Many members will welcome the recent change of government for the Australian Parliament and in particular the election of Jerome Laxale in Bennelong. At the time of writing the final result for Bennelong has not been announced by the Australian Electoral Commission but according to Antony Green from the ABC Jerome is on track to win the seat. As Mayor of Ryde Jerome has been a consistent supporter of the efforts of the Society and we look forward to continuing this productive relationship with Jerome in the Federal Parliament.
Apart from this, what else is of direct interest to the Society with the change of government? Priorities that we have pursued include the review of the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act, the health of the Parramatta River catchment, protecting the Great Barrier Reef, protecting our native flora & fauna, Marine Parks and clean energy.
The policies of the new government were set out in ‘Labor’s plan to protect our environment’ and are available on the internet via the following link:
These policies are a welcome move towards the priorities that we have pursued. In particular the policy concerning Environmental Law Reform and a National Environmental Protection Agency goes towards addressing our concerns about the EPBC Act. The policy states:
Labor will provide a full response to the Samuel Review, and commit to ongoing consultation on law reform, to make sure our environmental laws work better for environmental protection.
Another policy that is welcome is restoring the funding of the Environmental Defenders Office.
The EDO has played a vital role in successfully conducting legal challenges to decisions that have adverse environmental consequences.
There is not sufficient space to discuss in detail all of these policies and members are encouraged to follow the link for more information. Our role now is to take the opportunity that these policies present to further our objects as set out in the Society’s constitution.
Frank Breen, President
The Society has been active in local conservation issues since 1966 and is well networked with the broader conservation movement across NSW.
The Society's Constitution states its Aims and Objectives as:
a. The education of the members and the community, particularly in the local area, in nature conservation and protection of the environment;
b. To promote ecologically sustainable land use and development;
c. To promote nature conservation including an adequate system of national parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, wildlife refuges and corridors and urban bushland reserves; adequate protection measures for native wildlife;
d. Achieving satisfactory measures to safeguard the environment from all forms of pollution to ensure clean air, clean water and a healthy environment;
e. To work for the permanent retention and conservation of all natural areas in the local district and an increase in the area set aside for nature conservation and
f. To undertake the management of the Field of Mars Reserve with Ryde City Council as a major conservation project
We have a regular newsletter Wallumetta which is issued six times a year which attempts to update members on both local environmental issues and issues of wider impact. Our volunteer members keep the Visitors Centre open each weekend. Please contact us if you have concerns about threats to our local natural areas and the precious native fauna which depend on our sensitive bushland areas and waterways.
In the mid 1960s, with an increasing amount of waste needing disposal, Ryde Council looked to an expansion of the small tip in the Field of Mars Reserve. Council proposed to pipe Buffalo and Stranger's Creeks to facilitate a landfill area to a depth of up to 15m feet which could then be re-developed into playing fields. Local residents united to form the Anti-tip Action Group and lobbied to reverse Council's plans for a tip at the Field of Mars. The tip was moved to Porter's Creek which to this day still requires substantial funds to control the environmental damage arising from past use as a tipsite. With the Field of Mars saved the Society was established in January 1966.
In September 1966, Ryde Council advised the Society that it agreed to their proposal to development of the Field of Mars Reserve as a flora and fauna sanctuary. Hard work over following decades has seen restoration of old degraded areas of the Field of Mars and protection of the area as a Wildlife Refuge. A Visitors Centre was built and then the Environmental Education Centre which is visited by about 10,000 students each year.
Forum on Climate Change and the Environment was well-attended by the candidates for the local federal seat of Bennelong, but we were a little disappointed by audience numbers – only about 20 – which we feel did not reflect the true extent of community concern for environmental issues.
It was interesting to hear the various thoughts of the candidates and their responses to some very thought-provoking questions.
Dr Peter Mitchell will present a one-hour illustrated talk at the Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre., to explore what little we know of the lifestyle, cultural values and history of the snapper fish people of the Dharug Nation in the area of Ryde and the Lane Cove River. This presentation will tackle four questions:
- What was life like in 1787? Social structure, and knowledge.
- How did the Dharug live in their environment? - Resources and land management.
- What happened to the clans at and after contact? - Displacement, decimation and notable individuals.
- Can this story help us move forward? - Practical land management + challenges of the Uluru statement.
Dr Peter Mitchell OAM was a geomorphologist in the School of Earth Sciences at Macquarie University. He has spent 30 years as a consultant to archaeologists dealing with Aboriginal sites and communities over much of Australia. He is very aware of our unfinished business with original Australians and will attempt to link the murky past with a brighter future.
Afternoon tea will be available afterwards at the Visitor Centre.
Society member Karen Oliver will be conducting free forest therapy walks at Field of Mars Reserve as part of her training with the International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance. Current available dates are 10am-1pm Sun 26 June, and 10am-1pm Sun 17 July. If you would like to attend a walk,
please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Pearson, of the Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society, will present a talk about Sydney bats (including microbats) at the Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre.
Society members will lead walks to the upper areas of the Reserve where, at this time of year, shrubs are expected to be flowering in abundance.
If you are interested in taking part in our Field of Mars site (for members only) on whichever day it is rescheduled, please contact Alfred on 02 9879 6067.
Tickets $2 each / 3 for $5 available at the Field of Mars Visitor Centre (when opened).
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.