Speaker Program

Join us for a range of free educational talks throughout the long weekend

All talks are hosted in Speaker Tent

Saturday May 4th - Sustainable Living

Sunshine Coast Biosphere

10:00 am | Kathryn Scott & Narelle McCarthy

The Sunshine Coast Biosphere is one of five in Australia, and over 740 within a world network of Biosphere Reserves, recognised by UNESCO as ‘learning places for sustainable development’. Learn more about what it means to live in the Sunshine Coast Biosphere and how you can play a part.

Kathryn Scott is a Strategic Project Officer within Sunshine Coast Council’s Biosphere project team, and enjoys the unique opportunity her role offers to work in partnership with the local and global Biosphere community. This includes supporting the Sunshine Coast Biosphere Coordinating Committee and Community Advisory Group – an inspiring, diverse and dedicated group of members who are passionate about contributing to a sustainable future for our region.

Narelle McCarthy is the Advocacy and Engagement Manager with the Sunshine Coast Environment Council and a member of the Sunshine Coast Biosphere Community Advisory Group. 

Energy Positive Homes and Buildings: The Foundations for a Sustainable Future

10:30 am | Alex Hoffman, Habitance Architects

How can we house our community in 2024 and beyond? Alex Hoffmann, architect, local resident and Director of Habitance Energy Positive Architecture approaches each project with social, environmental, and economical sustainability, at the foundations. He believes in designing smarter, working with the environment, and thinking holistically is key. In Alex’s talk, he will be presenting his ‘LiteHouse’ designs, which are energy positive homes made from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), grown here in QLD. Using this timber product creates opportunities to provide diverse housing options, mixed use communities and gentle, sustainable development within our region. 

Habitance, is dedicated to designing with social, environmental, and economical sustainability at the core, and offers a unique combination of residential, civic, community housing, public transport infrastructure and urban design services. Director Alex Hoffmann is the brain behind the ‘LiteHouse’, an energy positive house design, constructed from Australian Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), and using local and recycled materials. These modern homes offer environmentally conscious owners and investors, the option to live partly, or entirely off grid, on both urban and rural blocks.

Composting toilets - an introduction

11:00 am | Jason Huff, EcoFlo

Jason Huff will be breaking down the innovative world of waterless composting toilets. From remote cabins to tiny homes, composting toilets are revolutionising sanitation practices.

These solutions operate without water, relying on natural decomposition to transform waste into compost. What’s more, they remain odourless through clever design and efficient ventilation systems. Join in as we uncover how these eco-toilets work and their crucial role in sustainable waste management.

Ecoflo Wastewater Management is an Australian manufacturer and retailer of waterless toilets and greywater systems. They offer environmentally smart and cost-effective solutions for domestic, commercial, off-grid, camping and accommodation-based purposes.

Community Co existence with the natural world

11:30 am | Mark Pearce, Message of the Lyrebird

Mark discusses the inspiring stories of community members who are transforming Australia into a society that protects, respects, and connects with the natural world that sustains us. Includes movie clips.

Mark Pearce is a multi award winning story teller at his hinterland production company, Balangara Films, which showcases humanities vital connection with the natural world.

Image credit: Dr Ken Wishaw and Geoff Simon

Sunshine Coast Dark Sky Reserve

1:30 pm | Simone Bright, Senior Policy & Research Officer Environment and Sustainability Policy Liveability and Natural Assets Group, Sunshine Coast Council

Light pollution can impact on the quality of our night skies and the amount of light pollution on the Sunshine Coast could be expected to increase across the next 20 years and beyond as our population increases.

Reducing light pollution can deliver many benefits to the community including economic, health and wellbeing, emissions reduction and wildlife friendly habitat outcomes.

We are lucky here on the Sunshine Coast to have quality night skies in a number of areas across the region. Come and hear about how Council is looking at ways to continue to preserve this amazing asset.

Managing population growth in Sunshine Coast Regional Council

2:00 pm | Narelle McCarthy, Sunshine Coast Environment Council

With the Sunshine Coast, a biodiversity hotspot and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, experiencing exponential levels of population growth, how can we protect our environment, wildlife, biodiversity and liveability in the face of such pressures? 

