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Turtle Times February 2021

Hi friend,

Hope you've all been relishing the rains this past month in the Top End. If you're house is starting to feel damp and you're having issues with mould, COOLmob recommend leaving your fans on, this is a cost and energy efficient way to prevent these conditions getting worse and creating air flow when there is no sunlight. 

Have an eye for birds? Birdlife Top End need your help in keeping an eye out for the feral and invasive common myna birds, recently spotted at the airport. More info on their Facebook page and how to get in touch

The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security with support from an expert panel reviewed the classification of wildlife in the Northern Territory under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act in 2020. The proposed NT Classification of Wildlife is now open for public consultation between 25th January and 24 February 2021. You can Have Your Say on the NT Gov website

The Australian Government has a vision for a gas fired recovery from COVID-19, currently open to submission from the public. Entrenching a reliance on gas will only worsen the impacts of climate change. This is an unprecedented and outrageous use of public money, and we need to make it know that we do not support it. Fracking projects will bring significant risks to land and water, already suffering from the impacts of climate change. We encourage you to make a submission online before consultation closes on 26 February

In more exciting news, Lottie Boardman, who interned with ECNT in 2019, has returned to work with us as part of a research project focussing on climate justice work in the Northern Territory. Lottie is supported by a Yale-ANU Fox International Fellowship and will be with us until August 2021. Be sure to say hi if you see her around. 

Wonderful news - a 'Ban on Seabed mining' has just been announced by the Northern Territory Government

The NT Government has announced it will ban seabed mining in Territory waters. This is a huge win for Territory coasts!

To everyone who sent a submission, spoke to a politician, spread the word on social media, or helped in any other way - thank you! We love our coasts and Top End lifestyle, and we will all benefit from this decision.

We congratulate the NT Government for listening to widespread community concern and taking strong action to safeguard our marine life, fishing and culture. Thank you Michael Gunner and Eva Lawler. 

Message from Co- Directors

ECNT – the year ahead – reimagining a different future for the Territory, where nature thrives!

By Kirsty Howey and Shar Molloy

The Co-Directors of ECNT are delighted to be back and working hard again in the interests of the Northern Territory’s environment, and you our supporters.

As we look to the year ahead, we are asking just what kind of future we want for the special place we call the Northern Territory: petrochemical plants, plastics and pipelines fuelled by fracked gas, or a just, equitable future where nature thrives?

As you all know: we can’t have both. Yet Michael Gunner’s Labor Government is determined to lead us down a path which will entrench our dependence on the fossil fuel industry, and increase the impacts of climate change.

We need to call out the empty and unoriginal renewed political rhetoric to develop the Territory out of the COVID crisis, whatever the financial and environmental cost.

We are dismayed that the Gunner Government is still pushing ahead with its plans to develop the fracking industry in the Beetaloo Basin, which will add over 5% to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The development of this industry is completely incompatible with the Government’s asserted policy of achieving zero net emissions by 2050. Not only that, the recent Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission, helmed by Andrew Liveris and Paul Henderson, has recommended “value adds” to gas that have the potential to irreversibly damage our precious Darwin Harbour. The centrepiece of this is a petrochemical plant to produce plastics and other fracked gas products. There is a great deal of research emerging from the US about the health impacts from petrochemical plants, which include an increased risk of cancer, asthma, and high mortality rates. We don’t need our own “cancer alley” in Darwin, and the public won’t accept it. Read in this story what we – together with the Larrakia Development Corporation and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union - had to say about this proposal.

Similarly, we are aghast at the recent decision by Mining Minister Nicole Manison to reduce McArthur River Mine’s security bond by $100,000million. The scale of irreversible environmental impacts at this mine is increasing, but the Northern Territory Government seems incapable of regulating the mine or holding it to account. This is Labor’s mine, and it’s the last in a string of environmentally disastrous decisions by them. It leaves the McArthur River, and the livelihoods of current and future generations of Gulf residents, at risk. It also leaves Territorians with an unfunded liability of hundreds of millions – maybe billions – of dollars if the mine packs up and leaves. ECNT has gone on the record to call out this decision, including by alleging that it breaches the Northern Territory’s own mining laws. Read more online.

ECNT is increasingly troubled by plans by a large scale cotton industry, and agribusiness more widely, to become entrenched in the Territory. This is aided by the Northern Territory’s inadequate and piecemeal regulatory regime, which permits large scale deforestation of savannas, the conversion of pastoral leases for other purposes without the consent of Traditional Owners, and the granting of massive water licences with poor regulatory compliance, monitoring and enforcement. For example, see this article in The Guardian about ECNT’s work to stop the grant of a licence for 40,000 megalitres of water per year south of Tennant Creek, which will entail the destruction of groundwater dependent ecosystems, and the drawdown of the aquifer by up to 50 metres. We also know that “agribusiness” wants to find another 500 BILLION litres of water in the Daly River system alone, to irrigate crops including water. We took out a full page ad in the NT News to show that Territorians won’t allow river systems to be destroyed for any industry. 

While these are the bad news stories, at ECNT we are keen to build a positive future for the incredible place we call home.

