Britons to plant trees to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on throne



FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth speaks with staff during a visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Science Park near Salisbury, Britain October 15, 2020. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

November 29, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – Britons will be encouraged to plant trees to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th anniversary on the throne as part of a plan to create a greener country in honour of her seven decades of service.

The 94-year-old, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, is due to mark her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022.

The government is planning a four-day celebration that summer, featuring an extra day’s public holiday, with tree planting to be a feature of the milestone, according to an announcement on Sunday.

Named “The Queen’s Green Canopy,” the charity-backed project will encourage communities, schools, councils and landowners to plant native trees to help the environment and make local areas greener.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the health crisis and pandemic had reminded people of the importance of nature and green spaces and that trees could transform communities as well as tackling climate change.

“As we celebrate Her Majesty’s incredible 70 years of service, I encourage everyone to get behind this scheme and go ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee,’” Johnson said.

Charities Cool Earth and The Woodland Trust said the planting of trees would create a special gift for the monarch, who has planted more than 1,500 trees around the world during her reign.

Elizabeth, who is also the world’s current oldest and longest-reigning monarch, became queen on Feb. 6, 1952, following the death of her father King George VI.

The British royal family have been vocal campaigners on a host of environmental issues, with Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles speaking out for decades about the impact of climate change and the importance of conservation, and her grandson Prince William also taking up the mantle.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mike Harrison)





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Research looks at aerobiomes, trees and implications for public health


Environmental microorganisms play an essential role in human health – the diverse the consortium, the better. Diversity in the microorganisms helps the immune system to respond to pathogens.

It also helps control overstimulation of the immune system in response to innocuous agents, such as dust particles, pollen, and sometimes, our cells – the latter manifesting as autoimmunity. Exposure to these microbiomes from the environment in early childhood is known to help develop a strong immunity.

In addition to better immunity, the diverse microbiomes supplement humans with important functional microorganisms. It is established that soil-derived butyrate-producing bacteria may supplement the gut bacteria and can reduce anxiety. Certain bacteria produce important molecules essential to human health: inhibit tumors and atherosclerosis, improve bone formation, promote epithelial integrity, etc. Also, exposure to plant diversity and associated microbial communities is significantly correlated with reduced risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia by promoting immune maturation.

Urbanization and loss of macro-biodiversity are linked to loss of microbial diversity, which could negatively impact the health-supporting microbial communities residing in and on human bodies – the human microbiome.

In a recent bioRxiv* preprint paper, Jake M. Robinson and colleagues study the dynamics of ‘aerobiome’  – the collection of microorganisms in a given airspace, with respect to the height from the ground level. The study of the dynamics of near-surface aerobiomes in urban green spaces is minimal. However, studies show that the aerobiomes differ in urban and semi-urban spaces. They are distinct in urban green and grey spaces and are modulated by the vegetation type and are influenced by local changes such as weather or land management.

The researchers have demonstrated aerobiome vertical stratification between ground level and 2 m heights in an urban green space in a previous study.

An individual may be exposed to any kind of aerobiome. Depending on the habitat and height––and their interactions, the diversity and the function of the aerobiome will change. Thus, the effects of different aerobiomes may have implications on individual and public health.

This study focuses on aerobiome bacterial communities. The team used an innovative columnar sampling method to sample aerobiome bacterial communities in three urban green space habitat types in the Adelaide Parklands, South Australia. Their objective was a meticulous comparison and assessment of aerobiomes diversity, vertical stratification, the influence of tree density, and the pathogenic bacterial taxa among the three habitats. The habitats include amenity grasslands, woodland/scrub (dominated by native Eucalyptus spp. trees and shrubs; henceforth referred to as ‘scrub’), and bare ground habitat; each habitat is a typical urban green space habitat.

Profile of bacterial communities from each habitat at the phylum level. The coloured area of each bar represents the relative abundance of the corresponding phylum over 1%. The X-axis displays sampling heights: soil, 0.0 m, 0.5 m, 1.0 m, and 2.0 m (from left to right). The photographs above the plots show examples of each habitat used in the study (photographs by authors).

