Thursday 16 November 2023


 In March last year global concern about plastic pollution saw the formation of an international High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040. 

The High Ambition Coalition’s three strategic goals are to reduce plastic consumption and production to sustainable levels, to enable a circular economy for plastics that protects the environment and human health and to achieve environmentally sound management and recycling of plastic waste.

As a member of this group, Australia has committed to rapidly increase plastic recycling by 2025.  To meet this goal, as well as dealing with the former government’s ban on waste exports, Environment Minister Plibersek launched a $250 million Recycling Modernisation Fund.

So far $118 million of this fund has been spent on building new waste processing facilities or expanding existing ones across 160 projects.  These recycling facilities include 16 dealing with glass, 60 with plastics, four with paper and cardboard, 12 with tyres and 34 with multi-materials.

“From tyre recycling in Alice Springs to plastic recycling in Dandenong, we’re creating new jobs and keeping waste out of landfill,” Plibersek said.

“This is great for the environment, but its also great for the economy.  For every job in landfill, there are three jobs in recycling.  We’re in a recycling jobs boom.”

 In July Plibersek announced that $60 million from the fund would be dedicated to facilities for “hard to recycle” soft plastics including shopping bags, bread bags, cling wrap and chip packets.

Additional recycling funding has come from state and territory governments ($116 million) and from industry ($454 million).

 Along with the funding for recycling are agreements between state and federal ministers about plastic targets for 2025.  These include making packaging 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable; recycling or composting 75 per cent of plastic packaging; using 50 per cent recycled content in packaging and phasing out unnecessary single-use plastics.

 These are all ambitious targets but they are necessary given the plastic pollution overwhelming us and the natural environment.

 It should also mean plans for a grossly polluting waste to energy incinerator at Casino are abandoned.


-        Leonie Blain

Wednesday 2 August 2023



North East Forest Alliance

Media Release

31 July 2023 

Surveys undertaken for the North East Forest Alliance have identified numerous threatened species within an area now being logged in Newry State Forest, within the proposed Great Koala National Park, including confirming the ongoing occupation of a Koala Hub identified by the Government in 2017 as one of the most important areas to protect for Koalas.

It is grossly irresponsible for the Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe, to allow this irreplaceable Koala habitat, identified as both a Koala Hub and a Nationally Important Koala Area, within the proposed Great Koala National Park, to be logged, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said

“Penny Sharpe has taken her hands off the wheel as she drives Koalas to extinction.

“NEFA wrote to Minister Sharpe on 3 April pointing out that within the proposed Great Koala National Park over the next 12 month the Forestry Corporation was intending to log over 1,300 ha in 28 Koala Hubs1 identified by the Office of Environment and Heritage in 2017 for protection as known resident Koala populations of outstanding importance.

“We thought that given their limited extent and outstanding importance for Koalas that it would be easy for her to rule them out for logging

“We provided her with a map showing the location of the Koala Hub in Newry and advised her that it was under imminent threat. A recent assessment by Biolink for NEFA confirmed that Koalas are still resident in this Koala Hub and recommended its protection.

“We also provided her with maps of Koala Hubs in Moonpar, Orara East, and Boambee State Forests that she has since allowed to be logged.

“Koala strongholds are being destroyed while Penny Sharpe stands aside.

A survey just completed by for NEFA  by Bower Books Works in Newry identified five threatened plant species from 40 locations, a Greater Glider den tree, Koala scratches on numerous trees, and significant patches of high quality habitat for the nationally threatened Glossy Black Cockatoo, Koala and Greater Glider.

“Two of the threatened plant species and the Greater Glider den tree require protection under the CIFOA logging rules so we have  written to the Forestry Corporation and EPA for immediate action to protect them.

“The fact that these brief surveys have revealed additional threatened species and records highlights the inadequacy of Forestry Corporation’s surveys, and in particular the refusal of Penny Sharpe to require pre-logging surveys for nationally Endangered species such as Koalas and Southern Greater Gliders.

“Logging in Newry State Forest should be halted immediately, the Koala Hub protected, and independent surveys undertaken to identify the area occupied by Koalas and Greater Gliders, and all locations of threatened plants. 

“Penny Sharpe is now part of the problem, its time she came part of the solution to avoid the extinction of Koalas” Mr. Pugh said.

1.     Koala Hubs were identified in 2017, at the request of the Chief Scientist, the Office of Environment and Heritage analysed Koala records "to delineate highly significant local scale areas of koala occupancy currently known for protection", identifying “areas of currently known significant koala occupancy that indicate clusters of resident populations known as Koala Hubs”.


Thursday 13 July 2023


Since European settlement in Australia more than 10% of our mammal species have become extinct.  The two major drivers of this extinction push still operate. The first is land degradation through large-scale clearing, bad fire practices and the impact of introduced weeds.  The second is predation by introduced species - cats and foxes.

While governments at the state and federal level have a major responsibility to ensure that our biodiversity and the habitat it needs is protected in the long term, they often perform very poorly because of the belief that protecting the economy and ensuring its growth is far more important than protecting the natural environment.  There is little if any understanding that a healthy economy depends on a healthy natural environment because of the services it provides to humanity.

As a result we hear from politicians a great deal about the need for “balance” which usually means the natural environment misses out.  It does not have the same loud voices that developers clamouring for attention from politicians have.  Protection of our biodiversity is generally poorly funded and is often poorly targeted.  And, furthermore, breaches of the limited regulations which are supposed to provide protection are often ignored or lead to “slaps on the wrist” responses.  An example of this has been the dealing with flagrant breaches of logging regulations in State Forests on the NSW North Coast over recent years.

On a positive note, the growth of private not-for-profit groups investing in biodiversity protection is providing some hope for stemming the tide of extinctions of small mammals across the nation.

One of these groups is Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) which started in 1991 with the purchase of Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary in Western Australia.  AWC now owns, manages, and works in partnerships with other groups across more than 12.9 million hectares. 

Among the sanctuaries AWC owns are Newhaven (261,5001 ha) north-west of Alice Springs, Yookamurra (5,027 ha) in SA’s Murraylands and Scotia (64,969 ha) in NSW about 150 km south of Broken Hill.

A key part of AWC’s success is based on predator-free enclosures in some of their sanctuaries.  These are securely-fenced areas where foxes and cats have been removed as well as feral herbivores such camels and goats. 

At Scotia the 8,000 ha feral free enclosure has enabled AWC to re-establish self-sustaining populations of four nationally threatened mammals – the Greater Bilby, Numbat, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and Burrowing Bettong.  At Yookamurra’s 1,100 feral free enclosure Bilbies, Numbats, and Burrowing Bettongs as well as the Brush-tailed Bettongs have been successfully re-introduced.

AWC has a project partnership with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service in the Pilliga in north-western NSW. The 35,632 ha project area is in the northern Pilliga forests in the Pilliga National Park and the Pilliga State Conservation Area where a 5,800 ha fox and cat free area has been established.  Bilbies (extinct in the wild in NSW since about 1912) from Scotia were released in the fenced area in December 2018.  In 2019 Bridled Nailtail Wallabies from Queensland’s Taunton National Park were also released there.  Other releases planned include Western Quoll, Western Barred Bandicoot, Brushtailed Bettong and Plains Mouse.

While organisations such as the AWC are undertaking important conservation work to save threatened species from extinction, it is Australia’s three levels of government (federal, state and local government) that have the major responsibility to effectively protect the natural world on which we as humans rely for the services it provides us and all the non-human life forms whose survival also depends on healthy ecosystems.