April 7 - 20, 2024: Issue 621

Koala Extinction 'Ticked Off'

Dear Editor

Hopefully newly appointed CEO of the 'Reconstruction Authority', Deputy Commissioner Lanyon, does not suffer the same treatment Pittwater's Shane Fitzsimmons was subjected to when the then Coalition State Government were looking for someone to heap blame on in 2022 and disbanded their only recently formed 'Resilience NSW'.

The Reconstruction Authority was established on December 16 2022 by the former Coalition government. Michael Cassel was appointed as the acting CEO of the NSW Reconstruction Authority. Mr Cassel was then the secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment.

Mr. Cassel has since been the subject of documents which detail the involvement in 2022 of the former department secretary in both developing a fast-track process and then shepherding the plans to rezone land at Appin through the new process. As soon as he left the Department of Planning he went to work for one of these developers. Although he has been cleared of any wrongdoing, what was put in place then under Mr. Roberts as Planning Minister has now been pushed through by the Labor Government in their first term in office.

The 13,000-block housing estate was proposed by the Walker Corporation, which owned farmland worth tens of millions – but its rezoning will make it worth billions. Two nearby sites – Gilead 2, owned by Lendlease, and North Appin, owned by Ingham Properties – were also put on the fast track.

The habitat of threatened or critically endangered species, alike what the then state government was pushing through in western Sydney koala habitat lands along with the destruction of what is left of Cumberland wood plain, was approved by Labor Federal Environment Minister Plibersek at 5.15 pm on March 26 2024, as people 'clocked off' for the Easter long weekend. 

This had been preceded by statements by the new NSW Environment Minister of 'plans to make plans' to save the same said koala colony and another this week which states funding will be allocated to ''put up signs to ask drivers to slow down'' in these zones (30 have been killed by cars in just the past year).

We are devastated to learn within the same day the koala featured in this video died from a vehicle strike Tanya Plibersek signed off on bulldozing 1000ha of occupied Koala habitat that we were pleading in this video to be kept. We still can't quite believe The Hon. Penny Sharpe MLC would waive through the CPCP without the obvious amendments needed to the urban capable map, nor take seriously the missing koala records not included in the environmental assessment.

This koala lost its life through trying to cross one of the roads here, part of its historical range, for which here are still no fauna passes - however, their trees are already being cleared for development. 

On March 27 Campbelltown council's local Planning Panel approved Lendlease removing Condition 2(b) that had been a provision in their DA approval to set aside a corridor to provide for a fauna overpass on Appin road.

Last year local groups drew attention to missing records from the New South Wales species tracking database BioNet.

In Wollondilly 40 per cent of koala records were missing from that time, and in Campbelltown it was 44 per cent when the proposals for Gilead were assessed, or 'rushed through'.

Sydney Basin Koala Network manager Stephanie Carrick said the government had since uploaded 480,000 records from 2019-2022, including about 25,000 threatened species records.

The rezoning was pushed through, despite the volume of these then not lodged or 'missing' records.

With successive governments demonstrating the only entities they are listening to, clearly not those who voted them in, are dictating policy and its immediate execution, it's obvious that while the coin has flipped over, it's still the same coin.

Pittwater residents will well recall that they too had koalas living in their area. The failure of the then council to ensure wildlife corridors were maintained, food trees on development sites kept, allowed an increase in speed limits on local roads, putting up obstacles such as fences on their historical range, and a poor record in ensuring dogs did not attack the same, which we understand is still occurring in your area, meant the extinction of the same, in horrible circumstances.

We hope you can find room in Pittwater Online News to make residents aware of what has been decided for the last healthy population of Sydney koalas and that people will call for a Royal Commission, alongside us 'westies', into the NSW Planning Department.

The koala has been listed as endangered in NSW; it's time wildlife was prioritised in the same way developers are.

Thank you to Pittwater Online for giving these animals a voice and continuing to shine a light on what is happening to koalas and other wildlife in this and your area of Sydney.

from the members of: 
Sydney Basin Koala Network, Save Sydney's Koalas, Help save Appin and its surrounds, Appin Development Page - Battle for Appin

Government approves Santos Barossa pipeline and sea dumping

  • 5.15pm the day before the Easter break Santos' Barossa pipeline for gas was approved until 2056.
Senator David Pocock; 'The Govt passed their 'Sea Dumping' Bill to create a loophole in the Safeguard Mechanism so Santos can export CO2 to Timor Leste to meet their emissions reduction requirements.

'The major parties are enabling and subsidising the expansion of the gas industry, despite the dire warnings about what new projects will mean for our future.'

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s Department has approved a major part of Santos’ controversial Barossa gas export project, the Darwin Pipeline Duplication Project.

The approval was made on 15 March, but only published on the DCCEEW website at 5:15 pm on 27 March, at the end of the parliamentary week and shortly before the Easter holidays.

“The Santos Barossa Project is the dirtiest gas project in Australia and should not proceed on climate grounds alone,” said Rod Campbell, Research Director at The Australia Institute.

“But Barossa is even worse than other gas projects, not just due to its CO2 content, but because of the staunch opposition of Tiwi Island Traditional Owners.

“The Federal Government has already bent over backwards for this project, rushing its ‘favour for Santos’ Bill through the parliament late last year with the support of the Liberal-National Coalition.

“Now we see a rapid project approval, published quietly just before the Easter holidays. This is a classic case of the government taking out the trash.

“Australia’s climate-wrecking fossil fuel export industry is being quietly assisted by the Federal Government at every opportunity, while ministers make as much noise as they can about new car regulations.

“Any government that was serious about climate, Traditional Owner consultation, relations with the Pacific and basic integrity would not have approved this project.

“Barossa is just one of the 100 new fossil fuel projects under development in Australia. Australia is still transitioning to more fossil fuels, not away from them.

New research shows Koalas in the Sydney Basin are in decline: NSW state government seeking feedback on Reviewing the NSW Koala Strategy

New research released by the Sydney Basin Koala Network: State of Koalas in the Sydney Basin, First Annual Assessment shows the area where koalas are found in the Sydney Basin is declining and the areas supporting long standing breeding populations of koalas is also reducing. In the time since koalas were listed as endangered, things have gone from bad to worse with growing threats from development set to push koalas into further decline. The need for protection is becoming ever more urgent.  

The research, conducted by koala ecologists Biolink, compared the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and areas of generational persistence of koalas in the Sydney Basin Bioregion from 2021-2023. All measures showed a trend of decline in the Sydney Basin. Important populations in Cessnock and Southern Highlands are of particular concern with generational persistence in Cessnock halving and the area occupied by koalas decreasing significantly in both LGAs between 2021-2023. The only relatively stable koala populations are threatened by impending urban sprawl outwards from Sydney, so they won’t stay stable for long. 

Policy and legal analysis for SBKN by the Environmental Defenders Office concludes that existing measures are not enough to prevent the extinction of koalas in the Sydney Basin by 2050. There are several key steps available to the Government that would immediately halt this decline and protect koalas. These steps are outlined in the SBKN 2024 Policy Recommendations and Sydney Basin Koala Network states it will use these recommendations to benchmark progress in future reports. 

''The NSW government needs to put their foot on the accelerator for Koala protection. The threats are multiplying while effective protections languish. The decline can’t continue and must be reversed; new laws enacted and conservation reserves and migratory corridors protected; and the state’s Koala Strategy made effective.'' Sydney Basin Koala Network stated


Key Scientific Findings (Biolink):
  • Overall, the proportional area where koalas are found in the Sydney Basin has slightly declined and there are fewer areas supporting long-standing breeding populations.
  • The geographic extent (Extent of Occurrence) of koalas across the Sydney Basin has remained relatively stable from 2021 – 2023, though with a slight overall trend towards decline (0.75%). This represents a decrease of 35,857ha.
  • The proportion of this extent which is occupied by koalas (Area of Occupancy) across the Sydney Basin shows a small but significant decline from 12.81% ± 0.18% (2021) to 12.55% ± 0.13% (2023).
  • Areas of Generational Persistence (long standing source populations) across the Sydney Basin are dynamic, though there is an overall decrease in the number of cells of Generational Persistence between the time frames 2021 (n = 141) and 2023 (n = 125).
  • When considering the six Focal Areas, patterns are variable with some areas showing small increases or relative stability e.g. Hawkesbury LGA and Liverpool LGA respectively, while other areas show significant declines e.g. Cessnock LGA and Wingecarribee LGA.
  • The results of this study may be impacted by delays in entering koala sightings records into government databases, though we note that significant decreases in Cessnock occur despite high numbers of records.
Key Legal Findings (EDO): Overall, there has been a lack of specific action by the NSW and Federal governments to implement EDO recommendations during the past 12-month period. In particular:
  • The majority of relevant councils still have no Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) in place.
  • Disparities in koala protection remain, with progress towards returning to a single State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for koalas stalled.
  • The new Labor government has not detailed its plans for environmental reform, including in relation to its commitments around land clearing and biodiversity offsets, and is still preparing its response to the 5-year statutory reviews of the BC Act and Part 5A of the Local Land Services Act 2013 (NSW) (LLS Act).
  • The Commonwealth government continues to work on legislative reform to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), yet progress is slow and, at this stage, it is still unclear how the reforms will ensure improvements in threatened species conservation, including koalas.
Urgent Policy Reforms Needed (SBKN):

