We’re looking for a new Executive Director

The Conservation Council ACT is looking for a new Executive Director. An Expression of Interest (EOI) closes Friday 15 December and full applications on 11 January 2019. Potential applicants are strongly advised to submit an EOI first.

The Executive Director reports to a Board and will lead the organisation to deliver the vision and strategic direction of the Conservation Council ACT Region as it continues to tackle the effects of climate change and protect the environment that underpins our unique and special Bush Capital.

The Executive Director will ensure the Conservation Council operates efficiently and effectively, applying sound business principles to the operations, whilst exploring opportunities for supporter growth and long-term organisational viability. The Executive Director, via leadership and innovation, will continue to influence communities and decision-makers in government and business. As the ‘face and voice’ of the Conservation Council, the Executive Director will be responsible for building, promoting and strengthening partnerships with government, and relevant sector and community stakeholder groups to drive leadership to deliver actions.

The Executive Director will be responsible for building on the significant achievements of the Conservation Council and further enhancing the organisation as a respected leader in being a voice for the environment.

This is a rare opportunity for an experienced, strategic, authentic and inspirational leader, who has strong people, public policy, and sophisticated advocacy and promotion skills to lead an organisation at the forefront of tackling threats to our climate and environment. You will be conversant with the current issues surrounding clean energy, climate change policies and protecting the environment and be able to articulate this into operational campaign models. Key to your success will be your entrepreneurial spirit and ability to identify, capitalise and deliver on the opportunities to lobby, advocate and influence. As a leader you will be inclusive, collaborative and credible, able to communicate with influence, inspiring confidence in staff and other relevant stakeholder groups, including potential supporters and donors in a call to action. You will be experienced in Board reporting with a strong understanding and commitment to good governance.

See the position description and for further information please contact:

  • President Rod Griffiths 0410 875 731 [email protected] or,
  •  between 15 December 2018 and 3 January 2019, interim Executive Director Clare Henderson on 0412 425 665 or [email protected].

Loss of mature native trees recognised 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 further information and occasionally asked “are we were there yet?”.

Now the Scientific 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”.


We’re recruiting: Office Manager (closing 5pm Friday 27 July 2018)

The Conservation Council ACT Region is seeking a part-time Office Manager to assist the smooth operation of the office. The Office Manager will assist the Executive Director with member group and donor management and will undertake volunteer management and some secretariat duties. The Office Manager will also undertake bookkeeping tasks including managing the financial system (Xero) and preparation of financial reports.

Position:   Office Manager

Hours:      30 hours per fortnight

Salary:      $30 per hour

Term:       ongoing (initial contract to 30 June 2019 subject to 3 months probation)

Apply by 5pm Friday 28 July 2018 to [email protected] including:

  • a résumé outlining relevant work experience and education/training
  • an outline of your office management and bookkeeping experience and skills supported by examples
  • two referees, including where relevant, your current supervisor

For a full position description and for further information contact Larry O’Loughlin [email protected] or 02 6229 3202

Closing date 5pm Friday 27 July 2018


Walk the Border – best days to do part stages

Walk the Border ACT has many options for part participation.  Have a look at them in conjunction with the descriptions in the walk schedule to see which might best suit your personal requirements. And then you can register here to become a border walker. Don’t forget that you can sponsor a walker and you are welcome to register on our mailing list to stay informed.

Day 1: 7 October – Centenary Trail Track Head to Mulligans Flat Road – For this stage it would be feasible to do the Centenary Trail Track Head to One Tree Hill section of the walk and then return independently back on the Centenary trail to the track head ( 2 – 2.5 Hours return)

Day 2: 8 October – Mulligans Flat Road to Federal Highway –  Join the walk at the start and and independently return to the starting point.

Day 5: 11 October – Kings Highway to Yass Road –  An easy 15 minute walk at the start of this stage get you to a good example of a blazed tree survey marker.   Near the end of the stage it would be possible to walk in from the Molonglo Gorge Carpark along the the beautiful Blue Tiles walking trail to meet the walkers heading towards the carpark along that trail.  You would need to be monitoring the live progress of the walkers (via the walk’s website) to determine the best time to leave the carpark and would have needed to advise me of your intention to do so.

Day 6: 12 October – Yass Road to Gilmore –  Along the length of this walk there are access and exit points at Woods Lane, Lanyon Drive and, in Hume, Arnott Street and Alderson Place.  This stage shows how much the landscape has been modified  although it does also pass the Jerrabomberra East grasslands reserve.