Profile of bacterial communities from each habitat at the phylum level. The coloured area of each bar represents the relative abundance of the corresponding phylum over 1%. The X-axis displays sampling heights: soil, 0.0 m, 0.5 m, 1.0 m, and 2.0 m (from left to right). The photographs above the plots show examples of each habitat used in the study (photographs by authors).

They characterized the diversity, composition, and network complexity of aerobiomes by using next-generation sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. The authors applied geospatial analytical methods to explore the potential influence of trees on the micro-biodiversity of aerobiomes.

They found the dominant bacterial community in all three habitats: Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria. However, the abundance of the bacteria varied with height. They also found that the scrub aerobiome was more biodiverse than the bare ground; in fact, it had the most biodiverse aerobiome.

The bacterial diversity is reduced on the bare ground with increasing sampling height from ground level to 2 m. The highest diversity was at the soil level.

The authors tested for diversity differences between dates and sites and found no significance in factoring these.

The results show that the aerobiome bacterial community differed significantly between urban green space habitat type. This study shows that aerobiome diversity, composition, and network complexity stratified vertically. This suggests that the potential bacterial exposure and transfer depends on the habitat type as well as the person’s height or behavior.

The study suggests that urban habitats with more complex vegetation communities are more biodiverse. Urban green spaces need to have this vegetation to ensure exposure and transmission of environmentally-derived bacteria to the skin and airways. Because these bacteria are essential for better health, urban planning needs to implement the vegetation spaces intelligently.

The results also confirm that trees and the greater canopy are associated with higher aerobiome diversity. The team found abundant putative pathogenic taxa significantly different in proportions between grassland and scrub habitat samples. Because only identifiable bacterial taxa were used in the differential abundance and analyses, the authors suggest further research is required here.

This study found that grasslands exhibited significantly greater proportions of identifiable pathogenic bacteria compared to scrub. The abundance of the bacteria, however, decreased significantly with sampling height.

Individuals may be exposed to different aerobiomes depending on the type of habitat visited and human-scale height-based variation in environmental aerobiomes, the authors write. This is an important study highlighting where the priorities need to be in the context of better health, improved immunity, harbor diverse microbiome, restore green spaces, and ward off rapid pathogenic microorganisms and plan the urban spaces; implication for landscape management and public health. In this direction, efforts are needed to restore complex vegetation communities and host-microbiota interactions that provide multifunctional roles in urban ecosystems.

*Important Notice

bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.



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Camping tips and hacks for beginners: Avoid sleeping under trees


You can have your five-star hotels (OK, it’s nice once in a while for contrast) but nothing, absolutely nothing, compares with lying under a million stars; watching one occasionally shoot across the widest curved screen available.

And I’m not talking glamping here. That involves far too much set up, and preparation. This is camping where you’ve carried everything on your back, bike or little boat and are setting up somewhere away from it all. It could be a mountain top, desert expanse, or deserted beach.

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Even after nearly 40 years of it; putting on the billie, sipping a cheap wine from a plastic mug (all wine tastes good in such places) and climbing into the sleeping bag, it still excites me.

And the availability of lightweight camping equipment makes it all easier than ever before. But bad preparation, weather, or gear can all conspire against the perfect camp.

Here’s some tips to make sure you and your companions are happy campers.

GET THE LAY OF THE LAND

At first it felt comfortable enough, that waterbed. But then I opened sleepy eyes to see the corner of my tent start to lift. Unzipping the door I was just quick enough to catch my stove kayaking down a torrent of water now flowing all around me. Hundreds of millimetres of unseasonal summer rain had fallen in Croatia. Even my sea kayak looked like it might take off alone down the floodwaters without me.

While such conditions might be extreme, ensure you think about the lie of the land, about where water will flow if it rains. And site your camp accordingly. Actually it wasn’t that funny when, camping on a remote beach on the Kimberley Coast, it was an incoming tide not falling rain that once woke me, lapping as it was at the edge of my tent.

The best kind of camping is when you carry everything on your back (or bike or little boat) and set up somewhere away from it all.

