Yellow Box Dispatch September

Yellow Box Dispatch September 2017

Welcome to our warm newly Spring-time report on some of our recent activities and other events coming up in the region.

Our annual Spring Mingle is coming up on 27 October. Our previous location in the rooftop garden at Lena Karmel Lodge is no longer available so we will have to change venue and will let you know.

The Conservation Council’s Environment Awards 2017 are open! We will be announcing them at our Spring Mingle 27 October.

We are working with the planning of Walk the Border in October and will keep you posted with information. If all goes well this will be a great event which might become an annual activity.

Our Environment Exchange series of lunchtime dialogues has been very popular this year and we have two more sessions to go. See our Environment Exchange schedule for semester 2 below.

Other items in this Yellow Box Dispatch:

And there’s more events below including the ACTSmart Sustainability Expo on next week 7 September! 

Please forward 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

AnchorSave the Date: Spring Mingle and Environment Awards

Join us to celebrate our environment achievements at the 2017 Spring Mingle, Friday 27 October 2017 from 6pm, venue to be advised.

Connect with other Canberrans who are passionate about the environment, and celebrate the announcement of the 2017 ACT environment awards. There will be a bar, music, entertainment, a silent auction and we will provide lovely food as usual. We will also welcome our Board for 2018.

Entry by donation.

Please register online here for catering purposes.

We look forward to celebrating with you!

(Pictured is the 2015 Spring Mingle and announcement of the Environment Awards).

AnchorConservation Council Environment Awards 2017 – Open

The Conservation Council ACT is proud to announce the 2017 ACT Environment Awards. If you have made a significant contribution to looking after our environment we strongly encourage you to consider applying. In addition, if you know some-one 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.

There are four awards to recognise individuals and groups who have made a significant contribution towards the environment:

  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 29 September 2017.

Awards will be announced at the Conservation Council Spring Mingle Friday 27 October 2017. Applications are now open, consider nominating yourself or someone you know!

For further information contact [email protected].

(Pictured are 2015 ACT Environmentalist of the Year Tom Swan and Minister Shane Rattenbury).


AnchorECO Focus Seminar 

The Conservation Council attended the 2017 Eco Focus Seminar Wednesday 30 August at Gold Creek Station. The event is an annual information seminar by the Conservation Research Unit of the Environmental, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and as usual there were short brilliant presentations on some of the range of research on biodiversity issues being undertaken within ACT Government. Topics this year were:

  • Conservation Research – overview of current research (Margaret Kitchin)
  • Carping at Isabella Ponds (Matt Beitzel, Aquatic Ecologist)
  • Conservation Effectiveness Monitoring Program (CEMP) – grassland results (Renee Brawata, CEMP Officer)
  • Grappling with groundcover (Nicki Taws, Project Manager, Greening Australia)
  • Little Eagle – flying across Australia (Sam Reid, Fauna Ecologist)
  • Spatial data for decision making – flying through the landscape (Jennifer Smits, Spatial Ecologist)
  • Quolls and Bettongs – how are our new residents going? (Will Batson, Manager, Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary)
  • Dieback in the eucalyptus – recent survey and mapping (prepared by Greg Baines, Vegetation Ecologist but presented by Margaret Kitchin)

The event is valuable not only for the presentations but the participants included scientists, community organisations, rangers, volunteers, government officials and the networking was invaluable.

If there is any criticism of the event it might be that the ACT Government does not realise how valuable it is and how interesting it would be to a larger audience. Did you know that carp in some ponds get up to 14kg whereas they are usually smaller in the lakes? What about the Little Eagle that flew from the ACT to the NT in a few weeks reaching speeds up to 127kmh and a very high altitude too. And what is happening to our eucalypts? Is it part of a wider trend of tree decline across the world? And we saw a heat picture of kangaroos taken by a drone – that might make them easier to count!

Future events could use social media to better spread the word. Surely the Directorate could allocate a camera to record the event or even do a direct feed to something like Facebook. There was a lot of good material that should get to a broader audience!

The event was held at Kinlyside, the only ACT nature reserve managed by private operators. Thanks to Craig Starr and John Starr for being such good hosts on the day in the newly rebuilt premises (after fire destroyed the former building in April 2015) and for keeping the grassy woodland in such good condition. The birdlife was mildly and pleasantly distracting but not disruptive.


AnchorWalk the Border ACT – A Watershed Walk 

The Walk the Border ACT – A Watershed Walk is a fundraising walk that will complete a full circuit of the ACT’s border over 21 days starting 7 October 2017. A 306 km walk that crosses ancient pathways and defines the Australian Capital Territory, Walk the Border ACT is seeking to raise funds for the Conservation Council ACT Region. The walk also offers a rare opportunity to raise community awareness about the breadth of the ACT’s ecosystems and the many cultural aspects associated with the landscape. 

