Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Trellises protecting tropical fruit from cyclones

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on January 9th, 2013

Source: ABC Rural

tropical fruit tree trellise
Photo by Marty McCarthy

From “Cyclone-proofing Queensland orchards” by Marty McCarthy

Tropical fruit growers near Tully in north Queensland were dealt a hard blow when Cyclone Yasi ripped apart orchards in the area in February 2011. Many farmers not only lost their fruit for the season, but also the trees on which they grow. But two years on from Yasi locals are now using trellises to make sure their trees stay in the ground next time a cyclone hits.

Peter Salleras owns a plantation in the rainforest north of Tully at Feluga, where he grows an array of tropical fruits using trellises. “It’s an insurance policy we have that we can plant a tree and be pretty confident even if a category five hits we’ll still have our trees there,” he said. “With some species we didn’t lose a single tree whereas in [Cyclone] Larry we lost about 80 to 90 per cent. Supporting the trees in a big wind is a bonus for us but it’s not just about cyclone insurance – it’s the ease of harvest, ease of netting, ease of pruning and ability to control pests better.”

Ten minutes up the road from Peter’s farm is Feluga State School, where students are now using trellises to grow tropical fruits as part of an outdoor classroom. Trina McKiernan works with the students in caring for the trees. “Each family here has their own tree that they’ve adopted,’ she said. “A lot of these kids don’t get the interaction with food… it’s really important [for them] to know that things don’t just come out of a box.” And this understanding is already starting to show in the attitudes of students like school captain Madison Styve, who’s using the trellis to grow a rollinia tree. “I still have quite a lot to do with it,” she said. “I still have to do some trimming and hopefully it will get some fruit on it. It’s not just about putting it in the ground and waiting for it to grow by itself. You’ve got to water it you’ve got to feed it with fertiliser and you’ve got to make sure the conditions are right,”

The work students like Madison are doing with trellises is critical to the region because although trellising is common practice in Australia’s southern states, the structures are rarely used to help grow tropical fruits. Kath Gregory is a local lettuce grower and volunteers at the Feluga State School helping the children care for their trees. “It [trellising] has been tried in southern climates, but not for growing tropical trees,” she said. “I think the most important thing [about trellising] is you can grow a huge amount of stuff in a very small place and the fruit trees are all going to survive a cyclone. In the previous two cyclones a lot of us lost most of our fruit trees with not a lot remaining. But with this system the trees remain alive and you can still pick the fruit. It’s just magic.”

>>> You can find the original article on ABC Rural.


Seasonal Calendars: learning from Indigenous ecological knowledge

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on November 14th, 2012


Seasonal calendar from the Ngan’gi language group in the Northern Territory (TRaCK)

From the SBS Podcast Indigenous weather knowledge bridges gap by Naomi Selvaratnam

Indigenous communities across northern Australia have helped to develop seasonal calendars using their environmental knowledge. The calendars detail the changes in plant and animal life across the year, and can include as many as 13 seasons.

Darwin-based CSIRO researcher, Emma Woodward says the project highlights the importance of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into scientific research projects. She told Naomi Selvaratnam the value of indigenous knowledge is frequently underestimated by scientists.

The following comes from the CSIRO about the most recently released seasons calendar from the Gooniyandi language group in the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberly.

The Mingayooroo – Manyi Waranggiri Yarrangi, Gooniyandi Seasons calendar was developed by key knowledge-holders of the Gooniyandi language group from the Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley and CSIRO, as part of a Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge project on Indigenous socio-economic values and rivers flows in northern Australia.

The seasonal cycle recorded on the calendar follows 4 main seasons: Barranga (‘very hot weather time’); Yidirla (‘wet season time when the river runs’); Ngamari (‘female cold weather time’) and Girlinggoowa (‘male cold weather time’). Gooniyandi people closely follow meteorological events, including wind speed and direction, clouds and rain types, as each event is linked to different behaviours of animals. Gooniyandi people can therefore look to the weather to tell them when it is the best time for hunting and collecting different plants and animals.

