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In his book ‘A Life on Our Planet’ David Attenborough sets out his witness statement and a vision for the future. David’s witness statement starts with the year 1937 when the World’s population was 2.3 billion, carbon in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million and remaining wilderness was 66 percent. His statement ends with the year 2020 where the world’s population is 7.8 billion, carbon in the atmosphere 415 parts per million and remaining wilderness 35 percent.
In his vision for the future David states that we are causing a rate of biodiversity loss that is more than 100 times the average and only matched in the fossil record during a mass extinction event. Our activities are committing the Earth to failure (p111).
The Conversation on-line journal reported on 22 January 2021 that Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy, a five-year plan for protecting our imperilled species and ecosystems, fizzled to an end last year. A new 10-year plan is being developed to take its place, likely from March.
The original strategy (2015-20) was eagerly welcomed for putting the national spotlight on threatened species conservation. However, there’s little evidence the strategy has had a significant impact on threatened species conservation to date. Australia’s list of threatened species continues to grow.
Now, more than ever, Australia’s remarkable species and environments need strong and effective policies to strengthen their protection and boost their recovery.
The previous strategy focused very heavily on feral cats as a threat and less on other important and potentially compounding threats, particularly habitat destruction and degradation.
As David Attenborough states (p111) we are converting natural habitats on land such as forests, grassland and marshlands to farmland at a too great a rate. We are warming the Earth far too quickly adding carbon to the atmosphere faster than any time in our planet’s history.
The Conversation article argues that now is the time to seize this opportunity and ensure the new 10 year plan has a holistic and evidence-based approach encompassing the full range of threats and targets linked to clear and measurable conservation outcomes, effective prioritisation of focal species, threats and actions and that it has significant financial investment from government, Government leadership, coordination and policy alignment.
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.
(subject to current Covid-19 restrictions)
*Rug hand-knitted and kindly donated to RHHFFPS by the Holy Spirit Yarnknit Group of North Ryde.