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EcoUpdate: March 2024

In this March 2024 EcoUpdate, our theme is the ‘all too often taken for granted’ humble Eucalypt – its beauty and grandeur, its uses and versatility – but sadly also its ongoing demise. It’s National Eucalypt Day on 23 March and if you’re nuts about gums, you can vote for your favourite species, learn some facts to dispel the myths, or attend an event.

From Northern NSW to the Far South Coast, our native forests continue to be logged – there appears to be no end in sight. If other States can act, so can NSW. The Bob Brown Foundation invites us all to join together and demand stronger protections for endangered species, and to call for an end to native forest logging in NSW.

We encourage you to join the ‘March in March for Native Forests‘ being held in Newcastle/Mulubinba on Sunday 24 March.

Please share this newsletter with your friends, or they can sign up to receive it directly.

Kind regards


Sister Cities to celebrate wetlands connection

The councils of Newcastle, Port Stephens and Kushiro, Japan, will this year celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Sister Wetlands Agreement.

There will be two celebratory events in Port Stephens this year starting with a schools education program in August, followed by a community program to coincide with the visit by Kushiro Mayor Hiroya Ebina for a formal re-signing of the agreement.

If you’d like more information or would like to volunteer.

Read more

Environmental Advisory Group – March Update

A key function of the EAG is as a conduit between Port Stephens Council and the community for the exchange of ideas in the environmental space. Sue Olsson, EcoNetwork’s representative, reports on the November 2023 and February 2024 meetings. 

Council shared their progress on various environmental issues through powerpoint presentations and direct discussions, with plenty of opportunities for questions. We also undertook some action planning for the coming year.

Find out more

TRRA – March Update

The Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association represents the community on a range of issues that affect the Tomaree Peninsula including planning and development, cultural resources, the built and natural environment, tourism and other grass roots issues.

In this update, we include the draft Shoal Bay Place Plan, future housing issues and a jet ski proposition.

We are very fortunate to have a community watchdog like TRRA looking after the interests of the locals and our valued environment.

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A smorgasbord of sustainability events!

Join EcoNetwork and Renew Hunter Branch at our Community Forum on Sunday 7 April at 2pm, Tomaree Community Centre. Special guest Dr Mark Diesendorf, renewable energy and climate policy researcher at UNSW, will discuss the climate crisis and the powerful forces that threaten to undermine urgent action. RSVP here.

Sustainable House Day, 21 April – 23 May. Following a day of open-home tours on 21 April, a month of online Extension Sessions offer a deep dive into a range of sustainability topics. Australia’s best home designers, tradespeople and experts will offer guidance, and homeowners will offer first hand experience. Find out where your nearest open home is, or sign up for an expert session online. More info here.

Sustainable Living Festival 18 May, Medowie Community Centre. A fun day full of workshops, activities, live entertainment, local community groups, speakers, a huge market, street food, live tunes, kids zone, preloved stalls, gourmet produce & more, featuring a host of sustainable initiatives! Curated by EcoNetwork and Homegrown Markets.

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National Eucalypt Day 23 March

Eucalypts give character to our neighbourhoods, provide food and shelter for native wildlife and help keep our homes, streets and parklands cool. Let’s understand the value of these plants in our environments, especially as the climate changes.

Starting in February each year, Eucalypt Australia starts a conversation about Australia’s treasured eucalypts.  Gardens, museums, friends groups, councils and businesses across the country hold events to celebrate their local eucalypts.

National Eucalypt Day on 23 March has become more of a Festival. You can vote for your favourite species, share your special gum tree moment or attend an event.

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To keep trees standing, we need to stand up for them

As National Eucalypt Day approaches, we celebrate all things gum tree! Here are some interesting facts from Carmel Northwood, important advice from Nigel Waters and an exciting way you can join with others to show your concern for continued logging in NSW state forests.

The ancient connection between Eucalypts and Koalas – Carmel explains

Koala Trees in Port Stephens – download your list here

Maintaining Tree Cover in Port Stephens – why is it important?

Protecting Forests = Climate Action. March in March for Native Forests – Newcastle Civic Park 10am 24 March. More info.

Cultural burning better for Australian soils than prescribed burning, or no burning at all

Imagine a landscape shaped by fire, not as a destructive force but as a life-giving tool. That’s the reality in Australia, where Indigenous communities have long understood the intricate relationship between fire, soil and life.

In new research by the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Land Council in collaboration with the University of Wollongong, cultural burning was compared to agency-led prescribed burning or no burning. They studied the effects on soil properties such as moisture content, density and nutrient levels. Both fire treatments resulted in a decrease in soil bulk density and an increase in organic matter content, with the greater effect seen for soils affected by the Indigenous-led burn.

