Truffle time is here again. Come and join us in the hunt for these hidden treasures.
We are so very fortunate, again, to have Jim Trappe, one of the world’s leading experts on truffles, to give us three days at Wangat. Jim has done more work than anyone else on discovering and documenting truffles in Australia.
Truffles are usually associated with plant roots, so are mycorrhizal and help these plants grow more vigorously. They are an important food source for small mammals like bandicoots and potoroos. Now that is just the beginning of the story – come and hear the full story from Jim of just how important these fungi are and so much more. Enjoy the ‘treasure hunt’ for these illusive fungi in the beautiful environment around Wangat Lodge in the lower reaches of the Barrington National Park.
Another special part of these gatherings is the social interaction with fellow enthusiasts. There is great comradery in the field and in the evenings back at the Lodge. It’s great sitting in the warmth of the rec. room around the slow combustion fire relaxing and sharing stories and information. If any of you have special musical talents there is a piano or bring along your own instrument so we can have a sing-along or just listen.
Dates: Sun 17th - Thu 21st June 2018
Cost: $35 per head per night
Wangat Lodge is self-catering, so you need to bring your own food, sheets and towels. Pillows and doonas supplied.
Please let me know as soon as possible to help with organising this event and to ensure you get a place as it is already filling up.
More details will be provided when you book in with the Fungal Network contact details:
Pam O’Sullivan email@example.com Direct any queries to Pam as well.
Left are some of the truffles photographed by Todd Elliott during his 2016 trip to Wangat with Jim Trappe.
This year Jim will be ably assisted by his great nephew Jamie Ure.
You can be part of the team to find more of these in 2018.
Great news! Plastic Police® has launched a 3 month trial at the University of Newcastle! If you are a student or staff member at the University of Newcastle at the Callaghan Campus, you can now recycle your soft plastics on campus with Plastic Police®.
Soft plastics cannot be recycled through council kerbside collections in the Hunter region with only a small amount ending back at supermarket collections. As such most soft plastics end up in landfill or pollute our local land and marine environments.
The Plastic Police® program is an innovative program that engages communities to rethink and better manage soft plastic waste that is generated by households on a day to day basis. It is currently being piloted in the Hunter region and the UON is participating in a trial at our Callaghan Campus.
The University’s new Environmental Sustainability Plan has a specific target to achieve a 70% recycling rate for general solid waste generated across the University by 2021. This trial, if successfully and implemented, could assist the University’s in achieving its waste reduction goal and will help to contribute to behaviour change on campus.
The Plastic Police® program is a community initiative developed by Cross Connections Consulting. The UON has committed to undertake a 3 month trial to gauge the ability of students and staff to divert soft plastic from landfill.
Soft plastics are defined as any plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball when crushed by hand. Typical items include; plastic bags, biscuit outer packaging (not the trays), lolly/ chocolate packets, shrink wrap, and bread and cereal packets. The trial has focused collection points across areas closest to where these items are used including the libraries, student accommodation and the Services building (Logistics).
At the end of the trial period the trial operations and diversion rates will be reviewed to ascertain the viability of the program’s implementation. As a wrap up a bench seat made totally from recycled soft plastics will be purchased and placed in the student accommodation precinct.
Where are the collection stands located?
There are 5 areas around campus where the collection stands are located:
What can I put in the collection stands?
You can dispose clean dry soft plastics in the collection stands. Soft plastics are defined as any plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball when crushed by hand. Typical items include; plastic bags, biscuit outer packaging (not the trays), lolly packets, shrink wrap, and bread and cereal packets.
Can I bring in my soft plastics from home?
Yes. This is a community engagement program.
How is this program different to the “Be a Good Sort” program?
The “Be a Good Sort” program provides a recycling stream for paper & cardboard, and comingled recycling. As part of the “Be a Good Sort” program, soft plastics are placed in the general waste bin and sent to landfill. The Plastic Police® program will provide a recycling opportunity for soft plastics aiming to eliminate this waste stream.
Can we get a soft plastics recycling collection stand in our office/building?
If you see an opportunity for a soft collection stand to be placed in your office/building, please let us know. Each area will need to nominate an department champion / point of contact
What do I do if the collection bin is full?
