BIGnet conference at Urunga – 9/10 September 2017

BirdLife Northern NSW recently hosted a weekend conference at Urunga, near Coffs Harbour. It was a coming together of Bird Interest Groups in NSW and ACT (BIGnet), and 15 made the journey to the mid-north coast (including BirdLife Southern NSW, BirdLife Shoalhaven and BirdLife Southern Highlands). Saturday morning was taken up with conservation matters, with BirdLife Australia’s conservation agenda and moves in NSW to ease land-clearing regulations being a major focus of discussions. There were also a presentation from Martin Smith (NPWS) on a successful community project to protect breeding Little Terns at Sawtell.

In the afternoon we heard from Josh Keating (Coastal Emu Alliance) and Lynn Baker (OEH) about the program they are developing to conserve, and expand, the critically small population of Emus still surviving in coastal areas of northern NSW. Lynne has trained a spaniel to detect the bird by scent. Peter Higgins (NPWS) spoke on Saving Our Species (SOS), and the opportunities for groups to propose ideas for landscape-scale conservation projects, with substantial funding being available for successful bidders. Sam Vine (Head of Conservation, BirdLife Australia) told us of plans for the future direction of BirdLife, with an empahasis on conservation, and sustainable funding through the new membership structure.

Sunday was taken up with the business meeting, and we looked at ways of increasing representation of clubs and other bird groups at the biannual BIGnet conferences. We also discussed organising more workshops to spread the word about Key Biodiversity Areas, and the possibility of forming bird survey teams of volunteers for remote KBAs. The next conference, hosted by BirdLife Southern NSW, will be held in Sydney in April 2018. 


Image, Mother and chic Fairy Terns by Georgina Steytler