The Gooniyandi Seasons calendar represents a wealth of Indigenous ecological knowledge. The development of the calendar was driven by a community desire to document seasonal-specific knowledge of the Margaret and Fitzroy Rivers in the Kimberley, including the environmental indicators that act as cues for bush tucker collection. The calendar also addresses community concern about the loss of traditional knowledge, as older people from the language group pass away and younger people are not being exposed to Indigenous ecological knowledge.

>>> You can listen to the podcast on SBS World News Radio and download the Gooniyandi seasons calendar from CSIRO.
>>> You can also access seasonal calendars for other Indigenous groups from TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Coast Knowledge) research hub.


Tidal Energy for Darwin: pilot plant and research centre

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on September 26th, 2012

Source: RenewEconomy


Photo by Oceanflow Energy via flickr CC

From “Plan to power Darwin with tidal energy gains momentum” by Sophie Vorrath

A plan to power Darwin with tidal energy – and to turn the Northern Territory into a tropical tidal energy hub – has come one step closer to being realised this week, after the signing of an MoU to build a 2MW pilot plant and research centre in Clarence Strait, off the Territory’s coast. Australian tidal energy company Tenax Energy said on Tuesday it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NT’s Power and Water Corporation to develop a 2MW Pilot Plant and Research and Tropical Tidal Testing Centre, the first steps on the path to a utility-scale generation facility that would deliver renewable power to Darwin.

Tenax says the project – to be located between Darwin and Melville Island – will be generating electricity by 2015, and could reach commercial scale before the end of the decade. The 2MW project will be followed by a 10MW pilot array test.  The Darwin-based company was first given a provisional licence to occupy 16.8sqkm in the Clarence Strait in 2010, having identified the area as one of three locations around Australia ideally suited to tidal energy; with high tidal velocity movement, sufficient water depth, and proximity to existing power grid infrastructure. (The other two locations are Banks Strait, Tasmania, and Port Phillip Heads, Victoria.) Tenax says power from the Clarence Strait has the potential to provide a “significant percentage” of Darwin’s electricity supply, and would go a long way to helping the Territory achieve a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

The project’s staged development process is designed to allow the establishment of appropriate environmental and performance standards for tidal energy technologies in tropical waters, while also showing the Darwin community that tidal energy is a safe, convenient and reliable energy source.  “The idea with the testing station is to test out a number of different turbines and technologies in the Clarence Strait,” said Power and Water’s manager for sustainable energy, Trevor Horman, on ABC radio on Monday. “(The project) is reasonably close to an existing power line, so we’ll give it a trial over a couple of years and see how the technologies work out there… but we do hope this will prove a safe, reliable and inexhaustible energy source.” According to Tenax’s managing director, Alan Major, reliability is one of tidal energy’s strong points. ”The generating capability of tidal generators is predictable, with exceptional accuracy many years in advance,” he said back in 2010. “Twice a day, every day, the sea rises and falls … creating powerful and reliable water currents.” Major also says that one of the company’s main goals is to to position Darwin as the global centre of excellence in tropical tidal energy, “before the opportunity is captured by others.” “Tidal energy generation in tropical waters will demand new technical solutions that will be developed first in Darwin,” he said in the company’s statement on Monday. “This project is going to place Darwin at the forefront of a global industry, providing local employment and skills development and opening major export opportunities to Asia.”

Read the original article by Sophie Vorrath.


Australia’s transition to a post carbon future: Post Carbon Pathways report

Posted in Movements, Research by Jessica Bird on April 11th, 2012


Image source: AAP 

From What Australia can learn from the world’s best de-carbonisation policies by John Wiseman and Taegen Edwards

Around the world an increasing number of detailed policy road maps are demonstrating the possibility, necessity and urgency of a rapid transition to a just and sustainable post carbon future. The key barriers to this transition are social and political, not technological and financial.

