What's New?


20/02 2018

Date Claimer: Earth Hour, Saturday 24 March 2018, 8.30pm

This Earth Hour, it’s time to switch off and #Connect2Earth.

Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement for climate change action. Millions of people in over 180 countries take part in Earth Hour by switching off their lights as a symbolic gesture to show that our planet needs stronger action on climate change.

On Saturday, 24th March 2018, switch off for Earth Hour. Switch off for the future of our planet.

View/download Earth Hour 2018 factsheet » View/download Earth Hour 2018 poster »

20/02 2018

UNAA NSW Event | Sydney | 27 February 2018

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: From Words to Actions

This highly interactive briefing will consider the overall significance and relevance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals plus your individual role in moving from vision to reality – Come along to be informed, engaged and inspired.

Keynote Speaker

Rev. Hon. Dr. Lynn Arnold AO is a former South Australian Premier and was CEO of World Vision Australia until 2003. Lynn is a pre-eminent expert on the Sustainable Development Goals and is passionate about educating and engaging Australians on the crucial work underway to achieve SDG targets as UNAA Goodwill Ambassador.

Event Organiser:

United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA)

Date/Time:

Tuesday 27 February 2018 at 6:00pm

Venue:

MLC Centre - Level 57
19-21 Martin Place, SYDNEY, NSW 2000

Tickets:

$25 for members and students, $35 for non-members (light refreshments will be served).

View/download Event flyer » Bookings »

18/02 2018

Honey Flora of Southeast Queensland

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email:office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: http://www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Householders.Options.to.Protect.the.Environment
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo

Community Forum: “Important Honey Flora”, Thursday, 1 March 2018

We know that bees produce honey, right?

Do you know what bees need in order to make the honey?

You can learn more about this at a community forum on “Important Honey Flora” being held on Thursday, 1st March, 7pm – 9pm at the Toowoomba City Library (Level 3, Cnr Herries and Victoria Sts, Toowoomba).

(Ironbark flowers)

The forum, hosted by Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc., features Mr. Glen Tucker, President of Southern Beekeepers Association.

The Southern Beekeepers Association services the Toowoomba Region and surrounds for those interested in keeping bees.

Mr Tucker will be giving a presentation on “Honey Flora of southeast Queensland”. Information included in this presentation will be on the basic requirements of bees for honey production, as well as some detail on the most important trees and other flora for honey production, including information about botanical identification of these species.

Glen is an Agricultural Scientist by training, and he has interest and expertise in both bees and the flora from which they harvest nectar to produce honey.

The formal presentation will go for about 40 minutes and there will be time for questions after the presentation.

Bookings for the community forum are essential. To reserve your seat, RSVP by 26 February to HOPE office by phone 4639 2135 or email office@hopeaustralia.org.au.

Event:

Community Forum: “Important Honey Flora”

Date:

Thursday, 1st March, 7pm – 9pm.

Venue:

Toowoomba City Library (Level 3, Cnr Herries and Victoria Sts, Toowoomba).

Cost:

Entry by gold coin donation


19/02 2018

Interesting UK links on sustainable living

The Eco-Friendly Guide to Cleaning Your Home

This guide offers comprehensive information about eco-friendly and sustainable ways of cleaning your home.
Visit epcleaners.co.uk/resources/eco-friendly-cleaning

Other useful information may be found at salisburytransitioncity.org/useful-links


01/02 2018

HSI Australia | Petition to TRC

Petition: To prohibit circuses featuring wild animals to trade in TRC jurisdiction

Humane Society International (HSI), aided by Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE), are circulating a petition “asking Toowoomba Regional Council to prohibit all future circuses using animals in the Toowoomba Regional Council area.” We ask this based upon the inhumane conditions that the animals are kept in, the conditions under which the animals are transported, and the inappropriate messages conveyed to children by forcing wild animals to perform circus tricks.

Humane Society International spokesperson Ms Virginia Breen said HSI has therefore decided to petition your Council and try to change their policy of allowing such circuses on council land, as part of an Australia-wide campaign. We have found the majority of Councils when approached on this issue do ban these circuses, as most were previously unaware of the exploitation and cruelty involved.

Working in conjunction with other concerned groups and individuals, we have had many successes - thanks to the hard work and support of our members, said Ms Breen.

Persons interested in supporting this petition and collecting signatures are asked to contact the HOPE office by email office@hopeaustralia.org.au to request a petition form.

The completed petition sheets should then be returned to Humane Society International, PO Box 439, Avalon NSW 2107 so that they may be collated and lodged with Toowoomba Regional Council.

View/download docx
HSI Circus Animals Fact Sheet

30/01 2018

WWF Australia | The fight to save the Coral Sea needs you!

OUR CORAL SEA IS IN GRAVE DANGER!

The Coral Sea needs your help!

Situated off the Queensland coast, the vast Coral Sea supports millions of sea creatures, such as turtles, rays and sharks, schools of fish like tuna, the beautiful clown fish, plus whales and vibrant coral.

Yet, an area of the Coral Sea bigger than Victoria, is still at risk from being opened up and exposed to commercial fishing..

Taking a huge slice out of our Coral Sea puts iconic wildlife like turtles at risk of becoming bycatch, and means schools of fish are open to overfishing. We have to keep the protections we already have in place, and save this fragile ecosystem.

Taking a huge slice out of our Coral Sea puts iconic wildlife like turtles at risk of becoming bycatch, and means schools of fish are open to overfishing. We have to keep the protections we already have in place, and save this fragile ecosystem.

Let our federal politicians know what’s at stake - send them a personalised postcard from the Coral Sea.

Join us, and raise your voice for our oceans.

Send your postcard today!

SEND A POSTCARD

Thank you,

Richard Leck
Head of Oceans,
WWF-Australia

P.S. If these proposals go ahead, Australia will hold the record for the biggest downgrading of marine protected area ever seen anywhere else in the world. Send your postcard to stop this today.


26/02 2017

Please lend a hand to help Clean Up Australia

It took just one man to inspire millions of people to pick up rubbish. Every year since 1989 Ian Kiernan has demonstrated that individuals around the world can make their own contribution to cleaning up the planet.

The Clean Up Australia movement, begun by the Sydney builder and yachtsman with a clean-up of Sydney Harbour by 40,000 Sydneysiders, is an annual event around Australia and, since 1993 and the foundation of Clean Up the World, the driving force that brings out 30 million people in 80 countries to clean up their own little bit of the planet.

In the Toowoomba region, HOPE is once again calling for volunteers to play their part in keeping their neighbourhood free of litter and possible contamination.

HOPE's president Frank Ondrus is keen to have individuals, groups, businesses, schools and church congregations sign up for one of the three days planned for this year's clean-up:

Business Clean Up Day – 27 February 2018
Put yourself into the picture for 2018 by registering your Business Clean Up site - registrations for 2018 Business Clean Up Day are now open. Business Clean Up sites can vary greatly; some businesses use the day to Clean Up a local area, park, beach or creek whereas others use it to Clean Up their own office space or kick start environmental programs.
Schools Clean Up Day– 2 March 2018
Since 1992, school communities across Australia have demonstrated their support for caring for the environment through participating in Schools Clean Up Day. Registrations for 2018 are now open.
Clean Up Australia Day– 4 March 2018
Clean Up Australia Day is a simple way you can take action to clean up, fix up and conserve the prized Australian environment. The latest CUAD report estimated that 562,697 volunteers (contributing 1,125,394 hours) across 6,795 registered sites, removed some 15,312.28 tonnes of rubbish.
Surely, we can do better in 2018! Get involved by registering your own Clean Up Site or by volunteering at a site near you.

24/01 2018

Communique from Lock the Gate Alliance

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Hi Friend of the Environment,

From everyone across the Lock the Gate network, thank you for being part of this movement to protect Australian communities from unsafe mining and gas.

We’ve put together a video to recap and celebrate some of the incredible highlights from the last 12 months.

Grab a cuppa and take a moment to enjoy and celebrate with us - it’s pretty inspiring what we’ve managed to achieve together!

Lock the Gate coordinators are working hand in hand with hundreds of local groups across the length and breadth of Australia. It is people like you that make this possible.

Please consider taking an extra step this year and sign up to become a Gate Keeper., making a monthly donation to keep gates locked to coal mining and invasive gasfields across the country.

We’re looking forward to a huge 2018 where we can do even more to fight back. Let’s keep up the momentum for the protection of our water, our food growing areas and our precious communities.

Best wishes for the year ahead,

Naomi, and the whole team at Lock the Gate


24/01 2018

Future Directions Institure (FDI) | From The CEO

FDI Outlook and Future Analysis for 2018

2018 in the Indo-Pacific Region

The year ahead has all the hallmarks of continuing geopolitical uncertainly and the likelihood of increasing concern over a number of non-traditional challenges that include changes in demographic trends, the impact of climate change, the ability to meet food and water demands, rising inequality and the impact on employment of increased automation.

China is likely to become more centrally controlled with, at least initially, a faster growth in economic activity although there are persistent concerns over its considerable debt and possible trade disputes with the US and Europe. President Xi Jinping is also committed to safety, environmental improvement and equality, characterised by an “unbalanced and inadequate development of the people’s ever-growing need for a better life.” Through that process, Xi will attempt to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, revitalise the rural sector, address the challenges of an ageing population, improve education, defuse social tensions and eliminate corruption.

In global affairs, China will continue to move from being a “quiet achiever” to an “assertive player.” In doing so, the Chinese Communist Party will consolidate what it considers to be its key national interests. The Belt and Road Initiative will promote “shared” development, security and co-operation.

Of course, that is only part of the list of outcomes. Considerable policy, research, resources and time will be needed. Prolonged uncertainty will be characterised by losses but also opportunities.

There will be a critical question: Is China’s rise America’s decline? Both are substantial powers; both have strengths and weaknesses. Competition between the two is both real and psychological. It is also subject to internal and indirect forces that seek to exploit national and international outcomes, focussing on negative issues and perceived injustices.

Uncertainties over North Korea will continue. Sanctions and international isolation, the prospect of more missile launches and a nuclear test, as well as war games by both sides, will continue against a background of rhetoric from the Trump Administration and the North Korean leadership. Regional actors – China, Russia, Japan and South Korea – will all have roles to play. It is likely, therefore, that in North-East Asia, 2018 will look not too different to 2017.

In South-East Asia, democratic regression may well be strengthened with strongmen getting their way in Cambodia and Malaysia following a similar outcome in the Philippines. The future ability of the Mekong River to provide the food and water outcomes needed to support local populations will also be challenged and China will seek to extend its influence in the region.

In Myanmar and Bangladesh, the Rohingya issue will continue to fester and have an impact on the wider region.

In South Asia, the relationship between India and China will continue to attract attention. Deteriorating US-Pakistani relations, uncertainties regarding the situation in Afghanistan, the concept of the US-India-Australia-Japan “Quadrilateral” and the strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific will attract increasing analysis.

Among island states, Sri Lanka may be caught up in a Sino-Indian power play, and the Maldives could witness a rise in violence from citizens returning to their birthplace following the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate while, on the political front, the rise of authoritarianism is possible.

In terms of the Middle East, 2018 is likely to be another turbulent year with an inflamed rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Conflict will continue in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. ISIL and Al-Qaeda affiliates will continue their attacks throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with prospects for further violence in Europe and North America. The prospect of a weapon of mass destruction as well as the use of the internet and cyber technology will bear consideration. The concept of Jerusalem as a capital will continue to stir unrest.

July elections in Pakistan and the start of the electoral process in India, Indonesia and South Africa will add to uncertainty in 2018.

In summary, the region that FDI concentrates on will be one of uncertainty with assessments of likely outcomes difficult to predict.

FDI Research in 2018

FDI’s research will continue to focus on three areas:

  • To determine whether there will be a global food and water crisis between now and 2050, how that might evolve, what will cause it, what the implications might be for Australia and how Australia might respond.
  • To consider the geo-strategic developments, including opportunities and challenges for Australia, in the Indian Ocean region over the next 20 years. Six countries in particular will be considered: Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
  • To identify developments over the next 20 years in northern Australia, focussing initially on regenerating the landscape in Australia generally and particularly in tropical Australia.

Details for individual programmes are below:

Indian Ocean Research Programme

The continuing primary theme for 2018 will be the identification and analysis of the major challenges that are likely to confront the six key Indian Ocean states identified by FDI (Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) over the next ten years, including the implications of such challenges for Australia.

Such analysis will address each country’s overall national characteristics, assess the objectives of Australian foreign policy towards that country and vice-versa and analyse the country’s national plan and strategic objectives for the future, including its ability to implement such a plan and achieve the objectives.

At this time, India and Indonesia are the priority countries for consideration.

The Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme

The continuing primary question is to determine whether there is an impending global food and water crisis by 2050 and, if so, what will be its cause, how will it develop, what is likely to be the impact on Australia and what should we, as a nation, do about it.

In 2018, analysis will concentrate on China and consider the following:

  • The State of Chinese Soils
  • Water Conveyance Infrastructure and Water Security
  • The Impact of Climate Change
  • Overseas Investment and Domestic Food Security
  • The Development of Western China
  • Chinese Agricultural Research

Two other areas will also be considered:

  • Food and Water Security in Africa
  • A Global Overview of Food and Water Security
The Northern Australia and Land Care Research Programme

The primary theme for this Programme will continue to be research that considers the reason, impact and means of dealing with the regeneration of Australia’s landscape and its soil.

The Land Care component of the programme links with the appointment by the Prime Minister of FDI Chairman Major-General Hon. Michael Jeffery as the National Advocate for Soil Health. FDI will be closely associated with Soils for Life, a Canberra-based not-for-profit research institute, chaired by General Jeffery, which will oversee the 100 case study farms that will highlight progressive farming and science-based developments.

In addition to Strategic Analysis Papers, FDI will interview many researchers, farmers and pastoralists and policymakers. FDI Associates who have an interest in this topic may also be asked to provide papers.

The impact that soils, through the process of plant photosynthesis, can play in climate mitigation will also be considered and reported.

With regard to Northern Australia, noting that the Land Care component of this Programme’s research is equally significant to Northern Australia as it is elsewhere, research will concentrate on issues that determine future opportunities for the region as well as the challenges for achieving such opportunities. The social and economic development of Northern Australia over the next 30 years, the impact of climate change and the significance of growing relationships with China, South Asia and Indonesia will be considered.

The Basis of FDI’s Research

FDI attempts to make judgements about the future. This is a form of intelligence analysis, noting that much of the future is grey and that often there are different options that need to be further tested with new information before a final judgement can be made. This requires analysts to be flexible and to be prepared to admit that earlier judgements may be wrong.

FDI will continue to identify those who should receive its product, noting that such people have the authority, responsibility and interest to use the research that FDI produces. This includes a wide range of people in government, the public service, private institutions, business entities, academia and the media. Over 5,000 associates receive the product directly and some 35,000 people use FDI’s product every month with almost two million pages viewed.

FDI’s work is essentially journalistic in style. That is done to attract as many readers as possible and to avoid the complex style of academic and scientific papers. FDI papers are short and start with a list of key judgements so that a busy reader can quickly decide if the paper should be read or not.

FDI uses a wide range of researchers who continue to develop an intelligence analysis style while capitalising on their detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject. Some researchers include FDI staff, who not only write papers but also identify authors, do scoping studies and edit the final product. Other authors include academics, university interns, subject matter specialists and members of Australian and overseas research institutes.

In 2018, FDI will continue to produce informed, balanced research to enhance the quality of strategic decision-making at senior levels of the public and private sectors in Australia.


Kind regards,

Major General John Hartley AO, (Retd)
Institute Director and CEO


24/01 2018

Communique from Youth Food Movement (Australia)

Calling all awesome people, we're on the look-out for co-leaders!

Alas, our brilliant Brisbane co-leader Anna is moving on to new horizons and the time has come to pass the YFM co-leader baton.

Becoming a volunteer co-leader is an opportunity to help grow, shape and create outside-the-box food projects in Brisbane, as well as to contribute to the national direction of YFM. You'll get experience, learn about yourself, and contribute to some downright awesome stuff.

But don't just take our word for it:

This is honestly such a wonderful, insightful, and rewarding role… From our local chapter to the national team, YFM is a very supportive environment to grow your leadership skills (and love for all things food).

B, Melbourne Co-leader

YFM felt like a space where I finally surrounded myself completely with people who were willing to live out their personal ethics, interests and seek out the curious. YFM is a community of truly active changemakers, people willing to look further than themselves to put their energy, enthusiasm and practical action into their projects and passions.

Cressi, Sydney Co-leader

YFM’s approach to repairing the food system is realistic to me, educating through inclusion, fun and realness. It excites me and actually makes me feel like I am doing something, and that’s kinda cool.

Eliza, Sydney Co-leader

Get the deets here »

23/01 2018

Invitation to 'Empowering the Community'

Dear Friend,

For too long corporations have run roughshod over our communities; it’s time to take the power back.

I would like to invite you to join me on the 3rd of February at the Toowoomba Library for a community forum – Empowering the Community.

As some background, I previously served as a Senator for Queensland from 1997 - 2008 and re-entered the Senate late last year as the Queensland Greens’ new representative in this role. I am keen to meet with and hear from people at local level about issues you are working on or are concerned about. There will also be some local Greens community members and advocates with me on the day who are also wanting to learn more about the work you or your organisation are doing, and how we can better support the interests and concerns of you and those you work with. I am also happy to share some insights on what the Greens are currently doing in the Senate and at community level.

During the thirty years I have been directly involved in politics, I have seen our democracy gradually becoming less and less functional, operating more and more in the interests of corporations and the political establishment and their big donors at the expense of the community. Wages are stagnant, social services and job security are continuing to decline, cost of living and underemployment are climbing - all while corporate profits are soaring.

Donors to political parties are holding increased powers over government agenda, developers have control over the shape of our cities and towns, all while important infrastructure and social services funding is slashed, leaving many Queenslanders vulnerable. Community groups struggle to have their voice heard or to get a foothold to fight back.

I would love to hear from you how we can help turn this around on the issues you are passionate about.

Please find event details below. Light refreshments will be provided with halal and vegetarian options available.

Empowering the Community

Saturday 3 February, 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Toowoomba City Library Building
Level 3 Multipurpose Room, 155 Herries Street
RSVP: Please make sure to register by Wednesday 31 January via this link or by reply email to senator.bartlett@aph.gov.au as the venue has a limited capacity

Following the meeting, some of us will head over to the Beer Garden at The Norville for a few hours for a more casual chat. You’re also most welcome to join us there - please feel free to ask along anyone who might interested in popping, even if it’s to say g’day.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerely,

Andrew Bartlett

Greens Senator for Queensland
senator.bartlett@aph.gov.au
(07) 3367 0566 | Level 2, 251 Given Terrace, Paddington QLD 4064

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17/01 2018

What do you think of Queensland’s climate change policy?

Dear HOPE supporters,

Last year Queensland saw its warmest year on record - reminding us we must stop our greenhouse gas emissions now to avoid dangerous levels of warming.

With no meaningful action from our Federal Government, our states and territories need to take the lead in tackling climate change.

QCC believes environment conservation groups have an important role to play in feeding into and improving the Queensland Government's plan to transition our state to zero-net emissions by 2050.

Through our analysis of Queensland's Climate Transition Strategy, QCC has prepared a number of short briefing notes intended to get us all thinking and talking about climate change and what our state's pathway to a zero-net emissions 2050 should look like. To see the briefing papers, visit our website or download copies here.

To feed environment conservation considerations into the Government's Climate Transition Strategy 2.0 (set for 2019), QCC is compiling a report - to highlight any issues raised through your feedback - to submit to the Department of Environment and Science in July 2018.

To make sure your voice is included, leave a comment on our webpage, or get in touch via lisa.cliff@qldconservation.org.au, 0429 998315.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Lisa Cliff
Queensland Conservation Council


18/01 2018

Eco News - Issue #1550


14/01 2018

Invitation | Webinar: Insight 2018

Insight 2018: The SustainAbility Annual Trends Review

We are delighted to present our annual webinar to discuss the global sustainability trends that will shape the economic, political, and social landscape and business agenda in 2018.

The questions that we will discuss during the webinar include the following:

  • What key issues shaping the sustainability agenda should leaders have on their radar this year?
  • What will be the major opportunities for corporate leadership on sustainability in 2018? How should companies act on them?

Join us for a presentation of SustainAbility’s current thinking and a lively discussion between SustainAbility’s Executive Director Mark Lee and panelists: Libby Bernick (Global Head of Corporate Business, Trucost), Mark Gough (Executive Director, Natural Capital Coalition) and Pat Dwyer (Founder and Director, The Purpose Business).

HOSTED BY
SustainAbility
WHEN
Tuesday January 30, 2018
4pm GMT | 11am EST | 8am PST

Space is limited. Please register today!

Register » Add to calendar »

14/01 2018

Chopping the Amazon in Half!!

Dear colleagues,

It is very likely that the Amazon — the world’s greatest rainforest — will soon be chopped in half.

Brazil is currently working to complete a dramatic upgrade to the BR-319 Highway, an 870 kilometer-long road segment running between Manaus in central Amazonia to Porto Velho in southern Amazonia.

Once completed, this road will link directly to the BR-174 Highway, which runs from Manaus to the northern border of Brazil.

Together, the two highways will slice the Amazon in half along a north-south axis. Some protected or indigenous areas are in place but they are not nearly enough to staunch the impacts that will arise from opening up the Amazon so profoundly to human activities.

If you have 60 seconds, please see this brief video we made (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eybwjVFseS4) that illustrates what this highway network could mean for the Amazon.

Please read and share with others who may be interested. (And insert your email address here to receive occasional environmental news on globally important issues).

All best,

Bill

William F. Laurance, PhD, FAA, FAAAS, FRSQ
Distinguished Research Professor
Australian Laureate & Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation (Emeritus)

Director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS)

Director of ALERT (ALERT-conservation.org)


12/01 2018

Food Connect

Bananas, watermelon, mangoes and more.....

Here is this week's harvest for you! Make your own box of fruit, veggies and groceries or click here to see what's in our nine different pre-packed boxes.

Fruit

Mangoes are in abundance right now!! Woohoo! We have loads of Kensington Prides from our farmer, Ian Burow from Mount Cotton. We have smattering of peaches and nectarines, plus plenty of cherry plums.

We’ve also got three types of bananas: Cavendish, Ladyfinger and Ducasse - all from our farmers in the Northern Rivers

Watermelons this week are from James Branson - the seeded are a mix of Micky Lee and Warpaints (our personal fav) while the Seedless are Talca. Plus much more!

Order your fruit here »

Veggies

In this hot weather, all the vine crops are doing really well which means we have plenty of beans, snow peas, and zucchinis.

We also have loads of chillies - Cayennes and Bishop’s Hat, potatoes, onions, cucumbers and salad greens. Plus much more.

And for all the juicing freaks out there, don’t forget we have great juicing packs full of great organic fruit and veggies for you.

Order your veggies here »

Groceries

We’ve got your pantry and fridge covered with milks, cheeses, eggs, yoghurt and breads. Make sure you check out the great ferments from Gusty (the best kraut!) and top up your jam supplies with Jaboticaba Jam from Ugly Duck.

Order your groceries here »

Emma-Kate & the Food Connect Team

P.S. This week, your farm fresh boxes have travelled an average of 190kms. Sweet!


10/01 2018

New Year’s Green Resolutions

Traditionally, the New Year brings plenty of resolutions to do things differently; however, many of these good intentions don't survive the summer.

Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) has some good ideas easily turned into sustainable resolutions which make you feel good as well.

These tips are simple to implement yet can have lasting benefits for individuals, families and the community.

