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Displaying items by tag: Powerful Owl

The Powerful Owl is a keystone species of bushland in eastern Australia. The survival of the current population of this top predator is a key factor supporting the maintenance of a balance of fauna species and is an indicator of health in our ecosystems.

The Powerful Owl Project commenced in 2011 and is co-managed by BirdLife Australia’s Birds in Backyards program and the Threatened Bird Network. We reported on the activities of the Project in STEP Matters 169. Sadly, however, unless a new source of funds can be found the funding for this Project will run out on 30 June.

The Project has generated a lot of awareness of the existence of these iconic birds in Sydney’s bushland. One owl even has a Facebook page, Mikey the Owlet who lives in Byles Creek Valley Beecroft.

The objectives of the Project are:

  • to engage the community to collect data to inform the conservation status of Powerful Owls in the Sydney Basin
  • to identify site-specific management recommendations for all stakeholders and land managers with breeding pairs of Powerful Owls
  • to inform, coordinate and support management amongst stakeholders and between land managers for conservation of Powerful Owls and other species

A major report was published in December 2014 but research has continued until now.

A conference was held on 8 June to provide a wrap up of the current data about urban Powerful Owls in the Greater Sydney Basin.

pocPowerful Owl Coalition

We all want to continue to give Powerful Owls a high profile. STEP and four other conservation groups from northern Sydney have got together to form a coalition with the following aims:

  • to be proactive, not reactive, about their protection
  • to educate and inform residents and organisations about their ecological importance
  • to provide advice about habitat provision and maintenance

We have produced an information flier that will be distributed throughout local communities.

A detailed paper is being written to provide the latest understanding of the habitat conditions needed for the Powerful Owl’s survival, for breeding and foraging. Information will be tailored for all groups whose activities impact of Powerful Owls such as arborists and planners.

All groups concerned with bushland conservation are invited to join the Powerful Owl Coalition to help spread the word.

Published in STEP Matters 196
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 18:59

More information

More information

Birdlife Australia's Powerful Owl Project

Download a flier and give it to your friends and neighbours to read

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 18:25

Why Powerful Owls Need our Help

Protecting Powerful Owls in Sydney

POC2

Why Powerful Owls need our help

Human actions are causing a decline in numbers through development on bushland fringes, removal of trees and vegetation and road deaths

They are a threatened species — there may be as few as 5000 in the world

Their habitat supports amazing wildlife, enriches our lives and connects us with nature

Future generations deserve to see these birds in the wild

How you can help

Download a flier and give it to your friends and neighbours to read

Make your garden Powerful Owl friendly

Submit sightings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (give the time, date, place, any interesting details and, if possible, attach a photo or recording)

Contact your local council and politicians if you become aware of inappropriate development or clearing

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns

owl5

How to make your garden Powerful Owl friendly

Maintain and protect your old trees and value your trees hollows  — they’re homes for frogs, possums, sugar gliders and birds

Install a nest box

Plant native trees and shrubs

Plant understorey trees and shrubs to support prey species

Plant shrubs in dense, continuous groupings for birds

Don’t plant climbers and plants close to trees as they can damage the bark

Keep thick mulch away from with tree trunks

Avoid changing soil levels under tree canopies to maintain healthy tree roots

Employ reputable arborists to prune trees (you may need council permission)

Plant a gum tree, but not too close to your house, for future generations of Powerful Owls – you will also enjoy its beauty, wildlife and shade

owl3

Protect Ringtail Possum dreys (they look like footballs made of twigs)

Reduce hard surfaces such as paving

Let’s enhance our lives too

Residential areas with mature trees and canopies are more desirable and therefore valuable, than those without

By planting and caring for your trees and shrubs you will:

  • reduce the temperature of your home thus saving money on cooling
  • beautify your home
  • improve your streetscape
  • increase the amenity of your local area

and all the while you will be protecting Powerful Owls! What’s not to like?

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 09:12

What do Powerful Owls need to survive?

owl2

What do Powerful Owls need to survive?

