You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Environment’ category.

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay. Photo taken May 16 2016.

Finally, a container deposit scheme has started in NSW.   It has been a long time coming.  Called ‘Return and Earn,’ drink containers can be taken to a collection point for a rebate of 10 cents for every container returned.

A sickening 160-million drink containers become litter in NSW every year.

We are used to seeing plastic bottles in the Cooks River & caught in the mangroves.   It would be fantastic not to have this visual blight in the river & all the associated problems these drink containers cause wildlife, so let’s embrace this.

You can find a collection point here – http://www.returnandearn.org.au

Advertisements

A section of Landing Lights Wetland.

Today is an excellent day!  I came home to a letter from Bayside Council in response to my submission opposing the 100-hectare development application for Barton Park & Landing Lights Wetland.

Developer John Boyd Properties wanted to build 5,000 new high-rise dwellings in what is currently the Kogarah Golf Course.  They would rebuild the golf course in the wetlands & add a sweetener of a new St George Stadium sports stadium.  Part of the heritage listed & fully functioning Arncliffe Market Gardens was to be claimed for the development as well.

The letter said – “Please be advised that the applicant has decided not to proceed with the development & accordingly the application has now been withdrawn.”

How wonderful is that!  The migratory birds that fly all the way from Siberia say thanks.  The Green & Gold frog say thanks.  All the numerous other birds, animals & insects that call this remnant wetland home say thanks as well.   If the community sat back & did nothing, I expect this development would have gone through, but they did not.

Thank you to all who opposed this development application.  Now there is a chance that this vitally important part of Botany Bay can be left for the wildlife & for the many in the community who enjoy spending time in such undeveloped areas bursting with nature.  To keep this precious area is so wonderful.

Bayside Council wrote the following on their website –

  • “Although highly urbanised, the City has retained several small bushland and wetland areas which play an important role in terms of providing food, habitat and shelter for native animals. These areas are deemed to have ‘conservation value’ (meaning they are worth preserving for future generations) because they represent ecosystems that would otherwise be lost.”
  • “These remaining natural areas are home to particularly diverse, endangered and/or vulnerable species of flora and fauna.  A total of 180 native plant species and over 90 vertebrate species of terrestrial animals (not including marine fish) have been identified in the City’s bushland and wetlands.”
  • “Landing Lights Wetland (also known as Riverine Park Wetlands), located at Spring Street, Banksia is one of Council’s most environmentally significant natural areas. The site contains some of the last remaining saline wetlands on the Cooks River and includes vegetation identified as threatened under NSW legislation (salt-marsh).”
  • “The wetlands have aesthetic, heritage and environmental value. They form part of a system of tidal and freshwater swamps, and provide important habitats for a variety of animal and plant species, including common wetland birds and a number of protected migratory birds.”

I last wrote about this development application here – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi

Letter regarding the Cook Cove Precinct DA

 

Little Black cormorant, a couple of gulls and a plastic bag at Fatima Island in the Cooks River. Look and you will see plastic bags caught in the branches of the mangroves all along the length of the river.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan stated that WA will ban single-use plastic bags from 1st July 2018.   The war against plastic bags is catching with Western Australia joining the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania & the Australian Capital Territory who have all decided to make their state & territory single-use plastic bag free.

Clean Up Australia says,

  • “It is estimated worldwide that 1 trillion bags are used and discarded every year.
  • Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 20 million new bags being used every day. 
  • An estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.
  • Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute or 429,000 bags every hour.
  • It is estimated that around 50 million bags enter the Australian litter stream every year. Unless they are collected, they remain in the environment and accumulate at a staggering rate. If these 50 million plastic bags were made into a single plastic sheet, it would be big enough to cover the Melbourne CBD.”

Plastic bags are made from crude oil – a finite source.  To create enough plastic bags for humans to use over a 12-month period requires 100 million barrels of oil.

It is also estimated that it will take each plastic bag approximately 400-years to biodegrade, which is disgusting when you think of the 1 trillion bags that are used & discarded every year worldwide.

