Friends of Grasslands 2013 Annual Reports

Prepared for FOG AGM Tue 18 March 2014


President’s Report

Secretary's Report

Treasurer's Report



Activities Program

FOG Website




NCA projects

Hall Cemetery Annual Report

Old Cooma Common Grassland Reserve

Scottsdale Monitoring

Conservation Council Biodiversity Working Group

Bush on the Boundary (general)

Bush on the Boundary Molonglo

BoB Gungahlin

Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Park


President’s Report (Sarah Sharp)

Firstly I would like to thank all the committee members and others who have helped and guided me in my first year as President. As can be seen by the reports following, many people have made the job much easier. I gratefully acknowledge all their support and hard work.

As usual, FOG members were extremely busy in 2013. The advocacy group has put in submissions, attended one-off and ongoing meetings related to a variety of issues, including the Murrumbidgee to Googong Pipeline, Majura Parkway development, National Airport projects and National Capital Authority concerns. However, there was a considerable decrease in the number of submissions prepared in 2013 (from 33 in 2012 to 19 in 2013). This decrease is in part the result of the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment, which has reduced the number of single development proposals in the area, and resulted in more clarity in what will be developed and what will be retained in the conservation estate. Special thanks are due to Naarilla Hirsch for her continued extensive efforts to maintain the high profile of FOG as an advocate for the environment. Naarilla’s efforts and achievements are not only appreciated by the FOG committee but also by the Conservation Council, who are cc’d in to all our submissions and rely on Naarilla’s weekly web-checks to ensure they are aware of all issues that are publicised.

FOG members organised workparties at five sites in 2013. These included 16 workparties on national land: at Stirling Park, Scrivener’s Hut (opposite Parliament House) and Yarramundi Reach, admirably guided by Jamie Pittock who also managed a grant for weed control at Stirling Park and encouraged many local residents to join FOG and the workparties. John Fitz Gerald took over from Janet and Andy Russell facilitating workparties at Hall Cemetery, and Linda Spinaze again organised the annual monitoring event at ‘Scottsdale’ Bush Heritage property near Bredbo. There were no workparties at Old Cooma Common in 2013.

In addition FOG members have organised and participated in site visits and attended and participated in a forum held in Canberra and later in the year in Melbourne sponsored in part by the Myer Foundation and by Kosciuszko to Coast (K2C). We have provided input into several Myer products on grasslands and grassland management to be completed in 2014; staffed stalls at several fairs; helped with revegetation events held by Greening Australia; assisted with the publication of a brochure on Grassland Earless Dragon; provided input into several Conservation Council publications and participated in events and forums they have held; participated in the Molonglo Catchment Group’s Black Mountain Bioblitz in November; and been in contact with groups and individuals over concerns and issues. In all, a truly remarkable team effort for a small group of volunteers.

FOG has active partnerships with a number of groups. FOG members participate in the Conservation Council Biodiversity Working Group; Bush on the Boundary (Gungahlin and Molonglo); the board of K2C; the Bush Heritage Trust (with the monitoring program for African Lovegrass at Scottsdale); Greening Australia (in various ways, including facilitating revegetation trials of multiple herbs at Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach); the National Capital Authority; and the ACT Catchment Groups. These links are very important to enable better and stronger communication and outcomes.

Our secretary, Kris Nash, has handled, filed and dealt with over 250 pieces of communication in the year.

The FOG newsletter remains a major form of communication with our members and others. In addition to the copies sent to members our website statistics reveal that the newsletters were viewed between 500 and 1000 times. Communication remains an issue that we are striving to improve, and small changes have already been incorporated into the website. More to come in 2014.

Membership remains very steady, with over 200 members. Our members are the ones that give us the mandate to do what we do, and we do rely on this to ensure we are on track. Your support is appreciated. I would be happy to have feedback from any of you on any issues related to FOG’s activities, or concerns you may have.

