Bold green vision for Ginninderra future

Over the past few years a vision has been emerging for what a sustainable urban development backed by science and innovation could be like.

Our vision is to restore and improve our natural environment while setting a new benchmark for sustainable urban development.

The terms ‘benchmark and sustainable’ apply to the extent to which we can maximise and maintain the stream of future environmental, social and economic benefits, that flow from the development and its surrounding natural values.

The aspirations for Ginninderra are closely aligned with many of Australia’s key policy settings and targets namely in areas of national innovation, infrastructure, cities and built environment, energy and climate, water and the economy.

CSIRO is well placed to significantly address these important issues because of our coverage of relevant research areas and our capacity to draw on all of these and engage the right collaborators and partners.

We are looking to provide multiple benefits through combining a diversity of housing, community and recreational facilities together with some retail and commercial opportunities, all integrated with the restoration, conservation and management of the landscape and its important natural and heritage values such as the endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.

We are absolutely committed to the management and restoration at Ginninderra of areas of threatened vegetation types and species that are protected by ACT or Commonwealth legislation.

Protection of trees regulated and administered by the Tree Protection Act 2005 is an essential component and CSIRO is developing guidelines that extend beyond its regulatory obligations to ensure their preservation.

This commitment has extended to comprehensive environmental studies that sees approximately 130ha of the site largely protected by legislation and a further 80ha that CSIRO has identified should be managed to protect ecological and heritage values.

Ginninderra residents and other water and energy users will draw benefits from the efficient and sensitive management and use of water and the leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that we are exploring for the site.

We want to contribute to the evolution of urban areas from being ‘consumer and polluter’ to being ‘energy and water efficient’ and ‘environment protectors’.

We want to help solve the issue of affordable housing, particularly for those in the lower 40 per cent of incomes.

Encouraged by the ideas and feedback generated at our recent gathering of experts – The Affordable Housing Think Tank – we are firmly committed to providing real and lasting affordable housing options, among the property mix at Ginninderra. This will extend well beyond the asking price for moving into the neighbourhood, to various other aspects that affect the cost of living including energy, water and transport.

These topics and others including urban food growing, waste minimisation, recycling and reuse have regularly been raised in our community conversations and we will continue to explore these in future planning together with our joint venture partner.

We are aspiring to urban planning and design that can promote such features, encourage social interactions and connections and maintain an accessible open space network.

CSIRO is committed to keep building this vision with the community and to plan the development with and for the community. There are many steps and stages in front of us before any development occurs and we want to work with the community throughout.

We see community innovation and opportunities for ‘citizen science’ as fundamental components in the creation and future success of this venture.

Citizen science and community activity is already underway and helping to deliver our environmental commitments at five sites across our Ginninderra property, led by the Ginninderra Catchment Group, Landcare member groups and some of its 500 volunteers. This group is extending its work with autumn burning to recover and restore native grasslands in the Ginninderra catchment.

This and other community-driven work will provide valuable insights on how best to restore and conserve areas of the endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland located on the site.

CSIRO is committed to remaining involved and achieving the exemplar in sustainable urban development.

The reason we are seeking a joint venture development partner is because we want to be closely involved with Ginninderra – firstly, to ensure that we can achieve these conservation, sustainability, liveability and affordability goals. Beyond that we want to realise knowledge and innovation from this development that can be applied more broadly for benefit in the ACT, Australia and beyond.

Firing up grassland restoration at Ginninderra

TV images of towering flames and fast moving fire fronts from major bushfires across Australia have left deep impressions of the destructive and sometimes unstoppable force of summer blazes.

With such coverage, it’s harder to appreciate the positive and regenerative effect that fire has on our native vegetation when used in certain ways and at certain times.

Finding out how fire and other management methods can be used to recover native grasslands is the focus of community-led research in ACT’s Ginninderra catchment, according to Ginninderra Catchment Group Coordinator Karissa Preuss. A great part of this work is on CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station, and in support of CSIRO’s nature conservation and restoration commitments at the site.

“We are into the second stage of a community driven project to find out the best management regimes for supporting restoration of the threatened Natural Temperate Grassland,” Karissa said.

Natural Temperate Grassland (NTG) of the Southern Tablelands is the most threatened ecosystem in Australia. Through past grazing, farming and city development, the ACT has less than five per cent of the NTG that existed prior to 1750.