  • Finalise the Koala SEPP Guideline - applying a full list of koala habitat trees to rural and urban land.
  • Add all LGAs in the Sydney Basin with koala sightings to the Koala SEPP i.e. Sutherland Shire, Penrith, and Hills Shire.
  • Give recognised koala corridors legal protection e.g. via relevant SEPP changes, by following Chief Scientist recommendations to protect, restore, and zone appropriately sized corridors as conservation land (C2).
  • Reform the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan
  • Scrap the Rural Boundary Clearing Code (RBCC) in the Sydney Basin Bioregion, to prevent further fragmentation of koala habitat.
  • Urgently adopt interim controls on koala habitat in Areas of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS) to prevent clearing of koala habitat across public, and private land.
By end of 2024:
  • Fund councils via NSW Koala Strategy to develop Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management (CKPoM) ensuring all councils have a CKPoM in place.
  • Reform the Local Land Services (LLS) Act to end code based clearing and strictly limit allowable activities on koala habitat.
  • Reform the Biodiversity Conservation Act (BCA) and Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS) to strengthen protection for koalas (and other species).
  • Support Wildlife Rescue Groups to enable timely data to be uploaded to Bionet.
  • Incorporate wildlife mitigation measures such as overpasses and underpasses into plans for all new roads and upgrades.
  • Undertake a strategic supply plan to reduce ad-hoc quarry development on koala habitat.
On Thursday March 21 2024 the Sydney Basin Koala Network stated:  · 
''We finally received our long awaited response from the NSW Roads Ministry to our calls to reduce speed limits in Koala vehicle strike hotspots while mitigation measures are put in place. We have been told that current road speed limits on roads like Appin Road and Heathcote Road are "appropriate". We do not think these figures, compiled by the Southwest Sydney Koala Project, are at all "appropriate".

Reviewing the NSW Koala Strategy
Currently the NSW Government want to hear from residents about what more can be done to help koalas. 

The consultation is open until 26 April at  bit.ly/HaveYourSayKoalaStrategy

Also available from Issue 619: Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan To Facilitate Housing 'Enhanced' - March 18 2024 Update

The Long Lunch

On Sunday April 21 NBCAN is holding  fundraiser, 'The Long Lunch'. 

This event hopes to raise enough funds to buy a PA system for the Northern Beaches Climate Action and its 47 Groups to share to use at the NBCAN Soapbox and other events.

This will be held on beautiful acreage in Ingleside.

Enjoy drinks and canapes on arrival, followed by a delicious buffet and home-made desserts, while listening to an eclectic mix of music from great local talent.

There will be a Silent auction with great prizes, art, pottery and plants for sale.

If you can't attend but still wish to donate, please use our "Scan to pay" QR code and thank you for your generosity.

Tickets are available at: www.eventbrite.com.au/e/the-long-lunch-tickets

Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew: Whale Beach clean

We are looking forward to seeing everyone in April in Whale Beach. We're cleaning up Whale Beach and the grass area. We'll meet on the grass area on the corner of Surf Road and The Strand and we have clean gloves, bags and buckets to lend you, but if you feel that you would rather use your own, that is of course most welcome. We'll clean up the grass area to try and catch the litter before it hits the ocean, as well as cleaning the beach, trying to remove as much plastic, cigarette butts and rubbish as possible. 

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

We meet at 10 am for a briefing. Then we generally collect rubbish until 11.15 and then we bag the rubbish and we go to lunch together (at own cost). Please note, we completely understand if you can not stay for the whole event. We are just grateful for any help we can get. No booking is required. Just show up on the day.

We're honoured to have the lovely Roly from @ep.cleanup coming with his coffee van called Trish to treat all volunteers with a coffee,  babychino or chair latte for your commitment to helping our oceans and beaches clean. Isn't he a legend!?

increase Tree Vandalism Penalties: NSW Parliamentary Petition

You may have heard of these incidents of tree vandalism on a huge scale in recent times on Sydney's North Shore. All involved trees on public land and it appears the vandalism was motivated to improve the views of some people who clearly feel extremely entitled.

On 19th February 2024,  nine Fig trees on Balmoral's iconic Sydney beachfront were drilled and poisoned.  Thanks to the rapid action of residents and council, the trees -  some dating back to the construction of the esplanade in the 1930's - might survive.

In November 2023, over 100 trees were illegally chopped on the foreshore of Woodford bay in the Sydney suburb of Longueville.

In August 2023, over 265 trees were poisoned, hacked and chain-sawed in a bushland reserve in the suburb of Castle Cove.

Current fines for tree vandalism in NSW are $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for companies, compared with recent reforms in the ACT imposing fines up to $80,000. The current fines are no deterrent.

Councils lack resources for thorough criminal investigations, hindering effective prosecution. Despite the illegality of tree vandalism under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, only 19 cases were prosecuted from 2018 to 2022.

Local environment groups encourage you to sign this petition to the NSW Parliament to: 
Increase Penalties for Urban Forest Tree Vandalism and Recognise Trees as Natural Assets in the IP&R Framework of The Local Government Act

2024 BirdLife Australia Community Conservation Grants

Applications close Wednesday 1st May 2024.

BirdLife Australia is fighting to save birds and the natural ecosystems on which their survival depends. The Bird Conservation Strategy outlines our focus areas of Species, Sites, Systems and Societies.

To achieve BirdLife Australia’s vision that by 2050, birds and nature are valued, conserved and restored, sustaining a healthy planet for the benefit of all people, we must multiply our impact by strengthening our existing partnerships, establishing new ones and collaborating with local communities to lead change.

BirdLife Australia Community Grants support this by empowering passionate Australian groups to act for birds, with up to $20,000 in funding for projects that align with BirdLife Australia’s Bird Conservation Strategy.

Grant Streams
In 2024, the Community Grants Program is divided into two streams: Community Participation and Volunteering and Conservation and Applied Research.

Stream 1 provides funding for projects which encourage community engagement and volunteering in the conservation, protection and advocacy for Australian birds and their habitats.

Stream 2 provides funding for conservation projects which conserve birds at a local or landscape scale; or contribute applied research into bird conservation, and projects which assist in meeting conservation strategy goals.

Your project may have overlap between these two streams. For example, a project which involves habitat restoration works may focus on engaging new volunteers to allow the group to expand the amount of on-ground conservation work that they can do. In this instance, it would fall under Stream 1. If the project focused on equipment purchases or conducting research to complete works more effectively, it would fall under Stream 2.

If you are unsure which stream your project falls under, please contact us and a member of our team will get in touch to discuss it with you.

Funding and Support for Community- and Capacity-building Projects
We offer grants of up to $20,000 for community- and capacity-building projects that align with and support the delivery of BirdLife Australia’s Bird Conservation Strategy. This includes funding for equipment, signage and vegetation restoration, as well as volunteers, community education, training and advocacy.

How to apply for this grant
Complete the ‘Community Grant Application’ form. Applications close on Wednesday 1st May 2024. The Application must be completed and signed by the person/people responsible for delivering the project.

Community Grants How To Guide and FAQ 2024 – PDF
Community Grants How To Guide and FAQ 2024 – Word

BirdLife Australia will acknowledge receipt of your application.

  • Assessment criteria
  • Eligibility
  • Stream 1: Community Participation and Volunteering Assessment Criteria
  • Stream 2: Conservation and Applied Research Assessment Criteria

Have your say: Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Disaster Adaptation Plan

The NSW Government has opened consultation on how they can address flood risk in the Valley. Although Pittwater is outside of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River Flood Study area targeted, as the estuary and beaches of the Barrenjoey peninsula are impacted, it may be worth Pittwater residents providing their insights.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley (the Valley) is one of the most dangerous floodplains in Australia, flooding 6 times between 2020-2022. The NSW Reconstruction Authority is working with local councils and the community to develop a high-priority Disaster Adaptation Plan (DAP) to address flood risk in the Valley, and wants residents to be involved.

The consult webpage states: ''There is no single solution to reduce the impact of floods in the Valley so the DAP will include a range of measures to reduce risk where we can and, importantly, adapt where we can’t. Some options being investigated include mitigation infrastructure, such as levees, improvements to evacuation roads and ways to better prepare the community.''

The feedback period closes 1 November 2024.

Image:  Snapperman Beach after the 2021 Hawkesbury flood. Image: AJG/PON

Eastern Blue Groper changes: Have your say

NSW DPI Fisheries:  
We would like to hear your feedback on making Eastern Blue Groper a ‘no take’ species in NSW. Head to our website via the link below to complete the consultation form before submissions close at 5pm on 30 April 2024.

Eastern Blue Groper Management Changes Consultation Form - https://bit.ly/48CUc5Y

Iconic Blue Groper Now Protected In NSW

February 21, 2024
The NSW Government is taking steps to ensure the protection of NSW’s State Fish, the Blue Groper, with new changes to prohibit fishing a Blue Groper by any method.