If you see a bin that appears full or is overflowing push the soft plastics down to make room for more. A single Plastic Police® collection bag should capture around 1,000-1,250 pieces of plastic. When the bin can no longer be compacted to make room for more soft plastics call the project officer to replace the collection bag.
What happens to the soft plastics?
When full, the collection bags will be transferred to a central collection point to then be collected on a fortnightly basis by an approved program collection partner. The soft plastics will be baled and stored until the required volume has been collected to efficiently transport the material to a program processor to enable the waste to be converted into furniture to be purchased by the University.
How long does the trial run for?
The trial will run for three months, from May to the beginning of August 2018.
Is the program going to continue after the trial?
Dependent of the success of the trial, the Plastic Police® program is planned to continue once the trial is complete.
Do I need to clean the bags etc before I recycle them?
Yes - the soft plastics must be free of any food residues such as crumbs, sauce or grease. Food residue can be removed by shaking any crumbs out of the plastic, wiping it over with a damp cloth or cleaning the plastic in warm soapy water. The soft plastic must be dry before being placed into the collection stands.
We cannot accept soft plastics that are contaminated with raw meat or dairy. Soft plastics that have come into contact with meat or dairy will need to be washed and dried before being placed into the stands.
Can I put biodegradable or compostable bags in the collection stands?
No, biodegradable or compostable bags cannot be recycled through the Plastic Police® program.
Who can I contact for more information?
Project: Emily Whitehead – Assistant Project Officer
or ext. 54012
Comms:Tegan Betts – IFS Engagement Officer
As the climate rapidly changes, we are seeing changes in the geographic home ranges of some species of birds, mammals and insects. Global warming leads to their movement toward the poles or upwards in altitude. The Mountain Pygmy-possum living on Mount Higginbotham, Mount Buller and Kosciuszko National Park is one such that is threatened by climate change. It is one of rarest species on the planet, but faces total extinction from increased snowmelt and shorter winter hibernation. Thankfully, the Great Eastern Ranges initiative established in 2007 and aimed at reconnecting important areas of habitat from the Grampians in Victoria along 3,700 km to the Atherton Tablelands of far north Queensland is coming to the rescue. The eastern seaboard of Australia has along the mountain ranges many areas of relatively untouched forest ecosystems and these form the conceptual background of GER. Corridors connecting habitats allow species and communities to adjust their ranges in response to climate change.
In the Hunter, we have one of the ten regional partnerships that are working to link up these habitats as part of this continental scale conservation vision. Due to a natural gap in the Great Eastern Ranges at the head of the Hunter Valley, the Hunter is one of only three areas on the eastern seaboard of Australia where inland ecosystems stretch down to the coast. While this gap facilitates the east-west movement of species, it also creates a critical pinch-point in the north-south flow of the Great Eastern Ranges. As a result, the conservation of north south ‘stepping stones’ of vegetation is also vital to allowing the continued movement of species along the GER corridor.
The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative has grown to become one of the world’s largest connectivity conservation projects. The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative was on display at Tocal Field Days.
Photo credit Steve Liptay
Accelerate Climate Action: Bill McKibben tour in Australia
by Alec Roberts
Close to 300 people braved the wet autumn weather of Newcastle on Friday 27th April to attend the launch of Accelerate Climate Action: Bill McKibben tour in Australia, organised by 350.org. The tour sponsored by Future Super was launched in Newcastle with local partners Climate Action Newcastle.
Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist, and co-founder of 350.org. Bill wrote what is regarded as the first generally accessible book on Climate Change “The End of Nature” in 1989.[i]
Bill said (about his book) he thought that if he simply pointed out ecological problems, people would do something about them. [ii] He was wrong. Bill noted that early environmental responses to climate change were poor. By 1990 the science won the argument, but they were losing the fight.
Bill described the spread of Dengue Fever in Bangladesh due to increased temperature attributed to climate change. He contracted the disease in Bangladesh and watched many others around him die from this mosquito born disease. This combined with the effects of reduced river flows due to contracting glaciers and sea level rise, brought to light the gross unfairness of the effects of climate change. Bangladesh contributes a very small amount to the global GHG emissions but suffers greatly from its effects.
