Native Plants of Hassans Walls Lithgow

Book CoverThe society would like to promote the book launch of  “Native Plants of Hassans Walls Reserve Lithgow ”

The book features 390 wildflowers, orchids, grasses, rushes, sedges, eucalyptus, ferns, liverworts and mosses.

The launch will be in Lithgow on 24 July 2014 11.30am.

 For more information click here Document-19.pdf



Studying the Platypus


5651Dr Tom Grant of UNSW spoke on this subject at the April 28th meeting, a research interest in which he has been involved for 40 years. Click here for details of his publication

While the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) classifies the status of the platypus as a ’species of least concern’, he argued that it is more probable that it is vulnerable, due to its dependence on water in which to feed. Spread along eastern Australia from Cooktown and to Tasmania, more investigation is needed to determine the current platypus population. Large numbers were trapped and shot in the 19th century, and there are remaining threats to their continued conservation. They are no longer found in the streams of the Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, and Fleurieux Peninsula in South Australia, where they once occurred. platypusLg

The Platypus is mobile, reclusive and active throughout the night but most often seen around dawn and dusk. The male has a poisonous spur that it may use in its defence, but is predominantly used against other males during the breeding season. Capture can be risky as they drown if caught and trapped underwater for too long. Radio-telemetry has been used to investigate platypus biology. When foraging, the platypus’s main sensory organ is its bill, much more sensitive than its eyes and ears that are closed when underwater. It has receptors that detect touch, pressure, and electric fields from its prey.

imagesBecause platypus populations can be small or spread along rivers, and many animals are mobile, population numbers are difficult to determine accurately. The Australian Platypus Conservancy encourages the public to report sightings of platypus as a way of determining population sizes at particular places. The Platypus is protected, but threats to survival include mortality in illegally set nets and traps, and habitat degradation. Natural and regulated high and low flows ofwater through rivers and creeks can damage nesting and feeding sites.Fossils of ancient forms of platypus have been found in central Australia, but during the time when these species existed the areas were wet, not arid as they are now. The platypus is found in most areas where it was prior to European occupation of Australia, but its populations are probably lower.Platypus_in_its_habitat

Extreme weather events resulting from climate change are likely to decrease the size and distribution of platypus  populations. They depend on a stable supply of water, and droughts can reduce current, distribution and numbers. Floods have a detrimental effect on juvenile platypus survival. Foxes are predators and some populations in Tasmania have been prone to a potentially fatal fungal disease causing ulcers and lesions. Use of illegal fishing nets is also a serious problem, as Platypus need to surface regularly to breathe. &

Urban Bushland a Refuge for Geckos

leaf-tail gecko 3A scientific paper by Matthew Mo has been published in the prestigious journal Australian Zoologist. Matthew spoke to the Oatley Flora and Fauna Society in April 2011 and led a spotlighting walk for geckos in Mortdale Heights Park on 27 April 2012. The group observed 10 geckos on the rock walls and in crevices.

The Broad-tailed Gecko Phyllurus platurus is a saxicolous lizard occurring in the Sydney Basin including the Sydney Metropolitan Area. A search of desktop records confirms that populations remain across the region, including in the central business district and in long-established suburbs. This paper reports on habitat selection derived from a population study carried out in a reserve of remnant bushland in the St George district. Open walls and the underside of overhangs were the most frequently exploited structures used by P. platurus. Geckos were found typically no higher than 2.5 m from the ground. The mean density of P. platurus had a negative relationship with available rock surface area. Geckos retaining original tails dominated the sample size, which is in contrast to previous work on museum specimens. Diurnal surveying was trialled, during which some P. platurus were detected on the outer edges of crevices. Survey results expand baseline information and inform future decisions aimed at promoting biodiversity in remnant bushland. Click here to see full  article 



flying foxesAt the 24th March meeting Sandra Guy, a wildlife rescue volunteer, spoke on flyingfoxes, and their key role in ensuring the ongoing health of ecosystems where animals are every bit as important as plants.