The Post Carbon Pathways report, published by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne and the Centre for Policy Development has reviewed 18 of the most comprehensive and rigorous post carbon economy transition strategies. As Australia enters the next phase of the climate change policy debate, this report will provide vital information on how other jurisdictions are designing and implementing large-scale plans to remove carbon from their economies. The review focuses on transition road maps produced by governments with the strongest emissions reduction targets, such as Germany, Denmark and the UK. It also looks at the most comprehensive and influential non-government authored strategies such as Zero Carbon Britain, Zero Carbon Australia and World in Transition (German Advisory Council on Global Change). Our analysis of these diverse ways of reaching a post-carbon future highlights several key lessons.

The window is closing fast
A wide range of detailed national and global level strategies demonstrate the technological and economic feasibility of rapidly moving to a post carbon economy. This goal can still be achieved at the scale and speed required to significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate change. But the gateway for effective action is rapidly closing. Decisive action in the next five to ten years will be critical. There is a crucial difference between transition strategies that advocate a pragmatic and evolutionary approach and those that advocate more rapid and transformational change. […]

Technology is not the most significant barrier
Analysis of these strategies shows that technological barriers are not the most significant obstacles to a fair and swift transition to a post carbon economy. The integrated suite of technological and systemic changes needed to reach a just and sustainable post carbon future will clearly need to include:

  • rapid reductions in energy consumption and improvements in energy efficiency
  • rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy
  • significant investment in forests and sustainable agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon into sustainable carbon sinks.

We already have the technologies to achieve emission reductions at the required speed and scale. Soaring investment in technological innovation, particularly in the United States, China and Germany, is driving down the price of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at a remarkable speed.

Financial and economic barriers: significant but not insurmountable
The economic and social costs of failing to take action to reduce emissions are becoming increasingly clear – as are the multiple employment, health and environmental co-benefits of a swift transition to a post carbon economy. Most strategies advocate a mix of market based and regulatory mechanisms, underpinned by clear long-term emissions reduction targets. Some authors however remain cautious of relying too much on carbon pricing. They recommend additional, more direct interventions such as:

  • binding renewable energy targets
  • feed-in tariffs
  • eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
  • allocating the funds to close fossil fuel power stations.

Strategies with emissions reduction targets that are more strongly informed by climate science also commonly advocate a significant shift towards economic priorities which focus on improving social and ecological wellbeing rather than unconstrained growth in material consumption.  […]

There is no solution to climate change without climate justice
Intergenerational justice – the need to respect and protect the livelihoods and opportunities of future generations – remains the most powerful ethical justification for taking prudent and decisive climate change action now. There is also widespread recognition that political support for a rapid transition to a post carbon economy depends on implementing policies to overcome key social equity challenges – within and beyond national borders.

The key barriers are social and political
The biggest barriers preventing a rapid transition to a post carbon future are social and political – not technological and financial. The difficulty of securing and sustaining broad social and political support is widely recognised as the greatest barrier to a swift transition to a post carbon economy. The most significant gap in post carbon economy transition strategies is a lack of detailed game plans for mobilising political leadership and public support. Worryingly, even the most optimistic of the social change theories underpinning these strategies, tend to rely on a variety of ‘Pearl Harbor’ scenarios in which one or more catastrophic ecological events would provide the necessary wake up call. […] The development and communication of inspiring stories and compelling images of a just and sustainable post carbon future will be particularly crucial.

Australia’s post carbon pathway leadership challenge
The Australian Government’s 2020 emissions reduction target (a 5% decrease on 2000 levels) is clearly still far from the level required for Australia to make a responsible and fair contribution to global emissions reductions. Australia’s 2050 target (an 80% decrease on 2000 levels) is more robust. But there is no detail as yet as to how this target will be achieved. Evidence from the most promising transition strategies elsewhere suggests we need a more informed and thoughtful debate about the kind of economic growth and industry mix that Australia should aim for. We need to talk about the fairest approaches to mobilising the required levels of financial, human and social capital. Most importantly, a far more visionary level of political leadership will be required in order to drive an Australian climate change debate informed primarily by climate science rather than short-term calculations of political and economic feasibility. […]

Read the article in full on The Conversation.
Read the Post Carbon Pathways briefing paper, summary report or full report.


Jayride: Ridesharing to save money, reduce emissions, and meet people.

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on February 28th, 2012


Photo: Mosman Council

Carpooling and ridesharing are about sharing your travel. By filling spare seats in your car you can save money, reduce your carbon emissions, meet people and have fun. There are plenty of reasons to carpool. Australian based start-up Jayride helps you get from A to B, suggest carpooling and ridesharing opportunities, as well as buses, shuttles, and other options if there are no carpools operating where you need.

From “Meet Jayride, Anthill 2011 Cool Company Award Winner [Social Capitalist Category]” by Anthill Magazine:

Looking for a lift from here to there? Jayride wants to be your thumb.

Since 2008, the business founded by businessman/ride-sharing advocate Rod Bishop and web developer Ross Lin has been one of Australia’s leading sources of carpooling… wait for it… evangelism.

Jayride, one of the Anthill’s Smart 100 earlier [last year], uses a slick website structure to link auto drivers and riders. But if the business’ service stopped there, it would be nifty and little more. What makes Jayride cool is how it pushes its brand and how it has plugged in a revenue model designed to keep the company motoring along and driving toward its ambitious goal of extending beyond Australia.   As Bishop puts it: “Traditional carpool marketing sucks. A traditional slogan such as ‘it’s cool to pool’ means nothing, and it’s certainly not cool.  “By contrast, Jayride teams up with music festivals, solving transport problems and piggybacking Jayride onto the festival’s branding. Jayride touts itself as the ‘ultimate warm-up act,’ letting guests ‘meet fun randoms’ and ‘have great roadtrips with likeminded music lovers.’”

3,000 cars carpooled to Splendour In the Grass festival, with 500 people using Jayride. Jayride targets students, and helps tourists see sights in ways that are greener and more fun.  Jayride, which to date has about 7,000 members who have shared 80,000 rides.

[…]

Jayride notes that consistent carpoolers save 1.38 tonnes of carbon emissions a year — a save about $2,400 over the same period. By helping Australians fill empty seats in cars, buses, trains and ferries, Jayride takes a bite out of gridlock and the nation’s fuel dependency.  Jayride’s founders actually didn’t devote themselves full-time to the business until the middle of this year, when they put the revenue model in place. Now they’re ready for the long haul.  “The coolest thing about Jayride,” says Bishop, “is that it has found its niche problem and designed a niche solution that has the ability to deliver real, effective change in people’s lives.”

Jayride recently received $400,000 in seed funding to continue expanding their service and coverage.

Check out jayride.com for more details.

 


Thriving Neighbourhoods 2012: Call for papers

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on January 26th, 2012

Thriving Neighbourhoods is a conference on emerging approaches to the planning, design and management of local neighbourhoods that are set to radically improve health, social engagement, environmental quality and productivity in communities. Thriving communities have the resilience needed to adapt creatively to unexpected challenges such as climate change, population change, rapid technological change, social upheaval and economic crises.

The complexity of the systems involved in creating thriving communities poses difficult and challenging issues for planners, developers, managers and researchers. But the potential returns on the invested effort and resources are massive. Capturing these returns requires professional collaboration across policy sectors including health, planning, design, infrastructure, IT and the built and natural environments. Communities must also be engaged from the outset, recognising diverse cultural and individual needs.

We invite papers and presentations on research and practice related to the challenge of creating and supporting thriving neighbourhoods and communities. Work to be presented may be related to the areas represented in the diagram below, on: the challenges; the processes of change and development; the specifics of place; the measurement of outcomes.

2 April 2012: Deadline for Abstracts (400 words)

28 May 2012: Abstracts acceptance notice

Find out more about submitting a paper.


Making Toys From Waste: Small interventions

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 21st, 2011

Makedo:

Wouldn’t you love to make play objects, kid’s costumes, furniture, decorations for the home and well, just about anything you can think of from the materials around you? makedo makes it possible and impossibly fun. makedo is a connector system that enables materials including cardboard, plastic and fabric to easily join together to form new objects or structures. When you’re done playing, simply pull it apart to reuse over and over again.

http://mymakedo.com/

Box Play for Kids:

We make eco-friendly, 100% recycled, custom-designed stickers* that (combined with a little imagination) turn any old box into a wonderland of possibilities. Good for the imagination. Good for the earth. Good for the pocketbook.

http://www.boxplayforkids.com/


Diverting waste to make durable products: Replas on Kangaroo Island

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 19th, 2011

From the Re-Plas blog:

Not only was Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, one of the first locations in Australia to ban the use of plastic bags, but now the KI Council has gone a step further in helping the planet by installing 27 outdoor settings, 900 bollards and a staircase, all made from recycled plastic.