Huge old growth trees more than 80 cm in diameter, with hollow entrances of 40 cm or more

Roosting trees with dense canopies, particularly near rivers, creeks and gullies

Foraging areas of complex vegetation large enough to support abundant prey species such as possums and birds

Urban green spaces, bushland and leafy gardens

Safe flight paths through bushland and urban areas

Humans to help them survive and thrive

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns
Wednesday, 23 May 2018 08:44

Do you know that Powerful Owls

owl1

Do you know that Powerful Owls ...

Are Australia’s largest owl

Are an icon of the Australian night

Are charismatic, impressive birds

Top predators which help to keep our ecosystems in balance, e.g. by controlling possum populations

Are only found along Australia’s east coast

Live for up to 25 years in the wild

Have long and strong partner bonds

Grow up to 60 cm in height

Have a wingspan of up to 140 cm

Have striking yellow eyes

chicksHave large orange feet with strong, sharp talons

Are brown and white with brown chevrons on a white chest

Chicks have downy white chests and grey masks

Nest in large hollows of trees over 150 years old

Have a delightful low ‘hoot hoot’

Need to eat approximately one possum (or flying fox) per night

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 22:32

Powerful Owl Coalition

Protecting Powerful Owls in Sydney

POC2

Why Powerful Owls need our help

Human actions are causing a decline in numbers through development on bushland fringes, removal of trees and vegetation and road deaths

They are a threatened species — there may be as few as 5000 in the world

Their habitat supports amazing wildlife, enriches our lives and connects us with nature

Future generations deserve to see these birds in the wild

How you can help

Download a flier and give it to your friends and neighbours to read

Make your garden Powerful Owl friendly

Submit sightings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (give the time, date, place, any interesting details and, if possible, attach a photo or recording)

Contact your local council and politicians if you become aware of inappropriate development or clearing

POC

This page is hosted by STEP on behalf of the Powerful Owl Coalition

Published in Campaigns
Monday, 12 February 2018 02:35

Update on Hills Council Plans for IBM Site

STEP Matters issue 193 provided detail on the application by Mirvac to build 600 apartments in the former IBM business site next to Cumberland State Forest. In addition to the IBM site Mirvac owns a large land area that currently contains high quality bushland.

Hills Shire Council applied to the Department of Planning for a Gateway Determination to allow rezoning of the bushland part of the 28 ha site for R4, high density. The department issued the Gateway Determination on 31 October telling the council to do more homework and amend the zoning plan to provide protection of the high value vegetation.

Lo and behold, Hills Council then wrote a letter to the department on 12 December 2017 requesting an amendment to the Gateway Determination to permit zoning of the high quality bushland as E3, Environmental Management. This would allow the area to be subdivided into 2 ha lots with the associated need to bushfire protection zones, roads, water supply, etc all leading to the destruction of endangered ecological community and threatened species habitat.

Mirvac has advised in writing that they want the area zoned as E2, Environment Conservation, and they are not seeking to impose the cost of this protection on the council. So all the community groups opposed to the development are at a loss to understand why council applied for E3.

Council has also applied for special conditions in the DCP for just this site that are different from the rest of the Hills Council LEP. It also requests the removal of the 2.5 ha recreation zone, saying it could create public open space. Why not commit to providing open space that will be essential for the new residents?

They have requested approval for site specific provisions which would enable a single developer, Mirvac, to build a completely ‘new type of housing’ which has been built nowhere else in the Hills Shire, on 86 m2 blocks, in a zoning which provides for 700 m2 lots.

We await the next decision by the department. Go to www.forestindanger.org.au for the latest news and how to make a submission to council or the Department of Planning.

Published in STEP Matters 194

The Plan of Management of the Canoon Netball Complex was amended in 2015. It involved improvements to landscaping and changing the location of some courts and car parks. A consultative committee comprising representatives from the local community, netball players and council officers was to review the operation of the complex and in particular consider the recommendation that lighting be installed to be operated on Thursday and/or Friday evenings between 5 and 7.30 pm for some matches during the winter netball season. The aim was to reduce the problems on Saturdays of traffic movements.