Plastic bags often end up as litter & enter our waterways & oceans.  Once there, they are mistaken for jelly fish by some seabirds & turtles who eat them, then suffer blocked gastrointestinal tracks & basically starve to death.

Birds often try to use the bags as nesting material.  If the bag gets caught around their beak, wings or legs, it can prevent them from eating, cause an infection, amputate their feet or toes killing them quickly or painfully slowly.

Plastic bags, like all plastic, breaks down into micro-particles & is eaten by birds, animals & fish, entering the food chain.  It is expected that there will be more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish by 2050.  This is a terrible legacy to be leaving future generations.

The environment needs us to dump plastic bag use, as do the wildlife & also for ourselves, as ingesting micro-plastics will have a negative impact on our health.

2017 research by the University of Ghent in Belgium “believe Europeans currently consume up to 11,000 pieces of plastic in their food each year & that 99 percent of them pass through the body, but the remaining 1 percent, which equates to about 60 particles, is absorbed into the body’s tissues and will accumulate over time.”  http://bit.ly/2jURaFc

A few years ago, I asked Marrickville Council whether they would consider banning plastic bags in the municipality & was told something along the lines that the issue had been considered, but it was felt it would not work because people would just go buy plastic bags from the supermarket.  However, the culture is changing & with whole states/territories across Australia having made the decision to ban single-use plastic bags, it will not be too long before we can expect NSW & the other states to follow their example.  I think we can realistically expect the Inner West Council to embrace this initiative now or very soon.  They could follow Western Australia with a July 2018 start.

There is already ground root aspiration to make the Dulwich HilI shopping strip plastic bag free with local volunteers busy making shopping bags for the Boomerang Bags initiative either at home or meeting at Reverse Garbage for monthly sew-a-thons.  It is highly commendable & I wish it would take off for all our local shopping strips & Marrickville Metro who gets through something like 24,000 bags every week.  Don’t quote me though.  It may be 24,000 bags every day.  You can see the signs about plastic bag usage on the pillars in the Metro car park.

Plastic bags can’t be recycled the usual way because the they jam machinery at recycling depots.  They can however be taken to the REDcycle collection bins at the supermarket for recycling into plastic signs & outdoor furniture.  However, if all the plastic bags were recycled this way, there would be excess of what is needed for signs & furniture, so better not to use them at all.

Ultimately I believe we will be forced to stop using single-use plastic bags, so we might as well embrace the alternatives before this happens.   Shopping bags are super easy to make & cheap to buy.  The hardest thing will be to remember to take them with us, but even that will become second nature in a very short while.

Shaw Street Petersham has not changed much since I lived here almost 40 years ago. I’ve always found it to be a beautiful street not only because of the houses, but because of the wonderful tall street trees.  

My very first experience of public green space is my street. ~ Dr Libby Gallagher.

Recently, ABC Radio National program ‘The Money’ by Richard Aedy did an episode on the costs & benefits of streetscapes & their value.  Guests were –

  • Associate Professor Michael Andreu – School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida.
  • Dr Libby Gallagher – Landscape architect and director of Gallagher Studio.
  • Dr Lyndal Plant – Urban Forester Pty Ltd.
  • Roger Swinbourne – Technical Director at AECOM.

Roger Swinbourne listed the following benefits of street trees – air quality, providing shading, biodiversity, water quality, winter temperature variations, average heat wave temperatures are all impacted by the quantity of trees we have in our cities.

The study showed a whole other list of values the street trees provided.  There is a strong link to the canopy and the mental health of the community.  Canopy coverage also helps mitigate air pollution.

Shade really matters.  A canopy increase from 20% to 28% lowers the air temperature by 4-degrees & road/pavement temp by 14-degrees, which is pretty substantial.

The net benefits of street trees outweigh the costs of infrastructure issues such as lifting footpaths.

Dr Libby Gallagher did research in Brisbane that found that houses in leafy streets sell for higher prices, but how much higher was dependent on the amount of canopy cover those trees provided.  The houses were 4% more expensive.

