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  •  CEN YOUTH Present: STEPS TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE  FUTURE 

  • Last night, 28 November was CEN’s End of Year get-together where we celebrated together the achievements of this past year. We also presented the 2019 Be a Team (BAT) Awards and CEN Staff gave a brief update on their activities for the year.

    The 2019 winners are:

    • Most outstanding all-rounder “BAT” Award– Gary Blaschke for his dedicated work with Disabled Surfers Association, Coal-ash Community Alliance and as a vocal spokesperson on local issues.

    • Most outstanding community based organisation– Grow Urban Shade Trees (GUST), founders Melissa Chandler, Debbie Sunartha and Jennifer Wilder for their tireless work promoting the benefits of trees and community planting events.

    • Rookie of the year– Justin Estreich, for his inspirational marine debris clean ups across the Central Coast for Sea Shepherd and bringing people together in these events.

    • Best 12thperson –Carla Robertsfor her dedication and commitment to Wildlife ARC caring for injured native animals for more than 30 yearsBAT AWARDS

  • On Sunday the 20 October at the Marine Discovery Centre in Terrigal our CEN Youth partnered with the Central Coast High Schools Competition, ‘Human Rights in an Age of Climate Change, So What’s the Action Plan?’ In which the winning student entries of this distinctly Central Coast Competition were presented their awards in an intergenerational presentation by CEN Youth.

    Also launching our next generation of Community Environment YOUTH Network leaders. CEN Youth presented winning finalists from Wyong High School which dominated entries in the junior category. Brisbane Water Secondary College together with Narara Valley High School dominated winning entries in the senior category and were presented with native/wild plants from our CEN nursery, as gifts to all our finalists and supportive teachers from each of these schools.

    Our CEN Youth also read out some of the winning entries to the audience. It was an inspirational afternoon, supported by our Deputy Mayor Jane Smith and Marine Discovery Centre Chair John Asquith leaving us full of hope for the future.

    CEN YOUTH outdoor shot

     

     

  • living Systems

    The recent catastrophic fire conditions have highlighted the deep disconnect we have with nature and lack of understanding of our interdependency with this living system, of which we are a part. This ignorance at all levels of our complex societies, has detached the connection between deforestation leading to soil erosion and without the “deep root of trees to bring moisture from deep underground eventually replenishing the atmospheric moisture from our oceans, the droughts tend to be longer and drier,” as described by Charles Eisenstein in his book Climate a New Story. He describes how deforestation results in higher clouds, which produce less rainfall in total but in greater intensity, aggravating the drought/flooding cycle.

    This living system also includes our wildlife, such as our Koala’s, whose interdependent relationship with native eucalyptus trees are vital for other wildlife and so any catastrophic change to their population can trigger an ecological chain reaction. That’s why we are in a critical stage in human civilisation and why more than ever, we need to protect our Coastal Open Space System (COSS) and native forests from being cleared. Also, continue to protect our biodiversity, essential for the resilience of our living system, such as Porters Creek Wetlands on the Central Coast, so it is not only protected but thriving. Join us at our monthly Sustainable Saturday’s to Protect, Reconnect and Regenerate our living human communities so dependent on a healthy ‘living system’.

    Hale Adasal CEN Chair

  • Nature is diverse, connected, interdependent, restorative, and regenerative which has with time generated resilient communities of species and natural wonder. Those of us who do enjoy spending time in our natural environment would recognise this quality about being human, we are aware of nature’s beauty and bounty.

    Maitland Bay

  • Health Crisis?

    The recent outbreak of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has forced authorities to take measures to practice self-isolation and physical distancing. So hence CEN has had to cancel its upcoming events, that engage us with our natural environment and each other through our numerous programs. As well as being a human health crisis this is also an environmental health crisis. Let me explain.

    Our natural environment has evolved to be the only planet in our universe, where our oceans and forests provide us with the oxygen to breathe, sustain us with fresh water and nurture us with the foods we eat from trees and plants and in effect regenerating populations.

    Several researchers today think that it is humanity’s destruction of our biodiversity that has created the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as Covid-19. Hence there is a call world-wide, for an overhaul of current approaches to urban planning and development, that is cancerous in its approach to unsustainable development and out of balance with the natural environment.  Sustainable development is essential if we are to keep our biodiverse wetlands and native forests across the Central Coast and beyond intact and in equilibrium to provide us with the clean air, fresh water and clean soils, plants/ trees to sustain us.

