptional autumn weather over Europe with record-breaking heat in the UK.

Meanwhile, record-breaking rain and intense flash floods struck Greece before the same storm devastated Libya, with thousands dead.

Almost 20% of Africa is estimated to be in drought, and drought conditions are returning to parts of Australia. To top it off, we’ve seen several hurricanes intensify unusually quickly in the Atlantic.

We know climate change underpins some of the more extreme weather we’re seeing. But is it also pushing these extreme events to happen faster?

The answer? Generally, yes. Here’s how.

Flash droughts

We usually think of droughts as slowly evolving extreme events which take months to form.

But that’s no longer a given. We’ve seen some recent droughts develop unexpectedly quickly, giving rise to the phrase “flash drought”.

How does this happen? It’s when a lack of rainfall in a region combines with high temperatures and sunny conditions with low humidity. When these conditions are in place, it increases how much moisture the atmosphere is trying to pull from the land through evaporation. The end result: faster drying-out of the ground.

Flash droughts tend to be short, so they don’t tend to cause the major water shortages or dry river beds we’ve seen during long droughts in parts of Australia and South Africa, for example. But they can cause real problems for farmers. Farmers in parts of eastern Australia are already grappling with the sudden return of drought after three years of rainy La Niña conditions.

As we continue to warm the planet, we’ll see more flash droughts and more intense ones. That’s because dry conditions will more often coincide with higher temperatures as relative humidity falls across many land regions.

Flash floods and extreme rainfall

Climate change can cause increased rainfall variability. Some parts of the world will get a lot wetter, on average, while others will get drier, increasing the variation in rainfall between different regions. For Australia, most locations are generally expected to have intensified downpours of rain, as well as intensified droughts. So we might be saying more often “it doesn’t rain, it pours!”.

We’re seeing exceptionally extreme rainfall in many recent events. The recent floods that submerged villages in Greece came from a sudden downpour of over 500 millimetres in a single day. Hong Kong was hit last week by the heaviest rains in 140 years, flooding subway stations and turning streets into rivers.

But why does it happen so quickly?

Sudden extreme rains fall when we have very moist air coupled with a weather system that forces air to rise.

We’ve long known human-caused climate change is increasing how much moisture the air can hold generally, rising by about 7% per degree of global warming. That means storms now have the potential to hold and dump more water.

Notably, the impact of climate change on rain-bearing weather systems can vary by region, which makes the picture more complicated. That means, for instance, climate change may lead to more extreme rain in some places, while other places may only see an intensification in really short extreme rain events and not for longer timescales.

We can safely say, though, that in most parts of the world, we’re seeing more intense storms and sudden extreme rainfall. Sudden dumps of rain drive flash floods.

More moisture in the air helps fuel more intense convection, where warm air masses rise and form clouds. In turn, this can trigger efficient, quick and intense dumps of rain from thunderstorms.

These short-duration rain events can be much larger than you’d expect from the 7% increase in moisture per degree of warming.

Flash cyclones? Hurricanes are intensifying faster

Last month, Hurricane Idalia caused major flooding in Florida. As we write, Hurricane Lee is approaching the US.

Both tropical storms had something odd about them – unusually rapid intensification. That is, they got much stronger in a short period of time.

Usually, this process might increase wind speeds by about 50 kilometres per hour over a 24-hour period for a hurricane – also known as tropical cyclones and typhoons. But Lee’s wind speeds increased by 129km/h over that period. US meteorological expert Marshall Shepherd has dubbed the phenomenon “hyperintensification”, which could put major population centres at risk.

Rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones are strong and can be very hazardous, but they aren’t very common. To trigger them, you need a combination of very high sea surface temperatures, moist air and wind speeds that don’t change much with height.

While still uncommon, rapid intensification is potentially getting more frequent as we heat the planet. This is because oceans have taken up so much of the heat and there’s more moisture in the air. There’s much more still to learn here.

Australia’s El Niño summer in a warming world

Spring and summer in Australia are likely to be warmer and drier than usual. This is due to the El Niño climate cycle predicted for the Pacific Ocean. If, as predicted, we also get a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event, this can heighten the hotter, drier weather brought by El Niño. After three wet La Niña years, this is likely to be a marked shift.

If it arrives as expected, El Niño would lower the risk of tropical cyclones for northern Australia and reduce chances of heavy rain across most of the continent.

But for farmers, it may help trigger flash droughts. Prevailing warm and dry conditions may rapidly dry the land and reduce crop yields and slow livestock growth.

Drier surfaces coupled with grass growth from the wet years could worsen fire risk. Grass can dry out much faster than shrubs or trees, and grass fires can start and spread very rapidly.

Climate change loads the dice for extreme weather. And as we’re now seeing, these extremes aren’t just more intense – they can happen remarkably fast. The Conversation

Andrew King, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, The University of Melbourne and Andrew Dowdy, Principal Research Scientist, The University of Melbourne

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

How rising water vapour in the atmosphere is amplifying warming and making extreme weather worse

Kevin Trenberth, University of Auckland

This year’s string of record-breaking disasters – from deadly wildfires and catastrophic floods to record-high ocean temperatures and record-low sea ice in Antarctica – seems like an acceleration of human-induced climate change.

And it is. But not only because greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. What we are also observing is the long-predicted water vapour feedback within the climate system.

Since the late 1800s, global average surface temperatures have increased by about 1.1℃, driven by human activities, most notably the burning of fossil fuels which adds greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) to the atmosphere.

As the atmosphere warms, it can hold more moisture in the form of water vapour, which is also a greenhouse gas. This in turn amplifies the warming caused by our emissions of other greenhouse gases.

Some people mistakenly believe water vapour is a driver of Earth’s current warming. But as I explain below, water vapour is part of Earth’s hydrological cycle and plays an important role in the natural greenhouse effect. Its rise is a consequence of the atmospheric warming caused by our emissions arising especially from burning fossil fuels.

Water vapour: the other greenhouse gas

For every degree Celsius in warming, the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7%. Record-high sea temperatures ensure there is more moisture (in the form of water vapour) in the atmosphere, by an estimated 5-15% compared to before the 1970s, when global temperature rise began in earnest.

Water vapour is a powerful greenhouse gas. Since the 1970s, its rise likely increased global heating by an amount comparable to that from rising carbon dioxide. We are now seeing the consequences.

In many ways, water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas as it makes Earth habitable. But human-induced climate change is primarily caused by increases in the long-lived greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

As a general rule, any molecule with three or more atoms is a greenhouse gas, owing to the way the atoms can vibrate and rotate within the molecule. A greenhouse gas absorbs and re-emits thermal (infrared) radiation and has a blanketing effect.

Clouds have a blanketing effect similar to that of greenhouse gases but they are also bright reflectors of solar radiation and act to cool the surface by day. In the current climate, for average all-sky conditions, water vapour is estimated to account for 50% of the total greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide 19%, ozone 4% and other gases 3%. Clouds make up about a quarter of the greenhouse effect.

A pie chart showing the components of the total greenhouse effect, with water vapour responsible for 50%
Water vapour plays a significant role in Earth’s natural greenhouse effect, and it amplifies current, human-induced warming. Adapted from Trenberth (2022), CC BY-SA

Why is water vapour different?

The main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone – don’t condense and precipitate. Water vapour does, which means its lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter, by orders of magnitude, compared to other greenhouse gases.

On average, water vapour only lasts nine days, while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries or even millennia, methane lasts for a decade or two and nitrous oxide a century. These gases serve as the backbone of atmospheric heating, and the resulting rise in temperature is what enables the observed increase in water vapour levels.

The rise in carbon dioxide doesn’t depend on weather. It comes primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from pre-industrial levels of 280ppmv to 420ppmv (an increase of 50%) and about half of that increase has happened since 1985.

This accounts for about 75% of the anthropogenic heating from long-lived greenhouse gases. The rest of human-induced atmospheric warming mainly comes from methane and nitrous oxide, with offsets from pollution aerosols.

The extra heating from water vapour has been on a par with that from increased carbon dioxide since the 1970s.

This graphic explains the water vapour feedback: increased heating promotes increased evaporation and higher atmospheric temperatures, which in turn lead to higher levels of atmospheric water vapour.
The water vapour feedback: increased heating promotes increased evaporation and higher atmospheric temperatures, which in turn lead to higher levels of atmospheric water vapour. Author provided, CC BY-SA

Water vapour and the water cycle

Water vapour is the gaseous form of water and it exists naturally in the atmosphere. It is invisible to the naked eye, unlike clouds, which are composed of tiny water droplets or ice crystals large enough to scatter light and become visible.

The most common measure of water vapour in the atmosphere is relative humidity.

During heatwaves and warm conditions, this is what affects human comfort. When we sweat, the evaporation of moisture from our skin has a cooling effect. But if the environment is too humid, then this no longer works and the body becomes sticky and uncomfortable.

This process is important for our planet, too, because about 70% of Earth’s surface is water, predominantly ocean. Extra heat generally goes into evaporating water. Plants also release water vapour through a process called transpiration (releasing it through tiny stomata in leaves as part of photosynthesis). The combined process is called evapotranspiration.

This graphic describes Earth's hydrological cycle.
Water vapour is part of Earth’s hydrological cycle, Author provided, CC BY-SA

The moisture rises into the atmosphere as water vapour. Storms gather and concentrate the water vapour so that it can precipitate. As water vapour has an exponential dependence on temperature, it is highest in warm regions, such as the tropics and near the ground. Levels drop off at cold higher latitudes and altitudes.

The expansion and cooling of air as it rises creates clouds, rain and snow. This vigorous hydrological cycle means water vapour molecules only last a few days in the atmosphere.

Water is the air conditioner of the planet. It not only keeps the surface cooler (albeit at the expense of making it moister) but rain also washes a lot of pollution out of the atmosphere to everyone’s benefit.

Precipitation is vitally important. It nourishes vegetation and supports various ecosystems as long as the rate is moderate. But as the climate warms, higher moisture levels increase the potential for heavier rainfall and the risk of flooding.

Moreover, the latent energy that went into evaporation is returned to the atmosphere, adding to heating and causing air to rise, invigorating storms and making weather extremes greater and less manageable.