Ian Woolard, Co-ordinator Civil Works, Kangaroo Island Council, said, ‘We were looking for a product that would stand up the elements experienced on the South coast of Kangaroo Island and one that would incur the minimum ongoing maintenance cost to Council’.   As a result of choosing to use recycled plastic KI council has diverted approx. 22,000 kg of plastic waste from landfill in 2010-11 alone.

Six years ago Kangaroo Island started the trend by purchasing recycled plastic seats for their school. More recently the local Landcare Group built a staircase out of garden panels and the Kingscote Jetty was also refurbished with Enduroplank™ decking as part of a trail by the South Australian government to see if recycled plastic proves more durable and cost effective than timber.  All of this adds up to an estimated 35 000 kg of plastic waste which has been diverted from landfill and made into Replas recycled-plastic products for use throughout Kangaroo Island. Not bad for an island with a population of 4500!


Australia Electric Vehicle Conference

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on October 11th, 2011

Source: Alternative Technology Association(ATA)

The Australia Electric Vehicle Conference provides a unique opportunity to listen to renowned professionals and network across this fast growing industry. The program will focus on electric vehicles and their introduction on the Australian market, as well as a range of issues alongside their emergence.

Topics include the potential impact of EVs on the electricity grid, the provision of charging infrastructure, the development of appropriate policies, the economics of EVs and the role EVs will play in making a transition to cleaner and greener transport.  CEOs such as Energex’s Terry Effeney and Chargepoint’s James Brown will be presenting alongside senior representatives of state government EV programs from WA, VIC and QLD. And in its world-first appearance, a full electric super-car based on Australian technology will be released and displayed.

When: 26th October

Time: 8.30am to 5.30pm

Where: Sebel & Citigate Hotel, Brisbane

For more information or bookings go to www.evconference.com.au.

Early bird registration until Oct 19!

Health & Housing Flexibility: Prefabricated ‘wet rooms’

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on October 6th, 2011

Source: Australian Design Review


Photo: Healthabitat

From Maitiú Ward’s “Interview: Healthabitat’s Paul Pholeros“:

Since 1999, Healthabitat has completed 184 projects in remote and impoverished communities, improving the condition of 7308 houses for over 42,000 people. Formally established in 1994, the organisation has a history that stretches back to 1985, when its three directors Dr Paul Torzillo, Stephan Rainow and Paul Pholeros first met in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, north-west South Australia, where they had been thrown together to work with a team of local Aboriginal people to help improve local health and housing conditions. Since that first meeting, the trio has gone on to orchestrate a slew of research programs, lauded not only for the wealth of hard data they have produced, but also for genuinely improving conditions.

[…]

For a number of years, Adrian Welke of Troppo Architects has been working with Healthabitat in the design and construction of health buildings in remote areas. It was with Welke that Healthabitat first starting exploring the potential of prefabrication as a means of delivering high quality buildings, efficiently.

Welke’s most recent project with Healthabitat is a prefabricated wet room unit, designed to be ‘clipped on’ to the back of existing residential buildings. Containing shower, laundry and toilet, the unit addresses the top three of the nine healthy living practices – ‘washing people’, ‘washing clothes’ and ‘waste removal’. As a prefabricated unit it is also a very efficient means of delivering what are traditionally the most expensive components of a residence (the laundry, toilet and bathing areas). In keeping with Healthabitat’s modus operandi, then, the project focuses resources in areas where they are likely to have the most impact, and after a successful prototyping stage, units are now rapidly being deployed to indigenous communities across Australia.

[…]

Read the full interview by Maitiú Ward.

Healthabitat’s Housing for Health program recently won the 2011 World Habitat Awards.  Read more here.