NatureVIRUS 2020

6 November VIRUS 2020

6 November, VIRUS 2020

Fantastic Fungi review – how mushrooms could save the world. The Guardian

“The forests are diminished and waste piles upon us… The earth is not impervious to the presence of man.” N. Scott Momaday. Lithub

Two new greater glider species discovered: ‘Australia’s biodiversity just got a lot richer’. The Guardian

URGENT – PLEASE SIGN: Protect Nicaragua’s biosphere reserves! TAKE ACTION.  Rainforest Rescue email

On the way to the demo we buy a butterfly net, so many Blue Tigers are being trapped by the bird netting over the vegetables.

The demonstration against the coalition watering down Koala protection is outside Gurmesh Singh’s Office.[1] He’s a National Party talking head.

Singh denies conflict of interest on koala policy: Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh has brushed off claims of a conflict of interest between his links to the lucrative blueberry industry and his ‘[stance on not protecting Koalas on private land].[2]I chat to the Bellingen Mayor Dominic King, complaining about the obdurate position our Nambucca Valley Council is taking with regard to Koala conservation. Prime 7 news arrives, Koala costumes are donned, the chanting starts, Kill the Bill not Koalas. I shout – ‘Koalas are not tree rats’ (mistaken identification by the leader of the NSW National Party) and that chant is taken up then supplanted by ‘Koala protection not corporate  . . .’
The speeches all make perfect sense. Kevin Evans pointed out that the forecast is for Koalas to become extinct in this State by 2050 unless urgent action is taken. Urgent action is being taken, but in completely the wrong direction.We wander off for lunch thinking the demo is over, past the giant flowers, efficient knitting, and a feather.  We have ordered a Bento box then hear the chanting, and the small group march past. Get a job, yells out a guy walking past. Do you hate Koalas? I ask. Get a job yourself, is his reply. he’s at a teller just meters away, I nearly leave my seat for argument’s sake.


More bad news for Koalas. ‘This policy could be 100 times worse for koalas than the watered down Koala SEPP. Make no mistake about it, the Government’s decision will see more deforestation across the state and a further loss of koala habitat.’ [3]

Democracy and demonstrations

Protest can be seen as a highly democratic expression of popular opinion. However, protest is also a non-representative, extra-institutional process for political change. [4]

Richard Norman’s Six reasons why protest is so important for democracy

  1. People realise that they are not alone
  2. By protesting, we alter the agenda and start a debate
  3. In an electoral democracy, protest provides an essential voice for minority groups
  4. Sometimes we win!
  5. Sometimes we win in ways we had not intended or planned
  6. Sometimes we win but it takes a generation or more.[5]


I am lying upside down watching the Blackbutts in the wind, their canopy consists of florets, and they flurry and whirl dancing like waltzers in a fairground, but in wild, capricious ways. Bare branches reveal past accidents. These are the dangerous ones, happy to drop limbs, reminders of the precarious nature of temporal existence.


Surprised to find a photograph of myself when opening an email: ‘john: keep your finger on the creative pulse’, the Councils Creative Coffs enews. I had forgotten:


A Note from Local Poet and Multidisciplinary Creator: John Bennett

Thanks to John for emailing us his submission below for the ‘Spotlight’ feature, in which he encourages creativity as a way forward from where we find ourselves…over to John.

“Crisis, which crisis? I write a daily journal (both visual and textual) exploring the natural, political, cultural environment, from which I made a video of (last) November’s bushfires with a partner. We have just launched ‘VIRUS 2020’ an album using journal extracts.

The lockdown has given many an opportunity to re-align. It was time we changed how things work, how we work. Our daily routines left the natural behind. Looking ahead, the environmental crisis is ongoing and will last much longer then COVID-19. Everyone is responsible, therefore everyone has a responsibility to use their skills, energy and imagination responsibly.”

(Instead of using Mr, or Dr as I occasionally do. I could use the title M.C. ‘Multidisciplinary Creator’).


Watching an amazing band, a two piece, two young women making a heavy metal instrumental music ‘which is designed to empower Black & Indigenous people the world over.’ Recommended:


The NRMA are advertising a feel good with Koalas. Are they helping to fund Koala conservation? They say:

‘The effect on koala numbers is stark: In Queensland, where koalas have thrived for millennia, a state government study found some koala populations declined by up to 80%. A 2016 report showed koala population loss in Queensland and New South Wales to be 53% and 26%, respectively, while the federal government puts the rate of decline of Queensland and New South Wales’s combined koala population at 42%. Last year, World Wildlife Fund Australia conservation biologist Martin Taylor made a blunt prognosis for the health of our koalas: if we don’t do something now, koalas may be extinct by 2050.

[Christine Hosking, a koala researcher at the University of Queensland] believes that focus now needs to be placed squarely on preserving the healthy koala habitat . . . ‘Our native animals have been here for 30 million years or more, they are tough as old boots,’ she says. ‘But that toughness can only last so long.’

It’s not too late to make a difference and at NRMA Insurance, we are committed to helping our koalas and protecting their homes. We’re planting a koala-friendly tree for every new home insurance policy sold until the end of the year and we’ve partnered with Conservation Volunteers Australia to deliver real action for koalas and their habitats.’[6]

So the NRMA ignores Hosking: ‘focus now needs to be placed squarely on preserving the healthy koala habitat’.


[1]The main changes to improve protection of koalas in the new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) are:

  • ‘New definition of core koala habitat. Previously this required evidence of the presence of koalas, including breeding females – so that land where koalas have historically been present or that is assessed as highly suitable for koalas is included.
  • Expansion of feed tree species from the 10 listed in 1995 to up to 65 in any one area, based on current science.

The new SEPP also includes changes to benefit landowners, including:

  • Efforts to streamline the approval process, with a koala development approval map removing the need for landowners to undertake surveys if they are covered by the map, and guidelines that can be used – rather than preparing an individual plan of management. New statutory requirements for councils to undertake consultation with stakeholders when preparing plans of management.

Associate Professor Thorpe says environmental groups have been critical of the new SEPP, saying it doesn’t go far enough and requires extra prohibitions in order to stop the loss of more koalas particularly after the bushfires . . . farmers seem to do pretty well compared to koalas when the overall balance is considered.’ Ebony Stansfield, 2.10.2020.

[2] › news › Sep 16, 2020.

[3] ‘According to analysis undertaken by WWF and the office of Independent NSW MLC Justin Field, a mapping analysis of the NSW Government’s plan to allow rural landholders to clear 25 metre fire breaks around properties, threatens tens of thousands of hectares of bushland on the NSW North Coast, including significant areas of koala habitat. Mr Field said the NSW Government announced the plan on 7 October despite it not being part of the 76 recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry and to date have refused to publish the ‘expert operational advice’ on which it was based.’ ‘Land clearing rule threatens koala habitat’, 3.11.2020

[4] Celeste Beesley, ‘Euromaidan and the Role of Protest in Democracy’, Political Science and Politics 49(02):244-249,  April 2016.

[5] Richard Norman, ‘Six reasons why protest is so important for democracy’,, 4 December 2017

[6] ‘Our favourite marsupials are in trouble’, NRMA Hub, 9 Aug 2019,

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