Welcome to our monthly summary of some of the environmental issues and events in the ACT and region. We include links to more information and to documents where available.
We have had a very busy month with both the Spring Mingle and ACT Environment Awards being held on 26 October. It was a great night of music, food and mingling. To all those who went – thank you for coming and we hope you had a great evening. If you could not make it, this newsletter includes wrap-ups on both events so it will feel like you didn’t miss a thing!
In not-so-good news, we have been A-framed: our Conservation Council advertising board has gone missing. We would greatly appreciate it if you could keep an eye for the conspicuous board – we miss it dearly!
This month’s Dispatch talks about the following news, campaigns and events:
- Spring Mingle Wrap Up
- Environment Awards Wrap Up
- Join our Walks Program for Walk the Border – Light
- Molonglo urban development and ecological protection
- Bushfire Plan update in the works
- Support for cat containment
- Waste-to-energy policy – say no to waste incineration
- Next year is the Climate Election
And we have some events listed below and many more listed on our Facebook page under events.
Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region
Spring Mingle Wrap Up
Thank you to everyone who came to our Spring Mingle on Friday 26 October – what a fantastic night! We are extremely lucky to have so many dedicated people in our community who enjoy coming together to celebrate the achievements of Canberra’s environmentalists and community organisations. The Lena Karmel Rooftop Garden provided a beautiful backdrop to our event. The Artivists contributed their eye-popping banners and the lovely Cathy Diver brought with her some dreamy folk tunes. 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.
The Spring Mingle was another reminder of the fantastic environment community we have here in our Bush Capital. 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 and Markus Dirnberger, Paul Magarey and Darcy Henderson for managing the bar, and our staff – Clare, Ruth and Maya, 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.
See our blog post for more details and pictures.
Environment Awards Wrap Up
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 2018 ACT Environment Awards nominees look at small patches and big pictures: they are working on climate change and its solutions; biodiversity protection and enhancement; all to bring about better environmental outcomes for the ACT. Thanks go to Minister Shane Rattenbury MLA for presenting the Awards.
Moira and John Rowland Young Environmentalist of the Year Award went 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 initiated a variety of AYCC events and campaigns including developing the concept and plan for the 2018 AYCC Sustainable Careers Panel. This event gave young people in Canberra the opportunity to learn about possible career pathways and make connections with people in sustainability and environment fields. 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 commended 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, 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 helped initiate 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.
This Award was a very contested field with eight finalists, any one of whom would have been 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.
We would like to congratulate all the other finalists. Also check out our blog post.
Join our Walks Program for Walk the Border – Light
Join us in our series of half day walks, which will explore the history and environment of parts of the ACT’s border. The walks revisit sections of last year’s circumnavigation of the ACT by the Conservation Council of the ACT Region. There are three more walks in the Program:
Sunday 11 November – 9:30am – North Mulligans Flat
Duration: 4 Hours
Features: This walk follows the zig zag section of the ACT’s northern border where the border follows the ridgeline. Well tracked walk following the Centenary Trail. Some great views from the ridges. Lunch at the Northern campsite of the Centenary Trail before returning via a slighter shorter route to the starting point.
Sunday 18 November – 9:30am ACT’s most easterly point
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Features: Excellent example of a blazed tree marking the border. This easy out and back walk is through woodlands with some magnificent views out to Queanbeyan and the southern ranges.
Sunday 25 November – 9:00am – Tuggeranong Pines to the Monaro Highway
Duration: 4 Hours
Features: This walk takes in an accessible but rarely visited part of the ACT following the management trail next to the disused railway line. Magic rural views with mountain backdrops. Lots of natives should be in bloom amidst the history of the railway and its construction. The walk will mainly be on the management trail next to the disused railway line but some sections will require walking along the railway line itself. These sections can provide uneven walking surfaces.
Cost: Each walk is $10 per person with a maximum of $50 per family with funds helping to support the ongoing environmental activities of the Conservation Council.
Registration is necessary.
Molonglo urban development and ecological protection
The Conservation Council has engaged actively in the planning processes concerning the urban development of the Molonglo Valley over a number of years in order to ensure the protection and enhancement of significant ecological values.
A number of issues on the table need resolution such as:
- Finalisation of the Molonglo River Corridor Plan of Management.
- Central Molonglo – we seek an assurance that the Government will deliver on the Legislative Assembly decision on 19 August 2008 that central Molonglo be removed in perpetuity from being considered as a future urban area and appropriate management strategies are in place.
