Yellow Box Dispatch May 2017

Here’s a roundup of some of the environmental issues going on in the the region and Canberra.

A big focus for us is the World Environment Day Dinner where we celebrate or local environment and the achievements in saving and protecting it along with raising some funds to help us keep doing our work.

We are also pleased that public consultation has commenced on the environment group nomination of loss of hollow-bearing trees as a threatening process under the Nature Conservation Act. This might lead to better protection of our mature native trees in the ACT.

Our Environment Exchange series of lunchtime dialogues has been very popular this year and our May 23 discussion will be on planning, design, governance and social issues around achieving a compact, sustainable city.

And there’s more!

Keep up the good work. See you at the dinner we hope!

Please forward this Yellow Box Dispatch to people who might be interested in reading it or looking at the pictures.


Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region

World Environment Day Dinner

Join us for the Conservation Council 2017 World Environment Day dinner on Saturday 3 June at the National Arboretum where Janet Jeffs of Ginger Catering will cook up a treat using local, seasonal produce.

We are very pleased to have Dr Penny Sackett as our guest speaker. She is an astrophysicist and an educator and a member of the ACT Climate Council.

Our music will be provided by local Canberra artist Sebastian Field who will be a wonderful complement to the evening.

Book your tickets now at only $135 for a three course meal (including wine) plus champagne and canapes to start. Please promote to your networks.

We will also have auctions (silent and noisy and perhaps even online) and raffles and prizes. We will send more details on these over the next few days.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees as threatening process

For the first time in the ACT under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 there is a nomination of a ‘threatening process’, in this case “Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees”.

If a threatening process is recognised then the Government must take steps including preparing an action plan to deal with the threatening process which will lead, in this case, to better protection and reduced loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees.

The nomination was prepared through the Biodiversity Working Group and signed by Friends of Grasslands, Australian Native Plants Society, Canberra Ornithologists Group, Field Naturalists Association of Canberra and the Conservation Council ACT Region.

See our blog post or our Briefing Paper for a summary.

Public consultation is open until 9 June and the Nomination of the Loss of Native Hollow-bearing Trees as a Key Threatening Process is on the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate website and on the ACT Legislation Register at:

Your comments will be welcome to: Scientific Committee, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, GPO Box 158, CANBERRA ACT 2601 or email: [email protected].


Environment Exchange 23 May – Overcoming the Growing Pains: Building a Sustainable Compact City

Canberra is expanding and expanding fast. We have the considerable challenge of meeting the needs of an increasing population without increasing our ecological footprint.

But we also have an opportunity. With Canberra’s compact size and unique governance, we have the potential to create a world-class sustainable, equitable and liveable city. How will the ACT meet the needs of both people and planet?

The Conservation Council’s policy Planning – the right things in the right places was in our 2016 ACT Election Agenda – Our future, our environment.



During proceedings Caroline Le Couteur MLA, Chair of the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Renewal, will be available to speak briefly on the Committee’s relevant enquiries.

Following the presentations there will be the opportunity for questions and discussion.

We look forward to seeing you there! Register now.


On top of waste?

Canberra’s landfill, the waste mountain at Mugga Lane has almost filled its valley to the level of the surrounding hills. As a society we a creating a problem legacy which should not be happening.

The ACT Government established the ACT Waste Feasibility Study through $2.8million in the 2015-16 Budget under “Improved Waste Resource Recovery”:

‘The Government will undertake a feasibility study to investigate long-term options for the management and treatment of waste in the ACT, including the development of a full business case for a waste to energy facility.’

The Conservation Council had concerns that the Government started a feasibility study presuming that waste to energy would necessarily be part of the solution. Before you build a “black box” to solve your waste issues you should know that you have done everything else you can to reduce the fuel load, even if only to determine the size (and cost) of the black box.

The ACT Waste Feasibility Study, made up of some consultants and public servants from ACT directorates, embarked on a phase of consultation and engagement and has since gone through staffing changes with almost the whole team turning over. The Study was due to conclude at the end of June 2017 although consultants Mike Ritchie and Associates have been engaged until end of August and a submission is expected to go to Cabinet in October.

The Study engaged in a Market Sounding process to get ideas about waste management and obtained about 30 submissions including for large infrastructure such as waste to energy. The Conservation Council’s submission suggested that further work needed to be done on waste reduction and waste to energy was a long way off.

We hope to know more about where the Feasibility Study is heading by the time of our June Environment Exchange: Tuesday 27 June: Reducing Canberra’s Waste Mountain.


Loan ranger interest

Here’s an offer to take at a gallop. The Conservation Council arrangement with Bank Australia gives you a cheaper loan, give us a one-off donation, and gives the bank a new customer. Oh, and if you take off the mask you can see that there are no fossil fuel projects supported by the bank.

This can really help our finances with win-win-win all over the place! The Bank Australia ‘affinity program’ means that when people nominate the Conservation Council as they take out or transfer a loan to Bank Australia the Conservation Council ACT receives one-off payment of 0.40% of loan value. Contact our Finance Officer Belinda for more detail.

The loans can be for all sorts of things, even investments (but not for fossil fuels). If you have an existing loan they will help you with the transfer and their loan rates are close to the best if not THE best rates available. Hi-Yo Silver!


