Final Program Bushfire Community Symposium


Bushfire Management – Balancing the Risks

A community symposium to discuss research, strategies and expectations for fire management in the ACT in a changing environment. On Friday 21 July and Saturday 22 July. There will be a field trip on Sunday 22 July to Aranda bushland.

Morning tea, afternoon tea, lunch, evening nibbles and tea and coffee are provided.

The final program is now available Conference Program-FINAL 

We look forward to seeing you there. It’s not too late to register now!


The Australian Capital Territory has had bushfires before and will have bushfires again. We need to keep discussing the risks and hazards and the community expectations on how we might deal with them. How do we best undertake bushfire management to protect human lives while at the same time maintaining the natural values of our local environment?

Join with bushfire managers, conservation officers, community representatives and a range of knowledge-holders to help look at future bushfire management in the ACT.


Registration is $110 for two days or $60 for one day, with Sunday free.

The event will be especially useful for people working in any area affected by fire management decisions or for members of the community concerned about the environmental, health and other issues with bushfire management.

Christine Goonrey, Symposium Convenor says:

“why can’t we leave bushfire management to the experts? Because it is too important … it is a real community responsibility … ​we are holding this symposium to get the community involved in fire management planning”.

This symposium will be important in the lead-up to the next Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (SBMP) and then the flow onto the Regional Fire Management Plans (RFMP) and annual operational plans (BOPs).

​As Christine says: Acronyms and fire management: if only they could put out the flames.

The completed program is now available. 

Register now.​

Yellow Box Dispatch June 2017

Welcome to our monthly report to all of you who have been registered on our mailing list. Here’s a report of some of our recent activities.

We had a good World Environment Day dinner and thank you to our sponsors and to all the people who attended and bidded and volunteered.

Even with the good result from the dinner we would like to remind you that you can make 2016-17 tax-deductible donations to us before the end of Friday 30 June.

We have some exciting coming events with the Bushfire Symposium in July (register now) and we also have Walk the Border ACT – a watershed walk in October.

The nomination for the loss of mature native trees as a threatening process has been through public consultation and will be now considered by the Scientific Committee for them to provide advice to the Minister. How long will it take? About a piece of string.

Our Environment Exchange series of lunchtime dialogues has been very popular this year and we have four more sessions to go. See our Environment Exchange schedule for semester 2 below.

And there’s more events below!

Please forward this Yellow Box Dispatch to people who might be interested in reading it or looking at the pictures.


Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region

World Environment Day Dinner

We had a great World Environment Day dinner and it helped raise funds for our ongoing activities. It was our highest ever attendance of 300 people and we probably couldn’t fit more people in to the venue for a seated meal. Thank you to our sponsors and to all the people who attended and bidded and volunteered.

It was great to have an ACTION bus to give participants another transport option for the dinner and all bus riders (and bike riders) got free tickets in the raffle for an electric bike donated by Switched On Cycles. Volunteers also received free tickets and good luck story of the night might be that of volunteer Ryan who won the bike!

We were especially benefitted by our collaboration with ALLBIDS who donated their services and expertise to get some great results from the auctions which were a combination of live and on-line versions.

And for those who want to know: the auction prize of Executive Director Larry O’Loughlin cooking for 10 people went for $700. Is his goose cooked?


Reallocate your taxes!

Do you want to say how some of your taxes should be spent? Would you like the funds to go to the Conservation Council rather than buying those lovely new submarines or subsidising that rail line for the great big coal mines of the Galilee Basin?

Here’s an answer! Make a donation to the Conservation Council and that money will be taken off the level of tax that you have to pay.

The money you donate to us will go to advocating for the environment, writing submissions, attending meetings and even writing newsletters to inform the community about environmental issues in the region.

And we won’t be buying any submarines, even yellow ones. Sullivan’s Creek is too shallow.


