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Australia is a land of flooding rains and some may say that the recent flooding on the east coast is typical and not associated with climate change. Since the winter of 2020, Australia has been influenced by the La Niña phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and historically, sustained La Niña conditions have set the scene for severe flooding in eastern Australia.
Australia’s natural rainfall patterns are highly variable. This means the influence climate change has on any single weather event is difficult to determine.
But, as reported in the on-line journal The Conversation ( https://theconversation.com/au/environment ) when our planet warms, the water-holding capacity of the lower atmosphere increases by around 7% for every 1°C of warming.
This can cause heavier rainfall, which in turn increases flood risk.
The oceans are also warming, especially at the surface. This drives up both evaporation rates and the transport of moisture into weather systems. This makes wet seasons and wet events wetter than usual. Current ocean temperatures around eastern and northern Australia are about 1°C warmer than the long-term average, and closer to 1.5°C warmer than average off the NSW coast.
These warmer conditions are likely to be fuelling the systems driving the extreme rainfall and associated flooding in NSW. So while Australia has always experienced floods, disasters like the recent one in NSW are likely to become more frequent and intense as climate change continues.
It will take time before scientists can provide a detailed analysis of the 2020–2021 La Niña event. But it’s crystal clear that climate change is impacting on our weather patterns and that we should not be swayed by arguments that the recent flooding is merely typical.
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 Clean Up Australia Day, Sunday 7 March, a band of eight Society members took up arms to battle rubbish in the Reserve.
Actually, the area near the Visitor Centre has recently been comparatively clean, as have the Warada, Sand and Kunzea tracks. Visitors have avoided leaving rubbish, and some people have done private clean-ups on their own initiative. Thank you, anonymous clean-uppers! Great work!
Some of our Clean Up warriors armed and ready for action!
Photo by Valda Moses
So members of our team patrolled parts where we knew there was rubbish, including the cemetery perimeter, the area upstream from the Monash Road bridge, and areas between the Visitor Centre and Pittwater Road. Other groups, not organised by our Society, worked on nearby sites including Buffalo Creek Reserve, Magdala Park, and Buffalo Creek upstream from Higginbotham Road.
Clean Up Australia Day comes round every year on the first Sunday in March, with other days for schools and businesses. So if you haven’t yet joined the war on rubbish, why not make a resolution to join a group or organise one yourself next year? See
If you would like to do some cleaning-up before then, we can give you bags and lend other equipment. Please contact Alfred at email@example.com or 9879 6067.
(subject to current Covid-19 restrictions)
On Saturday 17 April 2021 our resident bird expert Cathy Goswell will be leading COVID-safe birdspotting walks, starting from the Visitor Centre at 8.30 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. As usual, the route will be planned to facilitate social distancing while keeping everyone within hearing range.
Numbers will be limited to ten in each group; first come, first served. To register, email Alfred firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 9879 6067. Please give your contact phone number, and state the number of persons registering and your preferred time.
Do not turn up without registering, as there probably won't be any spare places.
Bring drinking water, a hat and closed shoes.
Then, at 12.30pm (after the second Bird Walk) we will provide a sausage sizzle + salad lunch for members, followed by...
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING [AGM]: Rescheduled to Saturday 17 April, 2pm at the Field of Mars Visitor Centre. This was not held on the date originally planned, owing to floods (see news above).
Our AGM will feature presentation of reports on our operations during 2020, and the election of our Management Committee for the coming year. All members are invited, and encouraged to consider accepting a position on our Committee. The meeting will conclude with afternoon tea.
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.