Ken Hodgkinson, a Research Fellow with CSIRO Land and Water and a member of the North Belconnen Landcare Group (within the Ginninderra Catchment Group), has been a key part of the community effort.

“At our Evatt trial site, we tested five different treatments for managing the grasslands including: a low mow, a high mow, four spring burns at two year intervals, four autumn burns at two year intervals, and a control strip where we did nothing.

“To our surprise, the autumn burn was the best and most spectacular because we saw 10 native plant species that did not appear in the other treatments.

“After these fires it might look like utter destruction, but the smoke and the heat is bringing new life by stimulating seeds to germinate and compete strongly against the exotic species.”

Following the success of the first project, the second project is expanding the research to more sites and grasslands of varying qualities in the Ginninderra catchment. That’s where CSIRO’s field station comes in.

“The CSIRO Ginninderra station is critical to this project because five of the 15 sites across the catchment are on the property and they include everything from very weedy grasslands to medium and high quality native grasslands,” said Karissa.

The four treatments at each site will include mowing six times a year (common practice in ACT), an autumn burn treatment every two to three years, a second autumn treatment every four to six years, and a control.

“We want to find out if less frequent fire is just as effective as frequent fires because burning has a cost and we want to get the ‘best bang for the buck’ in terms of the ecological response,” said Ken.

This research aims to help catchment managers determine the most cost-effective methods for restoring and managing various qualities of native grassland. It will provide a basis for best-practice future management of grasslands on CSIRO Ginninderra property including how CSIRO can successfully meet its conservation commitments with a nearby urban setting.

The project will also aim to bring in Indigenous fire management knowledge from within the local community.

“We are working with Aboriginal elders and the Mullanggang Traditional Aboriginal Landcare Group with the aim of sharing and bringing together indigenous ecological knowledge and western science,” said Karissa.

The community effort of Ginninderra Catchment Group and associated Landcare and member groups has been backed by various ACT Government agencies including the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate (particularly Conservation and Planning), ACT Parks and Conservation Service (particularly the Fire Unit) and ACT Rural Fire Service. Support from land managers has also been critical, including the ACT Territory and Municipal Services, rural landholders and CSIRO.

“So many community groups and volunteers have helped to make this happen – the Landcare Groups who identified the sites, community experts doing the baseline monitoring of grasses, the volunteers who established the plots and staked them out, and all of Rural Fire Service volunteers conducting the burning,” said Karissa.

“It’s incredibly inspiring to be part of this group of people who are dedicating their personal time to restoring the grasslands in the Ginninderra Catchment.”


Project Update

Since we provided our last project update in April, there have been a number of significant events that have allowed the Ginninderra Project to progress.

National Capital Plan Amendment 86 Approval

On Thursday 5 May Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Paul Fletcher approved Amendment 86 to the National Capital Plan.

The decision to classify the current Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban’ as part of the approved changes to the National Capital Plan is the next step towards an initiative that will be incredibly significant for the ACT community and for reinvestment into Australian science and innovation infrastructure.

Since we sought initial feedback from the NCA about the possibility of an amendment in December 2012, we have undertaken three and a half years of due diligence on the 701 hectare site, along with a range of environmental and heritage studies.

We are very excited about the potential of continuing to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, including conservation, heritage and advocacy groups, to create something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.

Expressions of Interest

Following the decision regarding Amendment 86, we have commenced an expressions of interest process, where we have asked for responses from suitably qualified development partners to work with us to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.

We look forward to receiving Expressions of Interest from potential industry partners who share our aspirations and vision for the site.

Through a process of science, community and stakeholder engagement, a vision is emerging for sustainable urban development at the Ginninderra Field Station that sets new standards in the way that it handles energy, water, waste, housing design and affordability, transport, community connection heritage and environmental protection.

CSIRO is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified development partners for the planning, development and subsequent sales of its land located at Ginninderra in the Australian Capital Territory.

Based on due diligence reports and the identified values at Ginninderra, CSIRO’s initial assessment of the development potential of the site, which has been compiled in collaboration with specialist scientists and stakeholders, identifies:

·       developable land (360.8 ha, or 51% of total area),

·       potential developable areas under CSIRO review (129.4 ha, 18%),

·       areas primarily protected by current legislation (130.9 ha, 19%), and

·       additional areas CSIRO has determined should be managed to further protect the ecological and heritage values of the site (80.5 ha, 12%).

