What's New?

23/04 2018

Invite to Toowoomba BirdLife Aust. Community Forum

BirdLife Australia’s National Roadshow --- Act for Birds, Act for Nature

Advocating for a New Generation of Environmental Laws to Protect our Environment

Community Forum, Toowoomba

Tuesday 8th May 2018
7pm to 9pm
Laurel Bank Park Hall, 50 Hill St, Toowoomba

Join BirdLife in Toowoomba this May to hear about how nature laws are failing our birds and what we can do to help our feathered friends.

BirdLife Australia is calling for stronger nature laws that genuinely protect our wonderful birds and their precious habitats. Our Act for Birds campaign is live, our report just launched, and across the environmental movement as a whole we're starting to see the extinction crisis getting the national media attention it deserves.

But our real power to secure stronger nature laws – and better outcomes for birds - lies in the stories and voices of local bird-lovers from around the country. So, BirdLife will be hosting 8 public community forums across the country!

This series of community forums will bring together people who care about birds and nature to share knowledge and take action. Attendees will get the chance to improve their understanding of this national issue, why it’s important and how it relates to you. We'll talk through exactly how the current system of nature laws is fundamentally broken and offer practical ways to take action about the local issues that matter to you.

This will be a great opportunity for passionate nature lovers (like you!) to connect with one another, come up with ideas of your own, and take action together for the places and birds you love!

Bookings essential. Refreshments provided.

RSVP via www.actforbirds.org/community-forum-toowoomba.


18/04 2018

Why is Tony Abbott still deciding our energy policy?

It's crunch time!

Malcolm Turnbull is pushing a pathetic national energy plan that will keep ageing coal plants on life support and deliver less renewables than doing nothing at all.1 Next week State Premiers and Energy Ministers will come together to decide the fate of Turnbull's National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

What GetUp members do right now could impact energy policy for years to come. Will the states fight back against Turnbull's anti-renewables agenda? Or will they accept it, and let him drive renewables investment into the ground?

For the sake of a safe climate, we need to convince State Energy Ministers to reject Turnbull's anti-renewables plan until he starts negotiating with them, rather than the coal-huggers on his own backbench.

Over 19,000 GetUp members have already signed an open letter calling on State Premiers and Energy Ministers to reject any national energy plan that doesn't grow renewables. We're hustling to get the open letter published as a full page ad in The Age on the day the Energy Ministers meet. This is our last chance to get even more signatures and show state governments how many Australians reject Turnbull's anti-renewable agenda.

Can you add your voice to the open letter right now to make sure State Energy Ministers oppose any national energy plan that doesn't grow renewables?

Thanks to GetUp members, the states are already feeling the pressure from everyday Australians who want a clean energy future.

But we have to keep pushing hard for the states to champion renewable energy. Because the last couple of weeks have shown how dangerous energy policy can be when it's written by the coal lobby.

Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg is bullying AGL to keep their clapped-out Liddell coal plant open past its expiry date. And he's openly admitted the National Energy Guarantee will extend the life of other pollution-spewing coal clunkers.3 Meanwhile, prominent coal cheerleaders such as Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, George Christensen and Craig Kelly have formed their own Coal Club -- the "Monash Forum" -- entirely dedicated to building new coal-burning power plants.4

These dinosaurs are trying to keep Australia choking on polluting 19th-century energy. The good news is that State Premiers and Energy Ministers have the power to stop their dangerous pro-coal agenda. But we've only got a week to make sure they stand up for what the people want -- not what Tony Abbott wants.

Can you sign the open letter to show State Energy Ministers how many Australians want a clean energy future?

When politicians make policy for a handful of mining billionaires, it's ordinary Australians who suffer. Every time they prop up outdated coal, they hurt the rural communities at increased risk of bushfires, the tourism operators watching the Reef die before their eyes, and the families breathing in toxic pollution from coal-burning power plants.

Malcolm Turnbull has a plan to please Tony Abbott's Coal Club. We've got a plan to make them irrelevant. But we've only got one week to make it count.

