Our committee is proud that OFF has achieved so much in 2020 despite COVID restrictions.
Two committee members, Alan Fairley and Julian Sheen, are stepping down and Kim will refer to the great contribution they have made to our Society.
OFF strengthened liaison with Georges River Council – we were invited to comment on some Council strategies ahead of their release to the public; made submissions on seven draft plans thanks largely to Kim, Brian and Graham Lalchere; two Councillors made allocations from their Discretionary Funds to environmental programs run by OFF.
Our recommendations for the Draft LEP2020 – to strengthen Foreshore Scenic Protection Area and consider implications for biodiversity – were adopted; we were invited to participate in the Biodiversity Study and members led by Deb Andrew have contributed expert knowledge and field skills.
Adrian and team developed a four-pronged Climate Action Strategy to promote to Council and community.
Oatley 2021 Calendar sold out by mid-December thanks to the efforts of Rodger, Vicki, James and Sonia.
Native revegetation programs have been highly successful, due particularly to ‘Green Man’ Matt Allison – OFF Bushcare teams contributed at least 450 hours locally and 21 members helped regenerate a rural property near Gunning.
OFF signed an agreement with Greater Sydney Landcare Network and GRC for a project to increase tree canopy in LGA.
Research grants worth $6,000 were disbursed to three postgraduate students.
A record number – 65 registered by Alan – helped at our Clean Up Australia Day site in Lime Kiln Bay.
Many of these have carried over from previous years because the issues remain unresolved, but co-operative action with other environmental organisations strengthens our impact. OFF members are encouraged to make their own personalised submissions when GRC and government departments invite public comment.
Water quality in local waterways – lobbied Council, MPs and Sydney Water, conducted Streamwatch sampling and rubbish audits, documented sewage overflows, liaised with Georges Riverkeeper, ran Clean Up Australia Day site in Lime Kiln Bay, participated in Paddle Against Plastics.
Koalas – took part in Save our Koalas Day of Action, signatory to proposal for constructed road crossings for koalas, continued to lobby three tiers of government for specific actions to protect the upper Georges River population.
Threats from mining – Kim and Graham Lalchere made submissions and/or addressed hearings in opposition to three mining projects under Sydney’s water catchments and to the Santos Narrabri CSG project.
Threats to Kosciuszko NP – asked members to sign e-petition to NSW Parliament re control of feral horses, wrote directly and also co-signed open letters to politicians re negative impacts of Snowy 2.0 infrastructure.
Tree destruction on public and private land in the LGA – this continues despite letters to GRC documenting numerous examples at development sites. We requested Council establish a Significant Tree Register and provide transparency by placing all tree permit applications on its website.
Oatley Park – reported damage, overuse and potential hazards; recommended and achieved remediation actions on some tracks and car parks. Anyone can report problems to GRC via its Log it – Fix it webpage.
Aid for wildlife impacted by bushfires – assisted Water for Wildlife with grant administration, water stations and nest boxes, co-ordinated donations of food and materials by local businesses.
Communication and Activities
OFF has a new website and new email address courtesy of Melina Amerasinghe and her husband Michael. Eleven issues of OFF News were successfully produced by Graham Lalchere with help from Alan and the editorial team, despite the lack of an official Editor. OFF’s Facebook page run by James is extending our reach to a wider and more diverse audience.
Membership nurtured by Robin continues to hover around 300.
OFF nominated the following for awards: Graham Lalchere (Banks Volunteer Award), Alan Fairley and Matt Allison (St George Community Environmental Achievement Awards) and OFF itself (St George Community Group Achievement Award).
We lost a major opportunity to promote OFF when the Oatley Lions Festival was cancelled but two very successful pre-Christmas street stalls were held in Oatley and Mortdale. We sold calendars, marmalade, bird cards and native plants; a petition to protect koala habitat gained many signatures.
Nine general meetings were held in 2020, overseen by Program Officer Adrian; the March one was cancelled and subsequent meetings were held via Zoom, organised by Kim. Average audience was 40 and a number of visitors logged on. Five presentations were uploaded on YouTube, extending the reach of our program. We hope to resume face-to-face meetings in February, in the Oatley Uniting Church Hall.
Field activities recommenced in June; six walks attracted an average of 12.5 participants including some visitors – a satisfactory number considering restrictions on the size of gatherings. Leslie Wylie will take over the role of Field Officer from Graham Fry this year. The Annual Dinner was cancelled but 38 attended the Annual Picnic in Oatley Park.
I will resign as Secretary at the end of this year and hope one of you will gradually take over the role in 2021, to ensure a smooth succession.
Secretary, February 2021