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July Turtle Times

Hi friend --

In very exciting news, we'd like to thank all those who've signed up for our fundraiser hikes, both the Litchfield one day adventure and the 4 day Kakadu hike are fully booked out. 

This month is Plastic Free July, are you taking the challenge to ditch single use plastics? Get familiar with taking your own containers, cups and cutlery when eating take-away or at the markets, try out beeswax wraps, avoid purchasing individually wrapped items, try to buy in bulk... it's great to see what small changes you can make once you start! 

And if you're exploring greater Darwin areas like Kakadu, Litchfield and more as you soak up the Dry season, consider grabbing a copy of Andy's book Best Walks of the Top End, it's selling very quickly!  

Message from our Co-Directors

Thank you to everyone in our community who donated to the Environment Centre NT last financial year. Your generous support, alongside the support from philanthropic donors has put us in a great position this year to deliver more action and campaigns to work towards protecting the NT environment. The Environment Centre NT is the Territory’s peak environmental organisation, working for a future where the Territory’s nature thrives. We believe that place-based campaigning – in the Territory, for the Territory, by Territorians - is the only way to make real change. Unlike large national NGOs, all donations to ECNT are spent here, to protect the Territory’s natural environment. 

We have had a busy and full month. Kirsty Howey spoke at the Australian Water Association Minister’s Breakfast in the panel discussion on the topic Water Growing Our Economy. The panel was opened by Eva Lawler MLA: Member for Drysdale, and members included Kirsty Howey, Paul Burke, CEO NT Farmers Association, Joanne Townsend, department Parks and water security and Kate Peake, CEO Regional Development Australia NT. Water underpins all life in the NT, and ECNT used this opportunity to highlight the immense stress to the water resources and savanna ecosystems of recent failed wet seasons and how we need to proceed cautiously with plans for massive expansion of water intensive agriculture in the NT, including for cotton. ECNT argued that there are changes needed to NT water regulation including: 
- insufficient knowledge of water resources to underpin planning and licensing decisions 
- 70% of the volume of water licenses is outside of water allocation plan areas 
- lack of climate change modelling in water and planning 
- we don’t charge for water for irrigators, the key mechanism that the National Water Initiative recommends for funding industry compliance and regulation 

We are very excited to announce that on 17 June, ECNT together with PEW Charitable Trusts, local recreational fishers, tour operators and communities came together to launch the Territory Rivers – Keep ‘Em Flowing campaign. This campaign will work with local communities, scientists, stakeholders and government to safeguard the health of Top End rivers, securing the Territory’s treasured way of life, culture and fishing future. Where we live is special, these rivers haven’t been dammed, don’t have large volumes of water taken from them, and have catchments that are all or primarily still native bushland. While our rivers are mostly in good shape, they are under threat from big business who want to take huge amounts of water out – predominantly for cotton crops. Industry are pushing for a cotton processing facility near Katherine, large increases in bulldozed land in the Douglas Daly and access to billions of litres more water from floodplains. You can find out more about this campaign, and take the first action, telling the NT Government to ensure the proposed Cotton Gin is properly scrutinised on the website. 

In June we were very lucky to welcome Jess Black to our office as our new Savannah and Fresh Water Campaigner and Volunteer Coordinator. Jess has moved up from Adelaide and will fill a large gap in our capacity to protect our unique landscapes and vital water sources. 

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all who helped bring the Rapid Creek Gurambai Walkshop to life and contribute to such a successful event. Thank you to Top END STS, Lorraine Williams, Donna Jackson, Peter O’Hagan and Michael Christie for your efforts and passion. Those who managed to get tickets to this event count themselves lucky to have learnt more about this special place we all love.  

Great news for our water this month! Alongside the Northern Land Council, we successfully stopped 10 billion litres being taken each year from our groundwater. If this extraction licence had gone ahead, it would have allowed any prospective buyer of this land from the Northern Territory Land Corporation to take a huge amount from the Mataranka Tindall aquifer – potentially damaging our water flows and the surrounding environment. 