Whilst the Blue Groper has been protected from spearfishing since 1969 and commercial fishing since 1980, these new changes will protect it from other forms of fishing including line fishing.

These changes will initially be implemented for a 12-month trial period during which time the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), will consult with stakeholders and the broader community on longer term changes to Blue Groper fishing rules.

Given the cultural significance of the species to many Aboriginal people the new changes will not apply to Aboriginal cultural fishing.

These changes follow recent spearfishing incidents involving Blue Gropers in Sydney and Jervis Bay.

Under the new rules, a person found contravening the closure and taking Blue Groper in NSW by any method may face a $500 penalty infringement notice and/or a maximum court-imposed fines of $22,000 or imprisonment for 6 months (or both) for a first offence.

For a second or subsequent offence a perpetrator may receive a $44,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months (or both).

To Support the changes, DPI Fisheries will undertake education activities, including social media reminders, to increase awareness of responsible fishing practices.

Blue Gropers were made the state fish of New South Wales in 1998 and can be found in shallow coastal waters.

Minister for Agriculture, Tara Moriarty said:

“We have heard the community concerns, and these new rules will make it clear to all water users that these fish should be admired but not targeted.”

“With their bright blue colour, alongside their placid and curious nature, there is little wonder why these beautiful big fish are so well loved by our coastal communities.”

“While most fishers complied with the previous rules for targeting Blue Groper, prohibiting line fishing will improve compliance by creating the same rules for all recreational fishers and enhance the protection of this iconic fish.”

“Education is key in protecting this iconic species, with DPI Fisheries commencing a statewide advisory campaign to ensure all fishers are aware of these new rules.”

A male Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) with escorts. Shelly Beach, Manly. Photo: Richard Ling 

Murrumbidgee Floodplain Management Plan: Have your say

Opened: 25 March 2024
Closes: 5 May 2024
The NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is developing a new floodplain management plan for the Murrumbidgee Valley Floodplain and is seeking your feedback.

Floodplain management plans set the rules for flood work development on floodplains in rural areas. The rules include what type of flood work can be constructed and where.  

Stage 1 public consultation provides an early opportunity for community feedback on key elements that will be used to prepare the draft plan, including:
  • the proposed floodplain boundary  
  • the historical flood events used for modelling  
  • the floodway network  
  • cultural and heritage sites  
  • ecological assets
  • local variances to some rules.
To assist you in understanding the key elements proposed and how to make a submission, please read the Report to assist Stage 1 public consultation.

One-on-one appointments
You are invited to book a 20-minute, one-on-one appointment in person with departmental staff to learn more:  
  • Hay, Wednesday 3 April
  • Balranald, Thursday 4 April
  • Darlington Point, Wednesday 10 April
  • Wagga Wagga, Thursday 11 April.
Online appointments
Online appointments are also available on Tuesday 2 April, Monday 8 April and Tuesday 9 April.

Have your say
Have your say by Sunday 5 May 2024.

There are 3 ways you can provide feedback.
  1. Survey -  Complete the survey: Murrumbidgee Floodplain Management Plan 
  2. Email - floodplain.planning@dpie.nsw.gov.au 
  3. Formal submission - Address: Murrumbidgee Valley FMP, Water Group - NSW DCCEEW, PO Box 189, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620
Note: all submissions will be made public on the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s website unless clearly marked confidential. You can ask that your submission be anonymous. mailto:floodplain.planning@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Plastic Bread Ties For Wheelchairs

The Berry Collective at 1691 Pittwater Rd, Mona Vale collects them for Oz Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, who recycle the plastic.

Berry Collective is the practice on the left side of the road as you head north, a few blocks before Mona Vale shops . They have parking. Enter the foyer and there's a small bin on a table where you drop your bread ties - very easy.

A full list of Aussie bread tags for wheelchairs is available at: HERE 

Volunteers for Barrenjoey Lighthouse Tours needed


Stay Safe From Mosquitoes 

NSW Health is reminding people to protect themselves from mosquitoes when they are out and about this summer.

NSW Health’s Acting Director of Environmental Health, Paul Byleveld, said with more people spending time outdoors, it was important to take steps to reduce mosquito bite risk.

“Mosquitoes thrive in wet, warm conditions like those that much of NSW is experiencing,” Byleveld said.

“Mosquitoes in NSW can carry viruses such as Japanese encephalitis (JE), Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE), Kunjin, Ross River and Barmah Forest. The viruses may cause serious diseases with symptoms ranging from tiredness, rash, headache and sore and swollen joints to rare but severe symptoms of seizures and loss of consciousness.

“People should take extra care to protect themselves against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne disease, particularly after the detection of JE in a sentinel chicken in Far Western NSW.

The NSW Health sentinel chicken program provides early warning about the presence of serious mosquito borne diseases, like JE. Routine testing in late December revealed a positive result for JE in a sample from Menindee. 

A free vaccine to protect against JE infection is available to those at highest risk in NSW and people can check their eligibility at NSW Health.

People are encouraged to take actions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of acquiring a mosquito-borne virus by:
  • Applying repellent to exposed skin. Use repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Check the label for reapplication times.
  • Re-applying repellent regularly, particularly after swimming. Be sure to apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent.
  • Wearing light, loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts, long pants and covered footwear and socks.
  • Avoiding going outdoors during peak mosquito times, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • Using insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units and mosquito coils to repel mosquitoes (mosquito coils should only be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas)
  • Covering windows and doors with insect screens and checking there are no gaps.
  • Removing items that may collect water such as old tyres and empty pots from around your home to reduce the places where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Using repellents that are safe for children. Most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged three months and older. Always check the label for instructions. Protecting infants aged less than three months by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting, secured along the edges.
  • While camping, use a tent that has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes entering or sleep under a mosquito net.
Remember, Spray Up – Cover Up – Screen Up to protect from mosquito bite. For more information go to NSW Health.

Mountain Bike Incidents On Public Land: Survey

This survey aims to document mountain bike related incidents on public land, available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K88PSNP

Sent in by Pittwater resident Academic for future report- study. The survey will run for 12 months and close in November 2024.

Report fox sightings

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

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

marine wildlife rescue group on the Central Coast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marine Wildlife Rescue Central Coast has a Facebook page where you may contact members. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100076317431064

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: where + when

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 
Catalpa Reserve              4th Sunday of the month        8.30 – 11.30
Palmgrove Park              1st Saturday of the month        9.00 – 12 

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 : email@narrabeenlagoon.org.au

Gardens and Environment Groups and Organisations in Pittwater

Ringtail Posses 2023

Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project: have your say

Closes: 21 April 2024
The Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project interagency working group is seeking feedback on the rules managing coastal floodplain drainage works.

What’s this about?
The Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project aims to improve the regulatory framework for coastal agricultural drainage works and activities by:
  • addressing the complexity, time and costs associated with the approvals process
  • reducing the impact of these works and activities on downstream water quality, aquatic ecosystems, communities and industries.
The Coastal Floodplain Drainage Project interagency working group has released an Options Report which lays out 6 proposals to address the project’s objectives. The report is accompanied by an Attachments Paper that includes supporting information about the management of coastal floodplains.

The working group is seeking feedback on the level of support for implementing any 1 or a combination of the proposed options. Feedback on the proposed options will be used to inform recommendations to the relevant NSW Government Minister/s.

The six proposed options are:
  • Option 1: One-stop shop webpage - A single source of information on the various approvals that may be required by government agencies for coastal floodplain drainage works.
  • Option 2: Drainage applications coordinator - A central officer(s) to guide the applicant through the approvals processes for all NSW government agencies (Department of Planning and Environment’s Water Group, Planning, Crown Lands, and the Department of Primary Industries — Fisheries) and answer the applicant’s questions about their individual location and proposed works. The drainage applications coordinator would complement both Option 1 and Option 3.
  • Option 3: Concurrent assessment - Concurrent assessment of applications by relevant government agencies.
  • Option 4: Risk-based approach - NSW Government agencies would use a standardised risk matrix to compare the type and extent of the drainage works against the acidic water and blackwater potential of the drainage area to identify the level of risk associated with the proposed works. The identified level of risk could then be used to determine the level of information required from applicants, the level of assessment required by the approval authority, and the types of conditions applied to any approvals.
  • Option 5: Drainage work approvals under the Water Management Act 2000 - Switch on drainage work approvals under the Water Management Act 2000. Two different methods of implementation are possible:
i. a drainage work approval would be required only when works are proposed and for the area of works only
ii. a drainage work approval could apply to existing and new drainage works across the entire drainage network.
Within either of these two methods, one of three different approaches for public authorities could be applied:
a. require public authorities to hold a drainage work approval
b. allow for public authorities to hold a conditional exemption from requiring approvals
c. exempt public authorities from requiring a drainage work approval.
  • Option 6: Streamlining of Fisheries and Crown Land approvals through the use of drainage work approvals - Drainage work approvals, particularly under Option 5(ii), have the potential to deliver a catchment-wide consideration of the drainage network. This would provide greater certainty to other agencies such as Fisheries and Crown Land that environmental impacts have been considered and appropriate conditions applied, supporting them to assess and issue approvals more quickly.
Note: All submissions will be made public on the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s website unless clearly marked confidential. You can ask that your submission be anonymous.

