March 26 - April 1  2023: Issue 577

Varroa Mite Spread: Palm Beach - Whale Beach now in eradication zone: Local Beekeeper's hives safe so far

Palm Beach and Whale beach became part of the eradication zone for European honey bees on March 20 - the NSW DPI sent through a media release and has been out in our community inspecting local hives, all of which have been found free of the mite at present.

President of the Northern Beaches Beekeepers Giles Stoddard, spoke to Pittwater Online this week stating his own hives (Avalon Honey) had been inspected on Monday, March 20, and all were good. Mr. Stoddard is known in the community for his advocacy of keeping hives clean and the processes to do so. 

He is pleased the DPI is still pursuing its eradication program for infected hives, although he understands how devastating it must be for those impacted to lose whole colonies they have worked for years to build.

''It's the feral European honeybees we have to watch out for, those that are not part of a hive but are in the landscape and can infect other hives. Unless we get a very strong wind blowing from the Central Coast and Umina, local hives should remain varroa free.''

A baiting program is being rolled out by DPI for those wild honeybees using an insecticide which does not attract non-target species, such as native bees.

On March 21, 2023 NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) stated surveillance and tracing activities has confirmed six new Varroa mite infestations in beehives at four locations across the Central Coast, Hunter and mid-north coast regions.

The new sites are at Mooney Mooney, Clarence Town, Mitchell’s Flat and Booral. The new detections bring the total infested premises to 137.

DPI Varroa Mite Response State Coordinator, Dr Chris Anderson, said the detections were a testament to the extensive tracing and surveillance work being undertaken, by beekeepers and DPI, to manage the outbreak. 

“These new sites have low mite loads, which suggests they are very recent infestations,” he said.

“The recent detection on the Central Coast, however, has meant DPI is now concentrating its Varroa response surveillance activities into the northern suburbs of Sydney, to ensure the infestation is localised and that there is no mite population in the area.

“DPI has also had to extend the eradication (red) zone following the new detections on the mid-north coast.

“We know that this is a difficult time for impacted beekeepers, but controlling and eradicating this destructive mite is critically important to NSW and Australia.

“Changes in the number of infected premises are expected at this stage in the response, however what is encouraging is that these mites are being found quickly.

“We thank beekeepers and the community for their cooperation with the response. 

For more information, visit the DPI website or call 1800 084 881

NB; Varroa mite emergency zones as of March 24, 2023; There are three Varroa mite zones.

Photo European honeybee at Newport: AJG/PON

Australia’s 2023 Eucalypt of the Year is the Angophora costata!

Announced by Eucalypt Australia on March 23 2023, and during its 10th year, this wonderful tree can be seen throughout our area and is so loved one of our early Reserves is named for one example, which sadly fell back to earth, after a long life, just last year in Angophora Reserve at Avalon Beach - there are some insights in the 2022 History page - which will rerun as the History feature this Issues as a special extra celebration.

It’s no wonder the tree is so well-loved, with those fantastically wiggly limbs that capture the imagination, and that smooth red bark that calls out to be touched!

Known as ​​kajimbourra by the Dharawal people, the Sydney Red Gum is synonymous with the sandstone escarpments of the Greater Sydney region, where it grows in woodlands on shallow, sandy soils. Also known as the Smooth-barked Apple, the species is distributed from Bodalla on the NSW South Coast to Coffs Harbour (NSW North Coast), from the coast to adjacent inland ranges. Interestingly, there are disjunct populations on sandstone escarpments west of Townsville, suggesting a wider historic distribution. 

Many Australians will be most familiar with the Sydney Red Gum as an important part of the urban forest in our cities and towns. With its broad trunk, attractive bark and spreading form, the species has been planted widely across suburban parklands and streetscapes and is beloved well beyond its natural range.

The Sydney Red Gum has this in common with this year’s runners-up, the Lemon-scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) and Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia). Each are so widely and commonly planted they have become part of the Australian psyche, at least in the south, where they evoke strong memories of childhood summers and days past.

But this year, it's our beloved angophora's turn to be lauded and applauded - if you want to see them persist, and have the room, plant a tree - some local instances:

On a local street

In McKay Reserve


Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre march 2023 Updates: Native Bees Are Back at Kimbriki + Clean Water Diversion System

Native Bees are Back

The team at the Eco House & Garden have recently been collaborating with the team in Ku-ring-gai Council's Strategy & Environment Department (Loving Living Ku-ring-gai). Various information and experiences have been shared on topics including education, composting set ups, waterwise gardens, visitor interactions and experiences, and native bees. 

Sadly Kimbriki, like many others, lost our native bees during the extreme weather conditions experienced in 2022. We were delighted to receive a new native beehive yesterday, March 24, 203, for our Eco Garden, donated by Ku-ring-gai Council and kindly delivered and installed by their resident bee expert, Alex Austin. We look forward to having the "girls" in our garden and sharing the joys of our stingless native bees with our visitors again.

Find out more about the importance of native bees at:

Photos: Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre

Clean Water Diversion System

Have you visited Kimbriki recently and noticed the earthworks taking place?

We are busy implementing a Clean Water Diversion System, which will capture and divert water around the Kimbriki site. 

Mark Wiser, Kimbriki's General Manager Operations provides a great overview of this important infrastructure project.

Swamp Wallaby at Palm Beach

Photos: Emilio Gallego, taken Friday March 3, 2023 at Dark Gully - PLEASE do not speed through this corner.

Westleigh Park - Critically Endangered Forest - POM open for feedback by hornsby council until april 8

Purchased from Sydney Water in 2016, the 36-hectare Westleigh Park, Hornsby Council states, will play a key role in recreational provision for the district including a diverse range of provisions for formal sports, passive recreation (e.g. picnics, walking, playground), mountain biking and ancillary facilities (including internal roads, carparks, amenities buildings, shared paths and water management).

At its 8 March 2023 Council Meeting, Hornsby Council endorsed a revised draft Master Plan for Westleigh Park to be published for comment as part of the exhibition of the draft Plan of Management (read the Business Papers and Minutes).

The revised draft Master Plan seeks to provide a conceptual framework for ongoing planning on the site.

The draft Plan of Management establishes an appropriate character and scale for the development and management for Westleigh Park. It will enable the construction of new open space facilities at Westleigh Park to commence and will help identify a program of development and ongoing maintenance works.

Closes April 9, 2023


Video published March 24, 2023 by Wild Bush Solutions

Calling All Citizen Scientists: Hunt For Shark Egg Cases Launches In Australia

March 20, 2023: CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is calling on citizen scientists to find and record egg cases washing up on Australian coasts, so researchers can better-understand oviparous chondrichthyans: egg-laying sharks, skates and chimaeras.

The Great Eggcase Hunt, an initiative of United Kingdom-based charity The Shark Trust, has launched in Australia in partnership with CSIRO to help provide new data for scientists studying the taxonomy and distribution of oviparous chondrichthyans.

Helen O’Neill, CSIRO Australian National Fish Collection biologist, said recording sightings of egg cases on beaches and coastlines would help scientists discover what the egg cases of different chondrichthyans look like, with some species still unknown.

“Egg cases are important for understanding the basic biology of oviparous chondrichthyans, as well as revealing valuable information such as where different species live and where their nurseries are located,” Ms O’Neill said.

Cat Gordon, Senior Conservation Officer at The Shark Trust, said the Great Eggcase Hunt began in the United Kingdom 20 years ago and has since recorded more than 380,000 individual egg cases from around the world.

“We’re really excited to be partnering with CSIRO to officially launch this citizen science project in Australia and to be able to expand the Shark Trust’s eggcase identification resources," Ms Gordon said.

"There’s such a diversity of species to be found around the Australian coastline, and with a tailored identification guide created for each state, they really showcase the different catsharks, skate, horn sharks, carpetsharks and chimaera eggcases that can be found washed ashore or seen while diving,” she said.

Also known as mermaids’ purses, egg cases come in many different shapes and colours, ranging from cream and butterscotch to deep amber and black. They range in size from approximately 4 to 25 centimetres.

Some egg cases have a smooth and simple appearance, while others have ridges, keels or curling tendrils that anchor them to kelp or coral. Port Jackson sharks have corkscrew-shaped egg cases that they wedge into rocks.

Each different species' egg case has a unique morphology that is helpful in taxonomy, the science of describing and naming species.

“At the Australian National Fish Collection, we are matching egg cases to the species that laid them,” Ms O’Neill said.

“We borrow egg cases from other collections, museums and aquariums around the world and use our own specimens collected from fish markets and surveys at sea or extracted from the ovaries of preserved specimens in our collection,” she said.

Chondrichthyans have the most diverse reproduction strategies found among vertebrates, encompassing parthenogenesis (no father), multiple paternity (more than one father of the litter), adelphophagy (baby sharks predating each other in the womb) and various modes of egg laying.

Egg cases found on beaches rarely contain live embryos, whose incubation times range from a few months up to three years, depending on the species.

“Egg cases found washed up on beaches have likely already hatched, died prematurely due to being washed ashore or been predated on by creatures like sea snails, who bore a hole in the egg case and suck out the contents,” Ms O’Neill said.

The Shark Trust is a United-Kingdom-based charity dedicated to safeguarding the future of sharks, skates, rays, and chimaera through positive change. The Trust achieves this through science, education, influence and action.

To get involved in the Great Eggcase Hunt, you can record sightings via the Shark Trust citizen science mobile phone app or through the project website:

Photo: Port Jackson shark egg on Station Beach at Pittwater. Image PON/AJG

The Port Jackson shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) is a nocturnal, oviparous (egg laying) type of bullhead shark of the family Heterodontidae, found in the coastal region of southern Australia, including the waters off Port Jackson. It has a large, blunt head with prominent forehead ridges and dark brown harness-like markings on a lighter grey-brown body, and can grow up to 1.65 metres (5.5 ft) long. They are the largest in the genus Heterodontus.

The Port Jackson shark is a migratory species, traveling south in the summer and returning north to breed in the winter. It feeds on hard-shelled mollusks, crustaceans, sea urchins, and fish. Identification of this species is very easy due to the pattern of harness-like markings that cross the eyes, run along the back to the first dorsal fin, then cross the side of the body, in addition to the spine in front of both dorsal fins.

These sharks are are oviparous, meaning that they lay eggs rather than give live birth to their young. The species has an annual breeding cycle which begins in late August and continues until the middle of November. During this time, the female lays pairs of eggs every 8-17 days. As many as eight pairs can be laid during this period. The eggs mature for 10–11 months before the hatchlings, known as neonates, can break out of the egg capsule. 

Port Jackson shark adults are often seen resting in caves in groups, and prefer to associate with specific sharks based on sex and size. Juvenile Port Jackson sharks, on the other hand, do not appear to be social. A captive study showed that these juveniles did not prefer to spend time next to other sharks, even when they were familiar with each other (i.e. tank mates). Juvenile Port Jackson sharks have unique personality traits, just like humans. Some were bolder than others when exploring a novel environment and they also reacted differently to a stressful situation (in choosing a freeze or flight response).

Juvenile Port Jackson sharks are also capable of learning to associate bubbles, LED lights, or sounds with receiving a food reward, can distinguish different quantities (i.e. count), and can learn by watching what other sharks are doing.

At least in some of these lab experiments males are shyer than females and boldness increases with consecutive trials of the same experiment. In experiments with different music genres, none of the sharks tested learned to discriminate between a jazz and a classical music stimulus.

Port Jackson Sharks are considered harmless to humans, although the teeth, whilst not large or sharp, can give a painful bite. 

Heterodontus portusjacksoni. Photo: Mark Norman, Museums Victoria

Cat owners encouraged to keep their pets safe at home

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Northern Beaches residents are being encouraged to keep their pets safe at home as part of a new animal protection campaign.

According to RSPCA NSW, two out of three cat owners have lost a cat to a roaming-related accident, and one in three to a car accident. Northern Beaches Council is proud to be one of 11 councils partnering with RSPCA NSW as part of the Keeping Cats Safe at Home project.

Promoting responsible ownership, the new campaign goes beyond desexing and micro chipping of beloved cats and asks owners to consider keeping their cats at home.

Northern Beaches CEO Ray Brownlee said there’s a dual benefit to cats and local wildlife that flows directly from promoting responsible ownership of domesticated cats.

“Northern Beaches residents love their pets, but they’re also passionate about protecting the local environment,” Mr Brownlee said.

“Because pet cats occupy a special place in our hearts we need to educate the community on how have them microchip and desexed to keep them safe. This initiative has an educational focus. It aims to protect tiny native species like lizards, mammals, baby birds and frogs, while also preventing domesticated cats from falling prey to road accidents.”

In 2021, the NSW Government awarded a $2.5 million grant from the NSW Environmental Trust to RSPCA NSW to deliver the project.

To help promote the campaign, Council is asking cat-lovers living on the Northern Beaches to submit a photo of their cat or kitten living their best life at home and go in the draw to win one of 10 $1000 vouchers for a deluxe outdoor cat enclosure from Catnets. The competition opens on March 1st and closes on Sunday April 9th 2023. Finalists will be published in an online gallery.

For competition details visit

Learn more about keeping cats safe at

Photo: Greg Hume

Black Summer Vigil For Wildlife: april 2nd

The New South Wales Wildlife Council invites all wildlife carers, wildlife vets, vet nurses, first responders and supporters to the upcoming Black Summer Vigil for Wildlife on Sunday April 2nd 2023 starting at 2pm.

Please join us for the Black Summer Vigil, a three-year anniversary memorial service for the three billion animals who lost their lives in the fires – “one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history”.

Attend online or in-person at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park (Sydney). 

RSVP at:

You’ll hear personal stories from the NSW Wildlife Council, Southern Cross Wildlife Care and other first responders across wildlife rescue, rural fire service, photojournalism, Aboriginal custodianship, veterinary medicine, ecology and more.

+ Performance and Ceremony by Jannawi Dance Clan, sharing a Dharug cultural perspective to honour the Ancestors and bring the spirit of the animals into our midst.

Join us to honour the animals who perished – and in doing so, celebrate the unique and extraordinary wildlife of these lands.

Speakers include:

Greg Mullins, Former Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW; Climate Councillor and founder, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action. Greg warned Australia's then–Prime Minister in April 2019 that a bushfire catastrophe was coming. He pleaded for support and was ignored, then risked his life dealing with the ramifications on the ground. “You couldn’t see very far because of the orange smoke. Everything was dark. It was probably 2 o’clock in the afternoon but it was like night. Then I saw something moving on the side of the road and I walked closer. It was a mob of kangaroos. The speed of that fire with its pyroconvective storm driving it in every direction, they had nowhere to go. They came out of the forest, on fire, and dropped dead on the road. I’ve never seen that. Kangaroos know what to do in a fire. They’re fast animals. Climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil, and gas is driving worsening bushfires across Australia, and putting our precious, irreplaceable wildlife in danger.”

Internationally recognised ecologist and WWF board member, Professor Christopher Dickman oversaw the work calculating the animal deaths from Black Summer. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Dickman already wore the heavy task of being an ecologist during the sixth mass extinction, in the country that has the worst rate of mammalian extinction in the world. On 8 January 2020 media around the world shared his finding that Black Summer fires had killed one billion animals. Sadly, the fires continued for two more months, and his team's final count was three billion. This does not include invertebrates: it is estimated 240 trillion beetles, moths, spiders, yabbies and other invertebrates died in the fires.

Coming up from the South Coast, owner of Wild2Free Kangaroo Sanctuary Rae Harvey, as seen in The Bond and The Fire. She is in the sad position of having personally known and cared for a number of Black Summer's victims: many of the orphaned joeys she cared for were killed in the fires. (She nearly died herself too.) For three years, she has been unable to even speak their names. Now, for the first time, she will tell the story of the joeys she lost.

Cultural burning practitioner and Southern NSW Regional Coordinator with Firesticks Alliance, Djiringanj-Yuin Custodian Dan Morgan. Dan practises using Aboriginal knowledge to heal Country. He has worked for 18 years with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and is on the board of management for the Biamanga National Park, a sacred area home to the last surviving koalas on the NSW south coast – which was partly destroyed by the fires of Black Summer. “The animals that live on our sacred sites are our Ancestors, it's our Cultural obligation to protect them. We have evolved with our Country over thousands of years, nourishing and protecting all living species. Our Country represents our people. So when the fires came, it was devastating to see the aftermath, and the feeling of helplessness was truly traumatising for our people, due to the denial of our Cultural right to manage Country as our Ancestors did for thousands of years prior to colonisation. Australia needs to make legislative changes that allow us to heal Country and our community through the fire knowledge and to stop incinerating ecosystems with destructive 'hazard-reduction' burns."

Head of Programs & Disaster Response at Humane Society International (HSI), Evan Quartermain was one of the first responders on Kangaroo Island where nearly 40% of the island burnt at high severity: “Those were some of the toughest scenes I’d ever witnessed as an animal rescuer: the bodies of charred animals as far as the eye can see. Every time we found an animal alive it felt like a miracle.” As a result of this firsthand experience, HSI commissioned a report into the state of Australia's disaster response for wildlife, which we'll also hear about.

+ More to come.

The Black Summer Vigil is brought to you by the Department of Animals, Animals Australia, the NSW Wildlife Council, World Animal Protection, Humane Society International and Defend the Wild, with support from WIRES, Firesticks Alliance, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Wild2Free Kangaroo Rescue, Four Paws, Friends of the Koala and Kangaroos Alive. 

Permaculture Northern Beaches - Upcoming Events

Permaculture Northern Beaches (PNB) is an active local group on Sydney's Northern Beaches working for ecological integrity and assisting you on a pathway to sustainability.

PNB holds monthly permaculture-related public meetings on the last Thursday of each month at the Narrabeen Tramshed Community & Arts Centre, Lakeview Room, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen. Buses stop directly at the centre and there is also car parking nearby. Doors open at 7:15 pm and meetings take place monthly from February to November. 

30 March - What does sustainable building really involve? 
Join local architect Jo Gile, Director from Archisoul Architects at Balgowlah to hear of sustainable building techniques and practices with examples from the Northern Beaches. 

The Archisoul Architects team have over 25 years of experience creating contemporary, intuitive, ecological, residential and commercial spaces that meet the emotional, physical, functional and spiritual needs of residents, visitors and the community. Their clear intention is to create premium quality iconic homes, buildings and spaces that inspire creativity, stimulate social interaction and are in complete sustainable harmony with their environment. See:

Entry is by donation ($5 is recommended) all are welcome!
Organic teas and coffees will be available - don't forget to BYO Keep Cup! Bring a plate to share food or swap plants, books, CDs, and items for your home or garden.
At: Narrabeen Tramshed Community centre, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, 7.15pm

27 April - The Diversity of Hemp
Join Kirstie Wulf to learn about design, orientation and material selection to provide comfortable, healthy homes that work with nature to cool and heat your environment. Beatrice Kuyumgian Rankin of Hemp Gallery will complete the panel to discuss the other many uses of hemp from textiles to clothing to body and bath products. 

Kirstie has a particular passion for natural building materials including hempcrete, light earth, straw bale, mud brick and rammed earth while using smart design.  She is the owner and building designer of Shelter Building Design.

Beatrice Kuyumgian Rankin owner of Hemp Gallery and at the forefront of the Hemp industry in Australia will share her in-depth knowledge of the diverse use of Hemp in the low-environmental-impact manufacturing of textiles, hair, body, skin-care, soap and nutritional products.  Come and get your Hemp questions answered!

Entry is by donation ($5 is recommended) all are welcome!
Organic teas and coffees will be available - don't forget to BYO Keep Cup! Bring a plate to share food or swap plants, books, CDs, and items for your home or garden.
At: Narrabeen Tramshed Community centre, 1395A Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, 7.15pm

29 April - Tropical Permaculture Garden Tour 
Sydney has a climate that is suitable for many fruiting plants considered tropical when grown correctly these plants can be very productive producing an abundance of fruit. Join Permaculture Northern Beaches and longtime permaculture practitioner Yalith Ratnavibushena in a garden tour showcasing the best practices for growing tropical fruits in a home permaculture garden.  With many versatile uses banana groves, if properly maintained, can really help your permaculture garden to flourish. 

The garden tour will involve a tour of Yalith's,  Allambie Heights tropical permaculture garden. With over 17 years of experience as a Research Officer with the Agriculture Department in Sri Lanka, Yalith has a wealth of knowledge in the care and maintenance of tropical fruit trees. His garden has a variety of tropical fruiting plants including papaya and four varieties of bananas.
Learn about a variety of tropical fruiting plants that are suitable for Sydney’s climate and different varieties of bananas; suitable soil preparation and composting for tropical fruit trees;  skills in building and maintaining a banana circle.; and the role bananas can play in the overall ecosystem of your garden. 