Whilst it's great to see the Minister make the right call, we’re still extremely concerned at the fundamentally broken system that is water management in the NT. The Government’s own review panel pointed out countless problems with the proposal, and it took a legal challenge to get it stopped. This is not how we should be making decisions about our precious water. We need a new approach that works for all Territorians and our water. 

ECNT together with the Environmental Defenders Offices assisted Traditional Owners from Borroloola travelling to Darwin to raise their concern about the rising damaged from the McArthur River Mine. The Juukan Gorge Inquiry heard from Borroloola Traditional Owners that they have been fighting for over 4 decades to protect their country from damage caused by McArthur River Mine. Yanyuwa, Garrwa and Gurdanji woman Joy Priest said her late father Leo Finlay, who was a former Northern Land Council deputy chair, fought to protect the land from the mine in the 1970s but was unsuccessful. “Forty years later, that mining company has still got us like sardines in a tin, and they still got all their interests protected," she said. "But we are left exposed with our sacred sites unprotected."

We desperately need to raise funds to support our work in developing and running a campaign calling on the NT Government to increase the McArthur River Mine (MRM) security bond and fix the shocking mining laws in the Territory.  Funds raised will go towards paying for the costs associated with this litigation. You can donate to the MRM campaign on our website here. 

Thank you for engaging with our work to ensure the living Territory nature thrives for all. 

Welcome Jess, our new savannah and freshwater campaigner & volunteer coordinator 

We'd like to welcome our newest team member, Jess, who has just moved up from Adelaide to join us! Jess is the new Savannah and Fresh Water Campaigner and Volunteer Coordinator. In both roles she is particularly keen to engage with the intersectionality of conservation, land care, climate change, and the broad cross-section of the Territory community who currently and will continue to face the associated impacts, if our environmental management is not prioritised. Having grown up on Kaurna country, she is looking forward to getting to know and serving the vibrant environmental community that exists in the Territory.

So if you see her round say hi and introduce yourself! She can't wait to meet our amazing community.  

Climate Conversations Update 

The Climate Conversations program is gathering momentum with Conversations being held, and another round of Facilitator Training scheduled for July/August. It's exciting to see this happening; and with Jess, our new ECNT Volunteer Coordinator on board, our capacity to reach more people through Climate Conversations is expanding. The Climate Council's recent report Aim High, Go Fast: Why Emissions Need to Plummet This Decade, is a timely reminder of just how critical the work to get to net-zero emissions is.
Climate Conversations is a proven model that reaches everyday Australians who are concerned about climate change, but not yet committed to action.  The model relies on generous Hosts and volunteer Facilitators to help us build momentum for real action on climate change. Follow the link to find out more about our Climate Conversations program and register your interest to be involved.
Facilitator Training involves attending a Climate Conversation as a participant, 2 x 3hr face-to-face training sessions (remote dial-in is an option), and some pre-training reading and homework.  Volunteer Facilitators are asked to commit to facilitating a minimum of 2 Conversations a month for 6 months (about 12 hours a month). This is a fantastic opportunity to develop your professional facilitating skills, connect meaningfully with other people concerned about Climate Change, experience ongoing personal growth, be part of an awesome community and inspire others to take action on Climate Change.  The next round of Facilitator Training is scheduled for Saturday 24th July (Day 1) & 7th August (Day 2) 8.30am for 9am-12noon.  See event info hereSubsequent rounds of Facilitator Training will be scheduled in Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek.  
Email or phone Jodie our Climate Conversations Coordinator to find out more on 0421 006 407. 

Launching the Territory Rivers campaign

We know that you’re concerned about the future health of our Territory rivers. We all know that these rivers are special. They are some of the few free-flowing rivers remaining in Australia and the world. Spectacular rivers like the Daly, Roper and Katherine are the Territory's cultural heritage. They underpin livelihoods and lifestyle.   

