Friday, 10 October 2014

Welcome Home "Diggers"

 Great news for conservationists (and conversationalists)! Two “lost” species are returning to our suburbs. The Long-nosed Bandicoot, a once common resident (but not seen in Manly Vale for 45 years) is amazingly, making a comeback. And the Brush-turkey..a rare visitor to Sydney in the last 20 years or so, is now strutting up and down my street (and many others) with “gay abandon”.

 Bandicoots, it seems, have benefited from targeted fox baiting and their numbers are bouncing back, as the population of this introduced predator is curtailed.  Brush (or Scrub) Turkeys, which were virtually wiped out by hunting and loss of habitat (apparently their tough and stringy meat provided many a family feed during the Great Depression) are also reclaiming their territory.

 Of course these great examples of wildlife resilience has stimulated a cacophony of criticism. Some churlish people baulk at the small v shaped holes that bandicoots make in lawns when looking for grubs...whilst the fact that Brush-turkeys build large nesting mounds doesn’t win them many fans (especially with the “English style” manicured garden brigade). The irony is , these “protected species”, vilified by some for their habitual digging, are benefiting us all by doing just that !

 A recent Murdoch University study has found that native digging animals (also including Bilbies,Potaroos etc) play a key role in promoting eco-system health. Their activities increase soil nutrition, seed dispersal and water infiltration.  Some foraging animals are also credited with reducing bush-fire risks by taking leaf litter underground. The diggings of feral species such as rabbits, in contrast, promote the spread of weeds and have a negative effect on the soil.

 Imagine how our landscape might have looked if we hadn’t systematically eradicated most of our native wildlife! (Australia has the world’s worst record for mammal extinction in the last 200 years). So please, embrace these lovely “diggers” give them some space, keep your pets away and make the wildlife feel at home!

Long -nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta)

 A  nocturnal marsupial with large pointed ears and a long muzzle.  It is greyish brown in colour with a creamy white forefeet and under-body.
Habitat: Rainforests, woodlands, heathland, grasslands.
Distribution: from Vic to Qld borders.
Size: 310-425mm
Lifespan: around 2.5 years
Diet: Omniverous. Primarily beetles, ants, larvae, fungi, roots, shoots.
Breeds: July to March
Gestation: only 12.5 days (shortest of any mammal)
Litter: 1 to 5.  In a good year, females may produce up to 4 litters.
Predators: dogs, cats, foxes (and cars)
 An “isolated” population of around 200 can be found at Manly’s North Head and is listed as “endangered”.

Sadly, many Bandicoots fall prey to domestic cats (photo James Taylor)

Australia Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami)

One of three Australian “Mound Builders”- the other two being the mallee fowl and the orange-footed scrubfowl. It has deep black plumage, bare red head and neck, a broad flat fan tail. Males have a redder head and neck and a distinguishing yellow “wattle”. A chick looks similar to a quail and has brown feathers.
Habitat:  Rainforest and eucalypt forest
Distribution:  Australia’s east coast from NSW to Queensland
Size: 60-70cm body length.
Lifespan: 10 years
Diet: Leaf litter, invertebrates and fruits
Breeding:  Occurs from August to January. The male brush-turkey builds a large mound of organic matter up to 6 metres wide and 1.5 metres high. The females are attracted to a well built and maintained mound and one or more birds will lay eggs inside it. The decomposition of the vegetation inside the mound produces heat The male checks the temperature by inserting his bill and then adds or removes material to maintain a 32to 33 C degree temperature. After around 50 days the young brush-turkeys hatch and have to fend for themselves.
Female brush-turkeys lay between 20 and 30 eggs a year. (one mound may contain up to 150 eggs over a season)
Predators: Goannas, snakes, birds of prey, foxes, domestic cats and dogs. To protect themselves, brush-turkeys form roosting groups in trees.

And here's a view of a Bandicoot visiting my own Manly Vale backyard (after many years of endeavouring to create the right habitat for them!)  