LOOK UP, DOWN, AND AROUND

Choose as flat a site as possible but, if there is a bit of a slope, ensure you pitch the tent so that your head is slightly uphill. It will save all that blood running to your head. Of course, sometimes the slope is still too much. Recently, camping with my five grandkids, I opened their tent to find them all, like a litter of kittens, slid down and sleeping entwined in the bottom of the tent.

National Parks have taken to erecting signs warning us that, rather obviously, ‘Limbs May Fall’, a sign that might be better located outside an operating theatre. There have, of course, been some tragic accidents from branches falling on tents, so it pays to look up and around and judge the safest spot if possible. Here in Australia though we often find ourselves forced to camp under trees. I recall one occasion on the NSW South Coast when a few of us hauled our sea kayaks up the beach to a National Park campsite. At first we decided to camp at one spot before moving 20 metres further to a site with better views. We were woken just before dawn to see a huge tree come crashing down onto that first option.

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THE SUN WILL RISE

Think too about where the sun will rise and set. Recently, on a ski touring expedition in Tajikistan in Central Asia, two of us camped on a little plateau near a high pass we’d just crossed while our friends had pushed on into the valley below. We were greeted with sun pouring into our doorway soon after sunrise and a temperature that went from -25 degrees to -5 degrees in half an hour. We basked in the glory, packed up and three hours later reached our friend’s tent, still frozen, only just emerging from the shadows. It cuts both ways too, of course. In summer we may not want to be woken by a hot sun so we’ll seek out a shady spot, often under trees (where ‘Limbs May Fall’).

ZIP IT SHUT

One time, down on Wilsons Prom in Victoria, my mate Greg was the first to say goodnight and head to his tent. Then a scream pierced the night as, simultaneously, Greg reversed at great speed followed by a rather large wombat. Usually its insects and such like that you are keeping out, or perhaps animals after food but be warned of a sleepy wombat taking advantage of an open door and soft mattress.

A hikers point of view from a tent, overlooking a bright morning and a surfboard.

Figure out which direction the sun will rise, before setting up your tent.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

An old plastic mug, received 40 years ago from an uncle in a pile of second-hand camping equipment, is my constant camping companion and always the first item to be packed. Second is a head torch; a torch on an elastic headband. The ability to be hands free as you move around makes camp and tent life so much more comfortable. Indeed whether for camping, crawling under your house, or surviving a power outage, everyone should have one.

It’s also far better if you can reach camp before the sun reaches the horizon. That way you know the lie of the land and to see where you plan to camp. Some years ago I landed my kayak after dark on an island in Turkey and was about to set up camp when I was set upon by a dozen Turkish military recruits. I hadn’t seen the signs in the dark and was planning on camping on a military island.

COCOON FROM THE COLD

In cold weather the best way to stay warm is to camp with a friend, a very good friend. Even if they’re not THAT good, two people in a tent are always warmer than one. But whatever the temperature the right sleeping bag and sleeping mat will ensure you are plenty warm enough. And climb into that toasty cocoon before you get cold outside, not after.

Camp Ovens bush cooking

Make a camp fire, if you are allowed.

KEEP IT CLEAN

It shouldn’t still have to be said but, alas, too many people still disrespect our beautiful places, even those you can’t drive too. Remember there is no cleaner coming in after you pack up and check out of your piece of paradise. Take all your rubbish with you and, if you must have a fire (and are allowed one), remember plastic and foil don’t burn. And when it comes to toileting (and we all do it) make sure you go at least 100 metres away from watercourses. And don’t bury your toilet paper or stick it under a rock. Either burn it (if safe to do so) or better still pack it out with you. Remember too that if you haven’t seen anyone for a few days, Murphy’s Law dictates someone will come on by while your enjoying your morning ablutions.

With your choice of water views or rural views and never being troubled by interest rates or rising prices; there really is no better way to live.

AUSSIE CAMPING HAS NEVER LOOKED THIS GOOD

NEW ZEALAND’S BEST CAMPSITES





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Gwen and Jeff Young plant thousands of trees to create 9-hectare haven for birds on their Port MacDonnell farm


Long before Jeff Young met his wife Gwen, birds were targets for his slug gun.