Have your say
Have your say by Sunday 21 April 2024.

Submit your feedback using the online survey.

19 February 2024 to 21 April 2024

Moorhen chicks at Warriewood Wetlands. Photo: Joe Mills

Hundreds of animals were rescued after the Black Summer bushfires – but how many actually survived?

Catherine Herbert, University of Sydney; Chris Dickman, University of Sydney; Holly Cope, University of Sydney, and Rachael Gray, University of Sydney

The horrific Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20 burned more than 8 million hectares of vegetation across southeastern Australia. An estimated 3 billion animals were caught in the fire zone.

Intense media coverage often included graphic images of koalas and other marsupials fighting for survival. People everywhere became emotionally invested in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

Yet despite the courageous efforts of volunteers, our new research has found wildlife rescue and rehabilitation rates were much lower than expected.

We can use this information to improve our response to future disasters. Knowledge of the likely chance of recovery from different injuries can be used to refine treatment for each species. This will allow volunteers and veterinarians to prioritise rehabilitation efforts and minimise animal suffering.

Grim statistics on rescue and rehab

Our research analysed marsupial rescue, rehabilitation and release statistics from two of the worst-affected regions: New South Wales and Kangaroo Island.

We compared these statistics to the estimated population size for each species and to typical marsupial rescue and rehabilitation records in NSW. Typical rescue data were not readily available for Kangaroo island.

Despite an estimated 46.8 million marsupials in the NSW fire zones, only 889 marsupial rescues were reported in NSW. Just 618 marsupial rescues were reported on Kangaroo Island.

Why were rescue rates so low? Our research provides some clues.

The peak rescue period was 6–8 weeks after fire ignition, and rescues were mostly clustered around the edge of the fire zone. This suggests that timely access to firegrounds was difficult or unsafe. The scale and intensity of the fires almost certainly limited the capacity of many individual animals to flee. Many likely perished in the fire, or before rescuers could arrive.

Most rescues in NSW were of common species such as kangaroos and wallabies (458) or possums (162). But koalas (204), a threatened species in NSW, were rescued more often than expected relative to their population size.

So what was the fate of animals that were rescued? Sadly, we found more than half the marsupials rescued in both regions did not survive.

Kangaroos and possums were more likely to be euthanised on the fireground or soon after being found. Koalas, on the other hand, were more likely to enter rehabilitation facilities, but many still died.

We found kangaroos had a lower chance of successful rehabilitation (15%) than koalas (47%) and possums (55%). This highlights the need for more research on ways to improve rehabilitation success.

What can we learn?

Our analysis provides valuable insights that could be used to improve outcomes in the future.

The type of injury can be used to predict survival. Animals that had traumatic injuries, such as burns, were less likely to survive. If they were malnourished or immobilised they were in serious trouble. On the other hand, orphaned or heat-stressed and dehydrated animals had a better chance of survival and release back to the wild.

Our detailed analysis of the factors influencing survival for each species can be used to refine decision-making, improve animal welfare and identify areas where more research is needed to improve treatment regimes in the future. If an animal has a poor chance of survival, euthanasia should be considered at the initial assessment.

The way forward

During the 2019–20 fires, the community expected that wild animals would be rescued and rehabilitated where possible. But most people involved in rehabilitation are volunteers who invest an enormous amount of time, money and energy into caring for wildlife. These personal costs are much higher during disasters, and raise questions about whether wildlife volunteers should be compensated for their efforts.

As Australia and the world grapples with the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, we need better ways to support wildlife and volunteers. Improving partnerships between government agencies and skilled volunteers may form part of the solution.

In response to the 2020 NSW Bushfire Inquiry, new initiatives in wildlife emergency response have recognised the need for timely responses in the aftermath of disasters.

In NSW, firefighters have now received basic wildlife rescue training. Veterinarians and wildlife volunteers have access to fireground training and protective equipment.

These initiatives aim to improve opportunities for wildlife rescue and animal welfare in the aftermath of future disasters. They also make it safer for workers and volunteers.

Our research supports the need for timely intervention if we want to rescue more animals and minimise suffering.

More consistent data collection is needed on a national scale to fully appreciate the true costs of disasters on wildlife. This should include user-friendly technology to accurately log all wildlife rescues (and euthanasia) in the field and track individual animals throughout rehabilitation. This will help to understand species differences in rates of rescue and rehabilitation, and hopefully improve rescue and rehabilitation outcomes for all species. The Conversation

Catherine Herbert, Associate professor, University of Sydney; Chris Dickman, Professor Emeritus in Terrestrial Ecology, University of Sydney; Holly Cope, Honorary Research Associate, University of Sydney, and Rachael Gray, Associate Professor in Veterinary Pathology, University of Sydney

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

After 10 years of work, landmark study reveals new ‘tree of life’ for all birds living today

Ryan Boedi/Shutterstock
Jacqueline Nguyen, Flinders University and Simon Ho, University of Sydney

The largest-ever study of bird genomes has produced a remarkably clear picture of the bird family tree. Published in the journal Nature today, our study shows that most of the modern groups of birds first appeared within 5 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Birds are a large part of our lives, a sign of nature even in cities. They are popular among the general public and well studied by scientists. But placing all of these birds into a family tree has been frustratingly difficult.

By analysing the genomes of more than 360 bird species, our study has identified the fundamental relationships among the major groups of living birds.

The new family tree overturns some previous ideas about bird relationships, while also revealing some new groupings.

A grey brown bird with a splendid long tail seen in shrubby undergrowth.
The superb lyrebird is one of the most talented songbirds. Michael Lee, Flinders University and South Australian Museum

Resolving a messy relationship

Previous studies showed the bird family tree has three major branches. The first branch contains the tinamous and ratites, which include flightless birds such as the emu, kiwi and ostrich.

The second branch holds the landfowl and waterfowl – chickens, ducks and so on. All other birds sit on the third branch, known as the Neoaves, which include 95% of bird species.

The Neoaves branch includes ten groups of birds. Most of these are what biologists have named the “Magnificent Seven”: landbirds, waterbirds, tropicbirds, cuckoos, nightjars, doves and flamingos. The other three groups are known as the “orphans” and include the shorebirds, cranes and hoatzin, a species from South America.

The relationships among these ten groups, especially the orphans, have been incredibly difficult to resolve. Our genome study shows a resolution is within reach.

A small grey bird with a really long beak being hand fed grains at a sanctuary.
New Zealand’s iconic kiwis are one of the flightless bird species in the ratite group. K Ireland/Shutterstock

Meet the ‘Elementaves’

Our genome study revealed a new grouping of birds we have named “Elementaves”. With a name inspired by the four ancient elements of earth, air, water and fire, this group includes birds well adapted for success on land, in the sky and in the water. Some of the birds have names relating to the sun, representing the element of fire. The Elementaves group includes hummingbirds, shorebirds, cranes, penguins and pelicans.

An emerald and green coloured bird with a white chest and thin pointy beak.
Hummingbirds, the smallest of all birds, belong to the new Elementaves group. Zdeněk Macháček/Unsplash

Our study also confirms a close relationship between two of the most familiar groups of birds in Australia, the passerines (songbirds and relatives) and parrots. These popular birds dominate the Australian Bird of the Year polls.

Songbirds make up nearly 50% of all bird species and include birds like magpies, finches, honeyeaters and fairywrens. They had their humble beginnings in Australia about 50 million years ago, then spread across the globe to become the most successful group of birds.

A black and white bird with orange eyes and a curious expression sits on a railing.
The iconic Australian magpies are songbirds. Chris Gresham-Britt/Unsplash

When did birds really emerge?

A further goal of our study was to place a timescale on the bird family tree. We did this by modelling the evolution of genomes using a tool known as the “molecular clock”. By drawing on information from nearly 200 fossils, we were able to constrain the ages of some of the branches in the bird family tree.

Our study shows all living birds share an ancestor that lived just over 90 million years ago. But most groups of modern birds emerged about 25 million years later, within a small window of just a few million years after the end of the Cretaceous period around 66 million years ago.

This coincides with the mass extinction of dinosaurs and other organisms caused by an asteroid striking Earth. So it seems birds made the most of the opportunities that became available after these other dominant life forms were wiped out.

One mystery remains

The genome study is the product of nearly a decade of research, conducted as part of the Bird 10,000 Genomes Project. The ultimate goal of this project is to sequence the genomes of all 10,000 living bird species.

The current phase of the project focused on including species from every major group, or family, of birds. The study of these 363 genomes was a truly international effort led by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, University of California San Diego and Zhejiang University in China.

A circular 'tree of life' showing the branching relationships of different species of birds, with major groups shown in different colours and illustrated with paintings of specific birds.
The bird tree of life, based on the genomes of 363 bird species. The major bird groups are colour-coded in the tree. Paintings by Jon Fjeldså, Natural History Museum Denmark, University of Copenhagen

Even with such a huge amount of genome data, one branch of the bird family tree remains a mystery. Our analysis could not confidently determine the relationships of one of the orphans, the hoatzin. Found in South America, the hoatzin is a highly distinctive bird and the sole survivor of its lineage.

