Call out for contributions to Ginninderry’s Treasures

The Conservation Council is beginning an exciting new project with Ginninderry and Riverview Developments to create a new information booklet as part of our Treasures series. Ginnindery’s Treasures will aim to inform the communities of Ginninderry and the wider ACT of the history, landscape and natural and cultural heritage sites of the Ginninderry region. 

Ginninderry is a new 6 Start Green Star development that spans from the Ginninderra Creek to the Murrumbidgee river, across the ACT and NSW borders. The area currently consists of two suburbs Macnamara and Strathnairn and is home to a rich array of wildlife such as the Golden Sun Moth, Pink-Tailed Worm Lizard and the Little Eagle. It hosts some incredible natural formations including Ginninderra Falls, the Conservation Corridor and the Yellow Box Red Gum Woodland. 

If you would like to contribute to this publication by providing information or imagery of the flora, fauna and landscape of Ginninderry, please get in contact with us by giving us a call, email or comment below!

Project Officer: Meg McClellan
Phone: 62293204
Email: [email protected]

 

Conservation Council appoints new Executive Director

The Conservation Council ACT Region has appointed a new Executive Director to lead the organisation in its mission to ensure that Canberra is a sustainable city that protects and values its natural assets.

Today on behalf of the Conservation Council Board, President Rod Griffiths announced Helen Oakey as the Executive Director.

“Helen brings to the position extensive experience in environmental advocacy as well a keen understanding of issues facing Canberra and the ACT with regards to protecting biodiversity and responding to climate change after time spent as a senior adviser in the ACT Legislative Assembly,” said Rod.

“It’s a very exciting time in Canberra to think about how we live sustainably into the 21st century,” said Helen.

“There is a growing understanding in the wider community of the impact that people have on our local environment, in regards to waste, transport and urban development. Individuals and groups across the community are working hard to find new and innovative ways we can step more lightly on the planet.

“Canberra is doing many things right in its efforts to be environmentally sustainable, particularly in regards to greenhouse emissions, and has a fantastic opportunity to showcase best practice across other areas of environmental management.

“But we have more work to do: improving public transport, changing that way we think about waste recovery and resource use, ensuring thoughtful development, protecting our waterways, and reducing our use of fossil fuels such as gas are all challenges ahead.

“I am really looking forward to working with member groups, government and the community to harness the amazing expertise and knowledge within the Conservation Council to put forward the best options for improving sustainability in the ACT and region,” said Helen.

Helen has started with the Conservation Council this week. Come to our offices and say hello!

Cat containment Environment Exchange

Join us at the Conservation Council’s Environment Exchange next Tuesday 26 March from 12noon to 2pm at the Renewables Innovation Hub. We will be discussing cat containment in the ACT.

The Environment Exchange is a public forum that invites guest speakers and the public to come together to discuss some of the most pressing environmental issues in the ACT. We provide a free ploughman’s lunch, tea and coffee and great company!

Why is cat containment an important issue in the ACT?

We are fortunate in Canberra that many of us are able to live so close to nature reserves, enjoying the great diversity of native wildlife within walking distance of our homes.

With this good fortune comes a unique responsibility to ensure we do our best to preserve the wonderful biodiversity values of these places we love so much.

For many of us, we also love to own pet cats.  Their companionship enrich our lives.  Owning a pet also comes with unique responsibilities, and responsible pet ownership is required to minimise the harm they can have on our native wildlife.

By ensuring our pet cats are contained to our property both day and night, we can know that they are safe and at the same time that native wildlife is protected as well.  Research shows that cat containment provides a healthier and longer life for a pet cat than one that is allowed to roam.

Our guest speakers are:

Michael Mulvaney
Senior Environmental Planner
Conservation Planning and Research
Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD)
ACT Government

Michael is the joint author with Kathy Eyles of the paper on responsible pet ownership and the protection of wildlife ‘Options for improving the management of cats in the ACT’. Michael will talk about the findings and recommendations of this report, with a focus on the impacts of domestic cats on local wildlife.

Jane Speechley and Zoya Patel
Communications and Campaigns
RSPCA Australia

Jane and Zoya will talk about responsible pet ownership and the RSPCA’s campaign, “Keeping your cat safe and happy at home”. This campaign is aimed at reinforcing the key requirements needed to ensure cats have their welfare catered to in indoor environments, with particular regards to food, water, litter, resting and hiding spaces, and enrichment.

Heather Tomlinson
Director, Nature Conservation Policy 
EPSDD
ACT Government

Heather will be presenting on how we can improve cat management in the ACT for the health, safety and welfare of cats and native wildlife.

Come along to the Environment Exchange and hear expert speakers talk about all the benefits of cat containment.

Why do we need cat containment?

On Tuesday 26 March, we held an Environment Exchange on cat containment in the ACT. We had guest speakers discuss how we can love cats and wildlife too. The Conservation Council’s position is that all of Canberra should have cat containment by 2025, with due consideration given to the protection of wildlife and cat welfare.

