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”.

 

Some changes to our constitution

The Conservation Council Board has been looking at our Constitution to ensure it remains in line with changes under consideration by the Federal Government in particular.

While we will have to await developments there we have looked at tidying up some matters in the meantime.

We are seeking comments – even finding typos would be helpful – and these amendments would go to a general meeting of the Conservation Council.

Our current unmarked constitution is here.

And the marked up proposed amendment version of the constitution marked up proposed amendment version of the constitution* is here with comments marked in red and amendments shown as either struck through text for deletions or highlighted material for additions.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any comments or questions.

* Please note some words at 14 (b) have been deleted in this version from an earlier version

 

 

The biomass delusion

Forest biomass – trees, woodchips, thinnings, forest ‘litter’ and other materials – should not be used for energy production given its impacts on forests and on climate change. The Conservation Council ACT Region has joined with other groups through the Australian Forest Climate Alliance in endorsing this position statement.

Position Statement on Forest Biomass Energy

We share a vision of a world in which thriving natural forests play a significant role in tackling climate change and contribute to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth. Burning forest wood for large-scale energy production cannot be part of that future for all of the reasons outlined below. Instead we must protect and restore natural forests, thereby reducing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide while supporting biodiversity, resilience and well-being.

Large-scale burning of forest biomass for energy:

Harms the climate

It is not low carbon – Burning forest biomass for energy is not carbon neutral. It immediately emits large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In contrast it takes decades to centuries for forests to regrow and sequester the carbon, which is far too long to effectively contribute to the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target. Direct and indirect emissions from logging and the bioenergy supply chain also negatively affect its overall carbon balance.

It is encouraged by flawed accounting – Current carbon accounting rules incentivise forest bioenergy by considering biomass combustion as a zero-emission technology, expressed as zero emissions in the energy sector. The assumption is that all emissions are instead to be accounted for when the biomass is logged, placing the burden on the forest producer rather than the biomass consumer. Yet emissions accounting of forests in the land sector is fatally flawed and generally understates emissions. The true carbon cost of biomass burning rarely appears accurately on any country’s balance sheet.

Harms forests

It threatens biodiversity and climate resilience – Using forest biomass for energy can entrench, intensify and expand logging. This degrades forest ecosystems, depletes biodiversity and soils and harms forests’ ability to deliver ecosystem services like clean drinking water, flood protection, and clean air. Conversion of forests and other ecosystems to industrial monoculture tree plantations for biomass is especially harmful. These increased impacts come at a time when we recognise that rights-based protection and ecological restoration improve the health and well-being of forests and make them more resilient to climate change and other environmental disturbances.

It undermines the climate mitigation potential of forests – To meet the Paris Agreement goal of pursuing efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, scientists now agree we will need to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. A safe and proven way to do this is to protect and restore natural forests. Logging for biomass does the opposite.

Harms people

It undermines community rights and interests – Demand for biomass can exacerbate conflicts over land and forest resources, including land grabbing. This threatens rights, interests, lives, livelihoods and cultural values of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities as well as established businesses relying on forest resources. The wide-ranging negative effects can also impact food security for the wider populace and for the long term.

It harms human health and well-being – Forests play an important role in safeguarding communities from the worst impacts of climate change. Those living at the frontlines of forest destruction are often most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and also face oppressive extractive industries. In addition, biomass manufacturing and combustion facilities are often located in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, where they pollute the air, increasing incidents of respiratory and other diseases. Local quality of life is affected.

Harms the clean energy transition

It provides a life-line for burning coal for energy production – Co-firing forest biomass with coal extends the life of coal power stations at a time when we need to move beyond emissive, industrial scale burning.

It pulls investment away from other renewables – Biomass undermines less emissive renewable energy solutions because it competes for the same government incentives. Unlike investment in low emission technologies, such as wind and solar, biomass energy entails ongoing feedstock costs and relies on continuous subsidies.

We, the undersigned organisations believe that we must move beyond burning forest biomass to effectively address climate change. We call on governments, financiers, companies and civil society to avoid expansion of the forest biomass based energy industry and move away from its use. Subsidies for forest biomass energy must be eliminated. Protecting and restoring the world’s forests is a climate change solution, burning them is not.

 

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

 

Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles

The Australian Senate has established a Select Committee on electric vehicles and is calling for written submissions by 10 August 2018 and it will report on or before 17 October 2018. This might be an opportunity to ask that all public transport be electrified (why does ACT insist on heavier, more polluting EURO6 diesel buses when electric options are available?) and for making the point that the cost and availability of electric vehicles will make them elite options unless governments force the pace. Given that there is now no local car industry there are fewer vested interests to stop governments from facilitating electric vehicle take-up.

