Regeneration Generation Sought

Filed under Council, Environment & Pollution, News ~ by Press on  17 Mar 2019

Search on for next gen to regenerate Lake Macquarie wilderness .

The hunt is on for a new generation of fresh young faces to rehabilitate and protect wild areas throughout Lake Macquarie.

Pictured ~ Sue Warren (left) and Chris Whackett at Fern Creek Gully

Lake Macquarie Landcare Coordinator Jason Harvey said 200-plus volunteer groups did an incredible job clearing more than 19ha of weeds and replanting native species across the City in 2018.

The value of the effort they contributed last year would be knocking on the door of $1 million,” Mr Harvey said.

But most of the people currently involved are aged over 55, and we need a succession plan.

We’re hoping this next generation – people in their 30s and 40s who care about their local environment and want to do something for their community – will start to get involved.”

Below ~ Landcare coordinator, Jason Harvey

Mr Harvey pointed to the myriad benefits that flowed from participating in an initiative like Landcare, where people work to regenerate tracts of nature close to where they live.

There are obvious health benefits to getting outdoors and doing something active and productive,” Mr Harvey said.

Then there is the community aspect – getting together with people from your local neighbourhood who are like-minded, forming new friendships and building that sense of pride and belonging.”

There is also an aspect of skill development. We’ve recently had a couple of young lads put their hands up to join us for this reason.”

Father-of-two Chris Whackett got involved six years ago in the Fern Creek Gully Landcare Group at Dudley.

The 41-year-old said he had seen throughout that period how small gains at each of the group’s monthly working bees had made a huge contribution in the long term to regenerating bush and coastal rainforest destroyed by historic mining in the area.

For a lot of other people my age it can be difficult finding time – I have two children and a demanding job,” Mr Whackett said.

But for me it’s important to go, even if it’s for purely selfish reasons. It’s getting outside in the bush, doing some manual work and using my body.

It’s also about reconnecting with my community and working together for a common goal that’s external to my everyday life.”

The Fern Creek Gully Landcare group recently launched a Facebook page in a bid to attract younger volunteers. It meets on the first Saturday of the month, but meeting times vary for other groups across the City.

For more information and to get involved, go to lakemacquarielandcare.org.

Below ~ Chris Wackett working in Fern Creek Gully

From Landcare:

Fern Creek Gully at Dudley, NSW, landcare group’s objectives are to eliminate the Bitou Bush, Lantana, Trad and other weeds from the creek line, gully and adjoining slopes and to re-establish a rainforest flora that is consistent with the littoral and temperate species that may have existed on the site before coal mining commenced.

Coal mining commenced in the 1920s and the Spotted Gum and Blackbutt canopy with rainforest understorey was largely destroyed. Except for one or two Blackbutts, which may be over 100 years old, the current eucalyptus canopy is regrowth probably no older than 50-70 years. Coal mining ceased in the 1940s and left the soil profile seriously disturbed or altered. In some places on the site the soil at the time of re-planting in 2005 was little better than mine tailings.

Originally, the rainforest would have been extensive below the cliff line which faces east and southeast, providing shade from the western sun and run off from southerly rain. This rainforest has been almost totally eradicated by the coal mining. Landcare volunteers have been working extremely hard to restore the rainforest back to its former glory.



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