Day 7: 13 October – Gilmore to Royalla – It is possible to exit this stage at the Old Tuggeranong Road at Tuggeranong Pines.  Probably preferable to have a car or pickup arranged for where the Old Tuggeranong Road meets the Monaro Hwy.

Day 8: 14 October – Royalla to Ingledene Pine Forest –  Participants can leave at Williamsdale Road (approximately 1.5 hours from Royalla)

Day 12: 18 October – Boboyan Road to Maurice Luton Fire Trail –  It would be possible to join at the start of this section and return at any time,  in the first two hours, back along the fire trail.

Day 17: 23 October – Pryor’s Hut to Bendora Hut – This day crisscrosses the Mt Franklin Road allowing a lot of flexibility for joining or leaving however liaison may be difficult as access to the internet to follow the live progress of the walkers may be limited.  Mt Franklin and Mt Aggie are beautiful sections of this stage.

Day 18: 24 October – Bendora Hut to Pabral Road – The walk is mainly on the Mt Franklin Road early on which facilitates easy access back to the starting point.  There is road access nearby the rest of the walk but liaison may be difficult due to limited internet reception.

Day 20: 26 October – Mountain Creek Road to Murrumbidgee River – This is a relatively short day with an estimated time of 4 hours.  Participants could shorten in by leaving a car or pickup at the ACT/NSW border on Fairlight road and simply completing the stage from Mountain Creek Road to Fairlight Road.

Day 21: 27 October – Murrumbidgee River to Centenary Trail Track Head – Participants could exit or join at Parkwood Road or via the walking trails of Eldershaw Crescent at Dunlop or Wallaroo Road Hall.

Parliamentary Agreement for 9th Legislative Assembly of the ACT

The Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens to form the 9th Legislative Assembly reflects the parties’ disappointing environment election policies and does little to recognise the need for enhanced biodiversity conservation in the ACT.

It is good that the Agreement restates the commitment of the parties to 100% electricity from renewable energy by 2020 and it is good there is also agreement to “set firm interim targets to reach zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest”. However this policy already has tri-partisan support and what is needed is a process to deliver a post-2020 plan to zero net emissions as soon as possible with cross party support.

ACT Labor almost vacated the space on environment policy during the election campaign, except for climate change, and the best parts of the Greens environment policies have not been included including to “empower the newly created single conservation agency by funding additional staff and research capacity”; “Protecting mature and hollow bearing trees in agricultural and urban areas” and “Employing two additional full time rangers, one of which is a designated role for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee for on-ground biodiversity management in the ACT reserve system”.

We need to see proposals and policies that result in no more loss of our nationally significant ecological communities and appropriate resources to ensure our existing high conservation areas under protection are appropriately manage. Three key issues here are better protection for natural areas, adequate funding for weed and pest animal finding and Canberra wide cat containment.

Although the Agreement includes the Greens policy of a “feasibility study” on a national park in the north of Canberra this might mean the expenditure of a lot of money without much gain to biodiversity outcomes – rather just a change in the “title” of land tenure.

The Agreement includes “Develop a four year program to deliver weed and pest animal control” but there is no commitment to adequate resources. The Greens during the election had proposed funding $2million annually although this is usually too low to deal with both weeds and pests unless you pull a rabbit out of a hat each year with top-up funds.

At the same time the Agreement reinforces the wrong-headed approach on cat containment to “ensure the effectiveness of cat containment” rather than adopt it as a whole of Canberra measure as the Greens stated on the day before the election that “We do support the concept of Canberra-wide cat containment in principle”.

The Agreement does not adequately deal with municipal waste issues instead only offering to “Implement the key findings of the Waste Feasibility Study so that ACT waste management is national best practice”. The focus should be waste reduction but the Government with either Greens or Labor Ministers has refused to set reduction targets so resorts to management. The ACT Waste Feasibility Study is part of Government and could not be expected to provide recommendations on best practice given that it is limited by the direction of Ministers and its capacity to obtain resources from existing Directorates. There is no process of developing “key findings” and in the last term ideas came from the Minister’s office not the public part of the ACT Waste Feasibility Study. For example, ‘smart bins‘ were not brought to the Study’s community consultation processes and the current system of self-drive green waste collection was recognised as working well with a need to assist some people not able to take their garden material to recycling-compost facilities. Kitchen waste was recognised as a problem but this was not addressed by the green bin proposal that will cost nearly $20 million to roll out across Canberra.

The Agreement has incorporated many of the good costed transport policies the Greens took to the 2016 election and there are processes proposed to deliver on these ideas although there often seem to be difficulties in the public service implementing election transport policies. It would be helpful to maintain a strong view of the social impact of transport options including for lower-income people to have good transport options.