Thursday, 8 May 2014

There's a Mermaid hiding in our creek!

 Each successive modern generation is growing up in world that has less biodiversity and beauty than the one before. As a consequence the sense of loss at what is disappearing becomes diminished. Nowadays polluted creeks and lack of biodiversity have become the norm, a far cry from when the traditional Aboriginal owners were custodians of this land.

 It’s amazing to think that in suburban Sydney just a mere seventy years ago...platypus still occupied some of our creeks and streams. That was before most of the waterways were piped or sullied by storm-water drains and leaking sewage infrastructure. If we could suddenly turn back time to how the area used to be, then more people would realise the ugly truth of what our “civilisation” has done.

Just some of the junk removed from Manly Creek one Clean Up Australia Day
 Of course many of these creeks are now hidden away and choked by invasive weeds and discarded rubbish.  Incredibly though, some ancient denizens still cling to life in their murky waters, much like they have done for a large chunk of eternity.

 On Manly Creek, in the Northern part of Sydney, there is a place called Mermaid Pool (named after the young girls who used to bathe there in the Great Depression).  But a local native fish expert, Andrew Lo, insists that the real Mermaids are the fish themselves...and it’s hard to argue with his logic.

 Andrew was the guy who discovered that an amazing fish, which breathes through its skin and climbs up sheer rock faces, lives within the Manly Dam catchment area (in the upper sections of Manly creek-line).  This Climbing Galaxias population is the most northerly in Australia. It’s a living Gondwanan relic, but its clean-stream habitat is very vulnerable.   Members of the community once celebrated its birthday with a special 60 millionth birthday cake, a symbolic gesture during a protest blockade against development of its habitat. This area has since become a housing estate and one of the Galaxias’ creeks and bushland surrounds was ultimately bulldozed and concreted to make way for “progress”. Read  more about the Climbing Galaxias on the Australian Museum website.

 Back down the creek towards Manly’s surfing beaches you can still spot a number of other “Mermaids” which still migrate to spawn up this waterway just as they’ve always done...and they somehow still do it, despite the golf course dams, the pollution incidents, the choking exotic weeds, the irregular water flows, the algal blooms, the feral fish predators and the general lack of knowledge of their existence and consequently, any regard for their well-being..

 These are some of the native fish in question:-

 Jolly tail. The common galaxias spawns downstream in rivers and streams amongst vegetation on the banks of the estuary regions during a spring tide mainly in autumn. The eggs remain on the bank (out of the water) until the next spring tide when they hatch into larvae which are swept out to the ocean. For the next 5–6 months the larvae live in the sea and develop into juvenile fish, often referred to as whitebait.

The Striped Gudgeon is best recognised in the wild by the five to seven dark stripes on the sides of the body, and a dark stripe running posteriorly from the eye.
Andrew finds a tiny juvenile Striped Gudgeon during a survey

 Cox’s Gudgeon. Juveniles are able to climb waterfalls by rotating their pectoral fins so that the inside surfaces of the fins are pressed against the wall creating suction. 

Juvenile Cox's Gudgeon climbing a sheer rockface
Empire Gudgeon. Females are brown to golden and whitish below. In the breeding season males become bright orange-rea on the head and belly. The dorsal and anal fins become bright red-orange basally and with a dark sub-marginal stripe and lighter margins.

Australian Bass are an iconic, highly predatory native fish.Longevity is a survival strategy to ensure that most adults participate in at least one exceptional spawning and recruitment event, which are often linked to unusually wet 'La NiƱa' years and may only occur every one or two decades.

This Australian Bass was caught and released
The Bullrout should be handled with extreme care. The dorsal, anal and pelvic spines all have venom glands. A puncture wound from one of these spines can be excruciatingly painful.

The Flathead Gudgeon is primarily found on muddy bottoms, often amongst vegetation. The species occurs in freshwaters, but is also recorded from estuarine and protected areas in coastal bays. (There is also a Dwarf Flathead Gudgeon).