Bushfire management balancing the risks

It’s time to register for the National Parks Association Bushfire Symposium Bushfire Management – Balancing the Risks on Friday 21 July and Saturday 22 July. There will be a field trip on Sunday 22 July to Aranda bushland.

Registration is $110 for two days or $60 for one day, with Sunday free.

The event will be especially useful for people working in any area affected by fire management decisions or for members of the community concerned about the environmental, health and other issues with bushfire management.

Christine Goonrey, Symposium Convenor says:

“why can’t we leave bushfire management to the experts? Because it is too important … it is a real community responsibility … ​we are holding this symposium to get the community involved in fire management planning”.

This symposium will be important in the lead-up to the next Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (SBMP) and then the flow onto the Regional Fire Management Plans (RFMP) and annual operational plans (BOPs).

​As Christine says: Acronyms and fire management: if only they could put out the flames.

The draft program is now available and registrations are welcome.

Register now.​


Walk the border

BorderThe Conservation Council is part of a new event – Walk the Border – in October 2017 which will be both a historic event and assist us as a fundraiser.

A walk that crosses ancient pathways and defines the ACT, the “Walk the Border, ACT – A Watershed Walk” is a fund-raising event to support the Conservation Council.

The ACT’s border is 306 kms long and crosses a variety of the ACT’s ecosystems, from ones that are nationally threatened to ones that have been severely modified since European settlement.

The walk is being led by Conservation Council president, Rod Griffiths, who will be joined by a range of other fund-raisers, who can join the walk for part of a stage or any number of stages.

The walk is planned to take 21 days commencing on 7 October 2017 from Hall, following the border in a clockwise direction. The route will take in some of the ACT’s roughest and most beautiful country and the source of the ACT’s water supply. Yet many of the stages will involve easy and accessible components allowing for varied involvement by participants.

While the walk has been completed a few times previously, none of these have achieved it in a single batch of successive days (Note Karen Cody of the Canberra Bushwalking Club has done a continuous circumnavigation of the ACT a few years ago, but it missed some significant bits of the border.)

The walk will be exciting, challenging, and will allow those participating to experience parts of the ACT less travelled, and for the wider community to gain a better understanding of the heritage and environmental diversity of the ACT.

The two key themes in communication will be the state of the natural environment being passed through and the historic significance of the border, so painstaking surveyed by three teams seeking to provide a secure watershed for the ACT’s water supply.

We will provide more details in coming weeks and we are seeking support volunteers (some with four wheel drive vehicles) and sponsors – large and small. Contact [email protected] if you would like to help.

Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees nomination

Public consultation has closed on the nomination under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 for the “Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees” to be recognised as a ‘threatening process’.

Public comments will be considered, along with the nomination prepared through the Biodiversity Working Group and signed by Friends of Grasslands, Australian Native Plants Society, Canberra Ornithologists Group, Field Naturalists Association of Canberra and the Conservation Council ACT Region.

This is a piece of work based on extensive research and building on achievements of the Conservation Council and others to develop good legislation in the ACT to protect the environment. In practival terms, if loss of native hollow-bearing trees is recognised as a threatening process then the Government must take steps including preparing an action plan to deal with the the loss of native hollow-bearing trees which are pillars of biodiversity.

See our blog post or our Briefing Paper for a summary.


Environment Exchanges 2017 part two!

Environment Exchange events are held monthly to provide for informed, in-depth discussions on environmental issues in the region. Member groups are encouraged to attend and to publicise the events to their members and supporters.

The Conservation Council ‘Environment Exchange’ series is held at the Renewable Energy Hub, 19-23 Moore Street, Turner (just off Barry Drive).

All events are scheduled from 12-2pm starting with a light lunch (donations welcome). Proceedings commence after people have gathered some food and we try to finish just after 1.30pm but allow time for people to continue to mingle. We have moved the events to Tuesdays rather than Thursdays and have adjusted for public holidays.