Sparrows were “spoggies”, red-browed finches were “beetroot eaters” — at least that is what his Dad told him on their Port MacDonnell farm in South Australia’s south-east.

Since meeting Gwen in 1996, the farm has become a haven for 122 species of birds many of which Mr Young can now call by their real names.

In 20 years they have planted thousands of trees and covered 9 of their 72 acres with native corridors, changing their landscape — and their relationship — forever.

Gwen’s lifelong love for birds

Gwen Young is serious about her birds.(Supplied: Gwen Young)

Growing up on a tiny dairy on the northern coast of New South Wales, Gwen Young knew the eastern species as well as anyone.

On the 2.5-kilometre walk through the bush to and from school each morning, she and her sister would document any signs of birds they came across.

When their older brother was given an Australian bird guide for his 15th birthday, they were all thrilled.

“Every day we were looking at that book and finding out what the birds around us were,” Mrs Young said.

Dollarbirds, bowerbirds, finches, honeyeaters.

An older woman in the driver's seat of a car gestures towards the windshield with one hand, her other hand steering the wheel.
Gwen Young’s dream since she was a girl is to see every Australian bird.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

“We’ve just been birding ever since. I just love them,” Mrs Young said.

In the decades of endless bird trips and surveys since, she has clocked up sightings of nearly 600 different bird species.

“There’s another couple of hundred to go but I’m never going to get there, too old now,” Mrs Young said with a chuckle.

Transforming their property

Many of those birds have been in the Youngs’ backyard.

Over the past week, the couple has been noting down the different species around their property for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count.

The tally by Friday was 27 species, which was a little down on last year’s total, Mrs Young said.

But it was about 27 more than when Mrs Young first visited Jeff’s farm in 1996.

An aerial photo shows large green paddocks with large patches of trees on them, a coastline and blue sky in the background.
Before Gwen arrived, Jeff Young’s property was bare. Now it has tree corridors full of birds.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

“When I first came here you couldn’t see the bush,” Mrs Young said.

“There were really only magpies and sparrows … that was basically about it.”

Mr Young’s father had cleared a lot of the native trees on the property years ago.

“The good thing about it is that he didn’t clear it all; some properties were all cleared,” Mrs Young said.

A smiling couple stand next to a sign that says Bushcare
Gwen moved in with Jeff Young on his farm when they married in 1998.(Supplied: Jeff and Gwen Young)

In 2000, the Youngs acquired a little over $1,000 from the government to fence off a corridor and start planting again.

After a few years Mrs Young was able to collect her own seeds.

“That was really satisfying being able to collect seeds off trees that I’d planted,” she said.

On a “good day” they would plant 600 trees. Sometimes Mrs Young would spend four days a week planting.

“I just loved doing it,” she said.

A government authorised sign surrounded by trees reads 'Landholders Enhancing Local Landscapes. Site, Young. Area, one hectare.'
Gwen and Jeff Young’s plantations are recognised by the government.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

And they both loved being out among nature. “I love the bush,” Mr Young said.

Build it and they will fly in

Native scrubland now covers 9 hectares of the Youngs’ property.

“I’ve no idea how many superb fairy wrens we’ve got but there must be hundreds of them,” Mrs Young said.

“There are also a lot of birds that just come now and then.”

When it’s wet, the swamps become a hub of activity.

A shallow body of water on a paddock surrounded by tall grass.
Multiple swamps form on the Youngs’ property after the rain, attracting even more birds.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

One winter they could see spoonbills, egrets and hundreds of ducks from their kitchen window.

“It was just magic,” Mrs Young said.

Closer to the house, Mr Young is often accompanied by scrub wrens in his workshop.

Birds will nest almost anywhere — even in pot plants and hay bales.

An older woman stands next to part of a dead tree hanging in a shed, a hole in the middle marks a bird nest.
Gwen Young with one of the many bird nests dotted around the garden.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

For one audit of the dairy, Mr and Mrs Young had to hide a swallow’s nest during the inspection.