Firetail Gudgeon. This is a small native Australian fish that occurs in freshwater coastal streams. The body is generally grey to bronze with black scale margins. During the breeding season males can be almost black, with intense red-orange fins.

Firetail and Cox's Gudgeon

 Longfinned eel. Female eels can have millions of eggs in the ovaries. Developing leptocephali take about one year to return to the streams of eastern Australia. Glass eels arrive in New South Wales in early Summer. Those that make the additional journey south to Victoria arrive from January to late May. Young eels (called elvers) then swim upstream and spend a number of years maturing in freshwater.

Shortfinned eel. When they reach maturity, they stop feeding and migrate downstream to the sea, then anything up to three or four thousand kilometres to a spawning ground in deep water somewhere in the Coral Sea off New Caledonia.

Native fish migrate from the sea via Manly Lagoon up Manly Creek to breed.
In 2001 there was a herbicide spill near here from a local golf course which killed many thousands of fish. Manly Lagoon is rated as one of the most polluted waterways in Australia

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Time For Some Casual Lily Gilding...

A locally occurring native plant that looks fabulous, smells divine, is “as tough as buggery” yet easy to grow.  It sounds like some weird, antipodean, utopian dream but it's fortunate botanical reality.

The Swamp Lily (Crinum Pedunculatum) can be found in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory and occurs naturally close to mangroves as well as on the edge of forests. It is a robust plant that grows up to 2 metres tall (with a spread to 3 metres) and thrives in both full sun or partial shade. Crinum ( from the Greek, Krinon, meaning Lily) is a genus of around 100 species, most are African, with 5 native to Australia. This one flowers from around November and its elegant white spidery blooms are followed by the production of bulbous seed pods, which can easily be potted or transferred to create new plants. I grew the plants pictured from pods I gathered from the wild.

The plants are sometimes voraciously eaten by two kinds of moth caterpillar (Spodoptera Picta and Brithys Crini) but the massed,  yellow and black striped creatures are a spectacular sight in themselves and the lily will recover and re-sprout (so there’s no need for the chemical warfare recommended by most "conventional" gardening guides).

April is "Munch Time"

Aborigines used sap from the Crinum to ease the pain of marine stings and the plant was also used to make materials for fishing lures.

So, get rid of your boring, weedy, foreign Cliveas and Agapanthus and replace them with something authentic and much more’ll never regret it! 

 And as for "gilding the lily" ? The expression is a common misquotation from Shakespeare's play King John. The correct line is this 

"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
The beauteous
eye of heaven
needs no garnish

Friday, 14 March 2014

Letter to Tony

Dear Hon Anthony John Abbott, Member For Warringah, 28th Prime Minister of Australia

 May I call you Tony?  I used to think that we were rather alike.  Both of us born in the U.K at a similar time, both of us with the rather unimaginative “John” as a middle name and we lived as near neighbours in the very same NSW electorate. In fact, I’m told, you were pursuing the property I ultimately purchased when we were both house hunting. We both have a pretty loopy affection for an outdated Monarchy, both love to hurl ourselves into the surf at Manly Beach (budgie smugglers optional) and were both raised in a strict code of contrived Christian morality. I suspect these days our voting patterns may be slightly different though.

  Before de-camping to government-owned digs, you lived in a suburb ironically called “Forestville”. I know now that you don’t put much value on native forests apart from their capacity to provide wood for furniture makers.  No one seems to have told you that, in reality, most logging involves bulldozing and wood-chipping the trees which are then exported to foreign companies to be pulped for paper.

  Apparently at a recent forest industry “love in” you recalled learning about the esoteric mysteries of wood at the knee of your grandfather, a shipwright by trade. The loggers must have thought you very quaint. You called them the  “ultimate conservationists”...Comedian Corinne Grant was a little more adroit “If loggers are conservationists, then Ivan Milat is a champion of population control” she penned. Another person observed that it was just as well Australia doesn’t still have a whaling industry because he couldn’t bear to hear the PM refer to the plucky harpoonists as the “ultimate animal welfare activists”.