Sign the open letter to make sure State Energy Ministers back a plan for more renewable energy, not more coal: www.getup.org.au/neg

Thanks for being a renewable energy champion,
Miriam and Adam, for the GetUp team

16/04 2018

BirdLife is hitting the road!

Dear Friends of the Environment,

Starting Thursday 12 April, we're hitting the road, stopping in communities across the country to bring together people (like you!) who care about our birds and want to help.

We will be holding a series of town hall events bringing the Act for Birds campaign to as many people as we can. The time to Act for Birds is now - come along to a town hall event near you!

Melbourne Perth Adelaide Hobart Toowoomba Brisbane Cairns Sydney

You'll hear from local guest speakers about how our current nature laws are affecting your community and local bird life, and we will offer you practical ways to take immediate action and make your voice heard. For some, this issue may be a bit daunting, and that’s why we want to provide you with the information and confidence you need to speak up for birds.

Too many of our birds are threatened with extinction because Australia’s nature laws are weak, under resourced or poorly implemented.

Together we can create a system where science is respected and the community is heard. We have the plan to make this a reality, but it will take all of us coming together and speaking up to make the change we need.

Margaret Quixley
Conservation Manager

Act for Birds
Act for Nature campaign …
birdlife Australia …

16/04 2018

The Climate Photo Challenge

On the hunt for the photo that could change our future

Dear Friend of the Environment,

This photo above was taken as I perched on the edge of a Zodiac boat while on an expedition to Antarctica last month. While I tried to absorb the scale and beauty of these icebergs, it was also a visible reminder of how the Earth's last pristine continent is warming more rapidly than anywhere else on earth.

This is why Eco-Business's Changing Course campaign aims to tell stories about the impacts of climate change, to inspire meaningful change in our society.

I'm excited to announce that as part of this campaign, we are launching a global climate photo challenge and would like to invite you to get involved.

Remember the photo ‘Napalm Girl’ and how it changed the Vietnam war? The image was unprecedented at the time and it is thought to be one of the most memorable photographs of the 20th century.

We want to find that equally powerful image for climate change for the 21st century.

Separately, we are also hosting an Instagram competition for youth aged below 25. All you have to do is to like Eco-Business on Instagram and post your photo publicly on your Instagram account with the hashtag #changingcourse.

Winning photos will be exhibited at the Changing Course exhibition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site attracting millions of visitors a year, from 1st June to 12th July 2018.

Please help us spread the word on this Challenge and send it to anyone who might be interested. We look forward to finding that photo that could change our future!

Jessica Cheam
Managing Editor

Read about how to enter the Climate Photo Challenge here!

06/04 2018

World Heritage Day, 18th of April 2018

Gondwana rainforests © Tourism Queensland

Heritage for Generations

The 18th April 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of World Heritage Day. In April 1982, the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) conceived the World Heritage Day idea, and it was approved in 1983 by the 22nd United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference. The theme for 2018 is ‘Heritage for Generations’. This event reminds us of the importance of the preservation of cultural and natural sites all over the world, both for current and future generations.

As of July 2017, there are 1,073 sites in the world in 167 countries, of which 832 sites are cultural, 206 natural, and 35 mixed properties. Italy has the largest number of sites with 53, followed by China (52), Spain (46), France (43), Germany (42), India (36), Mexico (34) and United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories (31).

Australia has nineteen heritage sites, mainly natural sites, of which five are in Queensland:

  • Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (1986, 1994)
  • Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte) (1994)
  • Fraser Island (1992)
  • Great Barrier Reef (1981)
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland (1988)

Householder’s Option to Protect the Environment (HOPE) Inc. (Australia) would like to emphasise the importance of preserving World Heritage sites and to understand their importance especially from the environmental perspective. The preservation of our natural and cultural treasures is paramount to preserve the unique ecosystem that Australia has.

World Heritage Day represents an occasion to think about nature and its connection with culture. It also can be the occasion to visit Queensland’s heritage sites to admire and learn more about them in person.

You can join the growing movement that genuinely cares about the environment!

24/03 2018

You're invited to participate in a national survey!