The contentious plan for lighting had not been progressed until in November 2017 Ku-ring-gai Council passed a motion that recommended a change to the Plan of Management so that lighting would be operated on four nights per week on nine courts from 4.30 to 8 pm.

The closing date for submissions was 1 February. Click here for STEP's submission.

Environmental Impact

STEP opposes the plan for any lighting on the grounds of environmental impact. Basically the night lighting does not conform to the objective of the Plan of Management:

… to minimise the impact of Canoon Road Recreation Area upon the adjoining bushland and the Lane Cove River catchment.

The complex is located on a high ridge so that the lighting will spill over the surrounding bushland and Lane Cove River conservation areas. No details are available of the specifications for the lights but they will need to be high and strong to be fit for purpose.

The bushland area is habitat for several threatened species, many of which are nocturnal such as the Powerful Owl. The minimum requirements for large forest owls are that lighting should be directed away from, and not interfere with, nest and breeding roost trees. Diurnal animals may extend their activity well beyond normal sunset but nocturnal animals may be particularly affected due to their eyesight, actual and feared predation, and reduced breeding success.

Traffic Impact

Apart from the environmental issues there are other reasons to oppose the plan. No comprehensive traffic study has been completed that considers the additional traffic that would impinge on the Kissing Point Road/ Comenarra intersection during the busy evening period.

We question whether netball players will want to battle with evening traffic to get to and from Canoon Road. Traffic along the Pacific Highway near Turramurra crawls every afternoon. Surely players and their parents would prefer training to be near where they live. Also it has not been proven that the removal of one age group from the Saturday matches will make a significant difference to Saturday congestion.

Netball is different from other sports in that the playing area is smaller so that there are many more players using a sporting area compared with sports like soccer or baseball. The changeover time between matches involves double the number of car movements. The submission from the Kissing Point Progress Association points out that night matches could generate about 500 car movements per hour to peak hour traffic.

Better Solutions?

Council needs to find a broader solution to the provision of netball facilities. Participation will only increase as our population grows. The concentration of the sport in the narrow isolated location is not satisfactory for such a popular sport. It is not fair to the players and their parents. An effort should be made to find alternative sites for matches and training throughout Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby.

The original plan for the North Turramurra Recreation Area included four lit netball courts but for some unknown reason this has not been implemented. There are plans to upgrade other park areas. The NSW government has plans to upgrade facilities at some schools that could include lighting of courts. Some possible sites could even be accessible by public transport! In theory there are buses that go near the Canoon Road complex but they get stuck in traffic!

Published in STEP Matters 194

IBMpathBack in the 1980s IBM built an office complex at 55 Coonara Road, West Pennant Hills. The building design won several architecture awards. The office environment is idyllic. The buildings are surrounded by an extensive tree canopy including Blue Gum High Forest that is now 25 to 30 years old. IBM worked with the National Trust to establish a bush regeneration plan and 40,000 native plants were planted.

IBM sold the land to property developer Mirvac in August 2010. The buildings were renovated in 2011 and IBM is still a tenant but Mirvac has set out to develop the site to take advantage of the site’s location near the Cherrybrook Metro development precinct.

The total site covers about 28 hectares. It is next to Cumberland State Forest. The IBM buildings are on the northern western part of the site. The southern part contains bushland that is at least 70 years old, some having not ever been cleared but may have been logged in the early days as happened in most of Sydney’s original forests. A large part of this area contains critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest or endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest. The forest is Powerful Owl habitat plus there is known habitat for the threatened Dural land snail and two vulnerable microbat species. There hasn’t been a full ecological assessment of the whole site.

Mirvac originally proposed to build 1269 dwellings in the area of the old IBM buildings but negotiations with the Hills Shire Council cut this back to 600 dwellings. The whole site including the southern forest is currently zoned as B7, business park. The proposal was considered by council in July. They decided to submit the plan to the Department of Planning for a Gateway Determination of an amendment to the zoning of the site.

Council proposed that the redevelopment area be zoned as R2 medium density, an existing cleared area be RE1 but the remainder, the high quality bushland area, be zoned as R4 high density residential. Importantly, there was going to be no environmental protection for this area containing a significant area of critically endangered forest.