There are also some good processes established under part 5 “Better planning processes, consultation and outcomes” with Caroline Le Couteur destined to be chair of the Assembly’s Planning Committee. It remains to be seen the resources that will be allocated to this Committee to conduct an inquiry in a manner that should be a model for improved planning processes including deliberative democracy.

The Agreement sets a framework for the parties to deliver Government over the next four years and it has more than the environment to deal with but it is disappointing that the environment has not been given a higher profile. Nonetheless, both Labor and the Greens have a good record on environmental matters and we hope that they over-deliver on the environment over the next four years.

We have uploaded the Parliamentary Agreement for the 9th Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory as issued through media release 30 October 2016. This version includes an index and hyperlinks absent from the original.
Election of Chief Minister 31Oct2016

A 2016 ACT Election Agenda: Water conservation – smart use of a scarce resource

Conservation Council ACT Region – A 2016 ACT Election Agenda – Our future, our environment

The Conservation Council has prepared some recommendations which aim to set directions for the ACT Government to reduce environmental impacts over the next four years. We have identified potential initiatives in the key areas of our work:

  • Biodiversity Conservation – protecting our unique ecological communities and the Bush Capital
  • Climate Change – a regional, national and global challenge
  • Planning – the right things in the right places
  • Transport – connecting people and places
  • Waste – being efficient through closed-loop systems
  • Water – smart use of a scarce resource
  • Governance – for a Smarter, Sustainable Canberra

Here we present our policies on water.

Water conservation – smart use of a scarce resource


Water is a fundamental environmental resource that shapes landscapes and nourishes flora and fauna. Water supply is critical for the human population, as well as the environment in which we live. Climate predictions have shown that we can expect more severe droughts, as well as greater floods, and both have major impacts on our environment and way of life.

In an urban society with steadily predicted population increase we need to be prepared for progressive water scarcity, and policies are needed to conserve and effectively use the water available. To maintain and enhance our living environment the conservation and re-use of stormwater and grey water become increasingly important.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan ties Canberra to a fixed net volume for water supply, without any provision for increased volume related to population growth. The net volume is calculated by deducting the volume of treated wastewater discharged into the river from the amount of freshwater extracted, which cancels any gain from use of treated wastewater, dual flush toilets or domestic water recycling, since reduced discharge leads to reduced extraction.

Policy Measures

ACT Water Policy – reduce consumption, reuse and conserve

  • Think Water ACT Water: Maintain ongoing support for an ACT water policy which encourages water re-use, minimises raw water consumption, conserves water from roofs and builds wetlands and stormwater ponds.

Water Infrastructure to improve water quality

  • Establish water quality improvement measures, in all new developments: incorporating into suburb design wetlands, stormwater ponds and grassed swales to assist water quality improvement.
  • Retrofit existing major stormwater channels, including Sullivan’s Creek, Jerrabomberra Creek, and Weston Creek with constructed wetlands and water retention ponds.

Water Sensitive Urban Design for a more liveable and sustainable city

  • Flexible planning for climate change: Plan for potential variability in the climate in the future including long dry spells and flood events. The planning authority should assist in organising ways for the community to develop a water sensitive Canberra
  • Permeable root protection and water catchment for urban trees: Our urban trees, especially in heavy traffic areas – foot, bicycle and even car – should have permeable hard stands shaped to collect water
  • Enhanced urban tree planting to reduce heat loads and water run-off.

Stormwater Management to recognise value and improve quality

  • Provide urban community education campaign on stormwater, emphasising the value of stormwater and need to maintain stormwater quality by reducing rubbish entering stormwater
  • Reduced runoff from new developments 75% of total annual stormwater runoff to be retained within the community via harvesting, infiltration and aquifer recharge
  • Cleaner runoff: Over 95% total annual stormwater runoff volume is filtered and treated before reaching stormwater system or receiving waters
  • Reduce number of stormwater ‘runoff days’ Reduce the number of days in which stormwater runs off the urban area, by a range of infiltration mechanisms.
  • Wetland and Stormwater Ponds: Establish urban wetland and stormwater retention ponds to assist water quality improvement, wildlife habitat and residential amenity. In particular, there should be a focus on the water quality of Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Tuggeranong with ponds to reduce nutrient flows and faecal contamination from stormwater runoff from the urban areas
  • Building Site Management: ensure the Environment Protection Agency has adequate resources to enforce erosion and sediment controls at building sites with a particular focus on new urban developments
  • Establish raingardens (bioretention systems) in new and established developments, including residential streets, to mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff. Enable community involvement in the maintenance of the raingardens.

