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TropEco NEWS

TropEco Sustainabi lity Awards JCU wins ACTS Excellence Award Community garden update Atika Creek revegetation The Green Switch Students for Solar

Issue 10 October - December 2013 100% recycled paper

Letter from the Editor I liken our addiction to fossil fuel consumption to someone addicted to smoking. A smoker is well aware there is a strong possibility they will contract cancer. For much of their life they have the option to quit and reverse many years of damage, yet the effort required to make the change seems too challenging, so they continue to smoke until their cancer becomes so advanced there is no effective treatment available.

Issue 10 October - December 2013 Editor: Adam Connell Sub Editor: Suzy Keys

Contents 3.

What’s happening?

4. The Green Switch JCU by Annemarie Theuma 6.

Community Garden update by Adam Connell

8. JCU TropEco Sustainability Awards Announced by Adam Connell 10. Restoring Atika Creek by Alana Valero 11. JCU wins ACTS Award for Excellence by Lania Lynch 12. Art of Awareness by Jazmin Malcolm 14. Students for Solar by Alana Valero 15. Agriculture and Climate Change by Alana Valero

Contribute to TropEco News If you have a sustainability related story or event you want to talk about, please send it to with relevant pictures and we may put it up on the TropEco Facebook page or publish it in TropEco News. TropEco News is published on 100% recycled paper and is also available online. Limited copies are printed to minimise resource consumption.

Front Cover: JCU students Alana Valero (Left) and Samantha Forbes (right) obtained funding to revegetate Atika Creek on Cairns campus. They are pictured after winning their Sustainability Award 2013 for TropEco’s Campus Awards. Photo by Johan Larson

I saw an interesting quote the other day on Twitter from sustainability guru Gunter Pauli that stated, “On sustainability there is no compromise. You are or you are not. It is like pregnancy - a little pregnant does not exist.” Yet the journey towards a sustainable lifestyle is a long and winding road and one we must all share as a caring and compassionate community as well as at the global scale. We cannot do it alone and we need to act as cooperative communities to get there. There is no one solution and we can't just get there overnight. So when talking about being “sustainable” we're usually talking about the journey to get there and what behaviours and practices we can implement (or give up) to help us on our way. As a society, there are many underlying factors that create barriers to minimising our footprint on this earth. Firstly, our current economic structures are doomed to fail as they rely on the exploitation of infinite resources and growth in an infinite world. So how do we move to a more sustainable economic system that shares our natural wealth more evenly, promotes healthy, vibrant communities and ecosystems, and promotes diversity? I don't have the answer but it is a critical question for our current and future generations to find solutions for. Maybe we should look to countries like Bhutan who, instead of measuring success in term of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), instead measure their national success on Gross National Happiness (GNH). In terms of balancing the social, environmental and economic aspects of an economy it sounds like a good model to me. So where do we start our journey? Certainly, quelling our consumption of fossil fuels must be one of the most important and critical places to start.

2 TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

In the same way humans are slowly killing our finely balanced global ecosystem with the emissions associated with fossil fuel consumption. At the heart of this lies our economic system and our addiction to consumption. What was once a useful and abundant source of concentrated energy, that supported the development of the human race, has now become a cancer to our planet and we are getting close to the point of no return. So what can we do to change this? Well it seems our governments aren't particularly interested so it is up to us as communities and individuals to make a stance. There are so many options for change and where better to start than with yourself and your local community. Simplify your life, learn how to grow your own food or teach others through community gardens, divest from fossil fuels by changing banks or your super fund, invest in or install renewable energy at your home, ride a bike instead of driving the car (you'll feel much better for it), put value in community interaction rather than consumerism, eat locally produced, ethical foods, volunteer with a community group, spend your money on experiences rather than objects, share or borrow items rather than buy new ones, shop at a second hand store and repurpose or donate unwanted items. Sustainability is a mindset and way of life, and when you start down that journey you'll find it so rewarding that your addiction to fossil fuels, and all that comes with it, will start to dissolve. Adam Connell, Manager, Environment Estate Office, Division of Finance and Resource Planning, James Cook University, Angus Smith Drive, Douglas, Qld.4811 P: +617 4781 5060 Mobile: 0459 097 253 E:

What’s happening? Bus passes still available for Cairns The passes entitle students to unlimited travel on Sunbus services for a week and are just $10 in Townsville and $16 in Cairns. Get them at the JCU bookshop.

