Yellow Box Dispatch October 2018


Yellow Box Dispatch October 2018

Welcome to our monthly summary of some of the environmental issues and events in the ACT and region. We include links to more information and to documents where available.

Our big news is that a long process came to fruition at the end of September with the official recognition that the removal of mature native trees is a key threatening process. The Conservation Council is very pleased that long-term work by member groups and the Conservation Council will help build better protection for these pillars of biodiversity and might truly help Canberra to remain the Bush Capital. See our report and links below.

Other good news is that the ACT has legislated tighter greenhouse gas emission targets. This legislation was endorsed by all parties in the Assembly – Labor, Liberal, Greens – and it is good that this tri-partisan approach remains a feature of dealing with climate change in the ACT. Much work remains to be done, however, both policy and practical.

We are pleased to be again conducting the ACT Environment Awards with nominations closing 12 noon, Wednesday 17 October 2018. The awardees will be announced at the 2018 Spring Mingle.

And we have some events listed below and many more listed on our Facebook page under events.


Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region

Good news: loss of mature native trees seen as threatening process

In the environment, as in many matters, if we recognise a problem then we might then be able to deal with it.

Over some years the Conservation Council and member groups have been working to have the loss of mature native trees recognised as a key threatening process under the Nature Conservation Act 2014.

We held an Environment Exchange on mature native trees in February 2017 and prepared public information on saving mature native trees. A submission to the Scientific Committee was made on behalf of Conservation Council ACT Region; Friends of Grasslands; Australian Native Plant Society Canberra Region; Canberra Ornithologists Group; and Field Naturalists Association of Canberra.

The Scientific Committee considered the submission and sought further advice from us and also from CSIRO scientists, a range of academics, and various other reports and sources. We waited – this was a scientific process rather than a campaign! – and offered assistance and occasionally asked if we were there yet.

Now the Committee has: “agreed to broaden the threatening process from the loss of hollow bearing trees to the key threatening process of Loss of mature native trees (including hollow bearing trees) and a lack of recruitment”. The instrument containing the advice took effect 27 September.

This will not save all mature native trees but it does recognise that removing them is a problem – a key threatening process no less! There will be an action plan drawn up to outline measures to reduce their removal. As the advice says: “The priority management objective is to reduce the loss of mature native trees and its impact on threatened native species and to improve recruitment of native woodland tree species across the ACT.”

Conservation Issues and Proposed Management Actions include protection such as restricting clearing of mature eucalypts and mature native trees that contain nest hollows and “retention of non-mature native trees across urban and rural landscapes to ensure a future supply of mature trees and avoid lag times”.

The advice also suggests actions to conserve and manage trees across the landscape and for further monitoring and research including on Eucalypt dieback in the ACT and “appropriate provenance for revegetation programs under climate change”.

Congratulations and thanks to those who have worked on this proposal over the years, especially the Conservation Council’s Biodiversity Working Group with particular thanks to Geoff Butler (Australian Native Plant Society Canberra Region), Sarah Sharp (Friends of Grasslands), Jenny Bounds (Canberra Ornithologists Group) and Larry O’Loughlin (Conservation Council).

We have new climate change targets! 2045 Zero Net Emissions!

On 18 September, the ACT Legislative Assembly agreed to a 2045 target for Zero Net Emissions (back from 2050). Minister Rattenbury’s disallowable instrument on interim targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040 has also gone through. This is great news as previously we had no targets or plans post-2020, except an aspirational target of zero net emissions by 2050 (now 2045!).

We are the first Australian state to upgrade its target from 2050 with tri-partisan support. Contrast this with Federal Government policy paralysis on climate change. Plaudits go to the ACT Legislative Assembly. More detail is in our blog post.

While these steps in the ACT are necessary and welcome more work needs to be done to give effect to the legislation and the looming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to say that even relatively good current targets are inadequate to reduce emissions at the rate needed.

Spring Mingle and Environment Awards

Join us to celebrate the environment achievements of our Member Groups and our region at the 2018 Conservation Council ACT Spring Mingle!

Be part of the awards ceremony for our annual environment awards (see below). Connect with other Canberrans who are passionate about the environment, and celebrate the announcement of the ACT Environment Awards. There will be a bar, music, entertainment, a silent auction and we will provide a feast of finger food.

Entry by donation. Help us continue our work protecting the environment and being a voice for nature.

What: Spring Mingle and presentation of ACT Environment Awards
When: 6:00pm – 9:00pm, Friday 26 October
Where: Rooftop Garden, Lena Karmel Lodge, 26 Barry Drive, Canberra
Who: Friends and supporters of the Conservation Council and its member groups and key stakeholders

Register for the Spring Mingle here.


Nominations open for 2018 Environment Awards

The Conservation Council ACT Region is proud to announce that nominations are open for the 2018 Environment Awards. If you have made a significant contribution to looking after our environment we strongly encourage you to apply now. In addition, if you know someone or a group who has been an exceptional voice for the environment we strongly encourage you to invite them to apply or nominate them yourself. While the awards are open they are designed to recognise contributions to protecting the environment from within our Conservation Council community.

The awards recognise individuals and groups who have made a significant contribution towards the environment. There are four awards:

Nominations close 12 noon, Wednesday 17 October 2018.

Awards will be announced at the Conservation Council Spring Mingle on 26 October.


Add more environment to ACT Budget

ACT 2019-20 Budget consultations are underway and it’s our chance to add more environment to the ACT Budget.