The next events in our series are (click to book):

  • Tuesday 25 July: Beyond gas? Moving away from the ‘transition’ fuel BOOK NOW
  • Tuesday 29 August: How the wheels are turning — a bigger picture of transport in the ACT BOOK NOW
  • Tuesday 26 September: Special event — Ben Ponton, Director-General, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate to speak to us on environment, planning, sustainable development issues in the ACT BOOK NOW
  • Tuesday 31 October: Biodiversity Offsets – are they working in the ACT? BOOK NOW

Please forward this to people who might be interested in attending and encourage them to book online to reduce food wastage and stress.



Here comes the br… hold on, it’s a WEEDING party! And you’re invited, 1 July

WHO: Friends of Black Mountain

WHAT: After our wonderful weeders removed approximately 1500 woody weeds, mostly saplings and seedlings, during out last weeding work party, the first Saturday of July is our NEXT weeding work party, when we will be removing woody weeds from north-east part of Black Mountain Reserve.

WHEN: Saturday, 1 July 2017, 9am to 12noon

WHERE: at the Barry Drive entry gate to Black Mountain Nature Reserve. Drive from the city past the Australian National University and CSIRO. Look for the balloons.

BRING: Enthusiasm, your family and friends, water (and your favourite pruning saw or secateurs, if you wish). Everyone is welcome.

WEAR: hat, sunscreen, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, gloves, stout shoes.

WEEDING BREAKFAST (actually MORNING TEA): A delicious morning tea will be provided about 10:30am.

BOOK: If you are planning to come, please email your name and phone number to [email protected] or phone Linda on 0437 298 711. This helps with the catering. Also, having your contact number helps us to let you know if arrangements need to change at the last minute (for example, adverse weather conditions).

Happy weeding,


350 Canberra presents “Guarding the Galilee” and potluck dinner

WHO: 350 Canberra and StopAdani invites you to our film and social night to enjoy good food, good company and strengthen our beautiful community.

WHAT: Public viewing of the Stop Adani documentary: “Guarding the Galilee”, plus guest speakers, learn how the movement is growing in creativty and diversity across the nation, opportunities for further action and potluck dinner. Please bring a plate to share for dinner – savoury, sweet or snack.

In the face of our climate emergency the Australian and Queensland governments want to team-up with Adani to build the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history. This project will further trash Indigenous rights, ruin our water and wreck our climate. We will look at ways we can involve federal political action into our campaign and get overall climate action now. We need a groundswell of community action to stop the mine and build towards a safe climate future, so come and join us!

HELP?: We would really appreciate some lovely volunteers to help set up from 5.30.

BRING: Please bring a plate to share for dinner – savoury, sweet or snack.

WHEN: Friday 7 July setup from 5.30pm

WHERE: Renewables Innovation Hub 19-23 Moore Street, Turner ACT

Sustainable House Tour, Lyneham, 1 July

WHAT: This house tour will showcase how you can make an existing house more sustainable and use a Trombe wall for additional heating.  Find out more

WHEN: 1 July 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WHERE: email [email protected] for address

New Economy Group Meeting

WHAT: Interested in the transition to an economy that puts people and the planet first? Come along to Canberra’s own new economics group meeting.


WHEN: 12 July

WHERE: email for the address

Sustainable House Tour, Latham

WHAT: This house rated 1.5 stars before the renovation, with the owners freezing in winter even with ducted heating. Now it rates at 7 stars and with the use of only one electric heater, the owners are warm and cosy.  Find out more

WHEN: 22 July

WHERE: Contact [email protected] for information

Climate Change: A global science update 

WHAT: Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, will discuss new developments in assessing human ‘fingerprints’ on climate change, including on the intensity, likelihood or frequency of extreme events such as heat waves or heavy rainfall events. She will also cover recent research related to climate feedbacks, such as those related to clouds and frozen soils. New information is emerging on the 1.5°C and 2°C Paris agreement targets and she will summarise the links between global temperature change, regional impacts and greenhouse gas emission trajectories. This will be followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A, including possibilities for climate action.