Our study shows that some relationships in the tree of life can only be determined using huge amounts of genome data. But our study also demonstrates the power of studying genomes and fossils together to understand the evolutionary history of life on Earth. The Conversation

A bird with a longish neck and orange tufts on its head that looks a bit like a pigeon.
The hoatzin, one of the ‘orphan’ branches of the bird family tree, remains a mystery. Marcos Amend/Shutterstock

Jacqueline Nguyen, Scientific Officer in Ornithology, Australian Museum, and ARC DECRA Fellow, Flinders University and Simon Ho, Professor of Molecular Evolution, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

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

Australian ‘bush glass’ bears the fingerprints of a cosmic collision with an iron meteorite

Aaron J. Cavosie, Curtin University

How Earth and the other planets of the solar system formed and evolved over the aeons is a hot question for planetary scientists like me. One of the best ways to find out is by looking at rocks from space.

Getting the rocks is the hard part. Sending spacecraft to asteroids or other planets to gather samples and bring them home is possible, but extremely difficult and expensive.

Another option is to study space rocks that fall to Earth: meteorites. However, they are relatively rare, and the journey through our planet’s atmosphere followed by a high-speed collision with the ground often means they’re not in very good condition by the time we get a look at them.

That said, meteorites do leave fascinating traces. In a new study, my colleagues and I analysed lumps of glass found around a 5,000-year-old meteorite impact site in the Northern Territory and discovered it contains a surprisingly large amount of metal from the meteorite itself – proving the craters at the site were formed by a cosmic interloper and giving clues about the intruder’s composition.

Natural glasses

We’re all familiar with the human-made kind of glass found in windowpanes and kitchenware. But glass occurs in nature, too. Most of it is obsidian, the glass produced in volcanoes which has been known since ancient times.

Aerial view of craters in the ground caused by the Henbury impact event in the Northern Territory, Australia
Satellite image of the Henbury crater field. Labels indicate individual craters (not all shown). Google Earth / Cavosie et al.

A much smaller amount of natural glass is produced by lightning strikes and asteroid impacts. When we find glass in nature, it can take careful forensic work to pinpoint what created it. However, the forensic analysis can reveal a surprising amount of information about the origin of the glass.

In our study, published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, we analysed glass from a site in the NT called the Henbury crater field.

Meteorite fragments have been recovered from the site, where there are at least 13 impact craters formed in an event around 5,000 years ago. The crater field is also called Tatyeye Kepmwere, and reports of it are found in Aboriginal oral traditions.

Two polished iron meteorites on a black background
The Henbury IIIAB iron meteorite. Museums Victoria

The meteorites recovered from the Henbury field are a type called IIIAB irons. They are remnants of the metallic core of an ancient shattered world and were eventually delivered to Earth. They’re essentially lumps of metal, comprised mostly of iron, nickel and cobalt.

Heavy metal–classic rock fusion

When the space rock struck at Henbury, the heat of the impact melted the meteorite along with rock from the ground. Some of this fused material formed molten droplets which was thrown from the craters and cooled to form thumb-sized lumps that look a lot like volcanic glass.

A brown and orange sample of Henbury glass.
A piece of Henbury glass. Cavosie et al.

To find out more about this “bush glass”, we took samples to the laboratory and shot holes in them with a laser, heating the glass into a hot plasma we could study with a mass spectrometer, which can determine which elements are present.

This revealed the glass contained elements from the local sandstone as well as high levels of iron, nickel and cobalt – much more than we found in exposed rocks in the craters. These results suggest the glass is made of about 10% melted meteorite.

A 10% meteorite contribution might not seem like a lot, but it’s a relatively enormous amount. By comparison, melted rocks from Chicxulub, the giant asteroid strike in Mexico widely believed to have killed off the dinosaurs, are typically less than 0.1% meteorite.

The Henbury glass also contained elevated levels of chromium, iridium and other elements from the platinum group. All of these are vanishingly rare in most rocks on Earth’s surface. Their high abundance in Henbury glass is another hallmark of a cosmic origin.

Meteorite glass around the world

Such high levels of meteorite residue in glass have not been reported from other Australian craters.

Similar glass has been described at two other sites, both younger and smaller than the largest Henbury crater (145m across). One is the 45m Kamil crater in Egypt, and the other is the 110m Wabar crater in Saudi Arabia.

Around 200 meteorite impact structures have been documented on Earth, with 32 located in Australia.

We think meteorite-rich glass like we found at Henbury forms in all craters, regardless of size. However, it likely represents a very small volume of the melt formed at large craters, and is best preserved at young craters that haven’t been eroded.

Our main motivation to search for meteorite residue in natural glass is that it provides ground-truth evidence for an impact with a celestial object. Many circular, crater-like features occur on Earth’s surface, but few have a truly cosmic origin.

Discovery of meteoritic residue in glass is an unambiguous method to confirm that a suspect site was made by an asteroid strike.

More enigmatic glasses

There are many reports of enigmatic natural glasses, in places such as Argentina, Australia and elsewhere, whose origins are ambiguous. In many cases no crater is known in the vicinity, such as Libyan desert glass. Determining whether they have an impact origin requires careful detective work to look for the telltale signs.

OSIRIS-REx mission sampling the asteroid Bennu.

NASA is currently weighing up spending US$11 billion or so to bring a few hundred grams of rock samples from Mars collected by the Perseverance rover. Missions to Itokawa, Ryugu and Bennu have returned samples of asteroids, and a flood of new missions to the Moon will hopefully return fresh samples of our planetary neighbour.

In the meantime, there are lots of interesting bush glasses that deserve a second look for clues of a cosmic heritage. The Conversation

Aaron J. Cavosie, Senior research fellow, Curtin University

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

A 20-yearmega-drought’ in Australia? Research suggests it’s happened before – and we should expect it again

Georgina Falster, Australian National University; Nerilie Abram, Australian National University, and Nicky Wright, University of Sydney

Droughts can have dramatic effects in Australia – decimating agriculture, threatening water resources and devastating the environment. Much of Australia is drought-prone, and the risk is expected to increase as global warming continues.

That’s why it’s important for Australia to be prepared for droughts, particularly those lasting multiple years.

To have some idea of just how bad things might get, we must look far back in time to see what’s come before. That’s where our new research comes in.

We examined computer simulations of Earth’s climate over the past 1,150 years. Worryingly, we found that given enough time, natural variability in Australian rainfall can produce “mega-droughts” lasting 20 years or more. If we add in human-caused climate change, it suggests future droughts will be far worse than we imagined.

Rainfall records aren’t enough

To understand the full picture of future droughts, we need historical rainfall data. But in Australia these records only go back to around the year 1900. This doesn’t fully record the huge range of natural rainfall variability over many hundreds of years.

To a degree, we can get these long records from features of the environment such as trees, which record information about rainfall changes in their annual growth rings. Unfortunately, these natural “archives” generally only reach back a few hundred years. And they only store information about what’s happened in their local area, not across all of Australia.

Scientists need alternative ways of looking back in time – and that’s what our new research set out to do.

We used computer models of Earth’s climate from the years 850 to 2000 (1,150 years in total) to fill in the picture. The models simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, ice and land, and so provide a picture of how the climate has changed through time.

Because no single climate model is perfect, we used an “ensemble” of 11 different climate models to explore the range of droughts Australia has experienced.

First, we looked at the characteristics of Australian droughts due to natural fluctuations in rainfall. Then we compared the simulated droughts during the 20th century with those from the pre-industrial period (before the year 1850). This let us test if human-caused climate change during the past century has caused detectable changes in Australian droughts.

We paid particular attention to the Murray-Darling Basin in south-eastern Australia. It contains Australia’s largest river system and is our largest agricultural region, so it’s important to know how bad droughts there could be.

Our results

We found during the 20th century, simulated droughts in southwestern and eastern Australia – including the Murray-Darling Basin – were longer on average compared with pre-industrial times.

This change is consistent with the rainfall trends expected in these regions in future due to human-caused climate change. It suggests that an emerging human influence on our climate has already made southern parts of Australia more drought-prone.

Other characteristics of simulated Australian droughts, such as their intensity or recurrence, didn’t show marked differences last century compared to pre-industrial times. In other words, human-caused climate change had probably not yet caused Australian droughts to be any drier, or changed how often we are in drought. But this influence could still emerge as climate change worsens.

The devastating impacts of Australia’s last major drought from 2017 to 2019, known as the “Tinderbox” drought, are a stark reminder of what we might expect in future. The drought was likely worsened by human-caused climate change, and preceded the catastrophic Black Summer fires.

How bad could Australian droughts be?

One of the most concerning findings from our research is that even without the effects of climate change, natural variability can produce “mega-droughts” in Australia lasting 20 years or more. That is far longer than any drought that has been experienced in Australia since instrumental records began.

Our findings show mega-droughts are possible across the Australian continent. This includes the Murray-Darling Basin where typical droughts last century lasted four to five years. The graphic below shows the worst of these since direct rainfall records began. A 20-year drought would make these extremes seem short-lived.