There are several ways in which you can get involved with Walk the Border ACT:


What is a fundraising walk without donations? 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.

You can sponsor one of the walkers or just donate to the walk in general by going to donate

Become a border walker

Want to hit the ground walking?  There are plenty of opportunities to be part of Walk the Border ACT.  The walk schedule provides a description for each stage of the walk, including the distance and whether the walking is on or off track, with some stages being much easier than others.  There are stages that also allow walkers to join for part of the day’s walk. See Walk Schedule

Participants in Walk the Border ACT should set a fundraising goal and work towards raising the profile of the event.  The donations page allows donors to sponsor individual walkers.

Only a small part of the ACT border follows a sealed road or footpath. The walk stages have varying degrees of risk associated with them and walkers are required to acknowledge that they are aware of and accept these risks.

Be part of the support team

Not able to join the walk itself? There are opportunities for volunteers to help with the running of the walk.  Tasks include picking up walkers at the end of a stage or helping in managing the communications around the walk? Contact Walk the Border ACT on [email protected] to find out how best to help.

Spread the Word

The more people that know about the walk the more likely we will be able to meet our fundraising target.  So let all your friends and family know about our blog site and Facebook page and encourage them spread the word as well.

More information at the website and please email [email protected] with any questions.


AnchorEnvironment, planning and sustainable development issues in ACT

Our next Environment Exchange will be 26 September with Ben Ponton and we look forward to seeing you there.

Do you have any questions on the ACT Government’s work on environment, planning and sustainable development issues?

Ben Ponton was appointed as Director-General of the ACT’s Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate in April 2017. Ben is a registered town planner with over 25 years experience in both the private and government sectors and is passionate about achieving high quality outcomes through meaningful and effective engagement.

Ben had experience in the private sector as a town planning consultant before working with various New South Wales local government authorities. For the last 14 years, Ben has worked for the ACT Government in strategic planning, environmental policy, land and planning regulation, transport, city services and urban renewal. Ben focuses on citizen-oriented Government and believes in engaging with citizens early to build a sustainable and prosperous community for all.

As the chief planner, Ben is also responsible for the assessment of all development applications and statutory decision making processes within the planning area.

Enjoy a free lunch, tea and coffee while networking and questions from and discussion with the audience.

Click here to find our more and reserve your place or call us on (02) 6229 3200.

Check out the rest of our Environment Exchange series here.


AnchorFyshwick waste to energy proposal and weak waste management in Hume

The Conservation Council is keeping a watch on the proposed Fyshwick Materials Recovery and Waste to Energy Facility. There are several Ministers involved in this space.

Minister Mick Gentleman is responsible for setting out the questions that proponents will have to answer when they do environmental impact statements. We have said to Minister Gentleman that the scoping document prepared for the Environment Impact Proposal does not, in our view, ask the right questions to explore how the proposal will help the ACT achieve zero net emissions which is the Government’s policy. How can a facility producing emissions assist reaching the ACT’s goal of zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest? 

The Conservation Council expressed concerns in February 2017 that the ‘market sounding’ on waste launched by  Minster Meegan Fitzharris launched encouraged waste to energy proposals given that it included: “A feed-in tariff may be offered for the renewable portion of any energy generated from waste. It would likely be set a rate between the prices previously awarded in the Territory’s large scale renewable energy auctions, ie $79-$186/MWhr.”

However the authority to offer a feed-in tariff (FiT) does not sit with Minister Fitzharris. Minister Shane Rattenbury, as Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, under the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011 has the power: “The Minister may grant a person a FiT entitlement under a FiT capacity release in relation to a large renewable energy generator…”. And then the Minister would have to use inventive logic to argue that waste was renewable anyway.

Minister Rattenbury does not seem inclined to support a feed-in tariff as reported by the ABC: “The ACT Government has no need to award new feed-in-tariff entitlements at this time, as we have already contracted for 100 per cent of our electricity to be supplied from renewable energy sources of wind and solar by 2020.”

The proposal is described on the proponents website at

There is a strong letter from the Tuggeranong Commmunity Council to Chief Minister Andrew Barr which raises several issues about the proposal that need to be addressed.

If you would like to find out more have a look at Canberrans for Pollution Reduction 

Kicking cans down the road

Meanwhile, down the road in Hume there is an already established waste stockpile at the Southern State Waste Recycling (SSWR) facility at 1 Paspaley Street, Hume which seems to not have enough interest from ACT Government Ministers. It is of concern to residents of neighbouring businesses and residents of nearby (as the plume flies) suburbs.

The Conservation Council has asked the TCCS Directorate whether the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016 (under Minister Fitzharris) covers the facility:

  • Is the Southern State Waste Recycling facility located at Hume a licensed waste facility (s18)? If not, is it in breach of s107?
  • What conditions have been applied to the Southern State Waste Recycling facility (s23)?