These changes mean that where it is not raining, drought and wildfire risk increase, but where it is raining, it pours.The Conversation

Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Scholar, NCAR; Affiliate Faculty, University of Auckland

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

Seaweed is taking over coral reefs. But there’s a gardening solution – sea-weeding

Roxana Caha, CC BY-NC-ND
Hillary Smith, James Cook University and David Bourne, James Cook University

In the early 1990s, marine researchers in the Caribbean found something alarming. On reef after reef, corals were dying off – and seaweed was growing in their place.

Since then, this pattern has been observed on reefs around the world: as corals die, seaweed takes over.

Once seaweed gets a foothold, it’s hard for coral to compete. These large, fleshy algae can quickly come to dominate. As the oceans heat up and reefs degrade, the trend is expected to accelerate. Former coral reefs will become dominated by seaweed instead, with cascading damage to reef ecosystems.

This shift hasn’t happened widely on the Great Barrier Reef – yet. But there are worrying signs of seaweed takeover on some reefs, including those fringing Yunbenun (Magnetic Island).

We wondered – what if you could help corals by weeding out intruding seaweed? In our new research, we found sea-weeding actually worked, giving coral time to recover.

Of course, this is a stopgap measure. It’s designed to buy time while we tackle the main threats to the world’s largest reef system – notably, climate change.

Bagging seaweed
A citizen scientist bags the weeded macroalgae for weighing. Miranda Fittock, CC BY-NC-ND

How can seaweed take over?

Corals don’t like hot water, sediment or an overload of nutrients. So when there’s a mass bleaching or coral death event after a marine heatwave or cyclone, there’s empty space on the reef.

Seaweeds are similar to weeds in a garden. They can colonise quickly, grow fast and tall, soaking up sunlight and competing directly with surviving corals for light and space.

Once these tough algae establish, corals struggle to come back. Then there are feedback loops which can further prevent coral return – coral larvae are put off by chemicals emitted by seaweed. Seaweed growth takes the space where coral larvae could have settled. And the health of adult corals can be hit by algae just living nearby. It’s safe to say coral and algae are not best friends.

You might wonder why nature doesn’t even the balance. At Yunbenun, the main genus of seaweed is Sargassum, most famous for their massive blooms in the Sargasso Sea. The problem is, not many fish like the taste. When Sargassum is fully grown, it’s especially unpalatable to herbivorous fish.

Many fish will actively avoid areas with long, dense growth of seaweed for fear of predators hiding among the foliage.

scuba diver measuring seaweed
The reefs at Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) are dominated by macroalgae. Victor Huertas-Martin, CC BY-NC-ND

Weeding the sea

So if grazing fish won’t eat the problem, and urchins aren’t very abundant, it’s up to us. We set about testing sea-weeding, where you dive down and cut back stands of macroalgae. Would the corals bounce back?

The process is just like weeding a garden, but underwater. You dive down, yank fronds of seaweed off the seafloor and dispose them back on shore. It’s labour intensive, but simple. We were aided in weeding by citizen scientists through Earthwatch Institute.

It took three years, and the removal of three tonnes of seaweed, but it worked. In the areas we’d weeded (300m², or about 1% of the seafloor at our study site) twice or three times a year, the coral had made a spectacular recovery. Corals now covered between 1.5 to six times the area they had before.

After the coral returned, seaweed has been growing back less and less. Seaweed originally covered 80% of the seafloor, but now covers less than 40%. That suggests it might need only a few years of effort to suppress the seaweed and push the coral ecosystem toward recovery.

Importantly, the diversity of coral species increased too – and that means weeding isn’t favouring any single coral species.

before and after sea weed removal
Left: a section of weeded reef in October 2020. Right: the same section of reef in October 2021, showing significant coral growth. Author provided, CC BY-NC-ND

We disposed of the seaweed in a local school’s organic compost heap. While not part of this project, there is promising new research showing macroalgae like Sargassum could be a carbon sink. Seaweed has many uses, ranging from bio-plastics, fertiliser or biofuels. If the economics stack up, removing mature macroalgae could provide a win-win for reef and climate health – even if it’s only small scale.

Where would this approach be most useful?

On the Great Barrier Reef, the reefs most prone to seaweed takeover are those near to shore. These are, as you’d expect, also the most accessible and the ones most often visited by tourists.

If you were going to use this technique more widely, it would make sense, therefore, to focus on nearshore reefs. They’re economically important for industries like tourism and fishing.

At present, there’s a lot of research being done on high-tech interventions such as breeding corals to tolerate hotter water, or brightening clouds. What we hope to show is the equal value of testing low-tech, low-cost methods which can achieve scale by harnessing citizen science volunteers and community programs. This has the added advantage of building public support and giving concerned citizens a clear way to help. It could be useful not only in Australia, but on island nations in the Pacific with limited resources.

By our estimates, the cost – around A$104,000 per hectare – is a fraction of other reef restoration techniques, which have a median cost of about $616,000 per hectare, ranging all the way up to $6.2 million per hectare.

This isn’t a silver bullet. We have no reef restoration or management approaches able to keep our reefs alive if we don’t tackle the big issues – hotter, more acidic seas brought about by climate change, as well as nutrient runoff and other threats.

So what role could sea-weeding have? Even if we manage to significantly cut emissions globally in the coming decades, there’s so much CO₂ already in the atmosphere that reefs will keep deteriorating.

That means there could well be a role for this approach. This low-tech but rapidly effective technique could help keep corals alive while we work for decisive action on climate change. The Conversation

Hillary Smith, Senior Research Officer, James Cook University and David Bourne, Professor of Marine Biology, James Cook University

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

Our unsung farm dams provide vital habitat to threatened species of frogs

Martino Malerba, Deakin University; Don Driscoll, Deakin University; Jodi Rowley, UNSW Sydney; Nick Wright, The University of Western Australia, and Peter Macreadie, Deakin University

Frogs are in trouble. While many of the world’s animal species are now at risk from habitat loss, climate change and other human pressures, frogs are particularly at risk.

That’s because they rely on fresh water – and rivers, creeks and lakes are especially vulnerable to threats and habitat loss. Freshwater creatures are going extinct faster than land or sea-based lifeforms. Frogs are at even higher risk because their life stages require pristine terrestrial and aquatic habitats – and because the lethal amphibian chytrid fungus is after them.

Frogs could use some good news. Here it is: the farm dam. These ubiquitous human-made ponds are scattered across Australia’s rural regions. Our new research has found they have become home to over two-fifths of Australia’s 240-plus surviving frog species. Better still, as we compiled more than 100,000 audio recordings made by citizen scientists, we could hear the unmistakable calls of species threatened with extinction, such as the green and golden bell frog.

Vocalisation of the growling grass frog recorded by a citizen scientist using FrogID. Matt Clancy, CC BY-NC423 KB (download)

growling grass frog
In the recordings, we heard the welcome calls of the growling grass frog thousands of times near farm dams. Author provided, CC BY-ND

Which dams are important for frogs?

Australia has almost 1.8 million farm dams, storing 20 times the volume of Sydney Harbour. Tens of thousands more are excavated each year.

But which of these small, widely distributed ponds offer the best habitat for frogs? And which of our native frogs are able to use them?

To find out, we drew heavily on the power of citizen science. Thousands of people used the Australian Museum’s FrogID app or Melbourne Water’s Frog Census app to record calling frogs and upload the audio.

We compiled more than 100,000 recordings near 8,800 farm dam sites. When experts listened to these recordings, they identified 107 different species.

What we were most excited by was discovering species at very real risk of extinction, croaking happily in unnamed dams. These included growling grass frogs (Litoria raniformis), green and golden bell frogs (Litoria aurea), Sloane’s froglet (Crinia sloanei) and northern heath frogs (Litoria littlejohni).

Recording of Sloane’s Froglet (Crinia sloanei) by a citizen scientist using FrogID. Matt Lincoln, CC BY-NC168 KB (download)

This tells us that farm dams can provide breeding habitat for frogs that are vulnerable to extinction – not just for common species.

In the recordings, we heard the growling grass frog over 3,200 times near 315 farm dams dotted around southeast Australia. That’s an important find, given it’s one of six priority frog species in the government’s threatened species action plan.

green golden bell frog
We heard the vulnerable green and golden bell frog seven times near farm dams. Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum and UNSW, CC BY-ND

Frogs love mid-sized old dams

When we crunched the numbers, we found distinct trends in frog abundance. The dams richest in frog species were those older than 20 years, with a medium surface area around 0.1 hectares (dams get a lot bigger than this), and located in areas with high rainfall and intermediate temperatures.

That makes sense. The older the dam, the more natural it becomes. Aquatic plants have time to grow, while shrubs and plants around the dam provide shelter and calling sites for frogs.

Medium size dams provide frogs with the ideal balance between protection from drying out and reduced danger from fish and reptile predators.

We also detected more frog species in dams close to rivers, lakes or conservation sites. Leapfrogging between nearby wetlands is likely to be an important way frogs colonise farm dams.

figure showing richer and less rich farm dam frog biodiversity
The most frog species were found in farm dams older than 20 years, with a medium surface area (1000m² on average), and in rainfall catchments under 10 hectares. There’s even greater frog diversity near other freshwater systems or conservation areas. Author provided, CC BY-ND

Farms and frogs can happily coexist

Is there a clash between what farmers want from their dams and what frogs need? Not necessarily.

It’s certainly true that the banks of dams can, if not looked after, be trampled by livestock into mud. But when farmers fence off parts of the dam banks to protect plants, it benefits livestock health, increases water quality, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, and safeguards breeding habitats for crustaceans, birds and amphibians, which, in Australia, means frogs.

northern heath frog
We heard the endangered northern heath frog 22 times near farm dams. Jodi Rowley/Australian Museum and UNSW, CC BY-NC-ND

Researchers from Sustainable Farms have released guides on how to make farm dams even better oases for native wildlife by managing and revegetating farm dams to boost water quality and biodiversity.

As the federal government advances its plans for a nature repair market, it’s possible we could see a surge of interest in farm dams.

In this scenario, making farm dams more wildlife-friendly could net farmers and landholders biodiversity credits. Given the wealth of frog species in dams, this could present a cost-effective strategy.

Does this mean we should encourage more farm dams? Not necessarily. Farm dams can compete for water with natural freshwater systems and reduce habitat for species relying on ephemeral ponds or streams to breed. Any future financial incentives to re-wild farm dams must not reward the mass creation of farm dams.