 I’ve tried to understand you Tony. When you say Australia is now “open for business” part of me (i.e. my hands) wants to applaud. Then I realise that what you really mean to say is that our fragile environment and wildlife can now be exploited for a quick buck, no questions asked. You project a patriotic fervour but in reality you work at the behest of corporate greed-wherever it lays its shady hat.

 Surely it goes against all sense of Australian pride to want to de-list Tasmania’s World Heritage forests or “open up” our much loved National Parks to commercial interests. It amounts to hocking precious family heirlooms to pay for gambling debts. Oh yes and I remember that you did a similar thing, in your own constituency, when you withheld federal government intervention and allowed high conservation bushland to be sold off to overseas developers. 

 The community even took your wife Marg and daughters to see the creek-line habitat of a rare climbing fish that was threatened with local extinction but even that didn’t sway you. Later at a public forum you said you were “wearing sackcloth and ashes over that one”. But I see from your actions now that you must have been far from repentant.

Tony meets community reps trying to save bushland in his Warringah electorate (1999)

 Since coming to office it’s not just Tasmania’s forests that have been targeted. Your environment Minister, Greg Hunt, (and aligned State Liberal Premiers) have approved the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredging spoil on the Great Barrier Reef, allowed cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, given the green light to burning native forests for electricity in NSW and authorised the culling of Great White Sharks in W.A. (a globally threatened species). Philistines are leaping out of the parliamentary closet everywhere.  Not a good look in relation to the stewardship of our planet.

 As a professed "man of faith" and one who even trained to be a Jesuit priest, I would have thought you’d have taken heed of the many Biblical references which guide us towards caring for God’s creation e.g. “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, you shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell” (Numbers 35:33-34). Even with the welfare of three daughters at stake and climate change predictions forecasting a bleak future, you still won’t entertain the possibility of curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.

Just metres from Tony's electoral office, demonstrators gather to protect the environment.

 Another thing that sticks in the craw is when Liberal Treasurer Joe Hockey tells the Australian people that “the age of entitlement is over”. This is pretty hot on the heels of you claiming travel expenses, from the public purse, for attending charity and sporting events not to mention fronting up at colleagues’ weddings!  Don’t you get paid enough money already as Prime Minister?

 Years ago, before you were elected to the highest office, I dedicated a poem to you and the people of your political persuasion. It now seems more relevant than ever and I reproduce it below.

Minds Wide Shut.

There are too many rednecks in can see their flaky skin and rabid eyes. And they make coital moans at the sound of Alan Jones. As they celebrate his overture of lies.

There are far too many crazies in this country. Whose philosophy is far right of right extreme. They’ll sacrifice our forests, our rivers and our seas. Whilst deludedly profess to “live the dream”.

There’s one born every minute in this wide brown land. The refugee hating, Shooters party voting, climate change denying, wood chip loving type. They’ll be growing nuclear plants in our garden. And proliferating, when the fruits are ripe.

There’s a lot of Tony Abbotts in Australia. We’ve got the best democracy that money bought. And they steer this stately ship with a firm despotic grip. While they plunder human rights and don’t get caught.

So be sorry for these funny little Minchins. That roam the corridors of power and Cubbie Station. For Barnaby Joyce, will one day lose his voice. And Bob Brown will get the vote to lead this nation.

(Footnote:-we may need a new Bob Brown!)

If only our wildlife could vote!

M J Fisher

Monday, 13 January 2014

What makes trees so special ?

 The best trees of, course, are the ones that grow in intact native forests, supporting complex ecosystems ...and their conservation is of premium importance. Tragically, Australia’s government wants World Heritage listing for Tasmania’s iconic forests to be revoked so they can be logged. Tassie's Forests ; they allow Victoria’s fragile forests to be pulped to make Reflex Paper. Ethical Paper Campaign; whilst majestic Karri and Jarrah forests in Western Australia continue to fall. Logging in W.A.