An Australian property developer listed a good tree-lined street as number 1 of what people were looking for when buying.

Then Dr Libby Gallagher spoke about the Cool Streets program held at Blacktown City Council.  It was found that a mix of evergreen & deciduous & more trees boosted property & lowered electricity bills.  Initially the residents chose small trees.  After seeing the benefits of large canopy trees to their electricity bills & health, they chose taller trees & more trees more densely planted along the street.  The residents also contracted to water and care for the trees.  They took ownership of those trees because they helped plant them & because they know the significant benefits those trees will bring them once they have grown.

Associate Professor Michael Andreu spoke about Tampa costing the value of all their trees, which came to a massive $35 million.   He also spoke about development & trees.  The city quantifying the urban forest allows everyone to understand the use of the trees & how much these trees contribute.  It helps the city explain to developers why they cannot just chop trees down.  The information they have about their trees allows them to include them in infrastructure planning.  Singapore is one city that prioritizes their trees in planning.

40-metre tall street trees in Surry Hills were given as an example of trees that would not be planted these days.  Once these trees die they will likely be replaced by something much smaller & this is despite the enormous amenity these trees are providing now.

With more development happening now, trees are not being recognised for their amenity that they provide 24-hours a day.

You can listen to the program here –

http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pel3NwJKgQ?play=true

Last week Los Angeles broke a temperature record held for 131-years reaching 36.6°C (98°F).  Sydney people might laugh responding with, “It’s a good day for the beach,” but Los Angeles has an average daily temperature of 22°C (71°F), so this was an extremely hot day for them.

Los Angeles temperatures like this are expected to triple by 2050 & so the City has set a target of lowering the urban heat island effect by three degrees by 2035.  “According to CalEPA, LA has the worst urban heat island effect of any region in California.”

“Excessive heat is deadly. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, difficulty breathing, cramping and general discomfort killed more people between 1979 and 2003 than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention.”  See – http://bit.ly/2ucsUE9

Los Angeles is one of only two cities in the world who have a temperature reduction target to reduce their urban heat island effect.  The other is Melbourne.

Los Angeles plans to do the urban heat island effect by –

  • Gradually replacing roofs with reflective materials, called ‘cool roofs.’
  • Repave or repaint city streets with reflective paint.
  • Plant more trees & increase the urban forest canopy. However, they did not mention using green walls & green roofs.  Perhaps these are seen as more transient & risky compared to solid hard surfaces such as albedo paint & tiles.

It all seems elementary & doable, which offers real hope.

The city aims to install 10,000 cool roofs by the end of this year – 2017.

“Beginning in 2014, LA has had a “cool roofs” ordinance, which requires anyone building a new roof or replacing more than half of an existing roof to do so with reflective shingles.”  I wonder if the Inner West Council has any green requirements like these for any new developments or roof replacements.  The former Marrickville Council did not when The Revolution building in Marrickville was built around 2012.  At a public meeting about the building the architect said that there was no requirement to add green features, so he did not.

After a trial of painting one city street in May 2017, the City of LA has painted 7 other blocks & aim to paint a block in all 15 council districts by the end of the summer.  They obviously mean business.

In March 2016 the former Marrickville Council did a trial of solar reflecting road surface paint in Cecilia Street Marrickville.   I have no idea whether Council has released information regarding the results. See – http://bit.ly/1Pyexc7

The City of LA also has a cool pavement program, aiming to have the urban heat island effect lowered by shade from street trees.  So, less heat, better health, more beauty & more happiness.  That is excellent in my opinion.

The building on the left is a relatively new development on Unwins Bridge Road St Peters. Many in the community were upset at the DA stage because of the trees that were to be removed. The DA was approved and the building built. I passed by recently was pleasantly surprised to see 4 good sized trees had been planted in Dabur Lane as part of the development. These are not token shrubs for landscaping, which is what we often see in new developments. Once grown these trees will help provide shade & supply the beauty & other benefits that only trees can offer.

