Thank you one and all!
A big ‘thank you’ to all volunteers who took part in our two community planting days on 21 and 28 May.
Last Sunday a further 74 people took part and were able to cover three plots with 875 shrubs. That means, thanks to the combined energy and efforts over two weekends, the plantings were an overwhelming success with more than 1600 shrubs planted. This is a great start to restoring a patchy shrub layer in the Ginninderra Box Gum Woodlands.
We extend our thanks also to our collaborators Ginninderra Catchment Group, Our Dream Café for refreshments, Horizon coaches for onsite transport and Shelter ACT and Hall Rotary for the barbecue lunches.
If you enjoyed the woodland planting day and are interested in future events like this, you can register to receive our CSIRO Ginninderra newsletters or keep in touch with Ginninderra Catchment Group and Landcare.
Water sensitive design through international collaboration
Ginninderra is proposed to become a test-bed for the latest innovation in water sensitive urban design and infrastructure through an international collaboration between CSIRO and the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology.
As a generally dry country, Australia perpetually faces issues of water availability, storage and prudent use, according to Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Land and Water, Dr Simon Toze.
“A focus of our water management is to increase water availability in rural and urban environments for both human and environmental purposes,” says Simon. “In Australia we tend to have broad strategies and initiatives to capture, recycle and reduce the use of water where possible.”
“By contrast in Korea, where rain-fed water is relatively abundant, water sustainability issues relate mostly to improving the quality of environmental water. Korea tends to focus on mechanisms to treat and clean environmental waterways or to add recycled water and cleaned urban stormwater to increase environmental flows.”
Despite these differences, Australia and Korea share common interests in managing water quality and preventing contamination.
Both countries are experiencing issues relating to existing urban developments and the corresponding human and ecological impacts. Changes in climate, increasing urbanisation and growing population, along with increasing needs to protect and improve the local environments, are placing greater demands on regulators and urban planners.
In view of such common issues and complementary research skills and capabilities, Australia and Korea have taken key steps to bolster their collaboration and it is hoped that the Ginninderra initiative will be a prime beneficiary.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 between CSIRO Land and Water and the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) establishes a collaboration project. The project: ‘Integrated drainage and supply through water sensitive design’ is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Korea Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“As we work to combine and exchange the complimentary capabilities and research skills of each organisation, the benefits could be very significant for each country,” says Simon.
KICT research tends to focus on water engineering and treatment capabilities, while CSIRO has a wealth of skills and knowledge related to water quality, treatment assessment and water use efficiencies.
“Following our Australia-Korea Foundation Workshop in November 2016, we are proposing to work together at Ginninderra through an ‘Urban Living Lab’ to be a test bed for potential broad application of knowledge, technologies and infrastructure.”
Participants in the Australia-Korean Foundation Workshop met at CSIRO and
visited Ginninderra and various urban water management sites in Canberra
CSIRO Urban Living Labs are being set up in a number of Australian cities to encourage innovators from wide-ranging urban research backgrounds to come together to create, test and refine innovative products and services in a real-life setting, with the support of CSIRO and research partners. Some of the key activities and outcomes connected with Ginninderra are proposed to include:
- Developing the urban water design philosophy to be applied at Ginninderra
- Analysing, trialling and feasibility testing the effectiveness of specific water sensitive urban design / green stormwater infrastructure and Managed Aquifer Recharge facilities and
- Potentially applying the research findings from Ginninderra in the establishment of a new sustainable city (Sejong) in Korea.
Through the Australia-Korea Foundation project agreement, a follow-up workshop to develop the joint research activities is planned for Goyang, South Korea in February or March 2017.
Using science to transform greenfields and cities
Over the past few years one question that has come up is: ‘why would a national science and innovation agency like CSIRO be involved in what appears to be a greenfield development at Ginninderra on the outskirts of Canberra?’
It’s not a difficult question to answer when you consider what CSIRO is, what it has done in the past and what it is planning to do in the future.
CSIRO and its forerunner Commonwealth science organisations has been harnessing science to solve some of the nation’s greatest challenges for 100 years. Whether it was helping eradicate Prickly Pear or other agricultural pests and weeds, inventing Aerogard, Hendra vaccine, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet and fast WIFI, our innovation has improved the lives of people in Australia and throughout the world.