Dress for the Weather &  bring a water bottle, notebook, and sense of adventure. 

Cost: $20 for non-members and $10 for PNB members. Secure your tickets through Eventbrite here.
At: Allambie Heights

7 May - International Permaculture Day 
Join us at New Leaf Nursery Ingleside for PNB workshops and our unique take on International Permaculture Day.
May 7th, the first Sunday in May,  is International Permaculture Day (IPD). A day when all things permaculture are celebrated around the Earth across continents from Brazil to India, to the UK to the USA, and in Australia where permaculture originated.  

On IPD we will celebrate with workshops and activities at the permaculture nursery New Leaf at 224 Powderworks Road Ingleside:

The day will include talks, workshops and interactive sessions as well as the wonderful plants, chickens, and all the staff at New Leaf.
The program so far:
  • Learn about Permaculture design
  • Caring for and raising chickens
  • Native bees and bee hotels
  • Living Skills - soap making
  • AND Live Music!
At: New Leaf Nursery, 224 Powderworks Road, Ingleside

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.

Weed Of The Week: Cassia - Please Pull Out And Save Our Bush

Flowering now, Cassia (Senna pendula). Also known as Senna and Arsenic Bush. Originating in South American, Cassia is a perennial sprawling multi-stemmed shrub or tree up to 5m tall. 

This weed replaces native vegetation and establishes in a wide range of native plant communities, including coastal heath and scrubland, hind dunes and riparian corridors. The large seed pods are eaten by birds and other animals. You may be seeing this bright burst of yellow everywhere as it is currently flowering - please pull out and get rid of if you have in your garden.

seed pods

New 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

Federal Government states it is Using every tool in the box to conserve more of our iconic landscapes; invites feedback on framework

March 16, 2023
The Federal Government is seeking feedback on the principles that will guide which areas could be formally recognised for their contribution to nature conservation.

The framework, once finalised, will support recognition of biodiversity conservation outside formal protected areas like national parks and Indigenous Protected Areas.

The Government has set a target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. This new approach to conserving land will play a part in helping us reach this target. 

To be recognised, conservation areas, or ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ must have important biodiversity values and the owners must commit to maintaining these values in the long-term. This would always be voluntary – and areas would only be recognised with the landowner’s consent.

This framework is part of a global initiative. Other countries such as Canada and South Africa have already established national processes for recognising and reporting other effective area-based conservation measures. As of June 2022, there were 775 other effective area-based conservation measures across nine countries.

There are a variety of ways conservation recognition could work. For example, a private landholder who holds a large block of land next to a national park that is habitat for endangered species could have the area recognised as part of our national conserved areas estate.

Other effective area-based conservation measures are defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as:
  • A geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed
  • in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation
  • of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable,
  • cultural, spiritual, socio-economic, and other locally relevant values. 
Other effective area-based conservation will complement the Government’s Nature Repair Market. An area that is recognised as an other effective area-based conservation measure could also be issued with a biodiversity certificate which can then be sold to other parties.

Once finalised, the new framework will guide landholders on how to meet requirements to achieve OECM recognition. 

Feedback closes April 21, 2023

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“We need every tool in the box to protect our precious environment for our kids and grandkids.

“We have set an ambitious national target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land by 2030. And we are on our way with 22 per cent of Australia’s landmass now protected.

“That means that we still need to protect or conserve an additional 60 million hectares, roughly 9 times the size of Tasmania. High quality conservation areas or other effective area-based conservation measures can help us get there.

“I encourage all Australians to have their say and help better conserve our iconic landscapes.”

Australia’s 116 new coal, oil and gas projects equate to 215 new coal power stations

Richard Denniss, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Australia has 116 new coal, oil and gas projects in the pipeline. If they all proceed as planned, an extra 1.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases would be released into the atmosphere annually by 2030.

To put that in perspective, Australia’s total domestic greenhouse gas emissions in 2021–22 were 490 million tonnes. So annual emissions from these new projects would be the almost three times larger than the nation’s 2021-22 emissions. That’s the equivalent of starting up 215 new coal power stations, based on the average emissions of Australia’s current existing coal power stations.

The reason we can get away with this is the current global framework for emissions accounting only considers emissions generated onshore. And almost all coal, oil and gas from these new projects would be exported. But as we share the atmosphere with the rest of the people on the planet, the consequences will come back to bite us.

This week the Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described how fossil fuels are wreaking havoc on the planet. The science is clear: the IPCC says fossil fuel use is overwhelmingly driving global warming.

“The sooner emissions are reduced this decade, the greater our chance of limiting warming to 1.5℃ or 2℃. Projected CO₂ emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure (power plants, mines, pipelines) without additional abatement exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5℃,” the IPCC says, let alone new coal, oil and gas projects.

In the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres:

Every country must be part of the solution. Demanding others move first only ensures humanity comes last.

Guterres added that “the Acceleration Agenda calls for a number of other actions”, specifically:

  • No new coal and the phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in all other countries

  • Ending all international public and private funding of coal

  • Ensuring net zero electricity generation by 2035 for all developed countries and 2040 for the rest of the world

  • Ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas – consistent with the findings of the International Energy Agency

  • Stopping any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves

  • Shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to a just energy transition

  • Establishing a global phase down of existing oil and gas production compatible with the 2050 global net zero target.

Introducing the latest IPCC climate report.

Hidden in plain sight

Our new research, released today by the Australia Institute, reveals the pollution from Australia’s 116 new fossil fuel projects. These are listed among the federal government’s major projects.

Government analysts estimate each project’s start date and annual production figures. If they are correct, by 2030 the projects would produce a total of 1,466 million tonnes of coal and 15,400 petajoules of gas and oil.

Then it’s fairly straightforward to calculate emissions. We simply multiplied these enormous new fossil fuel volumes by their “emissions factors”. When one tonne of coal is burned it releases approximately 2.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide or its equivalent (CO₂-e) into the atmosphere, and burning one terajoule (0.001 petejoules) of natural gas results in 51.5 tonnes CO₂-e.

Combined with the 164 million tonnes of emissions that the mining of these fuels would cause, the result is a planet-warming, but spine-chilling, total of 4.8 billion tonnes by 2030.

This amount is 24 times greater than the ambition of the federal government’s key emissions reduction policy, the so-called Safeguard Mechanism. That aims to reduce emissions by 205 million tonnes over the same period.

Column graph comparing the tall stack of emissions from new fossil fuel projects to the small amount of emissions covered by the Safeguard Mechanism.
Author provided

Rather than embrace the task of decarbonising the Australian economy, the Albanese government has continued down the path laid out by the former Coalition government. It’s a path that relies more heavily on the use of carbon offsets than curtailing coal and gas.

Even though the rest of the world is committed to burning less fossil fuels, there are more gas and coal mine project proposals in Australia today than there were in 2021.

Note also that this list does not include several large, advanced projects actively supported by Australian governments, including Santos’s Barossa gas field, Shell’s Bowen Gas Project, Chevron’s Cleo Acme, and several vast new unconventional gas basins including the Beetaloo, Canning and Lake Eyre basins.

3 reasons to change our ways

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen argues that Australians are not responsible for the emissions from our fossil fuel exports. That’s because the international accounting rules distinguish between the emissions that occur within our borders (known as scope 1 and 2 emissions) and those that occur when other countries burn the coal and gas we sell them (known as scope 3 emissions).

Extinction Rebellion protesters are seen pushing an animatronic burning Koala puppet called Blinky through the streets of the CBD in Brisbane, Wednesday, March 15, 2023
No matter where in the world Australian fossil fuels are burned, the emissions will harm our nation’s wildlife (including endangered koalas), people and properties. DARREN ENGLAND/AAP

But if Bowen really wants to tackle climate change, there are three reasons both he and Australians should bear this responsibility:

First, there’s the moral argument. Australia didn’t ban whaling and asbestos mining because we wanted to stop Australians from eating whales or building hazardous homes. We stopped these activities because they were dangerous. Countries can and do shape the world they live in.

Second, even just the emissions in Australia from these 116 new fossil fuel projects (their methane leaks, fuel use and other relevant emissions in Australia) will pour 344 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by 2030. That dwarfs the 205 million tonnes of emissions the entire Safeguard Mechanism is supposed to save over that same period.

And finally, leaving aside the risks of catastrophic climate change, which is admittedly a big ask, it is hard to overstate the risks to the Australian economy of continuing to focus our investment on the expansion of export industries that the rest of the world is committed to transitioning away from. If we aimed the $11 billion per year we spend on fossil fuel subsidies at decarbonising our economy, we would slash emissions in no time.


No new coal, oil and gas

The Australian government continues to support unlimited growth in fossil fuel production and export, despite clear statements from the United Nations, International Energy Agency (IEA) and IPCC that new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with global temperature goals.

No matter where in the world Australian fossil fuels are burned, they will turn up the heat. We can’t escape the simple truth that humanity must stop burning fossil fuels. It’s the only path to a liveable future.The Conversation

Richard Denniss, Adjunct Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

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

Species don’t live in isolation: what changing threats to 4 marsupials tell us about the future

Once abundant, woylies – or brush-tailed bettongs – are now critically endangered. John Gould, CC BY-SA
William Geary, Deakin University; Adrian Wayne, The University of Western Australia; Euan Ritchie, Deakin University, and Tim Doherty, University of Sydney

Conserving native wildlife is a challenging task and Australia’s unenviable extinction record shows us we urgently need more sophisticated and effective approaches.

Too often we focus on saving individual threatened species. But in the wild, species do not live neatly in isolation. They are part of rich ecosystems, relying on many other species to survive. To save species often means saving this web of life.

Our new research models what’s likely to happen to four well-known Western Australian marsupials in the biodiversity hotspot of south-western Australia, by identifying key drivers of their populations over time.

In the past, these species were most at risk from habitat loss. But when we ran our models forwards, we found all four species would be at more risk from climate change, which is bringing heightened fire risk and a drying trend to the region. Even better control of foxes – a major predator – did not offset the trend fully.

Our work adds further weight to efforts to protect ecosystems in all their complexity. The way species – including feral predators – interact takes place against a changing climate, fire regimes, and human-made change, like logging and grazing.

To give native species their best chance of survival, we have to embrace ecosystem-based conservation, rather than focusing on rescuing individual species.

What did we find?

We looked at long-term monitoring data to find out what was having the most impact on the woylie (brush-tailed bettong), chuditch (western quoll), koomal (western brushtail possum) and the quenda (southern brown bandicoot), four animals living in Upper Warren jarrah forests.

Our study species, left to right and clockwise: the koomal (western brushtail possum), chuditch (western quoll), quenda (southern brown bandicoot) and the woylie (brush-tailed bettong). The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)

All four have undergone considerable population change over the last few decades and some are now threatened due to predation by foxes and feral cats, habitat loss and increased frequency of droughts and bushfires. To add to that, controlled burns, lethal fox control and timber harvesting have all taken place in our study region within this time. What we didn’t know was how these threats and conservation efforts interact.

To find out, we built a complex statistical model of the ecosystem to pinpoint what was driving population change geographically and over time.

We found the abundance of these species were affected most by the historical impact of habitat loss, as well as less food in the form of vegetation or prey due to the area’s ongoing decline in rainfall.

Of the habitat lost here, most was cleared during the 19th and early 20th centuries. But now it has more or less stopped, the legacies of this change continue through the effects of habitat fragmentation and increased incursion by introduced species. That means the main falls in abundance took place decades ago.

What about fire and foxes? These threats had less effect than habitat loss and rainfall declines, which we attribute to the broad management of both of these in the region. It was also difficult to quantify the effects of fox control because of the lack of control areas – essentially, comparable areas without poison baits in the region.

Our work shows there’s not one simple answer for managing this ecosystem. Everything is connected. We need to embrace this complexity so that we can better pinpoint where our actions can make a difference.

This jarrah forest is typical of our study region. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)

What’s likely to happen?

While habitat loss was the major historical threat, the future looks to be different. Severe fire is set to increase and rainfall reduce due to climate change. This indicates all four species will see falling populations.

Annual rainfall in south-western Australia has already fallen at least 20% below the historical average and further declines are expected. If severe fires arrive more often – and overlap with reduced rainfall – we could see even greater population loss.

These threats mean local conservation managers will be less able to help. Controlling fox numbers may help at present, but in a drier, fierier future, things will get harder.

Our modelling suggests that for woylie and koomal, lethal fox control could boost their resilience to severe fire and reduced rainfall, but not completely offset the expected losses.

Jarrah forests are now experiencing more bushfires. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)

What does this mean for ecosystem management?

It’s long been a goal for conservationists to manage ecosystems as a whole. In reality, this is often incredibly difficult, as we need to consider multiple threats (such as fire and invasive species) and conflicting requirements of different species, in the face of uncertainty about how some ecosystems work, as well as limited budgets.

Ecosystems are complex webs of interacting species, processes and human influences. If we ignore this complexity, we can miss conservation opportunities, or see our actions have less effect than we expected.

Sometimes, well-intended actions can actually produce worse outcomes for some species, such as fox control leading to a boom in wallabies who strip the forest of everything edible.

Studies like ours wouldn’t be possible without the careful collection and synthesis of data over decades. As global climate change accelerates and the effects on ecosystems become increasingly unpredictable, conservation managers are flying blind if they do not have long-term monitoring to inform decisions on where and when to act.

So what can our conservation managers do? They can help ecosystems survive by doing two things. First, keep managing the threats within our control – such as invasive predators and ongoing habitat loss – to help reduce damage from other threats. Second, model and anticipate the effects of future change, and use that knowledge to be as prepared as we can. The Conversation

William Geary, PhD Student, Deakin University; Adrian Wayne, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia; Euan Ritchie, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, and Tim Doherty, ARC DECRA Fellow, University of Sydney

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

How did millions of fish die gasping in the Darling – after three years of rain?

Bill Ormonde, Author provided
Richard Kingsford, UNSW Sydney

Millions of dead fish float on the surface of the river. Native bony herring and introduced young carp, as well as a few mature Murray cod and golden perch. History is repeating on the Darling River at Menindee. This new fish kill is even worse than the enormous 2018–2019 fish kill. And it’s in almost the same location.

But how can so many fish die when we’ve been having floods? What’s killing them?

In both 2018 and 2023, the immediate answer is the same: the fish ran out of oxygen. Five years ago, it was because the river was almost dry. This time, it’s likely to be factors like the heatwave days earlier, receding floodwaters, bacteria pulling oxygen from the water – and no escape.

But two events like this in five years speaks to a deeper cause. The Darling River – known as the Baaka by Barkandji Traditional Owners – is very sick. Too much of its water is siphoned off for agriculture. Our native fish are hardy. They’re used to extremes. But this is too much, even for them.

Short term pressure, long term pain

I was a member of the expert panel investigating the 2018–2019 Menindee fish kills. Everyone agreed the fish ran out of oxygen. It was a very dry period, and a cool front arriving after a heat wave mixed deep low-oxygen river water with the thin top layer which had oxygen.

But our panel also examined the long-term changes to the river. We found the long-term cause for the river’s decline was simple: too much water was being diverted upstream.

It wasn’t just climate change – it was irrigation. We warned it could happen again. Now it has.

dead fish darling river
Native bony bream died in their millions, as did young carp, golden perch and even Murray cod. Bill Ormonde, Author provided

When faced with such environmental disaster, our leaders tend to reach for Dorothea MacKellar’s famous poem, My Country, and its line about a land “Of droughts and flooding rains.” Coalition water ministers at both federal and state level confidently blamed the drought for the first fish kill. Now, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet has linked this kill to the recent floods.

This is part of the reason. But only part. When floodwaters engorged the Darling and its tributaries, it was a bonanza for bacteria that broke down dead wood lying on the floodplain. Unfortunately, this explosion of microorganisms had a devastating side effect: they sucked oxygen out of the water.

This is what’s known as a blackwater event (in reality, more greeny-brown). As the floodwaters moved downstream and the Darling’s flow decreased, millions of fish fled the floodplains and found themselves crammed back in the narrow river channel where they were hit by plummeting oxygen levels.

Desperate, the fish looked to escape. But upstream, their exit was blocked. In December, authorities had fully opened the gates to the Menindee main weir for the first time in a decade to let fish migrate. But now the gates are shut.

menindee weir
Fish could swim up river past the Menindee main weir in December - but as flows slowed, the gates have been shut. Richard Kingsworth, Author provided

They couldn’t get into the main Menindee Lakes, where they might have found water with more oxygen, as they were blocked by the regulators – large taps used mainly to let water out.

Could they escape downstream? Perhaps some did. But for millions of fish, there was no time. Their bodies will only make the problem worse, as tonnes of rotting fish deposit vast quantities of nutrients into the river. That’s great for bacteria, algae and some fish-eating birds. But it’s not healthy for the river, its fish, or its people.

Yes, fish kills have always occurred but not at this scale. The fundamental reason the fish of the Darling keep dying is because there is not enough water allowed to flow.

Why is the Darling in such trouble?

Since the 1980s, the Darling’s tributaries have steadily shrunk. The Macquarie, the Namoi, the Gwydir, the Border Rivers and the Condamine-Balonne are all shadows of the rivers they once were. Much of their water is captured in large dams, like Burrendong Dam, or intercepted by floodplain harvesting, which was legalised only last year by the NSW Government to the dismay of environmentalists and farmers downstream.

Just last week, before news of the fish kills at Menindee, water allocations in the Namoi and Gwydir Rivers were a staggering 113% and 275% respectively. That is to say, all the water farmers and other users could take from these rivers is well beyond the total flows left in the rivers.

river red gum on darling
River red gums rely on periodic flooding. Without floodwaters, they can die. Shutterstock

The fish kills at Menindee are the clearest sign yet of how policy and management have failed the Darling. These catastrophes were inevitable. And the pain isn’t limited to fish. We are suffering too.

Taxpayers forked out nearly half a billion dollars for a pipeline from the Murray to Broken Hill, which nearly ran out of water in 2019. Why? Because the Darling was no longer dependable. In 2019, the towns of Wilcannia and Brewarrina ran out of water, significantly affecting Aboriginal communities. Why? Because the Darling was so low.

Fish kills like this one make news for a few days, and then get forgotten. But unless we tackle the fundamental problem of a lack of water in our rivers, there will be many more to come. This is not a natural disaster. It is man-made. The Conversation

Richard Kingsford, Professor, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney

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

Our mysterious night parrot has terrible vision – but we discovered it might be able to hear like an owl

Elen Shute, Flinders University; Alice Clement, Flinders University, and Gavin Prideaux, Flinders University

One bird bucks the stereotype of Australia’s raucous parrots – the mysterious and critically endangered night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis). Rather than flying around in noisy flocks or eating fruit in trees, the night parrot roosts all day in a clump of sharp spinifex grass. When darkness falls, it scurries about on the ground to forage, almost like a little rodent.

For eight decades, we thought it might be extinct. But then, in 2013, it was photographed. Now we know this vanishingly rare nocturnal bird still lives in parts of the remote outback.

Because it’s so rare, it’s very hard to study. In our work in palaeontology, we recently identified some fossil leg bones as probably belonging to the night parrot. Because there were no modern skeletons to compare them with, we had to CT-scan a museum specimen.

What we intended to do was compare the leg anatomy to our fossil leg bones. But then we found something bizarre. The night parrot’s skull was wonky and the ears were asymmetrical. Predatory owls have this too, as a way to boost their hearing and hunt better. But why would a seed-eating parrot need superb hearing?

night parrot illustration
The night parrot is one of only two nocturnal parrots, alongside New Zealand’s kakapo. This 1890 illustration is by Elizabeth Gould, illustrator and wife of ornithologist John Gould. Wikimedia, CC BY

Of wonky skulls and offset ears

In our new research, we offer the first anatomical description of the night parrot’s skull. In this, we were fortunate to be allowed to scan the precious type specimen held by the Natural History Museum in London. This is the original skin used by John Gould, the preeminent 19th century English ornithologist, to formally describe and name the night parrot in 1861.

We used high-resolution CT scans to look inside this museum “skin”, a dried specimen with internal organs removed, feathers on the outside and a partial skeleton on the inside.

The scans showed the left side of the skull did not mirror the right. Skull asymmetry isn’t unheard of in nocturnal birds. Many species of owl have offset ears and dramatically distorted skulls, which allows them to pinpoint any sound made by intended prey. But we certainly weren’t expecting it in a parrot.