Bike Workshop in Townsville The workshop is at the creek end of the library. Drop in and say hi to Josh who is manning the workshop on:

Mondays 10am - 1pm Tuesdays 12pm - 3pm Thursdays 1am - 4pm Fridays 1pm - 4pm

Permaculture Weekly Market @JCU Cairns Thursdays 2.30-5.30pm

Put it in your calendar!

Cairns Women's Cycling Clinic

By Sue Raynor & Lania Lynch

Commencing on 27 August, an 8 week cycling clinic was offered to Cairns women who were keen to learn cycling basics or just have a refresher by Sue Rayner [AustCycle Cycling Coach]. The clinics covered a wide range of topics including: Ÿ bike skills such as changing a puncture,

dropping wheels, checking brakes, helmet fit, de-railer adjustment Ÿbike handling including turning, negotiation of obstacles & signalling Ÿroad safety and your rights on the road

by Qld police and bike servicing by Marlin Coast Cyclesport Ÿfitness and technique work on spin bikes

Feedback from attendees both novice and experienced alike were that it was informative, fun and challenging. Sue provided a great deal of information that was easy to understand, comprehensive and improved many skills. Ian Campigli, was the in-house mechanic, and helped ladies with technical issues

and getting stubborn wheels back in. Thanks to the manager of Rydges Esplanade Health club, Ross MacEwan who kindly provided their facilities at a nominal cost of $5 per person, the classes were very well attended with an average of 20 ladies per session. Thanks also to Marlin Coast Cyclesport Team [Bart, Ian, Steve: owner and Carl] who held a breakup for the group with drinks and canapés. A special thanks to Cary Coolican from the Queensland Police for her support of this event and the Share the Road campaign. Let your friends know and register your interest for the next one to be held in early 2014 by emailing TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia 3


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by Annemarie Theuma In recent years the JCU Community has seen a shift towards sustainable thinking, with a focus on life in the tropics. There has been a student led push to strive for a more sustainable future, including sourcing local food, generating less waste and raising awareness in regard to thinking about the way consumerism impacts on our everyday lives and the impacts it has on the environment. The JCU Student Association is also striving to reflect this shift in its daily running and operations, ranging from grassroots activism and student engagement to altering the manner by which directors and managers implement strategy and policy. The Cairns Campus Officer, Shelley Smith and myself have been working towards creating campaigns that will encourage students to implement changes that reflect sustainable practices. “The Green Switch� initiative is an umbrella campaign that includes various aspects of sustainability over the course of the second semester. The primary aim of this enterprise is to not only educate students and make them more aware of their practices, but also activating them to achieve personal goals in sustainability. A number of campaigns have been rolled out with the goal of being able to 'turn on' the 'Green Switch' towards the end of the semester. When this is achieved, the Student Association may truly say that they are actively working towards and achieving a more sustainable and environmentally conscious business. One of our most successful events for the semester has been the 'Clothes 'n Stuff Swap', that has been held twice this

semester already! This directly extends the ideas of 'reusing' and 'recycling'. Staff, students and members of the community are invited to bring along their old clothes, books, and other things they no longer require, thus giving an opportunity for others to give new life to these previously unwanted items. The purpose of this event is to challenge the way in which we consume and use not only clothes, but other items that are frequently thrown away when they are no longer of personal use. The Student Kitchen has been an initiative that has been organized by the Student Association for a few years, during which students are offered a free lunch once a week during semester. However, the type of food offered was not the healthiest. This year, we have offered students a healthy and fulfilling lunch, including soup, sandwiches and salads and in future we hope to hold a Sustainable Student Kitchen with food sourced locally, to uphold its name. The Student Association has a monthly newspaper that is distributed on the Cairns and Townsville Campus. Although informative, it generates a great deal of paper waste. For this reason, we have looked into taking 'The Bullsheet' Online, not only reducing paper usage, but making our publication bigger, better and interactive. The first edition of the electronic version of 'The Bullsheet' should be released in a few weeks time. The students on council are not the only ones making changes however. The Cairns Refectory has seen the installation of the Bio-Regen system with the help of TropEco. This will aid in the composting of food waste.