In 2013 a key achievement was the rezoning of Yarramundi Reach as ‘open space’, which precludes development on this land. However, we failed to achieve the same protection for Stirling Park, which remains a potential site for a new Prime Minister’s Lodge. A further win, we believe, for the environment was the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment, which has provided better surety for protection of the conservation estate in Gungahlin. FOG members participated in the consultation process with the Conservation Council and Canberra Ornithologists Group in particular.

Concerns remain in the application of offsets, and whether they do result in at least a neutral outcome rather than continuous loss of grassy ecosystems. We are currently grappling with the Nature Conservation Bill in partnership with the Conservation Council and other umbrella groups. The original submission was due in December 2013 but, in conjunction with the Conservation Council, we requested an extension. Although there were considerable problems with this we have now (in 2014) achieved a good result, where the issues are to be dealt with in a round-table between stakeholders and members of each political party. The outcomes in terms of the effectiveness of the new Nature Conservation Act are yet to be seen.

Due to constitutional changes that were approved at a special meeting in July we now have our first FOG ‘lifer’. Geoff Robertson was awarded Honorary Life Membership at that meeting, acknowledging his considerable and extensive input into FOG and grassland issues for well over a decade. His achievements were presented in an article in the September–October 2013 newsletter. I am sure all members join me in congratulating Geoff and thanking him for his on-going support of FOG.

In September John Fitz Gerald was awarded the ACT Government’s Quiet Achievers Award. This award recognised the extensive work that he has undertaken with several environmental groups: not just FOG but also Greening Australia, Friends of The Pinnacle and STEP. I have been personally very grateful for John’s sound advice and support after taking over presidency from him in March 2013. His award was well deserved.

I wish also to acknowledge the work of four people who are standing down or back from particular roles in FOG. John Buckley, our quiet and reliable recorder of committee-meeting minutes, is resigning from the committee to pursue other interests. Many thanks, John, and it was great to have you as part of the team. Stephen Horn has been Treasurer of FOG for three years but is officially standing down as Treasurer at the AGM. John Fitz Gerald wishes to stand down as Vice-President. Isobel Crawford handed over the role of editor of the newsletter prior to the March–April 2014 edition. Thank you all for the great jobs you have done over the past few years. I am pleased that Stephen, Isobel and John are remaining on the committee.

Secretary's Report (Kris Nash)

During 2013 as previously, the FOG secretary’s role was shared between several people with Janet Russell collecting and distributing posted mail, John Buckley taking responsibility for committee meeting minutes and myself generally receiving, disseminating and storing electronic mail.  The sharing of responsibilities continues to enable a simplified approach to the secretarial duties. 

The main duties of the communications secretary relate to the receipt of communications (mostly via email) and the subsequent filing into appropriate places or dissemination to the relevant party.  Details of all communications received and the corresponding action (including the file location) are kept and published each month.  The monthly records are stored in the common dropbox folder and are available to committee members.  The actual communications are stored in appropriate folders on the secretary’s email server (email correspondence), on a hard drive which is regularly backed up (PDF items for long term storage), as hard copies in an organised folder, or in temporary files deleted once the reference to the record has ceased, as per the record disposals policy.  

Communications generally consist of emails or letters:

Communications relating to specific FOG roles such as Advocacy and Financial Matters are kept by relevant subcommittees.

Approximately 255 pieces of communication were handled by the secretaries between January and December 2013, an average of about 21 pieces per month.  This includes postal mail collected and distributed by Janet Russell or Margaret Ning (in lieu) but not communications held by other committee members relating to specific roles, such as advocacy or accounts.

The main task for 2014 will be to archive the electronic mail by discovering the most appropriate and efficient way to convert gmail messages for storage on a pen drive (or similar).  I look forward to the challenge.