The type specimen of the night parrot
We CT-scanned the night parrot’s type specimen – and found something unexpected about its skull. Mark Adams, copyright Natural History Museum, UK, Author provided

Wired for sound?

When we looked closely at the night parrot’s skull, we spotted telltale clues of a bird specialising in hearing. Asymmetry is part of it: the left ear opening is flat while the right one arches out to the side.

In uneven-eared owls, one ear is typically placed higher than the other. In flight, sound waves travelling from ground level hit each ear at slightly different times. This tiny difference in timing allows the owl’s brain to calculate precisely the sound’s origin on a vertical plane.

You can see the ears of the night parrot in this digital model created from a CT scan of the night parrot skull.

But night parrots don’t hunt fast-moving prey. They mostly eat seeds, so they probably don’t use asymmetrical ears to locate food.

While owl ears are positioned at different heights on the skull, this isn’t the case for the night parrot. The major difference between the parrot’s ears is how far they stick out sideways. This might help them locate the direction a sound comes from horizontally, which would make sense for a bird living almost entirely at ground level.

This could be useful to listen for predators, keep contact with their mates and young, find new potential mates, or to scan their habitat for competitors.

Adding to the evidence for excellent hearing is the size of this parrot’s ear chambers. Compared to other parrots, an unusually large volume of the night parrot’s skull is devoted to the external ear chamber – fully one third of the length of its head. These enlarged ear chambers may act like amplifiers, increasing the volume of sound transferred to the inner ears. This suggests it would be wise to keep the noise down in their habitat until we know more about their hearing.

Bigger ears, smaller eyes

A previous study found the night parrot has small optic nerves and reduced optic lobes in the brain for processing vision. From this, the researchers inferred the nocturnal parrot probably sees poorly in the dark. Despite this, it expertly navigates its dark world, flying up to a 30 kilometre round trip in a night to find food and water, before returning home to the same spinifex hummock where it roosts before sunrise.

Now that we’ve examined the skull, we can see the same clues. Vision appears to have been traded for hearing. Inside an animal skull, real estate is precious. Heads are heavy and cumbersome, and there’s only so much you can evolve to fit inside one. Enlarged ear chambers appear to constrain the maximum size of a night parrot’s eyes.

Even so, this bird has crammed in as much as it can. It has an outsized head compared to its body. Gould described the parrot’s “thick bluffy head” as one of the features defining the species.

When we measured the scleral ring – the circular bone supporting the eyeball – and compared it to other birds, we found telling differences. A night parrot’s cornea is about as small as it can possibly be while still allowing visually guided nocturnal flight. A millimetre or two smaller and they wouldn’t get enough light into their eyes to see in the dark.

This remarkable parrot is one of 22 threatened birds prioritised by the federal government for recovery. We hope ecologists can make the most of this to find out what we need to do to bring night parrots back from the brink. We’re only beginning to learn how unusual they are. The Conversation

Elen Shute, Researcher, Flinders University; Alice Clement, Research Associate in the College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, and Gavin Prideaux, Associate professor, Flinders University

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

Stressed out: Mapping the human footprint on coastal areas globally

March 20, 2023

A global mapping project led by University of Queensland researchers has revealed the major stressors placed upon global coastlines by human activity.

The team quantified and mapped the presence and extent of major land-based and marine stressors, finding that 97 per cent of coastal areas globally had at least one major stressor present.

Professor Salit Kark from UQ's School of Biological Sciences said the research team were surprised at the sheer extent and far-reaching impact revealed by the footprint map created.

"There is hardly anywhere on the planet, outside of the polar and arctic regions, that does not show some form of human pressure on their coastline," Professor Kark said.

"In essence, we have influenced the majority of coastal areas globally.

"We therefore should aim to map and understand our impacts, and also leave some untouched coastlines."

UQ PhD candidate Hannah Allan said the research outlined the spatial extent and magnitude of 10 major land-based stressors and 10 major marine stressors that occur across coastlines globally.

"The threats human activity pose to coastal ecosystems and biodiversity come from both the land and sea, sometimes arriving far from human activity," Ms Allan said.

"Therefore, coastal conservation must incorporate land-sea connections.

"Human population size, tourism, and roads were some of the biggest contributors to the terrestrial component of Australia's coastal human footprint.

"As for marine stressors, increasing sea surface temperatures, nutrient pollution, and shipping were found to be major drivers of human pressure on Australian coastlines."

Professor Noam Levin said a map of this kind, which assembles both terrestrial and marine stressors and presents the coastal human footprint globally, has rarely been attempted.

"This research offers valuable insights that could help decision-makers and managers identify where to mitigate particular impacts," Prof. Levin said.

"For example, the database underlying the human footprint can show specific areas with high oil and gas operations, such as in Western Australia.

"This can help develop preparedness procedures for the very realistic chance of environmental disasters that impact coastal areas, such as oil spills.

"An added benefit of our new global map is that it helps prioritise these decisions based on how widespread the potential pressures of our human footprint in certain areas of the world might be.

"Coastal areas, where 90 per cent of Australians live, were not immune to these stressors.

"For Australia, the highest human footprint was found in the coastal cities, in the order of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane.

"We also mapped 160 areas on the planet with the most pristine coastal areas, including several in Australia.

"Of those, nearly 40 per cent were totally unprotected -- opening an opportunity to identify coastal areas for further conservation actions.

"A key finding was that light pollution is increasing, with more white LEDs being used, placing great strain on areas of high importance for biodiversity, disrupting the natural patterns of wildlife."

Moving forward, researchers are looking to fine-tune the mapping process, looking more specifically at Australia's coastlines.

"Our plan is to develop high-resolution coastal footprint mapping for specific coastal areas in Australia, using finer detailed layers that are currently not available at a global scale," Professor Levin said.

Hannah Allan, Noam Levin, Salit Kark. Quantifying and mapping the human footprint across Earth's coastal areas. Ocean & Coastal Management, 2023; 236: 106476 DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2023.106476

What is myrtle rust and why has this disease closed Lord Howe Island to visitors?

Robert Park, University of Sydney

Some 70% of the World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island has been closed to non-essential visitors in response to a recurrence of the plant disease myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust, native to South America, was first detected in Australia on the Central Coast of NSW in April 2010. It is caused by a fungus that belongs to a group of plant pathogens known as the rusts.

Rusts are among the most feared of all plant pathogens. They spread rapidly over thousands of kilometres on wind currents and can cause huge losses in plant production.

For example, wheat rust research over the past 100 years at the University of Sydney has shown clear evidence of wind-borne rust spores travelling from central Africa to Australia. Wheat production losses due to rust have at times totalled hundreds of millions of dollars.

Myrtle rust rapidly invaded the entire east coast of Australia in the years after it was first detected. It has caused the near extinction of at least three rainforest species, including the native guava (Rhodomyrtus psidioides) and the scrub turpentine (Rhodamnia rubescens).

The disease was detected at Lord Howe Island in 2016, and eradicated. Now it has managed to spread there once again. There are concerns if the disease is left unchecked, it could seriously alter the unique ecology of the island. Lord Howe is home to some 240 native plant species, of which more than 100 are not found anywhere else.

view of tropical rainforest on Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island has around 100 native plant species that are found nowhere else. Shutterstock

How can the disease be controlled?

Rust diseases in agriculture are controlled by the cultivation of genetically resistant plants, or by use of fungicides. These fungicides can kill existing recent infections and provide protection for up to four weeks. In other situations, such as horticulture and native plant communities, fungicides are used together with removal and destruction of infected plants.

The 2010 detection of myrtle rust in Australia followed its detection in Hawaii in 2005 and China in 2009. It was later found in New Caledonia (2013) and New Zealand (2017). Research has shown the same strain – known as the “pandemic strain” – has appeared in all of these countries. Several other strains occur in South America.

It is likely the fungus spread to Lord Howe Island from eastern Australia on wind currents. The especially wet conditions along the east coast of much of Australia in 2022 led to an increase in the disease there. This, in turn, increased rust spore load and hence the chance of long-distance spore dispersal.

In addition to being spread on the wind, the rusty coloured spores produced by these fungal pathogens stick readily to clothing. These spores remain viable for at least two weeks under ambient conditions. Several wheat rusts of exotic origin are believed to have been accidentally brought in to Australia on travellers’ clothing from North America and Europe.

The chance of inadvertent spread of myrtle rust on contaminated clothing is why access to Lord Howe island has been restricted since last week.

The second incursion into the island clearly shows how incredibly difficult rust diseases are to manage once they reach a new region. It points to possible recurrences of the disease there in years to come even should current efforts to eradicate it succeed.

On top of the ability of rust diseases to spread rapidly over large distances, a further complication in controlling myrtle rust is it infects a wide range of native plants. Some of these species hold great cultural significance and/or are endangered.

Endemic species of the myrtle plant family Myrtaceae that are dominant in many of the plant communities on Lord Howe Island are highly vulnerable to myrtle rust infection. Of critical concern are two species that occur only on the island: the mountain rose (Meterosideros nervulosa) and the rainforest tree scalybark (Syzigium fullagarri). The rust infects young leaves and also flowers, where it causes sterility.

Australia brings expertise to the battle

Australia has some of the best plant pathologists in the world and has long been a leader in controlling rust diseases in agriculture. This expertise, combined with world-leading scientists in the ecology of Australian native plants, has enabled solid progress in understanding myrtle rust in the Australian environment. Australian scientists have joined hands with New Zealand scientists to boost efforts to control the pathogen in both countries.

Research is also under way at the University of Sydney and Australian National University to develop new DNA-based diagnostics to allow rapid identification of the different strains of the pathogen. These tests are especially important given only one strain of myrtle rust occurs in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania regions.

The success of managing the impact of myrtle rust on the region’s iconic flora against a backdrop of climate change will rely heavily on undertaking the research needed to gain a much better understanding of this damaging plant pathogen. Recognising this, staff at the University of Sydney have convened a conference for June 21-23 this year. It will bring together myrtle rust experts to exchange their latest research findings and identify priority areas for research.The Conversation

Robert Park, Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture, Plant Breeding Institute, University of Sydney

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

New research reveals how forests reduce their own bushfire risk, if they’re left alone

Philip Zylstra, Curtin University and Grant Wardell-Johnson, Curtin University

Fire management in Australia is approaching crisis point. Seasons such as the Black Summer three years ago showed how our best efforts in fire-fighting and prescribed burning are insignificant in the face of a changing climate.