As we grapple with the ongoing biodiversity crisis, it makes sense to make the most of what we have. Farm dams are everywhere. Let’s make them a haven for our frogs. The Conversation

Martino Malerba, ARC DECRA Fellow, Deakin University; Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University; Jodi Rowley, Curator, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology, Australian Museum, UNSW Sydney; Nick Wright, Research scientist, Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development, The University of Western Australia, and Peter Macreadie, Professor of Marine Science & Founder/Director of Blue Carbon Lab, Deakin University

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

We urgently need $100bn for renewable energy. But call it statecraft, not ‘industry policy’

Elizabeth Thurbon, UNSW Sydney; Alexander M. Hynd, UNSW Sydney, and Hao Tan, University of Newcastle

This week, a diverse group of organisations called on the Australian federal government to establish a A$100 billion, ten-year policy package to turbocharge Australia’s green energy transition.

Proposed by groups including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Conservation Foundation, Climate Energy Finance, Rewiring Australia and the Smart Energy Council, the Australian Renewable Industry Package (ARIP) would dwarf the government’s existing commitments.

Its proponents claim that by 2035, the package would generate at least $300 billion annual clean export revenue and 700,000 much needed jobs, mainly in rural and regional Australia.

So will Australian policymakers from across the political spectrum heed this call and agree to spend big on Australia’s green energy industry capabilities?

If we want policymakers to unify and to act, we have to use language that widely resonates. This, we argue, must be the language of green energy statecraft, not industry policy.

A response to the US

The ARIP is explicitly framed as a response to the United States’ impactful Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The act, passed in August 2022, is Washington’s response to its pressing geostrategic, economic, energy and environmental security challenges.

The IRA contains US$370 billion worth of incentives for clean tech and is estimated to spur US$2.9 trillion of cumulative investment opportunity by 2032.

This comprehensive suite of policy supports has put Australian efforts to shame. As a result, the IRA is now drawing much needed green energy investment away from Australia. Given the support on offer, it is no surprise US manufacturing spending has nearly doubled in the last 12 months, while Australia remains stuck in the investment slow lane.

Even more worrying for Australia is the fact the US is not the only rapid mover in the green energy space. A number of middle powers more similar to us in capacity – such as Canada and Japan – have also announced hugely ambitious green energy investment packages that leave Australia lagging.

There is no question Australia needs the ARIP, and needs it urgently.

Industry policy – Australia’s dirtiest word

In arguing for a new big renewables push, some proponents have couched it in the language of a “new industry policy”. But this language is problematic for two main reasons.

First, this language in Australia is highly politicised and divisive. Since the 1980s, “industry policy” has arguably become one of the most misused and abused terms in our nation’s political discourse.

To even utter the words “industry policy” is often enough to spark fierce ideological objection, or to cause people’s eyes to glaze over with disinterest, disillusionment or both. In this sense, the term has become the ultimate thought blocker and conversation stopper.

Unfortunately, such reactions make it almost impossible to have a sensible national debate about what effective industry policy actually looks like. For its many detractors “industry policy” means protectionism and picking winners, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

This unsophisticated view ignores the fact that in countries that have historically practised highly effective and strategic industry policy – including our northeast Asian neighbours of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – “protectionism” and “picking winners” was far from the norm.

Indeed, because of the goal orientation of East Asian policymakers, who wanted to catch up with developed countries extremely quickly, industry policy was a highly disciplined affair tied to stringent performance incentives.

In this context, East Asian governments did not pick winners. Rather, winning firms self-selected by opting into government support programs, and by then outperforming competitors to keep earning that support.

By contrast, in Australia “industry policy” has become a highly politicised and partisan affair. For this reason, calls for industry policy often fall on deaf ears, and do more to divide policymakers and business leaders than unite them.

Towards ‘statecraft’, not industry policy

But there is another, even more compelling reason for advocates of the renewables package to avoid the language of “industry policy”. The term doesn’t adequately capture the kinds of policies our competitors – both rivals and partners – are now enacting in the green energy space, or the kind of response we require.

Instead, Australia needs to embrace “green energy statecraft”.

Such statecraft involves bold government initiatives to build, grow and dominate the high-technology markets essential to the green transition, and to fend off or outflank rival powers, be they economic, geo-strategic or both.

Green energy statecraft is different from plain old energy policy, or even “industry policy”. Its focus is squarely on building new industries with the intention of ensuring success in hyper-competitive global markets and, simultaneously, bolstering national security.

We argue that in recent years, the most significant obstacle to Australia’s success in the green energy arena has been the prevailing policymaking mindset: viewing the green energy shift principally as an energy and climate policy challenge, rather than statecraft.

With national security motivations at play, governments that practice green energy statecraft create bold visions for new industries like green hydrogen, green steel and bioenergy. They set clear production, export and, most importantly, technology-upgrading targets. They also mobilise all available financial incentives and policy instruments to ensure these targets are met.

To become a green energy superpower, Australia needs to match our strategic vision with a new green energy statecraft.

Language matters. If we want policymakers to act, and if we want our calls to unite rather than divide, we need to choose our words very carefully.The Conversation

Elizabeth Thurbon, Professor in International Relations / International Political Economy, UNSW Sydney; Alexander M. Hynd, PhD candidate, UNSW Sydney, and Hao Tan, Associate Professor, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle

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

Fire regimes around Australia shifted abruptly 20 years ago – and falling humidity is why

Roger Jones, Victoria University

This century, Australia has suffered more frequent and more severe bushfires. The Black Summer fires of 2019–20 were the worst on record for the area burned and property loss.

How much climate change has contributed to these increases is a hot topic. Bushfire risk is dialled up by four switches: fuel amount and condition, fire weather and ignition sources. Untangling these various influences is difficult, so the role played by the warming climate is heavily debated.

Fire-weather measures fire risk on a daily basis, while a fire-climate regime measures fire risk over seasonal and longer time scales. Our research shows almost everywhere in Australia is now in a different fire climate than it was just 20 years ago, with falling relative humidity a key factor. Previous research has also identified these sudden jumps in fire danger.

What caused fire climates to shift? Conventional scientific wisdom assumes the climate’s response to increasing emissions is gradual and linear. When rapid change happens, it’s often thought to be due to climate variability. But that’s not what happened here.

2016 tasmania bushfires
This thousand-year old pencil pine burned during the 2016 alpine bushfires in Tasmania. These trees are not used to fire. Rod Blakers/Wikimedia, CC BY-ND

Most Australian fire climate regimes have already shifted

Fire weather is calculated using the Forest Fire Danger Index, which takes into account vegetation dryness, windspeed, temperature and relative humidity.

Obtaining reliable long-term records using these measures is difficult, so we used high quality seasonal and annual climate inputs to estimate the annual fire climate for different regions of Australia from 1957–58 to 2021–22.

We tracked changes in this fire danger index over that 64-year period across all states and the Northern Territory. We also looked at distinct sub regions such as southwest Australia. What we found was startling. Rather than a linear increase, fire regimes tracked along a similar line – and then suddenly jumped. For most states and territories, that happened around the year 2000.

There is no evidence for a long-term trend. Instead, the data shows a shift from one stable fire climate regime to another.

Modelled days of severe fire danger for Victoria 1957–2021 showing internal trends separated by the regime shift in 1997.
This figure shows the modelled days of severe fire danger for Victoria between 1957 and 2021 showing internal trends (dashed lines) separated by the regime shift in 1997.

We’re already seeing these changes play out. Whenever you see a news article about intense fires in areas not used to fire, that’s likely to be due to a shift in fire climate. Think of the fires devastating Tasmania’s alpine regions in 2016, killing off many old pencil and King Billy pines.

When did these jumps happen?

Here’s when each region shifted from one fire regime to the next:

You can see the shift in the number of days above “high fire danger”.

Map showing number of days above high fire danger for each state and the NT
Orange numbers are the average number of days per year rated above high fire danger during the old fire regime (1957–58 to regime shift), the year the fire regime shifted. Red numbers are the average number of days from the start of the new regime to 2021–22. Author supplied, CC BY-ND

When we showed this research to Greg Mullins, former Commissioner of Fire & Rescue New South Wales, he said it was

utterly consistent with what firefighters are experiencing worldwide: more frequent, intense, and damaging bushfires that sometimes are impossible to control.

Is it really that bad? Yes.

For instance, what would have been the one in ten bad fire season under the earlier regime (occurring once in ten years) became, on average, a one in two fire season in the second regime.

That means the worst 10% of fire years were now happening every second year.

When we looked at even worse fire years – the worst year in 20 fire seasons – the shift was shocking. On average, we are now seeing these years twice every five years.

Why did fire climates shift so abruptly?

That’s the big question.

To find out, we analysed all the available input variables for regime shifts and tested their influence on the results. We found wind speed was not a factor. Changes in rainfall had little effect.

So what was it? We found the main driver was relative humidity in combination with higher daily temperatures during the fire season. Recently, we examined global humidity data and found large-scale downward shifts in humidity. In the Southern Hemisphere, that happened in 2002. In the Northern Hemisphere, it happened in 1999.

Humidity reductions in each region of Australia were closely followed by shifts to higher fire season maximum temperatures, amplified by soils drying out.

We also tested global average fire season length from 1979 to 2013 for regime shifts, finding a rapid expansion in 2002. That’s the same year Australia’s median fire danger jumped.

Australian median FFDI and global season fire length 1979–2013 showing internal trends separated by the regime shift in 2002.
This graph shows Australia’s median Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) against the global fire season length between 1979 to 2013, showing internal trends (dashed lines) separated by a regime shift in 2002. Data from Lucas and Harris 2019 and Jolley et al. 2015

The consequences of these shifts are profound. The unprecedented fires in Canada and Europe, the devastating fires in Hawaii and the increasing frequency of wildfires around the world have their roots in lower relative humidity, which leads to higher daytime temperatures. That, in turn, creates these dangerous new fire regimes.

Why haven’t we heard about these sudden shifts in fire climate? One reason is much of our modelling is built on the assumption the steady accumulation of heat trapped by greenhouse gases leads to linear changes elsewhere.

But as this year’s climate chaos suggests, this assumption may be unfounded.

In our earlier research, we found zero of 32 climate models were able to reproduce the sudden shifts in relative humidity across the globe.

What does this mean for this year’s fire season?