- The buffer from housing on the Kama Nature Reserve – we will need to consider further whether the proposed buffer adequately protects the ecological values of the Kama Nature Reserve.
- The Coombs Peninsula moratorium – we would like to see this land remain as open space, managed as a buffer to the reserve.
- Fire management in areas of ecological significance.
We are looking forward to being involved in outcomes to deliver protection and enhancement of the ecological values of Molonglo.
Bushfire Plan update in the works
Emergency Services Agency has set up a Bushfire Plan Management Committee to assist with the review and update of the ACT Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (SBMP) through development of a version 4 plan. Clare is representing the Conservation Council on the Committee.
The process underway will take about a year – initial public stakeholder consultation will happen in February to March 2019 and the process will conclude in September 2019. The Bushfire Unit of Parks and Conservation Service is currently getting its data together to draft new Regional Fire Management Plans.
An overview of the processes around the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan here.
Please contact Clare if you have any thoughts, comments or experiences with the current SMBP that you would like to feed into the process.
Support for cat containment
The Conservation Council’s position on cat containment is that all of Canberra should be covered by cat containment laws by 2025. Our position has received public support from the Commonwealth’s former threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews. The commissioner pointed to the science, which shows that domestics cats are killing 61 million birds and 53 millions reptiles every year.
The former Commissioner’s support for domestic cat containment shows how important it is to address this issue. We are expecting a community consultation paper on broadening cat containment laws from the ACT Government in coming months. We will stay informed on this timeline — let us know if you have any other thoughts on the issue.
For more information, take a look at the ABC News article or our cat containment FAQ page.
Waste-to-energy policy – say no to waste incineration
The ACT Government is looking at how to do waste to energy as part of the outcomes of its Waste Feasibility Study conducted 2014-18.
One part of doing waste to energy is to have a policy so Minister for City Services, Chis Steel MLA, has called for input on what should be in a waste to energy policy. Views are sought by 27 November 2018.
One reason for the Government to have a policy might be to provide guidance to businesses who come to Canberra with a proposal about some way of getting energy from waste. While the Government doesn’t have to say yes to these ideas – remember the Foy plastics to fuel proposal or the CRS Fyshwick waste incinerator? – it’s easier for both industry and government if there’s a policy document.
And for the community? Perhaps we can use the development of a policy to emphasise that we want clean air and water, that we don’t want industries that impact on the health of residents near and far and that we don’t want industries that add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere! And we can say that the government should put in systems to reduce waste by providing recycling for more materials and perhaps disallowing materials which only make a one-way trip to waste.
Waste-to-energy includes a range of technologies. However a key concern is the number of waste incineration proposals being developed. It is important that these are ruled out as generally they do not facilaitate our primary waste objective which is to reduce waste production. Such proposals generally lead to a “feed the furnance” approach which is unsustainable. That said, other waste-to-energy technologies such as capturing methane for electricity production might have transitional merit if they reduce greenhouse gases while long-term measures are implemented. A better policy response would be to ensure organic matter such as kitchen wastes are kept out of landfill in the first place.
The Conservation Council briefing paper – Going backwards on reducing ACT’s waste – looks at some key ‘fails’ by the ACT, especially the Government, on reducing ACT waste. And have a look at Ten reasons why burning waste for energy is a bad idea.
Next year is the Climate Election
On Tuesday 30 October, ACF chief executive office Kelly O’Shanassay made an address to the National Press Club about the need to prioritise climate action at the next federal election.
In recent weeks climate change issues came to the fore when the IPCC released its Special Report, which urged the termination of the production of coal and other fossil fuels and called for governments to make widespread changes.
In Australia, we cannot approve projects like the Adani mine; we cannot continue the worrying trends of extinction in Australia; we cannot endorse the culture of climate denial and inaction by our politicians. So at the next federal election, it not the ‘colour of the party, but rather the colour of the policies’ that matter.
Moving forward, ACF proposes 10 Actions to protect nature and stop climate damage. We support these Actions and encourage our Member Groups to be cognizant of the need to promote these messages in the lead up to next year’s election.
Take a look at the transcript or video of Kelly O’Shanassy’s address to the National Press Club.