Mega-droughts are possible in Australia

This new research shows mega-droughts in Australia are possible – even without the influence of climate change. They are a natural part of Australian rainfall variability over the long term. This finding is supported by evidence drawn from ice cores, which suggests a 39-year drought gripped eastern Australia around 800 years ago.

This is concerning, because climate change is also increasing the chance of reduced rainfall across much of southern Australia.

It’s difficult to imagine a drought lasting several decades. But our research suggests it can happen, and future droughts in Australia will be worse than any in our recent historical experience.

Our work highlights the need to consider the unthinkable when it comes to preparing for future droughts. This has implications for industry, governments and communities as they adapt to a warmer future.The Conversation

Georgina Falster, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian National University; Nerilie Abram, Chief Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes; Deputy Director for the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science; Deputy Director for the Centre of Excellence for 21st Century Weather, Australian National University, and Nicky Wright, Research Fellow, University of Sydney

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

Myrtle rust is lethal to Australian plants. Could citizen scientists help track its spread?

Geoff Pegg, Author provided
Erin Roger, CSIRO; Alyssa Martino, University of Sydney, and Rebecca Paxton, University of Adelaide

Every weekend, thousands of citizen scientists head into the great outdoors. If they see an unusual animal, plant or fungi, they take a photo and upload it.

This simple act by bushwalkers with smartphones is, in aggregate, increasingly valuable to researchers. Half of all records uploaded to Australia’s largest open-data aggregator, the Atlas of Living Australia, now come from citizen scientists – and this number is likely to keep growing.

Citizen science isn’t just useful in gauging how native species are going. Curious eyes spot invasive species too. The first sighting of the invasive buff-tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) in Victoria was reported by a citizen scientist last year. The first discovery of a virus which turns woodlice (slaters) iridescent purple came from a citizen scientist. To date, reports from citizen scientists strongly favour native species. But as we grapple with damaging new invasive species, we need much more data.

We have been working to track the spread of the lethal plant fungus, which causes the disease myrtle rust, which can weaken and kill hundreds of our most loved tree species, including eucalypts, paperbarks, bottlebrushes, tea trees and lilly pillies. How far has it spread? We just don’t know. We urgently need more reports from bush tracks and backyards.

Myrtle rust on a scrub turpentine leaf, showing the distinctive reds and yellows of the infection. Muchos Insectos/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Why is myrtle rust so bad?

“Myrtle rust” sounds almost cute. It’s not. Austropuccinia psidii is a highly invasive fungal pathogen native to South America, which arrived in New South Wales in 2010. Windborne spores let the fungus spread rapidly up and down the east coast. By 2015, it had arrived in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, and by 2022 it was in Western Australia. Spores have been detected in South Australia, but no infections have yet been reported.

When the spores land on a plant, the fungus begins to feed on the plant’s nutrients and causes myrtle rust disease. In severe cases, the fungus overruns the plant and it suffers dieback. The disease has already driven native guava (Rhodomyrtus psidioides) and scrub turpentine (Rhodamnia rubescens) to localised extinction in areas of Queensland and New South Wales where they were previously common. At least 15 species of rainforest tree are threatened with extinction. The fungus can infect at least 380 Australian species in the Myrtaceae family.

You can spot myrtle rust by its clusters of bright yellow powdery spores on the new leaves, fruits, flowers or stems of plants in the myrtle family. Each cluster has thousands of spores which can be easily carried by the wind or hitching a ride on your clothes to a new host plant to infect. It’s important to avoid touching the rust to reduce its spread.

What role can citizen science play?

We now have more than 130 million observations recorded in the Atlas of Living Australia, ranging from common species such as Australian magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen) to little-known species such as the sand ghost shrimp (Arenallianassa arenosa). Of all these records, only about 2% are of invasive species.

Why? Most citizen scientists get into it because they love native plants, animals and fungi. They may not realise the value of reporting invasive species.

It’s very common to think biosecurity is about the border. But conserving Australia’s wealth of biodiversity doesn’t stop at the airport. Even once an invasive species has arrived, there is much that can be done to reduce the damage. For example, citizen scientists in Queensland have logged reports of highly invasive weed species such as new types of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.). Early warnings like this allow authorities to eradicate plants likely to have been illegally dumped.

We know when communities see an invasive species has become a major problem, they will see the value of recording and reporting it via platforms which feed data into the Atlas of Living Australia.

We know myrtle rust has been observed in most states and territories. But we have little up to date information away from the eastern seaboard.

citizen scientist near stream
Citizen scientists go to many places scientists often don’t get to. Melissaberry/Shutterstock

When an invasive species arrives in a new area, it’s essential we find out as soon as possible. Biosecurity rests on early detection. There’s often a very small window to eradicate the species before it spreads. We couldn’t eradicate varroa mite, which devastates beehives, and are struggling to control fire ants.

Even when it’s too late for eradication, as with myrtle rust, occurrence data can help us blunt the damage. Of particular interest is understanding how far it has spread and what plant species are most susceptible to myrtle rust. This information can help researchers tailor new chemical tools against the rust.

We know other strains of the rust outside Australia could actually pose an even worse threat. If these strains arrive or if the rust in Australia evolved in similar ways, it could accelerate the damage. Eyes on the ground help us track changes to pathogen behaviour.

We need, in short, data coming in constantly. This challenge is beyond the resources of professional researchers. Combining research fieldwork with citizen science reports is shaping up as an excellent way to get a better picture.

One reason citizen scientists are so valuable is that many have access to areas not usually observed by scientists, such as home gardens, rural acreage and hiking tracks.

Citizen science is remarkably easy. Free, open-source citizen science apps such as iNaturalist and NatureMapr add the photos you take to the repository of species data we are amassing.

Every photo and observation counts. We really do need your eyes. The Conversation

Erin Roger, Sector Lead, CSIRO; Alyssa Martino, PhD Candidate , University of Sydney, and Rebecca Paxton, Doctoral student, University of Adelaide

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

Without community support, the green energy transition will fail. Here’s how to get communities on board

Abby Anaday/Unsplash, CC BY-NC-ND
Simon Wright, Charles Sturt University

Connecting cheap, clean energy from renewables comes with a hidden cost and challenge: building 5,000 kilometres of new transmission lines this decade, and another 5,000km after that. This sounds like a lot, but 5,000km is only around 10% of the existing grid network, and unlocks more than 32 gigawatts of new clean energy capacity by 2030.

The problem is, communities are often not sold on having to host new transmission lines. As the recent review of community engagement by renewable and transmission companies demonstrates, this is because it wasn’t explained well to these communities as to why it’s needed and how they can benefit.

We already know uncertainty undermines the social license for big projects. And we know public engagement is vital in translating national policies into local impacts.

In my research, I work with RE-Alliance, a community organisation working to help local communities actually benefit from the energy transition. In the course of this research, rural residents often say they would like to host wind turbines on their property. But we have seen those same residents oppose new transmission line projects – without realising the wind farm will not be viable without this infrastructure.

When these projects succeed, it’s because developers engage early and often with communities, showing them why the project matters to society – and to them.

Projects are much more likely to succeed when communities feel the project is theirs or includes them.

Community pushback could scupper the green transition

Community scepticism is not unique to Australia.

More than two-thirds of Americans favour renewables over fossil fuels. But when it comes to actually building them, opposition is common. Around 300 wind, solar and transmission projects are being delayed by local opposition, stalling A$132 billion of investments and 74,000 jobs.

In some respects this is understandable. Communities can bristle if they feel a project is imposed on them – especially if it feels like a cost without benefits.

Developers who engage with communities from the beginning and work to tackle concerns and issues collectively have a better chance of success. Equitable sharing of benefits can help.

Focus on local benefits

Almost 20 new renewable projects are planned in Victoria’s Wimmera Southern Mallee region near the Grampians. Until now, solar farms in this flat, sunny region have been hamstrung by a lack of transmission lines. But some local residents are strongly sceptical of transmission projects, which means some renewable projects can’t proceed.

Even so, progress is being made, due in part to the efforts of regional development organisation, Wimmera Southern Mallee Development, to broker between community and developers. As the organisation’s CEO Chris Souness told me:

Renewable energy will thrive [in this region] if developers and communities collaborate, the interests of the farming communities and rural towns are supported, and the benefits flow to communities.

The region is in need of jobs, more diverse industries, workforce reskilling, and better housing stock. These are all things renewable and transmission projects can help provide.

It’s a similar story in the South West Renewable Energy Zone in New South Wales, one of several laid out by the state government to boost efficiency by grouping big solar and wind projects with existing or new transmission lines.

The zone has led to a renewable gold rush, as developers scout for good locations. But what does it mean for people? The Hay Shire Council last year asked its 3,000 residents what they thought.

The council took the lead on consultation to increase community influence and make clear to renewable developers what the community does and does not want. The alternative was to have many developers running their own consultation efforts.