4 TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

The Sustainability Club has come on board with this new introduction, and have volunteered their time to help with an initiative that will allow students to contribute to food material to be composted, instead of going to landfill. In addition, both the Cairns and Townsville refectories are investigating the switch to biodegradable expendables, moving away from the traditional plastic plates, cups and cutlery to ones that are made from materials which are biodegradable. These activities and initiatives have been enthusiastically received by both staff and students, and would not have been a success without the involvement and time of student volunteers who are eager to make changes for a greener future. We are grateful for the support that TropEco and the JCU Sustainability office has given us throughout the year as they provided us with great knowledge and their precious time. We hope that this initiative will continue in and be carried on by future councilors, as well as being launched on the Townsville campus. It has connected the Student Association with students, and shown that it is a relevant organization that has the needs, wants and aspirations of students at its forefront. It has been a great experience to be able to work with staff and students who have a similar vision for a brighter, sustainable future, that has not only enabled me to gain a vast amount of knowledge and insight, but also realize what great change a group of activated and engaged individuals can create.

Left: Annemarie serves up free healthy soup for students as part of the Green Switch activities, while above Shelley Smith talks with students at a recent Clothes ‘n Stuff Swap meet. Right: Annemarie receives TropEco’s Excellence Award from Dr. Colin McGregor.

Photo: Johan Larsen

Photos: Shelley Smith

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia 5

Sunshine Edible Garden takes shape

Community Meeting

JCU’s new community garden in Townsville, is using recycled waste and wicking bed technology to grow an adundance of food which, according to Adam Connell, is a win win situation for the environment and students at Rotary International House. JCU's new community garden is starting to take shape with the first five garden beds installed and planted out during September. Residents from Rotary International College planted herb and vegetable seedlings in early September and just five weeks later the garden is flourishing. Much of the success is down to the design of the wicking garden beds, which maintain a store of water below the soil and are highly efficient. Permaculture design consultant Brett Pritchard, who designed the wicking beds is very happy with the result and is using the garden to trial different designs and building materials. One interesting building material to be trialled in the garden is a new product called e-Wood. It is made from recycled printer cartridges, is a very strong, inert material, and has a 20 year warranty.

The garden will also incorporate green walls made from discarded heat treated pallets and Brett is constructing several living archways from old trampolines. “It's important to demonstrate the reuse of common backyard items that would otherwise be discarded”, says Brett. “There's so much lying around in people's backyards that, with a little imagination and creativity, can be given a new life and this is what we want to demonstrate at the Sunshine Edible Garden.” The wicking beds are also using a special bokashi nutrient mix produced from food scraps from the Uni Halls kitchen on campus through the BioRegen process. Environment Manager, Adam Connell said, “We want to demonstrate that there are better options than discard-

6 TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

ing food to landfill and that recycling the food can be done cost-effectively on a commercial scale.” “We're closing the loop on the food cycle and creating zero waste, whilst producing a powerful product that is showing its ability to enhance the growth of plants and create healthy soils. It's a win: win situation.” Several community meetings and workshops have been held in the garden already and there has been much interest in the garden design with several schools and community groups already building similar garden beds. Once completed it is expected the garden will act as a community hub to demonstrate highly productive, efficient, and modern urban garden design as well as help feed the resident of Rotary International College.

Seed raising beds

Seed raising beds

Seed raising area

Stage 1-5 weeks

Residents doing initial planting

1- 6 weeks after initial planting

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


TropEco Sustainability Awards recognise

Achievments at JCU Sixty- nine nominations across 5 categories made judging this year’s awards extremely difficult reports Adam Connell. The stunning, one-of-a-kind awards are made from kiln formed glass and were produced by Townsville local artist Sue Tilley. Photos by Johan Larsen. James Cook University recently held the third annual TropEco Sustainability Awards in Cairns and Townsville to acknowledge the sustainability achievements of students and staff in 2013. Sixty-nine nominations were received across the five award categories. “The response this year was phenomenal and the caliber of nominations was very high, which made judging extremely difficult”, Adam Connell, JCU Environment Manager said. This year student involvement was highly evident with students or student led initiatives taking out four out of the five awards and another ten receiving recognition as a highly commended. “It's great to see the students coming on board and championing sustainability initiatives on campus and in the community”, Adam commented. “These are our future leaders and it gives hope to see we are producing well rounded graduates who understand and can tackle the global challenges we're facing now and into the future”.

This year saw five awards presented along with highly commended entries for both Cairns and Townsville in each category. “This year the awards continued to focus on the four C's that make up a sustainable institution, Campus, Curriculum, Culture and Community,” Adam commented. “In each category we look at the impacts the nominees have had on the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic sustainability.” The fifth award presented on the night was the TropEco Excellence Award, which recognises an inidividual who has had a major impact on improving the sustainability of JCU. Annemarie Theuma, Vice President of the JCU Student Association took out the TropEco Excellence Award for her work in undertaking a sustainability audit on the Student Association's operations and then implementing the Green Switch program, a series of initiatives that have vastly improved the sustainability of the Student Association in Cairns.

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Annemarie and her colleague Shelley Smith also took out the Culture Award for their work with Green Switch. “Receiving the award was unexpected and I am incredibly grateful for the recognition”, Annemarie commented. “To me, it means that my work is making a difference amongst students, and is creating a greater sense of responsibility towards creating a sustainable future on campus.’ “Throughout implementing the 'Green Switch' initiative, I received an outstanding amount of help from students who are passionate about creating real change, which undoubtedly contributed to the success of the program”, said Annemarie. The other Award winners were Dr. Louisa Thomas and Dr Kelsey Halbert for Curriculum, Josh McIntyre for Community and Samantha Forbes and Alana Valero for Campus. The awards (above) are inspired by the colours and textures in nature and capture the beauty of the environment around us.

Winners of the Culture Award for the Green Switch, Shelley Smith (left) and Annemarie Theuma who also won the TropEco Excellence Award.

TropEco and the Division of Finance and Resource Planning would like to congratulate the award winners and thank everyone that submitted a nomination and attended the awards ceremonies. The full list of award winners and highly commended entries are as follows: Curriculum Award Winner: Dr Louisa Tomas & Dr Kelsey Halbert Highly commended – Cairns Dr Sharon Harwood Highly commended – Townsville Dr Emma Gyuris Solar Chemicals Research Group Campus Award Winner: Samantha Forbes & Alana Valero (see page 10) Highly commended – Cairns The Green Switch - Annemarie Theuma & Shelley Smith (see page 4 & 5) Estate Office Cairns Highly commended – Townsville Gail Harrower JCU Green Bike Fleet

Community Award Winner: Josh McIntyre Highly commended – Cairns JCU Sustainability Club Hansley Gumbaket Highly commended – Townsville Kallum Jones & Diane Garvey

JCUeResearch Team Jairo Rivera TropEco Shield - College Sustainability Competition Winner: Rotary International College

Culture Award Winner: The Green Switch - Annemarie Theuma & Shelley Smith Highly commended – Cairns Johanna Kloot JCU Sustainability Club Highly commended – Townsville Dr F Joseph Pollock TropEco Excellence Award Winner: Annemarie Theuma Highly commended – Cairns Johanna Kloot Alana Valero Highly commended – Townsville Kallum Jones Jade Gould Outstanding Research Highly Commended Mangrove Watch Solar Chemicals Research Group

Above: Sustainability Club Cairns received their Highly Commended Culture Award. Back row L to R: Lena Taylor, Sophie Black, Mareen Sagar, Leon VanWyk, Sarah Shean, Lucy Graham, Mathilde Gordon. Front row L to R: Annemarie Theuma, Lania Lynch, Alana Valero, Hansley Gumbaketi, Larni Gryphon, Ross Honniball and Dr. Colin McGregor. For enquires related to the awards please contact the Environment Manager, Adam Connell - or 4781 5060 Photos from the award night can be seen on the TropEco facebook page: james. Photos by Johan

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


RESTORING Endangered Eco-systems

@ JCU In the past years, several people have proposed to re-vegetate various areas on the JCU Cairns campus. However, this didn't materialise until student Samantha Forbes approached the Sustainability Officer and offered to develop a specific restoration project which focused on Atika Creek. To get this project started, Sam (right) partnered with another student, Alana Valero (left). Together they developed a proposal to restore two sites on campus and the project is now underway.

By Alana Valero The riparian vegetation along Atika Creek is heavily degraded and many of the creek beds have been largely cleared. This presents issues such as erosion, decreased water quality and the invasion of weeds. The two main aims of the project are: 1. to increase the resilience of Atika Creek by restoring crucial ecological areas, and 2. to create a world class campus which reflects the diversity of the Wet Tropics. These aims will be achieved by revegetating two sites, using species which only belong to the tropical endangered regional ecosystem 7.3.12 a & b. Sadly, only 10-30% of the preclearing vegetation from this ecosystem remains. Native canopy species of this ecosystem include the milky pine, blackbean, brown tulip oak and native understory trees which include the cheese tree, Breynia and Buttonwood. In order to make this project a reality, Sam and Alana prepared a detailed planting matrix, gained support and funding from TropEco and built a partnership with the Cairns Regional Council. They are also organising a community planting for November 9, which will include a presentation on the theory behind the project and a shared lunch for volunteers. The project will be linked to JCU's curriculum as the two sites will provide research opportunities and be integrated into Dr. Sue Laurence's restoration ecology course.

Photo of Atika Creek: Suzy Keys

Sams bio Sam completed her Bachelor of Science Degree (Zoology and Marine Biology) in 2008 through JCU Townsville. After almost 5 years she returned to JCU Cairns to complete her Masters of Science (Zoology and Ecology) degree. Taking on a Masters Degree has given her a much needed stepping stone into learning the details of forest restoration and conservation.

Photo: Johan Larson.

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Alana's bio Alana is in her first year of a Master of Science degree (Natural Resource Management). She completed a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Ecology, at the University of Queensland. During her studies, one of the topics that captivated her was restoration ecology, especially investigating ways to increase the resilience of areas like Atika Creek. Meet our species Plant 1: Name: Elaeocarpus grandis (Blue fig) Height: Extremely tall and generally single trunked native tree with the tree line often reaching to 40 metres. Form: Pyramid shape Growth: Fast growing Requirements: High water use – Medium Sunlight Fruits: Seeds sown fresh and takes 12 months to germinate Plant 2: Name: Macaranga tanarius (Blush Macaranga) Height: 12 metres tall Form: A bushy tree – Short Trunk Requirements: Higher levels of water, but does tolerate salt-laden coastal winds Fruits: A prickly three celled yellow capsule. Germinates from fresh seed which occurs without difficulty. Plant 3: Name: Castanospermum austral (Black bean) Height: 8 metres tall Form: Oval shaped Requirements: Full sun is recommended, however shady situations are tolerated, as is light frost. The leaves and seeds are toxic to livestock. Has an extensive root system. Fruits: Propagation of this species is from fresh seed. Germination requires a temperature of 18C - 25C. To get involved or help at the planting day, please contact: or Or join the event on Facebook page

JCU takes the Award of Excellence at the

Representing JCU at GGAA from left to right: Dr. Colin McGregor, Lena Taylor, Wesley DeMuth, Sharon Holden, Adam Connell and Lania Lynch.

Green Gown Awards Australasia By Lania Lynch JCU wins ACTS Award of Excellence James Cook University won the prestigious ACTS Award of Excellence – Institutional Award. This Award recognises continued efforts, large or small, that have resulted in an improvement to the sustainability achievements of an institution, regardless of sector excellence. The 2013 Green Gown Awards Australasia were recently held in conjunction with the 13th International ACTS Conference at Olympic Park in Sydney. The three day conference was attended by international and national sustainability practitioners from the tertiary education sector, business and government.

JCU was delighted to receive this highly coveted award which was decided on by ACTS members.

Participants learned about best practice initiatives in sustainability, shared across the themes of Leadership and Governance, Partnerships and Engagement, Learning, Teaching and Research and Facilities and Operations.

JCU was also a finalist in the student initiatives category. The JCU Sustainability Club and the JCU Permaculture club, both based on the Cairns campus have been active in many areas both on and off campus in 2013. In addition the JCUSA developed the ‘Green Switch’ program which details an action plan to make the student association more sustainable in its operations and activities.

The Green Gown Australasia Awards are in their fourth year, and recognise sustainability excellence. This year drew winners in nine categories, with over 40 institutions involved. Judged by a panel of independent experts, the judges were delighted with the high calibre and diverse selection of entries.

JCU staff and students were well represented at the conference, with two Cairns based JCU students winning the highly sought after ACTS student scholarships to attend the conference. Sharon Holden and Wesley DeMuth, both Bachelor of Sustainability students, were thrilled with the opportunity to attend the conference.