WHEN: 18 July, 6pm-7.30pm

WHERE: Leonard Huxley Theatre, Leonard Huxley Building [56], Australian National University



Early warning ramble

46th Black Mountain spring wildflower ramble

WHEN: Saturday 14 October 2017 – 9.30am sharp to 12noon or later

WHERE: Belconnen Way entry just before Caswell Drive turnoff – watch for balloons

Celebrate the spring flowering on beautiful Black Mountain with a social ramble for wildflower lovers in the tradition established by Nancy Burbidge, and continued by George Chippendale. Discover the surprising diversity of tiny orchids, bush peas, wattles and billy buttons on easy bush tracks with experienced guides and good company. All springs are not the same. The pattern remains but timing and abundance vary with the weather. Friends of Black Mountain welcomes all comers, be they experts or those who have never slowed down to see the somewhat cryptic diversity. We plan several guides, with helpers, who will take different directions.

BYO morning tea, water, hat, sunblock and stout shoes.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL to ensure we have enough guides. Contact [email protected] or Libby Viccars 02 6296 1936.


Reducing Canberra’s Waste Mountain – Environment Exchange

According to a 2014 audit of the composition of red garbage bins – a large Environment Exchangecomponent is recyclables and food organics with only 20-30% comprised of residual waste. Obviously there is a waste management problem that requires: engagement, education and enhancement.

We have the overall vision to manage waste in the ACT. The challenge now is to examine how we can minimize our consumption in the first place. Waste management is more than the recapture and recycling of resources like plastic, paper and metal. It is also about how successfully we can reduce our overall consumption from the very beginning.  Without overall system change implemented by the government, individuals alone cannot successfully initiate change. How can we pivot our approach to focus on waste reduction rather than management? Especially when Canberra is high on the list of wasteful regions in one of the world’s most wasteful countries.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election the Conservation Council’s policy “Waste and resource management – being efficient through closed-lopped material systems” was in our 2016 ACT Election Agenda – Our future, our environment.

Our June 2017 Environment Exchange was Reducing Canberra’s Waste Mountain: Minimising our Consumption. Our Speakers, and their presentation, to look at these issues were:

    • Jim Corrigan – Deputy Director-General Transport Canberra and City Services. See the presentation.
    • Markus Dirnberger- Member Coalition for Pollution Reduction and current ANU engineering student. See the presentation. 
    • Mia Swainson – Environmental engineer and sustainable lifestyle writer for HerCanberra , worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. See the presentation.
    • Larry O’Loughlin- Executive Director Conservation Council ACT Region. See the presentation.

Jim Corrigan spoke on the ACT Budget 2017-18 allocations on waste and what is currently happening with the ACT Waste Feasibility Study.

The 2017-18 budget commitments for waste include:

  • Landfill expansion at Mugga Lane, costing $25.3m over four years, to ensure continued operations beyond 2020, when current capacity is expected to expire.
  • Landfill rehabilitation at West Belconnen and Mugga Lane, costing $34.8m over four years, a requirement to remediate West Belconnen site before closure and transfer to the Ginninderry development in 2020, and, rehabilitate landfill cells at Mugga Lane that have reached maximum capacity.
  • The roll out of the green waste bin service to provide an organic waste collection service to territory residents.
  • A container deposit scheme to increase recycling rates, reduce litter and encourage community participation in recycling.
  • Implementation of Waste Management and Resource Recovery (WMRR) Act 2016 and waste policy development. The Government will implement the WMRR Act 2016, which comes into effect on 1 July 2017, and support waste regulatory policy development.

The waste feasibility study is a two year study which commenced in mid 2015 to identify pathways to achieving the best practice waste management to achieve a sustainable, carbon-neutral Canberra by reducing waste and recovering resources.  Jim outlined the next steps for the study, including providing a roadmap for future initiatives and infrastructure, implementing  the WMRR Act and that there will be further Government consideration later in 2017.