The consultation revealed some residents felt overwhelmed by the interest from developers. Others worried wind and solar farms could damage the local environment. Would there be enough housing for workers, given the existing housing crisis? And what about the visual impact of large transmission lines? In the consultation document, council staff note:

It is very important that the development of renewable energy projects in Hay Shire happens “with” our community, not “to” our community.

How do we do better when time is so short?

The conundrum we face is we know we need to do better, but we have only a narrow window of time to green the grid.

One avenue is to focus on the long-term prosperity of these projects, both for landowners hosting them and for the broader community. Local leadership here is essential, as are First Nations voices and leadership in clean energy.

For farmers battling increasingly volatile growing and grazing conditions due to climate change, renewables offer new income streams. Typical payments by wind companies are now more than A$40,000 per turbine per year.

Many farmers host dozens of turbines while still farming sheep or cattle. For solar projects, farmers can earn around $1,500 per hectare per year in rent and can keep running sheep under the panels. Landowners willing to host new high voltage transmission lines can get payments from $200,000 to $300,000 a kilometre depending on the state.

sheep grazing underneath solar
Farmers can often still run sheep on solar farms. Jenson/Shutterstock

But we will also need national action.

The federal government must find ways of better communicating their plans at local level. Explain why we need to do this, what the benefits are to communities, and why transmission is key.

The government could consider a CSIRO-based research centre focused on environment, technology and social outcomes in the energy transition.

And the government could invest in local energy hubs where people can ask questions, get information, and find out ways of sharing benefits. These hubs could work alongside existing project shopfronts, such as the ENGIE hub in Hay.

As James Joyce wrote, mistakes are the portals of discovery. We need to learn quickly from the early opposition so we can avoid repeating our mistakes. The Conversation

Simon Wright, Senior Research Fellow, Energy & Circularity, Gulbali Institute, Charles Sturt University

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

Only 57 producers are responsible for 80% of all fossil fuel and cement CO2 emissions since 2016 – new report

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Matthew Carl Ives, University of Oxford; Belinda Wade, The University of Queensland, and Saphira Rekker, The University of Queensland

Just 57 companies and nation states were responsible for generating 80% of the world’s CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels and cement over the last seven years, according to a new report released by the thinktank InfluenceMap. This finding suggests that net zero targets set by the Paris climate change agreement in 2015 are yet to make a significant impact on fossil fuel production.

The report uses the Carbon Majors database, established in 2013 by Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute, to provide fossil fuel production data from 122 of the world’s largest oil, gas, coal and cement producers.

The InfluenceMap report tells a sobering but informative story of the state of production in these high-emitting industries. Cement and fossil fuel production has reached unprecedented levels, with most of the emission growth traceable to a relatively small number of large companies.

The troubling reality is that the lack of progress of these large fossil fuel companies means the world will need to undertake ever more stringent and steep decarbonisation trajectories if countries are to meet the Paris agreement goal of keeping warming well below 2°C.

The Carbon Majors database highlights how critical it is for companies and countries to be held accountable for their lack of progress on emission reductions. Companies need to define exactly how best to align with the Paris goals, and then monitor and track their progress.

To address this need, our team of researchers from the Universities of Queensland, Oxford and Princeton developed a framework that outlines strict science-based requirements for tracking the progress of companies against Paris-aligned pathways.

By applying this framework to the Carbon Majors database in a follow-up study, our team mapped production budgets for 142 fossil fuel companies against several Paris-aligned global scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We considered the “middle-of-the-road” future scenario whereby business carries on as usual – this is commonly used by investors to evaluate a company’s climate risks. With this scenario, we found that between 2014 and 2020, the coal, oil and gas companies produced 64%, 63% and 70% respectively more than their budgets allow. Further details can be found on the Are You Paris Compliant? website.

Transparency is crucial

Over the seven-year period covered by the InfluenceMap report, nation states and state-owned companies are responsible for most of this growth. It is not yet clear whether such government-run companies will move towards improved reporting against climate standards, but further interventions by governments will clearly be required to meet stated national emission-reduction goals.

Coal production has increased by 8% globally. Parilov/Shutterstock

Fortunately, more transparency will be available for investor-owned companies. In 2023, a non-profit that aims to standardise global accounting, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, released new climate-related disclosure standards. These should provide investors, politicians and the public with access to more transparent and consistent data, making it much easier for them to accurately judge companies’ climate performance – or lack thereof.

It will be interesting to read the climate reporting of the 57 companies identified by InfluenceMap in coming years. The release of the Carbon Majors data, along with the new climate-related disclosure standards, will hopefully make a huge difference. Companies being more accountable for their emissions should help reduce greenwashing in corporate sustainability reports.

Quantifying fossil fuel and cement production, and associated emissions, is a crucial step. But companies also need to act. Achieving net zero by reducing the emissions of a relatively small number of companies will be much easier than persuading 8 billion people to take collective action on climate.

Such drastic reductions in fossil fuel production must also be matched by investment in abundant and increasingly cheap sources of clean renewable energy. Without these steps, the Paris goals will be unachievable – and that’s very risky for all of us.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

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Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 30,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Matthew Carl Ives, Senior Researcher in Economics, University of Oxford; Belinda Wade, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Business, The University of Queensland, and Saphira Rekker, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Finance, The University of Queensland

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

Out of alignment: how clashing policies make for terrible environmental outcomes

Hanna Taniukevich/Shutterstock
Euan Ritchie, Deakin University; Catherine Lovelock, The University of Queensland, and Sarah Bekessy, RMIT University

Policy alignment sounds dry. But think of it like this: you want to make suburbs cooler and more liveable, so you plant large trees. But then you find the trees run afoul of fire and safety provisions, and they’re cut down.

Such problems are all too common. Policies set by different government departments start with good intentions only to clash with other policies.

At present, the Albanese government is working towards stronger environmental laws, following the scathing 2020 Samuel review of the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The review noted planning, funding and regulatory decisions are “not well integrated or clearly directed towards achieving long-term environmental sustainability”.

Stronger laws are not a standalone answer. We must find ways to align government policies far better, so progress on one front doesn’t lead to a setback elsewhere. As the government prepares to announce once in a generation changes to our main environment laws, it must find ways to reduce these clashes.

Nature vs cities

All levels of government have policies aimed at increasing canopy cover and biodiversity in cities. How hard can it be to plant trees?

The problems start when you look for places to actually plant street trees. It’s common to encounter a wall of obstacles, namely, other policies and regulations. Fire prevention, human safety, visibility for road traffic and provision of footpaths and carparks are often legally binding requirements that can stymie this seemingly simple goal.

Most cities in Australia are now actually losing canopy cover rather than gaining more.

On the biodiversity front, urban sprawl is pushing many species and ecosystems to the brink of extinction.

grassland and creeping suburbia
What should we do when threatened species protection conflicts with new housing developments? Rusty Todaro/Shutterstock

Last year, conservationists rediscovered the grassland earless dragon on Melbourne’s grassy western fringes, which we had believed was extinct. Now we had a second chance to save it, in line with the Australian government’s pledge to stop extinctions.

The problem? The grasslands where the dragon was found near Bacchus Marsh, just outside Melbourne, are zoned for housing. Only 1% of the grasslands ecosystems suitable for these reptiles is still intact, and much of it has been earmarked for housing.

From a housing point of view, the continued existence of the dragon now threatens plans for 310,000 homes.

If we had better policy alignment, we would look to achieve both goals: protect the dragon and build more housing through methods such as building sustainable midrise developments in established urban areas.

Protecting the reef while exporting LNG

Meanwhile, the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching again, the fifth bout in just eight years.

Almost all the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes into our oceans, triggering marine heatwaves and bleaching. If the world’s largest living structure bleaches too much, it will begin to die, threatening its rich biodiversity, cultural heritage and industries such as tourism.

On the one hand, Australia wants to protect the reef and has funded efforts to boost water quality.

LNG carrier queensland
A LNG carrier departs the port of Gladstone, on the southern Great Barrier Reef. The cargo it carries will, when burned, trap more heat and lead to more bleaching of the reef. Ivan Kuzkin/Shutterstock

But on the other hand, supportive government policies contribute to our recent emergence as a top exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is 85–95% comprised of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Land clearing in the catchments of rivers which flow to the reef is ongoing due to policy loopholes, which adds more smothering sediment, nutrients and pollutants to the reef’s woes.

The shipping sector only has to abide by a voluntary code to avoid invasive species arriving in the ship’s bilge water, even though they could be carrying the tissue loss disease devastating reefs in the Caribbean and Florida.

Renewables versus biodiversity

Calls to fast-track clean energy projects and stop them being held up by environmental approvals are risky. We could tackle one crisis (climate change) by making another worse (biodiversity and extinction).

Australia has destroyed nearly 40% of its forests since European colonisation, with much of the remaining native vegetation highly fragmented. Because this clearing has already happened, it should be entirely possible to build renewables without damaging the homes of native species.

In fact, we can do better – we can take degraded farmland, build solar on it and restore low-lying native vegetation around it to actually boost biodiversity. Requiring new renewable projects to be nature positive would encourage creative approaches to delivering infrastructure while benefiting nature.

solar panels and wildflowers
Solar versus nature? Why not solar and nature. FenrisWolf/Shutterstock

Policy clashes abound

There is, sadly, no shortage of examples of clashing policies:

Why the lack of alignment?