In addition, Suzy Keys, TropEco communications officer came second in the Sustainability Photography competition Staff category, congratulations Suzy! Check out the award winning photos here: In their second year, the International Green Gown Awards will see the Australasian winners compete with the UK winners to claim the 'international' title in three categories, – Continuous Improvement – Institutional Change, Social Responsibility and Student Initiatives. They will be announced in the UK on 12 November 2013. Save the date – the 2014 international Awards will be coming to Australasia and will be announced in Hobart on 6 November 2014. The winner’s brochure provides full details on the awards and showcases the winners and highly commended institutions in each award category. It's well worth a read to find out what's been happening in the tertiary sector in 2013. It can be downloaded for free from the ACTS website at

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


Art of Awareness

TropEco held its very first Art of Awareness exhibition recently, with people from all over Townsville attending the event. Jazmin Malcolm reveals why TropEco is supporting JCU art students who want to raise awareness of sustainability issues through their art. The event was held at the School of Creative Arts to raise awareness for sustainability through artwork produced by Townsville and Cairns JCU students. “The aim is to get students to design art work that makes people think about sustainability of the Earth and the fragility of the Earth and how we can reduce our impact,” Adam Connell Manager of TropEco said. “The artwork looks at how we take nature for granted and we think we can exploit it without any consequences.” There was a large range of artistic styles throughout the Art of Awareness display, with paintings, drawings, photography and collages all being displayed in the halls of SoCA. “It really shows that people are looking at sustainability in a deeper way, and that students are catching onto issues that

we're facing – that the Earth's facing – and we need to change our ways soon”, Connell said. Amy Hutchinson and Marc Pricop drew for the People's choice award, with Amy also coming second place overall in the competition with her artwork “RoseColoured Glasses”. Amy's artwork was a collage with the main picture showing Eddy Bay in South Australia. “I had a thought to myself how much longer will this picture that I'm looking at be here just the way it is and are we looking at the world through rose coloured glasses – or in other words, in ignorance,” Amy said. “The problem is that people think, ‘I'm just one person what difference can I make’ but if people thought the exact opposite, the world would be a better place” Amy

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commented. Others also enjoyed the event; with some saying it was refreshing to see talented artists creating work for a great cause. “It's really great to see University students from Townsville and Cairns get together and create such great art work to raise awareness about sustainability”, Arts student Christie McIntyre said. Following the Art of Awareness Gala, the crowd moved to George Kniepp Theatre where the new documentary film, ‘United Natures’ was screened. “United Natures is about getting back in touch with nature and implementing systems that are more sustainable and less destructive…It's about people living as if they are part of the environment, instead of separate to the environment”, Connell said.

Opposite page: Rose Coloured Glasses by Amy Hutchison Top Right: By Colleen Wessels Above: Gumleaf by Marc Pricop Background image: Blue Rocks Top Left: Celebrating JCU Research by Nadine Baxter Bottom Left: Swim Little Turtle by Ruby Bussard

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


achievements at JCU

Students for Solar In order to cause change, someone had to start the ball rolling before people realized how great the idea was. This is the case with solar energy and the FNQ Solar Hub project. Sharon Holden, a first year sustainability student, took on this challenge and recruited several JCU student volunteers. The response she received was remarkable. Currently, there are approximately twenty volunteers working with Sharon to ensure the solar hub has a successful start.

Back to the community: Solar companies participating in the FNQ Solar Hub Project have agreed to donate 50 dollars for every one kW of solar power sold through this program to the Solar Futures Fund. This fund was set up to help put solar panels on roofs of community buildings in remote Queensland communities. Many students are very excited about the project as it will aid rural communities and reduce the region's carbon footprint.

About the project:

Student participation: With the purpose of promoting this event and the solar hub overall, several student volunteers are assisting with media releases, poster distribution, photography, and public information stands. This project is supported by the JCU Professional college and students that participate can get recognition for their efforts. Sharon Holden described it as “a successful project, which brings students together to actively support the community while helping the environment!�, Hopefully we will be successful in changing many home owners and companies to solar�.

The FNQ Solar Hub portal provides independent and unbiased information on solar power and what to think about when choosing a solar system. It will also include a 'virtual power station' where residents can see how much solar power is generated in the region and find out where most of our electricity is sourced. To ensure the quality of participating solar companies, CAFNEC has set a strict list of criteria these companies need to meet. Overall, this website will provide a great support network for local business and individuals who are thinking about going solar but are a bit hesitant or need more information. It will also make sure they install the system appropriate for their particular property or home, while supporting the local community!

