A recent report by the online daily, The Guardian (8 November) says that Australia is likely to be releasing more emissions from deforestation than reported to the United Nations.
The Australian government has relied on its reporting of falls in land-clearing rates for almost all the reductions that allow it to claim the country’s emissions have fallen by about one-fifth since 2005, and that Australia has “over-achieved” on its pledged cuts under the Kyoto protocol.
Excluding land use, national emissions had risen by more than 5% since 2005 – the base year picked by the Abbott government for Australia’s Paris climate goal.
Why haven’t land clear
Under the accounting rules agreed through the UN framework convention on climate change tree crown cover needs to account for only 10% to 30% of an area of less than one hectare for it to be treated as a forest. Australia takes the mid-point of the range at 20%.
This means that where forest tree cover gets reduced down from 100% to 30% or 20%, it’s still a forest according to NCAS and nothing’s changed.
The Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) used by the Queensland state government has identified significant discrepancies between what is treated as cleared land by Australia’s National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS) in respect of more than 50 properties in Queensland.
Researchers say there are “millions of anecdotes” to illustrate areas where land-clearing has been picked up by Slats, but not by NCAS. One case involved NCAS identifying a dam as a forest because of its dark colour.
With the land sector also accounting for more than 60% of Australian carbon credits and more than three-quarters of contracted abatement under the Federal Government’s Emission Reduction Fund, potentially billions of dollars of offsets and sequestration claims are reliant on good data.
Deforestation has featured at Conference of the Parties (COP26) - the climate summit in Glasgow, with Australia among the 105 nations to sign a pledge to reduce forest loss by 2030.
The pledge will not amount to much if the systems used for verifying vegetation cover do not adequately identify reductions in vegetation and in addition overstate increases.
It is time for an independent review of the sector that has delivered the bulk of the country’s claimed reductions in greenhouse gas pollution in recent decades.
Frank Breen, President
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
On Saturday 30 October, 16 members of the RDHS came for a picnic lunch and a 2-hour guided heritage walk from the Visitor Centre to Cressy Rd / Pidding Park and return. Along the way we viewed remnants of activities over the past 100 years and their interaction with the natural environment of this part of the Reserve.
Photo by Sanford Larson
Pre-election Forum for Candidates Members received special prior notification of this event, held in the Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre. Several candidates for the upcoming City of Ryde Council elections came and spoke to a gathering of members and interested residents.
Speakers included candidates from the Liberals, Labor, the Greens, and several independents.
Local environment issues naturally featured largely, but other issues – including disability access and controls imposed by the NSW Government – were also discussed. After the meeting, many adjourned to the Visitor Centre and continued to chat for another hour over afternoon tea.
Photos by Lyn Langtry
(subject to current Covid-19 restrictions)
Happy New Year! We hope you have enjoyed a safe and pleasant festive season.
You are invited to meet the birdlife of the Field of Mars Reserve on a walk guided by Cathy Goswell of the Cumberland Bird Observers Club. The walks will depart from the
Visitor Centre in the Field of Mars Reserve at 4.30 pm on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February, and will be restricted to the boardwalk and nearby level areas. Tea or coffee will be available at the Visitor Centre beforehand.
Please bring water, closed shoes, a hat and a face mask.
Children aged 5-12 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.
Covid precautions will be observed.
The walk is free, though donations are welcome to help the Society meet its costs.
Booking is essential as numbers are limited: please phone or leave a message for Alfred on 9879 6067 or email email@example.com. Mention how many of you will be coming and which day you prefer.
In conjunction with the Environmental Education Centre (EEC), City of Ryde Council is planning a one-hour workshop to be held in the EEC from 10am on Saturday 12 February 2022.
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.