“[Jeff] took the brush with the nest on it and took it out the back until the auditor left,” Mrs Young said.

An older man and woman smile as they climb through a gap in a fence, surrounded by bush.
The Youngs might have to clear some hurdles but they never have to venture far to find a scenic picnic spot.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Jeff’s new appreciation for birds

Mr Young has become used to his wife’s obsession.

“We can’t bypass a national park, we’ve got to go into it,” he said.

While he does not have the same fascination with all birds as his wife does, he is interested in the species he sees on his property.

An older man in a grey cap smiles at the camera, a motorbike and shed behind him.
Jeff Young moved from dairy farming to cattle farming a couple of years ago.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

“It didn’t take him too long to start to notice different birds,” Mrs Young said.

He now comes home after a day in the paddocks with a run-sheet of species he saw, or questions about a visitor.

“He mightn’t know what they were but he knew there was a different bird down there,” Mrs Young said.

Other farmers following suit

The Youngs’ commitment to greening their property has made an impact.

“There are quite a few other people who have planted little strips along their fences,” Mrs Young said.

“Even the neighbour is changing his ways … he’s planted a hell of a lot of trees on his high ground,” Mr Young said.

“There has been a lot done over the years since we started,” Mrs Young added.

Two grey and white cows in a grassy paddock stare at the camera, a small black calf in the background.
The Youngs are happy to see other farmers planting trees on their properties.(ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

As far as birding goes, Mrs Young has made inroads with two of her three daughters. Her grandchildren have not shown as much interest.

“But now that their mothers are [birding], maybe they will,” Mrs Young said.

While back and hip issues have put a halt on Gwen Young’s dreams of new bird sightings, most of her favourite memories involve everyday birds.

A closeup shop of a bird
An eastern spinebill, like this one, gave Gwen Young a memory she still cherishes.(Supplied: Rhonda Corcoran)

One day in the Grampians National Park stands out.

It had started to rain, so she took cover under some flowering shrubbery.

“This spinebill came along and he was drinking out of the blossoms just there, a few inches from my face,” Mrs Young said.

“I grew up with spinebills, but to see one right in front of your face … That was a pleasure that I’ll never forget.”



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Uprooted Trees Litter Yards in Louisiana After Hurricane Delta


Uprooted trees lay across yards in the Lafayette, Louisiana, metro area on October 11, two days after Hurricane Delta made landfall in the state. The National Hurricane Center reported that Delta made landfall near Creole, Louisiana, at 6 pm CDT on October 9. According to reports, many residents along Delta’s path were still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which hit the state roughly six weeks ago. This footage was shared by Instagram user @through_brendas_lens, who said it was filmed in Duson, Louisiana. Credit: @through_brendas_lens via Storyful



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Western Highway trees felled as case returns to court


Workers are within kilometres of the “Directions Tree” — a towering yellow-box with a distinctive serpent-like swirl on its trunk – and even closer to a 700-year-old eucalypt “Grandfather” tree.

These trees have been fiercely guarded by the Djab Wurrung Embassy and hundreds of supporters since mid-2018, with protesters staring down police efforts to carry out eviction orders on several occasions.

Trees marked with red paint along the Western Highway that are set for the chop, as the state government resists calls from traditional owners for works to halt until an upcoming court case is resolved.

The Djab Wurrung have filed proceedings in the Federal Court, requesting a review of federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s approval for the project in August.

This is the third time the traditional owners have requested a judicial review of an environmental minister’s approval following two earlier successful bids.

In December last year, Federal Court judge Justice Alan Robertson discarded Ms Ley’s earlier approval, finding the minister made a legal error when she applied the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act to the Djab Wurrung’s bid for protection.

Ms Ley was forced to review her decision and in August gave the project another tick of approval — a decision the Djab Wurrung are challenging in court, with hearings scheduled for December. The traditional owners want to protect thousands of trees and all vegetation along the 12½-kilometre highway duplication route.

Zellanach Djab Mara next to the Directions Tree, which is set to be chopped to widen the highway. This tree has not yet been cut down.

Zellanach Djab Mara next to the Directions Tree, which is set to be chopped to widen the highway. This tree has not yet been cut down.Credit:Justin McManus

Multi-clan elder Aunty Sandra Onus, who is bringing the case, said bulldozing trees that her people deemed sacred was akin to Rio Tinto’s destruction of two 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal caves in Western Australia.

“Here in Victoria, it’s no better,” Ms Onus said. “I’m sick of our cultural heritage being destroyed.”

“There are very few left of these trees due to bad farming practices, tree clearance and roads.

“We’ve shown them a better way to do this and they’re not listening to us,” Ms Onus said of the government. “They’re being bloody-minded, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Djab Wurrung call this ancient Indigenous tree the Directions Tree, which they believe grew from a seed and the placenta of their ancestor many centuries ago. It is set to be chopped down, but this has not yet occurred.

The Djab Wurrung call this ancient Indigenous tree the Directions Tree, which they believe grew from a seed and the placenta of their ancestor many centuries ago. It is set to be chopped down, but this has not yet occurred. Credit:Justin McManus

Lawyer for the Djab Wurrung, Michael Kennedy, has sought a moratorium from the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment until the court case is resolved.

He also applied for an emergency declaration for protection of the area under the federal Aboriginal heritage protection act.

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Last week, crews felled “significant trees, several of them … several hundred years old,” Mr Kennedy said.

When asked why Ms Ley continued approving the project despite mounting concern about sacred Aboriginal trees, Mr Kennedy said: “The Commonwealth is funding 66 per cent of the cost of this project, so she [Ms Ley] may be guided by that.

“We say this money has been badly spent.”

The state government has issued a warning to the handful of protesters who remain on site, saying it was now time for them to leave.

A spokesman for Major Road Projects Victoria said: “The project’s design has been approved by both relevant traditional owner groups, an independent Environmental Effects Statement process, the Supreme Court, the federal Environment Minister and the Victorian Ombudsman — it’s time for the handful of protesters that remain on the site to dismantle their camp and allow us to get on with the urgently needed safety upgrade.”

Planning for the duplication of the single-lane truck route between Melbourne and Adelaide started 12 years ago, but construction has been delayed by two years and the project faces a $60 million cost blowout, following a wave of legal challenges — pursued separately by private landowners and traditional owners — ongoing protests and a number of Federal Court-imposed injunctions.

Dancers performing ceremony in front of the Grandfather tree at Djab Wurrung Embassy camp, which is set to be cut down. This has not yet occurred.

Dancers performing ceremony in front of the Grandfather tree at Djab Wurrung Embassy camp, which is set to be cut down. This has not yet occurred.Credit:Justin McManus

COVID-19 restrictions and wet weather have also slowed construction in recent months.

Last year the Andrews government agreed to change the road’s design to spare 16 of the 22 trees identified as culturally significant by the Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation, including two “birthing trees”.

Sisters MairiAnne and Iona Mackenzie, whose land was compulsorily acquired for the project, lost their case against the government over the road in the Supreme Court last month.

The Victorian Ombudsman found in a recent audit that the government agencies overseeing the project consulted in good faith while carrying out negotiations with traditional owner groups.

The "Grandfather" tree at the Djab Wurrung Embassy camp, which is set to be cut down. This has not yet occurred.

The “Grandfather” tree at the Djab Wurrung Embassy camp, which is set to be cut down. This has not yet occurred. Credit:Justin McManus

A spokesman for Ms Ley said it was not appropriate to comment on any new legal proceedings.

Djab Wurrung traditional owners have been custodians of their country for more than 12,500 years.

In the late 1850s a road was built between Buangor and the gold diggings in Ararat, which became the Western Highway.

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WA bee and forestry industries in unlikely alliance over honey producer access to trees


Beekeepers and the logging industry rarely see eye-to-eye on how native forest assets should be managed, but in a shock move the two sectors have teamed up to improve native forest access for honey producers.

Earlier this year, WA beekeepers told the ABC that the continued clear-felling of native forests in WA’s south west was devastating their business.