Many parts of New South Wales, Queensland, the western Northern Territory and northwest Victoria have already dried out, though large forests will keep some moisture after the years of rain. Grass fires are already raging in the Northern Territory.

That suggests the greatest risks this summer will be in grassland, scrubland and suburbs on the fringe of cities. Widespread catastrophic forest fires are probably less likely. But the major fires will return if dry conditions persist.

In fact, in the current climate, land can dry out much faster than it used to, leading to flash droughts which swing from very wet to very dry in a short period of time.

Remember – this current fire regime may not be permanent. As the climate warms further, it’s entirely possible our fire regimes could warp into something even more dangerous. Ensuring our climate models are capable of predicting these changes is an urgent task. The Conversation

Roger Jones, Professorial Research Fellow, Victoria University

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

Solar panel technology is set to be turbo-charged – but first, a few big roadblocks have to be cleared

Bruno Vicari Stefani, CSIRO and Matthew Wright, University of Oxford

Solar panel technology has made enormous progress in the last two decades. In fact, the most advanced silicon solar cells produced today are about as good as the technology will get.

So what’s next? Enter “tandem solar cells”, the new generation in solar technology. They can convert a much greater portion of sunlight into electricity than conventional solar cells.

The technology promises to fast-track the global transition away from polluting sources of energy generation such as coal and gas. But there’s a major catch.

As our new research shows, current tandem solar cells must be redesigned if they’re to be manufactured at the scale required to become the climate-saving technology the planet needs.

The solar story so far

A solar cell is a device that turns sunlight into electricity. One important measure when it comes to solar cells is their efficiency – the proportion of sunlight they can convert into electricity.

Almost all solar panels we see today are made from “photovoltaic” silicon cells. When light hits the silicon cell, electrons inside it produce an electric current.

The first silicon photovoltaic cell, demonstrated in 1954 in the United States, had an efficiency of about 5%. That means that for every unit of the Sun’s energy the cell received, 5% was turned into electricity.

But the technology has since developed. At the end of last year, Chinese solar manufacturer LONGi announced a new world-record efficiency for silicon solar cells of 26.81%.

Silicon solar cells will never be able to convert 100% of the Sun’s energy into electricity. That’s mostly because an individual material can absorb only a limited proportion of the solar spectrum.

To help increase efficiency – and so continue to reduce the cost of solar electricity – new technology is needed. That’s where tandem solar cells come in.

A promising new leap

Tandem solar cells use two different materials which absorb energy from the Sun together. In theory, it means the cell can absorb more of the solar spectrum – and so produce more electricity – than if just one material is used (such as silicon alone).

Using this approach, researchers overseas recently achieved a tandem solar cell efficiency of 33.7%. They did this by building a thin solar cell with a material called perovskite directly on top of a traditional silicon solar cell.

Traditional silicon solar panels still dominate manufacturing. But leading solar manufacturers have signalled plans to commercialise the tandem cell technology.

Such is the potential of tandem solar cells, they are poised to overtake the conventional technology in coming decades. But the expansion will be thwarted, unless the technology is redesigned with new, more abundant materials.

automated solar cell production line
Tandem solar cells cannot overtake existing technology (pictured) unless they are redesigned. Shutterstock

The problem of materials

Almost all tandem solar cells involve a design known as “silicon heterojunction”. Solar cells made in this way normally require more silver, and more of the chemical element indium, than other solar cell designs.

But silver and indium are scarce materials.

Silver is used in thousands of applications, including manufacturing, making it highly sought after. In fact, global demand for silver reportedly rose by 18% last year.

Likewise, indium is used to make touchscreens and other smart devices. But it’s extremely rare and only found in tiny traces.

This scarcity isn’t a problem for tandem solar technology yet, because it hasn’t yet been produced in large volumes. But our research shows this scarcity could limit the ability of manufacturers to ramp up production volumes in future.

This may represent a substantial roadblock in tackling climate change. By mid-century, the world must install 62 times more solar power capacity than is currently built, to enable the clean energy shift.

Clearly, a major redesign of tandem solar cells is urgently needed to enable this exponential acceleration of solar deployment.

lumps of silver
Silver is a key component in much electronics manufacturing. Shutterstock

Ramping up the transition

Some silicon solar cells don’t use indium and require only a small amount of silver. Research and development is urgently needed to make these cells compatible with tandem technology. Thankfully, this work has already begun – but more is needed.

A scarcity of materials is not the only barrier to overcome. Tandem solar cells must also be made more durable. Solar panels we see everywhere today are generally guaranteed to produce a decent amount of electricity for at least 25 years. Perovskite-on-silicon tandem cells don’t last as long.

Solar power has already shaken up electricity generation in Australia and around the world. But in the race to tackle climate change, this is only the beginning.

Tandem solar cell research is truly global, conducted within a range of countries, including Australia. The technology offers a promising way forward. But the materials used to make them must be urgently reconsidered.The Conversation

Bruno Vicari Stefani, CERC Fellow, Solar Technologies, CSIRO and Matthew Wright, Postdoctoral Researcher in Photovoltaic Engineering, University of Oxford

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

How we brought mistletoes back to the trees of Melbourne – while warding off hungry possums

David M Watson
David M Watson, Charles Sturt University and Rodney van der Ree, The University of Melbourne

Until recently, mistletoes were regarded as problematic pests across Australia. They were seen as having been introduced from elsewhere, exploiting helpless trees and driving their premature demise.

Around the world, arborists and plantation managers used to be trained to remove mistletoes as part of routine maintenance. They went to extraordinary lengths to rid trees of these dense parasitic clumps, using flamethrowers, high-powered rifles, even herbicide-spritzing drones.

But just as we now know that hollows are essential for wildlife, including many threatened species, awareness of the positive side of parasitic plants is growing. Mistletoes have been shown to boost biodiversity and increase resilience of wildlife populations to drought, habitat loss and predators.

However, unlike other plants that can be grown as seedlings and planted out, mistletoes rely on animals to plant their seeds on the branches of host trees. This means they aren’t included in revegetation efforts, and it was unclear whether it would even be possible.

We set out on a world-first trial to attempt to reintroduce mistletoe to the trees of Melbourne. As our recently published research shows, we succeeded. Some of the mistletoes are now even bearing fruit.

The only factor that stood in the way of success was the bane of many gardeners’ lives – hungry brushtail possums.

Productive parasites

Mistletoes provide many benefits for local biodiversity. Their flowers provide reliable nectar that encourages pollinators to linger longer. They then boost the populations of other plant species they visit.

The nutrients in mistletoe leaves boost soil health and dramatically increase insect numbers when they fall to the forest floor.

The ripples of these interactions spread right through woodland food webs. One study demonstrated the most significant impacts on ground-feeding insect-eating birds, whose numbers have declined across eastern Australia.

Many birds nest in mistletoes. Their dense evergreen foliage provides cover from predators.

Mistletoebird eating mistletoe fruit
Mistletoebirds spread the mistletoe seeds. PsJeremy/Flickr, CC BY

All of Australia’s mistletoes are native species. Most hail from ancient lineages dating all the way back to Gondwanaland.

The knowledge we have gained about mistletoes has led to an about-face in natural resource management. Managers are rethinking mistletoe removal and embracing these native plants as ecological keystones.

In some areas where mistletoes no longer occur, restoration practitioners have suggested reintroducing them. It had been unclear if this was feasible.

Making Melbourne even more marvellous

Working closely with City of Melbourne staff, research scientists from the Gulbali Institute undertook a world-first trial of the reintroduction of a native mistletoe to street trees. Rather than eucalypts or other native trees, we decided to use plane trees, a European species that is a feature of city streets the world over. In Australia, very few things interact with plane trees — nothing eats them, which is one reason they’re popular street trees.

Rather than replace these established trees with more fitting local species and waiting a few decades for them to grow, we tried something a little different. We added a native mistletoe to their canopies to boost the resources available to urban wildlife.

We chose creeping mistletoe (Muellerina eucalyptoides), which is now scarce in Melbourne, but is just as happy growing on exotic deciduous trees as the evergreen eucalypts this species depends on as hosts in the bush.

Our research paper summarises the outcomes of the trial. Almost 900 seeds were carefully wiped on the branches of 28 plane trees. We were replicating the efforts of mistletoebirds, which usually spread these sticky seeds.

Five years after inoculation, we found mistletoes had established on five trees. Even better, two of these plants were full of fruit. There is now a ready-made seed source in the heart of Melbourne for further expansion of these beneficial native plants.

Bags of ripe creeping mistletoe fruit ready for inoculation. Lee Harrison

The problems with possums

Rather than establishment depending on the size of the branch, the age of the tree or which direction it faced, the only factor that emerged as a significant determinant of success was whether or not the tree was fitted with a possum collar. These acrylic or metal sheets wrapped around the trunk are too slippery for possums to climb. The city’s tree management team routinely uses these collars to grant a reprieve to trees whose canopies have been badly damaged by these marsupials.

Previous work has found possums love to eat mistletoe foliage. This is likely due to their high concentration of nutrients and lack of chemical defences that eucalypts have.

Our study is the first to provide direct evidence of the effect of common brushtail possums on mistletoe recruitment. Its findings reinforce reports from New Zealand, where introduced brushtail possums have devastated three mistletoe species and been implicated in the extinction of a fourth, the only mistletoe known to have gone extinct worldwide.

Beautiful butterflies are returning

Time will tell how the addition of these plants to the urban forest will affect Melbourne wildlife. Already, gorgeous imperial jezebel butterflies have been spotted emerging from creeping mistletoes in Princes Park.

Red, black and yellow butterfly on flower
The imperial jezebel lays its eggs only on mistletoes. David Cook/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Even better, our work has inspired three other urban mistletoe reintroductions elsewhere in Melbourne. In New South Wales, Birdlife Australia and Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council are working together to restore mistletoe to woodlands on Wonnarua Country. The mistletoe will supply missing nectar resources for the critically endangered regent honeyeater.

