State Council update – March meeting

Sam Garrett-Jones, Vice-President, National Parks Association of NSW

State Council met in the delightful surrounds of the lower Blue Mountains on Saturday, 3 March 2018. The meeting at the Glenbrook School of Arts was attended by 18 Councillors, including newcomer Julie McInerney (Mid North Coast), and 9 members and staff.

Alix spoke on current conservation campaigns, notably opposition to the renewal of Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), and NPA’s robust response to allegations by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture; the development of a business case for Forests for All; and a field visit in relation to the Great Koala NP. Matters discussed included the lack of appointments to the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council and pending changes to the Regional Advisory Committees. The meeting endorsed the 50 Park Proposals document ‘for active implementation and promotion’.

On organisational matters, the meeting approved the NPA Strategy 2018-2022, By-Laws, interim Fundraising and Marketing Plans to June 2019 and charters for committees including the Recruitment Committee and Field Activities Committee; and noted the draft Business Plan.

Written Branch reports from Armidale, Far South Coast, Hunter, Illawarra, Mid North Coast, and Southern Sydney showed the wide range of recent activities including a community koala survey with the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub (PAW) in the Hunter; the campaign to save the Tallawarra wetlands around Lake Illawarra; and Southern Sydney’s highly successful 60th Anniversary Annual Dinner with guest speaker Bob Carr.

The afternoon was given over to a wide-ranging discussion on ‘Scoping the NPA Landscape Vision 2018-40’ with the objective of achieving a world class, well-managed reserve system to connect natural areas across all land tenures, watercourses and marine areas in NSW. Speakers included John Turnbull (Marine) and Keith Muir (Wilderness).

On the Sunday, Brian Everingham led a party of keen NPA walkers to Red Hands Cave, some of the best Aboriginal art in the area, via the popular Jellybean Pool on Glenbrook Creek. It being Clean-Up Australia Day, we found members of the Springwood Bushwalking Club gathering up the rubbish discarded by miscreant visitors. The warm weather led to several educational stops to discuss the colonial economics of the highly durable Turpentine tree and the etymology of the Geebung (Persoonia spp.). NPA walks are never dull!

The next State Council meeting will be held on Saturday, 30 June 2018 at the Mt Keira Scout Camp, near Wollongong. The agenda includes a talk on the local upland swamps, a guided tree tour of the local rainforest, and events at Mt Keira Summit Park, which NPA’s 50 Park Proposals argues should become part of the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area. See you there!


 

NPA President and CEO visit Milton and Far South Coast

Anne Dickson, President, National Parks Association of NSW

Our first stop was Milton for a branch committee meeting and the branch’s Annual Public Lecture. About 180 people were at the Ulladulla Civic Centre on Saturday 7th April to hear John Turnbull, marine ecologist and past president of NPA, explaining why caring for the oceans matters. He was joined for a panel discussion by Matt Carr, Manager of Jervis Bay Marine Park, Bill Barker, President of the Nature Coast Marine Group, and Monica Mudge from Take Three for the Sea www.take3.org. Alix Goodwin, our CEO, closed the lecture reminding us of the importance of NPA’s advocacy for protected areas. On Sunday, we moved from the lecture hall to the outdoor classroom for a rock walk and snorkel at Mollymook. The unusually warm Autumn weather and seas made for a very enjoyable activity as John explained the intriguing interactions of the local sea life and their environs.

The Milton branch have built a very strong program of nature-based activity, education and advocacy combined with an emphasis on socialising and connecting people with each other as well as nature. The branch’s environmental advocacy is focused on local issues and is supporting the Great South Coast Walk.

Travelling on to Bateman’s Bay after our snorkelling, we stopped at the northern end of the Murramarang National Park, where Mike Thompson, one of our State Councillors, showed us some magnificent old growth spotted gum. Our southern forests are spectacular and stopping the logging of State Forests was one of the major discussion topics on our trip.

Monday morning, we were in Cobargo to meet with local environmental groups SERCA and Great Southern Forest (GSF) regarding RFA campaigning, the future of forests and how to work together. Then, down the road to meet with members of the Far South Coast branch in Bega. The first discussion item was the state of NPWS. What to do to effectively counter the decline in the park service remains elusive but is clearly a matter of major concern for all of us in NPA. We then turned to Forests for All sharing thoughts on the best way to proceed locally with the RFA campaign Alix is coordinating on behalf of the Forest Working Group of NCC.

And Tuesday … sadly back to Sydney.


NPA’s Oisín Sweeney seconded to Sydney University

NPA’s Senior Ecologist, Oisín Sweeney, has won an inaugural Policy Lab fellowship on Sydney University. The Sydney Policy Lab was launched in 2017 to address policy issues in Australia and internationally, and fellowships are offered to people outside academia who are engaged in real-world policy challenges. Oisín is investigating policy barriers to implementing nature-based solutions—actions to solve a societal problem that have a simultaneous social and environmental benefit.

Oisín said: “In my 3.5 years working with NPA I have been involved in several elements of policy development. It’s very clear to me that, despite the growing body of evidence as to the importance of nature to human wellbeing, policy is not reflecting our knowledge. In fact, how we currently manage nature has a cost not just to nature itself, but to human society. I’m asking why this is happening, and investigating barriers on a local level. I’ve chosen local government because it has a strong influence on nature via planning decisions and policies, but is also at the front line of dealing with big future challenges like rapid climate change and biodiversity declines. Impacts on communities are likely to be profound, with lower socio-economic groups, Aboriginal groups, the aged and the young most vulnerable. If barriers can be identified and overcome, nature-based solutions offer local governments a pathway to dealing with challenges while also benefiting local communities and helping the most vulnerable to adapt to change.”


Website Support For Branches

Paul Buckingham, Milton Branch, National Parks Association of NSW

Having recently taken some of the roles related to “Communications” at the Milton Branch of the NPA, I had been lamenting that we had no website. Living and working in an online world I have found that this is a really effective way of communicating with members and potential members of NPA.

We had developed Facebook a little with good results but it felt like Christmas when I discovered the little-known opportunities that the main NPA site provides.

Not only can you add content, as you may already have done. There are also new pages that can be created and linked from the main page. Facebook can be integrated, as can any number of images and stories.

Perhaps the best gift though was to discover that NPA has an excellent and highly responsive support service managed by Kiran Charles. He really knows his stuff and with his help we will now be able to develop a small mini-site with multiple pages without any hassle or expense. No mess, no fuss!

This is particularly valuable for us because we would like to document the history, to demonstrate the impact NPA has at a community level. We all make similar contributions and it is a great shame to keep the info in a box in a cupboard. Further, a lot of our old records are fading and digitising them is paramount.

The NPA page that you already know about, and probably use, can become many, linked with historical or even current information. You don’t have to create an epic website but it certainly provides an opportunity for a more cohesive online presence.

Further, if you are familiar with Mailchimp, we are able to use this to send out our newsletters and notices. It’s an effective way to know how well our mailouts are being received. Not sure I am ready to see the result of this experiment but we will soon find out!

If your branch would like assistance with social media or updating the branch webpage email us today

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