Participation within this project is already showing positive results, with the Facebook page up and running and solar hub posters hung all around cairns promoting the launch.

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The FNQ Solar Hub project will be running for at least twelve months, and will involve various future events. Any student, institution or company that wants to get involved can contact Mindi or Sharon. FNQ Solar Hub Launch The FNQ Solar Hub was launched on Thursday, October 10th and CAFNEC ran a free 'Going Solar' workshop with a 'Solar Basics' presentation and the opportunity for one-on-one chats with the participating solar companies. Participantstook along their latest power bill to get advice on how many solar panels were needed to heavily reduce their quarterly energy costs. For more information on the FNQ Solar Hub project visit or find us on Facebook at Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC). Mindi Tonak, Project Manager Phone: (07) 4032 1746 Email: For more information on how to get involved please contact Sharon Holden at

Agriculture and Climate Change: What are farmers doing? Nicholas Davidson is actively involved in restoring wildlife corridors and developing climate change adaptation strategies on his farm in Victoria. Alana Valero reports. Drought, salinity or flooding problems are on the rise for farmers. Many are asking, "what can be done to increase our farm’s resilience to these issues?" Farmer Nicholas Davidson has some answers.

trying to harvest dry grain. "I look at climate change as more extreme weather events occurring". Nic said. He also believes the agricultural community has mixed thoughts on climate change.

Nicholas Davidson, Grain Grower of the Year 2010, owns a 2000 hectare farm in the Mallee region of north west Victoria. The farm, which has been in his family for 3-4 generations, mainly grows wheat and barley for food pellet production.

In order to adapt to climate change, several things are done differently on Nic's farm. Firstly, they utilise the summer rainfall by conserving the moisture through weed control in the paddocks. Secondly, they do not burn any organic matter and use a lot of organic mulch. Thirdly, they recycle their tractor emissions. Nic and his father, altered their tractor system, to recycle the emissions and put them back into the soil.

Nicholas completed a Bachelor of Applied Science with a focus on agriculture and horticulture at the University of Melbourne and has a strong link to the environmental values of his land. “I like the environment. I like looking after the land... I would like to leave the farm with more trees in my lifetime than how I found it.� Nicholas said. In the last 20 or so years, Nic and his family have planted approx 7,000 trees on their farm. Many trees in the area were cleared for farming many years ago so in order to restore this area, Nic and his family let the creek saplings expand back into paddock and also planted plots of trees in and around borders of paddock. They planted natives such as allepo pines, coral gums, she oaks, mallaluecas , swamp mallet, casurinas, ghost gums and river red gums. Once the seedlings grew, they began to function as wildlife corridors and have attracted many birds and bees. They have also greatly reduced erosion and in salinity prone areas have lowered the water table. They have also seen an increase in beneficial insects which reduce insect pests in crops. Apart from his work with restoration, he is also very concerned with climate change adaptation strategies as he has experienced many changes directly related to climate. For example, he has experienced more frequent extremely hot summer days and violent thunderstorms. He also says that in the Mallee region, normal average rainfall is 300 mm but in the past five years a large proportion of this has fallen in the non growing season for their winter grown cereal crops. The rain has been falling as violent summer storms when they are

"I have a system which catches our tractors exhaust emissions and plants them back into the ground with the seed, potentially reducing the greenhouse effect and increasing soil carbon, which is my long term aim." Nic explained. Fourthly, they sow their crops with narrow knife points or discs, which creates a water harvesting effect which channels rain into the seed row making more use of smaller rainfall events. They also use no tillage farming which improves soil structure and creates more mulch on the soil surface, thus reducing evaporation and allowing more beneficial nematodes and insects to survive. It also increases the CEC or cation exchange capacity of the soil meaning less fertilizer is lost through leaching. Nicholas is an active member of the Birchip advisory committee and gives advice to researchers about what trials they should conduct. He has received no government assistance nor any response to his application for carbon credits. "What I find interesting is that the world will need 50 % more food produced over the next 40 years. How can we achieve this with climate change a reality and our farming land being taken up by urban housing expansion....We have to make our farming methods more efficient," Nic said. Nicholas is an incredible example of what individuals can do. He is truly an inspiration. We hope to see similar "farmers who inspire us" here in Queensland. TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


Tropeco News - Tenth Edition  

Stay up to date with all things sustainable at James Cook University with the TropEco News, published quarterly. In this edition we cover: -...