Treasurer's Report (Stephen Horn & Leon Pietsch)

This presents FOG’s annual accounts for 2013 on an accrual basis. Accrual accounting takes the cash accounts and makes adjustments to remove some of the distortions that make analysis of the underlying data difficult. This is most evident in the separate treatment of grant-related transactions. Typically grants are received in one year but only fully expended in subsequent years. Handled on a cash basis this would mean a large surplus is followed by deficits in later years. On an accrual basis, grant income is carried forward to the year in which it is spent, resulting in no net contribution to cash balance. This also applies to subscription income, with only current year subscriptions credited and advance subscriptions held over to the year to which they apply. Where known, end-of-year liabilities or credits outstanding are booked (included in the year to which they refer, either by invoice or anticipated transfer, or a ledger adjustment). Taking interest earned on term deposits into account, FOG again made a small surplus in 2013.

FOG keeps two sets of accounts, General and Publication, for which separate bank accounts are maintained. Consolidated accounts can be produced which add the two accounts together. In this presentation, they have been kept separate for ease of understanding. The separation is motivated by the multi-year grants towards FOG publication activity, and separate management of production and sales, compared to incidental sales and transactions that accompany the main operation.

General account: In 2013 FOG had income of $5512, expenses of $4940, together with interest earned on term deposit less depreciation on fixed assets producing a surplus of $905, increasing FOG resources (net assets) by this amount. At the end of 2013 FOG had assets of $45,301 and liabilities of $21,126, leaving net assets (members’ funds) of $24,175.

The main sources of income are: membership fees and donations ($4870), income from the projects ($1305), other income ($120) and interest ($589). Expenditure is attributed in equal measure to activity consumables ($1192) and the newsletter and administrative cost ($3366), depreciation of assets ($302), and membership of groups ($215). A project payment of a little over $1000 from the investment fund had been allocated in 2013, but not yet processed. Taking this into account the result would have been close to balance.

FOG’s assets in the General account comprise bank accounts ($29,524), merchandise stocks (t-shirts and FOG cards, $867), and equipment ($678). FOG’s liabilities arise largely from grants that have been received but not spent.

Accounting for grants: There is a special table which accounts for grants. This shows unspent grants carried over to 2013, new grants received, additional income associated with grants, expenditure against grants, income derived from grants, and unspent grants carried over to 2014. Only the NCA grant with a 2013 top-up, and sitting fees from ACTEW, carry through to 2014 ($1508 and $375 respectively). The rollover funds are treated as liabilities. Administrative expense component of grants is recognised in the reports as the line ‘Income from projects’ which amounted to $1305 in all.

Merchandise: Merchandise refers to goods (t-shirts and FOG cards) acquired by FOG for selling at a later date. These may be sold at a profit, or to cover costs, or given away. The purchase of such goods results in switching assets between cash and merchandise. As the goods are sold, the profit (or loss) on sales (sales less purchase price of goods sold and other expenses) is shown as income. Correspondingly, merchandise stocks (in the balance sheet) are reduced.

Depreciation of equipment: Equipment purchased for use over time (e.g. FOG’s presentation display) is treated as a switch between cash assets (bank account) and equipment assets. Assuming that the equipment will provide five years of service, one fifth of the value of the assets is recorded as an expense (depreciation) in each year and the value of the asset is reduced in the balance sheet accordingly.

Publication account: The publication account shows income of $3289, and expenses slightly higher at $3481. Income consists of income on publication sales ($1663) and interest ($1626). Income on publication sales is calculated as sales, less the cost of publications sold. (For FOG publications such as Grassland Flora the cost of publications sold includes printing costs but not other publication costs such as payment of authors.) Expenses covered an author payment under the ‘Woodland Flora’ publication grant ($2914) and publication stock storage ($567). Publications total assets at the end of the year were $67,380, comprising cash assets of $58,769 (of which $43,139 is held as a term deposit) and publication stocks ($7916). The assets include unspent grant funds of $10,439 for Grassland Flora and $38,618 for ‘Woodland Flora’, and publications stocks of $7916. The remaining uncommitted assets equal $10,407, compared to $6593 at the end of 2012.

Membership (Kim Pullen)

As at 31 December, 2013, FoG membership stood at 214, of which 206 were paying members and eight were complimentary members. One member, Geoff Robertson, was awarded Honorary Life Membership during the year.