Both individuals and groups can make a submission, and advice we have received is that the more submissions on a topic the better.

So please consider putting forward environmental matters for funding in the ACT Budget and send your submissions also to the Conservation Council so that we can incorporate and reinforce your ideas as appropriate.

The Government asks for Budget ideas around the following questions which can be used for guidance:

  • What services do you believe are most important for the ACT?
  • How can the ACT Government deliver current services more efficiently or in ways that better meet the needs of our community?
  • Are there particular services that you think the ACT Government should stop delivering or should deliver in a different way?
  • What new ideas, services or programs should the ACT consider to meet emerging or evolving community needs?

If you want provide input via a survey go to Your Say. If you do a submission send it to [email protected] and let them know if you’re happy for the submission to be available to the public.

For further enquiries, contact the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate on: 6207 1375. Closing Date for the 2019-20 Budget Consultation process is Wednesday 31 October 2018.


ACT Heritage Council decision on Natural Temperate Grassland, Barton

On 20 September 2018, the ACT Heritage Council decided not to provisionally register the Natural Temperate Grassland (Endangered Ecological Community) Barton Grassland. The primary reasons given were that the registration of the place is prohibited under s 42A of the Heritage Act 2004, as it only has natural heritage significance of a kind that is protected under the Nature Conservation Act 2014.

We will further explore what this decision means for the Grassland. Given the development pressures in the area it is important that there are strong protections in place for the Natural Temperate Grassland particularly given it is important habitat for the the threatened species Golden Sun Moth.

See the Heritage (Decision about Provisional Registration of the Natural Temperate Grassland (Endangered Ecological Community) Barton Grassland) Notice 2018.


Public comment opens for Spotted-Tailed Quoll draft Action Plan

The Conservator of Flora and Fauna has prepared a draft Action Plan for the Spotted-Tailed Quoll which is now available for public comment at:

The Spotted-tailed Quoll was declared a Vulnerable species in the ACT in 2003 and the first action plan for the species was published in 2005. The original action plan has been reviewed and this new draft incorporates information underpinning the National Recovery Plan for the Spotted-tailed Quoll, other recent research findings and updated sightings information for the species in the ACT.

Comments by email to [email protected] or mail to:

The Spotted-tailed Quoll consultation
Conservation Research
Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate
GPO Box 158
Canberra City ACT 2601

The closing date for submissions is 29 October 2018.


Review of ACT Plastic Shopping Bag Ban Act 2010 

We are seeking your comments on the findings of ‘Unfantastic Plastic – Review of the ACT Shopping Bag Ban‘. The report was released on 20 September 2018 by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. It responded to a Ministerial Direction to investigate the efficacy of the existing legislation and recommend options to improve environmental outcomes.

The report generally found that the Act has been effective in reducing plastic bag consumption and associated litter.

The Commissioner made four recommendations:

1. Introduce a mandatory plastic bag disclosure regime
2. Introduce minimum plastic bag pricing
3. Improve government’s governance on plastic bag regulation, and
4. Research synergies for compostable plastic and the proposed household organic collection scheme

The ACT Government has six months to provide a response to the four recommendations in this report.

More cats contained

Gungahlin Town Centre and the new suburbs of Macnamara and Strathnairn (West Belconnen) have been declaredcat containment areas.

This is welcome however we still want to see more areas, particularly older suburbs near our nature reserves declared cat containment. It becomes inequitable when only new suburbs have cat containment. The Conservation Council has recommended that the whole of Canberra be cat containment and that this measure be introduced over many years in order that owners (does anyone ‘own’ a cat?) can be prepared and new cats be brought up in containment.

All this and more will become a conversation again later this year when the ACT Government releases its “Cat Plan” for public consultation.

Remember, you can love your cat and wildlife too by keeping domestic cats contained.

For more information see: Canberra Times articles or check out these FAQs and links.



2018 ACT Heritage Awards

What: The National Trust of Australia (ACT) invites you to the announcement of the 2018 Heritage Awards by Minister for Heritage, Mick Gentleman, MLA. Entry is free, nibbles and drinks will be provided.

When: 5:30pm for a 6pm start, Monday 15th October, 2018

Where: CMAG North Building, London Circuit, Canberra City

RSVP: send an email to [email protected].


Women in Collective Environmental Activism

WHAT: Women’s Environment Leadership Australia (WELA) is hosting a discussion about women in collective environmental activism. The talk will include two key speakers (Phoebe Howe of AYCC and Julie Armstrong of ACT for Bees) who will be sharing insight and experience of their: entry into environmental activism; developing and changing engagement with the environmental sphere; challenges faced from being a woman in the environmental sphere; and strategies of overcoming those challenges.

WHEN: 6:30-8:30pm Tuesday 16 October 2018

WHERE: Polish Eagle Club, 38 David St, Turner ACT

INFO: Elyshia Weatherby 0403 715 239 or [email protected]


South Fest 24 November 2018 #TuggersPride

WHAT:  SouthFest will bring life into the streets, laneways and lake foreshore of the Tuggeranong Town Centre. The SouthFest vision is that our whole community can join in. That everyone can find their rhythm, beat, activity or flavour. That everyone is more connected to our community. That we all walk away feeling a sense of #TuggersPride.

WHEN: 11:00am – 6:00pm 24 November 2018

Participate: SouthFest is creating a Sustainability Hub where they are keen to showcase community organisations and businesses doing work in this space. By bringing these organisations together, the Hub will deliver information, community workshops and demonstrations. Sites are free for community organisations.



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