Collectively, this work is helping to shift the public perception of these native plants – from pernicious parasites to ecological keystones.The Conversation

David M Watson, Professor in Ecology, Charles Sturt University and Rodney van der Ree, National Technical Executive in Ecology at WSP Australia Pty Ltd. Adjunct Associate Professor, School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne

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

China makes developers pay compensation for their ecological impacts – here’s how this unique scheme works

Hanyu Qiu / shutterstock
Shuo Gao, University of Oxford; Eleanor Jane Milner-Gulland, University of Oxford; Joseph William Bull, University of Oxford, and Sophus zu Ermgassen, University of Oxford

In 2017, the Chinese environmental NGO, Friends of Nature, sued the developer of a dam in Yunnan province in the country’s south west. The NGO alleged that the project’s environmental impact assessment had failed to fully capture how the dam would affect the surrounding rainforest, and particularly the endangered green peafowl that lives there. This weak assessment report was one reason why the project was granted consent and even highlighted as best practice by the local government.

In 2020 a court in Yunnan ordered a halt to construction of the dam, but the discussion around the case did not end. This was not an isolated issue related to one local government’s hasty approval of a project with a flawed environmental impact assessment. Instead, it revealed systemic challenges for China’s ecological compensation system in which developers often get to assess their own environmental impacts.

Nowhere in the world are these potential trade-offs between infrastructure and the environment more stark than in China, which features both a global biodiversity hotspot and huge and fast-developing economy. This all adds up. For instance, it is estimated that between 2010 and 2013 China poured more concrete than the US did in the entire 20th century.

Green birds
Green peafowl have lost most of their natural habitat. wuttidanai / shutterstock

Weak environmental impact assessments and the subsequent approval of harmful development projects are endemic to planning processes worldwide. However, the ecological compensation system in China is rather different to those elsewhere. In China, developers first assess the environmental impact of their new projects. They can then choose to redress these impacts by themselves or to pay upfront restoration fees to the government, who will use the money to do it for them. We recently published research exploring how this system works (and when it doesn’t) and what other parts of the world could learn from it.

Unreliable and often ineffective

We reviewed 31 projects across different regions in China, including the Yunnan dam. We found that only seven of the relevant environmental impact assessments used quantitative metrics to measure their impact on biodiversity. This is perfectly legal, as these metrics are not compulsory. But the lack of standard measurements means any compensation programmes can’t be reliable.

Nonetheless, developers are encouraged to design restoration and compensation schemes and include them in their environmental assessment reports submitted to the government. However, they are not required to restore habitats which are similar to the ones being lost. This means projects can replace valuable habitats with less valuable areas – planting roadside trees to make up for lost wetland forest, for example. Species and habitats could therefore be degraded or lost even though ecological compensation has been paid.

When developers don’t want to restore nature themselves, or their proposals are not significant enough to make up for the habitat loss they have caused, they are required to pay restoration fees to the government.

Aerial view of forest and river
Wetland forest in Ergun National Wetland Park, northern China. Magic East / shutterstock

Under China’s environmental laws and regulations, local government collects these restoration fees from developers and spends them on creating new habitats or recovering degraded habitats elsewhere. For instance, forestry law requires restoration fees to be spent towards ensuring no net loss in the area covered by forest (albeit without consideration of forest type, so a native forest could be replaced with a non-native plantation).

It might be better if China’s public sector was fully in charge of ecological compensation, rather than letting developers design their own compensatory projects. But it’s very hard to find information that would let us know.

Out of 2,844 local governments across China, fewer than 1% have disclosed how much restoration money they have collected and spent and what they spent it on. We did manage to sample ten reports disclosed by local governments and found that they implement similar biodiversity-enhancement projects to developers.

Individual species can fall through the net

Due to the lack of proper metrics to capture biodiversity losses and inadequate information published, it is near-impossible to compare outcomes and to evaluate the effectiveness of ecological compensation projects. However, it is clear that there is a lack of regulatory safeguards for biodiversity on China’s development sites.

This is because the ecological compensation policy relates mostly to habitat area. It does not well account for a habitat’s quality, its functional role within a wider ecosystem, its conservation value, the amount of species that live there and many other such attributes. The focus on habitat means individual threatened species (such as the green peafowl) can fall through the net.

China’s central government should consider passing a law that would mean biodiversity impact measurements would have to use a unified indicator framework, and, if possible, make it compulsory for all development activities. Equally, China may also need to improve compensation governance for data tracking and conservation effectiveness monitoring. Establishing a public national offset register would help.

Other countries might learn from China. Paying upfront restoration fees could encourage developers elsewhere to avoid and minimise their environmental impacts at the early stages of their projects. Besides, the levying of fees from developers to be spent by local governments on projects to enhance both nature and people’s wellbeing in a strategic way could be a useful model for ecological compensation elsewhere.

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Shuo Gao, PhD Candidate, Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, University of Oxford; Eleanor Jane Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, University of Oxford; Joseph William Bull, Associate Professor in Climate Change Biology, University of Oxford, and Sophus zu Ermgassen, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Oxford

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

Fashion industry’s environmental impact is largely unknown – here’s why

BAZA Production/Shutterstock
Alana James, Northumbria University, Newcastle

How do the clothes you buy wear out the natural world? To take stock of the damage you have to account for the materials, water and energy that went into making a garment, and the greenhouse gas emissions, chemical pollutants and other byproducts associated with its disposal.

For example polyester, a kind of plastic widely used in T-shirts, is made from oil – a fossil fuel. If you throw it out it degrades slowly, and chemicals from its dyes and surface treatments leach into the soil.

The UK consistently buys more garments than any other European country, spending more than £45 billion (US$56 billion) annually. Fast fashion, an industry trend which involves getting cheap reproductions of catwalk designs out to a mass market as quickly as possible, encourages this buying frenzy.

Much of fast fashion is known to depend on sweatshop labour and polluting factories. But alongside the demand for ever faster fashion at low prices, there is a growing awareness among consumers that something has to change.

Some firms have caught on: many brands now report their environmental footprint and have disclosed their intention to shrink it.

But how trustworthy are these assessments? My research uncovers how the fashion industry collates, analyses and assesses environmental impact data. Unfortunately, as a result of inaccurate and unreliable methods, among other issues, the true cost of fast fashion remains largely unknown.

A worker in a cloth factory assembly line turns to look at the camera.
Fast fashion adds to the strain on garment workers. Frame China/Shutterstock

The hidden price tag

A multitude of metrics, certification schemes and labels mark the environmental consequences of making and selling clothing. Brands have been accused of greenwashing due to the poor quality of information used in some of them.

One common product-labelling tool within the industry was the Higg Materials Sustainability Index. Introduced in 2011, the Higg Index was a rating system used by several large brands and retailers to determine and report the global warming impact and water consumption of different products, among other environmental measures.

The approach adopted by the index was challenged by the Norwegian Consumer Authority for limiting its assessment to only certain phases of a product’s lifecycle, such as the sourcing of materials. It was criticised for overlooking pollutants such as microfibres, which are released from textiles during manufacture, wear and washing. As a result, the index was suspended pending a review in June 2022.

Since then, further issues have come to light. These include:

  • unreliable data – measures often rely on brands self-reporting without their information being verified by an impartial third party
  • vested interests – many tools and indices are funded, or part funded, by organisations that could benefit from more positive reporting
  • tunnel vision – existing methods tend to focus on only one environmental impact, such as water use or carbon emissions, while the relationship between these factors is overlooked
  • paywalls – many tools require brands to pay into them. This can effectively exclude smaller businesses and limit the tool’s coverage
  • lack of standards – there is no official baseline to determine acceptable thresholds of environmental footprint of any one product.

Without reliable and accurate assessments of a product’s environmental impact, consumers are left in the dark. For example, a common misconception is that cotton, being a natural fibre, is better for the environment than synthetic materials such as acrylic and elastane.

But cotton requires vast quantities of water to grow, harvest and process. A standard cotton t-shirt, for example, requires 2,500 litres while a pair of jeans consumes 7,600 litres.

One fibre is not necessarily better than the other. Rather, every material and manufacturing process affects the natural world in one form or another. With such misconceptions rife, it’s difficult for consumers to make sound comparisons. That’s why accurate measures are desperately needed.

An aerial view of a machine picking cotton in a field.
Cotton farms also use insect-killing chemicals to boost yields. StockStudio Aerials/Shutterstock

The true cost of fashion

The complexity of fashion’s global supply chain, which spans thousands of miles from fields to shop floors, makes accurate measurements exceptionally difficult. Capturing an accurate picture of the industry’s environmental footprint will rely on a certain level of transparency across the industry. It will also require multiple sectors – including production, manufacturing and retail – working collectively towards a common goal.

An acceptable definition for “sustainable”, informed by standards and baselines, could empower consumers to make more informed decisions about their purchases. With Gen-Z labelled the sustainable generation, it is time for fashion to reform.

An earlier version of this article stated that the Higg Materials Sustainability Index had been suspended. The index is actually paused pending a review.

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Alana James, Assistant Professor in Fashion, Northumbria University, Newcastle

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

People who grow their own fruit and veg waste less food and eat more healthily, says research

Households that produced their own fruit and veg wasted 95% less than the average UK household. Air Images/Shutterstock
Boglarka Zilla Gulyas, University of Sheffield and Jill Edmondson, University of Sheffield

The rising cost of living is making it harder for people, especially those on lower incomes (who often have poorer diets), to afford to eat healthily. Despite this, households in the UK continue to waste a shocking amount of food – including around 68kg of fruit and vegetables each year.

Food waste is not only damaging to your pocket, it’s also bad for the environment too. Globally, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year, generating about 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions arise from unused food at all stages of the food supply chain, from production to decomposition.

However, our recent study revealed that those who grow their own food in gardens and allotments waste an average of just 3.4kg of fruits and vegetables – 95% less than the UK average. These households adopted various practices to minimise food waste, including preserving or giving away their excess produce.

There has been renewed interest in growing fresh produce in gardens, community gardens and allotments in the UK and elsewhere in recent years. But the available supply of allotments is not enough to meet increasing demand.

Allocating more land for household fruit and vegetable production could make a significant contribution to the availability of fresh produce for urban residents.

Research has shown that using a mere 10% of the available space in the English city of Sheffield for food cultivation could supply enough fruit and vegetables to meet the needs of 15% of the city’s population. And more people growing their own food could also reduce waste.

Vegetables rotting away in a landfill.
Food waste generates about 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Joaquin Corbalan P/Shutterstock

Food diaries

Our study involved 197 households in the UK that grow their own food. We asked them to maintain a food diary, where they recorded the amounts of fruits and vegetables they acquired each week. We received complete records from 85 separate households.