Water Recycling – Greywater for reuse including for gardens

  • Assist use of Greywater: Provide advice to residents on how to safely use greywater especially for gardens. The planning authority and other government agencies should be organisers and enablers of ways for the community to use greywater
  • Regulate greywater sensibly: greywater should be regulated for appropriate safety levels using a risk management approach.

Water Efficiency – system changes supporting community responsibilities

In public housing and other rented properties

  • Retrofit all ACT Government owned public housing: All ACT government public housing stock should be fitted with efficient fittings and appliances
  • Provide rebate to landlords for fitting efficient fittings and appliances
  • Establish greywater systems in ACT Government owned public housing: Greywater can be useful for gardens and green spaces and should be utilised for public amenity where appropriate. This is especially the case for community gardens associated to public housing
  • Support community involvement in moderating water use.

General appliances

  • Restrict installation of wasteful auto-flushing toilets – community education should occur ahead of water-wasting technologies
  • Provide more publicly accessible drinking water fountains – in both private and public spaces and include provision for pets in appropriate locations.


Temperate Grassland new listing, definition; critically endangered

Natural Temperate Grassland of the South Eastern Highlands, a critically endangered ecological community (EPBC Act)

In April 2016 the previously listed Natural Temperate Grassland of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT was replaced by a new listing and definition. The revised listing has extended its distribution and range, altitude, habitat and threatened status. It is now defined as Temperate Grassland of the South-Eastern Highlands, a critically endangered community, under Commonwealth legislation (EPBC Act). Distribution ranges from Orange and beyond in the north to East Gippsland in Victoria, west to beyond Tumut and east to the Dividing Range. It is found from 350 m to 1200 m in altitude, but does not include alpine treeless plains. The community occurs on a wide variety of topographic positions and soils, and is found in areas subject to cold air drainage, in frost hollows and drainage depressions, on exposed west or north facing hills, on basalt plateaux; a sub-type develops on ephemeral wetlands such as Lake George.

Quantitative criteria have been included. An area over 0.1 ha in size that is within the defined region, altitude and is apparently naturally treeless meets the criteria as the critically endangered community if it meets criteria A or B:

  1. It contains a foliage cover of more than 50% Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass), Poa labillardierei (River Tussock) or Carex bichenoviana (Plains Sedge)


  1. The percentage cover of native vascular plants (including annual and perennial species) in the patch is greater than the percentage cover of perennial exotic species


  • In favourable sampling times a 0.04 ha sampling plot contains at least 8 non-grass native species or at least 2 indicator species or a floristic value score of at least 5


  • In other sampling times a 0.04 ha sampling plot contains at least 4 non-grass native species or at least 1 indicator species or a floristic value score of at least 3.

(Indicator species are identified and floristic value score described in the Approved Conservation Advice (http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicshowcommunity.pl?id=152&status=Critically+Endangered, accessed April 2016).

ACT budget environmental impacts: submission & response

The Conservation Council took several environmental issues with the 2015-16 ACT Budget to the Estimates Committee which, in turn, made recommendations and the Government has now responded.
The Committee was quite direct on weeds: “The Committee recommends that the ACT Government restore the funding for weeds management to previous levels.” The previous level was just over $2 million. The Government only ‘noted’ the recommendation, stating that funding stood at $1.5 million and argued that the base level has increased to $1.2 million (they also counted $300,000 for Lower Cotter work which is separate) and funding for specific projects that would be considered in future Budgets.
Waste to energy
We expressed concern that the Government has committed $2.8 million to develop a business case for a waste to energy facility without consultation and without including waste reduction alternatives. The Committee produced a good recommendation: “that the ACT Government ensure a comprehensive whole-of-government approach, as well as community consultation, to determine the best investment and environmental option for waste to energy initiatives.”
The Government said it agreed but does not recognise waste reduction, saying: “The feasibility study will investigate and advise Government on options to best achieve a sustainable and cost-effective waste management system in the ACT. The project is taking a technology-neutral approach and will involve consultation with key stakeholders.” The ACT needs to reduce our waste, yet the Government is just pushing ahead with technocratic plans to burn it.
Nature Conservation Agency
Surprisingly, the Government did not support its own policy when the Committee recommended it “consider establishing a single nature conservation agency, in line with previous announcements and as recommended by the Select Committee on Estimates 2014-2015.”
The Government could only ‘note’ the recommendation even though a single conservation agency is part of the Parliamentary Agreement on which the Government was formed! As former Commissioner for the Environment Joe Baker once said: ‘Noted’ is a public servant’s way of saying we won’t do anything about it.