Thursday, July 31, 2014

leadbeaters possum still threatened

Despite much focus on Victoria’s state faunal emblem, the Leadbeater’s Possum, it’s still under threat, listed as endangered and nominated for consideration as critically endangered.

The two key threats to its ongoing existence are logging and fire. Sadly it’s habitat continues to be logged in Victoria. Most recently a coupe (Rusty in Toolangi) containing 101 hollow bearing trees, habitat critical for the ongoing survival of Leadbeater’s Possum, is being logged to supply woodchip (80%), pallet wood (17%) and a tiny 3% highgrade timber.

There’s been a long history of efforts to protect this species. In 2012, the much respected Professor David Lindenmayer, Australia’s foremost expert on the Leadbeater’s Possum (LBP) and their habitat with 30 years’ experience and research, quit the LBP Recovery Team stating that the Victorian government was “managing the Leadbeater’s Possum into extinction.”
Toolangi locals and those concerned further afield
are campaigning to highlight logging and its
contribution to extinction, this banner will be
adjusted every week to reflect how many people
have been following the issue online, last Sunday
the number of people exceeded 1.1million.
Prof David Lindenmayer remains one of the critical voices in the fight for the Leadbeater’s Possum and the Central Highlands of Victoria. Despite the ongoing work and focus of many the Leadbeater’s Possum remains under threat.

In the lead up to the Victorian State Election there has been an enormous advocacy campaign to see the creation of a Great Forest National Park, Prof David Lindenmayer said of the park “The Great Forests National Park is an investment for the long-term because it will secure Melbourne's domestic water supply catchments, a suite of new economic opportunities for the region will roll-out, and the state's faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum, among others, will be brought back from the brink of extinction.”
Greens Senator Janet rice visited Toolangi late last year.

In September, 2013, The Greens announced their support for the Great Forest National Park and called on broader support for the creation of the park. They said “The Victorian state government is logging some of the Leadbeater's Possum's last remaining habitat, in Victoria's Central Highlands. This logging is driving this endangered animal to extinction. With fewer than 1000 remaining, we need a National Park to ensure they are protected.

In the recent submissions, as part of the Leadbeater’s Possum Advisory Group (LPAG) consultations, 70% of submissions recommended the creation of a Great Forest National Park as a course of action. Other issues raised as part of the LPAG submissions included:
· The need to secure habitat for Leadbeater’s Possum now and into the future, and to ensure this habitat has connectivity and a distribution of age classes.
· A call for the end of clearfall timber harvesting. There is an opinion that timber harvesting should be migrated to plantations.
· Protection of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies was a strong theme throughout the submissions. In line with the position adopted by the leading scientist on the species,
Professor David Lindenmayer, many submissions adopted either all his recommendations or variations on those recommendations.
· Address forestry prescriptions to secure environmental benefits – particularly the protection of old growth forest and the need to ensure the recruitment of the next generation of old growth.
· Lack of information and transparency – a call for an end to the (perceived) subsidisation of VicForests, clarity on the sustainability of native timber harvest and the economic impacts/benefits of native timber harvest.

The recommendations from the LPAG are disappointing, but given the terms of reference were framed 'supporting the recovery of the Leadbeater's Possum while maintaining a sustainable timber industry', it’s not surprising.
Recommendations contained will still impact on the long term survival of the species, with Prof Lindenmayer statingI think it’ll buy the Leadbeater’s Possum maybe five, at most ten years. The possum might survive 25, 30 years from now, instead of 15 to 20 years, (but) this is about 10 per cent of what is needed.” Prof Lindenmayer said the report had ignored the 31 years of science he had contributed on the possum and the ecology of the Central Highlands forests.

The Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum labelled the LPAG recommendations as mediocre and have detailed their response to the 13 LPAG recommendations here.
 I’ve got a long history of the issues around logging and leadbeater’s on my blog, click here if you’d like to read some past stories.

Meanwhile the community continues to protest the logging in Toolangi and #saverusty is getting a lot of exposure on social media platforms as a way to highlight the plight of our forests and the wildlife that lives in them.  You can find out more about that campaign by searching #saverusty and don’t forget to sign up to support the GreatForest National Park too.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

planting success

Sunday was National Tree Day, a day where people from across the country are encouraged to do something positive for the environment and reconnect with nature.  

