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.
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.
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.
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 locks in affordable housing plans for field station site
Published on 24 April in the Canberra Times. Written by Tom McIlroy.
The CSIRO will explore innovative technology, finance and governance models to effectively incorporate affordable housing options into the planned redevelopment of its Ginninderra Field Station.
About 30 experts from universities, social service groups, charities, and banks joined a think tank event on affordable housing options for the 700-hectare site earlier this month, advising the research organisation to use technology to reduce the cost of living on the site and to incorporate place-making and a master plan to manage affordable housing.
The planning comes as the CSIRO waits for federal government approvals on required zoning changes. Once approved, a consortium or joint-development partner will be engaged for the redevelopment project.
Established in 1960, the field station replaced a research site near the Dickson shops. The area has been home to the development of a range of projects including novel grains and agricultural systems. The field station sits on the ACT-NSW border, framed by the Barton Highway, William Slim Drive, Owen Dixon Drive and Kuringa Drive.
Some residents near the field station oppose changing the land’s zoning classification from hills, ridges and buffer spaces to urban area.
Design of houses and public spaces was raised by participants, as well as incorporation of CSIRO research outcomes.
Planners could consider allocating blocks of land and specific areas of the site as designated affordable housing supply, with the cost in part covered by higher value sales in other areas. Ballots or other allocation methods will be considered.
A community information session is planned in coming months to give local residents and other stakeholders with the chance to receive an update on the project and to suggest ideas and ask questions.
Think Tank generates ideas for affordable housing
Our Affordable Housing Think Tank on 8 April 2016 was a success – bringing out a wealth of ideas from an impressive gathering of industry, government, research and community experts.
The objective of the Think Tank was to generate shared understanding of the issues and to identify bold and innovative ideas for the delivery of affordable housing locally, and it did!
A range of ideas were discussed and broad agreement reached, that to deliver affordable housing that best meets the diversity of societal needs, the Ginninderra project should:
- Explore innovative finance and governance models
- Adopt and promote innovative sustainability technologies that also improve affordability by reducing the cost of living
- Commit to ‘place-making’ and to trialing and assessing a variety of approaches to the provision of affordable housing within the site
- Identify approaches to community consultation and engagement that will support the project aims and involve low and moderate income earners
- Develop a plan for the site that articulates a clear vision and aspirations
Thirty experts from the housing sector, ACT and federal government agencies, community organisations and CSIRO research teams took part in the Think Tank that will help inform a strategy for affordable housing in the Ginninderra project.
Think Tank participants suggested that planning and design should aim to ensure the site provides diverse housing types, meets the needs of diverse households, and in particular provides housing that is affordable to people and households across all income levels. Ideas supporting such multi-level affordable housing included:
- Considering the specific needs of particular cohorts identified as requiring affordable housing
- Providing a mix of higher and lower density housing on the site
- Providing a mix not only of different tenure types, household types and housing types, but also diverse funding mechanisms and governance structures to meet the needs of a differentiated market and to encourage diversity in the site
- Considering options to cross-subsidise affordable housing within the development
- Designing housing for the life course, so that homes can readily respond to changing household needs and composition
- Investigating investment sources including social impact bonds and superannuation
- Exploring ways of ensuring that housing remains affordable into the future
These ideas and those generated through further research and community engagement will be tested and evaluated to inform a living strategy document that guides CSIRO’s approach to affordable housing as a key element to the overall development of the site.
CSIRO is aspiring to an overall design that embraces the ideas of the community and considers energy, water, emissions, waste, economic activity, health and wellbeing, and the environment – as well as integrating affordable housing.
CSIRO remains committed to working with stakeholders to push the frontiers of sustainable and affordable urban design.
Over the past month the project team has continued its environmental and heritage studies so this important information can be further refined while the land reclassification decision under Draft Amendment 86 is pending.
Once we are aware of the outcome of this process, we will consider the next steps for the project and communicate this to our stakeholders.
You can read more about the process in detail on the NCA website.
We expect to find out more about the outcome of the request later this month or in April.
In the meantime, CSIRO scientists have been collaborating to establish the best ideas and innovation for potential application in a sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.
The Ginninderra Project team is continuing to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, to create something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.
Over the past month the project team has continued its environmental and heritage studies so that this important information can be obtained concurrently to the land reclassification process that is ongoing.
We are waiting on the outcome of Draft Amendment 86. Once we are aware of the outcome we will consider the next steps for the project and ensure we communicate this to our stakeholders.
You can read more about the process in detail on the NCA website.
We expect to find out more about the outcome of the request later this month or in March.
In the meantime the Ginninderra Project team will continue to work with the community, government, research partners, and other stakeholders, to create something unique and remarkable at Ginninderra.
The NCA process and beyond
Following the end of the National Capital Authority (NCA) public consultations, it’s time to look at what happens next in the process of seeking reclassification of the Ginninderra Field Station to “Urban Area”.
There are a number of robust processes, with both the Federal and ACT Governments, that govern land reclassification and development in the ACT.
The public consultation phase was an opportunity for members of the ACT community to provide feedback and input on the suggested change. At this stage, the NCA also has the opportunity to consult with key ACT Government agencies, including the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate.
Following the public consultation process, the feedback will be compiled into a report and submitted to the Minister, currently Paul Fletcher, Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects.
If both the NCA and the Minister support the reclassification, there are still a number of other parliamentary processes to follow before the amendment is registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.
The change would take effect from this point, although the amendment is then put before both Houses of Parliament and is subject to disallowance. You can read more about the process in detail on the NCA website.
We expect to find out about the outcome of the request in February or March 2016.
We share the NCA’s commitment to community engagement. If you have questions or suggestions about the future use of the Ginninderra site, you can continue to contact us through this website.
Throughout this process we will continue to work on environmental and heritage studies to ensure that we have a complete picture of the site’s significant historical and ecological features.
We are hoping that our request to change the use of the land to “Urban Area” is approved. In the meantime, our scientists will continue to look at best practices in urban sustainability that could be adopted at Ginninderra.
We look forward to revealing more about our aspirations that could eventually make Ginninderra a world-leader in innovative and sustainable development.