FoG is a Canberra-based organisation, and the majority of our 2013 members (127, or 59%) resided in the ACT. Seventy-two (34%) lived in NSW, 10 (5%) in Victoria, two (1%) in Tasmania and there was a single member in South Australia.

Membership payments for 2014 fell due on 1 January, and 117 members are already paid up for the year. In addition, there are five complimentary members, one Honorary Life Member (see above), and John Fitz Gerald has become a Voluntary Life Member.

What is ‘complimentary’ membership? FOG decided some years ago that all members over the age of 80 would be provided complimentary membership, and in addition there are times that FOG awards a free membership for a period, usually one year, for work done. For example, two students initiated a project to monitor Button Wrinklewort at Stirling Park, and provided and presented a detailed scientific report on the work. For this they were given a free membership.

Advocacy (Naarilla Hirsch)

In 2013, the Advocacy Group has made 19 submissions on a range of conservation issues and proposals. In the ACT, these include submissions on the draft ACT trails strategy, several development proposals in the Majura and Jerrabomberra valleys, and input to the 2014-15 budget process. In NSW these mostly related to Travelling Stock Reserves and wind farm proposals. An area of concern is the continuing proposals for diplomatic missions and a new Prime Minister residence impacting on grasslands in central Canberra, such as Stirling Ridge.

A major piece of work undertaken early in 2013 was the FOG input to the Biodiversity Working Group deliberations and its separate submission on the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment. This strategic approach to development in Gungahlin has resulted in a more considered and, I believe, better outcome for conservation in this area, as well as precluding comment on a series of small piecemeal development proposals in Gungahlin through the last year and over the next few.

Conservation of grassy ecosystems on national lands managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA) was an ongoing advocacy focus. FOG successfully advocated for the NCA to rezone the Yarramundi Reach grasslands to “open space” under the National Capital Plan. FOG holds ongoing concerns for Stirling Park and Attunga Point due to potential future use of areas for new embassies or a new Prime Minister's Lodge. The Scrivener's Hut site has not been rezoned but our understanding is that this land is not intended to be developed.

Another on-going concern for the Advocacy Group is whether or not offsets are delivering the outcomes they are meant to. In most cases it is too early to say if outcomes are being delivered. This is an area that we will be monitoring into the future.

A significant role of the Advocacy Group is networking with other environmental and community groups. Advocacy group members attend meetings of groups such as both the Gungahlin and Molonglo Bush on the Boundary, the Conservation Council’s biodiversity working group, K2C and the Parkcare coordinators meetings. We work closely with the Conservation Council on issues such as the Gungahlin Strategic Assessment and the ACT’s Nature Conservation bill. During the year advocacy group members have attended a number of different presentations and community consultation meetings concerning conservation matters. We have met with Canberra Airport Group and attended regular meetings of the Murrumbidgee to Googong (M2G) pipeline Environmental Reference Group. Via one of these we were able to arrange a visit to the M2G offset site at Williamsdale last spring.

Activities Program (John Fitz Gerald)

Major activities are reported elsewhere in these pages.  In addition, FOG held trips to the Valley Ponds in Gungahlin, to Capertee Valley, to Bundidgerry near Murrumbateman (Bundidgerry plant list), to Nerriga and to Poplars grasslands in Jerrabomberra.  FOG also participated in the K2C activity in the region as part of a MYER Grassland Forum informing a team of visitors from Victoria, then representatives travelled to Melbourne for a second round of discussions and visits.  Community activities assisted by FOG during the year included the ACT Heritage Festival (two grasslands walks under the auspices of the Conservation Council ACT), Environment Fairs at University of Canberra and Watson, and Bioblitz (CSIRO and partners).  Major thanks to all who kept our busy program rolling throughout the year.