 But if you live in a city environment, the “urban forest” is pretty significant too. 

 In my suburban street at Manly Vale, Sydney, the community has planted a 1.5 km avenue of native trees and shrubs alongside a moderately busy road called King St. This was done with the assistance of a NSW government grant and it is now maintained by volunteers. 

 We did this because we wanted to plant species that were endemic specifically to this area and to help replace some of the biodiversity that was missing from the street (and most other local streetscapes). 

King St Tree Planting in Manly Vale.
 It was hoped maybe that the species chosen could be a template for other street plantings (where, traditionally, foreign or “out of area” species were selected). Native trees grown from  locally sourced  seeds, are naturally already suited to our soil and weather conditions and won’t escape into our bushland areas as invasive weeds.

 Unfortunately a new plan by Warringah Council to plant trees in a few selected streets contains a significant proportion of “exotic” trees (some invasive weed species) and numerous natives not local to our region.  Warringah Council Tree Plan This isn’t exactly following the “Landcare ethos”

 The avenue was also planted as memorial “avenue of honour” to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of Merchant Navy personnel in two world wars. Often, these servicemen were not included in other traditional war memorial settings. Avenue of Honour

A stone monument to the Merchant Navy acts as a centrepiece in Kings Reserve.

The species planted are endemic to the suburb of Manly Vale, NSW. On the left is a Banksia Serrata (Old Man Banksia) on the right is
a Banksia Marginata (Silver Banksia)

 This one is a rare Angophora Crassifolia.
All this was important..but it seems that the value of street plantings far exceeded our wildest expectations.

Here is a selection of the additional benefits that planting, or preserving, urban trees can bring.

1/ Shade provided by urban trees can cool buildings by up to 20 degrees in the summer. Researchers at Curtin University in Perth found that a lack of trees in the city contributed to heat-related problems for residents. Without tree cover, conditions could get worse, as predicted temperature increases associated with climate change, posed a "significant threat" to human health.

2/ A single tree can produce a day’s oxygen for four people.

3/  In one day a large tree can remove up to 380 litres of water from the ground and release it into the air.

4/ A tree living for 50 years will generate $62,000 worth of pollution control plus increase soil fertility and control soil erosion to the tune of $31, 250. It will also generate $31, 250 worth of oxygen, recycle $37,500 worth of water and provide a home to animals worth $31, 250. In total, one tree is worth $193, 250 (Professor T.M.Das, The University of Calcutta).

5/ Research has found that motorists slow down whilst travelling through a tree lined portion of a street as drivers tend to go more slowly when something is in their peripheral vision. (Texas A and M)
6/  According to the real estate sector, tree lined streets can add $15-25,000  of value to homes and businesses versus  non tree comparable streets.

7/ Studies conducted in California show that shade from urban trees can add 40% to 60% more life to road and pavement surfaces through the benefits of shading.

8/ Trees create a safer walking environment by providing distinction between road edges.

9/ Trees create more pleasant walking environments, provide a sense of place and encourage more pride, ownership and care in (and of) an area.

10/ Businesses on treescaped streets show 20% higher income streams.

11/ Trees reduce storm water run-off and flooding by absorbing water  Water sinks into the soil under trees at 67 times the rate at which it sinks into the soil under grass! 

12/ Trees provide protection from rain, sun and heat.

13/ Trees absorb car and truck exhaust pollution including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, organic compounds and particulate matter which add to asthma and other health impacts. They also convert harmful gasses back into oxygen.

14/ A properly shaded urban street can reduce energy bills for a household by 15% to 35%.

15/ Trees convert streets, parking areas and walls into more aesthetically pleasing environments and act as a screen and filter of "visual pollution".

16/ Trees reduce blood pressure and improve emotional and psychological health. They have a calming effect on ADHD effected adults and teens.

17/ There is compelling evidence to suggest that motorist ‘road rage’ is less in green urban environments compared to stark urban areas.