Telling the Health Story About Net Zero Emissions

How do you communicate about health and climate change?

The evidence on climate change communication shows that talking about the health benefits of strategies to cut emissions can build motivation and support for action.

This survey has been developed by ClimateWorks Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance to evaluate the needs of health stakeholders when it comes to communicating solutions to tackle climate change.

ClimateWorks and Climate and Health Alliance are working together to find out from health stakeholders about how they communicate with peers, networks, constituents, and decision-makers about health and climate change.

We are seeking to use this information to support and activate the voices of influential organisations and leaders within the health sector to strengthen the narrative and traction on climate change solutions.

This survey aims to gather insights from people and organisations in the health sector on the opportunities and barriers around increasing communications and engagement on climate solutions (toward net zero emissions) in Australia.

We would be delighted if you would complete this survey, available via the link below, to help kickstart this conversation.

Please complete this short survey »

This survey will remain open until Friday 30th March 2018.

Many thanks in advance for your participation.

Michelle Isles and Claire Connell (ClimateWorks)
Fiona Armstrong (Climate and Health Alliance)

21/03 2018

Join the Sustainability Program

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 logo

Sustainable living with HOPE!

How do you care for the environment? Do you make a conscious effort to live sustainably? Do you recycle, reuse and repurpose?

If you are one of the growing number of Australians wanting to create a more sustainable future, we invite you to join our national organisation, Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment Inc. (HOPE) to learn more about how you can adopt simple, sustainable living practices.

Joining HOPE is free-of-charge and open to individuals, families, businesses and community organisations

So, what does HOPE do?

HOPE offers practical solutions and simple steps on how you can live more gently on Earth. We empower people to be more thoughtful about their environmental footprint and to make progressive changes at home and in their community. We provide:

  • Access to information about current environmental issues;
  • Support for education, including suggestions on how to tackle these issues; and
  • Practical examples of how easily it can be done.

How can you make a difference?

  • Take notice of the environmental issues at home and in the wider community;
  • Use the resources available around you, including technology and community networks; and
  • Lead by example by reducing your consumption and adopting other sustainable practices.

HOPE offers a range of resources, including ‘helpful hints’ brochures and runs a variety of practical workshops and meetings throughout the year. Through education, HOPE work’s to inspire people to ‘think globally, act locally’.

As the need to live sustainably continues to become more crucial, HOPE is looking to strengthen their network and grow their membership and supporter base.

You can join the growing movement that genuinely cares about the environment!

For more information or to become a member, contact HOPE on (07) 4639 2135 or office@hopeaustralia.org.au. Follow HOPE on Facebook and Twitter, and head to the website, www.hopeaustralia.org.au to subscribe to their newsletter.

24/03 2018


Climate Emergency Declaration

The 3-level of government Climate Emergency Declaration petition and campaign targets all levels of government since individual states or territories could declare a climate emergency earlier than the federal government might. (See the local council level of the campaign here.) See state/territory politicians who aleady support a Climate Emergency Declaration here.

No More Bad Investments (NMBI)

One major role of state/territory governments is setting the legislation and regulations that control the types of projects that are approved within their own jurisdiction. Accordingly, by far the easiest and most obvious component of climate emergency action at the state/territory level is for governments to ban new projects that would make climate change worse. Therefore we are running No More Bad Investments (NMBI) campaigns in various states and territories in parallel with the Climate Emergency Declaration ask.

ALERT | Deforestation Catastrophe

Australia Tries to Slow 'Deforestation Catastrophe'

Martin Taylor, a leading authority on land-use change with WWF-Australia and the University of Queensland, tells us about efforts to staunch a deadly tide of deforestation in Australia.

Beginning in 2012, rapid forest loss in the vast state of Queensland pushed Australia back onto the global list of deforestation fronts -- placing Australia among the worst forest-destroying nations on Earth.

This occurred after a newly-elected conservative government in Queensland reduced controls over bulldozing of native forests and woodlands -- a move later followed by other Australian states.

Bulldozing of forests and woodlands, mostly for livestock pastures, quickly ballooned after the controls were weakened. Scientists and conservationists, both in Australia and internationally, were appalled.

