What you consider the bioregion of your project, and the smaller catchment within?
The Blue Mountain Organic Community Gardens lies within 85 hectares known as the North Katoomba Catchment area, which a sub catchment area of “Sydney Basin”. This is used as a starting point for discussion amongst the many groups working at defining sustainable bioregions. However, there does not appear to be any practical consensus about what the bioregion might be. This tells us something already. The boundaries of government and associated entities shift more frequently than paths of mighty rivers. The catchment area is a bit simpler to identify, as we an all see where the water flows. Being a fairly new community with less than 200 years shared history, it is hardly surprising that we do not quite know who we are.
Official Bioregion ‘Sydney Catchment’
Let’s have a look at the various identifying features we collectively call the Blue Mountains community.
The land is part of the wider eroded sandstone geological formation now known collectively as the Blue Mountains, which largely corresponds with the local government area, although that independence is currently under review, partly for economic reasons.
Traditionally, three different indigenous language groups span lands across this sub-bioregion of Sydney Basin, which the DECC describes as Wollemi.  Wollemi is one of 403 sub regions of the 85 bioregions defined in Australia. Officially, this smaller ecological sub bioregion (SB4) is described as the area between Burragurang in the South, well into Wollemi National Park in the north. This classification is more used for ecological definitions and helpful for strategies for preservation/conservation, rather than having much contemporary meaning for many of the people who live in these areas.
Culturally, the Greater Blue Mountains area can be argued to define its own identity and there are a number of community groups actively working at making this a viable and meaningful bioregion in its own right, with local people taking responsibility to increase overall community resilience. The reality is that the Blue Mountains is something of an inbetween place, with a transient tourist population of 3 million visitors a year, effective to a stable population of 100,000.. If we consider media institutions that serve the areas, again the Blue Mountains is an in between Lithgow served by several regional newspapers and radio stations, covered by one newspaper and radio station, and Sydney suburbs stopping beyond Penrith. What I’ll call the Blue Mountains bioregion extends west as far as about Medlow Bath, and arguably to Mt Tomah and Mt Wilson beyond, although socially at this time these areas on balance, have greater ties to the villages of Bilpin and into the the Hawkesbury catchment beyond. Down the mountain below Lapstone to the east, the craggy sandstone landscape gives way to Cumberland Plains, and the connections to Parramatta, North Sydney and the City of Sydney pick up. Internal public transport and amenity connections are badly served in the Mountains, and yet and cultural connection are quite strong; there is a great sense of community and identity with this region. Currently local Government covers this area reinforcing that idea of identity in this region. Over time its possible that the Blue Mountains will, triggered by local government shifts and possibly improvements to transport, end up being more connected to Western Sydney or conversely to Lithgow, but as it stands it’s a fiercely independent minded collection of ridge top and valley communities in the outlying Megalong Valley. So we are identifying our bioregion with our unique location, nestled within a world Heritage National Park whose health we ultimately take responsibility for.
While being in the Blue Mountains can feel isolated from the rest of the world, in truth our impact, the majority of the population being ridgetop dwellers, means activity here can fundamentally alter the composition and flow water out into the whole of the Sydney Basin area, beginning with Katoomba creek, and onwards into the Grose River System, which in turn flows on into the Hawkesbury and again we see the connection with the wider Sydney Basin.
 Indigenous language groups: Gundungurra, Wjidgirri and Dharug from the ABC’s intereractive Indigenous Language Groups Map http://www.abc.net.au/indigenous/map/
Describe the following:
- the topography
The topography of the Blue Mountains is defined by its underlying geology. The region was predominantly built up from successive layers of sand sediments forming the sandstone base which is mostly w Indigenous language groups: Gundungurra, Wjidgirri and Dharug from the ABC’s intereractive Indigenous Language Groups Map.hat we see today. 14-20 million years ago, lava flowed and covered the mountains in basalt layer 50-60m thick. Eventually the Blue Mountains were pushed up, and what had been coastal sediment sagged. This area is now a massive erosion landscape with little of the basalt remaining, but still dominated by enormous escarpments to the west dissected by deep gorges,. These in turn form part of the Great Dividing Range. From the east we see gradual rise in elevation from Lapstone at 100m above sea level to the towns 80kms to the west reaching over 1000m in elevation. Into the National Park area beyond, the escarpments fall away sharply again with sheer drops of 300m or more at a time, providing a great number of spectacular lookouts. Beyond these sandstone outcrops is the undulating country of the Megalong and Kanimbla valleys.
When does the rain fall and how much?