Markus Dirnberger advocated for the ACT to implement some international lessons for reducing and avoiding wastes. Markus has spent time in Germany and Austria, these countries formed the foundation of his study on EU waste management. As with other speakers, Markus stressed that up to 50% of our general waste is made up of organic materials; in Canberra these produce methane in landfills. He argued that the new ACT green bins, which are being rolled out as part of the budget commitments, fail to address food waste and thereby the real issue. In comparison, in the EU, city municipalities must collect and appropriately recover energy from all organics (garden + kitchen). For example, the Munich “dry fermentation” plant produces biogas and compost for farmers and local residents. While in France it is illegal for supermarkets to throw away food, as it must be given to local charities and benefit for society instead of being disposed of, like in Australia. Unlike in the ACT, Markus highlighted that waste collection agencies in the EU operate as communal organisations. They are run by the society, for the society thus profits are returned to the community to improve infrastructure, education, research and development. A key recommendation by Copenhagen Resource Institute in a report commissioned for the EU Commission: “keep everything in municipal ownership and collect relevant waste streams on your own.” In addition, Markus is concerned about the ACT Government introducing a feed-in-tariff for waste-to-energy. It is considered “renewable energy” for electricity production by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This threatens recycling and thus incentivises the production of more waste. An alternative is investing in recycling as the recycling industry creates 5-7 times as many jobs as the incineration industry in Germany. However, Markus concluded by examining how we can move towards zero waste and therefore minimise our consumption from the beginning. Some suggestions included:

  • We need to set clear targets to reduce resource consumption.
  • Define separate reuse and recycling targets to ensure waste hierarchy is maintained, encouraging reuse over recycling.
  • Introduce an Australia-wide deposit scheme and encouraged extending the first phase of the scheme in the ACT to retail shops for reusables to enable true closed-loop-recycling.
  • We must acknowledge producer responsibility for a product’s end of life in the design process, rather than focusing on unsustainable replacement and recycling.
  • Finally, Markus advocated for transparency with the need for States and Territories to annually publish their data.

Mia Swainson examined how individuals might reduce waste within the system and some best options for dealing with waste. In the ACT approximately 40-50% of our household Landfill is organic waste (food and garden). Mia suggested the most effective form of waste management and reduction is to take out organic waste and implement composting systems. This may be chickens, garden compost and worm farms or community composts, such as the one at the Canberra Environment Centre, for those in higher density living. Redcycle is a great option for recycling soft plastics Find the REDcycle drop off point nearest to you. Furthermore, Mia suggested options for reducing our overall consumption from the very beginning. This included the buy nothing new challenge, buying food in bulk and naked at farmers markets or the food co-op, making your own food and clothes, clothes swaps, toy libraries, BYO coffee cup and water bottle, reusable sandwich wraps, re-purposing and repairing items, refusing what you do not need. These local solutions are already improving our diversion and recovery.
Larry O’Loughlin presented learnings from recent waste projects by Conservation Council ACT interns and from engagement in the Waste Feasibility Study. The long term implications of waste include impacts on biodiversity from expansions of landfill, impacts on region such as proposals to send waste to Woodlawn, and impacts of populations including more residences resulting in more overall consumption. The Conservation Council has had some very successful and insightful waste projects completed by interns and students. The Conservation Council has provided comments on legislation and budget measures including that legislation did not allocate responsibility for waste reduction and did not set targets and 2015-16 budget measures had set up a business case for waste to energy but this was not a priority until waste reduction and community education had been better implemented. Larry also flagged future issues for waste in the ACT region including government proposals to burn waste and stressed that all innovation is not necessarily good innovation. What is of high importance for the ACT going forwards is engagement, education and enhancement. Furthermore, while whole of government measures are good, whole of Australia approaches are necessary.

Register for our next Environment Exchange on 25 July

Beyond Gas: Moving away from the “transition’” fuel.