Bill led us to understand that we are in a fight not an argument with the fossil fuel industry, and noted that little did we know at that time that members of the fossil fuel industry were complicit in their actions and systematically lying about the effect of burning of fossil fuels on the climate.
Bill noted that “we knew enough then to figure out a currency to match theirs’” (dollars), the currency of movements: passion, spirit, and creativity.[iii]
In Autumn 2006, Bill and thousands of supporters walked for 5 days across Vermont to Burlington to convince the government in Vermont to act on climate change. They were very successful, with support gained to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
Following the march, Bill and a group of college students from Vermont worked to grow the movement nationally, and then globally, with the formation of 350.org.
Following successful national campaigns in the US, in 2009 350.org coordinated the International Day of Climate Action. They didn’t know how well this would go, and a couple of days before the assigned day they got a call for their coordinator in Ethiopia who said they could no longer hold the protest on the day as the government had removed their permit and so were doing it “now” before the government could stop them and had over 10,000 young people in the streets chanting 350![iv] As a portent of what was to come, on the day they had 5,200 demonstrations held across 181 counties in one day.v
350.org is now an international environmental organisation in 188 countries and has alliances with 300 organizations around the world. 350.org aims to build a global, grassroots movement to take on the fossil fuel industry, have governments adopt policies to lower Carbon Dioxide emissions, and solve the climate crisis. 350.org focuses on climate safety and climate justice for people across the globe.[v]
350.org takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.iv
Bill McKibben is back to Australia as part of a global effort to accelerate climate action. The premise being we’re already moving towards a future without fossil fuels – but it’s time to accelerate our response. Bill’s tour focuses on how we as individuals can and must join together to keep the pressure on in Australia and around the world.
Bill introduced three key imperatives for the movement to accelerate climate action:
1. A fast + just transition to 100% renewable energy for all.
2. No new fossil fuel projects anywhere.
3. Not a penny more for dirty energy[vi]
1. A fast + just transition to 100% renewable energy for all
Vanessa Petrie, CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) addressed the transition to 100% renewables, through their pathways to a Zero-Carbon Australia. BZE is an internationally recognised Not-For-Profit climate solutions think tank, which has developed a blueprint for Australia to become a thriving zero-emissions economy.[vii]
Vanessa spoke of the success last year with the South Australian government backing the commissioning of a Concentrated Solar Thermal plant at Port Augusta. This was a successful outcome from the initial report “Repowering Port Augusta” launched by BZE in 2012.
BZE also launched the report Rethinking Cement in Newcastle last year (with the help of the Tom Farrell Institute), which shows how Australia could develop the world’s first Zero Carbon cement industry and help to wipe out 8% of all global emissions caused by making cement.[viii]
Vanessa spoke highly of the local chapter of BZE in Newcastle, and their work towards the Hunter being a zero-net emissions community.
Bill noted the spread of renewables in rural Africa in the last 18 months. With solar replacing expensive and polluting kerosene for lighting and bringing refrigeration to villages for the first time. He said it no longer made sense in digging up coal in one country and transporting it to another to be burnt there for fuel and causing pollution problems; Coal is not needed any more and the only reason it is still here is the Fossil Fuel industry and their influence.
2. No new fossil fuel projects anywhere.
Bill noted that there is 5 times the reserves of fossil fuels than can be safely burnt to keep the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Therefore, there should be no need for new fossil fuel projects.
Bev Smiles is an environmental activist from Wollar NSW who was arrested under tough new anti-coal protest laws last year and, if convicted, could be jailed for up to 7 years.
Some of the interesting detail Bev provided about the Hunter Valley and coal mining are listed below:
3. Not a penny more for dirty energy
Unfortunately, despite the promises made two years ago governments at Paris, public and private financial institutions continue to invest in fossil fuels and there is continued subsidisation of fossil fuel. But the fight is on. This fight is between the “big and few” (fossil fuel industry) and the “small but many”, such as the “Kayaktavists” (waterborne kayak activists) stopping coal exports in Newcastle for one day in May 2016.
Following the presentations there was a call to action, where members of the audience wrote a letter to the Australian Prime Minister, asking the Australian government to:
Bill McKibben, Bev Smiles and Vanessa Petrie (left-to-right), with the audience call to action.