I was delighted to join the Southern Dandenongs Community Nursery tree planting event, revegetation planting on Parks Victoria land at the back of the Birdsland Reserve in the Lysterfield Park. It was great to join locals to once again, revisit this site and plant a range of canopy and understorey plants abutting the riparian area of the Monbulk Creek, a local waterway significant due to its platypus population and proximity to residential areas.

There was also a concurrent planting event close by the nursery and Birdsland Environment Education Centre for families with young children.

I can report that 500 plants went in at Lysterfield Park, whilst the children planted 150 plants up at the Birdsland Education Centre in Birdsland. It was a great effort by all.

It's become a bit of a custom at the
Southern Dandenongs Community
Nursery to plant a tree to mark the
occasion, I was very happy to
oblige and be assisted by nursery
President, Garrique Pergl.
The day was a great collaboration of community, Parks Victoria, the Southern Dandenongs Community Nursery, Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group, Friends of Birdsland and Yarra Ranges Council and I was pleased to play my small part in improving the local environment.

There’s been amazing growth of plants put in earlier plantings and this region is going to provide a great buffer to Monbulk Creek into the future.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

30 years for mooroolbark library

It was great to be part of celebrations for the Mooroolbark Library, last week the library clicked over 30 years of service to the local community.

As well as being a Yarra Ranges Councillor, I’m the Deputy
Chair of the Eastern Regional Libraries Corp (ERL).
Here I am with ERL CEO, Jospeh Cullen,
celebrating 30 years of Mooroolbark Library.
It’s great to be part of such a well loved service.
The decision to build a library was made by the council of the day back in 1983, the budget was $313,500, fully funded by council and construction took seven months.

The library opened with 15,000 books, 70 magazine titles, newspapers, music and spoken word cassettes. It also included a junior and teen section and toys for children to play with, allowing parents/carers to more easily search the shelves.

The collection was catalogued using microfiche. How things have changed in 30 years.

Today the library receives over 87,000 visits per year and just under 166,000 items are loaned. In an emerging area for libraries, certainly not envisaged back in 1984, last year library users logged on to use 9,632 hours of free internet, whilst there were 3,356 connections to the free wifi service as well.

Services have gone well beyond supplying toys to children, last year the Mooroolbark Library held delivered storytime to 3,648 children (and 2,265 adults).  

As part of Mooroolbark Library’s 30th, visitors watched local chef Steve Wilson from Bulong Estate create some chef magic with birthday cakes and canapés and all enjoyed the fruits of his labour as part of the celebration.

Libraries are so much more than repositories for books, it’s great to see them maintaining their place as well loved community spaces for people to connect and continue life long learning.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

amendment request for burnham beeches

Earlier this month council was advised that Burnham Beeches have written to the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, seeking a Ministerial Amendment to the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme to allow for up to 1,700 people on the Burnham Beeches site.

Uses requested for inclusion in the amendment include a Micro Brewery, Hotel, Steak House, Bakery, Hotel, Villas, Eco Pods, tea house, moonlight cinema, spa, wellness centre, chapel, etc.

Currently the site is zoned Special Use (schedule 2, clause 2.9) and includes a Heritage Overlay (HO5).

It’s not clear if the Minister will be seeking Council’s or community views on the amendment request, which will be numbered C142. Our planning team are currently seeking advice as to how the Department for Planning (DTPLI) propose to engage with the Council and community on this development.

I’ll keep you posted as we learn more. As this is a recent request the amendment is not yet available to view online.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges Council to develop plans for separate mountain bike trail alongside existing shared trail in Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Reserve 
Lilydale Leader
by Kimberley Seedy
27 Jul 2014

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Friday, July 25, 2014

how will climate change impact melbourne's east?

The Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action is presenting the forum How will Climate Change impact Melbourne's East?

The event will feature a key note presentation from renowned climate scientist Professor David Karoly and it's free. The session will explore how the climate is changing across Melbourne’s east and present a number of key regional response initiatives.
Professor David Karoly is Professor of Meteorology and an ARC Federation Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences. He is an expert in climate change science and was involved, through several different roles, in the preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2007.