Given responses we have received, it seems that management of the facility has been left to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA, under Minister Gordon Ramsay) and it is not clear that the conditions of the EPA licence ae being enforced. This points to the need to apply the potentially stronger provisions of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016.

It seems that the only reasons that the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016 is not being used to license and apply conditions for the Southern State Waste Facility are:

  • the legislation is too weak and needs to be amended to manage waste facilities, or
  • there is a lack of will to use existing legislation.

The Conservation Council raised issues with the weaknesses of the waste legislation when it was passed by the Legislative Assembly in 2016 and it might be time the legislation was revisited with a view to having some strengthening amendments to meet community needs. 


All she wants to do is ride around Canberra (Ride Sally Ride)

From Pedal Power ACT

Are you a woman who rides a bike in Canberra? Or would you like to? There’s a whole week planned just for you in September!

The Active Travel Office has assembled a fun program of events to remind all of us – but particularly women – about the joy of riding a bike.

The Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is an annual national event dedicated to helping women across Australia to make good health a priority. One of the best ways for women to stay healthy is to get enough exercise, and our favourite exercise is riding a bike.

Events start Sunday 3 September with a leisurely social spin around West Basin. You can see the entire program of events at the Transport Canberra website.

Pedal Power ACT’s Spring Bike Makeover is now fully booked, but if you’d like to be added to the waitlist please email [email protected]. And we’re super excited about the Women on Bikes panel discussion on September 7 at The Duxton in O’Connor.

Looking forward to seeing you at one of the wonderful events planned for the first week of spring!


AnchorRecent Achievements of Friends of Grasslands

Report from President Geoff Robertson

FOG is chalking up achievements on many fronts. Our advocacy work, despite relying on relatively few people, has resulted in ten major submissions so far this year on issues such as ACT grassland strategy, NSW Biodiversity and Native Vegetation Acts, Travelling Stock Reserves, Kangaroo Management Plan, Brumbies in the Alps, and a number of grasslands and or grassy sites under threat. Each submission is seen as an opportunity to influence decision makers and the wider community more generally. Advocacy work also involves participation in networks, and consultations such as the future of Yarramundi Reach, the Ginninderry Development, the proposed residential development at the Federal Gold Course, active involvement in the Biodiversity Group of the Conservation Council and Bush on the Boundary. In each submission and forum, FOG members take a respectful non-confrontational approach aiming to promote good science and combine optimal conservation and non-conservation outcomes.

FOG has three major on-ground projects working with various major partners such as the National Capital Authority (Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach), Snowy Monaro Regional Council, South East LLS and ACT Conservation Volunteers (Cooma Grasslands) and the ACT Government and Cemetery Trust (Hall Cemetery). Trialling of new techniques and seeking grants for heavier tasks are important elements. FOG also works with Bush Heritage (monitoring weeding at Scottsdale). FOG works closely with many partners and is an active participant in Kosciuszko to Coast, the Monaro Regional Weeds Committee, the Conservation Council and Canberra Nature Map to name some.

A core value of FOG members is a passion for biodiversity, emanating from experiencing nature and an intimate connection with plants and animals gained from encounters with them, photographing them, and caring for them. We believe that Aboriginal culture and management have shaped our landscape and that we have a great deal to learn by working in partnership. In recent times we have held a number of field visits and workshops-in-the-field. Many more are planned. Knowledge is also spread through our publications such as Woodland Flora and News of Friends of Grasslands.

ecently FOG formalised its grant giving and announced $5,000 of grants to projects that support research, education and or on-ground work. This is based on the small amounts of income FOG is able to earn and from generous donations of our supporters.

Upcoming FOG  Events

  • Weekend 23–24 September: ‘Showcasing weeding  tools, methods and ideas’ Contact [email protected] for more details and to register.
  • 14 October, 9.30 am (sharp) – 12 noon or later: 46th Black Mountain spring wildflower ramble at Belconnen Way entry just before Caswell Drive turnoff (look for balloons)


AnchorEnvironment Exchanges 2017 — the last two!

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). The first series for 2017 resulted in intresting, lively and productive discussions with all events being well attended with good food and fun conversation. To see the summaries check out our blog posts. 

Events 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.



Interfaith Climate Justice Event Parliament House 

WHO: Senior Faith Leaders and Federal Politicians

WHAT: This is the culmination of a faith-led Community Climate Petition, signed by over 25,000 Australians from 92 Federal electorates, driven by people of diverse faiths – including Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Christians, Muslims & Brahma Kumaris – calling for urgent reductions to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and more support for vulnerable communities here and in our region. Canberrans are invited to show their support for Action on Climate by joining senior faith leaders & representative MPs

WHEN: Wednesday 6 September 12.30 – 1.30pm 

WHERE: Parliament House cafe and lawns (top end)

BRING: Wear warm clothes

ACTSMART Understanding Solar Workshop


WHAT: Come along to this workshop to find out how solar and batteries can add value to your home, providing savings on your bills and energy independence.

This workshop is useful if you don’t know where to start in this fast changing energy space. Topics covered are solar, batteries, energy efficient appliances and solar hot water.

WHEN: 14 September 6.00pm – 8.00pm 

WHERE: Renewables Innovation Hub, 19/23 Moore Street, Canberra ACT 2601

REGISTER: Free but registration required as spaces limited register here

Sustainability Expo


WHAT: Expo showcasing the latest technology in water, waste, energy. Also a range of seminars, workshops and main stage events. It really is a great expo and open to the public. It is an opportunity for businesses to display their wares andfor the public to see what’s available in the region.

This is the first time the event has been located in Woden.

WHEN: 7 September 10am – 5pm 

WHERE: Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden

REGISTER: Free register here

Communicating Climate Change in the Post-Truth Anthropocene 

WHAT: Why do journalists still ask if decision makers ‘believe in climate change’? Why does the media persist in ‘balancing’ public debates by pitching uninformed sceptics against the near scientific consensus on the urgency of tackling human-induced climate change? How can we overcome intentional ignorance to prevent catastrophic global warming in the age of the anthropocene where human activity dominates climate and the environment?

Influential climate change expert Professor Will Steffen and political cartoonist for Fairfax Media, David Pope (Canberra Times editorial cartoonist) will share insights about communicating climate change to the masses. 

WHEN: Tuesday 5 September 6-7.30pm 

WHERE: Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, 131 Garran Road ANU 

BOOKINGS: Free event with refreshments provided. Places limited, register online here. 

Community Open Day for Threatened Species

WHO: Woodlands & Wetlands Trust

WHAT: Open afternoon to celebrate Threatened Species Day, at Forde Community Centre. Drop in to learn about threatened wildlife and the Trust’s work at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. Nature displays, information, meet a Bettong, artist-in-residence. Twilight tour for families and bird walk in Sanctuary: see

WHEN: Saturday 9 September 2017, 12 to 4pm

WHERE: Forde Community Centre (entry off Zacharov St, Forde, Gungahlin, behind Frankies café)

REGISTER: Bookings for tour/walk required here.

ANU Energy Update 2017

WHAT: The ANU Energy Update is the Energy Change Institute’s annual flagship event – a one-day summit that brings together energy researchers, policymakers, industry and the public to provide an overview of the latest world energy trends. The day will feature national and international presenters from government, research and the private sector discussing a range of energy issues including global and regional outlooks, new technologies, energy security, energy access and energy productivity.

Professor Alan Finkel (pictured) will be speaking.

WHEN: Wednesday 29 November 2017, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

WHERE: Copland Lecture Theatre, Kingsley Street, Australian National University

REGISTRATION: Free event, spaces fill up fast. Register Here.

Halve your Household Waste 

WHAT: “One week = one shopping bag full of rubbish. There are two adults and three children in the house. Our challenge has been set. Impossible! I hear you say. Well here’s how we did it”.

That’s Mia Swainson, environmental engineer and lifestyle writer for HerCanberra. Mia set her young and busy family a challenge to significantly reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill each week, and succeeded! Join Mia in this free workshop and go home with simple and practical tips for reducing, reusing and recycling with your family. Mia will walk you through the basics of waste separation, worm farming, keeping chickens and more.

WHEN: Saturday 16 September 10am-12noon

WHERE: Canberra Environment Centre, Corner of Lennox Crossing and Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, ACT 2601

BOOKINGS: Free event but spots fill up fast! Register Here.  

More Events from the Canberra Environment Centre on their website here. 


Understorey screening National Film and Sound Archive 

WHAT: Film screening of “Understorey” featuring: Roland Breckwoldt, Bob Brown, Euey Collins, Heather Meek, Jack Miller, Kim Taysom. When intensive logging threatens native forests on the far south coast of NSW, Australia, local people from all walks of life come together to oppose it. It took decades and turned into the biggest environmental conflict in Australian history. Archival material and interviews outline what the campaigns were really like. Wildlife images show why the forests were worth protecting then and why people are still campaigning to protect our natural heritage today.“The campaign for the South East Forests is an extraordinary story. The native forest ecosystems of the region are biologically complex and of global conservation significance.” Professor Tony Norton.

Understorey has been rated M for this screening – the film will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

WHERE: NFSA Theatrette, National Film & Sound Archive, McCoy Circuit, Acton, ACT 2601 map

WHEN: 6.30pm, Wednesday 20 September 2017

TICKETS: $10 All Tickets – Please note: online bookings incur non-refundable charge of 30 cents per ticket.


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