September is.. Biodiversity Month
Biodiversity in all its complexity and wonder is to be celebrated and protected every day. As we see our amazing natural world really on display during Spring, we can sometimes forget its tenuous status. As Biodiversiy Month and Save the Koala Month, September is a time to take stock, take a closer look and take action to learn and help conserve life in all its its incredible diversity and forms.
So when we learn that humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s remaining wilderness in the last 25 years and there may be none left within a century if trends continue, according to an authoritive new study we must take heed.
Let's talk about biodiversity..
SCEC's upcoming series of biodiversity talks across the region will provide opportunities to become more involved in learning about our own biodiversity 'hotspot'. As these sessions evolve over coming months, we invite those who have expertise and passion in a biodiversity related field (and the Sunshine Coast has a depth of passionate and knowledgeable folk!) why not consider joining our talk series as one of our presenters? If this is you, please call 5441 5747 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These talks will be inspiring and informative as they encompass an array of topics and actions. We'll let you know when session details are finalised soon. In the meantime, you can gain a better understanding of just what we have here on the Sunny Coast by checking out the important work to date in the Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy
Environment Levy delivers for the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast's Environment Levy provides dedicated funding to enhance and protect the region's outstanding natural assets and to support community projects. You can see how effective this vital levy is by taking a look at the latest Annual Report 2015/2016
To coincide with Biodiversity month, make sure you get yourselves along to the Seaside Scavenge Trash for Treasure event which is being held on October 1st at Mooloolaba. Here you can score yourselves some new threads for Summer by paying for them with the marine litter you collect! There will be live music, upcycle workshops and prizes to be won.
If you’ve been meaning to give your wardrobe a spring clean, now is the time! Any quality second hand clothes, books, shoes, jewellery will be priced in litter to encourage people to clean up the beach. Donations can be dropped off to the SCEC office at 3 Porters Lane, Nambour or to 2/27 Saleng Crescent, Warana.
This fun and creative event is part of an east coast tour and is not to be missed!
Bruce Highway Upgrade-Caloundra Rd to Sunshine Motorway
Minister for Main Roads, Mark Bailey MP unveiled the final design and tender for this projecton the Sunshine Coast on Friday 16 September. The efforts of the Minister and the Main Roads project team to engage with the community to listen to and address justified concerns about the impacts of this project has seen an innovative, Australian first design which is a significant improvement on previous versions. A key element is the reduction of clearing for the infrastructure footprint from 100ha in the Beerwah State Forest (the Mooloolah Logging Area section, locally known as the Steve Irwin Way Forest) just 3 years ago, to now between 6-8ha. However, environmental impacts which include the loss of core tracts of critically endangered lowland sub-tropical rainforest and 35ha of koala habitat cannot be ignored. Given the project has been granted state and federal environmental approvals, SCEC will continue to scrutinise compliance with the approval conditions to ensure these impacts are meaningfully compensated and conservation gains achieved. While continuing to clear threatened ecological communities and impacting on listed and other species compounds Australia's appalling track record for conservation, SCEC is extremely pleased at the progression of the dedication of 745ha of the high conservation value Beerwah State Forest into the Mooloolah River National Park.
The Mooloolah Logging Area was earmarked to transition into National Park under the South-East Queensland Regional Forestry Agreement (SCEC and some amazing member groups played a key role in its' formulation throughout the 1990s & early 2000's) until the previous LNP government arbitrarily ripped up this robustly negotiated agreement in 2013. Now with the motion to finally dedicate this significant forest to National Park introduced into parliament by Minister for the Environment and National Parks, Dr Steven Miles MP on 15 September, we look forward to it finally being gazetted in the next parliamentary sitting period
Shark nets don’t discriminate
Last month’s news of a humpback whale entanglement in a shark net off Noosa shore sparked anew the ongoing argument of whether shark nets and drum lines are effectively serving their purpose. In response to this, SCEC thought we'd do a bit of our own research to get a better understanding of the situation at hand.
Digging into the archived information from the website of Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, we analysed the available data and found the following interesting results pertaining to the Sunshine Coast.