But what if forests have their own tools to manage bushfire risk, and we could tap into them?

We know long-unburnt mountain forests in south-east Australia are far less fire-prone than more recently burnt areas. And forests in south-west Australia have the lowest fire risk when they’ve not been subjected to prescribed burning.

Our study just published set out to understand why this occurs, by modelling fire behaviour in iconic red tingle forests of south-west Australia. Our findings offer a clear set of tools for living with fire, even in a warming climate.

The ‘fuel load’ dilemma

Most bushfires in the south-west forests of Western Australia occur in areas burned specifically to reduce fuel loads.

Current fire management by government agencies focuses on broadscale burning to reduce fuel load. The practice is also known as prescribed, planned, controlled or hazard-reduction burning. It aims to reduce the intensity of future fires at a location by burning leaf litter and other fine surface matter.

Fuel-load reduction is premised on the idea that the amount of fuel in a forest determines how flammable it is. The idea comes from early attempts at fire behaviour modelling imported from the United States in the 1960s.

But more recent work has shown prescribed burning can lead to catastrophic outcomes. This includes the near-destruction of critically endangered wildlife populations and the destruction of homes when prescribed burns escape.

So what can be done? Our study on the iconic red tingle (Eucalyptus jacksonii) deals with this dilemma.

Getting to know the red tingle

Red tingles are among the tallest eucalypts, growing up to 70 metres. They grow only in a 6,000-hectare stretch along the high-rainfall south coast of Western Australia.

Red tingles can live for more than 400 years. They regenerate well after fire – even an intense fire – and form naturally mixed aged forests dominated by large old trees.

But red tingles are sensitive to frequent fires, no matter how mild. Flames can enter the tree and hollow it out, eventually causing its collapse.

a large tree, left, and a collapsed tree after fire, right
Left: A red tingle tree. Right, a collapsed red tingle after repeated fire. M Howe

The understorey of red tingle forest consists of tall, long-lived shrubs that germinate prolifically after fire. These understoreys thin and open as they age.

The goal of our research was to understand how these changes in red tingle forests affect fire behaviour. To do this, we used an advanced fire modelling tool developed by the lead author of this article, Phillip Zylstra, and his colleagues.

The tool doesn’t use a simple number to characterise a forest’s fuel load. Instead, it uses hundreds of thousands of calculations to determine which plants will ignite – and importantly, which plants won’t ignite but will instead calm the flames.

So what did we find? As the understorey of red tingle forest ages and thins, the lower branches of taller plants “self-prune” – in other words, they shed dead leaves and twigs.

When this litter is on the ground, it begins to decay and poses a lower fire risk than if it were still suspended.

The lower branches of taller plants, once self-pruned, are then less likely to ignite as fuel. Instead, they act as “overstorey shelter” that reduces wind speed and fire severity. In this way, mature forests control fire rather than drive it.

Our study showed that, due to this calming effect, fires in mature red tingle forests could be extinguished by firefighters most of the time.

By contrast, our study showed that prescribed burning in red tingle forests creates dense regrowth, which burns severely during bushfires. In such cases, our study showed firefighters are often unable to extinguish the flames and must resort to backburning - a risky fire suppression technique.

left to right, a burnt tree, a regrowth forest and a mature forest
Left to right, a red tingle forest after a prescribed burn, the resulting regrowth, and mature forest. M Howe; P Zylstra

Making peace with the bush

Contemporary fire management approaches, and their dependence upon broadscale prescribed burns, contrast starkly with the approach of Australia’s First Nations people.

Menang and Goreng Traditional Owners of red tingle and surrounding forests say fire should be used in specific locations, burning only what is needed in small, strategically placed patches. Wadandi Pibulmun Yunungjarlu Elder Wayne Webb advised our team that Traditional Owners deliberately excluded fire from tall red tingle forests.

In our contemporary context, we can co-operate with the landscape - balancing the effects of climate change by using specialist fire-fighting skills and technological advances to reinforce safe forest havens.

The fire risk in WA’s south-western forests, and many other eucalypt forests, is so much lower if they’re left unburnt and allowed to mature. Our analysis of red tingle forests helps explain why.

One thing is clear: if we still want forests in our flammable country, we must stop burning their defences away.The Conversation

Philip Zylstra, Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University, Research Associate at University of New South Wales, Curtin University and Grant Wardell-Johnson, Adjunct Associate Professor, Molecular and Life Sciences and ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration., Curtin University

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

The Great Southern Reef is in more trouble than the Great Barrier Reef

Graham Edgar/Reef Life Survey, Author provided
Graham Edgar, University of Tasmania

Marine heatwaves are damaging reef ecosystems around Australia, but while the tropical north has received the lion’s share of the attention to date, we equally need to worry about the temperate south.

That’s partly because the Great Southern Reef is of immense biodiversity value. Species found here are found nowhere else in the world. Even their distant relatives are long gone. It’s also because these temperate reefs are suffering even more from heatwaves than the Great Barrier Reef.

After 30 years counting thousands of marine species on Australian reefs, we could see the situation was changing rapidly. But our research team wasn’t able to survey enough locations to adequately track the changes. These occurred out of sight, beneath the waves, off coastlines extending thousands of kilometres. We realised we needed help.

So we enlisted the help of enthusiastic volunteer divers to complete the world’s first continental audit of shallow marine life. This unique Australian effort was a tremendous collaborative achievement. But it’s nothing compared to what’s needed in the years to come, to defend our reef ecosystems from the impacts of climate change and other human pressures.

Reef Life Survey makes the underwater world visible.

Answering questions with data

Our goal was to answer crucial questions from managers, including:

  • which marine species are rapidly heading towards extinction?

  • how can threats to reef species be addressed cost effectively?

  • how large do marine reserves need to be, to achieve conservation goals?

  • which regulations work best?

Our solution was to headhunt the most enthusiastic and experienced recreational divers, then train them to scientific standards in underwater survey methods.

More than 200 highly trained volunteers have now participated in the Reef Life Survey of Australia. Together they have counted more than 3,000 species of fishes, corals and other invertebrates at over 2,500 sites around Australia, including offshore locations not previously visited by divers.

Volunteer Reef Life Survey diver counting fishes in South Australia
Reef Life Survey is a non-profit citizen science program in which trained SCUBA divers undertake standardised underwater visual surveys of reef biodiversity on rocky and coral reefs around the world. This photo was taken in South Australia. Graham Edgar/Reef Life Survey, Author provided

This information, combined with survey data from the Australian Temperate Reef Collaboration (collected using similar methods) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Queensland, has allowed us to produce the first continental audit of shallow marine life completed anywhere in the world. Our new research is published today in the journal Nature.

Our investigation revealed that heatwaves have damaged many (but not all) reef communities over the past decade. The effects have been patchy. Some reef populations have been devastated, other reefs nearby have declined and recovered, and others have flourished.

Species tended to increase numbers in years when water temperatures rose less than 0.5℃ above average, but declined rapidly once this heatwave threshold was passed. Overall, more species were declining than increasing.

Coral density has showed little overall change across the Great Barrier Reef since 2010. Many, but not all, coral reef communities impacted by the 2016 heatwave have recovered. Coral populations tended to decline in the north, show little change in the central region, and increase in the south.

A diver surveys life on Elizabeth Reef, off the coast of northern New South Wales.
Although some locations on the Great Barrier Reef had suffered catastrophic coral losses, heatwave impacts were highly patchy, with no consistent trend for population increase or decrease among the 51 tropical coral species investigated. This photo was taken on Elizabeth Reef, a southern coral reef off the coast of northern New South Wales. Scott Ling, courtesy Great Southern Reef Foundation 2023

Around Australia, fishes, mobile invertebrates such as crabs, snails and seastars, and seaweeds showed similar responses to warming. Numbers typically declined in the north of species’ ranges and increased in the south. The increasing abundance of warm water species in the south has, however, squeezed populations of cold water species.

At the limit, southern Tasmanian species trapped by the deep Southern Ocean barrier cannot migrate further south. The common sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus), for example, has declined in numbers by 57% over the past decade across monitoring sites.

The common sea dragon (_Phyllopteryx taeniolatus_) at Blackmans Bay
Numbers of the common sea dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) have halved across the 43 Great Southern Reef dive sites. This beautiful specimen was spotted at Blackmans Bay. Graham Edgar/Reef Life Survey, Author provided

Many species living on Tasmanian reefs, particularly echinoderms such as sea stars and sea urchins, have shown precipitous population declines over the past decade.

A strong heatwave off southwestern Australia in 2011 also caused seaweed populations to drop rapidly. Most affected seaweeds remain at greatly reduced levels.

Overall, cool-temperate species inhabiting the Great Southern Reef - the interconnected network of kelp-covered rocky reefs that extends from northern New South Wales to southwestern Australia — are generally declining in number more rapidly and are more threatened with extinction, than tropical species.

This is perhaps not surprising given that Great Southern Reef species live in a climate change hotspot (where sea temperatures are rising more rapidly than elsewhere worldwide) along the most densely populated Australian coast. Impacts from infrastructure development, catchment degradation, pollution and fishing are widespread.

Why the southern reef is so great

Australia’s southern reefs - in temperate waters between the tropical north and the Southern Ocean - are hotspots of biodiversity. Most species are found nowhere else in the world (70% of the temperate species surveyed were endemic to Australia). In contrast, almost all of the tropical species censused in our study are widely distributed across the Indo-Pacific (only 3% endemic to Australia).

Furthermore, temperate Australian species often have no close relatives. Their evolutionary roots run deep. Examples include the red velvet fish (Gnathanacanthus goetzii) and the giant creeper snail (Campanile symbolicum). Both species sit alone in their families, and were found in our census to have rapidly declining populations.

Worldwide, the most threatened fish family is the handfishes. This is a group of 14 species restricted to southeastern Australia, primarily Tasmania. The critically endangered red handfish (Thymichthys politus) and spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) have declined to tiny populations of around 100 (red) and 5000 (spotted) individuals living in shallow bays near Hobart. The smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis) is probably already extinct.