Narelle will discuss the ‘Holding the line – Reversing Biodiversity Decline” Report, the threats and opportunities for the Sunshine Coast region and its context within SEQ

Narelle McCarthy is the Advocacy and Engagement Manager with the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC). SCEC is the peak, not for-profit environmental advocacy organisation and Regional Conservation Council for the greater Sunshine Coast and surrounding regions and currently represents 60 member groups across the Noosa and Sunshine Coast Hinterlands, K’gari and along the coast from Cooloola to Yarun (Bribie Island) encompassing six dynamic catchments.

Passionate about nature from a young age, Narelle has been actively involved in natural resource management, conservation and related fields for the past 20 years. Narelle undertakes a wide range of activities, campaigns and initiatives focused on improved environmental outcomes and the practice of sustainability and works closely with SCEC’s member groups who predominantly work in the areas of natural resource management, conservation, environmental restoration and protection, and sustainability.

Narelle is an Environment Sector board representative and Deputy-Chair of the SEQ Catchments Members Association and is an Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Councillor for Queensland

Electrify Everything - Zero Emission homes

2:30 pm | Mark Purcell

Australia has the opportunity to lead the world. We are the first nation where using all electric zero emission appliances and vehicles will save every home money. We have access to the cheapest delivered electricity in the world – our rooftop solar – and this abundant energy can electrify our industries and generate an abundant future.

The best way to run households in the Sunshine Coast – for the wallet and for the climate – is to have all electric appliances and cars powered by clean electricity. It’s half the running costs of a fossil fuel home and it’s how we’ll have the biggest impact on climate this decade.

Mark Purcell, is an electrical engineer, and a fervent proponent of sustainable energy and climate change mitigation, Mark emphasizes the integration of market-linked electricity pricing, home automation, and energy-efficient technologies to minimize household expenses and ecological footprint. Having effectively implemented sustainable energy measures in his own Noosa residence, he exemplifies the pragmatic advantages of adopting eco-friendly energy practices. Mark brings his expertise and dedication to fostering a sustainable future and is a significant contributor to ZEN Inc’s pursuit of a net-zero emissions community.

Sunday May 5th - Sustainable forests and agriculture, including gardening

Traditional Plant Use

10:00 am | Aunty Beverly Hand

Aunty Beverly Hand is a Kabi Kabi Traditional Custodian with immense knowledge, deep connection and intimate ties to the land and its flora and fauna.

As a respected Elder, Aunty Bev holds many cultural stories and knowledge of Indigenous plant life, traditions and history across South East Queensland, and has been involved in community conservation and education projects across the Sunshine Coast for over 30 years.

Join Aunty Bev for an educational talk about traditional plant and tree uses.

Restoring Habitat, connecting landscapes

11:30 am | Aleisha Keating, Hinterland Bush Links

Aleisha will provide an overview of Hinterland Bush Links’ projects that restore habitats and connect wildlife corridors across the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. She will discuss their Koala Habitat project which is strategically expanding and enhancing koala habitat on many properties in the region, by working closely with landholders, volunteers and Barung Landcare to plant trees and remove invasive species from these areas. She will also talk about their on-going Upper Mary Valley Weed Vine project which is working to remove invasive weeds around waterways in the Upper Mary Valley. Come along to find out how you can get involved in Hinterland Bush Links projects and support their important mission to empower and support landholders to improve landscape-scale wildlife corridors.

Aleisha is the Manager of Hinterland Bush Links, overseeing the implementation of its projects and programs. She loves the outdoors and the wonderful environment of the Sunshine Coast and Hinterland. She enjoys facilitating practical opportunities for local communities to help protect and restore the natural environment. Her environmental experience spans habitat restoration, natural resource management, hydrology and water quality, grant funding and sustainability education. Prior to managing Hinterland Bush Links, she worked for the Queensland Department of Resources, providing governance of natural resource management grant programs. Outside of work you’ll find Aleisha ocean swimming, bush walking, teaching yoga and meditation and her latest pursuit, attempting to make pottery!

