Walk the Border – Light wrap up

Sunday 25 November wrapped up our 2018 Walk the Border – Light!

To celebrate the first anniversary of the successful completion of the Conservation Council’s 2017 21 day fundraising walk around the 306 km ACT border, the Conservation Council ACT Region hosted a series of four half-day walks on the ACT’s border on each of the Sundays in November.

The walks were in some of the more accessible areas of the ACT’s border and provided an opportunity for members of the public to experience some of the history and environments associated with the ACT’s boundary in a half day format – a light version of the 2017 walk.

The four walks included ecosystems ranging from ACT’s nationally significant grassy woodlands to the heavily modified rail corridor. All the walks reflected the history of the original boundary surveyors and their legacy as well as touching on things like Australia’s most notorious spy scandal.

We had a great start to the program with a walk from Woods Lane to Hume. In fine weather, the walkers took in lots of history and some big views; they explored the old speedway, the Environa historic development, and passed the important Jerrabomberra East grasslands. Walkers were given an insight into the impacts of human development on the natural environment and learnt about Hume’s role in one of Australia’s most significant spy scandals.

It was a mild and sunny day for the second walk. 15 participants got to experience the views and history of the zig zag section of the ACT’s border in North Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve. There were lots of lockspits (lines of rocks used to show a change in the direction of the border) from the original surveying team from 1911 but only a few of the original wooden surveying pegs. Some good wild flowers were out but no native orchids were found. A big highlight was the sighting of a small number of golden sun moths, a nationally endangered moth species found only in grasslands.

The third walk brought together a big group of 32 walkers, from the very young to a strong 87 year old. They joined our President, Rod Griffiths, for the third of the Walk the Border ACT – Light, which explored ACT’s far eastern point. Brooks Hill Reserve has some magic trees including the CT blazed tree at the most easterly point of the ACT and some great views.

The final walk in this program was another gorgeous day for the last of the Conservation Council ACT Region‘s Walk the Border -Light walks for 2018. A great small group was treated to sightings of classic ACT/NSW border markers and some spectacular views towards the south of the ACT. Very poignant was the memorial to the team of 200 workers who helped construct the Queanbeyan to Cooma railway in the late 1800’s. It was also good to meet the participants of the Save Kosci protest walk who have been doing a great job highlighting the threats that feral horses pose to Australia’s alpine regions.

Thanks to all the walkers for their good company. All of the walks have highlighted the history of the establishment of the ACT and many varied environments it contains. It again reminds us of the beautiful and diverse Bush Capital in which we are so lucky to live!

More photos and some stories are at Walk the Border 2017 and on the Walk the Border Facebook page.

Canberra School Strike for Climate creates national momentum

Wednesday 28 November saw young people from across Canberra walk out of school to call for real climate action to protect our future. They are joining almost 30 strikes across Australia this week. This strike made history because never before have students in Australia gone on strike from school to demand urgent climate action.

This strike was inspired by 15-year old Greta in Sweden, who refused to go to school to protest the inaction on climate change. Her story was picked up by a group of year 8 students in rural Victoria and now students all across Australia are taking part in strikes across the country.

Hundreds of school students lined up outside Parliament House on Wednesday to protest climate change. The students waited in the rain outside parliament for a couple of hours before being let in.

Students were met by parliamentarians, including Labor MPs Lisa Owens and Ged Kearney, and Centre Alliance MP, Rebekha Sharkie. They were publicly congratulated by federal Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, and invited to Wayne Swan MP’s office to present their policy positions.

They weren’t given the opportunity to speak to Scott Morrison and government ministers about taking emergency action against climate change. Instead, they wrote messages to our political leaders, urging them to take action on climate change.

This comes after the prime minister told students to be less activist and go back to school. On Tuesday, however, the Senate approved a motion to support the students in their decision to strike from school and hold a series of planned national protests. Students across the country have left school this week, with protests also happening in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart today.

This youth activism creates a strong sense of hope: Australian students are building a powerful movement that is putting pressure on our politicians to do what it takes to stop the climate crisis and protect our futures. It represents the beginning of a new age of activism from Australia’s youth who are sick of not having their voices heard.

Click on the links below to hear some of the students’ messages:

Gallery 

Conservation Council AGM report

The Conservation Council Annual General Meeting was held 6pm 13 November 2018 at the Conservation Council office.

The meeting confirmed the minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting held 9 November 2017 and accepted a report from the President Rod Griffiths on behalf of the Board and the Executive Director’s Report from Larry O’Loughlin. The Auditor’s report and the financial statements were accepted and Saminda Maddumahewa was appointed as Auditor for 2018-19.

For the election of members of the board, including office bearers, there were nominations equal to the number of vacancies so the following were declared elected:

President: Rod Griffiths
Vice-President: Peter Ottesen
Vice-President: Marcus Hassall
Secretary: Helen Sims

Other Board Members:
Jenny Bounds
Rebecca Palmer-Brodie
Gordon McAllister
Ian Falconer
Glenys Patulny
Christopher Dorman

There were proposed changes to the Constitution. Two matters – the changes proposed to 19 (c) and (d) – were withdrawn for further discussion and all the others were accepted by the required majority.

The meeting closed and participants shared some refreshments.

Join us for Walk the Border – Light

2017 Walks Program for Walk the Border – Light

It’s on again but it’s LIGHT.

One year on Walk the Border ACT is back.

To celebrate the first anniversary of the successful completion of the Conservation Council’s 2017 21 day fundraising walk around the 306 km ACT border, the Conservation Council ACT Region is hosting a series of four half-day walks on the ACT’s border on each of the Sundays in November. Conservation Council President, Rod Griffiths,says the walks are in some of the more accessible areas of the ACT’s border and provide an opportunity for members of the public to experience some of the history and environments associated with the ACT’s boundary in a half day format – a light version of the 2017 walk.

The four walks include ecosystems ranging from ACT’s nationally significant grassy woodlands to the heavily modified rail corridor. All the walks will reflect the history of the original boundary surveyors and their legacy as well as touching on things like Australia’s most notorious spy scandal.

Details of the full program is here and further information on how to participate is on the Conservation Council’s Events Page on our website or via the links at the Walk the Border ACT Facebook page.

Recap of Walk the Border 2017

Last year, Rod Griffiths and his walking companions completed a 21 day journey circumnavigating the ACT border as part of Walk the Border ACT – A Watershed Walk. This fundraising and awareness campaign saw Rod and various intrepid adventurers traverse a range of interesting and diverse landscapes as they followed in the footsteps of ACT’s original surveyors, whose border markers can still be found over a century later.

Starting from Hall on the Centenary trail, the walkers crossed the grassy woodlands of the military firing range with the permission of the Department of Defence; they went through pine forests and saw a logging operation underway; then onto a railway line; urban streets; industrial sites; and up in the beautiful mountain ash country. The walkers crossed some of the area’s most remote and rugged mountain ranges and had close encounters with a wide range of ACT’s local plant and animal life.

Rod was only the ninth known person to have circumnavigated ACT’s entire border on foot.

Visit the Walk the Border ACT blog for more details about the great adventure and see the photos below!

Donate 

You can donate to the Walks Program by going to donate at our website.

Walk the Border ACT is seeking to raise funds for the ACT’s peak environment body, the Conservation Council ACT Region. The Conservation Council has been a major force in the protection of the ACT’s urban and natural environments though lobbying, campaigning educating for more than 37 years. As a non-profit, non-government organisation, every donation to the Conservation Council, no matter how small, is important.