There's no doubt that climate change is on the mind of
locals, earlier this year I planted the Climate Change
Time Capsule in Birdsland, to be opened in 2050.

Professor Karoly is active in research on climate variability and climate change, including greenhouse climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and interannual climate variations due to El Niño Southern Oscillation. Recently, he has been studying the impacts of climate change on weather extremes and their impacts on human and natural systems. We are extremely fortunate to have David visit Yarra Ranges.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about climate change at a local level.
Details are:
When: Wednesday, 27 August 2014 from 6:45 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Mooroolbark Community Centre, 125 Brice Ave Mooroolbark
Cost: Free
Register here: eventbrite by 22 August
Light refreshments provided

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

belgrave pool gets a lift

Good news for men and boys who use the Belgrave Pool, over the winter closure the pool’s amenities for the males have been refurbished to bring them up to standard.

Users of the pool will remember the tired state of the amenities in the past. As part of a staged upgrade the all abilities and women’s amenities were upgraded in time for last swim season, this was a major refurbishment which included a reconfiguration of the entry deck to enable better access for people with a disability or mobility challenges and the addition of far better located carpark for people with a disability.

Stage 2 sees well overdue improvements to the male facilities, great to see this well loved community pool be brought up to scratch.

As Belgrave’s an outdoor pool, it’s closed during the cooler months, to keep an eye out for opening dates visit the pool’s facebook page or website.

And for an ‘only in Belgrave’ factoid, the Belgrave Pool, is a 33 metre pool rather than the standard 25mt or 50mt pool – why? Good question. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

samantha on the campaign trail

I'm running in the upcoming state election for the Greens in the upper house seat of Eastern Metropolitan. 

You can keep up to date with campaign news on

facebook - Samantha Dunn EasternMetropolitan

twitter - @greens4eastmet

web - Samantha Dunn, Candidate for Eastern Metropolitan 

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samantha in the media

Retirees scour streets cleaning graffiti in custom-built ute
Channel 9 News
by Dougal Beatty
22 Jul 2014

on the campaign trail
Power Pricing Promise
Greens are pitching for a fair deal for solar panels
Maroondah Leader
22 Jul 2014

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meeting of minds for mt evelyn

report from the roundtable – 22 jul

Last night council had to consider the issue of the investigation and development of a mountain bike trail through the Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Reserve. The issue came with past controversies. The reserve is cared for by the Friends of Mt Evelyn Aqueduct, they’ve worked for the past 30 years improving the site to the point the reserve is rated as the third highest in conservation significance amongst council’s 140 managed bushland reserves.

Back in 2011 there was concern about the extent of mountain biking on two unmade, unmaintained tracks in the reserve, in 2012 the informal trails were closed. The closures made the local mountain bikers very unhappy.

Last night council had to weigh up the best option and heard submissions from the Yarra Ranges Mountain Bikers (YRMTB) and the Friends of Mt Evelyn Aqueduct and MEEPPA.

The matter had first come to council at our June 24 meeting, however council resolved to defer the item as the parties involved didn’t receive formal notification and we wanted to encourage further discussions between all the parties to see if the issue of the best trail option could be agreed on.

It was terrific to hear President of  the YRMTB, Damien Auton,  say on multiple occasions that the mountain bikers supported ‘option 5’, the option which has the least environmental damage. Mr Auton received multiple questions from Cr Child on this change of view from the YRMTB, Mr Auton maintained at all times that “we support option 5 – our preferred option is option 5 – yes the definitive answer is option 5”. In addressing council Mr Auton talked about the group’s support for the development of sustainable mountain bike trails and best practice in trail design.  

The Friends of Mt Evelyn Aqueduct and MEEPPA were also clear supporters of ‘option 5’ as it recognised the very high conservation values of the reserve. The records in relation to this reserve indicate that nearby there are 26 threatened flora species and 25 threatened fauna species. The most striking and well known of these, the powerful owl.

It’s not impossible to maintain environmental values and mountain bike trails but it does require careful planning and good trail design and construction processes.

Option 5 looks to provide a single track mountain bike rail alongside the existing Mt Evelyn Aqueduct Trail. The existing trail generally meets the required 2.5m to 3m width for a shared use and this provides scope to reconfigure the main train to provide a single track mountain bike trail and a pedestrian/shared use track.

