Yellow Box Dispatch – February 2016

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Yellow Box Dispatch February 2016

It’s good to be back in 2016, ready for a big year being the voice for our environment. Canberra has received rain and storms this summer, but the global average showed 2015 was the hottest year on record. With a new global agreement, it’s time to stop greenhouse pollution and we’re starting our year strengthening climate policy in the ACT.

The ACT has a new cabinet, with two new Ministers and some great news for our local environment with planning for an Integrated Conservation Agency underway. Consultation on big issues continues, read more about our submissions and activities below.

Clare Henderson
Executive Director,
Conservation Council ACT Region
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Climate change, policy change: time to get to zero emissions
We’re excited to start the new year with a new global agreement to tackle climate change following UN talks in Paris in December. This summer saw serious bushfires and floods across Australia, climate change is impacting us now. Climate change solutions have never been more urgent, and 2016 is our opportunity to start to turn climate change around. Canberra has a role to play reducing carbon emissions, and we must prepare our community as climate change impacts worsen. The Conservation Council will be campaigning for strong climate policy this year, Canberra needs to match the ambition of world leaders and keep setting the example of how a thriving city and community can reduce emissions.

Come along to our forum on Thursday 25 February, 12pm at the ANU about preparing Canberra for climate change following the Paris climate agreement. Professor Will Steffen will update us on the state of the climate and what the UN Paris agreement means. We’ll hear from an ACT Environment and Planning Directorate speaker about options for preparing Canberra for climate change impacts, with the draft climate change adaptation strategy that will be open to public comment soon. And we’ll discuss Canberra’s recent success reducing our emissions, and how we can reach zero emissions sooner than we think, building a city we are proud to live in as we do it. Click here to reserve your place (lunch provided)!

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A new cabinet: what it means for the ACT environment
The ACT Government formed a cabinet with two new Ministers in late January and the change might influence important environmental issues.

Minister Rattenbury has been allocated Education, retaining Corrections, Justice and Consumer Affairs, and Road Safety. This brings to an end Minister Rattenbury’s term in Territory and Municipal Services. We have worked with the Minister on a range of issues this term of Government, and we acknowledge and thank him for his achievements such as the lease of land for the Canberra City Farm, the arrangements for land use at the Lyneham Commons, and additional resources for Parks Management and support for Parkcare.

We congratulate Meegan Fitzharris’ appointment as new Minister for Transport and Municipal Services responsible for environmental concerns from management of urban parks to public transport. We look forward to to discussing opportunities to make a difference for our environment. We want to see Canberra declared a cat contained city, to come into effect by 2025. We need to see weeds funding restored, and a vision for our ‘green infrastructure’ of urban forest and waterways put forward this year. We want the ACT to again lead Australia on best-practice waste reduction and waste management. We need to see a true Integrated Transport Plan in place this year, to demonstrate how strong public transport, active transport and good urban planning can transform Canberra to a city not dependent on the car.

Minister Gentleman retains Planning duties, as well as being tasked with leading the development of an Integrated Conservation Agency. We anticipate the process of establishing a Conservation Agency will start with consultation. We look forward to providing advice based on our member groups’ decades of experience working with the ACT Government caring for our parks and environment.

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Discover hidden reserves at the 2016 Heritage Festival
Conservation Council ACT Region is once again showcasing the natural treasures of the ACT Region at the Canberra Heritage Festival. This year’s theme is “Discovery” and our events explore some of the lesser known and newest reserves in the ACT as well as new aspects of some old favourites. Be one of the few to have truly explored Kama and Kinlyside or rekindle your passion for Mulligan’s Flat and Red Hill. Make sure to put the dates in your diary, and stay tuned for more information:

Discover Kama, 5 April 7:30am, Kama Nature Reserve: Get up with the birds and explore one of Canberra’s newest reserves with local experts from Friends of Grasslands and Canberra Ornithologists Group.

Tell Your Story, 9 April 10:00am, Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve: Become a part of your local history and share your stories about this beautiful reserve.

Sneak Peek at Kinlyside, 14 April 10:00am, Kinlyside Nature Reserve: Don’t miss this rare opportunity as we unlock a unique combination of working farm and conservation area.

Red Hill Heritage Walk, 17 April 10:00am, Red Hill Nature Reserve: Brush up on the history of this intriguing reserve while its future is being decided.

For more information, or to book a place, call us on 6229 3200 or email [email protected].