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Some cautiously good news on emissions

Taking nothing away from the dire circumstances in which we find ourselves, it may comfort some EcoNetwork members and concerned citizens who are feeling nihilistic about the future, especially our emissions trajectory, that there is a little good news out there.

The issue of global emissions is all very hard to untangle, so here we have sustainability specialist Rob McCann to give us a bit of a snapshot of what’s happening emissions-wise.

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At Box and Wreck Beaches we hauled a truckload, at Fishermans Beach a truckload of people helped!

Our wonderful beaches, dunes and diverse coastal landscape are fantastic features in Tomaree National Park. Over the Clean Up Australia weekend, 2 & 3 March 2024, community and Friends of Tomaree NP came together to ensure several beaches were spic and span.  

Thank you to everyone who helped make Tomaree a better place, and take part in the first of many activities celebrating 40 Years of Tomaree National Park.

Read more

Good for the Hood back in Port Stephens!

Last year, EcoNetwork brought you the news about Council’s collaboration with Good for the Hood launching the Port Stephens Residents@HOME online portal. This community tool gives you access to video workshops, interactive events and helpful tips from experts on living sustainably.

New Good For The Hood workshops start this week and are run online, so you can join in from the comfort of home. Switching to induction cooking 13 March, Crafting an egg-cellent Easter 18 March, Becoming a community recycling hub 28 March.

Or you can come into Raymond Terrace Library for the Food Waste Workshop on 23 March.

Read more

Book reviews

Love a book or magazine you’ve read? New or old – doesn’t matter! I’d love to hear from you – contact the EcoUpdate Editor if you’d like to submit a 300 word review.

This month, Alison Rogers shares her thoughts on ‘Together we can – Everyday Australian doing amazing things to give our planet a future by Claire O’Rourke.

Read the Review


  • The draft Port Stephens Coastal Management Program (CMP) has been released for public comment until 5pm Thursday 28 March. It outlines 60 management actions to mitigate the impacts of coastal and tidal inundation, coastal erosion and dune transgression over the next 10 years. Information sessions, via zoom or drop in on Wed 13 March in Birubi and Thurs 14 March in Anna Bay. This is the final opportunity for community to provide feedback and input to the document. Go to the CMP page & Have Your Say.
  • Recent research suggests a growing gender gap in political leanings around the world. In Gen Z, the youngest voting generation, young women are becoming more progressive than men. – The Conversation 5 February 2024
  • ‘Our urban forests are under threat. It’s time to take stronger action against those who harm our environment. Current fines for tree vandalism in NSW are $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for companies, compared with recent reforms in the ACT imposing fines up to $80,000. We ask the Legislative Assembly to call on the Government to significantly increase penalties for urban forest tree vandalism. If you live in NSW, please sign here
  • Landmark UN report: The world’s migratory species of animals are in decline, and the global extinction risk is increasing – UN Environment Program February 2024
  • Fished for their meat and liver oil, many remarkable deep-water sharks and rays now face extinction – The Conversation 8 March 2024
  • Fact-bombing by experts doesn’t change hearts and minds. But good science communication can – The Conversation 6 December 2023

What’s On

For these and lots more exciting events, please see our community calendar. You can also upload your events there. (t&c apply).

  • Friends of Tomaree NP manage regular coast and bushcare activities at 3 regular locations and special activities at others. You are very welcome to join us – next week we’re at Fisherman’s Bay on Tuesday 19th and Zenith Beach Thursday 21st. See our calendar for more details and many more locations and dates.
  • Walk with National Parks Association ~ Port Stephens Group. 17 March, Tomaree forest trails inland Fingal-Shoal Bay. For this and other walks, see our calendar for more details.
  • Food Waste workshop facilitated by Port Stephens local Jacqui Purcell from In Our Hands Family Farm. Covers everything from ‘Learning to cook from scratch’ to ‘creative uses for food’. Raymond Terrace Library – Saturday 23 March, 10am Bookings are essential – call Raymond Terrace Library 4988 0111.
  • Sunday 7 April 2pm- 4pm, Tomaree Community Centre Salamander Bay. EcoNetwork and Renew Hunter Branch are pleased to welcome as our special guest presenter, Dr Mark Diesendorf, renewable energy and climate policy researcher at UNSW who will be presenting ‘Powerful forces threaten to undermine urgent action on the climate crisis. Can they be defeated?’ Four local affiliated groups will tell us about their work – Voice of Wallalong & Woodville, Salamander Bay Recycling Centre, Australian Marine Conservation Society, and Renew Hunter Region Branch. Please RSVP here.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens

Our Vision: Ecologically sustainable communities existing in harmony with the natural environment.

Our Purpose: To support our members and to educate and advocate on environmental issues that impact Port Stephens communities. : : facebook