Yellow-Box Dispatch

June 2013

Executive Director's Letter

Hi everyone,
We haven’t really started packing yet so feels slightly surreal to imagine our next email bulletin will be sent from our new office. We officially take up residence on Tuesday 2 July.
Fascinating process to see how an office fit-out takes place and an amazing number of decisions to be made, particularly to make it a sustainable office. Although we have made the financial and timing decision not to pursue any formal sustainability ratings on the fitout, Kristie from Viridis kindly offered us a sustainability workshop and we used this time to discuss the sustainability inclusions that we could target on the project. Thank you Viridis for the assistance and advice. More information on all of this will be in our Sustainable Office Manual which will outline the sustainability features of our new office, including items such as the selection of low emissions paints and composite boards, and the inclusion of indoor plants to improve the indoor environment quality and the selection of reused furniture and certified timber to reduce the environmental footprint of the fitout materials.
On 5 June I participated in the ACT Budget “lock-up”. In case you are unfamiliar with this it means being put in a room with a range of other stakeholders and being provided access to the Budget papers several hours before they are publicly available. Once in you are not supposed to leave until the Treasurer starts to give the Budget speech in the Assembly. Participants at the lock-up hear from the Treasurer and Government officials are there to answer questions. Not a lot of environment initiatives in this budget – not surprising given the budget context. We are concerned about the capacity of the Directorates with environment responsibilities to do their tasks and we will be looking at the detail of this more fully.

We welcomed the Budget initiative to provide for an additional five park rangers to improve the environmental condition of protected areas. Very good to see this commitment from the Parliamentary Agreement being put in place. Our concern though is it only provides for two new rangers in 2013-14 and the other three Rangers do not commence until 2015-16. There is an immediate need for all of the proposed Ranger positions to be put on as soon as possible. We will follow up on this.
PS Our World Environment Day Dinner was again a really special event: fantastic food, inspiring speeches, fun entertainment and lots of great networking. Thank you: Alex Sloan MC, Miranda Gibson and Jon Dee as Guest Speakers, Bec and Chris for music and a great True or False round and of course Virginia and Tookie and Co at Merici College. See story below for more details.

Clare Henderson
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Biodiversity Offsets

Is there something off about biodiversity offsets or do they have their advantages? This was discussed at the Conservation Council’s Biodiversity Offsets Forum on 11 June. Biodiversity offsets are a policy tool to address impacts on biodiversity from various types of developments. The ACT doesn't yet have an offsets policy yet is increasingly using offsets as a response to biodiversity impacts, mostly on matters of national environmental significance. The Conservation Council is currently reviewing its offset policy. 
Dr Phil Gibbons from the Australian National University Fenner School of Environment and Society, was our expert guest speaker on the day. He played a major role in the development of the Commonwealth Offsets Policy, which is currently in use in the ACT. His presentation bought up a lots of questions and interesting debate from those in attendance.
Dr Gibbons covered the advantages of offsets such as the possible increase in avoidance of ecosystem damage if there is a price on biodiversity, the generation of funds for land management and improvement in biodiversity information. Challenges were many, including additionality, uncertainty, leakage and permanence. He also talked about how we need to look at the drivers of biodiversity loss if we are to halt the loss of ecosystems in the ACT.
The Conservation Council believes that as offsets are being applied in the ACT, then an ACT specific offsets policy should be developed for the ACT and region to account for our unique ecological values and other ACT legislation and planning documents such as the Territory Plan.
We hold the policy position that the use of offsets for the purposes of biodiversity conservation should be a last resort after all other mitigation and rehabilitation measures have been pursued, well in advance of the impacts of any development taking place.
For more information contact Julie Melrose, Assistant Director Projects, Conservation Council ACT Region.
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It's finally here - the office move!

The Conservation Council will be moving into a new office on the ground floor of Lena Karmel Lodge, Barry Drive side, on the 2 July. While we will say a not so sad goodbye to our 'temporary' demountable office home of the last 6 years, this is a momentous occasion, and we look forward to inviting members and supporters alike to come in and say hello at:

Conservation Council ACT Region
Unit 15/28 Barry Drive, Acton, ACT 2601
See a Google map here.

The office will be a showcase of sustainable features, to keep our environmental footprint at a minimum. We will also be ensuring our daily operations are as sustainable as possible such as reducing paper use and energy use, using sustainable transport and purchasing recycled content and low impact stationery and cleaning supplies.

Our friends at the National Parks Association ACT will also continue to be a part of the office. We look forward to seeing you all there!

How can you save the Superb Parrot and the environment of the ACT region?

Easy! You can make a tax deductible donation to our end of financial year appeal by going to our appeal page here.

There are four easy ways to donate:

1. Donate securely online here.
2. Direct bank transfer to: Bogong Fund, BSB: 062919, Account Number: 10072428
3. Phone 02 6229 3200
4. Send a cheque to GPO Box 544, Canberra ACT 2601

This is a particularly tough year coming up for us:

  • while we locally have the best greenhouse gas reduction targets in Australia and a commitment to a 90% renewable energy target by 2020 – these are under threat from the tough ACT budget situation as well as national moves to limit State/Territory action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to ensure these good commitments are delivered effectively and not rolled back, to do that we have to be vocal on the need for action
  • our new office will be ready for us to occupy on 2 July and looks like it is going to be a great space – however it comes with significant new costs of about $15,000 per year which really stretches our already tight budget
  • while we are gaining support to protect our wonderful endangered ecological communities that we are so privileged to have here in the ACT – we need to do more.