Environment Exchange 2017

Environment Exchange events are held monthly to provide for informed, in-depth discussions on environmental issues in the region. Member groups are encouraged to attend and to publicise the events to their members and supporters.

The Conservation Council ‘Environment Exchange’ series is held at the Renewable Energy Hub, 19-23 Moore Street, Turner (just off Barry Drive).

All events are scheduled from 12-2pm starting with a light lunch (donations welcome). We have moved the events to Tuesdays rather than Thursdays and have adjusted for public holidays.

The last events in our current series are (click to book):

Please forward this to people who might be interested in attending and encourage them to book online to reduce food wastage and stress.

We are planning our next semester of events and will announce them in June.


Important dates

These are important 2017 Conservation Council dates:


Commonwealth Environment Powers

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) has released and is seeking views, responses to and input on their Technical Papers and the recommendations and ideas in them – The foundations of environmental law; Environmental governance; Terrestrial natural resources management; Marine and coastal issues; Climate law; Energy regulation; The private sector, business law and environmental performance; Democracy and the environment. These papers have taken 18 months to prepare and comment is sought by Friday 2 June to [email protected].


Why is it called Red Hill?

The Red Hill Regenerators have submitted to the ACT Heritage Council a nomination seeking to list the hundred year old heritage Callistemon, Grevillea and Darling Pea plants on Red Hill.

The existing pants are survivors of those planted between 1917 and 1920 by Charles Weston at the request of Walter Burley Griffin. Griffin wanted to ‘paint’ the hillsides with coloured flowering plants, and selected red flowering plants for Red Hill. Many thousands were planted. Some have spread across the hill while others can be seen in their original planting rows.

Click to read the nomination papers and find out more about this important part of Canberra’s heritage.


Counter offers wanted

There are exciting opportunities for roo counting for all you keen-to-get-outside beans!

The people who really count in ACT Government (the ecologists in Conservation Planning and Research) would love your assistance to count kangaroos:

  • 24 May – Red Hill Nature Reserve (unofficial count, 9 am – 4:30 pm) (see below)

If you could be a counter please inform both Melissa [email protected] and Kat [email protected] you’re available to come along and they would be really appreciative. ALSO if you have friends/family/staff/students/scout buddies/strangers-you’d-like-to-get-to-know-better which you’d like to invite along PLEASE DO! Just let them know.

Each count will be confirmed once there are enough people to go ahead. If you could let them know your best contact number in case they need to cancel for any reason that would also be grand.

Local research has demonstrated the impacts of kangaroo grazing on biodiversity. Learn more about it here:


Caught on the hop?

The Red Hill kangaroo count day is Wednesday 24 May 9.00am till 4.30pm

Conservation Planning and Research would like to do two counts in the day. The morning count would go from 9.00 – 12.30 and the afternoon count from 1.00pm – 4.30pm

Are you available to help with the morning count? Would you also be willing to participate in the afternoon count? Could you help in the afternoon but not in the morning?

Having roughly the same people involved means that we are more likely to get similar (more statistically robust counts). So we count the counters before we count the roos. We do not rue the counters.

There will be a book and a coffee to the person who is closest to guessing the number of roos currently on Red hill – so send your best guess in.

Contact Michael Mulvaney [email protected] or 6282 4778 (H)



Early warning ramble

46th Black Mountain spring wildflower ramble

Saturday 14 October 2017 – 9.30am sharp to 12noon or later

Belconnen Way entry just before Caswell Drive turnoff – watch for balloons

Celebrate the spring flowering on beautiful Black Mountain with a social ramble for wildflower lovers in the tradition established by Nancy Burbidge, and continued by George Chippendale. Discover the surprising diversity of tiny orchids, bush peas, wattles and billy buttons on easy bush tracks with experienced guides and good company. All springs are not the same. The pattern remains but timing and abundance vary with the weather. Friends of Black Mountain welcomes all comers, be they experts or those who have never slowed down to see the somewhat cryptic diversity. We plan several guides, with helpers, who will take different directions.

BYO morning tea, water, hat, sunblock and stout shoes.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL to ensure we have enough guides. Contact [email protected] or Libby Viccars 02 6296 1936.


Invitation: How to read ACT Budget Papers – 23 May

In the lead up to the announcement of the 2017-18 ACT Budget on 6 June 2017, ACTCOSS will be holding a session on reading ACT Budget Papers. If you will be attending the ACT Budget lock-up or will be wanting to quickly find out what Budget measures will impact on you or your members, this session is for you.

We are very pleased to have Megan Smithies returning as our guest presenter for this year’s session. Megan Smithies is the former Under Treasurer with ACT Treasury, having been the Executive Director, Budget prior to that. After the presentation there’ll be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

When: Tuesday 23 May 2017, 11am-12pm

Where: ACTCOSS meeting room, 1/6 Gritten Street,Weston

Cost: Free

RSVP: By COB 19 May 2017 to [email protected] or call 02 6202 7200


Free Energy Workshop

Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT has partnered with ActewAGL to bring you a free energy workshop!

This workshop will include plenty of tips to help you prepare your home for winter and to save on your energy bills (plus receive a free goodie bag and afternoon tea!).

When: Thursday 25 May, 2pm

Where: Hughes Community Centre Hall (Wisdom Street, Hughes)

Cost: FREE!

RSVP: 02 6282 3777 or [email protected] (bookings not essential, but preferred for catering purposes).