Land for Wildlife

12:00 pm | Rhonda Bordonaro, Conservation Partnerships Officer Sunshine Coast Council

Come along and hear Rhonda Bordonaro talk about all of the different aspects of the Sunshine Coast Council’s Land for Wildlife (LfW) program, and how you can achieve environmental outcomes on your own property. She’ll tell you all about the many benefits landholders receive as part of joining LfW, how to join the program, & what you need to be eligible to join. If you’re interested in joining you’ll be able to leave your contact details and an officer will be in contact & organise a visit to your place in the near future. 

Rhonda is passionate about all aspects of conservation and has been doing environmental work for the past 20 years. She has worked in various roles in Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Operations team for the past 18 years, and has been part of the Land for Wildlife team for the past 2 years. She loves her job working with people and helping landholders achieve environmental outcomes on their own properties. When she’s not helping people in Land for Wildlife you’ll find her doing her other passion – dancing up a storm as a flamenco dancer.

The importance of trees for Platypus

12:30 pm | Neil Andison

Be enchanted by Neil’s passionate and deep understanding of the Australian Platypus (one of the world’s only two Monotremes). 

Hear about the important role that trees and vegetation play along the creek, in providing essential habitat for Platypus populations. 

Neil has been studying and photographing Platypus every day along the Obi Obi for over a decade. He has collaborated with researchers and photographers to acquire a deeper understanding of their behaviour, habitat and range, and has featured in a number of documentaries.

Restoring Soils with Life

2:00 pm | Sandra Tuszynska

Soil holds the majority of Earth’s biodiversity, driving nutrient and water cycles, feeding plants, us and all other life forms. Healthy soil ecosystems are composed of intricate relationships between plants and key microscopic organisms, which nourish, protect and support plant growth. Marvel at the wonders of the unseen world beneath your feet, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Meet the microscopic soil superheroes and appreciate their vital role in nutrient cycling, plant nutrition and carbon sequestration. Learn how to support their superpowers in regenerative food production; drought and flood mitigation; ecosystem and biodiversity restoration; and climate balance.

Sandra Tuszynska (PhD) is a soil mycologist (fungi nerd) and a microbiologist who is crazy about soil ecology, ecosystem restoration and all creatures great and small. As a passionate science communicator, public speaker and educator, Sandra hopes to inspire others to cultivate soil biodiversity as the primary step is ecosystem restoration and food production. In her Soil Restoration Course, she describes the wonders of the soil life forms and their relationships, along with practical tools to restore our soils with life so we can regenerate our precious planet Earth.

The World of Fungi

2:30 pm | Queensland Mycological Society

Wayne Boatwright is President of The Queensland Mycological Society (QMS), a group of more than two hundred citizen scientists that share a common passion for understanding the important roles that macrofungi play in our ecosystems and for documenting their biodiversity. 

With conservation values at their heart the QMS is dedicated to sharing their passion and love of fungi through workshops, talks and forays. Wayne is also actively involved as a research assistant collecting specimens in the field and producing scientific records for further study. 

Wayne will provide an introduction into the kingdom of fungi, but he also hopes to share his passion for the discovery of wonders in the fungal kingdom. Much needs to be done to document the biodiversity of fungi and the QMS supports citizen scientists in doing this vital work.

Growing Rainforest Trees

3:00 pm | Cam Burton, Barung Landcare

Barung Landcare’s Rainforest Resilience program focuses on caring for, extending and connecting remnant rainforest patches on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and has a particular conservation focus on the endangered and charismatic Southern Pink Underwing Moth. 

In the race to provide more habitat, hear from Barung Landcare’s Nurseries Manager about how the organisation has developed specialist techniques in growing rainforest species through planting design to encourage fast growth and minimal weed disturbance.

Monday May 6th - Conservation and Wildlife

Saving the Pink Underwing Moth

9:00 am | Cam Burton, Barung Landcare

The Southern Pink Underwing Moth is restricted to subtropical rainforest and is dependent on one species of vine for survival – Carronia vine which needs a healthy rainforest canopy and understorey.