Thank you for your support!

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World Environment Day Dinner Success

The culinary skills of Merici College students were a huge success at the Conservation Council ACT Region’s annual fundraising dinner for World Environment Day on Saturday 1 June.

Over 100 people enjoyed the gourmet four course meal that was cooked and served by Merici students and Conservation Council volunteers. Diners not only enjoyed the food, but also speeches from the inspirational forest campaigner Miranda Gibson, the environmental campaigner and founder of Planet Ark Jon Dee and songs from the talented local Canberra duo Yes/No.

Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Merici College, sponsors of food, business donors of prizes, the Wildlife and Botanical Artists Inc. for live auction items, Actew and all those that organised tables, we were able to raise over $10,000.

A special thanks to Merici staff, Tookie and Virginia McLeod, who helped make this partnership happen and kept the night running smoothly. Merici College, the Conservation Council says a big thank you with this video acknowledging your efforts and support – check it out here.

Our next planned large event is a community environmental summit in October. Stay tuned to the monthly email newsletter for details.

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Kangaroo Cull

The ACT Government has announced it intends to undertake a cull of up to 1455 eastern grey kangaroos on seven grassland and woodland sites within the Canberra Nature Park and neighbouring unleased territory land.
The Conservation Council ACT Region would prefer there was not a need to undertake kangaroo culls, however in the circumstances of demonstrated over-grazing and the need to protect our precious endangered ecological communities and nature reserves that support a range of species, kangaroo culls are an unfortunate necessity. The culls however have to undertaken in a humane manner and be underpinned by a solid scientific case to ensure the ongoing viability of kangaroo numbers.
We understand new methods of control such as reproductive measures are been trialled with indications of a potential success, however in the interim, measures are needed now to reduce the impacts of over-grazing.
Kangaroo culls should be part of broader management strategies to protect and enhance our ecological values from other threats such as rabbits, weeds and inappropriate fire management. 
For more information and commonly asked questions go to the ACT Government TAMS website here.

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Member Group Feature - Ginninderra Falls Association

The Ginninderra Falls Association aims to establish a Murrumbidgee - Ginninderra Gorges National Park.

The natural beauty of the landscapes and waterways around the confluence of Ginninderra Creek with the Murrumbidgee River make the area stand out as being ideal for the establishment of a national park, the proposed Murrumbidgee – Ginninderra Gorges National Park. In years gone by the Ginninderra Falls have been an attractive tourist destination open to the public. Over the years there has been progressive restricted public access to the area. However, there is now a recognition that the conservation, heritage and recreational value of the area to the wider NSW and ACT communities can be increased enormously. The inherent beauty and amenity offered by the proposed Murrumbidgee – Ginninderra Gorges National Park strongly supports a change in land use from private to public ownership. For about 150 years generations of visitors have been coming to this part of NSW to admire the river systems, rapids and waterfalls. The Association wants to re-establish long-term public access.
Further information or to join:
Dr Chris Watson 02 6278 3079 or visit the website.

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Rally for Renewables - 18 June

Join the Rally for Renewables in Canberra on Tuesday 18 June and show your support for renewable energy.
When: 18 June, 12 noon, Garema Place, Canberra
RSVP and information here.
Organised by GetUp! in association with Yes 2 Renewables, Friends of the Earth Australia.

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Nature and Society Forum - Mark Spain

Mark Spain will address two questions:
  • How would humans behave if we experienced our life as deeply integrated with nature?
  • How do you communicate to influence others when the topic generates fear and despair or complete avoidance?
Mark is senior partner at Global Learning, a Canberra-based consulting firm focussed on transforming Science, Society and Self, building collective capacity for deep innovation. He is active in many community roles, including chair of SEE-Change, and vice-president of Canberra City Farm.
Mark will explore the ways in which human activities that use ecosystem services will be redesigned to treat nature as if it was our closest family and essential for our ongoing survival and well-being. Is it enough to change our thinking or do we need to go through an evolution to survive and thrive? Whenever the impacts of climate science are discussed strong emotions are evoked. In both public forums and private conversations avoidance, fear and despair or Pollyannaish hope and optimism begin to shape the conversation. What are the options in communicating with influence and authenticity when the topic is so chilling?
When: 19 June at 7:30pm
Where: ANU's Frank Fenner Building, cnr of Daley Rd and Linnaeus Way

Support our work

We are a non-profit, non-government organisation. Help safe-guard the ACT's environment by becoming an 'EcoACTivist' with a regular monthly donation. One off donations are also appreciated. All are tax deductible.

How you can help:
  • Make a one off donation here.
  • Make a regular monthly 'EcoACTivist' donation here.
  • Donate over the phone on 02 6229 3200.
  • Bequest a gift for the future by contacting Clare Henderson, Executive Director on 02 6229 3200 or email to request a brochure.
  • Volunteer your skills and knowledge.
Our 'Bush Capital' thanks you!
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Conservation Council ACT Region
GPO Box 544