Spring Mingle Wrap-Up

Friday 26 October saw the Conservation Council’s annual Spring Mingle and presentation of the ACT Environment Awards. We would like to extend a very big thank you to everyone who came to this celebration – what a fantastic night! We are extremely lucky to have so many dedicated people in our communities who all enjoy coming together to celebrate the achievements of Canberra’s environmentalists and community organisations.

Now to paint a picture of this flowery affair…

The Lena Karmel Rooftop Garden is home to an array of native plant and vegetable gardens with plenty of spots for quiet contemplation. On this warm and balmy Friday, these gardens were basked in an orange glow that made you feel like you were in a dusk paradise. The Artivists added to nature’s colours with their spread of eye-popping painted banners that reminded us why we value the environment so much. Thanks go to the lovely Cathy Diver for providing us with dreamy folk tunes, which floated through the gardens to accompany the incredible views of Canberra city, Black Mountain and its surrounds. There was a spread of food and drinks, including soup which used some of the Rooftop Garden’s own homegrown vegetables and wine generously provided by Shaw Vineyard Estate.

After some mingling, music and chat, it was time to present the Conservation Council ACT Environment Awards. We would like to thank Minister Shane Rattenbury MLA for presenting the Awards. A huge congratulations go to Hannah Ford (Winner, Moira and John Rowland Young Environmentalist of the Year Award), Sarah Sharp (Winner, Environmentalist of the Year Award), and National Parks Association ACT (Winner, Member Group of the Year Award). We would also like to congratulate all the other finalists. MC Larry O’Loughlin expressed the Conservation Council’s excitement about the quality of the nominees:

“On the evidence in the nominations we have very good reason to be optimistic about our environmental activities in the ACT. We have great organisers, inspirers, workers, researchers and writers. The nominees look at small patches and big pictures. They are working on climate change and its solutions; biodiversity protection and enhancement; and with and within the broader community to bring about better environmental outcomes for the ACT.”

The Spring Mingle was another reminder of the fantastic environment community we have here in our Bush Capital. It was great to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds who have made a common commitment to serving the interests of Canberra’s environment. There was a lot of laughter and celebration. Thank you again to all those who came and contributed to this event!

We would like to thank in particular the amazing volunteers who helped set up the event, including the Artivists, Nick Blood (ANU Environment Collective) and Markus Dirnberger, Paul Magarey and Darcy Henderson for managing the bar, and Jenny Bounds and Kathy Eyles for preparing food. Thanks also go to David Howe from Dirty Deeds Event Sound for providing us with the tech for our music entertainment. Don’t forget to give Cathy Diver a ‘like’ on her Facebook page and stay up to date with her future gigs.

We hope you enjoyed the event and cannot wait until next year’s iteration!

2018 ACT Environment Award winners

Friday October 26 2018 saw our annual ACT Environment Awards at the Conservation Council Spring Mingle, which acknowledged the significant contributions of exceptional members of the community towards sustainability and the environment in the ACT. The diversity of our groups and activists working to protect the environment is quite amazing.

Moira and John Rowland Young Environmentalist of the Year was awarded to Hannah Ford of Australian Youth Climate Coalition – ACT (AYCC). Hannah is a dedicated and passionate young environmentalist who has made significant achievements in the ACT as the Campaigns Coordinator of AYCC. Hannah has initiated a variety of AYCC events and campaigns including fundraising for campaigns. Her achievements included developing the concept and plan for the 2018 AYCC Sustainable Careers Panel to give young people in Canberra the opportunity to learn about possible career pathways and make connections with people in the field. Hannah has developed AYCC links with other environment organisations and was also selected to take part in the national AYCC’s Climate Leadership Group in recognition of her potential as a climate leader.

The judges commend the other nominees Crystal Holt and Zoe Anderson.