FOG Website (Richard Bomford)

The FoG website had about 17,500 visitors in 2013, excluding a similar number of visits from robots (search engine indexers). Ninety per cent of the visitors stayed for less than 30 seconds, so I think we can say they were not interested. The highest number of visitors came from the USA, but the greatest volume of downloads was from Australian visitors. Only 20% of visits came from search engines such as Google: the bulk came from direct addresses, i.e. visitors who already had a FoG web address. The most popular pages were 'Grasslands' and 'Grasses of NSW', followed by a number of the newsletters which were each viewed between 500 and 1000 times.

New pages added to the website were mostly advocacy submissions, followed by the year's 5 newsletters. The calendar page was also updated regularly. The FoG committee had a look at the website during the year and suggested some improvements, including adding separate pages for several FoG activities.

The financial cost of the website remains minimal: less than $10 a year for domain registration through OnlyDomains; and under $15 a year for hosting through HostBig. Both services have worked well. The FoG email addresses are free and work extremely well, courtesy of Gmail.

Newsletter (Isobel Crawford, Editor)

Six issues of the newsletter were produced, the first five by Isobel Crawford and the sixth by Ann Milligan, a relatively new member of FOG. Many thanks to all of those who have contributed material and ideas.

e-Bulletin (Tony Lawson, Editor)

The FOG e-Bulletin is a complement to the bi-monthly newsletter. It reminds members of FOG activities that occur some time after the distribution of the newsletter, and advises of new events.

The e-Bulletin also advertises non-FOG events. The editor welcomes information on such events.

The e-Bulletin is distributed more widely to other organisations and to government agencies than the newsletter, to encourage an interest in FOG and to keep them informed of FOG’s activities.

Sales (Sarah Sharp)

1.  Grassland Flora and the Grassy Ecosystem Management Kit

215 copies of Grassland Flora were sold in 2013. Sales have dropped from previous years, but remain constant. At the end of the financial year 1381 books remained.

Sales of the Grassy Ecosystem Management Kit have dried up, and remaining copies will be given away, excluding direct postage and binder costs.

Income generated in 2013 from the book sales (sales less liabilities and book costs) was $1270.40.

2.  Woodland Flora

Progress was made on the book in 2013, but unfortunately we failed to complete it during the year. It will definitely be published this year, as part of FOG’s 20th anniversary. Funding is healthy to cover all costs, including printing.

3.  T-shirts

Only one sale in 2013. Because of high demand for smalls and mediums an extra 10 T shirts were bought. There are 27 remaining.

NCA projects (Jamie Pittock)

In 2013 FOG expanded its work to conserve grassy ecosystems on national lands managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA) in central Canberra. Our 2009 partnership agreement with the NCA was renewed, reiterating our organisations’ commitments to conserving the Scrivener’s Hut, Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach grasslands. FOG’s work for these sites has involved both on-ground work and advocacy.

On-ground work

The number of work parties increased from 12 in 2012 to 16 in 2013 following the commencement of mid-monthly events in Stirling Park and increased support from residents of Yarralumla. FOG supporters contributed over 1,000 hours in volunteer work in 2013, for a total of 3,860 since 2009. Around 1,200 m3 of woody weeds were cut, for a total of over 2,900 m3 since 2009. The NCA provides FOG with $6,000 per year for work party tools and other supplies. FOG’s work was boosted by significant additional funding and support for weed control and reintroduction of wildflower species at Yarramundi Reach through the support of the ACT and federal governments’ environmental programs, as well as from Greening Australia. In particular and ACT Environment Grant of $17,282 in 2013-14 is supporting contract weed spraying and revegetation.

Large areas of Stirling Park were weeded in 2013, including the southern half of Stirling Ridge as well as the first repeat weeding of parts of the eastern part of the Park that were first treated from 2009. Significant regeneration of groundcover species is evident where dense woody weeds have been removed. FOG’s work has dovetailed with the NCA’s program of patch burning, weed spraying, as well as the felling of over 200 Blue Gums, Cedar Wattle and pines. Contract spraying has focussed on African Lovegrass, Blackberry, Chilean Needle Grass and St John’s Wort.