Rainfall averages over 1000mm a year in the upper mountains and 850mm in the lower mountains region. There’s less rain in the cooler months and more rain falls in late summer than any other time of the year. Average rainfall peaks in Katoomba at 173mm in Feb/March compared with one third of that, 73mm in September. However, rainfall variability in Australia is the highest in the world at 18%, and is especially unpredictable in NSW.
Has this changed over the past 10 years?
Rainfall was less on average in the last 10 years, and this has been a drought period in the region. It’s perhaps more useful to look at that change in context of the longer term patterns than in just 10 years due to Australia’s high rainfall variability, which is even more pronounced on the East Coast influenced weather patterns. In particular the role of the Indian Ocean Dipole on rainfall patterns have been found to be a key factor.  El Nino Southern Oscillations make a big difference, and an El Nina phases brings heavier rainfall as well as cooler temperatures than an El Nino phases
- temperature and has this changed
The Blue Mountains temperatures fall broadly into a temperate climate pattern with cool winters and warm summers, in the temperature is on average 7 degrees lower in Katoomba at over 1000m than the lower mountains for example , but . The average mean temperature in the area has risen between .15/.2 degrees Centigrade every ten years across the board over the last 30 years according to the Bureau of Meterology  less than the increases in some areas.
- hours of sunlight
According to the Bureau of Meteorology there’s an average of 7=8 hours sunshine in the Blue Mountains region.
The official recording from Katoomba station at the Bureau of Meteorology records moderate average wind speeds at 9am and 3pm in one location, although these are long term averages and locals tell of cold westerly & south westerly winds. The wind speeds vary quite considerably throughout the region based on the variations in landscape as well as by smaller urban formations/buildings and shelters in more localized areas.
extremes in weather
Local vegetation are adapted to the cycles which bring extreme hot and dry conditions we know as bush fire season. Similar conditions elsewhere in the country have shown us what an increase in these extremes and a more irregular pattern can have on even these adapted ecosystems.
 The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report, ‘State of the Climate 2010’
There are a number of monthly markets which are largely hosted in local public school grounds and village halls.  Additionally seasonal markets aim towards Christmas and Spring. There are some local producers selling produce locally created craft goods as well as books bric a brac and more community resale. Seasonal markets are an opportunity for local organizations to connect with existing and new members. There’s a local LETs scheme which is starting to be represented at markets too.
 markets listing: http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/thingsToDo/markets.asp
- cities, towns, and villages
The Blue Mountains council area is a “city” although I tend to think of a city as being more urban than suburban with a greater population density. Historically the area was a shire which converted to City Status in 1947.  The government offices are in Katoomba, upper mountains, mountain dwellers variously describe themselves as belonging to the upper mid or lower mountains, and while these definitions are laid down in the bus routes diagram, there is much discussion about where the boundaries really are, given the difference in climate which shifts considerably from the top end of the mountain to the lower villages. Where one might grow sweet potatoes is one gauge of truly being in the lower mountains.
- history and culture
Aboriginal Land: The Blue Mountains were once home to the Gundungurra and Dharuk people, represented today by the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation, which has a native title on the National Park Land. Aboriginal sites in the area are said to be 22,000 years old.
EuropeanHistory: While the first European to explore the mountains was most likely John Wilson, an escaped convict, who is said to have lived with the aboriginal people in the mountains, the first official successful European traversal of the mountain went in search of additional grazing land in 1813. By 1814 there were roads into the mountains, one we know as the Great Western Highway and the other Bells Line of Road. The latter area brought people to Mt Tomah and Mt Wilson, attractive to settlers because of the rich basalt soils, which provide the basis for the lush rainforest in these areas.
Katoomba was developed as a mining town, and sections of railway came in to move coal, and shale oil in the 1870s. The mining industry grew, and today coal is still mined in Lithgow travelling nightly down the mountains largely for overseas export.
Fifty years later the railway ran all the way to Bathurst and this brought a new level of activity from the city below. In the late 1800’s’ the mountains becomes known as playground of the rich and 100 years later when the railway line is electrified, it becomes a place for people seeking a different kind of home life than the city offers, and today still the mountains are an eclectic mix of refugees from city living, people seeking a quieter downscaled lifestyle, as well as the visitors of all kinds who come for recreation in nature in varying degrees of exertion.
The demographics of the mountains today vary considerably from relatively well off commuters in the lower mountains to greater home based businesses and locally employed (and unemployed) people in the upper mountains. There are also a high number of homes owned as holiday houses.  In a recent survey the top reasons for wanting to live in the area are peace, quiet and tranquillity, fresh air, community spirit, atmosphere, lifestyle and space. The region is home to a lively arts and music scene.