    The United Nations, Environment executive director Ms Inger Andersen, in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper titled, ‘Coronavirus, Nature is Sending Us a Message’ is quoted as saying. “There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give. We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

    health crisis

    On the Central Coast we are privileged enough to have, in our back and front yards the beaches, lakes and wetlands, native forests and parklands, all essential to human health and well-being. Once the physical distancing and crisis passes, which it will, it is important we reconnect with one another and our natural environment. Recognising the role nature plays in our lives and doing all that we can to protect her from unsustainable cancerous development.

    CEN regularly holds planning submission workshops for ecologically sustainable development. Educating our community in ways to reconnect with nature through our Waterwatch, Habitat for Wildlife and Land for Wildlife programs. Visit our Marine Discovery Centre, plant native trees by supporting our native/wild plant nursery. Most importantly build the resilience of our future leaders in practising regeneration through our Youth. Encouraging and supporting them to be involved with our CEN Youth program, related events and initiatives.

    We are all in this together.

    Hale Adasal CEN Chairwoman

  • Whenever I go into the CEN office located at Ourimbah campus, to attend meetings or catch up on tasks as the volunteer in chief, I am always greeted by the wonderful energy of community members in our centre.

     It is great to catch up with staff and the inspirational work that they do. But I also love speaking with our other volunteers, who like me spend numerous hours of their week, working to make our Community Environment Network the success story that it is. Whether it is caring for the plants, getting them ready for our monthly plant sales. Or in the nursery, developing the plants from seedlings. Or it could be designing logos for our programs and events or data entry for our community nature programs. Not to mention our front-line volunteers who answer our phone calls and respond to our emails. They are all members of our Central Coast Community who realise that Connecting with people who have the same vision for their community and our local environment is key for our well-being. Once we make this Connection, we can Collaborate, bringing our thinking together to Create models of how our community should look and function. So, it makes sense, the energy I feel when I speak with volunteers like myself who share their skills and passions volunteering for CEN. We connect to something bigger than our individual selves in which everyone has a role to play.CEN Youth National Tree Planting Day 2020

    The current Climate the way it is and the inevitable Change that will take place whether its forced on us or we prepare our human communities to face these Challenges. All we will have, are these relationships, that Connect us with one another and our natural environment. An essential first step to ensure the Collaboration and Creation of community models follows. The stakes are high, but the rewards will be world changing.

    Community is Everything

    Hale Adasal

    CEN Chair

  • The Coalition Government has been elected for another 3 years. In the last 6 years, Australia's emissions have increased significantly (up 4%, National Greenhouse Gas Inventory). The government removed the carbon price legislation and is allowing existing industry to increase their emissions levels. We aren’t on target to reach 26% reduction from 2005 levels regardless of what the Prime Minister claims.

    We rely on the environmental systems around us for our food, clean water and air. 10,000 years of stable climate has supported the development of our civilization and we depend on these environmental services for our very survival.

    Climate zones are already migrating. The bands of desert that surround our planet on both sides of the equatorial zone are moving towards the poles. The deserts of central Australia are expanding southward into areas where we grow a large part of Australia’s food. The same is happening in Europe, the USA and Asia.

    Global warming (the result of climate change driven by our greenhouse gas emissions) is destroying whole ecologies. Extreme events are increasing with heat waves killing more people in Australia than our road toll. Global warming is an unfolding disaster - a clear and present danger to all people across the globe.

    The IPCC Special Report issued last October (SR15) made it clear that we must act now to ensure we leave a livable planet to our children. We must avoid triggering dangerous thresholds where climate mechanisms start to drive us irrevocably into chaos. We have run out of time.

    All governments must prioritize emergency emissions reduction ahead of all other policy. As our children's movement School Strike for Climate has stated, we must ban new exploitation of fossil fuels and instigate rapid closure of our current fossil fuel usage. This position is not radical. It is the absolute minimum action needed to respond to this threat.

    Our ancestors innocently started this process. We have had a small taste this decade of extreme events and damage to global treasures (e.g. Great Barrier Reef). The next decade will be ten times worse.