HOPE suggests adding the following actions to your resolution “to do” list:-

  1. Aim for a chemical-free household, using natural cleaning products and recipes (www.theshoppe.com.au)
  2. Commit to organic gardening (www.greenharvest.com.au)
  3. Conscientiously recycle paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, plastic containers and hazardous items (recyclingnearyou.com.au)
  4. Use green waste from your garden in mulching, composting or worm-farming.
  5. Think about installing solar power.
  6. Install a rainwater tank.
  7. Walk or ride a bike once a week on a journey you would normally drive.
  8. Support events such as Clean Up Australia Day, Earth Hour, Landcare Week and National Recycling Week (www.environment.gov.au/about-us/media-centre/events)
  9. Take part in Friends of the Escarpment Parks working bees to clean the Toowoomba escarpment of weeds and invasive plants (www.fep.org.au/fep-parkcare)
  10. Join a local conservation or environment group, Landcare or animal welfare group e.g. contact the Darling Downs Environment Council (DDEC) – (www.ddec.org.au)

09/01 2018

Wanted – Used Postage Stamps

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Householders.Options.to.Protect.the.Environment
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

Wanted: Used Postage Stamps and/or Unwanted Stamp Albums

Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) invites residents and businesses to collect stamps from their incoming mail for reuse by local community groups.

Community groups take these stamps and re-sell them to raise funds for local and overseas missions work.

Mr Frank Ondrus, President of HOPE said we also welcome unwanted stamp album collections; and collections of stamps from Esperanto club members.

You can post a pack of used stamps to the HOPE (Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment) office, PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba, QLD 4350; or drop them off at 22 Vacy St, Toowoomba.

Activities like these are in the direct interest of the HOPE organisation, as not only do the funds raised provide aid to those in need, but it also encourages home recycling and re-using.

If any HOPE or other community members are involved in or have ideas of any other projects or activities of the same sort, HOPE would love to know about it and help kick-start or aid similar projects.

Frank Ondrus, President - HOPE Inc.

Frank Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc., ph 07 4639 2135


10/01 2018

Wanted – Old Corflute Signs

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Householders.Options.to.Protect.the.Environment
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc. is seeking the community’s support through the provision of old corflute signs that can be reused for their 2018 programs of events, projects and other activities.

So, if you have old promotional, advertising, event or election signs that you no longer need, please consider donating them to HOPE.

Please drop off the unwanted corflute signs to the HOPE office situated at 22 Vacy St, Newtown, Toowoomba.

Frank Ondrus, President - HOPE Inc.

Frank Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc., ph 07 4639 2135


03/01 2018

ANUHD Survey and Update January 2018

Australian Network for Universal Housing DesignHappy New Year!

Dear ANUHD supporter,

Thank you for your ongoing support towards more accessible and inclusive housing.

Boy in wheelchair and carersPlease take 5 minutes to complete this survey.

We have had a tremendous response already, but we need more!

Could you please forward this survey through your networks? Thank you.

COAG's 2010-2020 National Disability Strategy committed to support the National Dialogue for Universal Housing Design's goal that all new homes will be of an agreed livable design standard by 2020

At the direction of the Building Ministers Forum, the Australian Building Codes Board is assessing the need to regulate for livability in all new housing in the National Construction Code.

This survey will help to identify:

  • the difficulties in finding livable housing
  • the cost and benefit to Australian Society in providing livable features in all new housing; and
  • the features that should be in a livable standard for all new housing.

New Design guide for accessible and inclusive housing

We are very pleased to share with you the launch of Summer Housing's first publication, Designing for Inclusion and Independence – An Explanatory Guide to support the Briefing and Design of Accessible Housing.

The guide aims to support particularly new stakeholders in the briefing, design and specification of high quality accessible housing. It will particularly support development of Class 2 (apartment type) accessible dwellings. It is designed to be a practical resource.

The guide is available for free download on our website, via this link. You can also register your interest to order and purchase a hard copy of the guide on this webpage.

You can join Summer Housing mailing list for future correspondence here


06/01 2018

SA GM-free labels a goer

With GM-free SA now assured until 2025, food businesses are beginning to deliver GM-free labelled foods for shoppers. Ingredients derived from GM soy, corn, canola, cotton and sugarbeet are also in the international food trade. They can arrive here as vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, soy protein isolate and a variety of other ingredients, in soft drinks, processed foods and restaurant meals etc., unlabelled. So GM-free labeled foods make a valid claim, which many Australian shoppers now use as part of their buying decisions.

Australia's GM-free Shopping List is here » GM–Free Australia Alliance »

01/01 2018

Early Date Claimer - World Cleanup Day, 15 Sept 2018

Be Part of History!

Our aim is to help mobilise Australians of all ages to take part in the LARGEST POSITIVE CIVIC ACTION IN WORLD HISTORY

World Cleanup Day 2018 is an opportunity to unite people from across the globe in a single cause - making our planet a cleaner place.

Let's Show the Rest of the World How It Is Done!

We already enjoy a much cleaner environment than many other countries, thanks to the efforts of individuals, groups and agencies involved i n initiatives such as Clean Up Australia Day.

However World Cleanup Day 2018 (which is co-ordinated from Estonia) takes the game to an exciting new level. And we have the opportunity on Saturday 15th September 2018 to set the world's largest ever mobilisation of people rolling on its journey around the planet. And all for one of the planet's most important causes - saving our environment!

What You Can Do To Help

We have just over a year to make it happen. Other countries are well ahead of us in making their preparations. But that shouldn't deter the Aussie spirit to 'punch above our weight'. At this early stage all we need is for environmentally-minded Groups, Agencies, Clubs, Corporations and individuals to indicate their initial support (by completeing a simple 'Letter of Intent').

Please keep in mind that World Cleanup Day 2018 is not about money - it is about participation! And ultimately it is about inspiring the public, our children and our grandchildren to better look after the planet.

Contact/Information

website:
www.wcd2018teamaustralia.com
email:
admin@wcd2018teamaustralia.com
phone:
0418 755 615
WCD 2018 Letter of Intent:
View/Download
WCD Business Case:
View/Download
WCD 2018 December 2017 Newsletter:
View/Download

30/12 2017

Watchdog urges caution in disposing of e-waste

A toxic watchdog has expressed concern over the increase in the number of discarded electronic wastes (e-waste) this Holiday Season.

With holiday shopping in full swing, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the public to be discerning in buying and properly disposing Holiday Season presents that they would eventually discard.

To promote e-waste prevention, reduction and safe management, EcoWaste Coalition yesterday conducted a public outreach at the Quezon Memorial Circle to inform the public about e-waste, which is described as one of the fastest growing waste streams across the globe.

The event followed the release last December 13 of the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017 by the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University and the International Solid Waste Association indicating the rising levels of e-waste and its improper and unsafe treatment and disposal through burning or dumping.

Globally, some 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste were generated in 2016 or 6.1 kg per inhabitant.

The study also showed that Filipinos produced 2 kg. to 5 kg. of e-waste per inhabitant.

Experts estimate that e-waste generation will reach 52.2 million metric tons by 2021.

Broken appliances, outmoded gadgets, busted lamps and other unwanted electrical and electronic products that are improperly recycled, burned or disposed of can pollute the environment with health-damaging chemicals, cautioned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the hazardous substances that make up electrical and electronic equipment and their wastes are heavy metals such as cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead and mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDes) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), among dozens of other toxic chemical compounds.

The EcoWaste Coalition explained that reckless disposal practices can result in the release of these nasty chemicals, some of which like mercury, PBDEs and PCBs are covered by multilateral environmental agreements like the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Stockholm Convention on POPs.

When e-wastes such as vinyl-coated cables are burned to get the copper wire, harmful byproduct POPs like dioxins and furans are formed and released to the environment, the group explained.

Dioxins are considered as among the most toxic chemicals known to science.

Fluorescent lamps, when dumped with ordinary trash or manually dismantled to remove the metal parts for recycling, will release the mercury vapor out of the glass tubing and cause toxic pollution, the group added.

Exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, can damage the brain and the central nervous system.

When the plastic casings of cathode ray tube TVs and computer monitors are incinerated or land-filled, toxic PBDEs are released contaminating the environment. PBDEs are among the new POPs targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention.

During the event, members of the San Vicente Elementary School Children’s Rondalla played Christmas songs as EcoWaste Coalition volunteers donning headgears with images of mobile phone, TV, laptop and other electrical and electronic products drew public attention on the hazards of e-waste.

According to the leaflet 'E-Waste to, Iwasto!,' e-wastes should be returned to their manufacturers for proper management as an ideal solution. Otherwise, e-wastes should be managed by accredited treatment, storage and disposal facility.

EcoWaste Coalition noted that these can be effectively done by instituting appropriate drop-off or collection points for their safe and ecological retrieval/collection, storage, and recycling or disposal.

The leaflet was prepared by the EcoWaste Coalition for the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with assistance from Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

To avoid and minimize the creation of e-waste this Yuletide season, the EcoWaste Coalition requested consumers to consider the following tips:

  1. Extend the life of your existing electronics instead of buying new ones. Consider whether you truly need to get new ones before rushing to buy the latest stuff.
  2. Have broken electronics repaired.
  3. Have outdated component of an electronic product refurbished or upgraded, instead of buying an entirely new replacement.
  4. Never dispose of unwanted but still usable electronics. Pass them on to relatives and friends for reuse or donate to charities and schools. What might be of no use to you, might come in handy for some people.
  5. Collect spent household batteries, cell phone batteries, fluorescent lamps, empty ink cartridges and the like, label and safely store them in a container with cover and kept out of reach of children and pets. These should be safely managed or disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner and not mixed with regular waste.
  6. Visit the manufacturer’s website or call the dealer to find out if they have a take-back program or scheme for your discarded electronics.
  7. If you really need to spend for new electronics, choose items with less hazardous substances, with greater recycled content, with higher energy efficiency, with longer life span, and those that will produce less waste.
  8. Take good care of your electronic device – whether it’s brand new, refurbished or hand-me down – as sound maintenance will prolong its lifespan. Read the instruction manual carefully and get acquainted and trained on easy fix-it-yourself guide.
  9. Make it a point to have your e-scrap properly recycled by authorized recyclers so that they don’t end up as e-waste to be thrown away or burned.
Manila Bulletin article » EcoWaste blog post »
Item courtesy of Emily BOONE | Operations and Office Organizer | IPEN Secretariat

30/12 2017

December 2017-January 2018 edition of Protected Magazine

Protected: Issue 18 - December 2017 / January 2018

The December 2017 / January 2018 issue of Protected magazine is now available. Please click on the cover image below to download a PDF version of the magazine.

Protected cover

Features:

World Heritage - The most highly protected areas in Australia

Abuse it...and lose it - Reflections on 60 years of National Park experiences

Main Range National Park

Hastings River mouse

Back issues of Protected magazine »

29/12 2017

National Parks Association Queensland (NAPQ) News

Items from - Issue 68: Week beginning December 18, 2017

State Election

NPAQ welcomes The Honourable MP Leeanne Enoch to the Queensland state government's environment portfolio. We sincerely hope to develop an open and collaborative relationship with Minister Enoch, in order to advance the interests of protected areas and conservation for Queensland.

In the lead up to the state election on 25 November, we made the following election requests:

  • Merge QPWS with EHP for alignment of values.
  • Additional $20 million/year for national park management.
  • $59 million/year for 5 years for additional strategic national parks for expansion of the estate to address the vast and pressing gaps in ecosystem and species protection.
  • Explore potential “easy wins” for additional national park estate such the transition of State Forests to National Parks in the Sandstone belt.

With the announcement of the new Ministers and their portfolios earlier last week, it appears that the new Department of Environment and Science will be responsible for the management of national parks in Queensland.


Opportunities for NPAQ and Queensland Biodiversity Protection

With a new government, NPAQ staff returning to full strength and a new NPAQ council it is an opportune time to define our goals for the coming year. Through council and staff brainstorming and as discussed at the member's meeting on 15 November, a number of possible NPAQ conservation goals have been developed:

  • Support transition of a nominated State Forest to National Park;
  • Lobby for greater feral species control (perhaps on an island national park);
  • Lobby for adequate funding of National Park management;
  • Influence and support Queensland Protected Area Strategy; and
  • Lobby federal government to progress Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative National Reserve System (CARS) and have national parks made a matter considered under the federal EPBC Act.

Your consideration of and any thoughts on these goals would be much appreciated. Our goals are to be finalized through committee and signed off by council in February.

Please provide any comment to Graeme Bartrim (President) by Wednesday 31st January 2018.

The intention is for these goals to be in addition to our regular workload of stakeholder liaison responding to new policy and developments and to be within our resourcing capacity.

Hand in hand with this is strengthening our profile with decision makers and the community and balancing our books. Staff and councillors are working hard to revitalize these areas

Send comments to NPAQ President Graeme Bartrim »
Image: Lindeman Island, Mackay Conservation Group

Commercial Development Proposals in National Parks

As you would be aware, we are currently tracking a number of commercial development proposals within the national park estate, that have some up recently including:

  • Lindeman Island resort expansion proposal;
  • Scenic Rim Trail and cabins proposed in Main Range National Park;
  • Whitsunday Island cabins (as announced by the then Minister for National Parks during the election campaign);
  • Dunk Island spit campground, proposal to revoke the campground from the National Park.

These proposals are often very complex, are managed by various levels/areas of government, cover various land tenures and provide various levels of risk.

As an example:

  • the Lindeman Island proposal is being managed by the State Coordinator General, as a development of state significance;
  • the Scenic Rim Trail application is being assessed by the Federal Department of Environment and Energy under the EPBC Act and local governments (no formal process with public input);
  • the Dunk Island spit campground was leased to the Cassowary Coast Regional Council in 1987 for a 30 year lease. The council have then sub-leased this to Dunk Island Resort.

Unfortunately, we are seeing a common theme – issue a lease, the area gets degraded, then both the lease and degradation are used as arguments for revocation from the national park estate.

If you see or hear of any applications for commercial development on national park estate, please let us know, so we can follow-up on it.

Where the wild things REALLY are: Shocking maps reveal the world's shrinking wilderness areas

A shocking new map has revealed the full extent of our planet's shrinking wilderness areas.

The maps show that the majority of remaining wilderness areas are in the deserts of Central Australia, the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Tibetan plateau in central Asia, and the boreal (snow) forests of Canada and Russia.

Almost 10 per cent of the planet's wilderness has been lost since the early 1990s, as forests are converted to farmland and developed.

UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD student James Allan, said these wilderness areas were strongholds for endangered biodiversity and critical in the fight to mitigate climate change.

Read the Daily Mail article »

Great Barrier Reef to get help from coral gardens used to repopulate bleached sites

A unique research project underway near Cairns to grow healthy coral for replanting on the Great Barrier Reef, could soon get a helping hand from tourists.

Small pieces of coral taken from Fitzroy Island are being suspended from a tree-like structure to promote quick growth.

The nursery of heat-tolerant varieties will eventually be harvested and placed on parts of the reef affected by bleaching.

If the study is a success, tourists will be given the opportunity to purchase their own piece of coral which will be planted back on the reef.

Read the ABC News article »
Image: Dave Harper records signs of activity at a burrow at the St George refuge. ABC News: Kathy McLeish

Northern hairy-nosed wombats in the market for new home to ensure their survival

Wildlife workers and scientists are on the search for a site they hope could help save the northern hairy-nosed wombat — one of the world's most critically endangered animals.

The northern hairy-nosed wombat was thought to be extinct until a tiny population was discovered near Clermont, north-west of Rockhampton in central Queensland. By the 1980s, there were just 35 of the animals left.

Following a concerted recovery campaign, by 2006 the population grew to about 140 wombats. However, with all the wombats located in one place, the researchers feared the worst.

It has now been 10 years since a second, more southern refuge, was founded near St George in south-west Queensland, after local landholders offered up 130 hectares to create what is now the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge.

The next step is to find a spot for a third and larger refuge for the growing population. That site will need to be a large area with a specific type of soil and habitat. It also needs to be south of the original population as insurance against climate change.

Read the ABC News article »
More on Neck of the Woods » NPAQ home »

28/12 2017

Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) News

December 2017

Director's update

Happy holiday season to everyone in the TERN family—or, in other words, everyone in the Australian ecosystem science and management community. At the end of a busy but exciting year, it is timely to reflect on some of the major TERN activities of 2017 and wish everyone a successful 2018.
Read more »


Field of weeds

When weeds are good

New science has shown that there can be a positive relationship between weeds and native plant biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, debunking some long-held assumptions that underpin common weed management practices. We hear from the paradigm-busting scientists who are changing the way we consider the threats of weeds to biodiversity.
Read more »

Conference goers

Collaborative ecology across the Tasman: #EcoTAS17 highlights

Were you at this month’s joint conference of the Ecological Society of Australia and the New Zealand Ecological Society? For those who couldn’t make EcoTas17, and those keen to re-live the week, we take a virtual tour of the action as we showcase just some of the conference highlights (and fashion!) via Twitter.
Read more »

'Who killed the wolf spider?' hand-drawn note

Data Update - December 2017

Showcasing new and recently updated data openly available via TERN repositories, including researcher submitted data on the habitats and predator-prey interactions of desert-dwelling marsupials and spiders; and long-term monitoring data on the fauna of NT’s Top End National Parks.
Read more »


TERN eNewsletter online » TERN home »

26/12 2017

Alternative Technology Association (ATA) News

Renewable energy and carbon emission targets continue to be used as a political football in Australia. It feels like each time we take two steps forwards with action on climate change, we also take three steps back.

However, despite frustration with political leadership, there are positive stories to tell. The momentum for a low-emissions future grows apace with the price of renewable energy continuing to fall — it is now cheaper to develop solar and wind energy than new coal-fired power stations in most countries.

The knowledge, technology and solutions to enable households and communities to reduce carbon emissions, make homes more comfortable and save money are available. At the ATA every year we help hundreds of thousands of people make a practical difference.

This year the ATA’s leadership and practical action was recognised when we won two Climate Action Awards from the United Nations Association of Australia and the NSW Green Globe Award for Climate Change Leadership.

Heading into 2018 we are looking forward to growing the ATA’s impact in creating a sustainable future. Thank you for being part of our community of change.

We wish you a safe, happy and sustainable holiday season and hope that you continue to enjoy the journey with us in 2018!

The ATA office will close for the Christmas break at noon (AEDT) on Friday, December 22, and re-open at 10am on Monday, January 8.


Boy carrying solar panel

Give the Gift of Light

By giving the Gift of Light this Christmas, you help the ATA continue our work installing solar-powered lighting and training solar technicians in villages in East Timor. Watch the video of what we do. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

House with solar panel

Watch solar advice video

The ATA's new free online solar advice servicee gives you basic advice on the best options for grid-connected solar and batteries for your home in your location, including likely bill savings and payback times. Click here to watch the video about how it works.

Board members

New faces on ATA Board

The ATA's Board is a dynamic group of people dedicated to sustainability and the success of the ATA. Three new board members - Tristy Fairfield, Dominique La Fontaine and Mark Bytheway - were elected at this year's AGM. Click here to read their profiles.

Consultation

Summer - time for a consult

Now is a great time to get an energy consultation from ATA experts on solar, batteries, going off the grid or lowering your energy bills. It costs $175 per hour for ATA members or $225 for non-members. Click here.

ReNew magazine cover

Solar panel guide in ReNew

Solar panels - what's out there in the market and what can you expect to pay? Find out in the Solar Panel Buyers Guide in the latest issue of ReNew Magazine. Plus articles on solar for renters, landlords and apartments. Click here to get your copy.

Goodbye Gas flyer

Getting off the gas

The ACCC has said gas prices are still too high. The ATA has long been advising people to consider moving from gas appliances at home to efficient electric. If you are thinking of making the switch, read our fuel switching brochures.

Kitchen

Downsize by design

Downsizing can be an emotional as well as logistical challenge, but such a huge transition can be made easier when the new home is designed to last a lifetime. Read the article in the latest issue of Sanctuary Magazine.

Electric car

Electric Vehicle Expo 2018

See a diversity of commercial and privately built electric vehicles, enjoy test rides, a Show 'N Shine competition, tech talks and heaps more at the Melbourne Electric Vehicle Expo 2018! It's on February 18 - don't miss it!

ATA e-Newsletter online »

26/12 2017

ALERT | Asks a big question

Is Our Planet Ready for 2 Billion Cars?

By 2010 the Earth had reached a remarkable milestone: one billion cars — or, to be precise, one billion motorized vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles but excluding off-road vehicles such as tractors and bulldozers.

And if that figure isn’t jolting enough, by 2030 it’s projected that we will have double that number: 2 billion cars.

What will this mean for our planet, our health, our lifestyles, and our environment?

Traffic Jam

The exponential increase in vehicles is coinciding with the growth of megacities across the world, especially in developing nations. By 2030, more than half of the projected 9 billion people on Earth will live in cities.

If you think traffic jams are bad now, imagine what it’ll be like with another 2 billion people than we have today — increasingly crammed into cities and driving another 1 billion vehicles.

If you’ve ever visited a mega-city like Beijing or São Paulo or Jakarta, you’ll realize that traffic chaos is the norm, not the exception. And that’s even outside of rush hours.

And with more vehicles, traffic accidents will increase. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.25 million people are currently killed in vehicle accidents each year. For people ranging from 15 to 29 years of age, it is the number one cause of death.

By 2030, the number of fatalities is expected to rise to 1.8 million people per year. If vehicle-related mortality were considered a global epidemic, it’d be a more important killer than HIV-AIDS.

Greenhouse Gases

At the Paris climate conference, global leaders committed to limit global warming to 2 degrees C, with a stated aspiration to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C. But it’s a bit difficult to see how we’re going to get there in a world with 2 billion smoke-belching vehicles.

In the car-mad U.S., the transportation sector (which also includes planes, trains, and ships) accounts for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions, second in importance only to energy generation (34%). As developing nations rapidly expand their use of motorized vehicles, their greenhouse-gas profiles will increasingly resemble that of the U.S.

Until recently, diesel engines, which burn fuel more efficiently than petrol engines, have been pushed hard in many nations. However, it’s now understood that diesels, unless operating under optimal conditions, produce large amounts of heat-absorbing soot and toxic nitrogen oxides.

In what has evolved into a spectacular global scandal, German manufacturer Volkswagon even tweaked its software to produce falsely low emissions for its diesel cars under test conditions, while belching away on the road.

Try Not to Breathe

If you live in a big city, a good survival strategy is to hold your breath. This may not be viable for long periods of time but as a short-term approach it clearly has its benefits.

That’s because motorized vehicles are a massive source of urban air pollution, and especially of nano-particles that have been linked to maladies ranging from increased autoimmune diseases to cardiovascular disease.

In the car-mad U.S., the transportation sector (which also includes planes, trains, and ships) accounts for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions, second in importance only to energy generation (34%). As developing nations rapidly expand their use of motorized vehicles, their greenhouse-gas profiles will increasingly resemble that of the U.S.

Until recently, diesel engines, which burn fuel more efficiently than petrol engines, have been pushed hard in many nations. However, it’s now understood that diesels, unless operating under optimal conditions, produce large amounts of heat-absorbing soot and toxic nitrogen oxides.

Indeed, a 2014 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that, in the U.S., you’re considerably more likely to die from vehicle-related pollutants than from car crashes.

In developing nations, where pollution-reducing devices such as well-maintained catalytic converters and lead-free gasoline lag behind those in industrial nations, the human toll is likely to be even worse.

Roads Everywhere?

Possibly the worst impact of all those additional vehicles will be the new roads they require. It’s currently projected that, by 2050, the world will have another 25 million kilometers of paved roads — enough to encircle the planet more than 600 times.

Today, new roads are going virtually everywhere, including many of the world’s last surviving wild places. We build roads to log forests, to extract oil, gas and minerals, to defend our borders, to increase economic growth and trade, and to integrate our economies.

It would be one thing if we’d just build the roads, but they also open up wild areas to a Pandora’s box of environmental ills — ranging from increased wildlife poaching to elevated forest destruction, wildfire, illegal mining, and land speculation.

Globally, the frenetic expansion of roads is probably the single greatest threat to nature. Climate change is eroding ecosystems like an acid, but road expansion is battering away at them like a sledgehammer.

What Are We to Do?

How can we add another billion cars and not cost the Earth? Here are three suggestions.

First, we need to drive smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. In Europe, for instance, small and even tiny cars are increasingly the norm. There’s enormous scope for the U.S., Canada, Australia, and many other industrial and developing nations to move in this direction.

Second, we need to get a lot smarter about where we put roads. Roads should be avoided in remaining wilderness, sites with high biodiversity, and protected areas. ALERT researchers have been leading global efforts to map out where on Earth roads should and should not go (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), to maximize their social benefits while limiting their environmental costs.

Finally, we need to raise taxes on petroleum and add surcharges for petrol-guzzling vehicles. We can use those proceeds to improve public transportation and amenities such as bicycle lanes. There’s simply no rational reason that one human needs a Chevy pickup exceeding 2,000 kilograms to move around.

The bottom line: Unless we start thinking hard, we’ll soon be living in an increasingly noisy, polluted, and nature-deprived world where the din of 2 billion cars seems far more like a curse than a blessing.


25/12 2017

DIY Solar Drip Irrigation

Game-changing technology for dryland farmers in eastern Kenya

Brian Hilton and I met with Bernie Omodei earlier this year; Bernie is an Aussie entrepreneur who has developed a DIY solar-powered drip-irrigation system. Farmers in the Dutch government and World Vision Australia funded Drylands Development programme (see drydev.org), Kenya, have been experimenting with drip-irrigation but the tendency is to over-water, which is a BIG issue in dryland areas.

Bernie’s gear – see www.measuredirrigation.com – is not too expensive for small-scale farmers: AUD 200 gets you the base kit. A control pack linked to an evaporation pan allocates water depending on the plants’ needs. Valves turn on or off in synch with the conditions, whether the rain is falling or the sun is blazing.

World Vision Kenya, with the help of a local engineering student, installed two pilot kits last September with lead farmers to see how they would perform in the dryland context.

Mr Alphonse, a farmer near Mwala (in Machakos county), is using it to irrigate his maize and beans with a view to moving to high-value cabbage, tomatoes and watermelons if all goes to plan. While reviewing the system last Thursday, he asked me how much it cost, thinking to install another set. Even at this price, four other farmers in his producer group, called “Sweat is Sweet”, put up their hands saying they would take a loan to buy the system.

For Alphonse, it’s a game-changer: once set up, the system frees him up to concentrate on other tasks such as chicken-raising or small green-grocery, even for a week or longer.

Alphonse showing how his solar-powered pump delivers water from his farm pond to a tank for subsequent gravity-fed irrigation
Stephen explaining how his drip irrigation system applies water when necessary with no wasted water

A second farmer, Mr Stephen Kithusi, is using his system to produce watermelons. His plot is quite small, just 1/8 of an acre (approx. 500 m2), but is wall-to-wall seedlings planted into neat furrows. A 2,000 L tank mounted on a roof supplies water to the drippers by gravity feed, with daily application based on water loss (or gain) in Stephen’s evaporation pan.

The potential income of a watermelon crop is impressive: Stephen hopes to produce at least three fruit per plant, each one weighing 5-7 kg. Fruit from the 1,200 seedlings in his patch, fetching the market price of 25 Ksh per kg (approx. USD 0.25 c/kg), would provide income of around 450,000 Ksh (USD 4,500) after just 8-10 weeks’ growth. After deducting running costs, labour and input expenses, the profits remain very attractive for small-scale farmers who traditionally grew the staple crops of mung beans, maize and cowpeas.

The DryDev programme is offering to link Stephen with a market wholesaler that provides seeds, fertiliser inputs, and purchases the crop at a guaranteed market price, assisting with post-harvest logistics. The contract arrangement would give Stephen confidence to invest in his farm, such as installing a farm pond or ensuring he has sufficient tanks to deliver water by gravity-feed to his crops. He also thought such a contract arrangement would solve his marketing headache: even a small volume of watermelons or tomatoes that come into the small local market would force the price down. His family is also happy; securing a job outside the farm is no longer necessary.

Stephen’s watermelon crops after 4-weeks growth
“Sweat is Sweet” group examining Alphonse’s evaporation pan, which ensures water is applied depending on the ambient conditions

More on DIY Solar Drip Irrigation Kit

DIY Solar Drip Irrigation Kit
View/download report »

24/12 2017

2017 Boomerang Alliance Highlights

Boomerang Alliance Annual Report Queensland 2017 (Key Highlights)

Dear Friends,

Its been a significant year for our plastics and litter campaigns with a couple of long standing goals achieved. I would like to thank all of you for contributing to these important victories. With the plastic bag ban and CRS being introduced next July, we can expect a significant reduction in litter and waste, and a cleaner environment with less threats to wildlife. Importantly these schemes will put plastic pollution into public consciousness and encourage further community action.

Whilst we need to keep the pressure on in the lead up to the plastic bag ban and container refund scheme in July, we have also set up the next campaigns on plastic waste and litter, particularly single use, takeaway plastics. Two key initiatives are established, the first to get the State Government to agree on a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan for Queensland and the second to set up a Plastic Free Noosa community campaign, that could be replicated in communities across Queensland and elsewhere (Byron Shire Council are now interested in following the Noosa Campaign).

We have outlined the key highlights from 2017 below, and thank you once again for your great efforts this year. Together we have made a big difference.

Toby Hutcheon/Kellie Lindsay
Boomerang Alliance (QLD)

Plastic Bag Ban legislation

Our efforts to promote and get submissions on the Plastic Bag Discussion Paper (February) resulted in 26,000 submissions (95% positive). We succeeded in having biodegradable bags included in ban. The legislation (Sept) was passed unanimously with an amendment to increase bag thickness if required.

Container Refund Scheme

Similarly our efforts on the CRS Discussion Paper (March) resulted in 5000 submissions. As a Member of CRS Advisory Group we set an 85% recovery target for containers and established a not-for-profit company (PRO) to manage and fund the scheme. Legislation passed unanimously (Sept). Refund Point operators have an obligation to support community organisation donation points, as part of the collection network.

Community Engagement (PB /CRS)

BA led the Not-For-Profit Roundtable of the CRS. This brought together all the major NFP and community organisations to look at the benefits of the CRS. We also completed a regional community tour (QRT) to 20 regional centres in QLD. We have now had face-to-face meetings with over 600 representatives from community organisations on both plastic bags and the CRS. These include-Scouts and Guides, church groups, schools, Rotary, Lions, Boomerang Bags, Lifesavers, Meal on Wheels, Blue Care, community recyclers, sports clubs and catchment groups . We produced this video for the forums.


23/12 2017

2017 Good-news stories | The Conversation

The reappearance of the night parrot was one of the conservation stories of the year. Bruce Greatwich

Doom and gloom? Here are the environment stories that cheered us up in 2017

Don’t let anyone tell you we’re not a cheerful bunch here on the Environment + Energy desk – even if many of the stories we cover are a little on the gloomy side.

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Australian outback, and from Canberra to the White House, it’s been another less than stellar year for the environment.

That said, the soap opera over energy policy kept us pretty entertained in the meantime.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of positive, amazing and ridiculous stories out there. So for some festive cheer, here are some good news stories we covered in 2017, and a few more we would have liked to have had room for alongside the heatwaves and political hot air.

Parrots on a flyer

Rare parrots had some rare wins this year. A night parrot was photographed for the first time in Western Australia. For a bird that’s so secretive it was previously assumed by many people not to exist, that’s a solid result.

Meanwhile, scientists in Tasmania developed amazing automatic light-sensitive doors to protect the swift parrots’ nest boxes (the excellently named “possum-keeper-outer”).

Boxing clever. ANU
Keep out, sugar gliders. ANU

Yoghurt-pot-washers rejoice

If you’ve invested an inadvisable amount of your free time in washing scraps of food off cans, containers and bottles before tossing them straight into the recycling, then suffer no longer. In May we reported the exciting news that most recycling facilities can handle a bit of mess.

Our Facebook page rang to the joyous strains of readers gleefully telling their parents/partners/housemates to stop nagging and let them enjoy the sweet freedom from the tyrannical regime of spotless peanut butter jars.

Hoodwinked no longer

Have you ever discovered a never-before-seen fish species that can grow larger than a very large human? Of course you haven’t. But Murdoch University’s Marianne Nyegaard has.

Beachcombing: expert level. Marianne Nyegaard/Murdoch University

Starting with some tantalising DNA evidence that suggested there was a new species of sunfish somewhere out there, she embarked on a four-year detective mission. After a tip-off she eventually found four of them washed up on a beach near Christchurch, and named the species Mola tecta – the “hoodwinker sunfish” – in honour of its long-running disappearing trick.

When little kids say they want to be a marine biologist when they grow up, this is exactly what they mean.

We used some fancy new words

The interminable politicking over energy policy, including the Finkel Review and the National Energy Guarantee, made us want to pull our hair out at times. But look on the bright side: the endless debate brought previously obscure terms such as dispatchables, baseload, spinning reserve, inertia, and frequency control into common parlance.

As energy nerds, we’re super excited that all this stuff finally went mainstream in 2017. It’s made us so much more fun to talk to at parties. But after thinking about dispatchable energy all year, we kind of wish someone would dispatch us a stiff drink.

Whisky wonder

Speaking of which, it turns out that it’s possible to make a ten-year malt whisky in a matter of weeks, because chemistry loves us and wants us to be happy.

Swoop on this

Just as exciting is the news that you can make friends with your local magpies, with the help of some judiciously offered food. And because magpies are so smart, once you gain their trust they’ll remember you forever, with obvious benefits when swooping season rolls around.

They’re apparently partial to mince, and while it might seem eccentric to carry it around in your pockets, you’ll reap the rewards when the maggies aren’t making mincemeat out of your ears next spring.

Meanwhile, here are some other cheery developments we didn’t have space for this year.

Snow leopards on the comeback trail

A three-year survey that concluded in September found at least 4,000 snow leopards in the wild, moving the elusive big cats off the IUCN endangered list for the first time in 44 years.

While it’s not all sunshine – snow leopards are still considered “vulnerable” and face considerable challenges with poaching and habitat loss – population numbers aren’t declining as sharply as previously thought, and scientists say there could be as many as 10,000 prowling the Himalayas.

Snow leopards are bouncing back. Russell Cheyne//Reuters

I, for one, welcome our cephalopod overlords

In absolutely stunning footage, David Attenborogh’s Blue Planet II captured an octopus using shells to disguise itself from a shark. A dexterous animal using tools to outwit a more deadly predator? Sounds familiar.

When you combine this video with reports of dozens of octopuses crawling out of the ocean onto a British beach, it might be time to get worried. The good news is that they seem to be invading Wales first.

Noisy neighbours

Nature is cool, if not always quiet. Scientists described a kind of shrimp (named after Pink Floyd) that can kill its prey with concussive sound.

Meanwhile, another study found that orgies of Mexican fish are deafening dolphins. On reflection, this is probably only good news for the fish.

Noisy neighbours

Nature is cool, if not always quiet. Scientists described a kind of shrimp (named after Pink Floyd) that can kill its prey with concussive sound.

Meanwhile, another study found that orgies of Mexican fish are deafening dolphins. On reflection, this is probably only good news for the fish.

Check out this spider, man

Closer to home, and considerably more quiet, a new species of jumping spider has been found on the Cape York Peninsula.

What’s in a name? BushBlitz

The ConversationIn a fit of unwarranted optimism, the naming of this spider has been thrown open to the public. It’s a safe bet that most of the 700 submissions will turn out to be unprintable, improbable, or unimaginative variations on Spidey McSpideyface.


Madeleine De Gabriele, Deputy Editor: Energy + Environment, The Conversation and Michael Hopkin, Section Editor: Energy + Environment, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article


24/12 2017

Losing our underwater forests | The Conversation

Kelps form Australia’s neglected Great Southern Reef. John Turnbull - Author provided
November 15, 2016 8.58am AEDT | Adriana Vergés, UNSW | Peter Steinberg , UNSW | Thomas Wernberg, University of Western Australia

Underwater health check shows kelp forests are declining around the world

Kelp forests are declining around the world and in Australia, according to two new studies.

The first, a global study published in the journal PNAS, found that 38% of the world’s kelp forests have declined over the past 50 years.

The second, published in the same PNAS edition, investigated one cause of the declines. Kelp forests in eastern Australia are losing out to tropical species as the seas warm.

Together the studies show that we need local and global solutions to prevent our underwater forests from vanishing.

Deep trouble

Satirist Jordan Shanks recently argued that marine biologists may well have the worst job on Earth. Although most people think we spend our days diving in crystal-clear blue waters, spotting whales and sailing into the sunset, this is actually quite far from the truth.

More often than not, our job unfortunately involves documenting the depressing deterioration and decline of precious marine habitats.

While bleaching of coral reefs worldwide has been front and centre in the news over the past year, in fact all of our coastal ecosystems have been affected by human impacts.

One such ecosystem is the underwater forests formed by the large seaweeds known as kelp, which dominate temperate, coastal rocky shores worldwide.

Kelp forests are found in waters off all continents, and around Australia they form the Great Southern Reef which stretches from the Queensland border to near Kalbarri in Western Australia, and contributes more than A $10 billion annually to the Australian economy.

Although this year’s global coral bleaching event has been most featured in the media, we should be at least equally concerned about the loss of kelp forests in cooler waters.
Clockwise from top left: A. Vergés, Creative Commons, J. Turnbull, A. Vergés

A health check for global kelp forests

In the first study, the authors provide the first ever global “health check” for kelp forests. A team of international experts compiled and analysed a data set of kelp abundance at more than 1,000 sites across 34 regions around the globe.

While 38% of the world’s kelp forests have declined, it isn’t all bad news. Just over 25% of kelp forests have actually increased in abundance.

But there is another big problem: there are many regions where kelp exists, but we have no data and simply no idea how it’s doing.

A kelp forest in South Africa. The species Ecklonia maxima is one of the few kelps that are expanding its distribution. This species is ‘the giant cousin’ of the common kelp in Australia, Ecklonia radiata. T. Wernberg

Unfortunately, Australia’s kelp forests feature heavily among the declining populations. Kelp forests have declined in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales. The causes of this loss are diverse, but share a common factor: people.

In Western Australia kelp forests were wiped out during an extreme marine heatwave, which was probably a consequence of climate change. In South Australia, the kelp has succumbed to years of pollution from nutrient- rich wastewater.

And in Tasmania, warming has enabled a kelp-eating sea urchin to jump from the mainland and graze on local kelp forests. This was compounded by overfishing of large lobsters, which normally eat the urchins.

Turning Tropical

The second paper shows that a phenomenon known as “tropicalisation” of ecosystems is now threatening kelp forests in New South Wales, and potentially globally.

Tropicalisation occurs as ocean waters warm and tropical species start making a home in habitats previously dominated by cold-water species. In the case of NSW kelp forests, these tropical intruders are herbivorous fishes that eat the kelp – sometimes down to the ground.

Our initial research has shown that, over ten years, lush kelp forests have completely disappeared in some key offshore sites at the Solitary Islands Marine Park. This region is famous for bringing together a unique mosaic of tropical and temperate habitats, but our data clearly shows that tropical species are winning and starting to take over.

Screen grabs from Baited Remote Underwater Videos collected by Dr Hamish Malcolm, showing dense kelp beds back in the early 2000s that completely disappeared from 2010 onwards. Hamish Malcolm

We were able to quantify the year-by-year decline of kelp using a long-term video dataset collected by Hamish Malcolm from the NSW Department for Primary Industries.

The video footage revealed not only the gradual decline of kelp, but also helped us identify fish as central culprits behind this disappearance. Between 2002 and 2012, we saw both an increase in the number of fish bite marks on kelp and a clear rise in the abundance of warm-water seaweed-eating species.

We also ran a series of kelp transplant experiments, which identified two warm-water fish species that rapidly consumed transplanted kelp within hours: a rabbitfish and a drummer.

Interestingly, however, the species that we think had the greatest effect, surgeonfish, did not actually feed on the adult kelp. Instead, the surgeonfish rapidly consumed smaller carpet-forming seaweeds. This suggests these “tropicalising” fishes maintain deforested reefs by removing kelp while they are tiny, before they start making large fronds.

These NSW findings are by no means an isolated phenomenon. Voracious consumption by invading warm-water fish have also been linked to the loss or failure to recover of kelp forests in Japan and in Western Australia.

Frenzied feeding on transplanted kelp by a school of rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens) is only briefly interrupted by a large predator in the Solitary Islands, eastern Australia.

What can we do?

Both studies found a net decline in the abundance of kelp forests, from both local (nutrients, fishing) and global (ocean warming and its effects) effects of humans. If we want to arrest these declines, action is therefore required at both local and global scales.

Locally, water quality around some major cities has been improved. When coupled with active restoration efforts of damaged seaweeds, this can lead to conservation success stories like the return of crayweed forests to Sydney. Marine reserves, where fishing is prohibited, can also reduce the ability of warm-water species to colonise cooler habitats.

The ConversationBut of course, ultimately, global action is needed to prevent further climate change impacts. That includes reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions, in Australia and around the world.


Adriana Vergés, Senior Lecturer in marine ecology, UNSW; Peter Steinberg, Director of SIMS and Co-director of CMB, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW, and Thomas Wernberg, ARC Future Fellow in Marine Ecology, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article …


19/12 2017

ANUHD Survey

Australian Network for Universal Housing DesignDear ANUHD supporters

Thank you for your ongoing support towards more accessible and inclusive housing.

Boy in wheelchair and carersPlease take 5 minutes to complete this survey.

We have had a tremendous response already, but we need more!

Could you please forward this survey through your networks? Thank you.

COAG's 2010-2020 National Disability Strategy committed to support the National Dialogue for Universal Housing Design's goal that all new homes will be of an agreed livable design standard by 2020

At the direction of the Building Ministers Forum, the Australian Building Codes Board is assessing the need to regulate for livability in all new housing in the National Construction Code.

This survey will help to identify:

  • the difficulties in finding livable housing
  • the cost and benefit to Australian Society in providing livable features in all new housing; and
  • the features that should be in a livable standard for all new housing.
Take the survey »

19/12 2017

Say no to overseas fishing fleets in Australian waters

Friends

Australia’s borders were closed to overseas fishing fleets more than 20 years ago, after decades of devastating overfishing.

But it has just been revealed in Parliament that Australia’s commercial fishing industry is in talks with the Australian Government about allowing overseas fleets into our waters. And at the same time, the Turnbull Government is trying to strip back the sanctuaries in the marine parks where these vessels might operate.

Say NO to overseas fishing fleets in Australian waters »

Opening Australian waters to cheap distant-water fishing fleets would be bad for marine life, bad for local fishing communities and bad for recreational fishers.

The Turnbull Government’s plan to remove almost half of Australia’s marine sanctuaries leaves important areas at risk from industrial scale fishing: offshore from the iconic Kimberley and Ningaloo; offshore from the tourism meccas Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; and alarmingly, possibly in our Coral Sea – the cradle to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government has confirmed under questioning in Parliament that it is in talks to allow overseas vessels into Australia's waters.

Bringing in overseas fleets would have little to no benefit to Australia’s economy or regional communities, with the fish being caught by overseas owned boats and crews, and sold into distant markets. It would come at a great cost to local fishing communities and recreational fishers, while putting more pressure on vulnerable fish species, as well as a huge increase in bycatch of other marine life, such as seabirds, sharks and turtles.

Together, we stopped the Supertrawler. And together we can stop this – for our marine life and local communities. Please take a moment to sign the petition today.

Thank you for all that you do.

With the Save Our Marine Life Alliance


19/12 2017

Environment funding slashed!

The programs hardest hit by funding cuts are those designed to maintain biodiversity by protecting ecosystems and shrinking animal and plant populations. Photograph: Michael Hall/Getty Images

Environment funding slashed by third since Coalition took office

Exclusive: WWF and ACF analysis shows Turnbull government plans to reduce environment spending to less than 60% of 2013-14 budget

Spending on environment department programs, monitoring and staff has been slashed by nearly a third since the Coalition won the election in 2013, with deeper cuts promised into next decade.

While the federal budget has expanded by $36bn since Tony Abbott took office, funding for the environment has been cut by nearly half a billion dollars so far, an analysis by two conservation groups found.

While the government allocated $1.4bn to environmental funding in the 2013-14 budget, there was a 30.2% drop in the 2016/17 budget down to $980m. It fell again in the 2017/18 budget to $945m. By 2020-21, the final year of the forward estimates period in May’s budget papers, the Turnbull government plans to have reduced environment spending to less than 60% of 2013-14 figure. The estimated amount to be spent in the 2020-21 budget will be $825m.

Federal spending trajectory

Among the programs hardest hit are those designed to maintain biodiversity by protecting shrinking animal and plant populations and ecosystems. Their funding is to be cut in half across the eight years.

The cuts are planned to continue despite the government’s five-yearly State of the Environment report finding in March there was insufficient public support for environmental management and restoration programs. The report found climate change was altering the structure and function of natural ecosystems, and parts of Australia’s natural estate were in poor or deteriorating condition.

Areas under pressure include the heavily populated coast, some urban growth corridors and land-use zones where grazing and invasive species are threatening biodiversity.

The budget analysis was set out in a submission to government by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and WWF Australia. ACF economist Matt Rose said it suggested the Coalition placed little value on environmental protection.

The government has no idea how important the environment is to the wellbeing of Australia, the Australian people, the economy and our sense of who we are, he said.

Rose said while government ministers in some portfolios built influence by arguing for greater resources for their department, allowing them to deliver positive outcomes, the opposite had been true for environment minister Josh Frydenberg and his immediate predecessor, Greg Hunt

We should judge any environment minister, from any political party, on whether the health of the environment is better when they left the portfolio than when they were appointed, he said.

We’re seeing rising carbon emissions, we’re seeing unprecedented land-clearing, we’re seeing threatened species declining with many on track to go extinct, and we’re seeing less funding for people to get out there and build fences, do weeding and re-vegetate landscapes.

Proportional federal spending on environment and biodiversity

Frydenberg responded that, on a per capita basis, Australia’s emissions were at their lowest level in 27 years due to a “strong suite of policies”. This included reducing potent hydrofluorocarbons, the Emissions Reduction Fund that pays businesses and farmers to make carbon dioxide cuts, a renewable energy target and a national energy efficiency plan.

He listed several environmental programs the government had funded: a $2bn Great Barrier Reef 2050 plan; the introduction of a national threatened species strategy overseen by a dedicated commissioner; an Antarctic program with a secure future that included new facilities on Macquarie Island and a replacement icebreaker.

We have … maintained environmental standards while reducing red tape with a one-stop shop for environmental assessments, the minister said.

According to the analysis, environment department spending will be 0.16% of the total budget by 2020-21.

The year may be coming to an end, but we're ready to keep fighting.

The biggest cut in recent years was to a $946m biodiversity fund – a grant program funded by carbon price revenue introduced by Labor in 2011 to “maintain ecosystem function and increase ecosystem resilience to climate change”. Then prime minister Kevin Rudd slashed it by $213m in July 2013 and the Coalition shut it later that year. Only about a third of the initial promised sum was spent.

In 2014-15, the Coalition also cut $471m over four years from the long-running Landcare program, which funds work on local projects tackling land degradation. Most of that money was to be redirected to environmental works by Abbott’s $525m green army, made up of young volunteers and the unemployed, until it was announced last year that program would also be shut down.

About $225m of green army funding was reclaimed as a budget saving, and $100m went back to Landcare under a deal with the Greens in return for their support for a backpacker tax.

Landcare has taken a 33% annual funding cut. It once received $1bn over four years. From 2019, it will get the same sum over six years.

The environment group analysis does not include funding for climate change and energy programs because they were in a different department under the Abbott government but have subsequently been brought under Frydenberg’s environment and energy umbrella. And it does not include work by the states or federal government agencies, including Parks Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The two environmental groups called for a significant boost in environmental investment in the 2018-19 budget. They called for a new $1.1bn environment fund to boost threatened species recovery, support the expansion and management of protected areas and improve Great Barrier Reef water quality.

Other suggestions included an independent statutory authority to enforce national environmental laws and expanded scientific research into long-term bushfire mitigation strategies.

Read the story with additional resources in »


16/12 2017

Thoroughly Deserved Award

20 November 2017

Dear Frank Ondrus, HOPE Inc. (Australia)

Recognition of lifetime contribution towards Sustainable Development Goals

I write to congratulate you on being unanimously decided by a panel of 8 committee members (SDG team) from United Nations Association Queensland, to be recognised as an inaugural Unsung Hero for the Sustainable Development Goal themes in 2017

UNAAQ has a long history of community awards where everyday people achieve extraordinary things by providing positive impacts for many vulnerable peoples, sensitive environments and intricate systems in which we live. A copy of last year’s UNAAQ community champions are attached for your information.