This initial assessment is only indicative of the development potential and may be subject to change.

Ginninderra EOI Figure 3 with APPROVED Legend

The request for the expression of interest is the first stage of a possible two stage process.

Expressions of Interest are now open and will close at 2pm on 23 May 2016 with all relevant information available on AusTender.

CSIRO launches tender for partner to deliver land development in Belconnen

Published on 9 May in the Canberra Times. Written by Natasha Boddy.

The CSIRO has begun the hunt for a partner to deliver a major redevelopment of its massive Ginninderra Field Station to make way for a new urban area on Canberra’s northern outskirts.

On Monday, the research organisation will begin advertising a tender calling for expressions of interest for a joint development partner.


The CSIRO has asked the National Capital Authority to allow the sale of its Ginninderra field station site for possible new development.


The tender comes only days after the federal government gave the green light to a major shake-up in planning for the ACT, with the first comprehensive review of the National Capital Plan allowing CSIRO to sell off its 701-hectare Ginninderra Field Station and zoning it as urban.

Established in 1960, the field station is on the ACT-NSW border, framed by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.

According to tender documents, CSIRO currently uses a third of the land.

“This underutilisation of the land is inefficient for CSIRO and the community and greater benefits could be achieved through alternative use of this site,” the documents say.

“CSIRO wishes to partner with a suitable respondent for the purposes of establishing a new suburb(s) compromising residential, commercial, retail and community infrastructure and services.”

The expression of interest closes on May 19, which is expected to enable CSIRO to shortlist potential development partners.

Redevelopment could be underway within two to three years.

The planning changes, announced last week and reported first in Fairfax Media, will also allow residential development in Tuggeranong, west of the Murrumbidgee River, although it will be up to the ACT government to decide when the suburbs go ahead.

The parliamentary triangle’s East and West Blocks will be opened up for use as hotels, offices, restaurants, cafes or retail spaces and outdated federal government office buildings at Anzac Park East and West redeveloped.

Designing cities for our work future

The changing nature of work will have a large impact on where we spend our time in the cities of the future.

Researchers from CSIRO’s Data61 team have undertaken research into trends that will impact employment markets over the coming 20 years, as well as the set of skills and mindsets needed for the future.

Their recent report Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce: Megatrends and Scenarios for jobs and employment in Australia over the next twenty years examines the changing nature of work in Australia due to technological, economic, social, environmental and geopolitical trends.

“With increasing knowledge of emerging trends, comes new opportunities to design our cities to accommodate the changing face of our workforce and to harmonise with the evolving nature of work itself,” said Andrew Reeson, an economist with CSIRO Data 61.

“Designing cities to account for growing employment opportunities in service industries such as healthcare and professional services, is one case in point.

“We are likely to see continued growth in jobs that require creativity, complex judgement, advanced reasoning, social interaction and emotional intelligence rather than those that can more easily be managed through automation or artificial intelligence.”

It is not only the work itself that is changing. Technological advances are also offering us new ways to get to and from work, such as in autonomous vehicles, or online-booked and GPS-tracked share vehicles. These can reduce commute times and the demand for car ownership and double garages.

We can also expect more people to be working from within their local neighbourhoods but providing services globally. CSIRO has been pioneering techniques that let experts use consumer hardware to complete physical tasks over the internet regardless of geography, according to senior research engineer with CSIRO Data61, Matt Adcock.

“Smartphones and tablets are gaining 3D sensing capabilities and that means a 3D video can be streamed to someone who is trying to help you,” said Mr Adcock.

“The remote expert can draw onto 3D video and the local user can see those drawings overlayed onto the physical world using augmented reality.”

Another example could be for roadside assistance.

“Instead of waiting hours for roadside assistance to reach you, someone at any location connected by phone could help you triage and troubleshoot the problem in 3D,” said Mr Adcock. “You could get back on the road much sooner.”

The hypothetical scenarios are endless with the open-ended opportunities of advancing technology. For example, a community hub at Ginninderra could be home to a classroom where students are being taught a physical task (craft, art, DIY handiwork, cooking, etc.) by an expert ‘beaming in’ from another country using data projection and remote guidance technology like that being developed at the CSIRO.

At Ginninderra there could be the opportunity to create ‘smart working hubs’ within walking distance of homes, resulting in less traffic and environmental burden, and provide access to a broader range of skills and expertise.

Accessing the Macquarie University 'OneNet' network via a laptop.