At Yarramundi Reach two work parties focussed on extensive weed spraying and replanting of grasses and forbs. Significant progress has been made in weeding at Scrivener’s Hut. The 23 February 2014 work party will be FOG’s 50th since 2009, and should complete the first cut over of woody weeds at Scrivener’s Hut. Restoration of the three sites is now considerably advanced thanks to the support of so many FOG volunteers.


As outlined in the advocacy, FOG continues efforts to protect the three sites against proposed developments and for their dedication for nature conservation. In July 2013 Yarramundi Reach was rezoned as open space, adding additional protection. Further protection is required for Stirling Park in 2014, where there are a number of development proposals.

Hall Cemetery Annual Report (Janet Russell)

Andy Russell and John Fitz Gerald between them managed the on-ground work this year.  There were four officially convened working bees.

The main activities this year were focussed on removal of woody weed re-growth in the Woodland as well as managing some of the entrenched weeds such as St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum, Fumitory Fumaria sp, Cleavers Galium aparine and Common Vetch Vicia sp, and the garden escape, Potentilla recta. It was rather disappointing to find more than one hundred stems of the Sweet Briar Rosa rubiginosa emerging out of patches of grassland.

The new weed species recorded were Bridal Creeper Asparagus asparagoides and the exotic bulbous plants, Freesia and Snowdrops Galanthus sp. As was mentioned in one Hall Cemetery report in FOG newsletter, the Bridal Creeper, a Weed of National Significance, was quite localised and hopefully is now eradicated.

On a more positive note, work has continued to progress on clearing the area beside the entrance gates to the cemetery in preparation for an informal garden showing off some of the representative species of the grassy woodland. We recorded some new native species in the woodland this year including Desmodium varians and a poor-looking specimen of Indigofera australis that had survived the kangaroo grazing and which transformed itself on flowering. Fluke Bog-sedge Schoenus apogon was another addition to the list. There was one additional species identified in the Cemetery, Bear’s Ears Cymbonotus sp.  Some of the Australian Blackthorns that FOG planted around the woodland have flowered well this summer and, hopefully, set seed.

As always, a lot of effort goes into managing the site and overall 77 person hours of general maintenance was done this year. FOG extends its grateful thanks to those involved.

Old Cooma Common Grassland Reserve (Margaret Ning and David Eddy)

It has been a quiet year for FOG's involvement at OCCGR. The project received a set back early in the year when the unspent money from the 2006 Environmental Trust grant had to be returned by Council due to it being so long since the grant was awarded, and the project was not yet complete. This resulted from delays with receiving formal approval from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for the management committee's plan to use grazing to help manage the reserve, and accordingly grant expenditure on fencing and livestock water sources was delayed pending OEH approval. In this state of uncertainty, working bees were not held on the Common in 2013. FOG decided to send a letter to the Environmental Trust, with Council's blessing, explaining the circumstances leading up to the return of unspent monies from the grant, but no response has yet been received. The letter also informed the Trust that the management committee intends to proceed with securing formal approval from OEH to use livestock on the reserve and then secure funding to implement the plan. We have also had correspondence and discussions during the past year with key OEH staff, who have indicated their in-principle support for the plan and suggested a way forward to allowing this to happen. The next step is to resubmit our earlier section 91 Licence application, to use livestock to help manage the reserve, including a weed management plan and strategic grazing plan.

Fortunately in 2012 FOG had applied for and won another grant for work on OCCGR, this time from the NSW Department of Crown Lands to help manage weeds on Crown Lands. Specifically we planned to spend the money ($4,000) on controlling African Love Grass and St John’s Wort. Because FOG currently has very healthy supplies of herbicide (thanks to the generosity of Cooma-Monaro Shire Council), it was possible to spend all the $4,000 on contractors, and it was split 50:50 on the ALG and the SJW. This work has been carried out over December 2013 and January 2014, hopefully at the optimal time for a really good result.