In the year ahead, ECNT will therefore strategically focus its work on five key themes, aimed at harnessing community and government support for a better kind of future, where all living things can thrive:

  • Climate and energy futures;
  • Biodiverse futures;
  • Water futures;
  • Mining and regulatory reform; and
  • Sustainable living in the tropics.

Continue reading what we're doing within these areas on our website. 

Climate action is a conversation away 

Climate Conversations are in-home, facilitated discussions which aim to bring about effective action on climate change through the power of ordinary Australians. We need your help to launch this model in the Territory. 

From March, we will be training facilitators, who will run these transformative discussions. You don’t need any experience - just passion, commitment and drive (though it always helps to know a bit about climate change!). This is an ongoing volunteer role - we want to build a strong community/team of facilitators that together will inspire hundreds of people in the Territory to stand up on climate change.

We are also looking for generous hosts who will kick off the initial Climate Conversations by inviting their friends and family around for a meal and participating in the discussion. This is a one-off commitment, but hosting multiple Conversations for different groups of your peers will help us greatly.

Fill out this form here to express your interest, or feel free to email us if you have any questions.

Climate Justice Alliance Forum 

Co-hosted by Jesuit Social Services, NTCOSS, Unions NT, the Environment Centre NT, Arid Lands Environment Centre and Original Power, the Forum is a collaboration by organisations working for social, environmental and economic justice.

The Our Jobs, Climate and Community forum is a chance to share ideas and imagine a different future – planning how we can work together to rebuild our economy on foundations of care for people, country and climate.

The focus of the two days will be our economy. The final report of the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission TERC, released in December, put forward competing directions for the future of the Territory economy. While the report speaks to the imperative and opportunity of a decarbonised economy, the value of our natural environment, and self-determined and inclusive growth, these stand alongside deeply concerning directions for further gas development, polluting petrochemical industry and large scale agriculture that puts our precious water and ecosystems at risk.  

We are excited to welcome Dr. Amanda Cahill, CEO of The Next Economy, to facilitate the forum. Amanda has spent over two decades supporting communities across Asia, the Pacific and regional Australia to develop more resilient, just and sustainable economies. 

When: Mon 22 and Tue 23 February, 2021 (9.00am-4.00pm)
Where: CDU Waterfront Campus (Rooms 3.20/3.21), 21 Kitchener St, Darwin NT 
Registration link:
Registration fee: $90 (full) or $60 if not supported by a workplace/organisation to attend. Please contact us if cost is a barrier to your participation.
Registration essential by Wednesday 24 February to secure your place.

Get your school involved in native tree planting 

The COOLmob Cool Communities Project aims to educate Greater Darwin school students around carbon emissions and how as individuals we are able to measure our carbon footprint, or in other words the impact our daily habits and actions have on the planet. This program educated students through an in-class session and an outdoor native tree planting workshop held at the school, suited the the school's tree plans. Contact COOLmob to get your school involved. Running until end of Term 1. 

Feb Fit 2021 Beach Clean

Keep Top End Coasts Healthy, Mix 104.9 and the Darwin Game Fishing Club have joined forces to host this special event. Together we can step outside, exercise and clean our beaches - what a great way to keep our coasts and our bodies healthy! 

Local events have been designed to help the community get active during the Mix 104.9 Feb Fit 2021 challengeMix 104.9’s Feb Fit challenge has set a goal for the local community to join together to walk around the globe - 40,000 kilometres = 50 million steps! Clean up plastic pollution from our beautiful coastal backyard, while working towards reaching the $50mil goal!

Happening 9am Saturday 28 February. Meet at Darwin Trailer Boat Club. Walking and cleaning the coastal strip from Mindil Beach to East Point Reserve. Register on Facebook.

Upcoming events 

  • Plant a Tree Day - Held by Friends of East Point, Sunday 7 February, 8am - 10am, Breezeway Colivas Road. BYO hat, refreshments provided. All welcome, contact Helen for more details
  • GULP NT Nuts for Coconuts workshop - Sunday 14 February, 9.30am - 12.30pm. $20, Tickets online
  • Tropical Still Life - Drawing with Tisha Tejaya. A GULP NT & Darwin Community Arts event. Sunday 21 February, 10am - 11.30am. $15, tickets online. 
  • Climate Justice Alliance Forum. Mon 22 and Tues 23 Feb. More info on Facebook
  • Tropical Still Life - Drawing with Tisha Tejaya. A GULP NT & Darwin Community Arts event. Sunday 28 February, 10am - 11.30am.  $15, tickets online. 
  • Transitions Film Festival screening as a virtual event this year, running February 23 - March 15. Check out their website for films and tickets. 
  • Applications for the Women's Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA) 2021 leadership development program are now open. More info on the website

Closing today: Community Campaigner - NT Outback

The Territory Outback campaign is a collaborative initiative supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Environment Centre Northern Territory (ECNT) that aims to secure better outcomes for people and nature in Outback landscapes in the Northern Territory.

The Community Campaigner will be responsible for leading engagement with the community, to build public awareness and support for increased investment in conservation and land management in the Northern Territory, and for supporting engagement with key stakeholders and policy makers. Full position description and how to apply at Ethical Jobs. Applications close tonight, 5 February 2021. 

Talk to you soon, 

Shar, Kirsty, Lou & the team @ The Environment Centre NT

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