See details on the inquiry below. It’s good to see one term of reference is “measures to support the acceleration of electric vehicle uptake”. We’ve driven an electric vehicle and their acceleration is fantastic!

SELECT COMMITTEE ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Mr Larry O’Loughlin

Email: [email protected]au

Dear Mr O’Loughlin,

On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred the Select Committee on Electric Vehicles for inquiry and report by 17 October 2018. The full Terms of Reference for the inquiry are attached.

The committee invites you to provide a written submission by 10 August 2018, covering terms of reference relevant to you. The committee prefers that this is done online. There is an Upload Submission Online button on the committee website, which can be accessed at this address: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Electric_Vehicles. Alternatively, submissions may be emailed as an attached document to [email protected]au or mailed in hard copy to the address below.

Please note submissions become committee documents and are made public only after a decision by the committee. Publication of submissions includes loading them onto the internet and making them available to other interested parties including the media. Please indicate if you wish the committee to consider keeping your submission, or part thereof, confidential.

Any person or organisation making a submission must not release it without the approval of the committee. Submissions are covered by parliamentary privilege, however the unauthorised release of a submission is not protected.

Information relating to Senate committee inquiries, including notes to assist the preparation of submissions, can be found at www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/How_to_make_a_submission.

The committee will consider all submissions, and may invite individuals and organisations to give evidence at a public hearing. If you have any further questions about the hearing or the inquiry more generally, please contact me on (02) 6277 3439.

Yours sincerely

Tas Larnach

Committee Secretary (A/g)

 

Terms of Reference

The Committee will inquire into and report on the following matters:

(a)       the potential economic, environmental and social benefits of widespread electric vehicle uptake in Australia;

(b)       opportunities for electric vehicle manufacturing and electric vehicle supply and value chain services in Australia, and related economic benefits;

(c)       measures to support the acceleration of electric vehicle uptake;

(d)       measures to attract electric vehicle manufacturing and electric vehicle supply and value chain manufacturing to Australia;

(e)       how federal, state and territory Governments could work together to support electric vehicle uptake and manufacturing, supply, and value chain activities; and

(f)        any other related matters.

(2)       That the committee present its final report on or before 17 October 2018.

(3)       That the committee consist of six senators, two nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, one nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens, and Senator Storer.

(4)       That:

(a)       participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

(b)       participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c)       a participating member shall be taken to be a member of the committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5)       That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(6)       That Senator Storer be appointed as chair of the committee, and the committee elect a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition as deputy chair.

(7)       That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(8)       That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(9)       That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(10)   That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(11)   That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(12)   That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(13)   That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

 

We’re recruiting: Project Officer – Communications and Events (July 2018)

Project Officer – Communications and Events (July 2018)

Position: Project Officer – Communications and Events
Hours: 37.5 per week
Salary: $58,500
Term: till 30 June 2019 (with three month probation) and possibility of extension

Benefits of the position

An exciting opportunity exists to join the peak environment group in Canberra. We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated person to support our organisation in the key areas of communications and event management. The position may require undertaking or oversight of administrative matters and/or campaign activities.

You will play a central role in communicating about our activities and co-ordinating and promoting our signature events.

Principal duties: Communications

The Project Officer will work with the Executive Director to:

  • ensure implementation and reporting of elements of the communications strategy
  • provide active management of the Conservation Council web and facebook sites to ensure we have an regular and vibrant social media and web presence
  • manage formatting and upload of our Member Group Update to member groups and Yellow-Box Dispatch to subscribers
  • oversee development and distribution of communications materials particularly relating to our events and campaign activities.

Principal duties: Event Management

The Project Officer will work with the Executive Director to:

  • assist with planning and coordination of major events such as the World Environment Day Dinner, monthly Environment Exchange, annual Symposium, and Spring Mingle
  • manage publicity and bookings for events
  • create event materials such as videos, blogs, social media uploads. 

Selection Criteria

  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • organisational and project management skills – preferably with experience initiating, developing, and managing implementation of communication strategies and event management
  • adaptability, flexibility and commitment to work openly as part of a team in a changing work environment – a ‘can do’ attitude
  • high level computer literacy and capacity to adapt to new computer software and systems as technology changes
  • understanding and empathy with the need for environmental protection and a capacity to quickly get across environmental issues.

To Apply

Please send a 2 page (maximum) Expression of Interest plus your current résumé to [email protected]

For further information about this position please contact Larry O’Loughlin at [email protected] or 02 6229 3202

Closing date 5pm Friday 27 July 2018

See Position Statement for the Project Officer – Communications and Events.

 

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