But this week, the Forest Industry Federation of WA (FIFWA) and the Bee Industry Council of WA (BICWA) presented a joint policy statement to the State Government entitled Bees and Trees together in Business, aimed at strengthening ties between the sectors.

FIFWA executive director Melissa Haslam said the groups were developing a system that would give beekeepers new access to a rotation of apiary sites in native forests that had been logged.

“We want to work with everyone in the forest, because a healthy forest is good for everyone,” she said.

The Bee Industry Council of WA estimates the number of beekeepers entering the industry is growing by around 18 per cent annually.(ABC Rural: Jessica Hayes)

“What they’re seeking is, before we start regenerating our landings, they’d like to put their hives there because its a good small open space with good access.

“The idea is that they’d be there for a while and once they’re finished we would recommence regeneration as we normally would.

“For example, if you were set up next to an area of forest that was due to be clear-felled what we would have on our books is a whole rotation of sites on our log landings throughout the jarrah and karri forest which beekeepers could use or shift to.”

Foes become friends

The WA honey is worth about $50 million to the state’s economy annually, and the number of beekeepers entering the industry is growing at a rate of around 18 per cent year-on-year.

BICWA chairman Brendon Fewster said the honey industry was trying to get access to more sites, to accommodate the industry’s exponential growth.

“The beekeeping industry needs trees, there’s certain aspects of the timber industry that we don’t agree with that are a no-brainer,” he said.

“But we also realise that they’re in the forest, they are doing some work with regards to the mechanical clearing and getting the forest healthy.

Bee Industry Council of WA chairman Brendon Fewster standing in front of hives at Muchea in July 2020.
Brendon Fewster says the number of beekeepers entering the sector is growing.(Jessica Hayes: ABC Rural)

“In areas where trees have been taken away, we’re trying to get more trees planted and planted in a more sustainable way.”

More beekeepers, fewer sites

The statement said both industries share concerns about the conversion of state forest to national park.

About 851,000 hectares of forest in the south-west region is available for timber harvesting and honey production.

Mr Fewster said demand from industries such as avocado and almond production for bees to assist with pollination was also exploding, but the number of quality available sites was falling.

“Ideally we’d have the Government through the Department of Biosecurity Conservation and Attractions getting these sites back, holding those sites, and then utilising those sites when they get burnt out or when there is logging.”

‘I’ll be very blunt about it’

The joint policy position has come as a surprise to some honey producers, such as Michael Cernotta, who runs a commercial beekeeping business on his property near Pemberton, about 320 kilometres south of Perth.

“Historically and particularly recently the logging industry has been logging out a number of highly valuable bee sites,” he said.

Michael Cernotta Pemberton Honey Company
Michael Cernotta says he was surprised by the joint statement, given the historically fraught relationship between the sectors.(ABC South West WA, Jon Daly)

“I’ll be very blunt about it: the timber industry wants the big old trees, and those are the exact trees that the beekeepers need to produce honey from.

“They don’t produce workable volumes of nectar and pollen which are crucial for keeping our bees alive.

“What we need are forests that are 80, 90, 100 years old to sustain our bees, just because bees go back in the ground…they’re actually no use to a beekeeper for a minimum of 40 years.”



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Interference in Potential Swift Parrot Nesting Trees


Media release – BirdLife Tasmania, 17 September 2020

Interference in potential Swift Parrot nesting trees

BirdLife Tasmania today proposed that the actions of the Department of State Growth (DSG) at St Helens to block potential nesting hollows for swift parrots qualifies as inappropriate interference with a Critically Endangered species, and questioned the legality of the operations.

DSG have closed potential nesting hollows in six blue gums south of St Helens to prevent swift parrots using them this breeding season. DSG are looking to construct an overtaking lane that will see these six large blue gums cut down – if the project is approved. To date, DSG does not have planning permission to undertake the road construction.

“Rather than waiting for the swift parrot breeding season to pass, and for the necessary permits to be issued to them, DSG has proactively interfered with a Critically Endangered species by reducing the availability of suitable nesting sites,” Dr Eric Woehler, Convenor of BirdLife Tasmania said today.