Scottsdale Monitoring (Linda Spinaze)

We enjoyed another fine day of monitoring on the Bush Heritage flagship property of Scottsdale, near Bredbo, on 16.10.13.  This project was started in 2008, and FOG has continued to conduct yearly grassland monitoring to assess the impact of differing regimes on the growth and abundance of African Lovegrass and native species.

This year we had 10 enthusiastic volunteers to assist with running out lines, taking photos, and filling out the monitoring sheets.  We broke up into 3 groups, one to monitor the original sites where cattle are grazed at various intensities, and two groups to monitor the newer sites where we are assessing the change in relative dominance of native grasses and ALG where there is no domestic stock grazing pressure.

During our lunch break we enjoyed a spontaneous inspection of Sue’s wonderful nursery, and marvelled at the way she casually says that she puts in the seeds and “up they come”!  That certainly doesn’t happen in my garden!

There may be a change in the monitoring next year because there are no longer any cattle being grazed on Scottsdale, partially because it is not convenient to the farmer any more, but also because the ALG is very poor fodder, especially during winter.  However, I presume that there is still value in the results even after the grazing has ceased.  I will leave this up to Sarah and other FOG members to decide whether we continue to monitor these sites for the full 10 years.

My thanks to everyone who contributed to the day, especially Sarah who takes home all the monitoring sheets and photographs, and makes sense of our measurements. Hope to see you again next year.

Conservation Council Biodiversity Working Group (Sarah Sharp)

Priority concerns addressed in 2013 included:

In addition other issues raised but not addressed:

Bush on the Boundary (general)

Terms of Reference and Working Methods for BOB were drafted in mid 2013. The BoB operates primarily as an information-sharing forum with minimal formality but with respect to strict confidentiality where requested by members. It is an ‘enabling’ group that allows member organisations and/or individuals to draw on a range of perspectives and pursue their projects and interests in a more collaborative and integrated way. Individual members take issues raised, subject to confidentiality, back to their groups for consideration.

Bush on the Boundary Molonglo (Sarah Sharp)

Membership of BoB Molonglo comprises representatives from Conservation Council, Molonglo Catchment Group, Land and Development Agency, FOG, Rural Landholders Association, TAMS Parks and Conservation Service, Canberra Ornithologists Group, Greening Australia, ANU Fenner Group.

During 2013 BOB Molonglo:

BoB Gungahlin (Tony Lawson)

The BoB Gungahlin group met at two monthly intervals.

Southern Tablelands Ecosystem Park (Andy Russell)

STEP is a partner organisation of FOG. Andy kindly has provided a report on activities.

STEP has made good progress in continuing our understory plantings at Forest 20 at the National Arboretum Canberra. We now have close to 80 different species planted in plots and the intention is that these are planted in association with tree species where they would be found under natural conditions. These vary from larger shrubs such as grevillea, leptospermum, cassinia and acacia to grasses and other herbaceous plants. Australian native Plants Society is in the process of supplying STEP through a generous donation  towards the purchase of under-story plants.

STEP held its AGM in mid-December where Margaret Bourke was elected President, David Shorthouse continues as vice-president and new committee members are Ross Dalton, and Judy Smith.

We have a new webmaster and our website http://www:step.asn. au has had a major upgrade and we invite you to take a look. Max Bourke has taken on the role of newsletter editor with an edition produced in mid-December. Further issues are planned for later this month, in June and October. Distribution will be by email wherever possible.

Although STEP has been in existence for ten years it remains an organisation with a small membership base and I would like to encourage individual FOG members to join STEP. I am aware that some FOG members are already members of STEP.

A current project that STEP is working on is to plan and construct an out-door education space on Forest 20. The Master Plan for the SEP Forest includes a small education space. Planning for this commenced in 2012 and early on-ground work has begun this year. A concept design for this space was prepared by Amalie Shawcross during her period of work with the National Arboretum Canberra as part of the ACT Government’s Graduate Program. This program will demonstrate our partnership with the National Arboretum Canberra and is partly funded from the ACT Government’s Environment Grant Program.

STEP is planning a bush foods garden in the vicinity of our Education space with advice from members of the local indigenous community.