18/ Research has shown that healthy street trees help lessen the levels of domestic violence.

19/ An analysis of numerous studies in BMC Public Health found evidence  for street trees having "direct and positive impacts on well-being," in the form of reduced anger and sadness. Getting people actively involved in the planting process makes communities even happier.
20/ A Dutch study suggests every 10% increase in green space can postpone health complaints in communities by five years. And a US study is suggests patients that have a view of nature through hospital windows recover better after surgery.
21/ Street Trees help improve biodiversity as as tree-lined streets provide wildlife corridors for birds, animals and insects to travel. In Australia, “hollow bearing’ trees are vital in creating homes for arborial marsupials, bats and birds.
22/ Dutch researchers at VU University discovered that even glimpsing “green” through a dingy urban window can push the brain to consider the long-term future. People who watch plants grow exhibit better spending impulse control. Inner-city girls with views of green space from their window have proved more adept at concentration, impulse inhibition, and delay of gratification.

Why not contact your local Council for assistance and plant endemic native species from your own specific environment in your street ! If you live on Sydney sandstone country..the one below would be perfect!

Angophora Costata (Smooth-Barked Apple)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Endangered vegetation now a hospital case.

 French Forest is a Sydney suburb 13 km from the CBD.  Much of the “Forest” has long been consumed by business parks, housing estates and bitumen but right next to busy Warringah road sits a unique remnant of rich biodiversity. This is the vital wildlife corridor that links Garigal National Park with Manly Dam Reserve and Narrabeen Lagoon catchment

 True to form, the NSW government has chosen this very land as the location for a brand new private hospital. It is on notice to be bulldozed, concreted and lost forever in the near future. The frustrating thing is that the high quality, existing Mona Vale and Manly hospitals nearby (one with extensive land to expand and upgrade) will also be sacrificed for this misconceived project.

The proposed hospital site (corner of Forest Way and Warringah Rd. Sydney) a remnant area of ancient bushland and a vital wildlife corridor
The bushland on the 6 hectare land parcel is not your average “scrub”. No, this is an unusual sub-segment of an already endangered type of woodland called  Duffys Forest Ecological Community (named after Peter Duffy who was the first man to purchase land in the area). 

It is basically some of the rarest vegetation on the face of planet Earth (dominated by tree species that include Red Bloodwood, Silvertop Ash, Brown Stringy Bark and Angophora Costata) and is at real risk of extinction. 

 The politicians (of most persuasions) don’t know, care or have any interest in this special element of our natural heritage. They are sadly blind and blinkered to the environmental values that make this part of the world so extraordinary. Their focus, as usual, is development and economic activity at any cost.  Because this project has been designated as being of "state significance", most of the flimsy environmental restrictions that do exist are being overridden.

Just off a congested intersection, is this exquisite area of remnant bushland...all will be lost to the bulldozers.
 If the hospital is built at this location, it will be curtains for endangered Powerful Owls, Swamp Wallabies,  Sugar gliders, Bandicoots and other rare wildlife that survives here against all the odds. Even Koalas and Tiger Quolls have been sighted in this area.

The Powerful Owl (Nonox Strenua), a threatened (vulnerable) fauna species listed under NSW legislation, has been recorded repeatedly at this site. (photo M Allen)

 So, yet more of Warringah’s natural environment seems destined to be consigned to the history books because of ignorant, misinformed or corrupted, planning decisions.

"Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community." Already some of the rarest vegetation on Earth.
 As much as 70% of Australia’s native vegetation has been cleared or modified in the past 200 years.  There should be no excuse to destroy intact, endangered bushland when other, much more suitable, options are available.  
Survey marks predict a bleak future for this high conservation value site.