The results have been a catastrophe for Australian wildlife. At least 45 million mammals, birds, and reptiles are estimated to die every year as a result of habitat bulldozing, including over 1,000 koalas.

But a more progressive government in Queensland has just proposed new legislation to protect mature vegetation and high-conservation-value regrowth.

The new legislation is part of an election promise to drive down excessive land-clearing rates. and climate change.

Big Loopholes

A new report by WWF identifies two major loopholes that account for most of the land clearing -- and that must be closed to meet the election promise.

First, landowners can clear forests under "self-assessment provisions" -- effectively allowing clearing without a permit. This accounts for up to a quarter of all clearing.

The new legislation will crack down on the worst type of self-assessed clearing -- so-called "tree thinning" -- but it doesn't close the loophole entirely.

So-called “thinning” of mature ironbark forest -- which is legal under current Queensland legislation. The top half shows intact forest, and the lower half “thinned” forest.

Second, vast land areas are mapped as "exempt", with no restrictions on clearing. This accounts for nearly two-thirds of all clearing, according to the WWF report.

And while many exempt areas are shrubby regrowth, at least a quarter of these are advanced secondary forest that should not be exempt.

Unfortunately, landholders can 'lock-in' exemptions just by requesting a certified property map.

The new legislation will remove exemptions from 1 million hectares of advanced regrowth, a major step forward, but still leaves large areas exempt.

Have Your Say to Parliament

In a state that has seen catastrophic land-clearing, the proposed legislative changes for Queensland are welcome. But they still leave big gaps.

These gaps might might be partially filled by a promised “Land Restoration Fund,” which seems designed to buy back protection for existing exempt areas, on a voluntary basis.

But will the new legislation and fund be enough to drive down rapid clearing rates and slow the alarming loss of our biodiversity?

You can have your say by making a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry before 22 March 2018.

Tell them that Australia should not be one of the world's worst forest-destroying nations, and that it's essential that we dramatically curtail land clearing in Queensland.

The world will be keenly watching Australia to see what happens.

17/03 2018

China's global road-building plans

Dear colleagues,

I wanted to alert you to a very timely Correspondence piece that just came out in Nature, by our collaborators Alex Lechner and colleagues, highlighting critical priorities around China’s massive Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI).

The BRI projects—involving hundreds of new roads, ports, energy, and other infrastructure projects—will span much of Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, and Europe, and are going to change the world environmentally, economically, socially and politically.

As the BRI is unprecedented, I’m also attaching two of our relevant pieces that came out recently, and hyperlinks below to two recent popular articles:


Collectively, this would make a good set of readings for students or others interested in the BRI—one of the biggest global-change issues of our lifetime.

All best,

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)

17/03 2018

Invasive Species Council (ISC) | Guide for Policy Makers

Environmental Biosecurity Best Practice Guide

New types of foreign pests and weeds are getting into Australia every year. More than 50 invaders never seen before in Australia and harmful to the environment have been detected since 2000.

Each new infestation that reaches our shores increases the cost of looking after the country’s bushlands, seas and wildlife.

Every failure to eradicate an infestation risks environmental problems of epidemic proportions.

That is why we have produced a best-practice environmental guide for Australian policy makers. It shows how we can create a biosecurity system that’s properly aimed at delivering real environmental protection on behalf of all Australia

View/download guide »

17/03 2018

PYL gathering, 27-28 March 2018, Canberra

Date Claimer -- Invitation and update - Places You Love gathering, 27-28 March 2018, Canberra

Hi all,

It’s less than two weeks now until the Places You Love alliance is coming together in Canberra for two days of big ideas and big strategy on March 27 and 28.

As a Places You Love alliance organisation, you’re warmly invited to attend both days. While the first day – of big ideas – is open for anyone to attend, PYL alliance organisations are able to register for free. The second day – of big strategy – is open only to alliance organisations. You’ll need a password to register for the strategy day on the 28th. To book as an alliance organisation, contact HOPE on 07 4639 2135; or office@hopeaustralia.org.au.

Over the last month, our campaign has been front and centre of the Guardian environment series, and we’ve been hard at work updating the PYL policy before we hit the house on the hill to turn APEEL’s great ideas into strong laws. Check the draft policy which is in the process of being updated. We would greatly appreciate your views on the policy document.

Places You Love, along with APEEL, the Australian Committee for IUCN and the National Environmental Law Association are convening a national symposium on a new generation of environment laws in Canberra on the 27th March 2018.

To sign up go to the Eventbrite: betterlawsbetterplanet.eventbrite.com.au
For PYL alliance organisations select add ‘promotional code’ and type: complimentaryticket

Following the symposium Places You Love will be convening a national meeting of the alliance to be held on the 28th March in Canberra. This meeting will be a critical moment for galvanising our movement, sharing ideas and getting alignment on the best way to protect nature in Australia.

We will discuss key challenges, campaign options and strategies to win the fight for a new generation of environmental laws that effectively protect people and nature.

To sign up go to the pylnationalmeeting.eventbrite.com.au

For more information contact HOPE on 07 4639 2135; or office@hopeaustralia.org.au.

12/03 2018

Toowoomba Landcare Group | Community Field Day

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Vanessa on 0409 923 627 or email toowoombalandcare@gmail.com by Wednesday 14 March.

13/03 2018

Third Industrial Revolution, by Jeremy Rifkin

In 2011, Mr. Rifkin published the New York Times best seller, The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.

Jeremy Rifkin, an economist and political adviser, presents a highly ambitious text that describes some fundamental transformations underway in the world economy, provides a road map to future change and explains why such massive shifts are necessary. Many of the topics Rifkin discusses will be familiar to you, such as the threat of climate change or the potential of new collaborative business models. What Rifkin offers, and what makes his book both exciting and a bit daunting, is an overarching narrative that places technological, social and economic currents in historical and modern contexts. The result is both educational and engaging. getAbstract finds that his analysis will intrigue futurists, those interested in the intersection of technology and society, and anyone concerned about life on Earth.

Trailer: Economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin lays out a roadmap for the future to grow our economy and save the environment.

The film (a Vice production) is based around the theories Rifkin presented in his book of the same name, and two other of his books, The Empathic Civilization (2009) and Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014). The film explores the challenges of climate change and globalization, the opportunities created by the rise of the internet and automation, and how governments and corporations should be preparing for–and working to build–a society and economy driven by sustainable innovation, and powered by renewable and distributed energy. “I think the green shoots are coming up everywhere; we’re seeing telltale signs of what’s in the film,” Rifkin tells Fast Company. “My hope is if people see the film it will make sense to them because it’s already on the tip of their tongue. They know all the sentences, they just hadn’t put the chapters together. Then it just makes sense. And once that happens, they never go back. I think a lot of people are right there.”

Third Industrial Revolution on SBS On Demand

09/03 2018

Important research from ACF

New research reveals Australia’s critical habitat laws are broken

Australia’s national environment laws are failing to protect critical habitat that is crucial to saving our endangered species, a new report from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has found.

The new research reveals that Australia is lagging countries like the United States in preserving habitat vital for the protection of rare animals, plants, reptiles, fish and birds.

The research reveals:

  • Just five places are protected as critical habitat in Australia, the last in 2005.
  • There are over 100 threatened species whose critical habitat has been identified as essential to their survival, but has not been protected.
  • There is no legal penalty for wilfully damaging critical habitat on non-Commonwealth land.

ACF Healthy Eco-systems Campaigner, Jess Abrahams, said to avert Australia’s extinction crisis, and ensure species persist into the future, strong action is needed to protect the best areas of habitat that remain.

Our research shows how Australia’s existing laws are failing on many fronts Mr Abrahams said.

Despite having over 1900 nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities, Australia’s national critical habitat register protects only 5 places as critical habitat.

Given the immediacy of the threats to endangered wildlife, it is ridiculous that no critical habitat has been listed for any species since 2005. The experience in the United States, where critical habitat is routinely protected, is that threatened species begin recovering when their homes are properly protected.

Our current law provides patently inadequate protection to prevent the destruction of critical habitat. It is subject to the political whims of ministers who are afforded broad discretion and may be subject to the pull of vested interests.

Australia has the privilege of being one of the few mega-diverse nations in the world. Without proper protections, beloved species like the Leadbeater’s Possum could well be extinct within a few years. If we’re going to protect our native species we must fix these laws and we must do it now

The full report can be found here .

09/03 2018

Date Claimer: QTIC Workshop | Brisbane | 15 March

Dear friends,

For anyone in Brisbane on March 15th, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council is hosting a workshop from 12 - 3.00 PM at Southbank TAFE for members of the public to help in identifying what is needed for developing a Tourism Sector (climate change) Adaptation Plan.

The event page states this will help to protect the natural environment we rely on so heavily as an industry and to create benefits such as reduced costs and a competitive edge for businesses.

It would be great if representatives from across the environment conservation sector (not represented on their committee) can make it and provide input to this Plan.

Link to register: www.eventbrite.com.au/e/brisbane-workshop-changing-climate-changing-business-tickets-43155157237

Best regards,


Lisa Cliff | Climate Change Policy Officer
Queensland Conservation Council

07/03 2018

Important article from The Guardian

'Global deforestation hotspot': 3m hectares of Australian forest to be lost in 15 years

A koala mother and joey on a bulldozed log pile in Queensland. Photograph: WWF

Threatened species, pressure on Great Barrier Reef and climate change all worsened by full-blown land-clearing crisis

Australia is in the midst of a full-blown land-clearing crisis. Projections suggest that in the two decades to 2030, 3m hectares of untouched forest will have been bulldozed in eastern Australia.

The crisis is driven primarily by a booming livestock industry but is ushered in by governments that fail to introduce restrictions and refuse to apply existing restrictions.

And more than just trees are at stake.

Australia has a rich biodiversity, with nearly 8% of all Earth’s plant and animal species finding a home on the continent. About 85% of the country’s plants, 84% of its mammals and 45% of its birds are found nowhere else.

But land clearing is putting that at risk. About three-quarters of Australia’s 1,640 plants and animals listed by the government as threatened have habitat loss listed as one of their main threats.

Much of the land clearing in Queensland – which accounts for the majority in Australia – drives pollution into rivers that drain on to the Great Barrier Reef, adding to the pressures on it.

And of course land clearing is exacerbating climate change. In 1990, before short-lived land-clearing controls came into place, a quarter of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions were caused by deforestation. Emissions from land clearing dropped after 2010 but are rising sharply again.

It has gotten so bad that WWF International put it on the list of global deforestation fronts, the only one in the developed world on that list, says Martin Taylor, the protected areas and conservation science manager at WWF Australia.

In Queensland, where there is both the most clearing and the best data on clearing, trees are being bulldozed at a phenomenal rate.

About 395,000 hectares of native vegetation were cleared there in 2015-16, 33% more compared with the previous year. And despite the re-elected Labor government promising changes to rein it in, notifications of planned land clearing in Queensland have jumped a further 30%, suggesting woodlands could be bulldozed even faster in coming years.

To visualise what clearing of that magnitude looks like, Guardian Australia has created a tool that will lay an area that size over any location you choose. Mapped over Sydney, for example, 395,000 hectares covers an area stretching from the central coast in the north, to Campbeltown in the south, and the Blue Mountains in the west.

That equates to more than 1,500 football fields worth of native woodland and scrub being cleared each and every day in Queensland.

Read & see much more in original article »

07/03 2018

Climate for Change is coming to Brisbane

07/03 2018

Prof Andy Lowe article

When weed is good

Have we been demonising them unnecessarily?

Weeds are the bane of life for gardeners, farmers and conservationists.

Whether it be onion weed taking over gardens, Paterson's curse spreading across paddocks and poisoning cattle or Japanese knotweed chocking waterways - Its easy to see where the inspiration behind John Wyndom's The Day of the Triffids, or HG Wells' red weed in War of the Worlds comes from. Transported from one side of the planet to another, and without natural predators or biological control agents, these 'alien' plants run amok in new territories smothering landscapes and killing wildlife.

What’s needed is a transition to a new paradigm […] in which human perceptions about weeds should not be negative by default.

“Negative by default” is how humans perceive weeds. They’re a threat to biodiversity, so we spend millions of dollars on their eradication. But is this paradigm true for all ecosystems and all weeds? And, do we really understand the exact interactions between weeds and native species in our managed and natural ecosystems?

According to an international team of researchers, the answer is ‘no, not necessarily’. These researchers have been working to fill this knowledge gap by examining weed-biodiversity interactions in detail. And what they’re finding is unexpected, potentially controversial and may challenge prevailing notions of best practice weed management among conservation practitioners.

emnant grassland in Mokota Conservation Park in the Mid-North region of South Australia, one of the sites included in the analysis (image courtesy of Greg Guerin)

Weeds can have positive effects on biodiversity

The research, lead by Dr Irene Martín-Forés of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid, found that, contrary to most people’s notions, weeds have a positive or neutral association with biodiversity in Australian grassland ecosystems. That is, the more weeds found at sites often the higher the level of native species diversity. In fact, they found no apparent competition between weeds and natives or other negative effects on overall native diversity.

Irene and her colleagues from The University of Adelaide, came to these conclusions after analysing data on species richness, cover and diversity collected from hundreds of grassland monitoring sites of varying levels of disturbance throughout the greater Mount Lofty Ranges region of South Australia.

At the most disturbed grasslands sites with land-uses such as cropping and modified pastures, rather counterintuitively, the positive association between weed and natives was highest, and is most likely due to the complementary roles of exotic and native species, and the opportunity for rapidly establishing weeds to aid the occupation of space and use of resources by all species. They work together, facilitating each other to colonise degraded sites, instead of competing.

A new way of managing weeds

As highlighted by research team member, Dr Greg Guerin, these results indicate that although a minority of weed species are having strong negative impacts on native biodiversity, these interactions can’t be generalised across all weeds and ecosystems. This challenges the notion that all weeds need to be removed from remnant Mediterranean-climate grasslands, regardless of identity, or that weed cover or diversity per se is a valid condition measure.

Habitat management that focusses on general weed eradication rather than targeting particularly problematic species in grasslands may well turn out to be ineffectual.

What’s needed is a transition to a new paradigm. A model in which human perceptions about weeds should not be negative by default. Instead, a more nuanced understanding of conservation is required, one that involves assessing exotic species in native systems on a case-by-case basis needs to be considered.

Multiple sources of open data were utilised in this research, including from TERN and its cognate National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) projects:

Read more about this research in the recently published paper in the journal PlosOne..

Read original »

05/03 2018

12th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference (APCC12)

'Moving house - a new age for plant translocation and restoration'.

12th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference (APCC12)

12 to 16 November 2018, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Canberra

Session Themes have been announced! Call for Abstracts opens 2 May.

  • Moving house - lessons from the past – who’s done what where and what do we now know?
  • Moving house – what’s new?
  • Policy and politics of moving plants.
  • Crossing over – what can we learn from moving organisms other than plants?
  • Effective partnerships – who, why and how? What works and what doesn’t?
  • Do you need a safe deposit box? The importance of ex-situ conservation in translocation.

Bird registrations open 21 May. ANPC members and students will receive discounts on the conference registration fees!
Click here for more information.

04/03 2018

WWF Australia News | Earth Hour

Dear Friends,

What a huge month! March is all about Earth Hour and how we can switch off to #Connect2Earth. We’ve also got some amazing photos and stories to share from the field, so check it out...


Switch off to #Connect2Earth on 24 March at 8:30 pm and you could win a turtle tagging trip to the Great Barrier Reef.



How we can all make a better future for our planet this Earth Hour.



In a world-first, scientists in the Antarctic have attached a camera to a minke whale.



We’ve sent almost 10,000 postcards to politicians asking them to save our Coral Sea.



Lights, camera, birds! See what it's like to be a wildlife photographer on a mission.