The first guest speaker was Michael Mulvaney, Senior Environmental Planner at EPSDD. He gave an overview of the paper (co-authored by Kathy Eyles) on responsible pet ownership and protection of wildlife.

Michael brought to light the statistics relating to domestic cats, their movements and impacts on local wildlife. There are 56,000 domestic cats in the ACT and these cats make incursion into reserves up to 1km every night. According to the research, this statistic translates to approximately 850 household cats roaming on Red Hill each day or night.

His research showed an estimated 10,000+ rosellas are killed by cats in Canberra a year. Reptiles were the most predated species within 50m of grasslands and predation of native birds increased closer to woodland habitats. This shows the importance of cat containment in urban areas which are next to nature reserves.

The second guest speakers were Jane Speechley and Zoya Patel from RSCPA Australia. Jane and Zoya introduced their upcoming campaign “Keeping your cat safe and happy at home”. This national campaign is due to be released in a national effort to educate cat owners and the general public about the animal welfare benefits of cat containment and requirements to ensure cats have their welfare catered to in indoor environments, with particular regards to food, water, litter, resting and hiding spaces, and enrichment.

Our last speaker was Heather Tomlinson from EPSDD. She spoke about the policy context and updates on the ACT Government’s cat containment policy. In 2018, 15 suburbs – 12% of ACT suburbs – have cat containment. The ACT government’s draft cat plan is due to be released for community consultation during April and Heather urged the public to provide submissions.

We will be notifying you when the RSPCA launches its national campaign on cat containment and ACT Government cat plan consultations open. We will be working to urge government achieve our policy Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

Presentations

Michael Mulvaney

Heather Tomlinson

Spread the word: Canberra School Climate Strike

2019 Canberra School Climate Strike

When: Friday, March 15, 2019 at 12 PM – 3 PM
Where: Garema Pl, City ACT 2601, Australia

After the great success of the School Strike 4 Climate Action in November 2018, Australia’s super school students are organising a 2019 School Strike on 15 March.

Canberra’s students will be joining students across the world who are also walking out of schools to call on those in power to address this emergency. These students are reiterating their message to our politicians to take young people seriously and start treating climate change for what it is: a crisis and the biggest threat to young generations and generations to come.

Our offices have been busy with school strike planning meetings with students ranging from 12 to 18 discussing the strategic and operational direction of the protest. It is inspiring to see these young people articulating their views and coordinating such a large event.

We need the broader community to lend its support to these school students in the lead up to the strike.

Here are some ways you can get involved:
  1. Are you an Academic supporter? Strike with the school students in solidarity by signing this petition.
  2. Are you a university student? Join the student contingent to the climate school strike.
  3. Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for email updates.
  4. Do you want to spread the word? Download your own copy of the poster.
Photo credit: School Strike 4 Climate Action group

‘The future of gas: a pipe dream?’

Join us at the Conservation Council’s first 2019 Environment Exchange, which is a public forum that invites guest speakers and the public to come together to discuss some of the most pressing environmental issues in our Bush Capital.

About

‘The Future of Gas: a pipe dream?’ asks the hard questions about the role of gas in the ACT. Join us to hear from guest speakers about their views on the gas issue in the ACT and beyond. 

Why is this important?

After the ACT reaches its 2020 Renewable Electricity Target, natural gas will become the ACT’s second largest generator of greenhouse gases, accounting for 21 per cent of emissions.

Minister Shane Rattenbury said in 2018 that “Gas is going to be a significant source of emissions we’re going to need to tackle here in the ACT”.

In light of this challenge, some of the questions we will be discussing include:

  • If we want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero, how can there be a place for gas? Is gas irreplaceable as an energy source? 
  • What would replace it and how would that happen? 
  • Should we distinguish between the emissions from fossil fuel gas and biogas?
  • What will become of the big industries producing and selling gas? 
  • Do we need to transition to an end date? 
  • How do we transition our community when they already have appliances in place? 
  • Does the ACT Government have a conflict of interest by having a major shareholding in a fossil fuel producer?

Program

The event commences at 12 noon, with a free ploughman’s lunch, and tea and coffee provided.

Conservation Council President Rod Griffiths will open the event.

Conservation Council’s Maya Suzuki will be MC.

William Yeap is Evoenergy‘s Gas Networks branch manager. William’s presentation will show how a hydrogen economy is developing in other parts of the world, what is happening in Australia to develop hydrogen use and the potential for hydrogen to decarbonise the ACT gas network.

Jessica Stewart is the Sustainability Manager of the Ginninderry development in West Belconnen, which is Canberra’s 6 Star Green Star rated community.

Jessica will talk about Ginninderry’s aim to become the first Canberra suburb without natural gas, in a trial that could determine if other new developments will also be solely powered by electricity.

Dr James Prest is a Senior Lecturer in law specialising in environmental law. He is a Member of the Executive of the Australian National University’s Energy Change Institute a cross-campus inter-disciplinary network devoted to energy issues.

James will present on the policy and legal issues relating to the decarbonisation of the gas sector.

We encourage the audience to ask questions to our guest speakers. 

Decarbonising gas - resources

Energy Networks 2017 publication, ‘Decarbonising Australia’s gas networks

Discussion of the renewable gas complex and and the European path to decarbonisation – video below

Active Transport Raffle is LIVE

OUR ACTIVE TRANSPORT RAFFLE IS LIVE!

Active Transport is cycling, walking or catching the bus (which could involve both cycling and walking in the same trip). Promoting active transport has both health and environmental benefits due to increased physical activity, reduced air and noise pollution, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

The ACT government has a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions for the ACT by 2045. From 2020 onwards, when ACT will have 100% renewable electricity, transport emissions will represent more than 60% of all ACT emissions. There is an urgent need to reduce car dependence in Canberra and to remove fossil fuel usage from the transport sector.

The Active Transport Raffle will assist Conservation Council work to:

  • help ensure all Canberrans can travel to work, the shops, their educational institutions, places of entertainment and social interactions without a car;
  • make Canberra an active transport hub;
  • boost active transport tourism in the ACT region.

We have three great prizes up for grabs, including a brand new e-bike valued at $1,800. Check out our Active Transport Raffle page for more details and buy tickets! 

The Active Transport Raffle will be drawn on the 1st of Jun 2019 at our World Environment Day Dinner at the National Museum of Australia. Details of the Winners will be displayed at www.conservationcouncil.org.au/active-transport-raffle-2019/ and contacted by email and phone!

We would like to thank our fantastic sponsors, Switched On CyclesCanberra Urban Adventures, and Civic Shoes. We are so lucky to have such forward-thinking and sustainability-oriented businesses in the ACT! Give their pages a like and see what else they have in store for your active transport needs.

What is the Future of Gas?

On Tuesday 26 February 2019, we held our first Environment Exchange for 2019. ‘The Future of Gas: a pipe dream?’ asked the hard questions about the role and place for gas in the ACT. 

After the ACT reaches its 2020 Renewable Electricity Target, natural gas will become the ACT’s second largest generator of greenhouse gases, accounting for 21 per cent of emissions. Minister Shane Rattenbury said in 2018 that “Gas is going to be a significant source of emissions we’re going to need to tackle here in the ACT”. We need to take a good hard look at ways to decarbonise the gas sector to achieve net zero emissions by 2045 in the ACT.

We heard from guest speakers William Yeap (Evoenergy), Jessica Stewart (Ginninderry) and Dr James Prest (ANU Energy Change Institute). 

William Yeap is Evoenergy‘s Gas Networks branch manager. William’s presentation demonstrated how a hydrogen economy is developing in other parts of the world, and gave an insight into what is happening in Australia to develop hydrogen use and the potential for hydrogen to decarbonise the ACT gas network. You can view his presentation here.

Jessica Stewart is the Sustainability Manager of the Ginninderry development in West Belconnen, which is Canberra’s 6 Star Green Star rated community. Jess talked about Ginninderry’s aim to become the first Canberra suburb without natural gas, in a trial that could determine if other new developments will also be solely powered by electricity. She explained how Ginninderry had to request a variation to the Territory Plan (which mandates gas connection in new suburbs – something we should perhaps question?) and the regulatory and political complexities of creating a ‘no gas’ suburb. You can view her presentation here.

Dr James Prest is a Senior Lecturer in law specialising in environmental law at the ANU. James presented on the policy and legal issues relating to the decarbonisation of the gas sector. He gave an insight into the international and Australian landscape on renewable biogas. Biogas involves capturing methane from agricultural, landfill and other waste facilities, upgrading the gas to biomethane and injecting this bioenergy into the natural gas network. 

Some of the questions we discussed include:

  • If we want to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero, how can there be a place for gas? Is gas irreplaceable as an energy source? 
  • What would replace it and how would that happen? 
  • Should we distinguish between the emissions from fossil fuel gas and biogas?
  • What will become of the big industries producing and selling gas? 
  • Do we need to transition to an end date? 
  • How do we transition our community when they already have appliances in place? 

The outcomes of discussions seem that we need to do the following in the ACT to properly address the gas issue:

  1. We need the ACT government to take responsibility of the issue and allocate a decision-maker to begin mapping our path to a decarbonised gas sector.
  2. We need regulatory incentives to support the research, development and production of renewable gas. 
  3. We need community participation in the gas issue. Evoenergy are developing a strategic map for the future of gas in their company and will be seeking community consultation in the coming months. We will notify you of requests for community feedback.

Our next Environment Exchange will be Tuesday 26 March 2019 at the Renewable Innovation Hub from 12NOON – 2PM. A free ploughman lunch and tea and coffee will again be provided. Register here.

Presentations