We have been an important part of the Canberra community as we have developed our world-leading plant, animal, insect, agricultural and environmental expertise since 1927. From our foundation site at Black Mountain we spread to multiple locations (some since closed) from Dickson, Yarralumla, Crace, Campbell, and Ginninderra, through to our involvement with NASA and even the coverage of the moon landing from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla.
A common thread through CSIRO’s history is our ability to work with others to solve problems and find new solutions. This is capital ‘C’ Collaboration! Importantly, the ‘I’ in our name stands for ‘industrial’ – so it’s no surprise that we work closely with a wide range of industries and industry collaborators.
All this begs the questions for Ginninderra: ‘What is the national innovation challenge that can be tackled through science here?’ and ‘which are the industries we can work with on solutions?’
What is the great national challenge at Ginninderra?
The science challenge is one of the most formidable ever – to make our cities and urban areas more sustainable for our people, the environment and the resources and future of the planet.
The role of cities and their citizens in our global dilemma can be seen in this infographic below (based on figures quoted in the United Nations Environment Programme report: Cities and Buildings).
According to that report, cities are where most of the growing world population lives (two thirds of the world by 2030), they consume 75% of global resources, use 80% of energy, and they produce about 75% of greenhouse gas emissions and 50% of world waste.
These same challenges present great opportunities for us to transform city performance along with all the flow-on benefits, through better design and innovation.
CSIRO has a wealth of science knowledge, data, technology and innovation that it can contribute to the ‘whole-of-system’ solutions that are needed. That knowledge and innovation covers fields from mining, materials and manufacturing, energy and renewables, city, land, water, oceans, atmosphere and space; to digital and data solutions, agriculture and food production and heath and biosecurity.
CSIRO also owns and manages a large portfolio of properties, facilities and science platforms that underpin the delivery of our science and innovation. One of our priorities is to make sure we have high quality infrastructure that is used cost-effectively for the benefit of science and the nation.
As an underutilised Commonwealth research asset, CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station provides us with an incredible opportunity to bring our science and innovation into real world applications onsite. It’s an opportunity to employ science to push design and delivery to new limits and realise improved social, economic and environmental benchmarks and outcomes.
Ginninderra is a key site among a portfolio of greenfield, urban and inner city locations where CSIRO intends to work with a wide range of partners to push the horizons of urban sustainability.
Collaboration and partnerships are going to be vitally important to the success of this work. We are already involved with a wide range of government, non-government, community and interest groups and industries with a stake and interest in urban sustainability.
For Ginninderra, one of our key collaborators will be an eventual joint development partner. Rather than a ‘property developer’ per se, we are seeking a partner that will be able to help us realise this sustainability vision through practical planning, design and on-ground application of the science.
We are excited by the prospect of new and emerging opportunities to work with collaborators in the property and construction industry. This is now Australia’s largest industry contributing more than a million jobs and $182 billion a year (11% of GDP) to the Australian economy.
We are equally excited about working with the ACT community, government, research and environmental stakeholders in developing something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.
Citizen-led science is already underway at Ginninderra with the community-led grassland restoration project and this is something we would like to nurture and expand. Community inspired innovation could also help drive the prospect of a greater range of affordable housing options.
The Ginninderra site is a perfect example of an opportunity for science to make a difference for people and it helps us progress our mission to innovate for tomorrow while helping improve today.
So the question really should be: “why wouldn’t we be involved?’
170 residents drop-in for 360 degree views of Ginninderra
Canberra residents took the opportunity to ‘fly’ over the drone-captured 360-degree landscape of CSIRO’s Ginninderra property while providing feedback at two community drop-in sessions on August 25 and 27.
The community drop-in sessions at Evatt and Gold Creek unearthed a wealth of ideas and views that will inform and influence the vision and early planning of CSIRO’s future sustainable development at the Ginninderra site.
More than 170 citizens took part in the sessions focused on providing updates, answering questions and gathering ideas to feed into the early planning stages.
Key topics discussed at these drop-in sessions corresponded with the four main areas of interest raised by the community at initial meetings in September 2015, which were: housing; roads and transport; community facilities; and conservation.
“As with our earlier meetings, the ideas and feedback from these drop-ins will be recorded in engagement reports that will help to further shape the vision, principles and concepts that in turn influence the more detailed planning to take place with anticipated joint venture development partner when we get to that stage.”