Hear about how Barung Landcare is working with a range of partners, landholders and community volunteers to help bring this species back from the brink of extinction, and how you might be able to help too!

Empowering Change – three actions we can all take to safeguard koalas

9:30 pm | David Mackenzie, Koala Crusaders

There are actions we can all take to help koalas, including changing our behaviour if we live in or near koala habitat; planting trees on our own land or joining groups that are planting; and becoming ambassadors for koalas to help spread the word to the broader community.  It’s not too late.

Communications Consultant and Environmental Conservation Photographer with a lifelong passion for wildlife and wild places, David developed his passion for nature during his formative years growing up in the bush. David is in his third year as a Board member and Treasurer of Queensland Koala Crusaders Inc.

Backyards for Biodiversity – improving your backyard for nature

11:30 am | Ken Cross, Backyards for Biodiversity

In a time where global biodiversity is struggling every person could and perhaps should ask what can one do to make a positive contribution for nature. Backyards for Biodiversity SEQ exists to encourage residents, local government, and businesses to view the land that they manage through a lens of biodiversity. 

Ken Cross is a birder, naturalist, and educator. He, with others, recently started the not-for-profit Backyards for Biodiversity SEQ Inc. He is currently convenor of Birdlife Sunshine Coast.

Bats and forests: we need bats more than you think!

12:00 pm | Robin Rowland, Bat Rescue

Australia’s forests rely on the services that bats provide, but most Aussies don’t know much about our only true flying mammals and their unique relationship with Australian ecosystems. Australia is lucky to have two types of bats which provide critical services for ecosystems, and both need trees to survive!  Flying foxes are much more well known as their large colonies and loud calls tend to give them away, but most Australians don’t know that our fruit bats are critical pollinators for native forests. 

Australia’s microbats are champion mosquito eaters, chomping down hundreds of insect pests every night. Microbats also provide millions of dollars worth of pest control services for Australia agriculture as they feed on pest insects which threaten crops. Check out this talk on Australian bats if you’re curious about the superheroes of Australia’s ecosystems! 

Robin Rowland is a PhD candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Her research focuses on insect eating bats living near humans, investigating the impacts of man-made roosting and urbanisation on bat stress and fitness levels.  She is also a bat rescuer and rehabilitator and a member of bat rescue and advocacy group Bat Rescue Inc.

Managing invasive plants and animals

12:30 pm | Rita Everitt, Sunshine Coast Council Biosecurity

Australia is a world leader in species extinction, largely due to invasive species. A title that shouldn’t be worn with pride. Help us protect our unique environment, biodiversity through biosecurity. Come along and learn about Invasive animals on the coast and learn how to protect your place. Workshop on ways you can identify if you have invasive species at your place and ways we can manage them. Biosecurity protecting our Sunshine Coast. 

Rita Everitt is the Biosecurity Technical Officer for Feral Animals at Sunshine Coast Council. She has a Master’s Degree in Animal Science majoring in Wildlife Biology, and 13 years’ experience in Pest Management, with a passion for caring and protecting our native wildlife. She has been with Sunshine Coast Council for over 6 years, and her role currently includes the Project Coordinator for the Coastal Fox Control Program on the Sunshine Coast as well as conducting research, education and engagement on Invasive Animals for the Sunshine Coast Council region.

Our Amazing Invertebrates

2:00 pm | Ian McMaster, Barung Landcare

Ian McMaster is a long-term Land for Wildlife member and passionate environmental conservation advocate. Ian and his wife Chrissie live on Mount Mellum, on a 100ha property that they had gazetted as a Nature Refuge. Both of them are passionate about native plants, and have a broad interest in the ecological systems they care for.

Ian has been studying the species on his property for some time, and more broadly with a collective of scientists, with a particular interest in moths and other invertebrates.

Join Ian for a talk about the amazing world of invertebrates and their important roles in our forest ecosystems.