Once it became known all the local community groups formed a coalition called Forest in Danger to oppose the prospect of this magnificent bushland being covered in high rise apartments. In fact the immediate medium density development will also destroy high quality vegetation. There are several other reasons for rejecting the plans that are listed below.

The basic problem is that the reports from Mirvac and council focused on the development site. There was very little information on the rest of the site and therefore no consideration of fundamental issues with the potential loss of biodiversity.

Not only that, the Department of Planning provided a rezoning review briefing report on the site. It noted that A Plan for Growing Sydney does not identify this land for residential purposes and there is no alternative strategy endorsed by council regarding the site’s future use. So, on top of the issues with loss of the forest there is no justification for the rezoning consistent with a strategic plan for additional housing, employment, retail or other business development and transport infrastructure. Traffic on nearby Castle Hill Road is already severely congested. The claims of proximity to Cherrybrook Metro Station are questionable as the walk is more than the desirable criterion of 800 m from the northern part of the site but more like 2 km from the southern part up a steep hill.

The R4 zoning is proposed for the southern area even though no proper assessment has been made of bushfire management, stormwater and flood prone land on top of the loss of biodiversity. Once the zoning is changed the whole forest would be in danger of destruction.

Gateway Determination

Lots of letters of objection have been sent to the Department of Planning and the Hills Council. The Gateway Determination was made on 31 October. The Department of Planning advised council to give proper consideration to appropriate zoning including environmental zones.

One concern with the determination is the suggestion that there could be an area allocated as a forestry zone. The strange aspect of the determination is that the department is allowing council to conduct consultation with the community on an amended plan before the department has reviewed it. Surely the department should consider the new allocation of zoning in light of the overall strategy for north west development so the community has certainty.

Another community forum was held on 18 November in Cherrybrook. Over 250 people attended and heard a detailed description of the flawed process undertaken so far and of what would be lost if the current zoning were to go ahead. The rezoning plan is opposed by several new councillors on council including the mayor and nearby Hornsby Council.

Summary of Arguments against the Proposal

STEP is strongly opposed to any loss of Blue Gum High Forest (critically endangered) and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (endangered) no matter how small, as these tiny incremental losses will inevitably lead to their extinction in the long term. This applies to the potential loss in the medium density development area as well as the large areas of these forests in the southern forested areas where the R4 zoning is proposed.

Current Proposal for Medium Density Housing (First Part of the Development)

Asset Protection Zones

The proposed asset protection zone around the development area impacts 0.18 ha of Blue Gum High Forest up to 71 years old, and 0.5 ha of Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest natural remnant bushland. The NSW Rural Fire Service discourages development in bush fire affected areas that would incur significant environmental costs. There are significant environmental constraints here which are not overcome in this proposal.

Impact of Internal Roads

Currently planned internal roads impact Blue Gum High Forest with a loss of 300 m2 proposed.

Powerful Owl

The impact on Powerful Owl residents would be substantial. These owls need not just peaceful nesting trees and roosting habitat but large areas of trees in which to hunt. Substantial numbers of trees 25 to 30 years old would be cleared for this development and hence reduce hunting opportunities and the probability of owl survival.

Fragmentation of the Forests

The Cumberland State Forest and 55 Coonara Avenue currently form an area of over 60 ha of bushland from the ridge, down to gully habitat. The development and asset protection zone reduce the area of trees and forests and the asset protection zone increases the separation of this site from the Cumberland State Forest. This fragmentation reduces the value of this comparatively large area of remaining Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest.

Recommendations

We recommend that the application is rejected in its entirety due to its impact on the environment, particularly Blue Gum High Forest, Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and Powerful Owls. Any possible future development must not have any impact on these endangered communities species and Powerful Owls.

The bulk of this land should at the very least be rezoned to E2 for environmental conservation. Ideally the site should be added to the adjacent Cumberland State Forest and conserved in perpetuity.

More Information

For the latest information on the campaign against the development and more detail on issues with the proposal go to www.forestindanger.org.au.

Email or write to:

Published in STEP Matters 193
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