The latest drop-in sessions follow five years of preparation and investigation that led to the approval (in May 2016) for CSIRO’s Ginninderra Field Station to be classified as ‘Urban’ under Amendment (86) to the National Capital Plan.
Project update – August
Over the past month the project team has continued to examine affordable housing and how planning and collaboration could address sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.
A growing population, rising tide of record high property prices, limited land release and broader economic and social change is swamping the great Australian dream of owning a home and even pushing rent payment out of reach for many Australians.
However, the encouraging response from our Affordable Housing Think Tank suggests there is a groundswell of innovative ideas – for example flexible design, tenure and financial models – that could make Australian homes more affordable and sustainable.
This month we are also excited to be talking to the community to gather ideas and create something unique at Ginninderra.
We invite you to attend one of our upcoming drop-in sessions to receive an update on the project and ask any questions about plans for the site.
Session 1 – Evatt
Date: Thursday 25 August 2016
Time: 3:00pm to 6:30pm
Venue: Evatt Scout Hall
Address: Heydon Crescent, Evatt
Session 2 – Gold Creek (Nicholls)
Date: Saturday 27 August 2016
Time: 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Venue: The Abbey
Address: Gold Creek Village, Nicholls
At these events, you will be able to talk with our project team and contribute your ideas, helping to shape our vision for the property and the principles that will guide sustainable urban development.
There will also be the chance to provide general feedback about the project. If you can’t attend either session, but still want to provide feedback, please complete the online enquiry contact form.
Many people have already taken the time to speak to us and provide their comments on the future of Ginninderra. Thank you for your valuable contribution.
Protecting the Little Eagle
CSIRO is keen to continue to work with government, conservation groups and raptor experts to share knowledge and build greater scientific understanding and protection of the Little Eagle.
The Little Eagle, which is native to Australia and tends to inhabit open woodland, grassland and arid regions, is listed as a vulnerable species in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.
The first sighting of a Little Eagle flying over the northern part of the Ginninderra property occurred in December 2013.
As part of the proposed future sustainable urban development at Ginninderra, CSIRO is committed to the highest standard of environmental management extending well beyond legislative requirements for protecting threatened species and ecosystems.
Our best-practice environmental management includes comprehensive ecological surveys and ongoing collaboration with local conservation groups and experts to conserve important species and ecosystems.
During ecological field surveys over the spring-summer 2014, a successful breeding event for the Little Eagle was recorded. The nesting site was located in a mature scribbly gum, in a patch of woodland dominated by this species. As a result of this finding, CSIRO sought additional specialist ornithological advice to identify management recommendations that would help to ensure viability of the breeding habitat within the nesting site and surrounding foraging areas of open woodland.
The following recommendations were implemented:
- Avoid visiting the Little Eagle nest site during incubation and nesting phases, especially if the adult birds are seen circling or perched. Human visitation on foot appears to disturb birds and could cause nesting failure.
- No removal of live or dead trees, especially large older trees which provide nesting habitat.
- No removal of logs, woody debris and other dead wood derived from native species for firewood or fire control. These areas increase habitat provisions including species which are preyed upon by the Little Eagle.
Drawing on experiences from other urban developments, CSIRO sought further advice as to what additional information was required about the pair and their requirements during the critical breeding season. This revealed it is important to determine if the nest is used regularly, or at least during the next breeding season. It is also critical to understand the extent of the foraging area during the breeding season that is required to maintain the nesting pair.
Researchers will require regular access to the site for monitoring, and regular liaison and information sharing should occur between the CSIRO, raptor experts and ACT Government Conservation Planning and Research (CPR) Group.
These recommendations were implemented and CSIRO’s project team engaged with the ACTCPR Group and raptor experts to further research the Little Eagle to determine its movements in relation to the site.
In consultation with ACT CPR Group, the CSIRO purchased two specialist satellite tracking devices from the USA with the objective of capturing the Little Eagle pair, in accordance with ethics requirements, and tracking their foraging range through GPS readings.
While the Little Eagle can return to the same nesting location in subsequent years, they often utilise a range of nesting locations within their home range in different years.
As the Little Eagle pair was not found at the Ginninderra nest site in 2015, the tracking devices were not able to be deployed.