For politicians, the environment ministry is often seen as a poisoned chalice.

Within government, departments often pull in different directions. When resource and agriculture plans conflict with environmental concerns, it’s not hard to guess which side tends to win. Case in point: the recent plans to remove gas project oversight from environment minister Tanya Plibersek in favour of resources minister Madeleine King.

How can we make policies work together better for the environment? Governments should sift through all relevant policies and regulations to make sure nature-positive approaches are embedded. Requiring development proposals to benefit nature would go a long way to reducing environment-economy conflict. After all, most businesses are now looking into ways of becoming nature-positive.

Too often, environment policies are seen as opposed to those promoting the economy, jobs and industry. But they don’t have to clash.

Tremendous opportunities exist for a safer, more sustainable future, if we address current causes of friction and take a big picture approach to how we develop our policies. The Conversation

Euan Ritchie, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University; Catherine Lovelock, Professor of Biology, The University of Queensland, and Sarah Bekessy, Professor in Sustainability and Urban Planning, Leader, Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group (ICON Science), RMIT University

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

The Southern Ocean has the cleanest air on Earth. We have just discovered why

Glanzpunkt, Shutterstock
Tahereh Alinejadtabrizi, Monash University; Steven Siems, Monash University, and Yi Huang, The University of Melbourne

The Southern Ocean is renowned for having the cleanest air on Earth. But the precise reasons why have remained a mystery, until now.

There’s more to it than just a lack of human activity. Yes, there are fewer people down there using industrial chemicals and burning fossil fuels. But there are natural sources of fine particles too, such as salt from sea spray or dust whipped up by the wind.

Regardless of origin, fine solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in air are known as “aerosols”. We consider clean air to have low levels of aerosols, without discriminating between natural or industrial sources.

Our recent research discovered clouds and rain play a crucial role in scrubbing the atmosphere clean.

Understanding the role of clouds and rain

Aerosol levels over the Southern Ocean are influenced by a range of factors. These include the amount of salt spray and seasonal variation in the growth of tiny plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, which are a source of airborne sulphate particles.

Fewer sulphates are produced during winter, which is when the air over the Southern Ocean is most pristine.

But that’s not the full story. The Southern Ocean is also the cloudiest place on Earth. It experiences short-lived, sporadic showers like nowhere else. We wanted to understand the role of clouds and rain in cleaning the air.

The biggest barrier to understanding these processes has always been the lack of high-quality observations of clouds, rainfall and aerosols in this poorly observed region of the world.

Thankfully, a new generation of satellites allows us to study images of clouds in unprecedented detail. We developed a computer program to recognise different cloud patterns over a vast area of the Southern Ocean.

Infographic showing satellite imagery of different cloud types and inset image of the air monitoring station
A true colour image from Himawari-8 geostationary satellite showing the study area and an example of closed and open honeycomb-like MCC clouds (mesoscale cellular convection) over the Southern Ocean. Tahereh Alinejadtabrizi / npj Climate and Atmospheric Science

In particular we were on the lookout for distinctive honeycomb-shaped patterns in the cloud field. These honeycomb-like clouds are of great interest because they have a major role in regulating the climate.

When the honeycomb cell is filled with cloud or “closed” it is whiter and brighter, reflecting more sunlight back to space. So these clouds help keep the Earth cool.

Empty or “open” honeycomb cells, on the other hand, let more sunlight in.

These intricacies remain a source of error in modelling the Earth’s climate because they are not being properly included. It’s important to get the balance of open and closed cells right, or the results can be way off.

Whether the honeycomb cells are open or closed also relates to the amount of rainfall they can produce.

The cells are big enough to be seen from space, around 40-60km in diameter. So we can study them using satellite images.

Our research is particularly timely given this month’s launch of a cloud and precipitation experiment at Kennaook/Cape Grim in Tasmania. It aims to get higher resolution data on clouds, rain and sunlight.

Aerial image of the air monitoring station at Kennaook/Cape Grim in Tasmania, view from the ocean looking towards the cliffs
The world-famous atmospheric gas monitoring station at Kennaook/Cape Grim on the north-west tip of Tasmania. CSIRO

Scrubbing aerosols out of the sky

We compared the honeycomb cloud patterns with measurements of aerosols from the Kennaook/Cape Grim observatory and also with the Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall observations from a nearby rain gauge.

Our results showed days with the cleanest air were associated with the presence of open honeycomb cloud. We think this is because these clouds generate sporadic but intense rain showers, which seem to “wash” the aerosol particles out of the air.

It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but it turns out the open cells contain more moisture and produce more rain than the fluffy white closed cells filled with cloud. We found the open honeycomb clouds produce six times as much rain as the closed ones.

So what looks like less cloudy weather by satellite actually triggers the most effective rain showers for washing the aerosols out. Whereas the filled or closed honeycomb pattern, which looks cloudier, is less effective. That was one of the more surprising aspects of our findings.

We found the empty honeycombs to be far more common during the winter months, when the air is cleanest.

We also wanted to know what makes cloud fields look the way they do. Our analysis suggests large-scale weather systems control the pattern of the cloud field. As unruly storms track across the Southern Ocean, they produce these open and closed cells.

Fresh air and better climate models

Our research has added a new piece to the puzzle of why the Southern Ocean has the world’s cleanest air. Rainfall is the key, especially rain from these clear, open honeycomb cell-type clouds. We were first to discover they are truly responsible for cleaning up all the air flowing over the Southern Ocean.

These honeycomb patterns are also found in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific regions during winter. So our work will also help explain how these clouds remove aerosols including dust and pollution in these locations. And our findings will help improve climate models, enabling more accurate predictions.

Rain scrubs the aerosols out of the sky in much the same way as a washing machine acts to clean clothes.

After the cold front comes through, the air is clean. If you’re wintering on the south coast of Australia, you can breathe in the benefits as this fresh air comes in off the Southern Ocean.

We would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of CSIRO, ANSTO and the Bureau of Meteorology to this research.The Conversation

Tahereh Alinejadtabrizi, PhD student, Monash University; Steven Siems, Professor in Cloud Microphysics, Monash University, and Yi Huang, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, The University of Melbourne

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 Around Manly Dam: Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
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
Aquatic Reflections seen this week (May 2023): Narrabeen + Turimetta by Joe Mills 
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
Bangalley Headland Walk: Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
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 
Mother Brushtail Killed On Barrenjoey Road: Baby Cried All Night - Powerful Owl Struck At Same Time At Careel Bay During Owlet Fledgling Season: calls for mitigation measures - The List of what you can do for those who ask 'What You I Do' as requested
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 Entrance Clearing Works: September To October 2023  pictures by Joe Mills
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 Great Outdoors: Spotted To The North, South, East + West- June 2023:  Palm Beach Boat House rebuild going well - First day of Winter Rainbow over Turimetta - what's Blooming in the bush? + more by Joe Mills, Selena Griffith and Pittwater Online
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Pittwater Pathways To Public Lands & Reserves
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!
Some late November Insects (2023)
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
Stony Range Regional Botanical Garden: Some History On How A Reserve Became An Australian Plant Park
The Chiltern Track
The Chiltern Trail On The Verge Of Spring 2023 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Topham Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP,  August 2022 by Joe Mills and Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Tranquil Turimetta Beach, April 2022 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Turimetta Moods by Joe Mills: June 2023
Turimetta Moods (Week Ending June 23 2023) by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: June To July 2023 Pictures by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: July Becomes August 2023 by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: August Becomes September 2023 ; North Narrabeen - Turimetta - Warriewood - Mona Vale photographs by Joe Mills
Turimetta Moods: Mid-September To Mid-October 2023 by Joe Mills
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. 

Return Of Australasian Figbird Pair: A Reason To Keep The Trees - Aussie Bird Count 2023 (16–22 October) You can get involved here: aussiebirdcount.org.au

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: http://www.birdlife.org.au/documents/Shorebird_ID_Booklet_V3.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surfers for Climate

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

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

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

Add yours to the conversation by signing up here.

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

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

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

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

Green Team Beach Cleans 

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

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

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

Create a Habitat Stepping Stone!

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

How it works

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

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

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

What you get                                  

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

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

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

Newport Community Gardens

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

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

Avalon Preservation Association

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

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

Report illegal dumping

NSW Government

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

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

The Green Team

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

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

Avalon Boomerang Bags

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

Find out more and get involved.

Avalon Community Garden

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


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

Avalon Community Garden
2 Tasman Road
North Avalon

Wildlife Carers and Organisations in Pittwater:

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Newport Community Garden: Working Bee Second Sunday of the month

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

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

For enquiries contact newportcommunitygardenau@gmail.com

Living Ocean

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

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

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

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

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

Donations are tax-deductable 

Bushcare in Pittwater 

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

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

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

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

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

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

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

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

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

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

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

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

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

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

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

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

Want to know where your food is coming from? 

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

Find out more here:


What Does PNHA do?


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

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

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

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

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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

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

Pittwater's Environmental Foundation

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


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