Feature article Environment

Young people betrayed by Australian climate inaction


YOUNG Australians are owed an environmental duty of care by the Federal government, a Melbourne court found in July. Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley has an obligation to all Australians under eighteen to “Avoid causing personal injury or death arising from emissions of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere” Justice Mordecia Bromberg found. The decision followed a case brought by eight teenagers that sought an injunction to block the expansion of the Vickery coalmining project. The bid to block the Vickery project was rejected, but the Judge affirmed the children’s concerns for their future. “As Australian adults know their country,…

Australia declares support to rid the world of plastic pollution


THE Australian Marine Conservation Society and World Wide Fund for Nature Australia have welcomed Australia in its support for a global agreement to finally rid the world of plastic pollution. An equivalent of a garbage truck’s worth of plastic enters the ocean every minute, and much of it lasts for centuries in marine environments. Plastics campaign manager at AMCS Shane Cucow said, “We are on track to have more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.” On Saturday, 11 September, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley released a statement announcing Australia had endorsed a global ministerial statement and a new…

Take action to stop debris choking our waterways


SEPTEMBER is Debris Month of Action, with this year campaigners drawing particular attention to two huge threats, plastics and benthic litter, to our water environments. The month is an initiative of the PADI AWARE Foundation, a publicly funded not-for-profit global charity whose mission is to drive local action for global ocean conservation. Operations coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Ian Amos encourages people to avoid utilising single-use plastics to stop polluting our waterways. He also sounded the alarm on the broader scale of the marine rubbish problem. “The issue is very bad and huge: out of sight and out of mind seems…

Giant bird-eating centipedes are restoring ecological balance to Phillip Island


On a tiny island in the South Pacific, the Phillip Island centipede or ‘Cormocephalus coynei’ stalks through the undergrowth on humid nights. Growing up to almost a foot in length the diet of the exclusively nocturnal arthropod varies wildly, using two pincer-like appendages known as ‘forcipules’ to ensnare victims and inject them with venom. Monash researcher Luke Halpin said the giant centipedes on Phillip Island (not the island in Victoria’s Westernport Bay) can eat up to 3700 black-winged petrel (Pterodroma nigripennis) each year. “They tend to go for the back of the neck and immobilize them that way using all…

Behind the scenes on the Barrier Reef decision


THE Spanish ambassador to UNESCO has revealed details of the Australian government’s negotiations to avoid an “in danger” listing for the Great Barrier Reef. Last month, the Morrison government succeeded in its bid to stop the World Heritage Committee declaring the reef endangered at least until the next Committee meeting in 12 months’ time. That was despite UNESCO recommending the reef receive that status because of the effects of climate change and poor water quality. Australia’s win came after a last-minute lobbying trip overseas by environment minister Sussan Ley who secured support from 11 countries on the 21-member Committee, including…

Mutant mice could solve NSW mouse plague


NEW funding announced by the New South Wales Government could save Australia’s grain belt from fatal mice infestations. Professor of Biomedicine at University of Adelaide Dr Paul Thomas will lead a team, in collaboration with the CSIRO and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, to undertake breakthrough genetic biocontrol research to target pest populations. Dr. Thomas said the project will explore two main approaches. The ‘X-Shredder’ The ‘X-shredder’ approach eliminates sperm containing the X-chromosome, producing more male than female pups. “The x chromosome gets essentially chopped up into tiny pieces which means that those sperm don’t contribute to fertilizing the…

Bill could stop devastating decline of wildlife


WWF-Australia has welcomed a bill to establish a Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to finally enforce Australia’s nature laws. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie introduced the bill into the lower house on the morning of Monday 23 March. It calls for the creation of an independent EPA to enforce the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), legislation that is meant to protect Australia’s threatened species and their habitats. WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said the EPA bill is an opportunity to stop the devastating decline of our wildlife and wild places. “It would put a truly independent cop on the…

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy calls for support to protect Tasmania’s precious natural beauty


The CEO of The Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) is calling on Australians to help support the community-based organisation in their mission to protect Tasmanian’s unique wilderness.   Since 2001, the Tasmanian Land Conservancy has worked with environmental scientists to identify privately-owned properties worthy of conservation. The TLC will then reach out to landowners to enquire about purchasing the property to develop into a nature reserve. CEO of The Tasmanian Land Conservancy, James Hattam describes the next stage as a “giant crowdfunding campaign”, where the community raise funds to assist the TLC in the purchase of the land.  The TLC’s current campaign is the purchase of a 67ha property on the Tinderbox Peninsula, a project 10 years in the making. James believes…