Our rivers are under threat from big business! They want to take huge amounts of water, and clear large areas of land. The cotton industry has their eye on the Territory to massively expand operations.

Ask the NT Government to make sure that any new Cotton Gin is properly scrutinised.

We should be able to rely on our government to do the right thing. They need to ensure that thirsty industries like cotton don’t damage our Top End way of life. Cotton has devastated river systems like the Murray-Darling. We don’t want to see the same thing happen to our Territory rivers. 

Write to the NT Government today and tell them to do their job on the campaign website.

“Water is our life it keeps us connected, if we wanna survive we gotta protect it.” - "The deadly girls from Nauiyu”
Check out the latest, in a long list of jams from Nauiyu community, River, River. The song was written and recorded by the young people at St Francis Xavier School and Wooliana School about the significant cultural importance of the river to the community. The Nauiyu community’s River, River is the Daly river. We have to listen to these brilliant young people and "keep the river clean”.
We look forward to visiting the community next week and sharing stories about the river and its protection.

Gamba Grass Roots @ the markets

Territorians desperately need the Gamba Army to grow, yet the NT Government’s 2021 Budget, was a missed opportunity to provide details of funding for this great work to continue. We know there’s more that the Gamba Army can do – but we need a strong community push to make it happen. You can help grow the Gamba Army online

Gamba Grass Roots has been at the rural markets discussing all things gamba these past weeks and will be at the Batchelor Market this Sunday 11 July!

Call in to sign our new petition to support building on the Gamba Army’s work, tell us your gamba success stories, find out how to get help with gamba problems, and what’s needed to keep our communities fire safe this dry season. The Batchelor Town & Country Market has changed its hours this month and will be open from 9am to 1pm at Nurndina St, Batchelor.

Cool Communities Project - finished! 

At the end of June, we wrapped up the COOLmob Cool Communities project - which was a great success thanks to all the schools in our community who got on board. 

This project worked with 10 different schools in Greater Darwin to plant 346 native trees and educate the community around reducing their carbon footprint through lifestyle choices. Across these 10 schools, we engaged with 506 students and teachers. In addition to the planting, students participated in a lesson on how to reduce your carbon footprint at home and school – through reduced energy use, water, waste, consumption, local food, and active transport   

Schools were extremely grateful to participate as it gave them an opportunity to fund tree planting and achieve the school’s tree plans and provided access to hands-on education. 

The Keep Top End Coasts Healthy, Pew Charitable Trusts and the NT Environment Centre Alliance positively supported the draft declaration to prohibit subsea mining in the NT, along with 271 Territorians who signed the petition in support of the ban.

Adele Pedder, Campaign Manager of the Keep Top End Coasts Healthy Alliance commends the Gunner Government for listening to the evidence, and the people of the Northern Territory, and acting to ban seabed mining in the NT.

She says "The draft declaration appears to be a permanent ban and declares that exploration and mining are prohibited actions within coastal areas. By banning seabed mining, the Gunner Government has demonstrated its commitment to protect our coasts and safeguard our fishing, lifestyle and regional economies". 

Subject to the comments received during the final consultation process, the declaration process is expected to be completed in August 2021 with the permanent ban coming into legal effect soon after.

Territory Day Fireworks: Tell us what you think

Whilst the Territory Day fireworks are a fun celebratory activity for Territorians, ECNT is calling on Cracker Night to be restricted to certain areas of our cities, to mitigate negative impacts. The current regulations contribute to high amounts of noise pollution in our neighbourhoods to residents, pets and native wildlife; increase the risk of fires as this occurs in the Dry season of the Top End, and contributes to high amounts of litter, including beach litter when fireworks are let off in tidal areas.

Tell us what you think! 

Behind the scenes 

Lots of what we do to achieve our vision happens behind the scenes, and we've had some requests to share what we've been working on. Below are the submissions and media we've written over the past month:

Upcoming events 

Talk to you soon, 

Shar, Kirsty & the team @ The Environment Centre NT

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