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay.

A 2-minute video by the NSW Environment Protection Authority titled ‘Hey Tosser – GPS tracked bottles’ shows how far plastic bottles travel along a range of waterways in Sydney, including the Cooks River.  It is quite incredible.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7ZDl1_PE8

New raised walkway/cycleway at the Illawarra Road bridge on the Undercliffe side.  Previously one needed to pick up their bike and carry it up three stepped ramps.  It was not easy.   

It was great to see the newly opened raised walkway/cycleway on the Undercliffe side of the Cooks River at Illawarra Road.  This was a difficult place to negotiate bicycles, especially if they were heavy.   Tight corners are no more with a slick graded slope raised walkway/cycleway.  It looks good.

I shall miss the decaying tree trunk beside the river, but to see the significant erosion taken care of with lots of sandstone is very pleasing.  It is great to see the asparagus fern gone too.   I’ve been looking at that plant for nearly 20-years.

I hope the storm water drain gets fitted with a pollution trap to catch street litter.  Hopefully, they still intend to do this.  Far too many storm water drains along the river are open to the river.  One day pollution traps will be seen as mandatory & people will wonder why this wasn’t always the case.  One only needs to look at the plastic drink bottles & other litter to see how needed pollution traps are.

Overall this is a boon for the community & for the river.

A side view of the walkway, plus showing the erosion control using sandstone.   The storm water outlet is on the right.

New storm water outlet at the Illawarra Road Bridge Undercliffe. It’s nice, but it needs a pollution trap in my opinion.

This is the same site – photo taken 2012.  The roots of decayed tree trunk can just be seen on the right.  Hopefully, the mangroves will grow back.  The bottles & other litter collected by a Cooks River Tosser came from this small section visible in the photo, which clearly demonstrates the need for a pollution trap.  

 

One of two piles collected today. I have another photo of a similar pile collected last Friday. Photo by Leonie Sinclair used with thanks 🙂

A friend sent me these photos of Steel Park with the following message –

“Litter covers all three oval spaces & this is only some of it because I don’t really want to spend any more of Mother’s Day collecting other people’s garbage.”

She regularly spends time picking up all the litter dropped in the playing fields of Steel Park.

Can the sports clubs not do better than this?  Why do they not take their empty drink bottle & other garbage with them?

It’s a terrible message to give young people that they can simply leave their garbage behind when it has such a negative impact on the environment, especially with the river so close.  The players need to respect the park, the community & the wildlife & take their garbage home.

Maybe Inner West Council should think about intervening.  One idea is to oblige clubs to read out a short message about respect to the environment to players before each game & the Captains required to ensure all litter is removed before anyone leaves.

I do not think the rate-payers should be paying for Council staff to pick up litter left behind by sporting groups.

Another half pile of litter collected from the playing fields at Steel Park today. Photo by Leonie Sinclair used with thanks 🙂

A verge in Marrickville. There is a street tree in that jungle of grass.

I’ve read complaints in the Letters section of the local paper & also on Facebook about the lack of mowing by Council.  Seems there are others noticing the forest of grass growing on our verges.

The letters in the paper must have had an impact because last week I heard the sound of mowers & whipper-snippers indicating that Inner West Council is back on board with tending to the verges across the former Marrickville municipality.

This year I have noticed more weeds on the streets & lanes than I have ever seen & grass on verges almost knee high in some places.

I am assuming the lack of mowing & weeding has been a cost saving measure.   I hope Council achieved what it wanted to achieve, though I find it a bit sad that the visual outlook of a community has to deteriorate for something to be achieved.

Marrickville streetscape – tagging, litter & untended verges.  To me it just looks a mess.  

Much of Marrickville looks like this.

Weeds in Sydenham. You could ignore this if it was rare, but it not. After a while it becomes depressing.

Archives

Categories

© Copyright

Using and copying text and photographs is not permitted without my permission.

Blog Stats

  • 528,131 hits
%d bloggers like this: