Sustainability targets underpin vision
CSIRO’s Ginninderra Project team has been busy refining the vision, and setting the goals, objectives, benchmarks and measures that will underpin Ginninderra and make it unique.
At Ginninderra, we aspire to partner in creating a world-leading sustainable urban community that is supported by science and best practice.
As part of the planning that will feed into the next stage of attracting an outstanding joint development partner, our team workshopped the sustainability framework including:
- Refining the project vision, drivers, objectives and constraints
- Identifying risks and opportunities
- Examining national and international examples of benchmark design
- Defining sustainability benchmarks and targets in environmental, social and economic aspects. This included targets for energy and water efficiency, ecology, materials and waste management, economic activity, jobs, transport, affordable housing and community activity among other focus areas.
CSIRO’s aspiration continues to be to create a community and urban precinct that showcases world’s best practice in nature conservation, urban design, construction and long-term liveability. The aim is for the Ginninderra to be an exemplar, both nationally and internationally, with a community proud of its place in the Canberra region.
CSIRO’s priorities for the Ginninderra project include restoring and improving key areas of the natural environment, while setting a new benchmark for design and development.
Through the planning, design and construction of Ginninderra, we want to create a place where people want to live and enjoy living.
Given the size, location and long development timeframe, Ginninderra affords a great opportunity to trial, test and research various technologies, innovations and initiatives.
Project update – October
Off the back of the community drop-in-sessions we held at the end of August, we are pleased to be able to release the report that documents the feedback we received from the community.
The sessions were designed to build on the previous neighbourhood drop-in sessions held in September 2015.
174 people attended the two sessions at Evatt and Gold Creek with a variety of comments and questions raised by attendees.
In response to our four themed stations at the drop-in sessions, comments and questions provided on feedback forms included:
- Housing – 24 comments/questions.
- Community Facilities – 21 comments/ questions.
- Conservation – 19 comments/ questions.
- Roads and Transport – 8 comments/ questions
Further topics commented on through the feedback forms were:
- CSIRO’s consultation with the community – 5 comments/ questions
- Impact of urban development on residents of neighbouring suburbs – 4 comments/ questions
- CSIRO’s role in development at the Ginninderra Field Station site – 3 comments/ questions
- Other: International design competition (1 comment); Impact of development at Ginninderra on ACT electoral boundaries (1 question)
CSIRO is committed to taking on board the comments received in future planning and design processes.
We have updated the FAQ’s section of our website to answer all the questions that were asked by the community at both the drop-in-sessions, along with the continued questions we are receiving through the website and on Facebook.
We are continuing to meet with interested groups and organisations to discuss the project, and have been invited to present at the Belconnen Community Council meeting on Tuesday 18 October.
If you would like to discuss the community engagement report or any other aspect of the project with us, we invite you to contact us by either completing a feedback form, emailing the project team or engaging with us through our Facebook page.
Drone’s-eye view of Ginninderra
Spectacular new aerial footage of Ginninderra captured from a drone will be on display for those attending the community drop-in sessions at Evatt and Gold Creek later this month.
A drone’s-eye view of the 701-hectare CSIRO property has been captured from a series of locations using both 4k and 360 degree cameras mounted underneath a remotely piloted drone.
The drone aerial survey led by a team from CSIRO Land and Water and Data61 has produced some stunning footage that CSIRO can use as a visual record and basis for further planning and modelling of development and conservation at the site.
“The cameras capture high resolution imagery of the property, providing not only a descriptive or educational resource but a contextual backdrop into which we can situate a 3D visual model and planning tool,” according to Data61 Experimental Scientist, Matt Adcock.
“A 3D visual model could provide the ability to ‘move’ through the terrain to view and receive community feedback on different types of development, infrastructure and conservation scenarios in the context of the surrounding landscape,” he said.
While it is early days in terms of planning future development, the drone footage will help in understanding the landscape, planning for the future and in being able to show changes over time.
A package of the available drone footage will be on display for participants at the community drop-in sessions on 25 August at Evatt Scout Hall (3-6:30pm) and 27 August at The Abbey at Gold Creek (12-4pm).
Site tour leads the conservation conversation
The conservation conversation was front and centre as members and experts from ACT environmental groups visited CSIRO’s Ginninderra Property on 6 June.
The question of: “How can we conserve and restore important environmental features within and beyond the boundaries of a proposed future urban development?” was top of mind as the group visited nine key sites across the property.
CSIRO researchers and expert consultants explained the findings of ecological surveys and their interpretation of key environmental features on the site, while also seeking initial advice and ideas from participants who included members from the Conservation Council ACT Region and its Biodiversity Working Group, Friends of Grasslands and the Ginninderra Catchment Group.
Throughout the tour, participants studied maps of the Ginninderra property showing CSIRO’s initial assessment of developable land (360.8 ha or 51% of the site), potential developable areas under review (129.4 ha, 18%), areas primarily protected by current legislation (130.9 ha, 19%) as well as additional areas CSIRO has set aside to protect conservation and heritage values (80.5 ha, 12%).
Some of the key features for mandatory protection are:
- high value Box Gum Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands on the north of the site
- areas of Derived Native Grasslands where studies have recorded the presence of Golden Sun Moth and Striped Legless Lizard
- a Box Gum Grassy Woodland and Scribbly Gum Woodland area surrounding a nesting site of the Little Eagle
- an area of Box Gum Grassy Woodland adjacent to Owen Dixon Drive
- regulated trees and cultural heritage features
Other areas or features earmarked by CSIRO for protection include:
- the corridor (riparian zone) along Halls Creek and drainage lines
- areas of Scribbly Gum Woodland and Box Gum Grassy Woodlands that contribute important environmental values but are not technically protected under legislation
- important buffer zones and areas that add habitat and wildlife connectivity to protected areas, both on the site and in adjacent areas
Some important questions raised on the site visit included the need to define the boundaries for conservation areas and clarify the buffer and transition zones between areas under development and those under conservation. Road access within and to the site will also be an important factor in realising conservation goals.
Establishing sound principles for conservation and development from the outset was seen to be an essential ingredient for success.
So, coming back to the question: “How can such conservation and even restoration be successful in close proximity to an urban development?’” Based on early advice from conservation experts – it won’t happen by accident – but rather through diligent assessments, and applying clear principles and careful planning and implementation.
CSIRO is keen to do exactly that and to develop principles and plans with experts and the broader community through a participatory planning process.
The next steps are to further develop these conservation principles with the same groups through a workshop in late June and to follow that up with some broader community engagement in July.
The environmental principles and plans will then form part of the briefs for the eventual joint venture development partners selected by CSIRO.
Exploring Ginninderra’s past, present and future
After more than half a century of dedicated scientific research, CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station is entering a new phase. Planning and engagement has commenced to deliver a new benchmark in liveable, sustainable and resilient urban development.
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for plant and agricultural research. This was in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
As with the Dickson site, the Ginninderra Field Station has now been surrounded by urban development and is no longer optimal for CSIRO’s agricultural research. In 2011 CSIRO started considering options for Ginninderra’s future use.
Rather than simply sell the property, CSIRO saw Ginninderra as a great opportunity to bring its research together to make a difference, not only for local residents and the ACT, but for other Australian cities, people, industry and the environment.
The sustainable urban development of Ginninderra presents an opportunity for positive social, environmental and economic impact for the ACT and Australia, while generating revenue for the reinvestment into CSIRO innovation and research infrastructure.
In December 2012, CSIRO sought advice from the National Capital Authority about the correct process for seeking an amendment to the National Capital Plan. Through this, a long-term vision to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development has arisen.
It’s a vision that has emerged through engagement with CSIRO’s science capability, undertaking environmental and heritage investigations, and initial conversations with the community, and one that will continue to evolve and bring lasting benefits.
CSIRO staff first met with ACT Government officials in July 2014 and have met regularly since then to discuss the possibilities for the potential development of the Ginninderra Field Station for urban use.
These meetings confirmed that the site presented an opportunity for greenfield development, which has been supported by the NCA’s response to the key issues considered as part of Amendment 86: ‘The CSIRO Ginninderra site presents an opportunity for greenfield development that can make use of existing infrastructure and services, and provides a more suitable alternative to cater for the growth of the city than other greenfield sites.’
CSIRO’s engagement with community groups, nearby residents and industry associations began in August 2015, coinciding with the land’s inclusion as part of Amendment 86.
This first round of engagement with the local community in September 2015 included three drop-in sessions at Gold Creek, Evatt and Charnwood and involved more than 220 people. This is only the beginning, as CSIRO aims to involve more of these people and groups in the conversation about how we can design and work together for a liveable, sustainable and resilient urban area.
On 5 May 2016, classification of the Ginninderra Field Station to ‘Urban’ as part of the National Capital Plan was approved. This decision paved the way for CSIRO to seek Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a suitable development partner.
Following the closing of the EOI on May 23, CSIRO is evaluating and shortlisting suitably qualified developers, ahead of a Request for Proposal process later in the year.
CSIRO is excited about the opportunity to continue to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, to create something unique at Ginninderra.
CSIRO is also committed to continuing the discussions with ACT Government agencies to harmonise with future planning goals and aspirations.
Future steps for the Ginninderra project include a site visit with conservation groups and workshop in June, community forum in July, additional community meetings in early 2017, as well as planning, approvals and detailed design in 2018. The earliest that any development could commence on the site is in 2019.
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.
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.
Planning for the future
Retaining green spaces and corridors and protecting Ginninderra’s ecology has already been raised by many community members during the consultations so far.
As part of the process, we are conducting environmental studies to fully understand the Ginninderra landscape and ecology. At 701 hectares, it is a large piece of land with variations across the site. While studies are still ongoing, environment and conservation are a key consideration for the site.
Based on studies so far, approximately 150 hectares of the land is unlikely to be developable due to its topography, heritage and ecological values, and will likely remain open space.
This will provide valuable recreational and conservation areas, as well as preserve some of the views of the hills and ridges currently experienced by adjoining suburbs. These open spaces will also allow for wildlife to continue traversing the property.
Alongside the farmland on the site is a diverse ecology, including protected species such as the golden sun moth and box gum woodlands along with many other plant and animal species.
A program for ongoing management to support critical ecosystem services, biodiversity, and cultural values will be developed. With the support and research of CSIRO scientists, the approach to conservation management will take into account multiple factors, as part of an overall avoidance, mitigation and offset strategy. This will include measures to restore and support conserved areas.
Offsetting measures, if required, would seek to establish compensatory areas as close to the location of the impact as possible and would follow the established Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 offset policy.
The project team working on the biodiversity assessment aspect of the project were responsible for preparation of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and are also presently working with the Riverview Group and ACT Government (LDA) in preparation of the West Belconnen Strategic Assessment.
The team has a detailed appreciation of the broader opportunities and constraints in the wider area, providing consistency between these connected parts of the landscape.
The Ginninderra site is an important part of Canberra and we look forward to working with local residents, conservation and community groups on the future of this land.
If you have any questions or suggestions on the environmental management of Ginninderra, please contact us.
Canberra’s hidden reserve
The Ginninderra Field Station was established in 1958 as a site for agricultural research in anticipation of the closure of the Dickson Experiment Station to make way for urban development in that area, which eventually occurred in 1962.
The Ginninderra site is located in the northern area of ACT, surrounded by the suburbs of Gungahlin, Hall and Nicholls to the north, Giralang to the east, and Evatt, Spence and Fraser to the south.
While nearby residents know more, it’s an area many people have driven past every day and never realised what lay within.
Behind the unassuming ridges and rows of vegetation lies 701 hectares of grassy open space with 80 hectares of irrigated, arable land. The quality soil and water availability on the site has provided excellent opportunities to support CSIRO’s agricultural research effort.
There are three houses, a machinery shed, a workshop, a barn, shearing sheds and some scientific equipment and approximately 5,000 sheep on the property.
Australia is famous for its beautiful natural environment which is reflected throughout the site. A mixture of native grasses, Scribbly Gum woodland, Box-Gum woodland, Eucalypts and pines create the greenscape of the site.
A natural drainage system, Halls Creek, separates the upper and lower areas of the site. Surrounded by ridges and hills there are amazing views across to Belconnen Town Centre, Telstra Tower and the Brindabella’s from the highest points of the site.
Canberra is known for its ability to incorporate green spaces into the city. The future of the site will embody this, retaining green spaces, open reserves, and natural vegetation. Sitting within the north-eastern end of site lie two very special trees, Canberra’s oldest oaks. This unique part of the landscape will be preserved throughout the development.
The site is also home to native, endangered species including the Golden Sun Moth and Box-Gum woodland. Protecting the plants and creatures that call the Ginninderra lands home is integral to this project. Opportunities to improve the quality of woodlands and create natural reserves will arise throughout the course of the project.
A number of Aboriginal heritage locations have been identified on the site. When European settlement took place in the area homesteads were set up near the Ginninderra property. Nearby heritage listed sites include the Charnwood Homestead, the Palmerville (Ginninderra) Homestead and the Ginninderra Police Station. These sites are all important in better understanding Canberra’s early history and will be respected throughout the project.
Canberra CBD to Ginninderra Field Station [PDF, 4MB]
Draft Concept Plan [PDF, 1MB]
CSIRO in Canberra: from agriculture to space
CSIRO’s presence in Canberra is almost as old as Canberra itself, with just 14 years separating the establishment of Canberra and the creation of our national science body.
Since these early beginnings, Canberra has been a critical part of CSIRO’s research in agriculture and the natural sciences.
CSIRO’S Black Mountain offices opened in 1927, with the Department of Entomology moving into its own building in 1934. The Australian National Herbarium was also established during the 1930s.
The first site for agricultural research in Canberra was a site at Duntroon Farm, which later became Canberra Airport. A story in The Canberra Times in May 1931 said the costs of operating the farm would be covered by a £6,000 per annum contribution from the Empire Marketing Board, and that:
“Special attention is to be paid to investigations of wheat resistance and diseases, while a special section will be set aside for testing new grasses and forage plants to be introduced from abroad.”
This research site shifted from Duntroon to the Dickson Experiment Station in 1940, and experiments into crop and pasture trials continued here. Scientists also looked at how land could be used productively for livestock and crop farming, and housed a large flock of merino and Border Leicester sheep.
CSIRO’s history in Canberra is about more than agriculture, even though this has been a key focus. In 1965 the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex opened at Tidbinbilla, and has worked with NASA on space exploration missions ever since. For nearly 60 years, the Gungahlin Homestead property at Crace was used for CSIRO’s Sustainable Ecosystems research program.
As urban development began to encroach on the Dickson farm, it was time for the field state to be moved once again. CSIRO acquired the 701 acre land for the Ginninderra Experiment Station in 1958, moving all research there by 1962.
The Dickson area turned out to be much-needed land for urban development, as the ACT population almost doubled from 55,000 to over 90,000 in the five years between 1960 and 1965.
Photos from the time show the rapid pace of development in Dickson and the surrounding suburbs once this land close to the centre of Canberra was repurposed.
Meanwhile, the Ginninderra site over the years has provided space for multiple research projects, including testing varieties of crop seeds, animal farming and other agricultural experiments.
The site has contributed to Australian science including the development of BarleyMax and dual purpose wheats, crop and pasture improvement, sustainable farming, plant breeding and the effects of climate changes on crop production and soil carbon.
Once again, the city of Canberra has grown up around a CSIRO research site. Neighbouring suburbs include Hall and Nicholls to the north, the Belconnen suburb of Giralang to the east, and Evatt, Spence and Fraser to the south.
The story of CSIRO’s agriculture research in Canberra continues with the creation of the National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct, a $190 million investment bringing together research partners at CSIRO’s foundation site at Black Mountain. This initiative will bring together researchers from all over the world to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in plant and environmental sciences.