In 2017, we are transitioning as a result of international reforms and local evolutions, necessary to tackle emerging issues and complex problems facing our decisions for the future for planetary wellbeing. So, this means that UNAAQ roles are becoming evident in every one of the seventeen sustainable development goals, and at the intersection of (1) Safer world - UN Declaration 1946; (2) Fairer world - Human Rights Declaration of 1948; and (3) Sustainable World - Earth Charter of 2002. However, from the complex set directions, law, indicators and performance targets emerge 4 themes that acknowledge your lifelong contribution:

  1. Human Rights suite: SDG 1,2,3,4,5,6
  2. New Economy suite: 7,8,9,10,11,12
  3. Environmental Stewardship suite: 13,14,15
  4. Governance suite: 16 & 17

You have been nominated for proper recognition as a champion. We invite you to be our guest on this special day (11 December 11.30 until 3.30 pm @ Treasury Heritage Hotel 130 William St Brisbane).

We ask you to speak for 5 minutes during the proceedings to provide inspiration and your formulae for resilience during your lifetime contribution to a better world. The SDG panel is compiling a booklet containing highlights of your life. We seek your feedback on those draft words mindful of the word-count for the printed booklet. Furthermore, we wish to capture your spoken words on video and ask that you grant permission to film, edit and show on u-tube on our national website.

Thank you for your selfless leadership. Congratulations and we look forward to enjoying this special event together. Should you have any concerns please contact me anytime on 0432 978 230.

Yours faithfully,

Donnell Davis, President – UNAA Qld

View/download letter »

17/12 2017

Stop off-shore processing!

Dear Friend of Humanity,

For the men, women and children imprisoned on Manus and Nauru, the end of this year marks another terrible milestone — 2018 will be the fifth year our government has held them in torturous limbo, keeping their families torn apart, refusing to free them.

And while Peter Dutton had the audacity this week to say he wants people off Manus and Nauru "as quickly as possible", it's clear he wants to keep their future as uncertain as ever.1

But, after years of bipartisan support for the offshore detention regime, something is shifting in Australian politics — and if we want 2018 to be the year the regime finally falls, it's an opportunity we can't ignore.

Since the Manus camp was violently emptied, pollies have been breaking ranks — all because the pressure from their voters has been too huge to ignore. This could be the beginning of something big — but only if we keep building this public pressure on MPs. And we know just how to reach them.

With Parliament wrapped for the year, MPs are returning home for the summer — and they'll be looking to their local communities to set their priorities for the coming year. If we can fill local media with the voices of everyday people showing our support for the men on Manus and the families in Nauru, we can make sure it's at the top of the agenda when politicians return to parliament.

Can you take a minute to write a letter to the editor of your local paper calling on your MP to evacuate the camps and bring people to safety now?

Writing a letter to the editor – from the heart and as a constituent – is powerful. Not only that, it's easy!

Imagine your MP sitting down for their morning coffee and, day after day, reading letters from their constituents in the local paper, outraged at the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru.

Letters from constituents calling for the government to evacuate the camps. Letters telling individual MPs to help bring the men, women and children imprisoned on Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia, while resettlement deals are organised. Letters demanding action.

MPs use locals papers as a barometer for their electorate. So this is how we'll keep the heat on them over the summer.

We'll remind them of the men imprisoned on Manus, forcibly removed and dragged by PNG police to 'fresh, new detention centres' as the world watched on in horror.2

The new places of indefinite detention with intermittent water and power, not enough food and local Manusians furious at the Australian government for abandoning 600 refugees on their small island.3,4

We'll remind them of the hundreds still imprisoned on Nauru – where whistleblowers continue to come forward with accounts of abuse, neglect and government interference.5 Where Dutton has awarded a lucrative, multi-million dollar contract to run the camp to an inexperienced construction and engineering company from Brisbane, unable to find anyone else to take the toxic contract.6

Can you take a minute right now to write a letter to the editor of your local paper calling on your MP to act?

If we inundate local papers across the country with letters from constituents, MPs will know exactly how their electorate feels about the situation on Manus and Nauru.

The year may be coming to an end, but we're ready to keep fighting.

Thanks for speaking up,

Shen, Aurora and Renaire for the GetUp team

References

  • [1] Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Doorstop Interview Transcript, 11 December 2017.
  • [2] Manus Island: PNG authorities say they have cleared detention centre, all men bused out, ABC, 25 November 2017
  • [3] Manus Island: 60 refugees to be moved to Port Moresby for US interviews, The Guardian, 8 December 2017.
  • [4] 'I will kill you': video contradicts Peter Dutton's claim refugees were lying, The Guardian, 11 December 2017.
  • [5] Worse Than A War Zone: The Life-Threatening Medical Delays In Australia's Immigration Detention Regime, Buzzfeed, 31 October 2017.
  • [6] Engineering firm slammed for taking 'toxic' Nauru contract, SBS, 20 October 2017

16/12 2017

Stop delaying national air pollution standards

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are dangerous toxins that pollute local communities when coal is burned at power stations.

Repeated or prolonged exposure to even moderate concentrations of SO2 can cause inflammation of the respiratory tract, wheezing and lung damage.

Exposure to low levels of NOx can irritate eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and lead to coughing, shortness of breath, tiredness and nausea. Breathing high levels of NOx can cause rapid burning, spasms and swelling of tissues in the throat and upper respiratory tract, reduced oxygenation of tissues and a build-up of fluid in the lungs.

Australia’s first national air pollution standards were adopted in 1998. After 20 years, the standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are being revised.

The process involves all nine Australian state, territory and Commonwealth governments and is being led by the Victorian Government.

But the process has stalled.

Read about this in The Guardian

It’s been two years since governments announced the standards would be reviewed.

And we have just learnt that standards are unlikely to be decided on until 2020!

This is not because the process has been shelved, but because under our current system that’s how long it takes for all nine governments to agree on what should happen.

This is unacceptable

A number of Australian communities are exposed daily to harmful levels of NOx and SO2. In particular, communities living in the shadow of coal-fired power stations cop a lot of pollution – coal power stations are the single biggest source of SO2 and NOx in Australia.

On Friday, Environmental Justice Australia and the University of Melbourne’s Lung Health Research Centre brought together leading experts on air pollution and health to deliberate and tell governments what civil society thinks the standards should be.

It only took half a day for Australia’s leading experts to agree that:

  • Sulfur dioxide standards should be brought in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations which are one tenth Australia’s current standards (a one-hour average of 7.6 parts per billion)
  • Standards for oxides of nitrogen should be consistent with international best practice
  • Air pollution standards set by Australian governments should provide an incentive for polluters to minimise toxic pollution (one model is the Load Based Licencing system adopted by the New South Wales Government)
  • The current process of negotiating national standards between all governments must be replaced with Commonwealth standards set by an independent national Environment Protection Authority.

If we can do it in half a day, governments can do it in 2018.

The process for setting national standards is failing Australian communities. Australians are being exposed to unacceptable levels of pollutants causing death and disease while governments go through their bureaucratic nightmare processes.

Take action

Please join with us to tell all state governments to fast track the setting of strong NOx and SO2 standards so they come into force next year. 2018.

And call for the Commonwealth step in and make laws to allow an independent national EPA to set science-based standards that are binding on all governments.

Send a letter to the relevant Minister in your State or Territory »

More info

Read more about sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in EJA’s fact sheet.

Read this story from Guardian Australia: Delays causing needless exposure to dangerous toxins in Australia.

Please use the Share, Tweet and Forward links below to get your friends and family involved too.

Facebook Twitter Mail

Or share our Twitter and Facebook posts.


14/12 2017

PLEASE TAKE URGENT ACTION WITH US

The Queensland Government is ready to extinguish Wangan Jagalingou native title for Adani

Friends,

This is urgent!

The Queensland Government is ready to extinguish our Native Title rights.

Adani is trying to push through an illegitimate land use agreement and extinguish our native title, and the Government signed it off. We have a Federal Court case to challenge it in March, and have filed for an injunction to prevent them moving to extinguish our rights before then.

We asked the Government to promise that they wouldn’t act to extinguish our native title until the Federal Court heard our case. And they just refused.

That means they could move to extinguish our native title rights at any time.

And with Minister Anthony Lynham back in his seat, we expect him and Adani to act before our hearing, and slam native title extinguishment through!

Our native title rights are hanging in the balance. This is a race against time.

PLEASE TAKE URGENT ACTION WITH US.

Write to or call Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, and Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, and demand they respect the judicial process and refuse to act to extinguish any Wangan and Jagalingou native title before the injunction is dealt with this week and the court hears our case against the ILUA in March:

Premier Palaszczuk- (07) 3719 7000 - thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

Deputy Premier Trad - (07) 3719 7100 - deputy.premier@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Minister Lynham - (07) 3719 7360 - sdnrm@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Please share this widely - send it to as many people as you can. We must let the Government know that any credit they get for vetoing the loan to Adani will be wiped out if they extinguish Wangan and Jagalingou peoples’ native title for Adani’s mine on our country.

Thank you for being there for us at this urgent time.

Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson
with Linda Bobongie (Chairperson)
for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council

Please continue to donate to our Defence of Country fund or purchase the Adani, No Means No t-shirt when you can to support our struggle

P.S.share your communication to the Government with us - copy us or let us know on info@wanganjagalingou.com.au


12/12 2017

Alternative Technology Association (ATA) News

We all want more renewable energy in Australia, but how easy would it be to go all the way - 100% renewable - by 2030?

The Alternative Technology Association's (ATA) new report 100% Renewables by 2030 lays out all the issues and concludes a 100% renewable electricity grid is more than possible in just over a decade.

This Christmas, we are asking all our members and stakeholders to Give the Gift of Light, ensuring the ATA can continue the important work of installing solar-powered lighting and training solar technicians in East Timor.

Watch our video made recently of the work we do in East Timor - in 2017 we installed 185 solar systems, benefiting about 3000 people in villages without electricity.

The ATA has a new solar advice service. With summer a great time for solar, you can get free online advice on the best options for solar and batteries for your home from our experts.

The latest issue of Sanctuary Magazine is about to be released. It's the Renovations and Additions Special, with profiles of nine remarkable sustainable renovations. Make sure you have your copy!

And we're proud of our work with the Lord Mayor's Foundation in boosting renewable energy at not-for-profit organisations, helping them keep energy costs down while reducing carbon emissions.

100% renewables by 2030

Wind farmThe ATA's new report, 100% Renewable Grid by 2030, says Australia can run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. It can be achieved by accelerating wind and solar power installation by 80% with pumped hydro energy storage and extra transmission lines. Read more …

Give the Gift of Light

Electrical workersBy giving the Gift of Light this Christmas, you help the ATA continue our work installing solar-powered lighting and training solar technicians in villages without electricity in East Timor. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible

New solar advice service

Rooftop solar panelsThe ATA's new free online solar advice service gives you independent advice on the best options for grid-connected solar and batteries for your home in your location, including costs, likely bill savings and payback times. Click here for more info.

Alternative Technology Association (ATA) » ATA e-Newsletter online »

11/12 2017

2018 Bimblebox Nature Refuge Calendar

First Galilee Basin and Bimblebox Calendar

Hi Bimblebox Supporters,

Our Alliance’s members are always flat strap, so we are ‘late’ to introduce the 2018 Bimblebox Nature Refuge Calendar, but here it is:

This is the first time for us to give a calendar a go and depending if it’s feasible, we would like to keep a series going. Let’s see how we go this time!

The calendar has a message from me, photos of flora and fauna of Bimblebox and a sample of artwork (in pictures) of the Bimblebox artists. Thanks to the Bimblebox Art Nature Science Camp artists of the past 5 years who sent many pictures to choose from, to Maureen Cooper for taking on the project and for our editing team's suggestions.

Our calendar can be purchased using the online form at https://bimblebox.org/bimblebox-nature-refuges-first-calendar/ or through the following outlets:

  • Green Grocer, 144 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane, 07 3844 7961;
  • The Wilderness Society, 67 Boundary Street, South Brisbane, 07 3846 1420;
  • RFT Sheds, 65 Churchill Street, Post Office Complex, Childers (Walk up café ramp and turn right), Mara Rogers, 0400 672 560, PO Box 724, Childers, QLD, 4660; and
  • Mackay Conservation Group Environment Centre, 156 Wood St, Mackay, Queensland 4740, 07 4953 0808.

Thank you and Buon Anno,
Paola Cassoni
President, The Bimblebox Alliance Inc
Bimblebox Nature Refuge
Alpha, Queensland 4724
bimblebox@gmail.com | https://bimblebox.org/.


11/12 2017

Message from Queensland Conservation Council

Majority Palaszczuk Labor government needs to act swiftly to protect Queensland's nature

Peak environment group the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) has offered its congratulations to Annastacia Palaszczuk on her re-election as Premier of Queensland, and on the return of her Labor government to power in Queensland.

Labor has been formally returned to government, this time with a clear Parliamentary majority and a clear mandate on a number of key conservation issues.

We congratulate Premier Palaszczuk on the re-election of her government, and her own return to the top political office in the state, said Dr Tim Seelig head of the Queensland Conservation Council.

Labor has the strongest suite of environmental policy commitments we have ever seen. And it now has a majority in Parliament to deliver.

We support Labor’s stated intent to build on its record of environmental protection over this term, and its commitment to a Queensland that ‘protects our wildlife habitat, our climate and our beautiful reef’.

QCC very much welcomed Labor’s publicly announced election commitments on issues such as land clearing, and its written commitments provided to us during the 2017 state election.

Land clearing is an issue that requires urgent action, given the risk of so-called ‘panic clearing’ (accelerated bushland destruction) by landholders, ahead of Parliament being convened and the opportunity to re-introduce stronger legislation.

We have urged the Premier to take all available immediate measures to prevent panic clearing across Queensland, and to use this opportunity to remind land holders that Labor has committed to a $500 million program of land restoration to support retention of woodlands.

This program complements the action we expect in the first one hundred days of government to pass stronger land clearing laws and policy measures to reduce clearing rates, protect native wildlife and woodland habitats, and avoid run-off into the Great Barrier Reef.

Labor also identified a series of priorities including addressing Queensland’s land clearing crisis, the need for ongoing expansion of renewable energy and stronger measures to address climate change, support for regional and statewide biodiversity and landscape/rivers protection, and reviewing and enhancing Queensland’s environmental regulation regimes.

QCC has also indicated that it will continue to advocate on matters it believes the government can do much better on, including the future of fossil fuels extraction and use in Queensland, and transformation of the state’s economy to a far more sustainable, far less environmentally harmful one.

Dr Tim Seelig, QCC Coordinator
Queensland Conservation Council
9/10 Thomas Street, West End, QLD 4101
Email: tim.seelig@qldconservation.org.au

View/download media release »

09/12 2017

Livable housing design

Australian Network for Universal Housing DesignAustralian Building Codes Board to consider regulation for access in housing.

Regardless of who we are, we want to belong, and to participate in family and community life. We need our homes to be designed and built from the start so that people, throughout their lives, can stay in their homes and visit their friends.

These homes include key “liveable” features that make them easier and safer to use by everyone: including, people with disability, older people, people with temporary injuries, their carer’s and families with young children. Liveable features include a step-free entry, corridors and doorways that allow for unimpeded movement throughout the home, and a bathroom and toilet that are safe and easy to use.

In response to the advocacy for more inclusive and age-friendly communities, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) encouraged the housing industry to change their design and building practices to include these features. They set a target of all new housing providing an agreed liveable standard by 2020.

Not surprisingly, this voluntary approach failed. In October 2017, COAG, through the Building Ministers’ Forum, directed the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to assess the impact of regulation for liveable design in all new housing through the National Construction Code

It is critical that the ABCB consider the costs and benefits not only for the housing industry but also for those who live and visit the homes throughout the dwelling’s life, and for those who provide services and supports to people who want to remain at home.

The ABCB expect to release a discussion paper in early 2018, and to commence the Regulatory Impact Assessment by mid-2018. If you would like to contribute to this process, please complete this 5-minute survey.

Dr Margaret Ward PSM, Convenor, Australian Network for Universal Housing DesignAuthor:
Dr Margaret Ward PSM
Convenor, Australian Network for Universal Housing Design

View/download article » Take the survey »

10/12 2017

Review - Dan Bielich

Review of "Ecologists protest Australia’s plans to cut funding for environment-monitoring network" article

Theo Allofs/Getty Images
Field sites in the Simpson Desert are part of Australia's Long Term Ecological Research Network.

The paper states that the Long-Term Research Network (LTERN) funding will be cut in the next budget with the goal to re-invest money into the government’s Environmental Prediction System (EPS). The LTERN is a network that utilises multiple sites all over Australia to identify and track the changes of the ecological state of Australia’s flora and fauna over time, so far collecting over 75 years of data. However, due to predicted budget cuts and threats of the network closing-down, the collected data will not be utilised and would be practically wasted. Incomplete data sets are classed as very poor data sources. After reading this article, I can understand the frustration of the ecological community. So, was the government’s decision to invest in the EPS and cutting funding to the LTERN the right decision? We must firstly evaluate the practicality of a large prediction system.

Currently there are no systems that can accurately predict anything as complex as the weather, let alone the entire environment. The environment is a continuously dynamic system, and there are simply too many variables and inter-relationships that we are currently not aware of, to accurately predict environmental changes. Even after synthesis of this data, there are still high discrepancies, variation and outliers, which results in high levels of uncertainty. This uncertainty is the primary reasoning behind poor, and slow political decisions making. The only feasible method of prediction is through long term analysis of primary data, which is exactly what the TEFN was conducting.

The primary funding entity behind the EPS is the Australian Government. In my personal opinion, I don’t believe the government is a reliable institution to rely on for accurate, and dependable environmental results. Results can be easily manipulated, misread, misinterpreted or discredited, depending on the results of predictions/analysis. If results are in any way presented as certain that will create doubt in the minds of the uneducated, and media manipulated public.

This project in itself is a type of investment. We are already forced to invest in a governing body that utilises tax payer’s funds for obsolete methods of decision making and the unnecessary debate. For example, the current raging debate on the energy and energy prices, in which the government clearly does not take into account the scientific opinion, it has paid for. So how can we then rely on the government to provide the public with accurate environment results, that have allegedly come from this government run and funded EPS? The simple answer, is we cannot with the current level of governance and the political climate where lobbyists interest overrides common and scientific sense.

Australia’s ecological health is fundamental in identifying how Australia’s flora and fauna will adapt to the changing climate. With already 75 years of data, it is devastating to see that the research will be abandoned. This funding cut is one of hundreds that have quietly occurred across the country in the environmental sector. Currently, the public may not realise the severity of this decision. As in the short term, there is no direct repercussion for most people. However, in 50 years when it is too late, will we realise how much we should have done something 50 years ago. Unfortunately, this is one of the virtues of the anthropogenic species.

Funding of a body such as EPS, crucial for the future of Australia, needs to be independent and run by scientists who have been educated in this subject, and are familiar with the decades of research and know exactly the necessary methodologies and techniques to identify the gradual changes in the environment.

Ultimately, what is needed is an environmental committee on a federal level that debates and questions all changes in legislation and funding that is concerned with the environment. This committee should contain scientists, researchers and environmental officers within the industry with multiple years of experience. So that in cases such as these, the aim and justification behind the alterations in budget could be discussed, to compare the positives and negatives repercussion of the decision. Following this, a vote should be casted based on this comparison. This would allow budget allocation to be correctly distributed to different scientific groups depending on the priority of the topic.

The environment is not a side issue that can be dealt with the implementation of tokenistic half measures. It is increasingly becoming a crucial issue and as such requires a serious and stringent scientific approach. Only this will ensure the dissemination of accurate information and return the trust into the environment related decision by any government.

View article on Nature » View/download Review »

24/11 2017

International Volunteer Day

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Householders.Options.to.Protect.the.Environment
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

International Volunteer dayInternational Volunteer Day:
5th December 2017

Volunteers – where would we be without that unsung army of people who regularly give of their time, energy and expertise to help others in so many different ways, many of which go unnoticed? If you’ve ever been a volunteer, you’ll know how good it can make you feel to give back and help others. In fact, altruism and volunteering have been proven to be a major way to increase the happiness of a person’s life – there is something about freely giving to others which gives a deeper sense of purpose and meaning to our lives, thereby increasing our happiness and level of satisfaction. And if you’ve never been a volunteer, than now might be the time to start! International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 and is celebrated each year on 5th December as a way to bring focus to the work of volunteers and to encourage everyone to give it a try.

There is a hugely diverse range of ways to volunteer, and you can find an opportunity to volunteer in almost any field or interest area. Householder’s Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) is always seeking people with an interest in environmental issues to help with their mission of educating people in environmental awareness and action, so if you’ve been thinking that you’d like to do more to help the environment then now, with International Volunteer Day just around the corner, is a great time to start.

To connect with HOPE go to www.hopeaustralia.org.au; or to find another opportunity to volunteer your time, go to www.volunteeringaustralia.org, to find a way to improve both your own and someone else’s life. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Happy volunteering!


20/11 2017

Help put the spotlight on Queensland's land clearing crisis

Help Protect our Woods and Wildlife

As you know, Queensland has a state election in one week's time, and you can help get us the message out further about land clearing.

Land clearing of Queensland’s woodlands and forests is out of control again. An area the size of 550,000 soccer pitches was cleared in just one year in Queensland. Every second in Queensland, a tree is bulldozed and a native animal dies as a consequence of land clearing. This has to stop. But we need your help to make this happen.

One thing we can do right now is put the spotlight on this land clearing crisis: greater community awareness of the problem will create more pressure on political parties to commit to stronger laws.

We have had a video advertisement made about it being time for action. But now we need to place the video ad onto digital sites. And the election is only a week away, so we need to move quickly.

Will you help us get this out as far and wide as possible into the community?

You can support our new crowdfunding effort to get the ad onto online news sites. Please make a donation today towards an ad buy.

You can also help share the video ad on Facebook or on YouTube to your friends, family, colleagues and networks.

With your help, we can make sure Queenslanders understand the need for stronger land clearing laws, and have their voices heard.

Thank you for all you do to protect nature.

Tim

Tim Seelig, Coordinator
Queensland Conservation Council


HOPE Greeting & Invitation

Merry Christmas

May this greeting find you and yours in good spirits, ready to celebrate the gifts of peace and joy with friends and loved ones.

The 2017-2018 HOPE team

invites you to
join us at Toowoomba City Golf Club
254 South Street, Toowoomba
on

Monday, 11 December at 6.30pm

for a meal and social gathering.

RSVP by 8 December to:
HOPE office by email office@hopeaustralia.org.au

Brief reminder:

The office will be closed over the Christmas – New Year period
from 5pm Friday 22 December 2017;
and will reopen at 9am on Monday 8 January 2018.

View/download invitation »

20/11 2017

CSIRO PUBLISHING | New Environment Titles

Welcome to the latest Environment catalogue featuring a range of key books on various environmental topics, including recent releases, Environmental History and Ecology of Moreton Bay, Social Science and Sustainability, and forthcoming release, Lake Eyre Basin Rivers.

View the Environment catalogue here.

Have you seen our Gift Ideas catalogue? With the holidays just around the corner, we've put together a selection of some our favourite new titles, including children's books, field guides, gardening titles and more. View the Gift Ideas catalogue here.

We'll also be at Systematics 2017 in Adelaide and EcoTAS in the Hunter Valley in late November, so if you're planning to attend these conferences, pop by to talk to us about any of our titles and journals.

For more titles, browse or search our online catalogue.


20/11 2017

Nation Parks Association Queensland (NAPQ) News

Items from - Issue 67: Week beginning November 13, 2017

Queensland election commitments

The upcoming election outcome could be significant for Queensland's national parks and the state's biodiversity. Below is a summary of our understanding of commitments made by the parties to date, in no particular order, that we have gleaned from the party websites.