In 2015, the ACT Government successfully captured and tracked a male Little Eagle from a nesting event in Strathnairn (West Belconnen), one of only two recorded nesting events in the ACT in 2015 (the other being at Campbell Park). CSIRO is working with the West Belconnen project to ensure a consistent approach to the active conservation management of this species.
CSIRO is also keen to continue to work closely with the ACT CPR Group and raptor experts in regard to the Little Eagle.
While the breeding pair has not been recorded at the nesting site since 2014, CSIRO is committed to providing best-practice management of identified Little Eagle habitat. This includes establishing buffer zones around the nesting site to protect and manage Little Eagle foraging habitat. Overall CSIRO has identified 19 % of the property for legislative protection of endangered species and a further 12% for additional protection and buffer zones.
As with the West Belconnen development an exclusion area will be established around the nesting site, with no development to occur in this part of the property until research on foraging habitat is completed and taken into account.
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.
Project update – June
After some key announcements in early May, over the past month we have been working with community conservation groups and taking the first steps towards finding a joint venture development partner.
Following the decision regarding Amendment 86, we commenced an Expressions of Interest process where we asked for responses from suitably qualified development partners to work with us to deliver a new benchmark in sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.
Expressions of Interest to join CSIRO as a Joint Venture Partner closed on May 23 and we are currently undertaking an evaluation process before shortlisting ahead of a formal tender process.
As part of CSIRO’s commitment to the conservation and restoration of natural values on the Ginninderra property, we have been working actively with the Ginninderra Catchment Group’s grasslands restoration project.
Recently we joined the Ginninderra Catchment Group, Landcare groups, the Rural Fire Service, community experts and volunteers to conduct autumn burning of five experimental sites across the Ginninderra property.
The findings of this community-driven project will provide the scientific evidence base to inform best-practice future management of native grasslands at Ginninderra.
As part of our ongoing engagement activities, CSIRO hosted a site visit with member groups of the Conservation Council last week. This was attended by representatives from the Friends of Grasslands, Ginninderra Catchment Group, and Conservation Council’s Biodiversity Working Group.
CSIRO remains committed to working with all key stakeholders and an event is being organised to update the community and to continue our conversations in the second half of July. More details on this will be made available in the coming weeks.
Taking on the liveability challenge
Canberra is one of the best places to live in the world. Our beautiful open spaces, incredible sense of community and cosmopolitan lifestyle – without the traffic congestion typical in most cities – has now been recognised on a national and international level.
In March 2014 Canberra was ranked number one in the OECD Regional Well-Being Report, scoring highly in eight of the nine indicators including safety, access to services, civic engagement, education, jobs, environment, income and health.
Since then Canberra has continued to perform well in global assessments of liveability, ranking number 28 on the Worldwide Quality of Living survey in February 2016. While this is an achievement to be celebrated, can we actually improve on this?
Shaping and improving our future cities and their liveability is the focus of a range of CSIRO research. Achieving such improvements in liveability is also a key aspiration for our Ginninderra project.
“Liveability is typically measured using various social and economic indicators such as income, wealth, education, health status, economic, community and recreational infrastructure, and access to opportunities and services,” according to CSIRO Social Scientist, Dr Rod McCrea.
There are also aesthetic and environmental elements that contribute to liveability, for example features such as: air and water quality, environmental outlook and setting, and even native plant and animal presence.
“So in every city we see this trade-off between benefits such as: access to employment, health and entertainment opportunities and services; and the negative consequences of urban growth such as: housing costs, overcrowding, congestion and environmental degradation.”
“Increases in travel-to-work time and declining access to affordable housing can be negative impacts of urban growth when it is not well planned and executed.”
Rod and colleagues Professors Rosemary Leonard and Greg Foliente recently conducted a Survey of Community Wellbeing and Responding to Change across six local government areas in Melbourne. The survey was prompted by Melbourne’s current challenge of managing urban growth while maintaining quality of life and promoting community wellbeing.
While focussed on Melbourne, the research highlights the importance of community resilience and adaptability to successfully maintaining liveability and wellbeing amid urban growth and change.
“The planning and engagement of a community in urban growth and having a shared sense that ‘this is our place and we are growing it together’ are vitally important,” Rosemary says.
It is still early days at Ginninderra, with many opportunities for the thoughts and ideas of the local community to be heard and included through the planning process.
A participatory process that nurtures the liveability needs of future residents as well as those of people living in the area now, will help to produce a good outcome.
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.