    We have the technologies to begin the transition - solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, pumped water storage, electric vehicles, etc. The cost of these is dropping rapidly with some already less than or close to the fossil fuel alternatives.

    We must call for an emergency response by all levels of government to cease all support for the fossil fuel industry, instigate rapid and just transition of our economy to zero emissions and prepare for the impacts that are already inevitable.

    The Federal Government must cease its stalling and implement the necessary actions now. There will be costs, but these are insignificant compared to the impacts of rampant unchecked global warming.

  • The Community Environment Network supports mountain biking but we are concerned about its suitability in the Coastal Open Space System (COSS). That is why we are urging our members, supporters and the broader community to oppose, via Central Coast Council's Your Voice Our Coast website, any plans to build new trails in COSS or approve existing illegal trails.

     

    Central Coast Council staff are considering a Mountain Bike Strategy to build and manage mountain bike tracks and parks in Council-owned reserves, including COSS. A Mountain Bike Feasibility Discussion Paper is currently on exhibition until March 22 via yourvoiceourcoast.com.au.

    The discussion paper acknowledges that the construction of unauthorised mountain bike trails poses environmental, heritage and reputational risk to Council.

    The conclusions acknowledge significant community concern for the protection of COSS described as “highly valued by the community”.

    Yet the discussion paper that is now on public exhibition is flawed.

    We are urging Central Coast residents who care about protecting ecologically sensitive land to make a submission against Council moving forward with a full-blown Mountain Bike Strategy via yourvoiceourcoast before March 22.

    Environmental damage

    The encroachment of mountain bike trail building and riding into sensitive environmental and heritage land is a real risk to biodiversity and has already caused damage to Ecologically Endangered Communities (EECs) in COSS.

    Each 22km mountain bike track clears a football field of bush butthe discussion paper’s section on environmental impacts is inadequate. It is limited to impacts during construction, the impacts of bikes versus hikers, and the importance of design and management.

    The discussion paper has no information about the Endangered Ecological Communities and Regionally Significant species found in Council reserves. It fails to inform the community about the fragility of the fauna and flora within COSS.

    The discussion paper does not even consider the environmental and heritage value of the reserves that could become regional mountain bike parks.

    It understates the damage that has already occurred as a result of illegal trail building and use. It fails to mention the illegal tree removal, damage to hanging swamps and rainforest, interference with creeks and damage to sandstone platforms that has already occurred.

    The discussion paper identifiesKincumba Mountain Reserve, Rumbalara, Katandra and Ferntree Reserves, Munmorah State Conservation Area and Wyrrabalong National Park as sites suitable for regional mountain bike parks.

    A regional site is required to have between 20km and 80km of trail, two loops, a site area of more than 500 hectares, a location within 40km of a 15,000 population and less than 10km from highways and major roads. Turning Kincumba, Rumbalara, Katandra or Ferntree into a regional mountain bike facility would completely undermine their biodiversity value and cause irreversible damage. These iconic reserves, so important for their ecological value, would be lost.

    As a case study, the extensive network of illegal trails all over Kincumba Mountain Reserve indicates how Council staff’s neglect has resulted in significant and potentially irreversible environmental damage.Representatives of the Community Environment Network have walked illegal trails on Kincumba Mountain to quantify and qualify concerns expressed by the community.

    The extent of the damage must be witnessed to be believed. Countless trees have been broken, chopped or sawn down without approval. Of particular concern was damage to hanging swamp and rainforest terrain in the reserve.

    The moving of sandstone rocks to build an illegal trail through a hanging swamp has displaced obviousabove-ground flora and species in the soil – seeds, bulbs, corms, rhizomes, rootstocks or lignotubers.

    The illegal damage already done to the Kincumba Mountain hanging swamp would also have an impact on micro-organisms, fungi, cryptogamic plants and a diverse fauna, both vertebrate and invertebrate.

    There are many other examples of existing damage to COSS across other reserves caused by mountain bike trail building and riding.

    Lack of data

    Council has asked the community to participate in consultation when it has not even done a trail audit or a demand analysis.

    The discussion paper talks about high levels of demand for mountain biking without evidence.How can the community make up its mind about the feasibility of mountain biking without a trail audit or a demand analysis?

    The paper does not include an audit of the damage already done to the reserves, even those listed as popular mountain bike locations on the Central Coast.