Environmentalist of the Year was awarded to Sarah Sharp of Friends of Grasslands. Working both in her own ecological consultancy and providing countless volunteer hours to Friends of Grasslands as their president, Sarah has dedicated her life to conservation of delicate grassland ecosystems in the region. Under Sarah’s leadership, Friends of Grasslands has been significant in raising the profile of grasslands as key environmental components and as habitats for various threatened species. She initiated the Biodiversity Working Group’s project to have the removal of mature native trees recognised as a threatening process under the Nature Conservation Act. It is the first threatening process declared under the Act and represents a turning point in the protection of mature trees in the ACT. Now mature trees are afforded greater protection and developers will face more hurdles in trying to remove these trees.

This Award was a very contested field with eight finalists any one of whom would be a worthy recipient. Highly commended were Lawrence McIntosh, Waltraud Pix and Nicki Taws.

Member Group of the Year was awarded to National Parks Association ACT, which is a community-based conservation organisation that has worked since 1960 to protect the natural environment. In 2018, NPA ACT continues to be a leading environmental group in Canberra. Its most recent conference on Bushfire Management canvassed a range of key questions in the debate on the most appropriate methods for bushfire fuel reduction and has been acknowledged as influencing the current development of the ACT’s next round of bushfire management plans. The organisation’s other achievements include contributions to the successful campaign to create Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, publication of high quality ACT specific nature guides and support of environmental research by young scientists at ACT universities.

Highly commended was the Australian Youth Climate Coalition – ACT Branch.

On the evidence in the nominations we have very good reason to be optimistic about our environmental activities in the ACT. We have great organisers, inspirers, workers, researchers and writers. The nominees look at small patches and big pictures. They are working on climate change and its solutions; biodiversity protection and enhancement; and with and within the broader community to bring about better environmental outcomes for the ACT. We’re very proud of all our nominees and would like to extend our congratulations and warm thanks for all the hard work they’ve done in 2018.

Nominations are still open for 2018 Conservation Council Environment Awards

The Conservation Council ACT 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:

  1. Moira and John Rowland Young Environmentalist Award
  2. Environmentalist of the Year Award
  3. Conservation Council Member Group of the Year Award
  4. Senior School Student Sustainability Award

Nominations close COB Friday 19 October 2018.

Awards are to be announced at the Conservation Council Spring Mingle, 6.00PM Friday 26 October 2018, at the Rooftop Garden, Lena Karmel Lodge, 26 Barry Drive, Canberra.

Register for the Conservation Council Spring Mingle here.

 

ACT agrees zero emissions by 2045

ACT has set a new zero net emissions target by 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. And congratulations to the Canberra Liberals for helping take the politics out of climate change.

In addition interim emissions targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040 have been established. 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!).

All this happened on Tuesday 18 September 2018 when the Legislative Assembly passed the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Principal Target) Amendment Bill 2018 to amend the zero net emissions target in the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010 (ACT).  The bill proposed to reduce the principal target of zero net emissions from 2050 to 2045.

The Minister has set interim emissions targets which were also accepted by the Legislative Assembly:

  1. 50-60% less than 1990 emissions by 30 June 2025;
  2. 65-75% less than 1990 emissions by 30 June 2030; and
  3. 90-95% less than 1990 emissions by 30 June 2040.  

The next steps to be taken are critical to ensure we achieve these targets.

Minister Rattenbury has indicated a strategic plan will be finalised by the end of 2018 and this needs to happen.

It is necessary to maintain the tri-partisan support for our local action and leadership on climate change. Greens, Labor and Liberals have all endorsed the targets and all support having open and accountable plans to achieve the targets.

Importantly, we need to make sure our pathway to zero net emissions is fair, equitable, socially just, economically viable and does not displace our emissions into other jurisdictions.

Timeline

  • 16 August 2018 – Amendment Bill for a zero net emissions by 2045 target tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly
  • 22 August 2018 – Minister’s media release stating the ACT government’s proposed strategy will be released by the end of 2018
  • 23 August 2018 – Determination of ACT interim targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040
  • 18 September 2018 – Amendment Bill debated in the ACT Legislative Assembly