They specified whether each item was cultivated in their garden or allotment, bought from shops or markets, sourced from other growers, or foraged in the wild. The households also recorded the quantity of the produce they gave away to family and friends, and the amounts they had to throw out.

Our findings suggest that individuals who grow their own food may be more inclined to avoid food wastage than the average person in the UK. This is possibly because they place a higher value on produce they had grown themselves.

The results align with earlier research that was conducted in Germany and Italy. This study found that the amount of discarded food was greatest among people who shopped exclusively in large supermarkets. People who purchased items from various small stores tended to waste less food, while those that grew their own food wasted the least.

Our findings also suggest that the households we studied can produce roughly half of all the vegetables, and 20% of the fruit, they consume annually. These households consumed 70% more fruits and vegetables (slightly more than six portions per day) than the national average.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced and nutritious diet is key to maintaining good health. This kind of diet can help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease.

Yet, in the UK, less than one-third of adults and only about 8% of teenagers eat their “five-a-day”. This target, which is based on advice from the World Health Organization, recommends eating at least five 80g portions of fruit and veg every day.

Courgettes in a box offered for free from a home vegetable garden.
Grow-your-own households adopted various practices to minimise food waste. Alan Goodwin Photo/Shutterstock

Grow your own food security

Growing your own food can improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, promote good health and reduce food waste. However, several obstacles hinder involvement in household food production. These obstacles include limited access to the land, skills and time needed to grow your own fruit and veg.

Approximately one in eight UK households lacks access to a garden. And, since the 1950s, the availability of allotments throughout the UK has declined by 60%. This decline has been particularly evident in more deprived areas of the country, where people could benefit most from better availability of nutritious foods.

We also found that those who grew their own food dedicated approximately four hours each week to working on their allotment or garden. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of having the time to do so.

Nonetheless, raising awareness about the benefits of home food production, beyond just food security and reducing waste, to include its positive impacts on social cohesion, overall wellbeing and biodiversity could encourage more people to participate. Increasing demand for growing space may also encourage local authorities to allocate more land for this purpose.

Whether you grow your own food or not, everyone can adopt mindful practices when purchasing or growing food. Planning ahead and freezing or sharing excess food with others to prevent it from going to waste are good options.

But some food waste is inevitable. Composting it instead of sending it to landfill will substantially lower its impact on the planet.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

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

Boglarka Zilla Gulyas, Postdoctoral Research Associate in SCHARR, University of Sheffield and Jill Edmondson, Research Fellow in Environmental Change, University of Sheffield

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

As climate change warms rivers, they are running out of breath – and so could the plants and animals they harbor

The Potomac River spills over Great Falls west of Washington, D.C.. Marli Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Li Li (李黎), Penn State

As climate change warms rivers, they are losing dissolved oxygen from their water. This process, which is called deoxygenation, was already known to be occurring in large bodies of water, like oceans and lakes. A study that colleagues and I just published in Nature Climate Change shows that it is happening in rivers as well.

We documented this change using a type of artificial intelligence called a deep learning model – specifically, a long short-term memory model – to predict water temperature and oxygen levels. The data that we fed the model included past records of water temperature and oxygen concentrations in rivers, along with past weather data and the features of adjoining land – for example, whether it held cities, farms or forests.

The original water temperatures and oxygen data, however, were measured sparsely and often in different periods and with different frequency. This made it challenging before our study to compare across rivers and in different periods.

Using all of this information from 580 rivers in the U.S. and 216 rivers in central Europe, our AI program reconstructed day-to-day temperatures and oxygen levels in those rivers from 1981 to 2019. We also used future climate projections to predict future water temperature and oxygen levels. This enabled us to consistently compare past and future river water temperatures and oxygen levels across hundreds of rivers, which would not have been possible without using AI.

On average, we found, rivers were warming by 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit (0.16 degrees Celsius) per decade in the U.S. and 0.49 F (0.27 C) per decade in central Europe. Deoxygenation rates reached as high as 1% to 1.5% loss per decade. These rates are faster than deoxygenation rates occurring in oceans, and slower than those in lakes and coastal regions.

Urban rivers are warming up most rapidly, while rivers in agricultural areas are losing oxygen most rapidly. This could be partly due to nutrient pollution, which combines with warmer waters to fuel large blooms of algae. When the algae die and decompose, this process depletes dissolved oxygen in the water.

Why it matters

Oxygen is crucial for plants, animals, fish and aquatic insects that live in rivers. These organisms breathe dissolved oxygen from river water. If oxygen levels drop too low, river species will suffocate.

While scientists know that oceans and lakes have been losing oxygen in a warming climate, we have mainly thought that rivers were safe from this problem. Rivers are shallow, and fast-moving water can absorb oxygen directly from the air more rapidly than standing water. Rivers also harbor plants that make oxygen.

Chelsea Miller of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources explains why dissolved oxygen is important in aquatic environments and shows how researchers test for it.

The health of rivers affects everything in and around them, from aquatic life to humans who rely on the rivers for water, food, transportation and recreation. Warming rivers with low oxygen could suffer fish die-offs and degraded water quality. Fisheries, tourism and even property values along rivers could decline, affecting livelihoods and economies.

As the air warms in a changing climate, rivers will also become warmer. As a liquid’s temperature increases, its capacity to hold gases declines. This means that climate change will further reduce dissolved oxygen in river water.

At extreme levels, this process can create dead zones where fish and other species cannot survive. Dead zones already form in coastal areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Erie. We found that some rivers, especially in warmer areas like Florida, may face more low-oxygen days in the future.

Low oxygen in rivers also can promote chemical and biological reactions that lead to the release of toxic metals from river sediments and increased emissions of greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and methane.

What’s next

Most of our data on dissolved oxygen was collected during the day, when plants in rivers are actively making oxygen through photosynthesis, powered by sunlight. This means that our findings may underestimate the low-oxygen problem. At night, when plants aren’t producing oxygen, dissolved oxygen levels could be lower.

I see this research as a wake-up call for more study of how climate change is affecting river water quality worldwide. Better monitoring and more analysis can make the full scope of river deoxygenation clearer. Ultimately, I hope more research will lead to policy changes that promote responsible land use and water management and better stewardship of rivers, our planet’s veins.

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.The Conversation

Li Li (李黎), Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State

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

Summer 2023 was the hottest on record – yes, it’s climate change, but don’t call it ‘the new normal’

Kansas City’s baseball stadium ran misters to cool people off in heat near 100 degrees on June 28, 2023. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Scott Denning, Colorado State University

Summer 2023 was the hottest on record by a huge margin. Hundreds of millions of people suffered as heat waves cooked Europe, Japan, Texas and the Southwestern U.S. Phoenix hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) for a record 54 days, including a 31-day streak in July. Large parts of Canada were on fire. Lahaina, Hawaii, burned to the ground.

As an atmospheric scientist, I get asked at least once a week if the wild weather we’ve been having is “caused” by climate change. This question reflects a misunderstanding of the difference between weather and climate.

Consider this analogy from the world of sports: Suppose a baseball player is having a great season, and his batting average is twice what it was last year. If he hits a ball out of the park on Tuesday, we don’t ask whether he got that hit because his batting average has risen. His average has gone up because of the hits, not the other way around. Perhaps the Tuesday homer resulted from a fat pitch, or the wind breaking just right, or because he was well rested that day. But if his batting average has doubled since last season, we might reasonably ask if he’s on steroids.

Unprecedented heat and downpours and drought and wildfires aren’t “caused by climate change” – they are climate change.

The rise in frequency and intensity of extreme events is by definition a change in the climate, just as an increase in the frequency of base hits causes a better’s average to rise.

And as in the baseball analogy, we should ask tough questions about the underlying cause. While El Niño is a contributor to 2023’s extreme heat, that warm event has only just begun. The steroids fueling extreme weather are the heat-trapping gases from burning coal, oil and gas for energy around the world.

Nothing ‘normal’ about it

A lot of commentary uses the framing of a “new normal,” as if our climate has undergone a step change to a new state. This is deeply misleading and downplays the danger. The unspoken implication of “new normal” is that the change is past and we can adjust to it as we did to the “old normal.”

Unfortunately, warming won’t stop this year or next. The changes will get worse until we stop putting more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the planet can remove.

The excess carbon dioxide humans have put into the atmosphere raises the temperature – permanently, as far as human history is concerned. Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for a long time, so long that the carbon dioxide from a gallon of gasoline I burn today will still be warming the climate in thousands of years.

That warming increases evaporation from the planet’s surface, putting more moisture into the atmosphere to fall as rain and snow. Locally intense rainfall has more water vapor to work with in a warmer world, so big storms drop more rain, causing dangerous floods and mudslides like the ones we saw in Vermont, California, India and other places around the world this year.

By the same token, anybody who’s ever watered the lawn or a garden knows that in hot weather, plants and soils need more water. A hotter world also has more droughts and drying that can lead to wildfires.

So, what can we do about it?

Not every kind of bad weather is associated with burning carbon. There’s scant evidence that hailstorms or tornadoes or blizzards are on the increase, for example. But if summer 2023 shows us anything, it’s that the extremes that are caused by fossil fuels are uncomfortable at best and often dangerous.

Without drastic emission cuts, the direct cost of flooding has been projected to rise to more than US$14 trillion per year by the end of the century and sea-level rise to produce billions of refugees. By one estimate, unmitigated climate change could reduce per capita income by nearly a quarter by the end of the century globally and even more in the Global South if future adaptation is similar to what it’s been in the past. The potential social and political consequences of economic collapse on such a scale are incalculable.

Fortunately, it’s quite clear how to stop making the problem worse: Re-engineer the world economy so that it no longer runs on carbon combustion. This is a big ask, for sure, but there are affordable alternatives.

Clean energy is already cheaper than old-fashioned combustion in most of the world. Solar and wind power are now about half the price of coal- and gas-fired power. New methods for transmitting and storing power and balancing supply and demand to eliminate the need for fossil fuel electricity generation are coming online around the world.

In 2022, taxpayers spent about $7 trillion subsidizing oil and gas purchases and paying for damage they caused. All that money can go to better uses. For example, the International Energy Agency has estimated the world would need to spend about $4 trillion a year by 2030 on clean energy to cut global emissions to net zero by midcentury, considered necessary to keep global warming in check.

Just as the summer of 2023 was among the hottest in thousands of years, 2024 will likely be hotter still. El Niño is strengthening, and this weather phenomenon has a history of heating up the planet. We will probably look back at recent years as among the coolest of the 21st century.