    Of the 22 sites listed in the Mountain Bike Feasibility Study Discussion Paper, Kincumba Mountain appears to be one of the only potential mountain bike sites to have been visited as part of preparation of the study. Why have so few site visits been conducted? Surely if staff were serious about determining the feasibility of this activity as a major tourist drawcard, more site visits needed to be conducted before the study went on exhibition.

    Kids in the candy shop

    Council staff have abrogated their responsibility to manage illegal activities in Council reserves. They have taken no, or very little, action in recent years to monitor or fine those participating in illegal trail building and use. The discussion paper glosses over the ecological risks of opening reserves for more mountain bike activity.

    Council staff want to collaborate with mountain bike riding groups to locate and develop new, “sustainable” riding opportunities. Some unauthorised trails may be closed but if a trail has been audited and all stakeholders agree it may be converted into a sanctioned trail.

    Sanctioned trail networks on public or leased land would be maintained and managed by mountain bikers. Will they have the expertise or the inclination to protect biodiversity? Will this restrict access to reserves by the general public?

    If Council decides to make the Central Coast a mountain bike riding destination, a Regional Trails Plan will be developed in consultation with land managers and the mountain bike community. Other key stakeholders, including anyone with environmental expertise, appear to have been excluded from this consultation. Will the broader community and those concerned about conservation be consulted?

    Council’s draft trails approval process implies mountain bike groups will be able to propose sites for new trails in an open-ended fashion. This poses the risk of environmental degradation across swathes of bushland.

    Council’s consultants, World Trail, recommend that locations for trails should include the “opportunity to extend” the network of trails as demand increases. Does this mean more trails will be built in COSS on an ongoing basis?

    Can Central Coast Council afford this?

    Both a trail audit and a demand analysis will require significant staff resources, particularly given the extent of illegal trails. Council has not been able to afford the resources to properly address the illegal building of tracks in its reserves. It is therefore questionable whether Central Coast Council can afford this speculative project with significant and quantifiable costs for potentially insignificant and unquantified benefits/revenue.

    The discussion paper repeatedly asserts high levels of demand for mountain biking without completing a demand analysis. A detailed analysis of demand is needed to substantiate any additional spending on this project. The demand analysis should have been completed as part of preparation of the discussion paper. How else can the community assess whether or not there is a measurable economic benefit to the region from this venture?

    Council staff’s focus appears to be on building formal tracks to attract tourist revenue to the region. This emphasis is unimaginative and reflective of staff’s ongoing preference for picking low-hanging fruit rather than developing a vision for the Central Coast that reflects its abundant potential as an internationally-significant eco tourism destination. This is the latest of many “lightbulb” grabs for cash in the grand tradition of Chinese theme parks, passenger airports and giant pelicans.

    It is of interest that the Department of Premier and Cabinet was consulted by staff as a stakeholder in this feasibility study. According to the discussion paper, a senior project officer within the DPC said a NSW Mountain Bike Strategy was currently being put together.

    “Some cross-agency networks have recently been established in northern Sydney. Hornsby-Kur ring gai and Northern Beaches councils are working together with National Parks and other state land managers to look at ways to meet the growing demand for mountain biking”.

    It is of note that Central Coast Council does not appear to have been included in this networking. In light of the council’s current financial crisis it may be considered reckless to spend any more money on the feasibility of mountain biking. If other regions are more advanced than the Central Coast the unmet demand for mountain bike locations may very well be met before Central Coast Council is able to develop anything.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK?

    If you think sensitive COSS lands need to be kept for passive recreation and conservation and other, more appropriate, locations found for mountain bike riding, please have your say before March 22 at yourvoiceourcoast.com.au.

    Be sure to:

    1. Register your interest to discuss the proposal with project staff

    2. Ask a question and have the answer published

    3. Write a submission by March 22 either using the online submission form or emailing

    4. Encourage others in the community who share your concerns to also participate in the consultation

    5. Watch the Friends of COSS and CEN facebook pages, share our posts about bikes in COSS and comment 

    6. Register to speak at a Central Coast Council public forum about the importance of protecting COSS

Contact details

CALL 02 4349 4756

FAX 02 4349 4755

PO Box 149 Ourimbah NSW 2258

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The Manor, Central Coast Campus
University of Newcaste
Brush Road Ourimbah
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