From January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2016, it was recorded that an estimate of 678 marine life was caught in shark nets and drum lines along the Sunshine Coast, 63% of which are shark species, while a good 36% are non-shark species. Of this percentage, 15% belong to the family of rays, 9% dolphins, 8% turtles, and a small amount of fish, whales and dugong.
This certainly confirms what Australian Institute of Marine Rescues (AIMR) spokesman Jonah Cooper said- that the nets are just capturing devices that don’t discriminate between sharks and other marine life.
While no data is available about the sharks caught, out of the non-shark species caught, only 39% are released alive.
The largest percentage of catch was made in the beaches of Noosa area (26%), followed by Maroochydore (11%), Alexandra Headlands (9%) and Caloundra (8%).
Most were caught during the Summer season (28%) and during Spring (27%) with data from the Australian Marine Conservation Society revealing that 40% of what is actually caught on the nets is found on the beach side, proving these nets only offer a false sense of safety.
Image source: www.eatplantsnotanimals.com and www.noosanews.com.au by Matt Watson
What is your opinion on shark nets? Write to us at email@example.com and let us know!
Photo: Stage 1 of SCEC's urban garden
We’re getting stuck into our little urban garden patch outside our office in Nambour. Our aim is to revitalize the space using recycled materials and food trees to reduce the extreme heat of summer, attract more wildlife and bring some character to the neglected back streets of Nambour.
We’re looking for some inspiration, so if you’re an avid urban gardener or looking for a design project to sink your teeth into, get in touch!
Nation Wide News
Two of the Government’s top climate advisers recently broke ranks to voice their disagreement with a report on Australia’s international climate change commitments.
Here’s the inside scoop: The Climate Change Authority (which is supposed to be an independent Government agency) released a report setting out how Australia should meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement.
Sounds good in theory – but in reality the report’s plan for emissions reduction is woefully inadequate, and completely disregards the science.
Now, two of the Authority's 10 members have spoken out. Climate scientist David Karoly and economist Clive Hamilton have released a dissenting report highlighting their disagreements with the Authority’s recommendations.
The dissenting report is a damning critique – slamming the official report’s failure to recommend strengthening our current emissions target, or the Renewable Energy Target. The Climate Change Authority won’t go near this dissenting report, but the Climate Council have it in full on the Climate Council website for every Australian to see. Read more here
What’s happening next door?
Palm oil, an ingredient in half of all packaged foods worldwide, has a bad reputation because it’s associated with the clearing of virgin rainforest to make way for plantations, threatening wildlife andwreaking environmental destruction from Borneo to Guatemala. That hasn’t stopped Indonesia continuing with a program of clearing and planting that now has dedicated almost 11 million hectares to the crop.
Drone photos just released show the effect of the palm oil and logging concessions belonging to one company, Korindo, a South Korean firm that produces plywood, pulp, and palm oil, among other things. The photos, part of an investigation by a consortium of non-governmental organizations, are of land in Papua, an Indonesian province on an island that’s 85% covered with rainforest. This is what part of it looks like now:
Image: A Korindo concession on Papua, June 4, 2016. (Bustar Maiter/Mighty)
Mighty, a US-based NGO, worked alongside Indonesian and Korean organizations to commission the report. Beginning last autumn, when Indonesia went through a toxic-haze crisis stemming from the burning of forests, the researchers collected data and analyzed satellite images. The field investigation took place during the first week of June 2016, and all the drone footage was filmed then, they said. Read more here
The Sumatran Elephant is another innocent victim of deforestation in Indonesia.
Meet Erin – a critically endangered baby Sumatran Elephant who was recently rescued after being found with her trunk cut off. She was abandoned by her mother because she was too weak to keep up with the family group. As a consequence she was weaned years too early and needs good food and medicine to survive without milk.
Currently just skin and bones, Erin is unable to forage for herself and must now rely on humans to be her family and prepare her food. Every day a wonderful elephant mahout by the name of Karsono goes to the fields and paddies seeking Erin's favourite grasses. He also shops in the market for her favourite fruits, while Elephant paramedic Dany ensures she receives her IV treatment. Erin is currently being cared for at the Way Kambas National Park Elephant Conservation Centre in Southern Sumatra by volunteers.
Save Indonesian Endangered Species (SIES) Fund does amazing on ground work and requires your help to keep Erin alive. Please find out how you can help this baby elephant here.
