Good news (for a change)

Issue 

LONG-THOUGHT EXTINCT FROG REDISCOVERED

The large brown tree frog, with its distinctive orange markings on its hind legs, has not been seen or heard in the East Gippsland forest for more than 20 years and was thought to be extinct.

But on April 12, Wildlife Unlimited’s Rena Gaborov was doing a spotlight survey for yellow-bellied gliders and greater gliders when she heard the frog’s distinctive call.

She followed the call and glimpsed a frog sitting on a fern frond in the torchlight. Before it hopped into the darkness she photographed it.

That photograph took the large brown tree frog from being presumed extinct to a member of what conservation scientists call “Lazarus species” — creatures that prove the experts wrong by reappearing long after they were thought to have disappeared.

The large brown tree frog was one of four threatened species named in a 2013 Supreme Court case, in which the Environment Defenders Office claimed the state government had failed to adequately protect the threatened species.

LIBERIA DECLARED FREE OF EBOLA

Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9, although experts say there is still a risk that the disease could reappear in the country.

There were 10,564 Ebola cases in Liberia, including 4716 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The last person to have Ebola in Liberia died on March 27. Health officials typically wait 42 days to declare a country Ebola-free, because this is twice as long as the 21-day incubation period of the virus.

Ebola could show up again in Liberia if it is spread from the neighbouring West African countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone. The first case of Ebola in Liberia was brought in from Guinea.

But even if new cases do occur in Liberia now, it is less likely that they will start another epidemic in the country, because Liberia now has increased monitoring and infrastructure in place to prevent new chains of Ebola transmission.

ALCOA TO SHUT ANGLESEA COALMINE AND POWER PLANT

Anglesea's coal-fired power plant will close after 46 years of operation. The plant supplied 40% of the needs of Alcoa's Point Henry smelter in Geelong.

The closure of the plant, scheduled for August 31, was widely anticipated after Alcoa shut the Point Henry smelter last August, leaving the power plant as an independent supplier in the power market.

One of the smaller brown coal-fired power plants in Victoria, Anglesea had attracted community protests over the high level of air pollutants, particularly sulphur dioxide, it spewed out.

Andrew Laird from the Anglesea-based group, Surf Coast Air Action, which had campaigned to shut the plant, said the decision was also "tinged with sadness" because "we have always been and remain concerned about the 85 workers who have lost their jobs".

Greens environment spokesperson Ellen Sandell, said: “Anglesea is the first brown coal domino to fall, and Hazelwood must be next. The Andrews government must urgently make a plan to close Hazelwood and support the community and workers in the Latrobe Valley," she said.

Local attention has now turned to the massive rehabilitation effort on the site. Estimates by state-based environment groups suggested that if the rehabilitation job were "done properly" it could create 30-40 full-time jobs over the next 10 years.

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