 Just down the road, residents fought a long but losing battle to save bushland in the Manly Dam catchment from the Ardel Housing development. Endangered listing for the Duffy's Forest Ecological Community came just too late to stop the project proceeding .. but the one small consolation was that, supposedly, "it could never happen again!" Check out this website for the full story:- The fight to save Manly Dam Catchment

The community tries to save bushland at nearby Manly Dam in 1999 (photo M Allen)

The Police "Special Patrol Group" move in to remove protesters trying to save endangered "Duffys Forest" bushland at Manly Dam in 1999 (photo M Allen)

 Tragically even more "Duffys Forest" vegetation is earmarked for clearing when the planned widening of Mona Vale road takes place. Another segment could be compromised by the proposed Warringah Aquatic Centre expansion. Nearby at Bantry Bay, the Aboriginal Land Council has sold off sensitive land adjoining Garigal National Park for a housing estate and the National Parks and Wildlife Services has announced plans to clear bushland within the National Park itself for a contentious mountain bike track.

 Meanwhile, and somewhat ironically, Warringah Council has created a website called Duffys Forest Defenders where it states " Some people don't know much about Duffys Forest and can hurt it without understanding the consequences. if no-one helps, Duffys Forest may be lost forever." 

 It goes on to say that there are many reasons to retain our bushland including ecological conservation for diverse flora and fauna; food,habitat and passageways for native animals; protecting threatened species; Aboriginal heritage values; education and scientific research; scenery, tourism and recreation; pollution reduction and as a division to urban sprawl.

Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea) an ancient feature of this fragile site.

 The hospital site lies within the electorate of NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard. When in opposition, he released plans to turn French's Forest into a major economic centre,with a hospital being the catalyst for massive commercial growth. The NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, whose seat is in neighbouring Manly, has given full support to this chosen hospital site. 

 Incidentally,when the NSW government compulsorily acquired the land from the local government jurisdiction of Warringah Council in 2012, Council agreed to the transfer but with the proviso that the Duffy's Forest Ecological Community be protected. It was also noted that "Health Infrastructure will still remain bound by State and Commonwealth environmental legislation"

However..if the government has its way.....the earth movers will soon be getting another outing and another magical wild place will be consigned to the history books. 

In late Nov 2013 there was a protest rally on site. If you'd like to join the  group fighting to stop this destruction (whilst also attempting to save existing community hospitals) check out the H.E.A.L website. The short term imperative is that this application (5982) must be referred to a Planning Assessment Committee where the environmental concerns, plus a host of other issues, can be thoroughly examined.

Going, going ?...A spectacular Persoonia Pinifolia (Pine-leafed Geebung).
 Mona Vale and Manly hospitals could be upgraded and expanded at a fraction of the cost of a new development and this site could be conserved and donated as a precious gift to future generations. Now there's a healthy alternative!

Please sign a petition to stop this proposal here:Petition


it has been over 20 years since 1,700 senior scientists (including 104 Nobel Prize winners) signed a document called 'World Scientist's Warning to Humanity'. The opening words are worth reading at length:
Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practises put at risk the future that we wish for human society ... and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

We all know the rest of the story. The warning has not been heeded and as the 2005 Millennial Ecosystem Assessment stated, every single living system on the planet is in a state of decline and the rate of decline is increasing.

More info on the "extinction crisis"

Check out the following article on the proposed new private hospital and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Assoc plan to campaign against it. By Amy Corderoy, featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, 25.1.2014  SMH story


In July 2014 bulldozers moved in to clear the critically endangered vegetation. Witnesses say that ancient trees with hollows were knocked over and chipped with scant regard for arboreal wildlife. Representatives from Sydney Wildlife (who care for injured and orphaned native animals and birds) were barred from the site. Seed collectors, hoping to salvage some of the rare plant seeds for trans location were also denied access. 

Bulldozing of this irreplaceable remnant of natural Sydney commenced in July 2014
Community members bear witness to the carnage.

(Jan 2016). Constructing massive new road networks around the new Northern Beaches Hospital facility now means that a further 6.1 hectares of the  (fast disappearing) "Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community" will be cleared. Full gloomy details are listed in this Biodiversity Assessment Report.

Footnote..if you could see the destruction and loss of vegetation would weep.