Days on the Conservation Calendar for March 2018:

  • 3 March - World Wildlife Day
  • 8 March - International Women's Day
  • 12-16 March - Sustainable Seafood Week
  • 16 March - Panda Day
  • 20 March - World Frog Day
  • 21 March - International Day of Forests
  • 21 March - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Disrimination
  • 24 March - Earth Hour
  • 28 March - Manatee Appreciation Day

28/02 2018

Date Claimer : 2018 Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree!

Join the Jamboree!

The 2018 Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree is not to be missed (early bird registration is open now!).

Beyond Coal and Gas is where you’ll hear from Aboriginal activists fighting for country, and inspiring Australian and international grassroot activists. You’ll learn new skills, share your experiences and together, we’ll build strategies to power Australia beyond coal and gas.

Relationships are what make our movement powerful; nothing beats spending focussed time together to forge new connections across campaigns.

We’ve taken some giant strides in the task of transitioning Australia beyond fossil fuels since the 2016 conference. People everywhere are rising up to fight: taking on billionaire coal companies; closing coal plants and firing up clean energy projects; and halting gas fracking to protect land and water.

And yet, Australia still exports more coal and gas than any country on Earth: we have so much work yet to do in order to build our movement to the scale we need to win..

Will you join us from May - 3 June 2018 on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast for the Beyond Coal Gas Jamboree?

Evening of Thursday, 31 May, through to afternoon of Sunday, 3 June 2018
Alexandra Park Conference Centre Sunshine Coast, Queensland (just 15 minutes from Sunshine Coast airport)
Three days of exciting national and international speakers, workshops and plenaries. Opportunities to develop skills. Open spaces so you can define the workshops you want to see. Evening entertainment to celebrate our collective efforts to change the world.

Early bird registration now open! Grab your tickets here

Find out more: www.beyondcoalandgas.org

There will be plenty of opportunities for input to the program - take this survey to give us an early indication of what you’d like to see and be a part of!

Can't wait to see you all there!.


22/02 2018

Come see #StopAdani: A Mighty Force!

Friends of the Environment,

Today isl the People’s Premiere of #StopAdani: A Mighty Force!

Community screenings of A Mighty Force are popping up across the nation. In fact, there’s even a screening in India! Find a screening near you.

The film shows a young Aboriginal woman standing up for country in Central Queensland. A Melbourne Rabbi putting the pressure on his local MP. Sydney volunteers calling voters during a crucial state election. A Queensland farmer leading a massive protest. And tens of thousands of us spelling out #StopAdani in giant human signs from Bondi and Newcastle to Brisbane and Canberra.

But that’s enough spoilers - grab your friends and head to your nearest community screening to watch this incredible film.

#StopAdani: A Mighty Force is the next big #StopAdani documentary. The first one – Guarding the Galilee – had over 400 community screenings last year alone.

Adani is not about to walk away. The company has millions of dollars sunk into its plans for a dirty coal mine in the Galilee Basin. So if Adani won’t walk away, we’ll have to make them.

As Juru Traditional Elder Carol Prior says in the film, 'Adani are dealing with a mighty force, and the more it grows, the harder we’ll be to beat.'

RSVP to a screening near you now.

See you there,
Glen, for the entire 350 Australia team

PS. With your support, we are a mighty force. We can and we will #StopAdani.

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


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)


Tuesday 27 February 2018 at 6:00pm


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


$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.


Community Forum: “Important Honey Flora”


Thursday, 1st March, 7pm – 9pm.


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


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!


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!


Thank you,

Richard Leck
Head of Oceans,

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!


Andrew Bartlett

Greens Senator for Queensland
(07) 3367 0566 | Level 2, 251 Given Terrace, Paddington QLD 4064


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).

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,


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.


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 »


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 »


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 (website under maintenance)
  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.


0418 755 615
WCD 2018 Letter of Intent:
WCD Business Case:
WCD 2018 December 2017 Newsletter:

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


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.


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.


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


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


  • [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.

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Or share our Twitter and Facebook posts.

14/12 2017


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


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.


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

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