Land for Wildlife Workshop in Molonglo Catchment
What: Join up for the Land for Wildlife – Molonglo Catchment Workshop. Find out which native animals are living on the land and discover practical ways to improve biodiversity, enhance habitat and attract wildlife to your property. For the productive farm owners, learn how to balance conservation with your usual farm management and hear about opportunities to receive incentive funding. Molonglo Catchment Group will also introduce their new landscape management program for rural landholders and community groups across the region. The workshop includes a wander through a nearby property, so wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat. Lunch and morning tea will be provided, so please email any dietary requirements with your RSVP.
When: 10:00am – 2:00pm, 11 November 2018
Where: Stoney Creek Community Hall, Carwoola
RSVP by 9 November 2018 by calling Lesley Peden 0400 806 089 or Janelle Dennis 0437 402 668 or email [email protected]
12th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference
What: APCC12 will bring conservation researchers and practitioners together from across Australia to discuss the recent advances and latest scientific findings for successful threatened plant translocations.
Species translocations have been an important conservation approach for more than two decades to save threatened species from extinction. With no foreseeable reduction in threats from climate change, urban and agricultural expansion and intensification, and invasive pests and diseases, translocations will be increasingly important into the future.
When you register, you will receive a free copy of the ANPC’s brand new third edition of the Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia.
When: 11 – 15 November 2018
Where: CSIRO Discovery Centre, Clunies Ross St, Acton
Red Hill Regenerators working bee
What: Red Hill Regenerators invite you to their next activity, where they will cut and dab briar rose and woody weeds, spray and chip verbascum and thistle, map rabbit warrens and coconut ant nests. Bring water, hat, long sleeved shirt, long pants, eye protection, sunscreen cream, solid shoes, BYO morning tea.
When: 9:00am – 12:30pm, Wednesday 14 November
Where: Meet at the reserve gate close to the Tamar Street junction with Hindmarsh Drive
For more information, send an email to [email protected] Prior registration is not required.
‘Remnants’: Michele England’s solo exhibition
What: Local artist, Michele England, is opening her solo exhibition ‘Remnants’. Michele has drawn parallels between the comfort afforded by a quilt and the fragmented habitat faced by many Australian species in her latest solo exhibition.
Michele utilises the techniques of screen printing, machine sewing and embroidery to make work in her exhibition ‘Remnants’.
Quilts, by nature, are many small pieces bound together to make a larger single piece. Quilts provide warmth, are made with love and often use favourite fabrics, imbuing them with memories.
Michele’s new work utilises these quintessential quilt elements to discuss habitat fragmentation across our contemporary landscape.
Official opening: 6:00 – 8:00pm, Thursday 15 November
Where: Canberra Contemporary ArtSpace Manuka Gallery, 19 Furneaux St, Manuka (next to the Manuka multi level carpark)
Duration of the exhibition: Friday 16 to Sunday 25 November 2018
Times: 11:00am – 5:00pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays
Save Kosci Protest Walk – Queanbeyan
What: Protest the heritage listing of horses in Koscuiszko National Park by welcoming the “Save Kosciuszko” walking group to Queanbeyan and join a protest outside the office of John Barilaro MP. This is a short, level walk of 330 metres (660 metres return) at a moderate pace. Afterwards, there will be a lunch at Barracks Park featuring NSW and Federal politicians and potential candidates in the next NSW election.
When: 9:30am, Thursday 22 November 2018
Where: Meet at the picnic shelter of the Brad Haddin Oval (also called Queanbeyan Park) near the junction of Lowe and Morrisset Streets, Queanbeyan.
RSVP by sending an email to Di Thompson at [email protected].
The overall campaign is at the Reclaim Kosci Facebook page.
Save the date: Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin
What: This event is organised by Tammy Ven Dange, who is tired of seeing rubbish in Lake Burley Griffin and decided to do something about it. There will be cleaning by land and by water to give our much loved Lake a good clean. More information will be provided shortly, but save the date for now! This event is supported by Clean-up Australia and various Lake User Group members from around Canberra – stakeholders that are frequent users and carers of the lake.” Please note these important details:
• Register at one of the booths on 9 December
• Bring work gloves and wear enclosed shoes
• All children 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
• Those on watercraft (not provided) must wear a lifejacket or PFD at all times during the clean-up effort.
When: 9:00am – 12:00pm, 9 December 2018
Where: Go to one of the volunteer registration sites on the day of the event, which are available at:
• Burley Griffin Canoe Club
• Lotus Bay (near Yacht Club)
• Weston Park (near Playstation)
• Black Mountain Peninsula
• West Basin (near the Bike Hire place)
• Kingston Foreshore (Bowen Park)
Go the Facebook event for more details.