Two divers explore the deep reef off Bicheno in the Freycinet Commonwealth Marine Reserve
Abundant sponge gardens, impressive kelp beds, prolific fish life and caves packed with delicate invertebrates make Bicheno an ideal destination for SCUBA divers, snorkelers and underwater photographers. Scott Ling, courtesy Great Southern Reef Foundation 2023

What we stand to lose

The loss of most Australian marine species will likely occur unseen. Government funding does not generally support systematic monitoring of native plants and animals.

Data provided by volunteer Reef Life Survey divers has provided the only population trend information for over 1,000 species, while tens of thousands of species lack any information at all. Only the Great Barrier Reef Long Term Monitoring Program run by the Australian Institute of Marine Science receives dedicated funding covering marine habitats.

Until more attention is paid to the conservation of temperate marine species, the living heritage of future generations will continue to slip away. We will also remain in the dark as to what already has been lost. The little public, scientific or management attention paid to the Great Southern Reef belies its status as a global marvel, and one that is highly threatened.The Conversation

Graham Edgar, Senior Marine Ecologist, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

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

Fishing for data: commercial fishers help monitor rising temperatures in coastal seas

Moana project, CC BY-ND
Julie Jakoboski, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi; João Marcos Azevedo Correia de Souza, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi, and Malene Felsing, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi

The world’s oceans are buffering us from the worst climate impacts by taking up more than 90% of the excess heat generated by greenhouse gas emissions. This has warmed them by 0.88℃ (on average globally), according to the latest climate report released this week.

The warming of the ocean affects marine ecosystems, drives changes in ocean circulation and heat distribution, and strongly influences atmospheric weather systems. All these processes are critically important to the health of our planet.

Scientists measure subsurface ocean temperature around the world, but there is a coastal gap in those measurements. This is where fishing, aquaculture, recreation and ocean managers need good data the most.

MetService’s Moana Project is changing that. We have joined forces with the commercial fishing sector to deploy sensors on vessels nationwide to gain insights into how ocean temperatures are changing near the coast.

A small sensor in a yellow container is attached to fishing gear.
A temperature sensor is attached to fishing gear to track temperature data in coastal waters. John Radford/ZebraTech, CC BY-SA

Monitoring coastal changes

Ocean temperature measurements are critical for understanding and accurately predicting extreme events, including severe storms and unusually warm coastal waters, which have serious economic and societal impacts.

During the past few years, Aotearoa New Zealand has been plagued by extreme rainfall and persistent marine heatwaves. This has severely affected marine life, fisheries and aquaculture.

Increased ocean temperatures can exacerbate severe weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle, contributing to the conditions for intense rainfall and potential devastation.

To prepare for a changing climate and provide early alerts for extreme events, we need to monitor temperature changes below the ocean’s surface. These measurements are usually expensive, often requiring oceanographic research vessels to deploy instruments.

Pioneering international programmes like Argo (autonomous floats that move with the world’s ocean currents collecting measurements) provide unprecedented world coverage of deeper waters.

But they are not primarily designed to measure coastal and shelf seas. The lack of coastal observations is recognised in New Zealand and globally, and is a priority for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science 2021-2030.

A map of coverage by the Argo programme and by sensors on fishing vessels
This graph shows the average number of Argo profiles per month around Aotearoa New Zealand (left, blue colours) and the average number of sensor deployments (right, red colours) from June 2020 to February 2023, highlighting the coverage obtained by these complementary programmes. Moana project, CC BY-ND

Crowd-sourcing ocean observations

As part of the Moana Project, MetService and the commercial fishing industry partnered with Nelson-based company ZebraTech to develop the Mangōpare sensor, a small, lightweight, robust and accurate temperature sensor that attaches to commercial fishing gear.

The Mangōpare sensor
The Mangōpare sensor, named by Moana Project partner Whakatōhea iwi, fits into the palm of a hand. Moana project, CC BY-ND

The sensor was distributed to volunteer inshore and deep-water fishing vessels and citizen scientists. Thanks to more than 200 skippers and crew, there are now 300 sensors on commercial fishing vessels, providing more than one million subsurface observations a month from across Aotearoa New Zealand.

The sensor attaches to any type of fishing gear and automatically collects ocean temperature and depth measurements through the water column. This information is automatically sent to the cloud, quality checked, returned to the fisher collecting it and incorporated into MetService ocean forecasts.

Vital temperature record to improve forecasts

Temperature observations are used to improve ocean forecasting models and verify the depth of marine heatwaves around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Similar to a weather station on land collecting real-time data that improves weather forecasts, sensor data helps improve three-dimensional predictions of ocean temperature, currents and sea level. These forecasts are used to prepare coastal communities for approaching storms, optimise fishing and alert aquaculture to extreme ocean temperatures.

Scientists use the sensor data to understand how ocean temperature affects our marine ecosystems. Recently, severe marine heatwaves have affected coastal and offshore areas leading to changes in fish distribution and impacts on sensitive species.

The sensor provides measurements exactly where fishing occurs, helping fishers make sense of changes in their catch.

A sensor attached a commercial fishing pot.
Like weather stations on land, sensors attached to fishing gear help collect data to improve three-dimensional predictions of ocean temperature. William Maclardy, CC BY-SA

Temperature measurements are an invaluable record of subsurface ocean structure, allowing scientists to determine impacts of marine heatwaves, such as the bleaching of Fjordland sponges. Increased understanding is essential to a climate-resilient future for our oceans and marine species over the coming decades.

Partnering with technology innovators, the commercial fishing sector, citizen scientists and researchers from across New Zealand, this project breaks down traditional barriers.

This approach demonstrates how we can solve critical environmental issues and provide important insight into our changing oceans. The continuation of this system will lead the way toward informing a climate-resilient blue economy and understanding the coastal ocean, providing measurements that will only become more critical in the coming years.The Conversation

Julie Jakoboski, Oceanographic Data Scientist, Moana Project's Te Tiro Moana Team Lead, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi; João Marcos Azevedo Correia de Souza, MetOcean Solutions Science Manager of the Research and Development Team. Moana Project Science Lead, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi, and Malene Felsing, Moana Project Manager, MetService — Te Ratonga Tirorangi

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

Why bioplastics won’t solve our plastic problems

Elsa Dominish, University of Technology Sydney; Fiona Berry, University of Technology Sydney; Nick Florin, University of Technology Sydney, and Rupert Legg, University of Technology Sydney

Last month, Victoria banned plastic straws, crockery and polystyrene containers, following similar bans in South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and the ACT. All states and territories in Australia have now banned lightweight single-use plastic bags.

You might wonder why we have to ban these products entirely. Couldn’t we just make them out of bioplastics – plastics usually made of plants? Some studies estimate we could swap up to 85% of fossil-fuel based plastics for bioplastics.

Unfortunately, bioplastics aren’t ready for prime time – except for their use in kitchen caddy bins as food waste liners. In Australia, we don’t have widely available pathways to compost or process them at the end of their lives. Nearly always, they end up in landfill.

That’s why many states are including bioplastics in their plastics bans. Avoiding single-use plastics entirely, whether traditional fossil fuel-based plastics or bioplastics, is more sustainable. And as our recycling system struggles, less plastic of any kind is simply better.

corn harvest germany
Bioplastics come from plants such as corn - and that comes with environmental impacts. Shutterstock

Bio-based, biodegradable and compostable are different

Bioplastics is a blanket term covering plastics which are biologically-based or biodegradable (including compostable), or both.

Plastics are materials based on polymers – long-repeating chains of large molecules. These molecules don’t have to be oil-based - biologically-based plastics are made from raw materials such as corn, sugarcane, cellulose and algae.

Biodegradable plastics are those plastics able to be broken down by microorganisms into elements found in nature. Importantly, biodegradable here doesn’t specify how long or under what conditions plastic will break down.

Compostable plastics biodegrade on a known timeframe, when composted. In Australia, they can be certified for commercial or home compostable use.

These differences are important. Many of us would see the word “bioplastic” and assume what we’re buying is plant based and breaks down quickly. That’s often not true. Some biodegradable plastics are even made from fossil fuels.

compost caddy
Compostable bin caddies are the main sustainable use for bioplastics at present. Shutterstock

Are bioplastics broadly more environmentally friendly?

To understand this we need to look at the whole lifecycle of the plastic, how it is made, used and what happens to it at end-of-life. Manufacturing bio-based plastics generally has lower environmental impacts and has less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel plastics.

This isn’t always the case. Producing plastics from plants has an environmental impact from the use of land, water and agricultural chemicals. Increased demand for agricultural land could lead to biodiversity loss and can compete with food production.

Bioplastics often sub in for familiar single use items such as plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups and cutlery. Around 90% of the bioplastics sold in Australia are certified compostable. In most of these applications a reusable alternative would be the most sustainable option.

Some applications have beneficial environmental outcomes: compostable bags for kitchen food waste caddies increase the rate of food waste collected, which means less food waste in landfill and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

What about the crucial question of plastic waste and pollution? Sadly, if bioplastics end up in the environment, they can damage the environment in the same way as conventional plastics, such as contaminating soil and water. A turtle can choke just as easily on a bioplastic bag as a conventional plastic bag. That’s because biodegradable plastics still take years or even decades to biodegrade in nature.

Ideally, bioplastics should be designed to be either recyclable or compostable. Unfortunately, some bioplastics are neither. These pose problems for our waste management system, as they often end up contaminating recycling or compost bins when the only place for them is the tip.

In recent research for WWF Australia, we found widespread greenwashing in the industry, with terms such as “earth friendly” and “plastic-free” adding to the confusion. Regulating the industry and standardising terms would make it easier for us all to choose.

Compostable plastics almost all end up in landfill

Compostable plastics are designed to be broken down in the compost. Some can be composted at home, but others have to be done commercially.

The problem is these plastics aren’t being composted most of the time. Australian Standard compostable plastics are accepted in food organics and garden organics bins in South Australia and some councils in Hobart. But everywhere else, access to these services is limited. Many councils in other states will accept food and green waste – but specifically exclude compostable plastics (some accept council-supplied food waste caddy liners).

This means most compostable plastics used in Australia end up in landfill, where they emit methane as they break down, where it is not always captured. There’s no benefit using bioplastics if they can’t – or won’t – be recycled or composted, especially if they’re replacing a plastic that’s readily recyclable, such as the PET used in soft drink bottles.

plastic waste
Bioplastics still take time to degrade in landfill- and emit methane as they do so. Shutterstock

Where does it make sense to use bioplastics in Australia?