This article was updated Sept. 15, 2023, with NOAA and NASA also confirming summer 2023 the hottest on record.The Conversation

Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

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

What Arizona and other drought-ridden states can learn from Israel’s pioneering water strategy

Suburban development in Maricopa County, Arizona, with lakes, lush golf courses and water-guzzling lawns. Wild Horizon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Gabriel Eckstein, Texas A&M University; Clive Lipchin, Tel Aviv University, and Sharon B. Megdal, University of Arizona

Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S., with an economy that offers many opportunities for workers and businesses. But it faces a daunting challenge: a water crisis that could seriously constrain its economic growth and vitality.

A recent report that projected a roughly 4% shortfall in groundwater supplies in the Phoenix area over the next 100 years prompted the state to curtail new approval of groundwater-dependent residential development in some of the region’s fast-growing suburbs. Moreover, negotiations continue over dwindling supplies from the Colorado River, which historically supplied more than a third of the state’s water.

Map of the full Colorado River watershed.
The Colorado River’s watershed extends across seven U.S. states and into Mexico. Use of river water is governed by a compact negotiated in 1922. Center for Colorado River Studies, CC BY-ND

As a partial solution, the Arizona Water Infrastructure Finance Authority is exploring a proposal to import desalinated water from Mexico. Conceptualized by IDE, an Israeli company with extensive experience in the desalination sector, this mega-engineering project calls for building a plant in Mexico and piping the water about 200 miles and uphill more than 2,000 feet to Arizona.

Ultimately, the project is slated to cost more than US$5 billion and provide fresh water at nearly 10 times the cost of water Arizona currently draws from the Colorado River, not including long-term energy and maintenance costs.

Is this a wise investment? It is hard to say, since details are still forthcoming. It is also unclear how the proposal fits with Arizona’s plans for investing in its water supplies – because, unlike some states, Arizona has no state water plan.

As researchers who focus on water law, policy and management, we recommend engineered projects like this one be considered as part of a broader water management portfolio that responds holistically to imbalances in supply and demand. And such decisions should address known and potential consequences and costs down the road. Israel’s approach to desalination offers insights that Arizona would do well to consider.

A 20-year drought in the Colorado River basin poses critical questions for Arizona’s water future.

Lands and waters at risk

Around the world, water engineering projects have caused large-scale ecological damage that governments now are spending heavily to repair. Draining and straightening the Florida Everglades in the 1950s and ′60s, which seriously harmed water quality and wildlife, is one well-known example.

Maps showing historic, current and planned water flows in south Florida
State and federal agencies are spending billions of dollars to restore the Everglades, reversing water control projects from 1948-1963 that channelized and drained these enormous wetlands. US Army Corps of Engineers/Florida Museum

Israel’s Hula wetlands is another. In the 1950s, Israeli water managers viewed the wetlands north of the Sea of Galilee as a malaria-infested swamp that, if drained, would eradicate mosquitoes and open up the area for farming. The project was an unmitigated failure that led to dust storms, land degradation and the loss of many unique animals and plants.

Arizona is in crisis now due to a combination of water management gaps and climatic changes. Groundwater withdrawals, which in much of rural Arizona remain unregulated, include unchecked pumping by foreign agricultural interests that ship their crops overseas. Moreover, with the Colorado River now in its 23rd year of drought, Arizona is being forced to reduce its dependence on the river and seek new water sources.

The desalination plant that Arizona is considering would be built in Puerto Peñasco, a Mexican resort town on the northern edge of the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Highly saline brine left over from the desalination process would be released into the gulf.

Because this inlet has an elongated, baylike geography, salt could concentrate in its upper region, harming endangered aquatic species such as the totoaba fish and the vaquita porpoise, the world’s most endangered marine mammal.

The pipeline that would carry desalinated water to Arizona would cross through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a fragile desert ecosystem and UNESCO biosphere reserve that has already been damaged by construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. To run the facility, IDE proposes to build a power plant in Arizona and lay transmission lines across the same fragile desert.

Map showing location of proposed plant and pipeline route.
The proposed desalination plant in Mexico would pipe fresh water 200 miles to Arizona. Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona/ENR Southwest, CC BY-ND

No single solution

Israel has adapted to water scarcity and has learned from its disastrous venture in the Hula wetlands. Today the country has a water sector master plan that is regularly updated and draws on water recycling and reuse, as well as a significant desalination program.

Israel also has implemented extensive water conservation, efficiency and recycling programs, as well as a broad economic review of desalination. Together, these sources now meet most of the nation’s water needs, and Israel has become a leader in both water technology and policy innovation.

Water rights and laws in Arizona differ from those of Israel, and Arizona isn’t as close to seawater. Nonetheless, in our view Israel’s approach is relevant as Arizona works to close its water demand-supply gap.

A worker in a hard hat surrounded by valves, adjusting one.
A worker at the Sorek seawater desalination plant south of Tel Aviv, Israel, which provides 20% of the nation’s municipal water. Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua via Getty Images

Steps Arizona can take now

In our view, Arizona would do well to follow Israel’s lead. A logical first step would be making conservation programs, which are required in some parts of Arizona, mandatory statewide.

Irrigated agriculture uses more than 70% of Arizona’s water supply, and most of the state’s irrigated lands use flood irrigation – pumping or bringing water into fields and letting it flow over the ground. Greater use of drip irrigation, which delivers water to plant roots through plastic pipes, and other water-saving techniques and technologies would reduce agricultural water use.

Arizona households, which sometimes use as much as 70% of residential water for lawns and landscaping, also have a conservation role to play. And the mining sector’s groundwater use presently is largely exempt from state regulations and withdrawal restrictions.

A proactive and holistic water management approach should apply to all sectors of the economy, including industry. Arizona also should continue to expand programs for agricultural, municipal and industrial wastewater reuse.

Desalination need not be off the table. But, as in Israel, we see it as part of a multifaceted and integrated series of solutions. By exploring the economic, technical and environmental feasibility of alternative solutions, Arizona could develop a water portfolio that would be far more likely than massive investments in seawater desalination to achieve the sustainable and secure water future that the state seeks.The Conversation

Gabriel Eckstein, Professor of Law, Texas A&M University; Clive Lipchin, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, Tel Aviv University, and Sharon B. Megdal, Professor of Environmental Science and Director, Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona

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

Pittwater Reserves: histories + Notes + Pictorial Walks

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
A Stroll Through Warriewood Wetlands by Joe Mills February 2023
A Walk Around The Cromer Side Of Narrabeen Lake by Joe Mills
America Bay Track Walk - photos by Joe Mills
An Aquatic June: North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Collaroy photos by Joe Mills 
Angophora Reserve  Angophora Reserve Flowers Grand Old Tree Of Angophora Reserve Falls Back To The Earth - History page
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Boathouse In Governor Phillip Park  Part Of Our Community For 75 Years: Photos From The Collection Of Russell Walton, Son Of Victor Walton
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers 
Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham Beach by Barbara Davies
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong and Palm Beach Views - Winter 2018
Currawong-Mackerel-The Basin A Stroll In Early November 2021 - photos by Selena Griffith
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Duck Holes: McCarrs Creek by Joe Mills
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
Lucinda Park, Palm Beach: Some History + 2022 Pictures
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mona Vale Woolworths Front Entrance Gets Garden Upgrade: A Few Notes On The Site's History 
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways; Bungan Beach and Bungan Head Reserves:  A Headland Garden 
Pittwater Reserves, The Green Ways: Clareville Wharf and Taylor's Point Jetty
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways; Hordern, Wilshire Parks, McKay Reserve: From Beach to Estuary 
Pittwater Reserves - The Green Ways: Mona Vale's Village Greens a Map of the Historic Crown Lands Ethos Realised in The Village, Kitchener and Beeby Parks 
Pittwater Reserves: The Green Ways Bilgola Beach - The Cabbage Tree Gardens and Camping Grounds - Includes Bilgola - The Story Of A Politician, A Pilot and An Epicure by Tony Dawson and Anne Spencer  
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Resolute Track at West Head by Kevin Murray
Resolute Track Stroll by Joe Mills
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Seagull Pair At Turimetta Beach: Spring Is In The Air!
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
Stony Range Regional Botanical Garden: Some History On How A Reserve Became An Australian Plant Park
The Chiltern Track
The Chiltern Trail On The Verge Of Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Topham Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP,  August 2022 by Joe Mills and Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands - Creeks Deteriorating: How To Report Construction Site Breaches, Weed Infestations + The Long Campaign To Save The Warriewood Wetlands & Ingleside Escarpment March 2023
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Wilshire Park Palm Beach: Some History + Photos From May 2022
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

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

Pittwater's Birds

Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control small bird insectivores, species like the Silvereye, Spotted Pardalote, Gerygone, Fairywren and Thornbill, feed on ticks. Attracting these birds back into your garden will provide not only a residence for tick eaters but also the delightful moments watching these tiny birds provides.
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2017: Take part from 23 - 29 October - how many birds live here?
Aussie Backyard Bird Count 2018 - Our Annual 'What Bird Is That?' Week Is Here! This week the annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 22-28 October 2018. Pittwater is one of those places fortunate to have birds that thrive because of an Aquatic environment, a tall treed Bush environment and areas set aside for those that dwell closer to the ground, in a sand, scrub or earth environment. To take part all you need is 20 minutes and your favourite outdoor space. Head to the website and register as a Counter today! And if you're a teacher, check out BirdLife Australia's Bird Count curriculum-based lesson plans to get your students (or the whole school!) involved

Australian Predators of the Sky by Penny Olsen - published by National Library of Australia

Australian Raven  Australian Wood Duck Family at Newport

A Week In Pittwater Issue 128   A Week In Pittwater - June 2014 Issue 168

Baby Birds Spring 2015 - Rainbow Lorikeets in our Yard - for Children Baby Birds by Lynleigh Greig, Southern Cross Wildlife Care - what do if being chased by a nesting magpie or if you find a baby bird on the ground

Baby Kookaburras in our Backyard: Aussie Bird Count 2016 - October

Balloons Are The Number 1 Marine Debris Risk Of Mortality For Our Seabirds - Feb 2019 Study