“BirdLife Tasmania suggests such activities are entirely inappropriate, given the conservation status of the swift parrot, currently listed under state and federal legislations as Critically Endangered.”

Swift parrots nest close to their food sources, such as blue gums, and by preventing the birds nesting in these trees, there is the potential to adversely affect their local breeding efforts,” Dr Woehler added.

“What agency issued permits for these blocks to be installed?” Dr Woehler asked.

“DSG have no permits in place for the proposed road construction. This is a very questionable act against a Critically Endangered species.”

“It’s very clear that state agencies just don’t get it when it comes to protecting our threatened species” Dr Woehler noted with concern.

“State agencies should be working to protect swift parrots and other Endangered species, not blocking their nesting hollows and cutting down nesting and feeding trees of swift parrots.”

BirdLife Tasmania called for the immediate removal of the blocks, and for the six large blue gums to be protected, and not cut down as proposed.

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Canberra Liberals’ blue campaign goes green with promises of trees, nature spaces and bike paths


Updated

September 20, 2020 10:13:00

The Canberra Liberals’ election platform has been driven by policies like freezing rates, lowering taxes and upgrading roads. But among the more foreseeable campaign slogans, some unusual themes have emerged — blue policies that have been dressed up as green.

The current ACT Opposition has even used the colour green instead of Liberal blue, creating memes about the environment and colouring in candidate’s avatars.

In a socially progressive city that cares deeply about protecting its environment, the party is keen to show its green credentials, particularly with a conservative figurehead in Alistair Coe.

But really how green are the Canberra Liberals?

A million trees in a decade, but at what cost?

The washes of green began in early June when the party declared that its key pillar in its environment plan was to plant 1 million trees over the next decade, including promising every child in kindergarten would be given a tree to plant from their local nursery.

Details on how the lofty target would be achieved were sketchy. Coe estimated each tree would cost between $10 and $20.

Labor quickly fired back, labelling the policy half-baked, saying each tree costs $380 plus upkeep.

The party also promised a so-called “green space guarantee”, pledging that everyone would live within a 10-minute walk of an oval or a park, playing into fears that the bush capital was being lost to developers.

It was a curious start to their policy promises and signalled a clear intention.

Then, sprinkle in plans to deliver a mindfulness and meditation program for primary school kids and a ‘poverty taskforce’ to investigate rental stress, and we arrive at this week when they announce grand plans for Canberra’s bicycle network.

A day after promising to create more carparks, slash registration fees and encourage transit lanes, the Liberals said they would build 100 kilometres of dedicated bike paths by 2030, linking town centres and making cycling road-free.

The extent of the commitment appeared to take cycling advocates by surprise, who welcomed the plan but questioned why the party had only put forward $500,000 for a study into how the improved network might work.

And, again, it offered Labor a chance to stick the boot in, arguing the previous day’s financial commitment — a $50 million parking fund — was proof the Liberals didn’t actually care about bikes.

Permission to vote Liberal in a progressive city

In Labor’s camp, their campaign themes have emerged as more predictable.

Current ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr declared this October would be an election about jobs.

Not “jobs and growth” exactly — the catchcry made famous by Scott Morrison during the 2016 federal budget — but jobs and infrastructure, as the ACT plots its economic recovery from the damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while Labor’s policies also have a tinge of green, that’s to be expected from a Government that prides itself on delivering 100 per cent renewable electricity to the ACT.

After 19 years in power, Labor persistently touts just how progressive the ACT has become, often citing the territory’s record-high ‘yes’ vote and participation rate in the same-sex marriage postal survey.

For Liberal voters it prompts the idea that they need permission to vote Liberal.

And while there’s no suggestion the Liberals are competing with the ACT Greens for votes at October’s election, perhaps the party’s greener policies are a way in for shy supporters to turn into unabashed ones.

Meanwhile Labor has yet to detail its environmental policies and, while they wait, there’s an opportunity for soft Labor voters to become Liberal voters too.

After almost two decades in opposition, the Canberra Liberals will need Labor voters to win this thing, after all.

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Topics:

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First posted

September 20, 2020 10:07:50





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