- catchment management systems,
Being for the most suburban and peri-urban environment, drinking water catchment is dealt with via mainstream water supplies through Sydney Water, and there are environmental plans, backed by legislation [4.1] which necessitate development applications to be assessed by the council and if there is judged to be a negative effect on water quality in the catchment areas, by Sydney Water Catchment Management Authority. This broadly affects changes to potential for erosion, runoff sedimentation and effluent management. There are also a number of licensed and unlicensed bores privately held, as well as rooftop water collection.
Blue Mountains City Council has an innovative “whole of catchment” approach to a number of environmental aspects including weed management and storm water run off, as well as being deeply connected with roads and other services and facilities in the area. Natural systems are important enough to have their own management team, which has the opportunity to showcase issues of water catchment management in the context of our World Heritage Park.
- transport systems
There is very little in the way of community transport, and the major rail links are now slower today than they were 20 years ago. The vast majority of people travelling to and from work shopping and going about their daily business is by car. The local “Great Western Highway” has just expanded to meet additional capacity as well as expectation of increasing road freight, despite State government policy targets to the contrary.
There is comparatively little manufacturing in the Blue Mountains at present, with 60% of the land zoned for manufacturing not taken up with that activity. Many manufacturing businesses would not be appropriate for the character of the area.
- LETS and co-operatives
There has been a chequered history of Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETs) in the Blue Mountains. One was recently relaunched, although it embryonic at the time of writing. The biggest shopping co-op in the Southern hemisphere is in Katoomba, with a membership of 2-2500 members from all over the region reaching down in to Sdyney and oher parts of NSW. Housing co-ops are not well represented in this or many other bioregions in Australia and do not find backing easily.
- food supply systems
The Blue Mountains is serviced by the major supermarket chains, so the majority of food supplies are largely being shipped from outside of the bioregion, the state and even the country. As well as a number of independent grocers and markets. here are a number of formal and informal organizations in the Blue Mountains concerned with connecting growers of all kinds with each other and their markets.
- fuel and fibre supply systems
Fuel is supplied through multinational corporations and Australian companies in the form of petroleum based fuel, gas (AGL, Elgas) and power stations, largely based on coal (some sourced from nearby Lithgow) as well. Although it is used to generate electricity, 75% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia.’ Wood is not removable from the National Park, although State Forests in nearby regions could sustainably provide the small scale fuel requirements for alternative domestic heating sources such as kackelofen and mass rocket stoves/heaters which could also be used to generate steam. Pine trees grow well and it would be easy enough to use stick based fuel stoves and heating  which could be sustainably supplied.
Traditional fibre materials are to be found, but not in quantities that they might be useful for every day use for the levels of cloth required for clothing bedding or other household cloth uses. Nearby bioregions grow cotton, and sheep and other animals can be run for wool. Opportunities also exist for farming innovative crops which could help shore up local fibre supplies.
Still the overwhelming volume of non food shopping, including fibre based products come from outside the region, and a high proportion of disposable leaks out into Penrith Shopping Centre, home to some of the big Clothing and Consumer goods chain stores.
- what is produced in your bioregion
Photography, painting, arts of all kinds are produced in the region. Entertainment and tourism, climbing retail and leisure are the mainstays of our 26 towns and villages, and I would describe fitter healthier more relaxed people are the product of those industries. Foods produced here are also artisan scale for the most part. Creative and cultural productions, information technologies and recording, printing and publishing are growing areas. There are minimal light industries, extractive industries, sales of extracted material, coal, and minerals.
Manufacturing does not figure highly in our Gross Regional Product.
- What services are available?
Services fall broadly into two categories. The services we usually think of are public services. The major public services are are supplied mainly through government defined and in part Government owned companies. Ecosystem services are also considered of great importance, but with limited scope. Schools are catered for in each of the sub regions, and cover a number of different teaching styles and belief systems, although the majority have statistically low academic achievements. The majority of housing is in suburbs supplied by Sydney water for drinking water, although there has been increasing popularity in water tank installation. The air is filtered for us by 70% of our region that is National Park. However our environmental credentials stumble in the lack of real alternatives to fossil fuelled energy being provided through energy companies in which the NSW Government is a major shareholder. The blue mountains LGA and bioregion is 70% bushland.