Bangalley Mid-Winter   Barrenjoey Birds Bird Antics This Week: December 2016

Bird of the Month February 2019 by Michael Mannington

Birdland Above the Estuary - October 2012  Birds At Our Window   Birds at our Window - Winter 2014  Birdland June 2016

Birdsong Is a Lovesong at This time of The Year - Brown Falcon, Little Wattle Bird, Australian Pied cormorant, Mangrove or Striated Heron, Great Egret, Grey Butcherbird, White-faced Heron 

Bird Songs – poems about our birds by youngsters from yesterdays - for children Bird Week 2015: 19-25 October

Bird Songs For Spring 2016 For Children by Joanne Seve

Birds at Careel Creek this Week - November 2017: includes Bird Count 2017 for Local Birds - BirdLife Australia by postcode

Black Cockatoo photographed in the Narrabeen Catchment Reserves this week by Margaret G Woods - July 2019

Black-Necked Stork, Mycteria Australis, Now Endangered In NSW, Once Visited Pittwater: Breeding Pair shot in 1855

Black Swans on Narrabeen Lagoon - April 2013   Black Swans Pictorial

Brush Turkeys In Suburbia: There's An App For That - Citizen Scientists Called On To Spot Brush Turkeys In Their Backyards
Buff-banded Rail spotted at Careel Creek 22.12.2012: a breeding pair and a fluffy black chick

Cayley & Son - The life and Art of Neville Henry Cayley & Neville William Cayley by Penny Olsen - great new book on the art works on birds of these Australian gentlemen and a few insights from the author herself
Crimson Rosella - + Historical Articles on

Death By 775 Cuts: How Conservation Law Is Failing The Black-Throated Finch - new study 'How to Send a Finch Extinct' now published

Eastern Rosella - and a little more about our progression to protecting our birds instead of exporting them or decimating them.

Endangered Little Tern Fishing at Mona Vale Beach

‘Feather Map of Australia’: Citizen scientists can support the future of Australia's wetland birds: for Birdwatchers, school students and everyone who loves our estuarine and lagoon and wetland birds

First Week of Spring 2014

Fledgling Common Koel Adopted by Red Wattlebird -Summer Bird fest 2013  Flegdlings of Summer - January 2012

Flocks of Colour by Penny Olsen - beautiful new Bird Book Celebrates the 'Land of the Parrots'

Friendly Goose at Palm Beach Wharf - Pittwater's Own Mother Goose

Front Page Issue 177  Front Page Issue 185 Front Page Issue 193 - Discarded Fishing Tackle killing shorebirds Front Page Issue 203 - Juvenile Brush Turkey  Front Page Issue 208 - Lyrebird by Marita Macrae Front Page Issue 219  Superb Fairy Wren Female  Front Page Issue 234National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos Front Page Issue 236: Bird Week 2015 Front Page Issue 244: watebirds Front Page Issue 260: White-face Heron at Careel Creek Front Page Issue 283: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count  Front Page Issue 284: Pittwater + more birds for Bird Week/Aussie Bird Count Front Page Issue 285: Bird Week 2016  Front Page Issue 331: Spring Visitor Birds Return

G . E. Archer Russell (1881-1960) and His Passion For Avifauna From Narrabeen To Newport 

Glossy Black-Cockatoo Returns To Pittwater by Paul Wheeler Glossy Cockatoos - 6 spotted at Careel Bay February 2018

Grey Butcher Birds of Pittwater

Harry Wolstenholme (June 21, 1868 - October 14, 1930) Ornithologist Of Palm Beach, Bird Man Of Wahroonga 


Issue 60 May 2012 Birdland - Smiles- Beamings -Early -Winter - Blooms

Jayden Walsh’s Northern Beaches Big Year - courtesy Pittwater Natural Heritage Association

John Gould's Extinct and Endangered Mammals of Australia  by Dr. Fred Ford - Between 1850 and 1950 as many mammals disappeared from the Australian continent as had disappeared from the rest of the world between 1600 and 2000! Zoologist Fred Ford provides fascinating, and often poignant, stories of European attitudes and behaviour towards Australia's native fauna and connects these to the animal's fate today in this beautiful new book - our interview with the author

July 2012 Pittwater Environment Snippets; Birds, Sea and Flowerings

Juvenile Sea Eagle at Church Point - for children

King Parrots in Our Front Yard  

Kookaburra Turf Kookaburra Fledglings Summer 2013  Kookaburra Nesting Season by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 1.5 and 2.5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 3 and 4 weeks old by Ray Chappelow  Kookaburra Nest – Babies at 5 weeks old by Ray Chappelow Kookaburra and Pittwater Fledglings February 2020 to April 2020

Lion Island's Little Penguins (Fairy Penguins) Get Fireproof Homes - thanks to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Fix it Sisters Shed

Lorikeet - Summer 2015 Nectar

Lyre Bird Sings in Local National Park - Flock of Black Cockatoos spotted - June 2019

Magpie's Melodic Melodies - For Children (includes 'The Magpie's Song' by F S Williamson)

Masked Lapwing (Plover) - Reflected

May 2012 Birdland Smiles Beamings Early Winter Blooms 

Mistletoebird At Bayview

Musk Lorikeets In Pittwater: Pittwater Spotted Gum Flower Feast - May 2020

Nankeen Kestrel Feasting at Newport: May 2016

National Bird Week 2014 - Get Involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count: National Bird Week 2014 will take place between Monday 20 October and Sunday 26 October, 2014. BirdLife Australia and the Birds in Backyards team have come together to launch this year’s national Bird Week event the Aussie Backyard Bird Count! This is one the whole family can do together and become citizen scientists...

National Bird Week October 19-25  and the 2015 the Aussie Back Yard Bird Count: Australia's First Bird Counts - a 115 Year Legacy - with a small insight into our first zoos

Native Duck Hunting Season Opens in Tasmania and Victoria March 2018: hundreds of thousands of endangered birds being killed - 'legally'!

Nature 2015 Review Earth Air Water Stone

New Family of Barking Owls Seen in Bayview - Church Point by Pittwater Council

Noisy Visitors by Marita Macrae of PNHA 

Odes to Australia's Fairy-wrens by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen and Constance Le Plastrier 1884 and 1926

Oystercatcher and Dollarbird Families - Summer visitors

Pacific Black Duck Bath

Painted Button-Quail Rescued By Locals - Elanora-Ingleside escarpment-Warriewood wetlands birds

Palm Beach Protection Group Launch, Supporters InvitedSaturday Feb.16th - Residents Are Saying 'NO' To Off-Leash Dogs In Station Beach Eco-System - reports over 50 dogs a day on Station Beach throughout December-January (a No Dogs Beach) small children being jumped on, Native birds chased, dog faeces being left, families with toddlers leaving beach to get away from uncontrolled dogs and 'Failure of Process' in council 'consultation' open to February 28th 

Pardalote, Scrub Wren and a Thornbill of Pittwater

Pecking Order by Robyn McWilliam

Pelican Lamps at Narrabeen  Pelican Dreamsong - A Legend of the Great Flood - dreamtime legend for children

Pittwater Becalmed  Pittwater Birds in Careel Creek Spring 2018   Pittwater Waterbirds Spring 2011  Pittwater Waterbirds - A Celebration for World Oceans Day 2015

Pittwater's Little Penguin Colony: The Saving of the Fairies of Lion Island Commenced 65 Years Ago this Year - 2019

Pittwater's Mother Nature for Mother's Day 2019

Pittwater's Waterhens: Some Notes - Narrabeen Creek Bird Gathering: Curious Juvenile Swamp Hen On Warriewood Boardwalk + Dusky Moorhens + Buff Banded Rails In Careel Creek

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050 by CSIRO

Plover Appreciation Day September 16th 2015

Powerful and Precious by Lynleigh Grieg

Red Wattlebird Song - November 2012

Restoring The Diamond: every single drop. A Reason to Keep Dogs and Cats in at Night. 

Salt Air Creatures Feb.2013

Sea Birds off the Pittwater Coast: Albatross, Gannet, Skau + Australian Poets 1849, 1898 and 1930, 1932

Sea Eagle Juvenile at Church Point

Seagulls at Narrabeen Lagoon

Seen but Not Heard: Lilian Medland's Birds - Christobel Mattingley - one of Australia's premier Ornithological illustrators was a Queenscliff lady - 53 of her previously unpublished works have now been made available through the auspices of the National Library of Australia in a beautiful new book

7 Little Ducklings: Just Keep Paddling - Australian Wood Duck family take over local pool by Peta Wise 

Shag on a North Avalon Rock -  Seabirds for World Oceans Day 2012

Short-tailed Shearwaters Spring Migration 2013 

South-West North-East Issue 176 Pictorial

Spring 2012 - Birds are Splashing - Bees are Buzzing

Spring Becomes Summer 2014- Royal Spoonbill Pair at Careel Creek

Spring Notes 2018 - Royal Spoonbill in Careel Creek

Station Beach Off Leash Dog Area Proposal Ignores Current Uses Of Area, Environment, Long-Term Fauna Residents, Lack Of Safe Parking and Clearly Stated Intentions Of Proponents have your say until February 28, 2019

Summer 2013 BirdFest - Brown Thornbill  Summer 2013 BirdFest- Canoodlers and getting Wet to Cool off  Summer 2013 Bird Fest - Little Black Cormorant   Summer 2013 BirdFest - Magpie Lark

The Mopoke or Tawny Frogmouth – For Children - A little bit about these birds, an Australian Mopoke Fairy Story from 91 years ago, some poems and more - photo by Adrian Boddy
Winter Bird Party by Joanne Seve

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

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

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

Shorebird Identification Booklet

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

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To find out more visit:

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surfers for Climate

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

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

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

Add yours to the conversation by signing up here.

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

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

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


Green Team Beach Cleans 

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

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

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

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

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

How it works

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

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

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

What you get                                  

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

Get the kids involved and excited about helping out!

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

Newport Community Gardens

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

Keep in Touch with what's happening on Newport Garden's Facebook:

Avalon Preservation Association

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

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

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

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

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

The Green Team

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

Australian Native Foods website:

Avalon Boomerang Bags

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

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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


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

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

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


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

Find out more at:

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

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday of the month

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

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

For enquiries contact

Living Ocean

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

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

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

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

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

Donations are tax-deductable 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

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

Find out more here:


What Does PNHA do?


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

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

Email: Or click on Logo to visit website.

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

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


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