It’s a rare occasion that council considers an option that everyone is happy with, and it’s great to be part of a win win solution. I’m also really pleased that all parties came together heard the issues from both sides which eventuated in a shared agreement on what’s the preferred option.

Councillors voting for the motion:
Crs Dunn, Cox, Cliff, Avery, McAllister and McCarthy

Councillors voting against the motion:
Crs Child, Callanan and Witlox.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

belgrave lantern parade, bigger than ever

An enormous crowd of both locals and visitors from further afield flocked to the Belgrave Lantern Parade, held on the 21st June to coincide with winter solstice. The footpaths were packed with onlookers whilst lantern paraders filled Burwood Highway to put on yet another display of the most extraordinary lanterns, drawing inspiration from every which way.

It is the largest local  community event in the Hills, now in its eighth year, a collaboration of many volunteers across an enormous range of organisations and funded in partnership with Yarra Ranges Council. My thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen, another truly memorable night in Belgrave.

Here's some pics from the night:

"Snowy" took the reins as parade organiser this year,
great job Snowy, everyone had a great time.
There was plenty of preparade entertainment.

Here's Tim and Emma from local community radio station
3MDR, doing an OB of the entire parade.
Nice to see parade favourite Thunderbird 2 lantern
take flight again for this year's parade

The splendid volunteers from DRERS, our local emergency
relief service, did a roaring trade in snags.
Pictured left to right: Carole, Cr Samantha, Tania and Bob.
The CFA led the brigade, followed by the Freemasons
who were celebrating 125years in Belgrave.
It takes the effort of many to put on an event of this scale,
here's Leanne from the Belgrave CFA doing some
crowd control and giant echidna lantern wrangling.

Of course Puffing Billy gets a lantern too, Belgrave is
the starting point for the heritage steam train.

Local wildlife found in waterways and muddy backyards
throughout the hills, the yabby, came in lantern form too.
This project was facilitated by the Southern Dandenongs
Landcare Group.

Here's the BeeGees (Birdsland Environment and Gardening
Group) supporting the Great Forest National Park #gfnp
accompanied by the Sherbrooke Amphipod lantern, a project
auspiced by Melbourne Water to raise awareness of endangered
creatures that inhabit our waterways.


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Monday, July 14, 2014

calling committee volunteers for yellingbo

Yarra Ranges Council and Cardinia Shire Council have been requested by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change to conduct a process to make recommendation to the Minister on 3 community members to take part in the newly created Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee.

A representative of Yarra Ranges Council has also been requested and we will be suggesting our Manager of Parks and Environment to sit on the Committee.
The functions of the committee are to improve coordination and collaboration between land managers and other agencies involved in the management of the Yellingbo Conservation Area.  The Yellingbo area has unique biodiversity and ecological values, and establishment of this committee is an important step in improving public land and conservation outcomes in the area.

The committee will comprise a of convenor, one representative from each of Parks Victoria; Melbourne Water; Yarra Ranges Council; Cardinia Shire Council; Department of Environment and Primary Industries; Zoos Victoria; Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority; and Trust for Nature, and four community representatives.
The Minister endorsed the creation of the Yellingbo Coordination Committee in response to the Yellingbo Investigation Final Report by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) and in accordance with the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act (1987).

Advertising for committee positions is now underway, in relevant local newspapers, on Council’s website and by letters to all previous interest groups, and nominations will close 5.00pm Monday 21 July 2014. 
A selection panel will meet with short-listed applicants in late July for nomination of suitable candidates to the Minister by 8 August 2014.

If you're keen to play your part in steering the ongoing management of this important and unique area of the shire then this could be your opportunity.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges Council faces difficult balancing act as it considers new minimum land size
Free Press Leader
by Cherry Prior
9 Jul 2014

Division over smaller blocks
Lilydale Leader
by Cherry Prior
8 Jul 2014

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

samantha in the press

Win for day care
Mail Newspapers
by Jesse Graham
1 Jul 2014
Family day care to stay
Lilydale Leader
by Kimberley Seedy
1 Jul 2014
Win for day care
Ranges Trader Mail
1 Jul 2014


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