In collating these we have been very specific in our search and we have not noted where parties are silent on an issue.

The following are NPAQ's election requests:

  • Merge QPWS with EHP for alignment of values.
  • Additional $20 million/year for national park managem
  • $59 million/year for 5 years for additional strategic national parks for expansion of the estate to address the vast and pressing gaps in ecosystem and species protection.
  • Explore potential “easy wins” for additional national park estate such the transition of State Forests to NP in the Sandstone belt.

We encourage members and supporters to follow party announcements as voting day draws near and express your views to your Member of Parliament.

Daintree National Park Draft Management Plan

As mentioned previously, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) recently released a Draft Management Plan for Daintree National Park.

Submissions closed on Friday 10 November.

NPAQ has made a submission, and we will keep you informed of any updates.

Read the Daintree National Park Draft Management Plan here »

Management plans for marine parks - update

An incredible 80,000 submissions were made to the Federal Government, in response to the draft plans for our suspended National Network of Marine Parks around Australia! The plans had proposed to strip back 50% of Australia’s marine sanctuary coverage around the nation.

It’s worth noting that the 80,000 submissions in support of marine sanctuaries included at least 10,000 submissions from recreational fishers.

The Director of National Parks and Parks Australia are now considering the results of the consultation and will use them to help prepare final management plans. The final plans will then be handed to the Minister for the Environment and Energy for consideration and approval.

Around the same time, the Director of National Parks also sought public consultation for a proposal to rename 58 marine reserves to marine parks.

Australia is one of seven countries responsible for more than half of global biodiversity loss

According to a study published in Nature science journal on 25th October 2017, Australia is one of seven countries responsible for more than half of global biodiversity loss.

Scientists investigated the changes in conservation status of species listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, between 1996 and 2008. The IUCN red list determines the conservation status according to how close a species is to becoming extinct.

They calculated a reduction in biodiversity, where a species had their IUCN red list status upgraded during that period. That may mean a change from "least concern" to "threatened", or "vulnerable" to "endangered".

Once you actually work out [which country] might have been responsible for the loss of diversity, Australia is standing there at number two, lead author Dr Anthony Waldron said.

I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn't realise things were getting worse so quickly.

Endangered seabird discovery on Raine Island breaks 30 year record

For the first time in 30 years, researchers can confirm one of the country’s rarest seabirds has bred in Australia.

Environment Minister Steven Miles announced the discovery of a Herald petrel (Pterodroma heraldica) chick during the latest Raine Island Recovery Project research field trip.

In June, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) staff found an adult Herald petrel taking care of a single egg in a nest, Mr Miles said.

When the project team returned to the island in August, they were thrilled to discover a healthy-looking chick had hatched

Raine Island is the only known Herald petrel breeding site in Australia.

The seabird is listed as endangered in Queensland under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and critically endangered in Australia under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Read the Minister's Statement »

Bunya Mountains’ popular picnic site gets makeover

A $330,000 upgrade of visitor facilities at Bunya Mountains’ popular Dandabah picnic site has been completed ahead of the school summer holidays. This is the first major upgrade to the park since 1991.

The upgrades include better BBQs and picnic tables, resurfaced paths, and a newly-refurbished pedestrian bridge.

The park information centre has also been revamped, with panels about Indigenous history and culture, fauna and flora, and geology.

Bunya Mountains National Park is the state’s first park of substantial size. It was declared in 1908, immediately after the declaration of Witches Falls at Mt Tamborine, Queensland’s first national park.

Read more »
Loads more on Neck of the Woods »

13/11 2017

How To Make Your Business Green

The Complete Guide On How To Make Your Business Green

From short term quick wins to long term strategies, improving your business's green credentials should definitely be on the agenda.

UK resource The Complete Guide On How To Make Your Business Green

This complete and comprehensive guide gives you an introduction to sustainable living as well as green measures, initiatives and schemes, offering useful tips on what you can do to do make your business more eco friendly.

  1. Introduction to Green & Sustainable Living
  2. Introducing Green Measures into your Business
  3. Long Term Green Measures for your Business to Adopt
  4. Green Services & Promoting an Eco-Conscious Companywide
  5. Green Initiatives & Schemes for your Business

18/11 2017

Putting NRM on the agenda for the QLD election

Queensland Murray Darling Committee (QMDC) News - November 2017


Putting NRM on the agenda for the QLD election

As we pause to consider who gets our vote to run the State, one question worth asking of candidates is, 'What's your position on the funding of natural resource management?'

Conversation in woodlands

The 14 NRM groups in Queensland (of which we are one) rely on state and federal funding to support landholders in their sustainability efforts. Much is at stake at the ballot box. In the lead up to the State election, QMDC is urging all political parties to endorse a blueprint for securing rural and regional jobs and the viability of communities.

The blueprint was developed by Natural Resource Management Regions Queensland, the body representing Queensland's NRM groups, and is a simple, five step plan to arrest decline of rural industries, strengthen rural and regional jobs, and ensure our communities are secure.

Enhancing Living Landscapes, Delivering Local Livelihoods advocates:

  • a detailed set of guiding principles
  • a five-year action plan targeting priority threats to viability and sustainability
  • a State-wide NRM Council to ensure efforts are coordinated, effective, and focussed
  • funding that recognises the ones who make a difference on the ground (landholders, communities, local NRM groups); and
  • increasing the ability of these key groups to deliver change.

To read more about this as an election issue visit the NRMQ website.

Funding to fix environmental damage from Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Cast your mind back to March/April this year when Tropical Cyclone Debbie sent heavy rain and flooding to parts of our region. Are you one of those landholders now living with eroded creek or river banks, or washed out trees as a result? Perhaps you had existing soil conservation work or contours that got damaged or you need help with fencing to protect sensitive areas against future impacts?

Downs map with priority areas marked

QMDC is offering funding to producers in the areas identified on the map above- a bigger version can be seen on our website page - for environmental damage suffered as a result of Cyclone Debbie (between 28 March to 6 April, 2017).

What projects are eligible? Potential activities could include projects that:

  • prevent further damage or erosion of land and river/creek areas
  • improve water quality, waterway and ecosystem health and/or reduce the impact on community infrastructure
  • enhance landscape, waterway and ecosystem resilience to the impacts of future events
  • weed control to promote recovery of waterways impacted by flood and aquatic weeds, and
  • gully restoration and soil conservation repairs

How to apply: Visit our web page, email info@qmdc.org.au or call 074637 6200.

Closing date: 27 November 2017

Climate risk workshop - Dirran and St George

Do you want to be better prepared for variable rainfall and temperatures? In just a few hours, you can learn the basics of assessing climate risk for the coming season.

With support from GrazingFutures* and the University of Southern Queensland we have invited:

  • Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Climate Scientist David McRae, and
  • Queensland Farmers’ Federation Project Manager Ross Henry

To speak at two workshops in Dirranbandi and St George on the same day - 29 November, 2017. They will teach you about:

  • variability of the Australian climate
  • local examples of rainfall and temperature variability
  • how to interpret forecasting products
  • how to use forecasting as part of your property management planning, and
  • agricultural insurance - its use as a risk management tool

Cost: Free! RSVP essential for catering purposes.
A complimentary lunch (at Dirranbandi) and dinner (at St George) follow each workshop.

Dirranbandi Civic Centre, Kirby St
Wednesday, 29 November, 9:00am to 12:30pm (lunch incl.)

St George Merino Motel, 78 Victoria St
Wednesday, 29 November 5:30pm to 8:30pm (dinner incl.)

RSVP by 27 November to: QMDC NRM Technical Officer Lachlan Marshall: M: 0427 056 443 E: lachlanm@qmdc.org.au

Tyre studies set to benefit local trucking industry

An innovative trial of fuel-saving tyres that aims to help the heavy vehicle industry cut costs and its environmental impact was the highlight at a series of workshops for the industry in Southern Queensland.

Nolan’s Interstate Transport Workshop Manager Jim Gleeson shared details of the trial the company is doing in partnership with Goodyear as a guest speaker at our Tyre Use Efficiency Workshop series.

Mr Gleeson said Nolan’s had been testing tyres with Goodyear more than 30 years in a bid to improve the efficiency of commercial tyres for the greater good of the industry.

For the past three months, two of Nolan’s trucks have been wired up with 20 sensors to measure temperature, loads, fuel burn, tyre temperature, lateral forces, braking and acceleration forces.

The data is sent live via satellite to Goodyear’s national headquarters before being exported to Germany where an engineering firm works out how to calculate savings.

QMDC CEO Geoff Penton said the feedback to the workshop series was extremely positive with guests appreciating the chance to talk with others in the industry about ways to reduce diesel consumption and tyre waste, as waste tyres are an environmental and tourism issue for the region.

We’re interested in working with individual companies as part of a longer term monitoring exercise to see whether any of the measures discussed can be applied in their day to day operations, Mr Penton said.

Transport operators are encouraged to contact QMDC to discuss taking part in the trial.

The QMDC tyre use efficiency workshop series was supported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), the Queensland Trucking Association, Lowes Petroleum Service, Total Tools, Findlay Import and Trade and Don Brosnan Tyres (the Roma event).

Save the date! 13 December 2017 Weed and Rabbit Management Workshop- Warwick

Join the Southern Downs Regional Council and QMDC to talk rabbit control and weed management in the Warwick district. We've invited:

Rabbit
  • Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board Inspector Mark Ridge
  • USQ Research Fellow Dr David Berman, and
  • JB Weed Consulting and Training weed control expert John Barker

To talk to you about:

  • the risk of rabbits to your property
  • how to identify where rabbits are breeding
  • control techniques
  • legal obligations for landholders, and
  • how to best control local weed species such as boxthorn, lantana, tree pear & chilean needle grass including chemicals and most effective control techniques

Venue: To be advised

When: 9:30am – 1:00pm, Wednesday, 13 December, followed by a BBQ lunch.

RSVP to NRM Technical Officer Lachlan Marshall on mobile: 0427 056 443 or email: lachlanm@qmdc.org.au



15/11 2017

Invitation to sign a petition in support of the Earth

Queensland Politicians: Remember The Earth

The Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea invite you to join us in petitioning the Queensland Premier, the Deputy Premier, the Minister for the Environment, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and State Leader of One Nation in the lead up to the forthcoming Queensland election.

Out of nearly 800 Sisters of Mercy who are members of the Institute, 125 live in Queensland electorates. We are deeply disturbed by a growing lack of reverence for all creation and the continual degradation of the Earth.

We urge all politicians to develop policies and plans that address the concerns raised recently by the Bishops of Townsville.

In particular we are concerned about:

  • the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length
  • the future of the Artesian Basin and its age-old water resources which are threatened by extraction by mega-mining developments across Queensland, and especially in the Galilee Basin
  • the impact of proposed mines in Queensland on the global climate
  • the significant increase in lung disease in local coal mine employees
  • the one-third increase in land-clearing across Queensland
  • a need for urgent dialogue critiquing cultural factors such as individualism, self-centredness, unlimited progress, the unregulated market, and consumerism.

We invite you to show your support for the Earth by signing this petition which calls on the major parties to provide strong indications that these concerns are also their concerns and that they have policies and plans in place to address them.

To view and sign the petition visit: www.change.org/p/queensland-politicians-remember-the-earth.

By signing the petition you will auto-generate an email to the offices of the Queensland Premier, Deputy Premier, Environment Minister and their LNP and One Nation counterparts.


15/11 2017

Environmental Defenders Office Event

Donations & other Dangers to our Democracy

Do you worry decisions that affect your community or environment are swayed by political donations or conflicts of interest?

How can we avoid conflicts of interest in decision making and increase transparency & accountability of politicians & government?

Join a panel of experts & political candidates at QUT Brisbane, Tuesday Nov 21st to discuss: Donations & other Dangers to our Democracy
RSVP for this free event today!

Speakers include

  • Professor Graeme Orr, TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland;
  • Mr Alex McKean, Barrister and academic with University of Sunshine Coast;
  • Ms Lois Levy, Campaign Coordinator at Gecko – Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council;
  • Representatives from political parties to be announced – stay tuned!

Chaired by Ms Jo Bragg, CEO of EDO Qld.

Representatives from each political party have been invited to attend to share their thoughts & answer your questions on their policies on the topic.

Secure your seat today and don't forget to spread the word.

Between Operation Belcarra showing serious failings in transparency and accountability in local governments & elections; the 4 Corners investigation ‘All that Glitters’ uncovering serious allegations of developer donations influencing Gold Coast decision makers; & the notable influence of the resource industry on politics & decision making – democratic, accountable governance is under serious threat in Queensland.
Come and join us for this timely and important community discussion!


15/11 2017

Engaging Citizens in Transitions to Low-Carbon Living

Date:
Friday 24 November 2017
Time:
9:00am – 4:30pm
Location:
Engineers Australia, Level 31, 600 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Register »

As Chair of the CRC for Low Carbon Living I am pleased to invite you to the next event in our comprehensive National Forum series in which we turn our focus to the important issue of engaging citizens in transitions to low-carbon living.

We have the technology & expertise available to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment. However, issues such as perceived lack of demand for low carbon solutions, lack of public and business awareness of potential benefits, and a disorganized evidence-base are impeding the implementation of low-carbon solutions. How can policy makers overcome such barriers and more effectively engage citizens in transitions to low-carbon and sustainable urban living?

Facilitated by award-winning Australian environmentalist, Tania Ha, this forum will present the latest research and tools from the CRC-LCL, partners and collaborators that address these issues. It will provide an interactive discussion about new opportunities for businesses, communities and individuals to be engaged and empowered to transition to low-carbon behaviours and practices. It will offer policy makers insights into goals and governance, community engagement, media and technology, and the evidence, education and innovation opportunities for supporting the urban transitions necessary to achieve our climate and sustainable development goals.

Esteemed panelists include:

  • Professor Jane Farmer, Director Swinburne Institute for Social Innovation
  • Professor Peter Newton, Swinburne Centre for Urban Transitions
  • Dr Leonie Walsh, Former Victorian Chief Scientist
  • Professor Mark Burry, Director Swinburne Smart Cities Research Institute

The insights and ideas shared and generated at this forum will be documented and developed into a discussion paper for policy makers on recommendations for better engaging citizens in transitions to low carbon living.

We would be delighted if you could join us. Coffee and tea on arrival. Lunch provided.

I look forward to seeing you there.

The Hon Robert Hill AC
Chair, CRC for Low Carbon Living

Download the Agenda »

14/11 2017

Will will we heed the warning?

15,000 Scientists in 184 Countries Warn About Negative Global Environmental Trends

Image: Planet Earth, photographed Dec. 7, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission. (Credit: NASA)

Human well-being will be severely jeopardized by negative trends in some types of environmental harm, such as a changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth, scientists warn in today’s issue of BioScience, an international journal.

The viewpoint article — World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice — was signed by more than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries.

The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors suggested that it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take the right corrective actions. Such activities could include establishing more terrestrial and marine reserves, strengthening enforcement of anti-poaching laws and restraints on wildlife trade, expanding family planning and educational programs for women, promoting a dietary shift toward plant-based foods and massively adopting renewable energy and other “green” technologies.

Global trends have worsened since 1992, the authors wrote, when more than 1,700 scientists — including a majority of the living Nobel laureates in the sciences at the time — signed a World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In the last 25 years, trends in nine environmental issues suggest that humanity is continuing to risk its future. However, the article also reports that progress has been made in addressing some trends during this time.

Article on ENN » Warning on BioScience »

13/11 2017

Expressions of interest sought

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Householders.Options.to.Protect.the.Environment
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

Expressions of interest sought in FREE Information Forums on “Going Solar – On/Off Grid with Battery Storage”

Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc., with the technical expertise provided by ACDC Energy, is offering your organisation the opportunity to host a free information forum on “Going Solar – On/Off Grid with Battery Storage”.

ACDC Energy will outline the benefits of ‘going solar’, and of the options available for the purchase and installation of solar PV and battery storage systems. ACDC Energy will provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions such as “solar power; battery storage; on/off grid … how does it all work?” They will also offer expert advice for those looking for basic energy management, through to people considering going completely off the grid.

Solar systems are not just for domestic premises. Business owners, school representatives and community groups would be encouraged to come along to learn about how solar might benefit their organisations said Mr Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc.

Some advantages of solar include savings on electricity bills. Once a system is installed it costs virtually nothing to operate, saving you money on your power bills. Solar also benefits the environment by providing clean energy - for every 1kw of solar installed a tonne of C02 is saved every year, added Mr Ondrus.

If your organisation is keen to host such a forum, please forward your ‘expression of interest’ to HOPE at office@hopeaustralia.org.au - noting potential dates, times and venue for the forum.

Frank Ondrus, President - HOPE Inc.

Frank Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc., ph 07 4639 2135

flyerHOPE promotional flyer - FREE Going Solar Information Seminars (jpg)



11/11 2017

EDO LawAlert

LTG files for info on Blair Athol mine transfer

MinesiteOn behalf of client Lock the Gate, EDO Qld has today filed an application in Qld’s Supreme Court for the Queensland Government to release reasons for setting the financial assurance amount required of smaller miner Orion after it bought Blair Athol coal mine from Rio Tinto for $1.
Keep reading »

5 ways to stand-up at election time

Great Barrier ReefThere are many ways to ask for better protection for Queensland’s environment as well as stronger environmental laws ahead of the election on Saturday 25 November.
Stand-up at election time »

What parties are promising on land clearing

KoalaQueensland urgently needs strong laws on excessive tree clearing for wildlife, the Reef and to reduce climate change – what are the parties promising in the lead-up to the state election later this month?
Keep reading »

NQ communities empowered in fight for justice

Community membersFrom Mission Beach to Mackay, we hit the road with our counterparts EDO NQ last month to meet with regional partners and community members to empower action on environmental issues that matter. Solicitor Revel Pointon summarises the big issues.
Community matters in NQ »

Registrations open for Swim for the Reef 2018

Swim for the ReefRegistrations are now open for Swim for the Reef 2018. To be held on 20 January 2018 at pools and in the sea across the state, can we count on you to help make our third annual national fundraising event the biggest and best yet?
Register now »

Speak up to stand-up for Nature & The Reef

Surf beachThis factsheet outlines public comment opportunities and possible legal actions arising where a project is referred for federal assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).
EBPC Act referrals: comments and legal action »


11/11 2017

BREAKING: Explosive footage from inside Manus

Friends,

For years, successive Australian Governments have desperately tried to hide the truth about Manus. But no more.

Smuggled in under cover of darkness, we just recorded explosive new footage from inside the Manus detention centre..

Six hundred men are sick, starving and thirsty. Just to sleep, they drag their mattresses out of crammed steel sheds to escape the searing heat. They're living without power, water or medicine. And for all that, they fear even more where they could be taken next.

Our Government's fences and walls, their gag rules and media blackouts, have all been designed to hide these appalling conditions from us — to prevent the tide of public outrage that could sweep down this abusive regime.

That's why the most important thing to do now is to see what we have seen — and share it with everyone you know.

Watch and share this explosive footage from inside the Manus Island detention camp.

You can help protect our iconic Great Barrier Reef and oceans this state election by demanding political parties step up and make real commitments for our coasts, corals and sea life.

As human rights experts with refugee crisis experience in places like South Sudan — what we just witnessed was the worst we've ever seen.

We observed months, if not years of neglect — men crowded into steel containers, forced to use toilets and showers so riddled with mould the men suffer ongoing skin and gastro infections.

Yet their resilience in the face of utter deprivation is miraculous: collecting rainwater in bins and building wells, spiriting in food for the hungry and caring for the sick.

They are truly the heroes of their own story. And once Australians see that story for themselves, the demand to evacuate them to safety will be impossible to ignore.

This heart-wrenching footage has the power to shame the government into action — The Daily Telegraph and other News Corp tabloids are running these images as front page stories calling the conditions horrific.

Help shame our Parliament into action by sharing this explosive footage from inside the Manus Island detention camp.

Yesterday, PNG Immigration levelled an ultimatum to the men of Manus – leave by Saturday or face a potentially violent removal. But photographs in The Australian show the transit centres they would force the men to are not ready, and the local community has protested their arrival.1

Organisations from Amnesty International to the United Nations have called out the crisis. But instead of evacuating the men to safety, our Government is trying to pass the buck to PNG for men we have imprisoned there for the last 4 years.2, 3

There is one inviolable obligation in a humanitarian crisis - and that is to preserve life. Only the Australian Government can evacuate the camps quickly enough to save lives. These men don't have months to wait for a resettlement process to the US or New Zealand — these men need safety now.

The proof of that is written in the words, eyes and deeds of the men in this footage, which finally rips the veil off our Government's brutal regime.

Can you urgently share this video with your family and friends and blow the lid off our Government's coverup?

In determination,

Shen and Matt for the GetUp! team

References
[1] 'Photos cast doubt on new Manus housing', The Australian, 8 November, 2017.
[2] 'Dutton dismisses UN claim that new Manus facilities aren't ready', SBS, 9 November 2017.
[3] 'Manus Island: UN says new accommodation 'not ready' for refugees', The Guardian, 1 November 2017.

10/11 2017

How Queenslanders can save our oceans at this election.

Friend of the Environment,

As Director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, I wanted to write to you to tell you how powerful you are at this election.

But there is still time to make change and create a better future. This has been a significant year. We have seen action on plastic pollution, commitments to improve unsustainable fisheries, and a community of ocean-lovers who are standing between our Reef and those who would threaten it.

This Queensland election is a critical opportunity for all political leaders to commit to act in the next term of government. But they won’t commit to protecting our oceans if we don’t ask them to act now - while they’re seeking our vote.

For two more weeks you hold the power. Will you use it - to get our political parties to act?

Use Your Voice »

Our amazing ocean backyard is central to our identity and our lifestyle. We have a lot to lose if the next Queensland government doesn’t act at this pivotal moment in human history.

And there are plenty of reasons for hope - provided our political parties are bold enough to do the right thing.

You can help protect our iconic Great Barrier Reef and oceans this state election by demanding political parties step up and make real commitments for our coasts, corals and sea life.

Tackle plastic pollution of our oceans, delivering the plastic bag ban and drinks container refund scheme.

  • Rule out any public money for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.
  • Commit to a renewable energy target of at least 50% by 2030
  • Rule out any new coal mines or coal fired power stations in Queensland.
  • Improve Reef water quality by introducing stronger tree clearing laws.
  • Cut agricultural pollution of the Reef’s waters and invest more to restore a healthy Reef catchment.
  • Commit to urgently reforming Queensland fisheries.
  • Protect threatened marine species such as dolphins, dugongs and turtles by closing key areas to gillnetting.
  • Tackle plastic pollution of our oceans, delivering the plastic bag ban and drinks container refund scheme.

These commitments would allow our children and grandchildren to enjoy our incredible underwater world as much as we do. This is about a brighter future for our Sunshine State. It’s about a world in which we look after our natural assets and create jobs that are local, long-term and sustainable.

I encourage you to take every opportunity to speak out this election. Ask your local candidates to take strong action to protect our Reef, invest in fisheries management, and fight the plastic pollution that is threatening our marine life.

Send your message now - while they’re listening.

Thank you for all that you do.

P.S. This election is pivotal for our Queensland coasts and oceans, and the fish, corals and animals that call them home. Please send an email to all the Queensland party leaders and ask them to stand up for our oceans this election


10/11 2017

Conference Report

All Energy Conference, 11-12 Oct 2017, Melbourne VIC

The All Energy Conference was held in Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on 11th and 12th of October of 2017. Speakers from all over the world congregated to discuss the current and future proposals of renewable energy technologies in the market. The diversity of technology was high, with a range of devices on the brink of entering the market or theorised to revolutionise the energy sector. These innovative technologies were focused on everyday life energy alternatives and covered a broad range of applications - from transport alternatives to the complete decentralisation from the grid through the introduction of micro grids within communities. The good news is that the future looks promising.

We are all on the brink of what is called a Renewable Revolution. It slides off the tongue quite nicely, doesn’t it? The Renewable Revolution has small businesses, entrepreneurs, tech geeks, and academics very excited. In my opinion, the public isn’t so excited. Part of it is that the public does not yet know a lot about it. However, another part of such reaction is that all potential consumers want to know answers to questions such as “How much is it going to cost me?”, “When will I be getting a return to my investment?” and “How will it affect me?”. For the public, what it means is, that each individual household that installs renewable energy, will have the ability to generate their own energy and store it in the latest battery systems, to use when needed. Like any technology, it is developed and refined in stages. For example, an I-phone 3 didn’t just jump to the I-phone 7. There were stages and updates as well as upgrades of software and hardware that improved the model gradually to the product it is today. The same concept applies here. Energy alternatives such as Solar and Batteries have become substantially more efficient and economically viable. This will continue as the market adjusts to the influx of alternative energies. With an increase in variations of product technology, second hand options and competition, the prices will continue to fall. Currently, we are on the brink of this major energy transition. Within the decade, we will witness major restructuring of the energy systems, transport industry and variety in renewable energies. The existing major energy retailers seems to be on edge with this transition, with the potential of losing many customers to a more environmentally, friendly source of energy generation, which will also be more affordable and have long lasting financial benefits to those customers.

Currently we rely on large energy retailers to provide us with consistent, reliable and “cheap” energy within a centralised system. These large retailers have the monopoly of the energy business, and basically own the energy market. However, the issue for them is if me and you decide to invest in renewable energy, generate and store energy in efficient batteries, we no longer rely on retailers as we completely become decentralised from the system, meaning they will lose customers at an exponential rate as soon as the renewable energy market takes off.

Also, if you and I have the ability to generate and store energy, what is stopping us from selling it to our neighbours at a cheaper rate? Nothing! Currently, we do have the option of selling energy back to retailers, however the exchange rate is a joke. We are buying energy at a rate of approximately 27c/watt (depending on the time of day), however to sell back energy from our renewable technology, it would sell at a rate of approximately 4-6c/watt. Yes, this does seem unfair, but currently, that is the way it is.

In terms of technology, we’re not all there yet. There are still some fundamental issues that are restriction of progress. These include:

Current regulations:
The solar hardware itself only takes a few days to be imported into the country, whilst batteries can take months to clear the administrative requirements. A couple of months can cause a lot issues to business, if they are unable to import their product into the country efficiently, especially with the growing demand. Therefore, the regulations must change, to keep up with the demand and a changing industry.
Rate of return of investment:
When renewable energy first came into the market, this was one of the factors that deterred most people from purchasing solar technology. It was a large investment with a very long return in investment. However, in the last decade the return in investment has dramatically shortened to approximately 5-10 years, depending on the product. Importantly, the cheaper product doesn’t always mean you’ll receive your return of investment any faster. If you invest in an efficient solar system, with an advanced battery system, will cost more up front, however you will likely get a faster return of investment as the technology is faster, adaptable and more effective. This is one of the communication barriers between the public and the renewable energy industry. As trying to convince someone to spend more now, to save more later, is usually the opening line to a scam. However, in this case spending more now, may indeed mean you will save a lot more later.
Lack of critical decision making:
This energy transition will be slow, mainly because the federal government is dragging its feet and seems to daily produce new obstacles for renewable energy. Not surprising, as the coal companies, energy retailers and coal lobbyists are the ones that will lose the most to this revolution.

There are limitations and challenges that are currently inhibiting the progression of the Renewable Revolution. Disappointingly, only a few days after the All- Energy Conference concluded, the Government announced a new energy plan. It seems that, according to this plan, the renewable energy's share of the electricity sector will plateau from 2020, which, can make it harder for Australia to meet its climate goals and will have a negative impact on the currently booming industry. Fairfax media predicted that the share of renewable energy would be 28-36 per cent, including hydro and solar photovoltaics, by 2030.The decision is effectively dumping the clean energy target, and scrapping millions of dollars of fund money (which was already allocated for renewable energy) to potentially save $100/year per household on energy bills.

Many members of the public have reacted with comments, which in summary, express their views that $100 does not represent a significant saving. It is clear that powerful coal lobbyist groups are not willing to go down without a fight. Their influence is present in so many segments of the community. This is particularly visible in our media space, which is still keeping us in the dark about hundreds of innovative companies all over the world stepping into the market with the latest technology in renewable energy.

In plain language, it is the giant businesses trying to delay the transition for as long as possible, to maximise profits. What is clear is, it is not only that the technology experts, businesses and entrepreneurs that want this revolution to occur - more importantly the public demand is increasing, which is the key to the transition. This will likely trigger the snowball effect, and when that occurs, not even the largest coal mining companies in Australia will be able to stop the revolution. It will be interesting to observe what is happening across the Tasman where the new government just announced that New Zealand will be 100% reliant on renewables by 2035.


10/11 2017

Cherish our communities

Keep Australia great again

Australia is a great place to live, and to keep on living. Our life expectancy, for example, has gone up by about three months a year since 1890, and is now among the highest in the world. That’s wonderful, and we probably don’t appreciate it enough. We certainly don’t realise how fragile that achievement is, and how much vigilance is needed to protect it.

There’s nothing inevitable about living longer. In the US, where improvements in the treatment of heart disease and cancer have increased life expectancy overall, deaths caused by overdoses of prescription and illegal drugs, particularly opioids, are so prevalent that they actually reduced the average life expectancy by about three months between 2000 and 2015, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And this in a place that already ranks low among developed countries on the life-expectancy tables.

One of the underlying causes, surely, is the loss of community.

Healthy societies trust each other and help each other. Unhealthy, divided societies lash out at each other like rabid ferrets in a sack. And in the US at the moment, the ferrets would probably do a better job of promoting unity and harmony.

America is not a model for Australia to follow; it’s a horrible warning. We have to back away from the precipice. We have to embrace diversity, rather than tolerate it. We have to counter the politics of hate with the discourse of community engagement. We must treat the symptoms of societal weakness with such direct interventions as injection rooms for addicts, housing for the homeless, and services for refugees, and, at the same time, combat those who hope to rouse our resentment towards addicts, street people, and immigrants.

Joining one of Australia’s community groups is an opportunity to join those who are working to make life better. It’s good for you as an individual. It’s also the only way I know to inoculate the Australian polity against the plague of viciousness that’s costing so many lives across Trump’s America.

We’re not doing that badly in Australia now. The polls on marriage equality, for example, show that we’re not being conned by the forces of division

But nothing can be taken for granted. The challenges are increasing day by day. Ideologues still manage to profit from our prejudices. If we don’t lift our game to meet them, it’s a long way down.


Ten reasons to join a community group

  1. It’s good for your health - Studies show that having a good social network extends your life, keeps you healthy, and staves off mental deterioration.
  2. You meet new friends - Get to know new people and work with them on things you all care about. How many people have met their future partners at the club?
  3. You make new contacts - Keeping your networks in good repair helps you to see opportunities when they come up and gives you people to call when you want help.
  4. You learn new skills - You can learn workplace skills from being a volunteer. You can learn governance skills – committee management, business planning – from joining a committee.
  5. It’s good for the community - The more people work together and get to be familiar with the way things work around the area, the more people support each other through the tough times.
  6. You can follow your interests - Whatever you like to do, there are other people out there who like it too. Join a group and you can learn from them.
  7. You can build up your CV - If you’re applying for a tertiary place, or a new job, or a new relationship, it helps to be able to point to the unselfish efforts you’re putting in for the community.
  8. You can learn how to win your battles - Experience in operating a community group gives you the tools you need to get your voice heard in the centres of power.
  9. You can make a contribution - We all want to make the world a better place, even if it’s only by having our team take the flag.
  10. It’s good for the country - Australia needs a strong civil society, where the government and business don’t run everything and people manage their own organisations for community goals.

10/11 2017

Letter to the Editor

Dear HOPE,

Koala Action Inc. is extremely concerned as are many other wildlife and/or environmental groups about the rate of land clearing and fragmentation of bush land which has more than tripled following the weakening of regulations and enforcement by the Newman Government in 2012. TWS and ACF statistics confirm that an area the size of the MCG is cleared every three minutes in Queensland alone—surely, we can all see that this is an environmental crisis. New land clearing data for Queensland has just been released, and the outcome is devastating as this state has had a 33% rise in clearing since the previous year’s data; Queensland saw almost 400,000 hectares cleared in 2015/16. This is totally unacceptable, unfortunately 40% of this was in the Great Barrier Reef catchments (a 45% jump).

Deforestation and land clearing is a major threat to biodiversity and that holds true for Queensland’s faunal emblem the koala now on the brink of extinction in many areas of the Moreton Bay region. In fact, all wildlife living within those ecosystems are at risk as is the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Land clearing also impacts on the health of our river systems and the productivity of our landscapes. In addition, when millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as a consequence of trees being bulldozed climate change is exacerbated.

All of us can chose to be part of the problem or be part of the solution. For a start, stopping the bulldozers would immediately protect the homes of native wildlife and save millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Restoring Australia's previously cleared land and rehabilitating secondary bushland habitat will increase its carrying capacity and help that land better support native wildlife. The bonus being a major opportunity to sequester carbon and bring down Australia’s net emissions. The list of benefits when clearing is stopped include biodiversity restoration, landscape health (including in reef catchments) and regional economic opportunity. Queensland, of all of the states, stands to gain the most from a booming land carbon sector.

This is wonderful opportunity for the residents and businesses of Queensland as well as local, state and federal governments to put together a range of forward-looking solutions to wildlife conservation, land protection and regional development. All that is required is for each and every one of us to write to, email or telephone our local councillors as well as our state and federal government representatives and ask them to do the following:-

  • Use whatever existing powers that are available to stop the worst land clearing;
  • Bring in new laws as soon as possible to end deforestation and excessive land clearing;
  • Develop a binding national climate plan, including all state and territory governments, that ensures measurable reductions in land clearing; and
  • Invest in nationally consistent monitoring programme and reporting of land clearing across the country.

This makes sense to me and I am sure will make sense to those of us on the ground volunteering to ensure that our native fauna and flora continue gracing us with their presence.

Thanks Vanda (aka Wanda) Grabowski
President/Secretary - Koala Action Inc.


09/11 2017

International Volunteer Day | 5 December 2017

Volunteers act first. Here. Everywhere.

International Volunteer Day is celebrated worldwide on 5 December , in recognition of the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis, helping save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow. #VolunteersActFirst #IVD2017

Resources

For a full suite of resources, including the IVD logo, posters, banners, web graphics and examples for social media, in the six UN official languages, click here.

Background

Instability is frequent and intense for hundreds of millions of people around the world. In both developing and industrialised countries, political and armed conflicts, poverty, hunger, health crises, natural disasters and now climate change, all contribute to an increasing number of people living in unstable environments. Throughout history, collective action was needed to answer the urgent call of such tragedies—saving lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow.

Volunteers are often the first to offer support in times of natural disasters, economic instability, forced migration or humanitarian emergencies. Everywhere in the world, volunteers provide assistance to people and whole communities being pushed to the brink. Volunteers, often members of affected communities, help people to rebuild their lives in the immediate aftershock of a tragic event. Through their ongoing support, volunteers also help people and communities be better prepared to face uncertainty in the future.

Estimates suggest that there are a billion people in the world who volunteer each year. Those numbers always go up when tragedy strikes. Despite their contributions, the vital role of volunteers is not always sufficiently recognised or acknowledged. As clearly stated at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, Volunteers are a practical example of the solidarity that binds the world together. There is scope for scaling up volunteering programmes through, for example, supportive national legislation and work place policies, and increased investment. This year, we give recognition to the role of volunteers as first responders so that we may demonstrate the value of this stated scope


08/11 2017

Tell Tim Nicholls & the LNP to Say No to Adani!

We are so close to delivering a knockout blow to Adani’s Reef-wrecking mine. But Labor’s decision is not enough.

Tim Nicholls and the LNP must also commit to vetoing the taxpayer loan. Email him now.

What a moment! On Friday the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would use the Queensland Government’s veto power to stop the Federal government giving a $1 billion loan of our taxes to Adani, through the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

This is a game changer and it’s thanks to you, and the power of the people. The Premier wouldn’t have acted without sustained pressure from the community. You showed her that Queenslanders won’t stand for our taxes being given to Adani, and that we hold our governments to the promises they make.

But the loan cannot be vetoed yet. The Queensland Labor Government is in caretaker mode while the election plays out. This means that they cannot veto the loan before election day, unless they get bipartisan support from the Liberal National Party (LNP).

We now have a critical chance to stop the loan once and for all, if we can get the LNP to commit to veto the loan as well. Can you email LNP party leader Tim Nicholls and ask him to veto the loan?

Email Tim Nicholls now!

Why is the $1 billion loan so important to Adani?

Adani hasn’t got the money to pay for their dirty coal mine and rail line. Adani Group has a $2 billion debt to repay on the Abbot Point Coal terminal, and they need this loan to convince foreign investors to help them pay it off. Losing this loan will jeopardise Adani’s chances of ever getting the money they need.

Stopping this loan could be the pivotal move that topples the coal mine and saves our precious Great Barrier Reef.

The Premier’s decision is a monumental shift - the first sign of change from Labor. It proves that it IS possible to get the parties to change their position on Adani. If Tim Nicholls and the LNP commit to a veto as well, it could be the end of this coal mine.

The Queensland government has the power to stop the loan. The law requires that the money from NAIF must be facilitated by state governments, who have full veto power to stop the loan. Without the support of Queensland, the Australian government cannot give $1 billion to Adani.

LNP party leader Tim Nicholls can stop the loan for good. Ask him to veto the loan.

Ask Tim Nicholls to Stop The Loan

We are so close to scoring a massive blow to Adani. Let’s keep it up.

Yours for the Reef,

Imogen Zethovan email signature

P.S. Reef scientists say the next five years are critical for our Reef. The next Queensland government must fight for its future. All political parties must commit to Stop Adani getting their hands on our taxes and our Reef. Ask Tim Nicholls to veto the NAIF loan.


06/11 2017

Coming clean on energy, costs and renewable power

Concern about LNP Leader Tim Nicholls’ announcement that he will scrap Queensland’s 50% renewable energy target

Peak environment group the Queensland Conservation Council has expressed concern about LNP Leader Tim Nicholls’ announcement today that he will scrap Queensland’s 50% renewable energy target. Instead, the LNP will continue to back a new coal power station in North Queensland, because they claim it will be cheaper.

Tim Nicholls’ comments on renewable energy and coal fired power make no sense financially or policy-wise, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.

Renewable energy is the cheapest, best energy option for the future. A brand new coal-fired power station would be extraordinarily expensive, and would undoubtedly require huge public subsidies for something destined to become a stranded asset.

Let’s have an honest analysis of energy production costs into the future, and how to manage power pricing along the way.

The best way to reduce power prices long-term is to rapidly transition our energy system to something that runs on freely available resources such as the sun, wind and water, and where energy can be stored and distributed locally.

Queensland is a leader in take up of household level rooftop solar, but we need to support largescale renewables investment, and in largescale battery technology and local network systems.

The best way of doing that is by having ambitious but achievable targets for renewables, set in law, to send a strong signal to industry and the community that Queensland is very serious about a renewables future.

Queensland’s current ‘50% renewable energy by 2030’ target is a great start, and should be endorsed across the political spectrum to provide certainty and stability to investors.

We also need a strong emphasis on energy efficiency and demand reduction through smart technologies, and renewed focus on better household and business energy consumption and management. This will help with costs.

Renewable energy is one critical pathway to cutting carbon emissions. Let’s get away from dirty power generation, and embrace the energy future that does not cost the earth.

QCC’s policy for renewables and climate can be seen at:
http://www.queenslandconservation.org.au/state_election_2017

Dr Tim Seelig
Coordinator

Queensland Conservation

Queensland Conservation Council

Read online »

06/11 2017

Billion dollar Adani loan in tatters!

Friend of the Environment,

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced she will veto the billion-dollar NAIF loan to Adani!

Without the enormous government bailout, Adani's quest to fund its monstrous Carmichael coal mine will be left in tatters.

But it's not over yet. The Queensland Government is in caretaker mode, so the veto can't go through before the state's November 25 election unless it gets bipartisan support

If Leader Tim Nicholls refuses to help veto the loan now, its fate will rely on the outcome of the state election.

Either way, Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls has just become a key player in stopping Adani's catastrophic coal mine.

We're on the edge of something incredible. Can you contact Tim Nicholls right now and ask him to back a veto of the handout too?

NAIF is a government slush fund created by Adani's backers to fund their disastrous coal project when nobody else would. But the law dictates the money must go via state governments, who have full veto power over any loan.

If we can make sure this loan gets blocked by the Queensland Government, Adani will be back to square one with funding. We already know 23 banks have refused to touch the project, and losing this loan will jeopardise Adani's chances of ever finding the money it needs to proceed.

And right now, we have a chance to stop it in its tracks.

Contact Tim Nicholls now and ask him to oppose the NAIF loan.

Premier Palaszczuk's announcement is a seismic shift from Queensland Labor, who have until now shown unflinching support for the multi-billion-dollar corruption machine.

The change is a testament to you, and to the incredible movement that has grown and grown over this historic campaign. To everyone who has made phone calls, written to your MP, attended a rally, chipped in to fund ads or helped spell out STOP ADANI at iconic events across the country, thank you.

It's not over yet, but together we've just made one almighty breakthrough.

Sam R, for the GetUp team


06/11 2017

Communique from Solar Citizens

Political poppycock

Friend of the Environment,

“Crazy”, “reckless”, “absolute nonsense” – this is how the Liberal National Party (LNP) is describing Queensland’s shift towards sensible, clean energy.

The LNP and One Nation are biting at the bit to build a new, dirty coal-fired power plant in North Queensland, and are pledging to scrap Queensland’s plan for 50% renewable electricity by 2030.

And it gets worse: to gather support before the election both the LNP and One Nation are spreading misinformation about the viability of new coal over renewables – and the media is eating it up [1].

We’re not going to let this fly. The solar-boom is boosting investment in our sunny state, pumping out clean energy and creating thousands of jobs – click here to share the truth on Facebook.

The fact is, a report commissioned by the Department of Energy and Water Supply found that a new 750 megawatt coal plant in North Queensland would pose a “serious risk” of becoming a $1.6 billion stranded asset because the demand for out-of-date coal is dropping [2].

Share the Sun-Powered Queensland ad on Facebook to amplify the voices of real Queenslanders who are benefiting from the big solar boom that’s underway in our state.

Together, let’s stop misinformation from casting a shadow on our renewable future.

Louise
Queensland Solar Campaigner
Solar Citizens Louise, Queensland Solar Campaigner profice picture

[1] Queensland election: Labor’s report backs LNP’s coal power plan, 1 November 2017; Voters prefer price cut to Paris accord, 31 October 2017.
[2] North Queensland coal plant: What the report really says about prices, 1 November 2017.


05/11 2017

Conservation Priorities for Queensland | QCC

Protecting Queensland’s future should come naturally

Under the headline of ‘Protecting Queensland’s future should come naturally’, QCC is seeking responses on twelve key policy priorities for nature from Queensland’s main political parties.

These involve policies on: Land clearing, Renewable energy, Climate change mitigation, Economic and social transitions, Protection of the Great Barrier Reef, Adani and NAIF, Protected Areas, Cape York Peninsula, Biodiversity protection, Rivers protection and water legislation, Queensland environmental protection legislation and Environment Department, and Funding for QCC and regional conservation.

These have been sent to political parties, with a request for responses and commitments. We will let you know how we go!

Keep a check on our special Queensland Election webpage for updates and other news and events: http://www.queenslandconservation.org.au/state_election_2017

Policy Summary Document » Policy Document »

Tim Seelig, QCC Coordinator

Conservation Queensland logo

04/11 2017

Invitation

Webinar: Beyond COP23

Findings from the 2017 GlobeScan-SustainAbility Survey on Climate Change

We are delighted to invite you to one of two webinars to discuss the results from our latest survey focused on climate change and progress made on the Paris Agreement.

The GlobeScan-SustainAbility Survey is one the longest-running expert surveys on sustainability-related topics of its kind. In our latest report we analyze the viewpoints of over 400 global sustainability experts on a range of questions including:

  • Almost two years after the Paris Agreement was signed, how much progress has been made against its goals and what barriers may pose the greatest risk to its successful implementation?
  • Which institutions have made the largest contribution to advance the Paris Agreement goals?
  • Which companies have gained the widest recognition for their leadership on climate change?What are the factors and corporate strategies driving their perceived leadership and what are the most effective instruments for companies to address climate change?

To best serve a global audience, we are hosting two versions of this webinar. Space is limited, so please register today via the links below.

Americas / EMEA

On November 9 at 8am San Francisco / 11am New York / 4pm London, the discussion will be led by Mark Lee (Executive Director, SustainAbility), Eric Whan (Director, GlobeScan), Jenny Chu (Head of Energy Productivity Initiatives, The Climate Group).and Val Smith (Vice President of Sustainability, Citi).

Register »

Asia / Pacific

On November 22 at 11am Hong Kong / 8:30am Mumbai / 2pm Sydney, the discussion will be led by Wander Meijer (Asia Pacific Director, GlobeScan), Andrew Petersen (Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Business Australia), Rebecca Mikula-Wright, Climate Change & ESG Investment Consultant at the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), and Jeanne Ng, Director, Group Sustainability at CLP Power Hong Kong, who will have just attended COP23 in Bonn and will provide the latest insights from the conference.

Register »

03/11 2017

The Chook Book

The keeping of backyard chooks is not a new thing, it dates back over 5,000 years. Today, people do it for many reasons, a regular supply of freshly laid eggs, for showing and selling or even as family pets. Keeping chooks can be a rewarding experience for the whole family. At Barastoc, we’ve been supplying proven and trusted quality feeds to the poultry market for over 30 years. We continue to cater for the changing needs of poultry enthusiasts, developing feeds that are ideally suited to them. As the country’s leading supplier of poultry feed, we know how important the correct rearing and keeping of poultry is for their welfare, their health and the production of fresh eggs. Hence The Barastoc Chook Book. It has been developed as a guide for the correct rearing and feeding of laying hens. It also includes a section on the Barastoc layer range of feeds and their use. If there is anything else you would like to know please call Ridley Sales & Support on 1300 666 657.

The Chook Book which is now in its 9th edition may be located at Barastoc Poultry website (http://barastocpoultry.com.au/chook-book/).


01/11 2017

National Recycling Week: 13th – 19th November 2017

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: http://www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: http://www.hopeaustralia.org.au
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

Recycling – it’s a topic that’s generally at the back of our minds and something we often do without too much thought, but from 13th – 19th November it comes to the forefront of our minds during Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. This is the 22nd year this week of bringing focus to the environmental benefits of recycling has been held, and it’s never been timelier.

With concern about environmental issues at an all-time high, many people find themselves in a state of uncertainty about what they can actually do about the many pressing environmental problems which we are confronted with daily –it’s easy to be overwhelmed and not know where to start.

National Recycling Week provides us with a practical and achievable way to begin or increase our environmental presence – and we can all feel good about that.

The purpose of the week is to enable people to get further involved with recycling and to increase their knowledge of just how they can do that. There are a number of ways you can participate – at home, school, work or the community. You can register your workplace or school or participate in a huge number of recycling activities right where you are at home. The extent of your participation is up to you – but the important thing is that you do participate in some way, because everyone is able to do something; some small individual action which together with the actions of others will add up to make a big environmental difference.

Go to http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/about/ for more information and to find a way to get involved.

Frank Ondrus, President - HOPE Inc.

Frank Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc., ph 07 4639 2135


29/10 2017

Ethical Consumer Group - News

October 2017

Progress on plastic

Progress on plasticVic, Vic, Victory! Single-use, lightweight plastic bags will be banned in Victoria, bringing it in line with most other states (only NSW to go!). Have your say in the public consultation to determine what the ban covers and other actions needed on plastic pollution. Plastic bags are just the beginning. Call for urgent action on plastic microbeads (sign the "ban the bead" petition) and single-use plastic bottles (tell Coca-Cola to find other alternatives).

Too much stuff

Too much stuff“More is better” remains the narrative of modern society, but for the most part it's actually happiness that we're after. Given that we're currently in Buy Nothing New Month, we wanted to share this great little video about all the excess stuff we own and why. Feeling inspired? Check out this article on buying less, our page on create, repair, reuse and this introduction to minimalism.

Be Inspired - beyond fossil fuel

Be Inspired - beyond fossil fuelThe best way to predict the future is to create it. (Alan Kay)
Oil, coal and gas currently provide the greater part of our electricity generation and transportation fuels. In this month's Be Inspired section however we focus on people and communities showing leadership in shaping a future beyond these finite and polluting fossil fuels. (Beyond Adani coal, beyond cheap gas, and beyond current energy policy).

Free-range farming under threat

Free-range farming under threatThe Victorian Government has proposed planning provisions that will place small-scale pig and poultry farmers in the same group as large-scale intensive farming operations. The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance suggest that this will render meat production prohibitive for farmers, and destroy local, small-scale agriculture. Sign the petition to Ministers and provide feedback on the reforms directly to government.


Ethical Consumer Group » October update on-line »

New review asks an important question

Renewable energy — from solar, wind, and hydro power — is rapidly becoming a major pillar of global energy production while attracting enormous worldwide investment.

But how ‘green’ are these different energy sources?  Are they environmentally benign, or are some dangerous in certain contexts?

A paper, led by Luke Gibson, just published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, contrasts the environmental risks and impacts of our largest ‘green’ energy sources.

How Green is ‘Green’ Energy?

Summary

Renewable energy is an important piece of the puzzle in meeting growing energy demands and mitigating climate change, but the potentially adverse effects of such technologies are often overlooked. Given that climate and ecology are inextricably linked, assessing the effects of energy technologies requires one to consider their full suite of global environmental concerns. We review here the ecological impacts of three major types of renewable energy – hydro, solar, and wind energy – and highlight some strategies for mitigating their negative effects. All three types can have significant environmental consequences in certain contexts. Wind power has the fewest and most easily mitigated impacts; solar energy is comparably benign if designed and managed carefully. Hydropower clearly has the greatest risks, particularly in certain ecological and geographical settings. More research is needed to assess the environmental impacts of these ‘green’ energy technologies, given that all are rapidly expanding globally.

Trends

Renewable energy is expanding rapidly. Growth is greatest in China, which now constitutes 28%, 26%, and 35% of the global capacity of hydro, solar, and wind power, respectively.

Hydropower has the largest environmental impacts, mostly because of habitat loss and fragmentation caused by impoundment reservoirs and roads needed for dam construction and maintenance. Dams block animal migration and disrupt river flows, creating homogenized conditions favoring non-native species. Hydropower also generates greenhouse gases, especially methane, particularly in the tropics.

Wind power kills 100 000 s of birds and bats every year. Wind farms can affect bird migrations and trigger population declines. Wind turbines increase ambient temperature and noise, harming some native species.

Solar energy is the fastest growing renewable, but its impacts are poorly known. More research is needed in this area.

More on Trends in Ecology & Evolution »

25/10 2017

Our Darling Downs food bowl at risk

Friend of the Environment,

For too long, farmers from the Acland region have been waiting. With lives on hold, they are waiting for the state government to stand up for their region, their health and Queensland’s best farmland.

Will you watch and share this story from the Darling Downs?

After a gruelling and historic case, the QLD Land Court recommended the rejection of Acland Stage 3 coal expansion. This was a historic win for communities.

But now the coal mining company is smashing the airwaves with ads pushing the mine at all costs.

The final decision is in the hands of our state government. They need to uphold the Land Court's findings that the impacts are too great. They must reject the Acland coal expansion.

You can help our farmers. Watch and share their latest video to make sure farming voices of the Darling Downs are heard.

Acland coal mine expansion from Lock the Gate Alliance on Vimeo.
Share on Facebook »

Yours for the love of QLD,

Hayley Troupe
Lock the Gate Queensland


25/10 2017

Eco-Business - News & Views

Editor's Choice

The SDGs turn 2: The journey so far

Participants at an event promoting SDG 14, life below water. What have we achieved two years after the birth of the SDGs? Image: © UNDP / Freya Morales, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Happy birthday SDGs! It's been two years since the world pledged to work together to eliminate poverty and protect the environment. How far have we come?
Read now »

Is nudging or policy the better way to a more sustainable society?

Vegetarian pizza. People can be 'nudged' towards more climate-friendly diets by making the vegetarian food the default option. Image: Sharada Prasad CS, CC BY 2.0Rather than forcing citizens to be more environmentally responsible with rules and regulations, is it better to persuade them by tapping into their subconscious?
Read now »

Green building certification: The sustainability movement’s secret weapon

In Hong Kong, buildings account for about 90 per cent of electricity use and more than 60 per cent of energy-related carbon emissions. Image: PixabayHong Kong Green Building Council head Sr Wong Bay explains how green building rating systems are an essential tool in the fight to achieve a net zero emissions built environment.
Read now »

News

All News

How 73 cities are using innovative climate action to ‘future-proof’ themselves

Jakarta’s main avenue during the monthly car-free day. Nearly 80 per cent of public green space in the Indonesian capital has been lost to development in the past 40 years. Image: Gunawan Kartapranata, CC BY 3.0, via Wikipedia CommonsA new report by think tank Sustainia suggests that climate action can achieve a twofold function: improve the quality of life in urban neighbourhoods most vulnerable to catastrophes, and help cities save money by reducing clean-up costs.
Read now »

Opinion

All Opinion

Preparing to live sustainably alongside increasing natural risks

The rooftops of cars peek through the flooded streets of Mumbai. Image: A Kap, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0The recent string of natural disasters has been a costly but critical lesson—that we need to prepare for more extreme weather, and protect the vulnerable who disproportionately bear the brunt of these, writes UNESCAP’s Shamshad Akhtar.
Read now »


Eco-Business » Newsletter »

25/10 2017

Record loss in global tree cover in 2016

Forest fires stoke record loss in world tree cover: monitor

OSLO (Reuters) - Forest fires in Brazil and Indonesia contributed to a record loss in global tree cover in 2016, equivalent to the size of New Zealand, that could accelerate deforestation blamed for climate change, an independent forest monitoring network said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Police and a fire fighter from a local forestry company try to extinguish a forest fire in the village in Rokan Hulu regency, Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia August 28, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.
Picture taken August 28, 2016. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/via REUTERS

Man-made global warming increased the risks of wildfires by adding to extreme heat and droughts in some regions, according to Global Forest Watch (GFW). This year, California and Portugal have been among places suffering deadly blazes.

The combination of forest fires with land use change and climate change could speed destruction in areas like the Amazon and contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the gases that contribute to global warming, the report said.

Worldwide, global tree cover losses rose 51 percent in 2016 from the previous year to 297,000 square kilometers (114,672 square miles), according to data from the University of Maryland compiled by Global Forest Watch (GFW).

That was a record high for GFW records stretching back to 2000, and contrasted with some other satellite measurements that indicated a slowdown in the pace of forest clearances to make way for farms, cities and roads.

We saw quite a dramatic spike in 2016, said Mikaela Weisse, research analyst at the U.S. think-tank World Resources Institute which oversees GFW. That seems to be related to forest fires in countries including Brazil, Indonesia and Portugal.

GFW measures loss of tree cover and does not estimate net changes in forests to take account of re-growth and new plantings.

By contrast, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, using different methods, says the net global rate of deforestation has slowed by more than 50 percent in the last 25 years.

GFW said Brazil’s Amazon region lost 37,000 square kilometers of tree cover in calendar 2016, almost three times more than in 2015.

That contrasts with official Brazilian data showing that deforestation in the Amazon fell 16 percent in August 2016 to July 2017 compared with the same period a year earlier. Brazil said it was the first decline in three years.

Brazil’s environmental agency Ibama said 2016 was the ninth-worst year for forest fires since monitoring began in 1998.

The dry climate and low humidity made man-made fires gain larger dimension, Ibama said in an email.

Weisse said GFW data often detected smaller-scale losses in tree cover, including in layers beneath the forest canopy, while the Brazilian data was better at recording clearances of large blocks of forest.

GFW said Indonesia lost almost 1 million hectares of tree cover in 2016, probably the delayed result of a severe fire season in 2015.

Read on REUTERS »

23/10 2017

ALERT | New Danger

New Danger: Invading Poachers Kill With Mega-Fires

In Africa, wildlife poachers invading into remote areas are using a deadly new weapon to kill animals: giant fires.

Hunters have traditionally used small fires to flush out game animals. But modern poachers—armed with automatic rifles and lethal wire snares—are using much bigger fires to kill or flush out wildlife.

Unfortunately, beyond devastating native ecosystems, the mega-fires are destroying the villages, farming plots, and livestock of traditional local peoples. Local rage against the invaders has peaked as several village residents were killed by the intense, unexpected fires.

Studies in Zimbabwe, Africa show that mega-fires are being lit by gangs of lawless young men, who do not live locally.

In Southeast Asia, many poachers hail from large cities or even foreign nations, with aggressive Vietnamese poachers being especially notorious.

ROADS TO RUIN

Globally, the crisis of forest invasion gets far worse when one adds in hundreds of thousands of kilometers of new roads cutting into the world’s last frontier areas.

Many of these roads are being made by loggers and miners, operativing legally or illegally.

In the rainforests of the Brazilian Amazon, a study by ALERT researchers found alarmingly high numbers of illegal roads. Across the region, there were about three kilometers of illegal roads for every one kilometer of legal road.

And just this week, an important new study revealed that Amazonian roads built for industrial mines are indirectly causing remarkably extensive deforestation, by allowing colonists to invade and destroy remote forests.

FATAL INFERNO

As the global footprint of roads rapidly expands, so does the prospect of destructive wildfires.

Rainforests that have been fragmented, logged, or scorched by surface fires are drier than intact forests, because their dense, insulating forest canopy—which keeps the rainforest humid and dark—has been disrupted or destroyed.

And when such a degraded forest is crisscrossed by new roads, it’s dead-easy for invaders to start mega-fires. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, mega-fires consumed millions of hectares of native rainforest and farmland in Roraima, Brazil.

But without the roads, it is far harder for invaders to colonize remote areas, making the conservation of forests and wildlife much easier.

And in addition to the environmental advantages, there can also be important social benefits of keeping forests road-free.

Without new roads, local peoples have a fighting chance to maintain their traditional livelihoods, with far less pressure from opportunistic, aggressive outsiders.

Without new roads, local peoples have a fighting chance to maintain their traditional livelihoods, with far less pressure from opportunistic, aggressive outsiders.

It comes down to this: stop the roads, stop the invaders, stop the poaching, stop the mega-fires, stop the devastation of traditional village lands.

It all starts with stopping the roads.

Read online »

23/10 2017

Logan Eco Forum

Photographer Steve Parish to visit Logan.

Photographer Steve Parish to help launch Logan’s first eco forum

AUSTRALIA’S premier wildlife photographer Steve Parish will be helping Logan continue its focus on the environment when he takes part in the city’s inaugural Eco Forum this week.

The award-winning nature photographer will join a highly credentialed list of conservation experts and hundreds of community members at the forum.

The theme of the first Eco Forum is Connect to Nature and high-profile presenters will cover a diverse variety of environmental topics – from tips to encourage children to play outdoors to nature and links to mental health.

Australian Conservation Foundation president Professor Ian Lowe, who has also been appointed to the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, will lead the discussion on biodiversity. Discovery Channel’s Snake Boss Julia Baker will shed light on her love of reptiles and reveal how connecting with nature has enriched her life.

A performance will keep the eco-at-heart entertained by bringing to life the tale of comedy and strife unfolding among birds as a lesson in nature, indigenous religion and morals. There will also be advice, practical demonstrations and innovative workshops to inspire sustainable living.

Logan Mayor Luke Smith said hundreds of eco-enthusiasts were expected to attend the free forum, cementing the city as a leader in environmental conservation.

It’s about promoting discussion, motivating action and raising awareness about the environment and conservation, he said. The forum, at Beenleigh on October 27, is free but participants must register.

Read online » Information & Registration » Program »

23/10 2017

Conservation Volunteers Australia - You're Invited!


23/10 2017

Species are threatened by major projects, not the other way around


23/10 2017

Research report | Creating liveable cities in Australia

Description

The co-benefits of urban liveability for the economy, social inclusion, environmental and social sustainability, and public health are now well recognised by all levels of government in Australia and internationally. Liveable communities are safe, socially cohesive and inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. They have affordable housing that is linked (via public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure) to employment; education; shops and services; public open space; and social, cultural and recreational opportunities.This report assesses the availability and implementation of policies governing seven characteristics of cities that can contribute to creating liveable communities, in Australian capital cities:

  • Walkability;
  • Public transport;
  • Public open space;
  • Housing affordability;
  • Employment;
  • Food environments; and
  • Alcohol environments

The research reported here received federal grant funding from multiple sources. The aims were to:

  • Identify state government urban planning policies and legislation and their targets that relate to key urban liveability policy domains;
  • Create and map indicators of urban liveability, based on state government policy documents, to assess the degree of policy implementation and spatial inequities in liveability across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane; and to
  • Map a set of evidence-based national liveability indicators from the Australian National Liveability Study found to be associated with chronic disease risk behaviours and/or health outcomes (for all Australian capital cities where data were available)

Two types of indicators were developed:

  • In four cities (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney) we reviewed state government urban planning, transport and infrastructure policies and legislation, to identify measurable spatial policy standards or targets that could be developed and mapped to benchmark and monitor the level of implementation of urban policies aimed at creating liveable communities;
  • In all Australian state and territory capital cities where comparable data were available, we developed and mapped national liveability indicators shown to be associated with the health and wellbeing of Australians.

This allowed us to make comparisons between cities.

Report details & download on Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) » Centre for Urban Research (RMIT) »

22/10 2017

Environment groups berate energy plan

Climate groups have poured scorn on the Turnbull government's national energy guarantee, saying it will be disastrous for the environment.

Conservation and advocacy groups have come out swinging against a "disastrous" energy and climate policy announced by the federal government.

Kelly O'Shanassy, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the prime minister's national energy guarantee released on Tuesday proved he had given up on climate change.

We know we have to make the shift to clean energy - not delay that shift - which is what the policy does, she told AAP in Canberra on Tuesday.

Elongating the life of coal is dangerous, and our government right now has made an incredibly dangerous decision.

The plan includes a reliability guarantee to ensure the power each state needs is delivered from sources such as coal, gas, pumped hydro and batteries.

Renewable energies including wind and solar would no longer be subsidised.

Ms O'Shannassy is urging state governments, businesses and everyday Australians to reject the plan.

An emissions guarantee would be set up to meet Australia's Paris reduction target, requiring legislation and enforced by the Australian Energy Regulator.

Retailers who persistently failed to meet their emissions guarantee would be kicked out of the market.

The pledge does not fill GetUp national director Paul Oosting with any hope.

What we've seen today is a clear policy announcement that stymies and stops the development of renewables and doesn't do anything do address climate change, he told AAP.

It is locking Australians into old technology - polluting technology like coal - burning for decades to come.

Mr Oosting said the plan did nothing to address the failing energy market or curb climate change.

He argued it instead showed the prime minister was trying to cling to power at the expense of the majority of Australians who wanted to see a rapid transition to renewables.


22/10 2017

We've got a fight ahead of us!

Friend of the Environment,

It’s worse than we imagined. The Turnbull Government’s latest attempt at energy policy looks like it will prop up electricity from dirty, out-of-date coal and gas. What utter nonsense!

They’re fumbling around in the dark with no plan for a transition to a brighter future powered by 100% clean, renewable power.

I’m tired of the Turnbull Government’s blatant pandering to the big polluters and their ceaseless anti-renewable attacks that are wreaking havoc on the clean energy industry.

Now more than ever, we need Queensland to lead the way with strong renewable energy policy and make sure we don’t have to wait around for the Federal Government to see the light. If we work together, we can stop the Federal Government’s outdated energy policy from casting a shadow on the progress of our sunny state.

With the state election looming, will you help build a chorus of community support for renewables that can’t be ignored? Sign the pledge for a sun-powered Queensland.

You and I know Queenslanders love solar with more than one in four houses powered by the sun. Add to that a large scale renewable energy boom with over 20 projects underway and it’s clear that the sun and the wind can power our state.

While the Turnbull Government dithers, it’s up to us to make sure that this new federal policy does not give state politicians the opportunity to undo our hard fought progress towards a brighter future.

As we gear up towards a state election, we need politicians of all stripes to know that there is a groundswell of community support for clean, renewable energy.

Will you add your name to the Sun Powered Queensland pledge today?

In sunny determination,

Louise Matthiesson
Queensland Campaigner
Solar Citizens

Solar Citizens is an independent community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to protect and grow solar in Australia. You can keep up with Solar Citizens on Twitter or like us on Facebook.


18/10 2017

10 Years of Earth Hour


18/10 2017

Help Protect The Aussie Places We Love


15/10 2017

News from #breakfreefromplastic!

Plastic-Spitting Dragon Protests at Our Oceans Conference in Malta | © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace

Our Ocean conference

On October 5th and 6th, the Our Ocean conference in Malta brought together royalty, governments and businesses to make bold commitments on ocean protection. Key #breakfreefromplastic movement members like Zero Waste Europe, Seas at Risk, Plastic Change International, and Greenpeace International made sure the conference was more than just talk and demanded binding action to address plastic pollution.

The iconic dragon spitting plastic waste from our recent Cleanup activities in Freedom Island, Europe, and around the world, called widespread attention to the need for rapid and ambitious policy and corporate accountability.

Global Coordinator, Von Hernandez discusses why we were in Malta, SHARE now!

Inside the conference, Nicky Davies, Program Director of the Plastic Solutions Fund, delivered a compelling presentation as part of a panel on marine pollution. Nicky’s speech was an effective counterweight to corporate commitments, none of which focused on the need for reduction and implementation of REAL zero-waste solutions!

other #breakfreefromplastic news...

Ban the Bead

ToothbrushThe Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) gathered key stakeholders from the health, environmental, and personal care sectors in Bangladesh to discuss the imminent threat of microplastic pollution. ESDO is set to pilot a project which aims to reduce or eliminate the use of microplastics to protect the Bay of Bengal.
Like & Share »

New Policy to Combat Waste

SMS staff led by Pratibha Sharma teaches residents in Mumbai on how to adopt a zero-waste model. Go Pratibha!
The city of Mumbai, India, which generates over 9,000 metric tons of garbage daily has a brand new policy to combat waste! Stree Mukti Sangathana, a women’s liberation group led by movement changemaker Pratibha Sharma (pictured above), teaches residents in Mumbai how to adopt zero-waste into their daily lives. Go Pratibha!
Tweet »



11/10 2017

Eco-Business - News & Views

Editor's Choice

Around the world in an electric car

Wiebe Wakker—pictured here in Penang, Malaysia—is traveling from the Netherlands to Australia in an electric car, without any money. Image: Wiebe WakkerWhat's it like to travel the world in an electric car, relying on donations of food, lodging and electricity? Eco-Business spoke to 30 year-old Dutchman Wiebe Wakker about his 51,000km journey from the Netherlands to Australia.
Read now »

Does technology a smarter city make?

Will the fourth industrial revolution bring about a more sustainable world? From left: Eco-Business's Jessica Cheam, Surbana Jurong Consultants' Tan Szue Hann, Government Technology Agency's Vivien Chow, and Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University's Subodh Mhaisalkar.Cost and culture have been big barriers to the adoption of more smart and sustainable solutions in cities. But is technology the cure-all we think it is anyway? Experts debated this at a forum held by Eco-Business and BMW.
Read now »

Australia's energy must be two-thirds renewable to meet 2030 climate target

Wind turbines in Victoria, Australia. Renewable energy made up 13 per cent of Australia's energy mix in 2016. Image: Rodney Campbell, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Australia has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2030. A five-fold increase in the share of renewables in its energy mix by then is the cheapest way to meet this goal, new research has found.
Read now »

News

All News

World can meet growing food demands and limit warming to 1.5C

Farmer dries rice in front of her home in Kampung Thum, Cambodia. Image: De kleine rode kater, CC BY 2.0Carbon emissions from agriculture can be significantly cut while still meeting the food demands of the world’s growing population, a new study says.
Read now »

Opinion

All Opinion

Solar power alone won't solve energy or climate needs

A portable solar panel system is set up next to a building in Mongolia. Solar energy systems on average deliver between 10 to 12 per cent of installed capacity. Image: Dave Lawrence/World Bank, CC BY-NC-NDThe tumbling prices of solar technology has helped to kick-start the clean energy revolution, but it’s not the silver bullet to solving climate change. Jatin Nathwani from the University of Waterloo explains why.
Read now »


Eco-Business » Newsletter »

11/10 2017

Land Clearing Alliance message to HOPE

Getting involved in the Queensland Land Clearing Alliance

Dear Friends of the Environment,

As you may have seen, land clearing in Queensland just got a whole load worse, and it was already really bad. Official data released last week showed a 33% increase in clearing in2015/16. This included a 45% increase in GBR catchment clearing, and the further decimation of regional ecosystems such as the Brigalow Belt. Peri urban clearing is also a major ongoing problem for wildlife and critical habitat. Right now, every second we have a tree destroyed and an animal killed in Queensland from clearing.

Thanks to all of you who have already helped get this message out. The campaign to raise and re-awaken community awareness about land clearing is swinging into action...but we need to make sure Queenslanders are reminded of the scale of the problem and the need for stronger laws complemented by initiatives for forest and woodland retention and carbon farming.

The Queensland Land Clearing Alliance, which makes up a number of conservation and wildlife carer groups has produced a 10 Point Plan to Reduce Tree Clearing:

  1. Use all available means to immediately protect forests and woodlands currently under threat from tree clearing, including declarations prohibiting clearing in sensitive Queensland areas;
  2. Permanently protect remnant/old-growth forests and woodlands from being cleared;
  3. Permanently protect high conservation value forests and woodlands from tree clearing;
  4. Apply a consistent approach to protection of forests and woodlands across all sectors responsible for excessive tree clearing (including agriculture, urban development and mining);
  5. Ensure strong monitoring, enforcement and resourcing of tree clearing laws;
  6. Remove high risk self-assessable clearing codes, particularly for ‘thinning’;
  7. Continue to improve mapping for vegetation and halt exemptions via property maps;
  8. Establish a land carbon fund and resource relevant state departments to research land carbon opportunities for Queensland land holders;
  9. Ensure all clearing is referred to the Australian Government for approval, if it is likely to impact on protected matters under Federal environmental law;
  10. Commit to regular (minimum annual) full reporting of clearing data and impacts.

Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) is a lead coordinating organisation in the Alliance, and our aim is to provide information and advice about the issues and solutions, assist with things like photos of clearing and impacted wildlife, and support for media and comms. If your organisation would like to be part of the Queensland Land Clearing Alliance, please let me know asap.

Even if you don’t wish to be part of the Alliance, you can still play an important role in helping to get the message out there on social and news media, and by talking about the issues in your organisations and communities.

Thanks for all you do for nature protection and climate action.

Tim

Dr Tim Seelig, QCC Coordinator
Queensland Conservation Council
9/10 Thomas Street, West End, QLD 4101
Email: tim.seelig@qldconservation.org.au


10/10 2017

Invitation to proposed 2018 FREE Going Solar Forums

Householders' Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc logo
Householders' Options to Protect the Environment Inc.
PO Box 6118 - Clifford Gardens, Toowoomba QLD 4350
(22 Vacy Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350)
Ph: 07 4639 2135; Email: office@hopeaustralia.org.au
Website: http://www.hopeaustralia.org.au
Facebook: http://www.hopeaustralia.org.au
ABN 48 036 173 161
Think Globally. Act Locally!

Invitation to proposed 2018 FREE Information Forums on "Going Solar - On/Off Grid with Battery Storage"

Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc., with the technical expertise provided by ACDC Energy, is proposing to stage a series of free information forums on “Going Solar – On/Off Grid with Battery Storage” in 2018.

ACDC Energy will outline the benefits of ‘going solar and/or upgrading your existing system’, and of the options available for the purchase and installation of solar PV and battery storage systems. ACDC Energy will provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions such as “solar power; battery storage; on/off grid … how does it all work?”

They will also offer expert advice for those looking for basic energy management, through to people considering going completely off the grid.

Solar systems are not just for domestic premises. Business owners, school representatives and community groups would be encouraged to come along to learn about how solar might benefit their organisations said Mr Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc.

Some advantages of solar include savings on electricity bills. Once a system is installed it costs virtually nothing to operate, saving you money on your power bills. Solar also benefits the environment by providing clean energy - for every 1kw of solar installed a tonne of C02 is saved every year, added Mr Ondrus.

Expressions of interest are now being sought from anyone interested in attending one of the proposed information forums.

Please register your interest by contacting HOPE at office@hopeaustralia.org.au

Frank Ondrus, President - HOPE Inc.

Frank Ondrus, President – HOPE Inc., ph 07 4639 2135


10/10 2017

National Recycling Week : 13 - 19 November 2017

All you need to know for National Recycling Week plus carbon neutral workplaces and living sustainably tips

5 ways to start your environmental sustainability journey today

Coffee Cup_Keep Cup © Keep CupAre you finding that you're becoming more and more aware of environmental issues, want to do your part but feeling overwhelmed about where to start? We've got you sorted.
Find our more …

Fight waste and get a bargain at the Big Aussie Swap

Big Ausssie SwapPlanet Ark is calling on Australians to join the War on Waste and take part in the Big Aussie Swap during National Recycling Week from 13th - 19th November, as councils, community groups and individuals around the country get on board.
Find our more …

Have a fun fling!

Friday File FlingThe Friday File Fling, supported by Planet Ark 100% Australian Recycled Paper is a fun, easy and a great way to de-clutter your office. And a perfect fit for an office team engagement activity, just add drinks and nibbles!
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Celebrating more than 10 years being Carbon Neutral

Wind turbineBusinesses have the opportunity to set themselves apart by showing true leadership in sustainability. Printing and marketing firm, Finsbury Green, is one who has certainly taken the lead. With a robust environmental strategy that has been developed over 15 years, they have some impressive environmental achievements.
Find our more …

Planet Ark » National Recycling Week »

Land Clearing Alliance Statement

New dramatic escalation in tree clearing in Queensland shows why stronger laws must be passed

  • New data shows disastrous increase in deforestation / tree clearing rates, resulting in millions of native animals including our iconic koala being killed and injured
  • Newman LNP Government’s gutting of tree laws 4 years ago a critical factor
  • Campaign for stronger laws against tree clearing to be feature of the state election

The latest Queensland Statewide Landcover and Tree Survey (SLATS) has just been released by the State government, indicating that 395,000 hectares of land was cleared in Queensland in the last twelve months for which we have data. This report shows a further dramatic rise in clearing of forests, woodlands and trees in Queensland between 2015-2016.

Clearing has risen by another 33% over the previous year, and the published data are still at least one year behind real time suggesting things could be far worse still today.

Organisations including WWF-Australia, the Wilderness Society and the Queensland Conservation Council have responded with a renewed call for stronger laws to save Queensland’s unique wildlife - before it’s too late.

Queensland is in the midst of a hidden environmental crisis from deforestation, said Wilderness Society Queensland Campaign Manager Gemma Plesman.
These new figures are shocking, putting Queensland up there with the world’s worst offenders for forest destruction. More than 1 million hectares of bush, forest and trees have been razed since our laws were weakened: that’s an area the size of the Gabba bulldozed every three minutes for the last 4 years.

Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig said: Queensland’s tree clearing crisis just got a whole load worse. This is yet another reminder of the scale of the problem we have with land clearing in this state, and why we must make our land clearing laws much better and more effective in protecting native wildlife.

The current Parliament has frustrated attempts to do this, and in the meantime ever larger areas of Queensland are being destroyed by the bulldozers.

The next Queensland Government needs to commit to strengthening laws on tree-clearing, protect wildlife and bushland and ensure a future for species such as the endangered koala. We will be looking closely at the environmental policies of the parties and candidates contesting the next election and assessing those policies in terms of capacity to practically reduce the level of land clearing in Queensland, and otherwise protect natural habitats and wildlife.

WWF-Australia Protected Areas and Conservation Science Manager Dr Martin Taylor said: Excessive tree clearing destroys our forests and bushland, kills and injures millions of native animals, including the endangered koala, and threatens the Great Barrier Reef through muddy runoff. We need stronger laws to protect our landscapes and forests, our food and water supplies, our soils and climate. If we lose these animals, we can’t get them back. They’re gone forever.

We already know that at least 84,000 ha of critical Queensland habitat for koalas was cleared in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years. With the total area bulldozed leaping up by 33% statewide we expect even more koala habitat has been destroyed in the period of this new report. That means hundreds of koalas killed, injured and homeless. Losing Queensland's faunal emblem would be a tragedy.

Vanda Grabowski from Koala Action Inc said: We see the horrible consequences of clearing. I’ve raised over 50 rescued koalas personally, many of whom come back to me dead, sometimes within months, because they don’t have enough habitat left in which to survive after the area has been cleared. I see the direct results of deforestation and it breaks my heart. All the time I put in is wiped out by human interference. It’s heartbreaking especially when you know the government could easily stop this happening.

Environmental Defenders Office Qld law reform solicitor Revel Pointon said: In the meantime, we need the government to act right now to protect our wildlife, avoid dangerous climate change and meet our Reef 2050 commitments.

Firstly, the government needs to get rid of the worst of the previous government’s unsustainable self-assessable codes, such as the thinning code, which allows the majority of broadscale clearing now allowed in Queensland without assessment. Secondly, the government could be declaring restrictions on clearing over particularly sensitive areas, like reef catchments, that require immediate protection from their current exposure under the significantly weakened clearing laws.

The alliance comprises the Queensland Conservation Council, WWF-Australia, the Wilderness Society, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) Queensland, the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Gecko Environment Council, Mackay Conservation Group, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), the Queensland Koala Crusaders, and Koala Action Inc. Together these groups represent tens of thousands of Queenslanders.

The alliance is calling on all political parties to back the push for stronger tree-clearing laws to better protect remnant and other high conservation value woodlands and habitats, and to use a range of means to strengthen legal protections, remove risky self-assessments, support better enforcement, clearing monitoring and reporting.

Tim Seelig, Coordinator
Queensland Conservation Council

Check out this infographic highlighting the scale of the issues:

QCC landclearing infographic
View | Download

08/10 2017

The truth about gas

The Australia Institute has been hard at work debunking the gas lies and econobabble.

Because the simple the truth is, we have enough cheap easy-to-extract gas in Australia to last 100 years. As Australia Institute advisor, Mark Ogge, wrote in Crikey -- there's just one problem: private corporations are selling it all overseas.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? But it’s true. In the last decade, tens of thousands of square kms of Queensland farmland has been covered in gas fields.

The export gas rush in Australia is one of the largest and fastest expansions of a gas industry ever seen, anywhere in the world. We are awash with gas. The problem is we are allowing almost all of the cheap and 'easy-to-get-at' gas to be sent overseas.

When Gov strikes deal with gas exporters for domestic supply is a headline trumpeted by the media as a Coalition win, you know there's a problem somewhere.

Are we as a community really expected to believe that it's generous of gas exporters to let Australians use their own gas?

And as Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Frydenberg turn up the heat on the Northern Territory Government, our Director of Research, Rod Campbell hit back on ABC's PM , saying the Federal Government's arguments are pure politics, and not based on economics.

And as Executive Director Ben Oquist said on SkyNews, it is a total, deliberate distraction to be beating up on communities who want to protect their groundwater and farmland, like those in Narrabri, to suggest they are responsible for the gas shortage.

Three important points to remember about the so-called gas crisis:

  1. The 'gas crisis' is not about abundance of gas, it's about price of gas. It's a gas price crisis.
  2. We have tripled the amount of gas supply in eastern Australia. As a nation we've seen one of the biggest gas booms in the history of the planet, and yet we're being told we're running out.
  3. This is all about the politics of: who allowed gas exports in the first place, who should have done something since, and what can be done in the coming months.

The thing is, despite the outrageous gas prices Australian households are paying, our research shows voters back state fracking bans.

In fact, as reported in The Guardian Australia Institute research shows twice as many Australians support a moratorium on fracking in their respective states than oppose.

So the good news is despite the Turnbull Government continuing to use states and state-based fracking restrictions as a scapegoat for gas prices, our research shows voters aren't buying it.

~ The Australia Institute Team

P.S. This isn't new, Richard Denniss has written numerous pieces about the gas price crisis and how we got here. Back in March he wrote this blistering op-ed in the Fairfax media, Where Did All the Gas Go? likening the current gas price crisis to the Irish potato famine:

"Just as the Irish exported huge quantities of food during the famine that cost nearly one million lives, Australia is exporting record amounts of gas in the middle of an alleged 'energy crisis'."
"You can see why Mr Turnbull would rather blame the states and environmentalists than explain clearly that so-called 'free trade' has losers as well as winners. But such blame shifting will do nothing to lower gas prices, or help avoid blackouts next summer."

And in his essay in The Monthly, Feeding the Beast, Richard explores the cosy relationship between gas lobbyists and our energy policy, writing:

"Politics will decide how much harm the gas industry can do to our farms, our environment and our other industries. That’s why ex-politicians are so important to it."

P.S.S. Sadly, our report Cooking up a Price Rise published four years ago in July 2013 also predicted a gas price crisis, saying at the time:

"Gas prices in eastern Australia are going to rise substantially. These price rises are not driven by a lack of supply but rather by an increase in demand. Once the eastern Australian gas market is connected to the world gas market, domestic gas producers will be able to sell at the world netback price – also known as the export parity price – which is substantially higher than current gas prices."
The Australia Institute » Read on Medium »

08/10 2017

RenewEconomy | A very important question

Why are we still pursuing the Adani Carmichael mine?

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Gautam Adani are still resolved to press ahead with the Carmichael mine, with taxpayers’ help. AAP Image/Cameron Laird

Why, if Adani’s gigantic Carmichael coal project is so on-the-nose for the banks and so environmentally destructive, are the federal and Queensland governments so avid in their support of it?

Once again the absurdity of building the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine was put in stark relief on Monday evening via an ABC Four Corners investigation, Digging into Adani.

Where the ABC broke new ground was in exposing the sheer breadth of corruption by this Indian energy conglomerate. And its power too. The TV crew was detained and questioned in an Indian hotel for five hours by police.

It has long been the subject of high controversy that the Australian government, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) that is still contemplating a A$1 billion subsidy for Adani’s rail line, a proposal to freight the coal from the Galilee Basin to Adani’s port at Abbot Point on the Great Barrier Reef.

But more alarming still, and Four Corners touched on this, is that the federal government is also considering using taxpayer money to finance the mine itself, not just the railway.

No investors in sight

As private banks have walked away from the project, the only way Carmichael can get finance is with the government providing guarantees to a private banking syndicate, effectively putting taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in project finance.

The prospect is met with the same incredulity in India as it is here in Australia:

FOUR CORNERS:
Watching on from Delhi, India’s former Environment Minister can’t believe what he is seeing
JAIRAM RAMESH:
Ultimately, it’s the sovereign decision of the Australian Government, the federal government and the state government
FOUR CORNERS:
But public money is involved, and more than public money, natural resources are involved
JAIRAM RAMESH:
I’m very, very surprised that the Australian government, uh, for whatever reason, uh, has uh, seen it fit, uh, to all along handhold Mr Adani.

Here we have a project that does not stack up financially, and whose profits – should it make any – are destined for tax haven entities controlled privately by Adani family interests. Yet the Queensland government has shocked local farmers and environmentalists by gifting Adani extremely generous water rights, and royalties concessions to boot.

Why are Australian governments still in support?

The most plausible explanation is simply politics and political donations. There is no real-time disclosure of donations and it is relatively easy to disguise them, as there is no disclosure of the financial accounts of state and federal political parties either. Payments can be routed through opaque foundations, the various state organisations, and other vehicles.

Many Adani observers believe there must be money involved, so strident is the support for so unfeasible a project. The rich track record of Adani bribing officials in India, as detailed by Four Corners, certainly points that way. But there is little evidence of it.

In the absence of proof of any significant financial incentives however, the most compelling explanation is that neither of the major parties is prepared to be wedged on jobs, accused of being anti-business or anti-Queensand.

There are votes in Queensland’s north at stake. Furthermore, the fingerprints of Adani’s lobbyists are everywhere.

Adani lobbyist and Bill Shorten’s former chief of staff Cameron Milner helped run the re-election campaign of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. This support, according to The Australian, has been given free of charge:

Mr Milner is volunteering with the ALP while keeping his day job as director and registered lobbyist at Next Level Strategic Services, which counts among its clients Indian miner Adani…
The former ALP state secretary held meetings in April and May with Ms Palaszczuk and her chief of staff David Barbagallo to negotiate a government royalties deal for Adani, after a cabinet factional revolt threatened the state’s largest mining project.

Adani therefore enjoys support and influence on both sides of politics. Next Level Strategic Services co-director David Moore — an LNP stalwart who was Mr Newman’s chief of staff during his successful 2012 election campaign — is also expected to volunteer with the LNP campaign.

So it is that Premier Palaszczuk persists with discredited claims that Carmichael will produce 10,000 jobs when Adani itself conceded in a court case two years ago the real jobs number would be but a fraction of that.

If the economics don’t stack up, why is Adani still pursuing the project?

The Adani group totes an enormous debt load, the seaborne thermal coal market is in structural decline as new solar capacity is now cheaper to build than new coal-fired power plants and the the government of India is committed to phasing out coal imports in the next three years.

Why flood the market with 60 million tonnes a year in new supply and further depress the price of one of this country’s key export commodities?

The answer to this question lies in the byzantine structure of the Adani companies themselves. Adani already owns the terminal at Abbot Point and it needs throughput to make it financially viable.

Both the financial structures behind the port and the proposed railway are ultimately controlled in tax havens: the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Singapore. Even if Adani Mining and its related Indian entities upstream, Adani Enterprises and Adani Power, lose money on Carmichael, the Adani family would still benefit.

The port and rail facilities merely clip the ticket on the volume of coal which goes through them. The Adani family then still profits from the privately-controlled infrastructure, via tax havens, while shareholders on the Indian share market shoulder the likely losses from the project.

As the man who used to be India’s most powerful energy bureaucrat, E.A.S. Sharma, told the ABC: My assessment is that by the time the Adani coal leaves the Australian coast the cost of it will be roughly about A$90 per tonne.

We cannot afford that, it is so expensive.

More questions than answers remain

This renders the whole project even more bizarre. Why would the government put Australian taxpayers on the hook for a project likely to lose billions of dollars when the only clear beneficiaries are the family of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and his Caribbean tax havens.

My view is that this project is a white elephant and will not proceed. Given the commitment by our elected leaders however, it may be that some huge holes in the earth may still be dug before it falls apart.

RebnewEconomy » The Conversation »

07/10 2017

HOPE congratulates iCANw on their Nobel Peace Prize

iCANw (International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons) wins Nobel Peace Prize 2017

Nobel Peace Prize 2017

It is a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.

This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.

It is a tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the hibakusha – and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose searing testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in securing this landmark agreement.

The treaty categorically outlaws the worst weapons of mass destruction and establishes a clear pathway to their total elimination. It is a response to the ever-deepening concern of the international community that any use of nuclear weapons would inflict catastrophic, widespread and long-lasting harm on people and our living planet.

We are proud to have played a major role its creation, including through advocacy and participation in diplomatic conferences, and we will work assiduously in coming years to ensure its full implementation. Any nation that seeks a more peaceful world, free from the nuclear menace, will sign and ratify this crucial accord without delay.

The belief of some governments that nuclear weapons are a legitimate and essential source of security is not only misguided, but also dangerous, for it incites proliferation and undermines disarmament. All nations should reject these weapons completely – before they are ever used again.

This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror. The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more. If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.

We applaud those nations that have already signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and we urge all others to follow their lead. It offers a pathway forward at a time of alarming crisis. Disarmament is not a pipe dream, but an urgent humanitarian necessity.

We most humbly thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This award shines a needed light on the path the ban treaty provides towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Before it is too late, we must take that path.


07/10 2017

Homeless and Helpless - Native Wildlife Need Our Help

Hi Friend of the Environment

This week, the Queensland Government released the latest figures from the State Land-cover And Trees Survey . The results are horrifying - but not unexpected. In just one year, nearly 400,000 hectares of native Australian wildlife habitat has been bulldozed in Queensland. That is one tree ripped up every second, one animal killed every second.

The rate of land clearing has gone up 33% compared to the previous year. Enough is enough… We need stronger land clearing laws in Queensland! With the state election looming, there has never been a more important time to come together and make sure our politicians stick to their promises and strengthen land clearing legislation.

This time around, we need to make sure that tree clearing and wildlife protection are high on the election agenda. Help us out by donating today. Your donation of $50 will get this important message out to another 8,000 people! With your help, we can build a state-wide movement to demand strong action on land clearing and save our native wildlife.

The time is now to take action on land clearing. Every donation, petition signature, and offer to volunteer makes a huge difference. We can't win this without you!

Yours for the environment,

Tim Seelig, QCC Coordinator
Queensland Conservation Council


06/10 2017

Ecosystem Services review paper from Costanza et al

Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go?

Abstract

It has been 20 years since two seminal publications about ecosystem services came out: an edited book by Gretchen Daily and an article in Nature by a group of ecologists and economists on the value of the world’s ecosystem services. Both of these have been very highly cited and kicked off an explosion of research, policy, and applications of the idea, including the establishment of this journal. This article traces the history leading up to these publications and the subsequent debates, research, institutions, policies, on-the-ground actions, and controversies they triggered. It also explores what we have learned during this period about the key issues: from definitions to classification to valuation, from integrated modelling to public participation and communication, and the evolution of institutions and governance innovation. Finally, it provides recommendations for the future. In particular, it points to the weakness of the mainstream economic approaches to valuation, growth, and development. It concludes that the substantial contributions of ecosystem services to the sustainable wellbeing of humans and the rest of nature should be at the core of the fundamental change needed in economic theory and practice if we are to achieve a societal transformation to a sustainable and desirable future.

View/download paper »

Prof. Robert Costanza | VC's Chair in Public Policy | The Australian National University | Crawford School of Public Policy | Website: www.robertcostanza.com, Google Scholar, Research Gate, Scopus

Co-Editor in Chief, Solutions (www.thesolutionsjournal.com) | Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (RSA) | Fellow, Asia and the Pacific Policy Society | Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm, Sweden | Senior Fellow, National Council on Science and the Environment, Washington, DC. | Affiliate Fellow, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont | Co-chair, Ecosystem Services Partnership (es-partnership.org) | deTao Master of Ecological Economics, deTao Masters Academy, Shanghai, China


03/10 2017

Save Australia's ecological research

Ecologists protest Australia’s plans to cut funding for environment-monitoring network

Scientists say the move will reduce the country’s capacity to predict future ecosystem changes.

Theo Allofs/Getty Images
Field sites in the Simpson Desert are part of Australia's Long Term Ecological Research Network.

Every year since 1990, ecologist Glenda Wardle of the University of Sydney has ventured to the same ex>panse of desert in central Australia to take stock of its flora and fauna. But this year may be the last time Wardle can collect data from the 8,000-square-kilometre site in the Simpson Desert. The consortium that operates her research area and 11 other long-term sites, comprising more than 1,100 individual field plots, will stop funding this network by the end of the year because of budget cuts and shifting priorities, say its leaders.

Without this money, which covers a large portion of the operating costs at these sites, 6 of the 12 will probably close, says ecologist David Lindenmayer, who is the science director of the network and is based at the Australian National University in Canberra. This would break time-series data that scientists have collected over decades, he says.

It’s a foolish decision given the environmental effects that are occurring throughout the world, and especially in Australia, says Gene Likens, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. Without the information collected at these long-term sites, he says, it will be impossible to know how to manage these landscapes effectively under climate change.

Other researchers, however, concede that tight budgets mean that not all facilities can be funded.

As Australia plans to cut its ecosystem-surveillance network, other countries are expanding theirs. The US National Science Foundation, for example, announced in March that it would expand its own network of 25 long-term ecological research (LTER) sites by adding 3 new ones. Terminating Australia’s LTER network is totally out of step with international trends and national imperatives, wrote Lindenmayer and 68 authors in a letter published in Science1 on 11 August. They say urgent and direct investment by the Australian government is crucial.

Budget cuts

The cuts in Australia follow years of piecemeal support for ecological research infrastructure. Only five years ago, the government tasked a consortium known as the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) with bringing together the country’s existing LTER sites. The dozen sites in the resulting Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN) cover deserts, rainforest, savannahs and alpine regions and collect data to answer questions specific to each ecosystem. The oldest field locations have been running continuously for 73 years.

In June, TERN director Beryl Morris and chair of the advisory board Lyn Beazley sent a letter to LTERN’s executive director, Emma Burns, stating that the network would not be funded beyond 2017. I was completely blindsided, says Burns, an ecologist at the Australian National University.

Burns says the reason given for cutting LTERN's funding, along with support for a complementary ecosystem-modelling facility known as eMAST, was so that TERN could meet the needs of the government’s planned environmental prediction system while staying within its budget, which is Aus$6 million (US$4.7 million) for 2016–17, a decrease of more than 50% since 2010–11. The government did not respond to questions from Nature about the future of LTERN.

Morris, who is based at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, where TERN is administered, says that TERN is funded as research infrastructure and must now develop an environmental prediction system open to all researchers. To do that, she says, it must collect data on a continental scale that is generalized, not bespoke, so you can predict from it.

But Burns says the local and international scientific communities do not agree that TERN can deliver an environmental prediction system without LTERN. Time-series data and modelling are essential to a prediction system, says Wardle.

Michael Mirtl, who chairs the International LTER Network and is based at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, says the network’s closure will be a loss for groups in other countries that looked to Australia for guidance on how to integrate an LTER network and other surveillance systems with data processing and modelling systems. I think many people in Australia making decisions were simply not aware of how excellent the Australian achievement was in the field, says Mirtl.

Experimental design

Plans to withdraw funding from LTERN resurrect an ongoing debate in ecology about whether it is better to invest limited resources for environmental forecasting in broad-scale surveillance — generating lots of data by taking the same measurements in the same way at sites across the landscape — or in targeted ecological monitoring, which looks for drivers of change in specific ecosystems.

Likens says that standardized surveillance and instruments are useful, but he and others, such as Lindenmayer, believe that monitoring should be driven by researchers asking questions that answer problems. In the tropics of northern Queensland, for example, cyclones are the main driver of environmental change, whereas in parts of inland Australia, cattle grazing is the biggest factor. That means you can’t just measure the same things in different environments, says Lindenmayer.

Ecologist Ben Sparrow of the University of Adelaide and environmental chemist Mike Liddell of James Cook University in Cairns, both of whom direct other TERN facilities, say TERN doesn’t have the money to keep all its facilities running. Sparrow says that arguing over the merits of broad-scale surveillance and targeted monitoring is not constructive: both systems are necessary for understanding the environment, as is remote sensing using satellites. The fundamental point is the lack of resourcing from the government, says Sparrow.

Reference

  1. Lindenmayer, D. et al. Science 357, 557 (2017).
View article on Nature

02/10 2017

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Jerry Coleby-Williams profile photoBorn in London to a family of gardeners and farmers, Jerry Coleby-Williams has been passionate about plants since he was four years old.

Coleby-Williams fell in love with Australia after being awarded a scholarship to study West Australian flora in 1982. Captivated by the native plant life, 'unspoiled' landscapes and Australian people, he decided to emigrate in 1992.

Since then, Coleby-Williams has become one of the nation's foremost authorities on conservation and horticultural matters – serving as horticultural consultant for Queensland Conservation's first official policies on food and grey water use, as well as drafting the proposed management of weeds on Lord Howe Island, consulting for the renovation of several of Sydney's parks and gardens, managing the estate of Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens, and much more.

Since 1999, Coleby-Williams has also been a regular presenter on ABC TV's Gardening Australia, and is highly involved in horticultural publishing, being a writer and consultant for Gardening Australia Magazine.

Check out his superb site & blog: Jerry Coleby-Williams | Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

(And we gratefully acknowledge that Jerry is Patron of HOPE.)