In 2004 the Millenium commission defined the ways in which the earth’s ecosystems function as human life support systems. Climate regulation, pollination, pest control, provision of soil fertility and health, water filtration, regulation of river flows and groundwater levels as well as the recreational uses which exercise our bodies and energise our spirits, contributing to our wellbeing and mental health. With 70% or our area protected as National Park, we are well served in this bioregion by ecosystem services. As ridgetop dwellers the challenge will be looking after them. With over 3 million visitors a year, it’s this World Heritage National Park its these ecosystem services that are the lifeblood of the bioregion.
- Water amount and quality (dams, rivers, wetlands etc)
Using the current management strategies and with current rates of consumption, here is only enough water to supply 40,000 people in the Blue Mountains gathered from dams and reservoirs in the Blue Mountains itself, which has an effective population (in terms of demand) of 80-100,000. Water is pumped in from outside pipelines to make up the shortage  The water in our dams goes through filtration treatment in order that it is fit for human consumption. Water quality monitoring by Sydney Catchment Authority is concerned with meeting statutary requirements of water quality laid out be the Sydney Water Catchment Management Act 1998. These deal with a range of chemical and biological threats and indicators of water quality as measured for fitness for human consumption.
Human consumption should not however be our only measure of water quality. Historically, local river systems in the region were once threatened by a proliferation of sewage processing plants that fed out nutrient rich effluent directly into them. Most sewage is now transported out of the region and out into another area, which is not so good for them down stream but has measurably increased water quality here. However there are still state agreements in place with industrial polluters that leave pollution of heavy metals entering into the system which are essentially unregulated. Mines that are long since closed continue to have an effect on the health of our river systems today, and the natral fiitration systems of our mountain geology, vegetation and organisms do not have the capacity to remediate these problems without side effects
Another big risk to our water systems is climate change. The overall rate of wetlands in the Blue Mountains has been generally increasing, although recent climate statistics suggest that the conditions under which our swamp lands thrive are narrowing to the point where their viability is likely to become threatened in the near future 
- the indigenous vegetation (EVC’s Ecological vegetation classes can be described)
The predominant description of vegataion in NSW is not refered to as EVCs but appear equivalent to vegetation. The Following “Significant Vegatation Communities” may be found in the Blue Mountains bioregion. There are plant lists associated with each of these, but there are a lot of them and so I will not reproduce those here. The vegetation of the Blue Mountains encompasses a diverse range of plant communities which have adapted to special microclimates, including a number of Eucalypt based communities that have flourished in relative obscurity from human intrusion.
1 – Tall closed forest/closed forest/low closed forest (rainforest)
(1A) Ceratopetalum apetalum-Doryphora sassafras Rainforest
(1B) Backhousia myrtifolia-Ceratopetalum apetalum Rainforest
2 – Tall open-forest/open-forest
(2A) Moist Basalt Cap Forest (Eucalyptus viminalis-E. blaxlandii-E. radiata)
(2B) Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest (Eucalyptus deanei-E. punctata- Syncarpia glomulifera
(2C) Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest (Syncarpia glomulifera-Eucalyptus fibrosa-Eucalyptus crebra)
(2D) Shale Sandstone Transition Forest (Syncarpia glomulifera-Eucalyptus punctata)
(2E) Eucalyptus deanei-E. piperita Tall Open-forest
(2F) Eucalyptus cypellocarpa-E. piperita Tall Open-forest
(2F) Eucalyptus cypellocarpa-E. piperita Tall Open-forest
(2G) Eucalyptus oreades Open-forest/Tall Open-forest
(2H) Eucalyptus dalrympleana-E. piperita Tall Open-forest
(2I) Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest (Eucalyptus amplifolia)
(2J) Montane Gully Forest (Eucalyptus fastigata-E. cypellocarpa-E. dalrympleana)
(2L) Casuarina cunninghamiana ‘River Oak Forest’
(2M) Eucalyptus radiata subsp. radiata-E. piperita Open Forest
3 – Low Open-forest
Melaleuca linariifolia Low Open-forest
4 – Woodlands
(4A) Eucalyptus mannifera subsp. gullickii Alluvial Woodlands
(4B) Eucalyptus sclerophylla Bench Woodland
5 – Heath/scrub/sedgeland/fernland
(5A) Blue Mountains Heath and Scrub
(5B) Blue Mountains Swamps
(5C) Pagoda Rock Complex
6 – Blue Mountains Riparian Complex
7 – Blue Mountains Escarpment Complex
== re connect these to their sections.
 BM Shire > BMCC http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Entity.aspx?Path=\Organisation\165
[4.1] Drinking Water Catchment’s Environmental Plan Jan 2007
 Sydney Water (specific?
 – Water Symposium, Katoomba 2010