Good news stories..
Funding boost for solar farms!
The funding of these regional Queensland solar farms is certainly welcome and demonstrates the importance of maintaining the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – not cutting its funds and capacity for project funding. Read more here
However, our own Sunny Coast solar farm missed out on its application for $11 million last year as it was deemed ineligible solely because Sunshine Coast Council is not incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001. See more here
LED to light up the Coast
The Urban Lighting Master Plan (ULMP) will see Sunshine Coast Council become the first local government in Australia to deploy LED lighting across its entire region.
This is a fantastic initiative which will reduce emissions and costs.
Economic Development Portfolio Councillor Stephen Robinson said the ULMP supported council’s vision to be the most sustainable region in Australia: vibrant, green and diverse.
“Sunshine Coast Council’s quest to become Australia’s first local government to offset its entire electricity consumption from renewable energy is powering ahead via our Sunshine Coast Solar Farm at Valdora,” Cr Robinson said. Read more here
Maleny State High School
At present Maleny State High School is consuming approx. $17, 000 of electricity each term. This figure is almost 50 times the amount of the average home in Queensland. As a school we realise that this isn’t sustainable. Therefore, we have a long-term goal of being Queensland’s first Carbon Neutral School (electricity independent). The school’s Environment Committee is taking the lead in fundraising and organising this massive project. By installing a 100kw solar panel system, we will reduce our carbon emission.
Our project is benefiting the school now- by creating environmental awareness, and it will definitely benefit Maleny State High in the future- as we will eventually produce and use energy we have collected and stored.
How are we going to reach our goal? Within the period 2012-2016 we have already reduced our energy consumption by over 15% by employing a range of power saving strategies power saving strategies.
Once we have installed the 100kw Solar Panel System (with battery storage) we hope to eliminate (or offset) our reliance on fossil fuels and save thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
To progressively install our goal of the 100kw system, we have taken proactive steps such as fundraising and calling out to the community for support via a crowd funding website. We have also gratefully received a very generous grant of $2000 from the Maleny Credit Union.
The school really needs help to finish this leading environmental project. So, please contact the Maleny State High School on 5499 8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can be part of fabulous initiative.
Our thanks to Tally and Phoenix for contributing this article and for the inspirational efforts of the students and teachers of Maleny State High School.
Sunshine Coast Council Community Grants
Small Grants for Rural Communities
- $300,000 (max $5,000 )
- Closing date: 7 October 2016
- Providers: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)
Gambling Community Benefit Fund
- Max $35,000
- Closing date: 30 November 2016
- Providers: Department of Justice and Attorney-General (QLD)
Sunsuper’s Dreams for a Better World Program
Click here to find out when the next working bee is on in your local area!
What's happening elsewhere?
17 – 25 September – National Organic Week Australia- targeted media and locally-held activities designed to increase awareness of the benefits of organic products and farming production systems and accelerate the uptake of these in the wider Australian community and environment. Celebrate everything organic during National Organic Week! More info here.
21-23 September – National Landcare Conference and Awards, Melbourne. Book now to celebrate this year's theme "Collaborative Communities – Landcare in Action.” Look for the National Landcare Network stand and come say hello. We wish our Sunshine Coast nominated champions all the very best.More info here.
22 September - HOPE- Householders’ Options to Protect the Environment Inc. As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile. More info here.
25 September- Coolum and North Shore Coast Care Eco-Discovery Workshop “The Art of Nature -Taking a Closer Look”for children aged between 4 and 10. Register here.
25 September – Permaculture Noosa – Open Garden 2:00 – 4:00 pm at 20 Hilary Road, Carters Ridge. $2 donation (goes to Permaculture Noosa). More info here.
26 September – Barung Landcare Association – Flyers Creek Maleny- Relaxed morning of hand-weeding Polka-dot plant above Fryers Creek just east of Maleny. This property contributes to an important wildlife corridor between Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and the Obi Creek. Register here.
30 September – NATIONAL KOALA DAY
30 September – Noosa Parks Association Friday Forum, 10:30am – 12:15pm 'One in a Thousand', the miraculous life ofthe Sea-Turtle (this forum is aimed at families with children) a film introduced by Coolum and North Shore Coast Care. More infohere.