When you reach for a bioplastic product, you’re probably doing it to reduce plastic waste. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. We need viable pathways for recycling and composting.

So should we avoid them altogether? If you use compostable bin caddies and compost them at home or your council accepts them, that’s a useful option. But for most other uses, it’s far better to just not use plastic at all. Your reusable coffee cup and shopping bags are the best option. The Conversation

Elsa Dominish, Research Principal, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney; Fiona Berry, Research Principal, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney; Nick Florin, Associate Professor and Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, and Rupert Legg, PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney

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

Antarctic ice age survival story: life seeking ice-free refuges imitates art in Ice Age, the movie

Mark Stevens, University of Adelaide and Andrew Mackintosh, Monash University

Antarctica is an icy place today, but the ice extended even further during past ice ages. The question of how and where life survived on land in the icy continent, through the ages, has long puzzled biologists.

Ever since the first expeditions to Antarctica, the persistence of life in this inhospitable environment has remained a mystery. Until now.

We assembled data to test our theory of how life survived previous ice ages. We argue that life forms including invertebrates, vertebrates and plants persisted by retreating to numerous ice-free areas, called nunataks, that were not buried by advancing glaciers.

Then when Antarctica gradually warmed up again, life expanded from these nunatak refuges to repopulate larger ice-free areas. Our approach explains the uneven distribution of Antarctic terrestrial life, and identifies new research priorities to test our theory further.

The coming age of ice

Ice Age the movie (clips): With the impending ice age almost upon them, a mismatched trio of prehistoric critters – Manny the woolly mammoth, Diego the sabre-toothed tiger and Sid the giant sloth – find an orphaned human infant and decide to return it.

For many, the term “Ice Age” conjures up memories of the animated adventures of Manny, Sid and Diego (and don’t forget that squirrel-rat, Scrat!) trying to escape the advancing ice.

There may be some truth to this story. The idea of a mammoth, sloth, sabretooth tiger (and pesky humans) migrating south for warmer climes is becoming well known in the Northern Hemisphere. And research published this month suggests early humans sat out the last ice age in the ice-free refuges of southern Europe.

But in Antarctica, land-loving life forms had nowhere to go. Or so it seemed, until now.

As scientists began to learn more about life in Antarctica, they began to consider the possibility of survival in ice-free refuges. But there was a problem. Any ice-free land in coastal regions, where life exists today, would have surely been consumed by the expanding ice. So how did life survive?

Unusual ice-free refuges

Using evidence from the biology and geology of Antarctica, we describe how ice-free refuges (nunataks) could have provided respite for coastal species.

Image of Antarctica from above showing land elevation topography and locations where springtails were sampled, also schematic of mountains comparing glacial maxima (ice age) and minima (before/after ice age).
The nunatak refuge hypothesis is that life retreated during ice ages to ice-free refuges on mountain tops (nunataks) and moraines, across the continent. Evidence for this theory comes from springtail specimens and geological records. This map of an ice-free Antarctica (a) reveals land above sea-level (green/yellow/brown). Every known springtail sampled is shown (coloured circles within the ellipses). Ice-free refuges indicated by cosmogenic dating (red/orange diamonds). Survival of springtails (colours represent isolated species) in ice-free terrain shown in (b and c) shift with glacial margins as ice expands and retreats. Biology Letters, CC BY

We discounted previous research suggesting geothermal sites provided sufficient ice-free refuges on the coast. That’s because these would have been short-lived - compared to an ice age lasting around 100,000 years - and too few in number to explain the survival of life on the continent today.

We provide the first testable evidence-based hypothesis for the existence of life on continental Antarctica for millions of years. And we achieved this using the most well-known of all Antarctic invertebrates, a small creature that inhabits ice-free land year-round: springtails.

Springtails are an important contributor to soil health globally. They were among the first animals collected during early expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula and the northern coast of Victoria Land from 1897-1900.

We collated a database of distribution records for Antarctic springtails from these first discoveries more than a century ago to the present.

The springtail Cryptopygus sverdrupi is one of many species found in Antarctic ice-free locations. This species is from Dronning Maud Land, and survives on the numerous nunataks that stick out of the ice cap that covers the Antarctic continent. Cyrille D'Haese

We also delved into an existing resource that has not been previously used to explore these questions of survival. By exploring the Informal Cosmogenic-nuclide Exposure-age Database (ICE-D) for Antarctica, we were able to demonstrate that ice-free conditions persisted across the last (and previous) ice ages at a large number of locations.

Cosmogenic-nuclide dating is normally used to improve the understanding of ice sheets’ response to climate change, by revealing when a rock was last covered by ice. But it had not been used to identify ice-free glacial refuges, until now.

Jamey Stutz samples two ice-transported cobbles (rocks) at Hughes Bluff in Victoria Land, Antarctica.
Dating rocks in Antarctica has provided a unique way to identify where life could have survived repeated ice ages. Jamey Stutz samples two ice-transported cobbles (rocks) at Hughes Bluff in Victoria Land, Antarctica. The cobbles were deposited thousands of years ago, when the ice was thicker than today. Andrew Mackintosh, Author provided

We show that some of these ice-free refuges persisted above the expanding ice during past ice ages. Some contained all species found in a region.

But how did life move from these refuges, to repopulate habitats such as coastal areas? Clues to this remarkable survival story comes from well-known alpine and polar studies, showing life present in ice-free ecosystems near glacial margins shifts as the ice expands or contracts.

Mount Suess, nestled within the Mackay Glacier in Victoria Land, provides one of the best examples of survival of life on nunataks across the last ice age. Dating rocks in the area reveals it remained ice-free. Kevin Norton and Richard Jones

Learning life lessons

Antarctic life faces an uncertain future as the climate changes. The region is experiencing more extreme events such as the catastrophic breakup of ice shelves, the highest observed Antarctic air temperature, and the least extensive sea ice ever recorded. It seems we are now living in the sequel “Ice Age: The Meltdown”. Let’s hope we fare as well as Manny and his friends.

Antarctica will change forever, and limiting that change will take a “mammoth” collective effort at a global scale to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a daunting and unprecedented challenge, but one which is required to secure Antarctica’s future. Life endured past ice ages, but can it survive us?The Conversation

The Antarctic Dry Valleys region is one of the driest places on earth. Today, it has the greatest amount of ice-free areas in Antarctica. These, and other regions around Antarctica, are expected to be dramatically affected by climate changes leading to large volumes of fresh water from the melting glaciers. Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Adelaide and Andrew Mackintosh, Professor & Head, School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment; expert on glaciers and ice sheets, Monash University

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

Participation income: the social welfare model that could help communities fight climate change
Heikki Hiilamo, University of Helsinki

Universal Basic Income (UBI), a programme in which all adult citizens are given a regular amount of money to spend on what they choose, dominates the debate on the future of social policy. It is based on the idea that in the middle of plenty, millions of people still suffer from unemployment, underemployment, and a lack of means to have a meaningful life, and that a regular grant will provide a basic threshold to guarantee a certain quality of life.

Basic income schemes have already been piloted in Finland, Canada, Los Angeles in the US, and Wales, among others. And many countries have dealt with the social protection gap in hard times by providing temporary cash transfers with no strings attached, as happened in response to COVID-19 in Japan, South Korea and the US.

While arguments still continue over the predicted impact of new digital technologies on employment as a result of increasing automation, there is a pressing crisis that also calls for radical changes in social policy: the climate emergency.

Wellbeing not economic growth

Welfare regimes all rely on the dividend of future productivity growth to underwrite increases in welfare spending. Even if economic growth could be decoupled from emissions, this is unlikely to happen fast enough to arrest global warming between 1.5 and 2°C, which scientists estimate is necessary to avert catastrophic changes.

There is fledgling research on new models of a welfare state which is not built on productivity and economic growth, but upon an architecture of sustainable wellbeing and care. UBI is the best known alternative to traditional welfare states. But it fails to meet the challenge for building a sustainable and just society.

A concept image of people standing next to stacks of bank notes.
UBI schemes guarantee everyone a minimum cash payment. Bakhtiar Zein/Shutterstock

Getting “free” money on its own won’t encourage people to use less fossil energy and do less of the things currently driving climate change. UBI schemes also consider monetary income as the route to meeting basic needs, strengthening the role of money in everyday life and leaving existing social relations untouched. Such schemes might entice politicians to cut resources from public services.

UBI does not fit well with the call for a more interventionist state to grapple with the climate emergency either. It is based on the idea of an individual right to income without recognising the value of common action or reciprocal behaviour. Claimants may withdraw from the community and never explore their full potential as community members.

Participation income

The original participation income model (PI) was proposed by the British economist Anthony Atkinson in 1996. It is similar to UBI, but obliges people to do something in exchange for the money they receive. These activities can contribute to both the capacity of the community or the individual, like care work or attending language courses. For the most part, claimants know best what activities would be appropriate, and it would allow them to engage in a reciprocal relationship with society.

These activities could include gardening or tree planting, essentially anything that involves restoring biodiversity and bolstering natural solutions to climate change. And it can even replace or be integrated into current labour market policy measures which aim to equip unemployed persons with new skills to reenter work.

PI does have some weaknesses which need to be overcome. Atkinson envisioned nearly every person in society being eligible for the scheme, as monitoring eligibility would be difficult and incur hefty administrative costs. The PI model could be revised so that the payment reaches people on low incomes who currently rely on means-tested benefits.

A group of adults sit around a table looking at an A3 piece of paper.
People could receive PI in exchange for learning a language which might help them forge stronger ties within their community. Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Some people will also choose not to take part in participatory activities, but they must not be allowed to slip through the net. If PI was given as a “top-up” to a guaranteed minimum income, receiving PI would be seen as positive and losing it could not be regarded as a sanction.

Importantly, if the participatory activities were imposed upon people, they would remain in a subordinate position and may be stuck doing similar duties repeatedly. Allowing PI recipients to choose their activities would let them decide how to enrich their own lives and the life of their community. This model could involve community-based organisations, public providers and local residents’ networks in planning a range of development projects.

Innovative models of social security are especially important for people who may not be able to find green jobs, or households and communities with limited resources, who may not have the time or money to adopt energy-saving technologies or a climate-friendly diet.

PI is no panacea, but it could be useful for helping build a welfare state model fit for the 21st century.

This article is co-published with Nordics.infoThe Conversation

Heikki Hiilamo, Professor of Social Policy, University of Helsinki

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 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.