Sandra showed that most types of native forests across the continent depend on flying foxes to do the heavy lifting, pollinating hundreds of species of trees and ensuring genetic diversity and survival of many different types of forest communities. They are a ‘keystone species’, with an essential ecological role without which the ecosystem will collapse.

Many native trees have blossoms that are only receptive to pollination at night, and the only significant nocturnal pollinators are flying foxes. Without them, we will lose the structure that provides the essential microcosms supporting thousands of other flora and fauna species; yet few realise their key role. However, flying foxes are in decline and the main species on the eastern seaboard, the Grey Headed Flying Fox, may be extinct within 20-30 years.

It is time to examine Bats’ roles to see what can be done to save them. They seem so foreign to us, inhabiting the night skies; a realm so diametrically opposed to ours; myths and misunderstandings dominate our attitudes, and misinformation about their disease risk can cause great concern. Only recently have studies led to some understanding of their important role. They have existed for over 55 million years and are one of the most successful and abundant mammals.

There are two main types: the microbats (Microchiroptera) and the megabats (Megachiroptera). They are remarkably intelligent with highly sophisticated social structures. They are more intelligent than dogs and,in captivity, easily learn their own names and the routine of the house or aviary. They breed very slowly as mothers can only raise one pup a year. They form tight emotional bonds, teaching the pups grooming and social skills, until they become independent at about five months.  If too long in human care, they become too dependent , and cannot be released into the wild.

They can travel up to 100kms a night foraging for food; returning each morning to an established campsite to rest, nap and socialise during the day. These campsites cause conflict with people, as they can be both odorous and noisy. Unfortunately, bats’ preferred residence is similar to ours, a sheltered gully near fresh water with tall trees and rich soil, protected from disturbing winds. As people clear bat habitat for their homes and farms, flying foxes are quickly losing both food sources and campsites. The problem of conflict with existing campsites is difficult. An experimental initiative to develop ‘replacement’ roost sites has recently commenced, aiming to entice the bats to leave problematic roosts in the middle of urban areas. Flying Foxes by Sandra Guy

In Appreciation of Parks & Open Space

Inspirational words written by Julian Sheen (1980s in ALP Mag) during his time as Alderman at Hurstville Council can still inspire us to look at our surroundings with fresh eyes. He was Principal of Oatley West School which adjoined Oatley Park and had it’s own remnant bush patch. He has campaigned for the environment as a member of the Oatley Flora and Fauna Society committee, including serving as President.

Ald Sheen 1983 001

Bill Gamage – the Biggest Estate on Earth

the-biggest-estate-on-earthThe Nature of Australian Wilderness

We tend to cherish our natural areas and believe that the more natural they appear the better; indeed we work hard to return landscapes to their “natural” state. Further, we can particularly value the most natural spaces in our environment as primeval, pristine wildernesses to be untouched, unsullied by human hand.

Yet Bill Gamage’s work (The Biggest Estate on Earth – How Aborigines Made Australia, 2011) leads to a different conclusion about the nature of the Australian landscape and wilderness: that dense bush wilderness is a modern creation no more than 200 years old.

His understanding is that aborigines managed and indeed domesticated our landscape on a grand scale thinning the bush and reducing the danger of wildfire. Their landscape was open woodland not unlike an English park thus maximising their chances of survival. When the aborigines were forced to withdraw from the land the thick bushland vegetation moved in changing open landscapes that had existed for thousands of years.

Perhaps the natural bush of our dreams is our own creation. We therefore need to think carefully about the nature of the bushland we are protecting – is it no less a creation of European settlement than the urban environment we often decry?

Review by Julian Sheen, November 2013

Climate Council on IPCC Report

Climate ChangeOn 20/09/13 the world’s most authoritative climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published its latest report. More than 1000 pages on the state of the world’s climate. The Climate Council have read it and created a snapshot in 16 pages.


Click on report in download pdf (939 kB)





Key Messages :

1) Our understanding of the climate system has only continued to strengthen in the last six years. Ocean and air temperature are rising, mass from glaciers and ice sheets is being lost, and sea level is rising.

2) Scientists are more certain than ever that increasing global temperatures since 1950 have been caused primarily by human activities.