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The importance of mature trees
Too many valuable old paddock trees – pillars of the local ecology – are being lost in our region. Trees are habitat – shelter, food, rest – for our wildlife. As we diminish our environment we diminish ourselves. Planning Minister Mick Gentleman has approved Williamsdale solar farm with loss of many trees (see Canberra Times article). The Conservation Council welcomes renewables, including solar, to reduce the impact on our environment of carbon based energy. Given we are trying to minimise adverse environmental effects of energy, we should do that with all energy sources including by not destroying trees; some of which have been on earth even longer than coal-fired electricity or invention of solar cells! See our comments about the solar farm here.
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Local, sustainable food plan for Canberra
We are what we eat, and that goes for our environment. The production, transport, consumption and waste from food impacts our environment in many ways, from management of ecosystems and landscapes to water and pollution issues. Food production is also dependent on a healthy environment. The Conservation Council has been discussing our region’s food system with food distributers, sellers, food consumers, gardeners and other stakeholders over the past year. You can read our original discussion paper here.

The Conservation Council’s discussion about local, sustainable food for our region continued over the Summer with a small roundtable with producers, community food organisations and academics in late November. We are developing our draft discussion paper with the findings now, stay tuned for more information in the next month. If you’d like to stay up to date on our food discussions, email Phoebe on [email protected].

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New book Southern Cross Safari: around Australia by bus and train
Conservationist and Author Bruce Gall presents his beautiful new book, with 25% of proceeds supporting conservation organisations across the country. In Southern Cross Safari, Bruce explores the nature of Australia, its fascinating wildlife and stunning landscapes, from beaches to rainforests and the desert outback. We climb fire-spotting trees, look for rare animals, try jungle surfing, scale mountains, go bushwalking, explore national parks, brave stormy seas and wild weather, and meet interesting backpackers – and a few local characters as well! We read Aboriginal legends, discover Australia’s early Dutch, French and German connections, discuss climate change, and much more. Read more, and order your copy on the website.
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Events
Help organise our event of the year!
Want to support Canberra’s environment movement, learn new skills and work with great people? We’re looking for great volunteers. The World Environment Day dinner in June is Canberra’s premier environmental event. We bring together environmental member groups, political leaders, volunteers and supporters to enjoy local food. We need you to help us create the best event yet. Find out how!

What: Volunteer information night about the World Environment Day dinner. We want to hear your ideas about the dinner, let you know what skills we need and how you can help.

When: 6:00pm, Wednesday 17 February

Where: Conservation Council office – refreshments provided

More information: Call Phoebe on 02 6229 3208

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Climate change and Canberra: what next?
Join leading climate scientist Prof Will Steffen to find out what Canberra can do next on climate change. With a new global climate deal, and cities and regions committing to 100% renewable energy, it’s time to prepare for climate change and reach zero emissions fast.

Who: Prof Will Steffen, leading climate scientist, Environment and Planning Directorate & Phoebe Howe, Conservation Council ACT Region.

When: 12-2pm, Thursday 25 February (lunch provided)

Where: Alan Barton Forum, ANU College Business & Economics, Kingsley st Acton

Book here to secure your place.

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Bungendore Farmers Market First Birthday!
What: Celebrate the Southern Harvest Farmers Market in Bungendore on its first birthday. Visit the market to get your fresh, local supplies then join an after-market gathering. Bring a plate of regional food to share and we’ll fire up the BBQ. Regular produce includes meats, eggs, honey, vegetables, milk, cheese, preserves, flowers, wine, fruit, hot food, cakes and coffee at the market café.

When: Market 9am – 1pm with party 2 – ​4pm, Saturday 13 February

Where: Bungendore Memorial Hall, Molonglo St, Bungendore

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Want to be a Canberra City Farmer? Info session
What: You’re warmly invited to submit an Expression of Interest for any enterprise at the Dairy Road Education Centre, and attend a briefing session at the Canberra City Farm. Join our vision for Canberra City Farm to be a national experiential learning centre like a ‘Questacon for food and sustainable living’ in the next 10 years.

When: 12.45pm Sunday 28 February

Where: 2 Dairy Road, Fyshwick

Registration and information:  See website for all details. Registration essential.

Forum on next generation environment laws
What: Join the conversation for stronger protection of our land, water, wildlife and communities across this beautiful country. An independent Australian Panel of Experts in Environmental Law are reviewing the way nature, wildlife and people are cared for in Australia to see where improvements can be made with stronger nature protection. Public forums are scheduled across the country calling for your ideas, feedback and support to help shape the solutions. Join the Canberra forum to have your say.

When: 12 – 2pm, Thursday 24 March

Where: Alan Barton Forum, ANU College Business & Economics, Kingsley St Acton.

For registration and information click here.

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Harvest Festival!
Join the Environment Centre celebrating local, organic produce, and fundraising for projects like kitchen gardens at childcare centres.  Enjoy gourmet, organic food made from local produce while local growers showcase their harvest, and community organisations conduct sustainable living workshops. Kids vegetable growing competition, live music and more.

When: 2 – 6pm, Saturday 19 March

Where: Canberra Environment Centre, Corner Lennox crossing and Lawson Drive, Acton

More information: See website for all details

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