3) A warming climate is increasing the frequency and severity of many extreme weather events and is changing rainfall patterns, creating risks for human well-being, the economy and the environment.

4) Stabilising the climate system will require substantial and sustained reductions of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. We will have to decarbonise the economy.

Have a look and share with your friends

Environmental Dilemmas

Slide19John Davoren (OFF member and Editor of OFF news) on 23 September 2013 made a presentation to the society on our environment and the dilemmas facing an effective program for protecting it .

The areas listed as threatened and/or threatening included population growth, and degradation of energy resources, land, flora and fauna, air, water and food. The extent of human activity influencing the environment is hotly debated. Protection measures are severely criticised, as those not convinced of any human contribution see such expenditure as unproductive, and an unnecessary waste in fiscally trying times. The economic argument slows the implementation of protective processes, and the picture is further muddied when it is not agreed on what protection can and should be provided. Environmental conservation is important, and if we waste our natural resources,they will eventually be exhausted. What we need is sustainability, where we can live within our planet’s means socially, environmentally and economically.

SustainClick here to view slides of talk.Environmental Dilemmas

Note  file is 13.2Mb and take a few minutes to load.


Backyards for Wildlife

2012 OBackyards for Wildlife – A guide to creating habitat for native animals. Take the time to read this very  informative booklet produced by Bathhurst Regional Council, although the examples are of the Bathurst region there is much we can learn from this example.

Contents include -
♣ Why wildlife is important
♣ What is a Backyard for Wildlife?
♣ Tips for  creating habitat for your backyard for wildlife
♣ Fauna friendly fences
♣ Pets and wildlife
♣ Vegie gardens, organics, and backyard wildlife
♣ Urban yards & The rural yard
♣ Wildlife of the Bathurst region
♣ seful references for further information

Since Europeans first settled on the Bathurst plains in 1815, there have been drastic changes to our local environment. The grasslands and grassy woodlands were favoured for agriculture, and hence, the wildlife that existed there was the first to be displaced. …..

Despite these changes, Koalas, Platypuses, turtles, dragons, quolls, owls, falcons,treecreepers, pardalotes, pobblebonks, orb weavers and hundreds more local wildlife species still exist in the Bathurst Region:Through the enhancement of the human environment – our homes – we can greatly improve the environment for local fauna. By creating Backyards for Wildlife, each resident can take simple steps to reduce the pressures on Bathurst Region wildlife, and ensure that those animals that share our lives are assured a future.

Click here to download Pdf (3Mb) – Backyards For Wildlife


Beyond Climate Denial on a Neoliberal Planet

Manne,-RobertAbboud,-Antoinette-c-Conor-AshleighWalker,-Jeremy Sydney Writer Fest – In an election year, there seems less impetus for climate action than ever. Why has the Left, which has always regarded itself as having science on its side, been outflanked on climate policy? What does the bizarre success of denialism and the radical calls for planetary scale geo-engineering portend for the changing status of science in our society? Antoinette Abboud, Jeremy Walker and Robert Manne untangle the complex relationships between climate, politics and economic doctrines in a discussion with Overland editor Jeff Sparrow.

Click here to read more from Sydney Writers Fest

Excerpt from Overland magazine

We live in a winter of disconnect. As the permafrost melts and global warming accelerates, bringing us to the cusp of catastrophic environmental changes, governments and corporations continue their campaign of denial….

Many of us are caught up in the public theatre of climate policy, confounded that something so transparently illogical as outright science denial has been so effective. Why has the Left, which has always regarded itself as having science on its side, been so paralysed by climate policy?……

Geoengineering is a portmanteau term covering a range of intentional large-scale manipulations of the Earth’s climate…..

Like most neoliberal prescriptions, the most important aspect of this tortured marriage of science and corporate commodification is that it doesn’t work. Geoengineering presumes corporations can take unilateral actions violating international treaties and not have to own the consequences. It doesn’t resolve the root problem – increasing CO2 concentrations – and it will not stop ocean acidification, itself so dire that some scientists have called for a suite of novel ‘ocean engineering’ techniques to prevent the collapse of coral reefs.

Click here to To read  OVERLAND article on neoliberalism, climate and policy