Members will be aware that the Field of Mars Reserve includes salt marsh which is a coastal ecosystem in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and open saltwater or brackish water that is regularly flooded by the tides. Salt marsh has been listed as Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) in NSW.
Following the recent salt marsh workshop conducted by the City of Ryde Council the Society organised an inspection of the salt marsh zone in the Field of Mars Reserve. We invited an officer from the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) and our knowledgeable friends from the Environmental Education Centre (EE Centre) to view and discuss the state of these zones. The DPI is a responsible NSW Government agency in respect of salt marsh and our friends from the EE Centre have expert knowledge of the salt marsh in the Reserve.
We noted that the salt marsh is under threat from the increased sedimentation filling Buffalo Creek following storms. This is in addition to the impact of rising levels of salt water entering the creek attributable to climate change.
Despite attempts to restrict sediment flowing into Buffalo Creek over many years, preventing such flows is an intractable problem. Efforts to mitigate these should continue and a strategy developed to protect the salt marsh, taking into account the likely impact of rising sediment levels and the rising saltwater levels.
Our inspection provided some very useful insights and we will continue to discuss the threats to the salt marsh with the DPI, the Environmental Education Centre and City of Ryde Council to develop the most environmentally sensitive approach for protecting the salt marsh in the Reserve.
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.
A group of 15 came on the morning walk, and 10 attended in the afternoon. All were impressed by the displays of Boronia, Dillwynia (egg&bacon) and Pimelia (rice flowers), among others. Along the Sand Track we were treated to a fairly close look at a swamp wallaby who didn’t seem to mind our group stopping to take photos!
It was a very wet day and only 13 attended this workshop. After viewing and talking about 50 grasses, vines and groundcovers to be found in the Reserve, the group took a leisurely stroll outside and identified several plants around the mown areas. In particular, we discerned the difference between Bindii and the native Cotula. At the suggestion of one attendee, we intend to display some of the workshop material at our NCC Picnic Day.
People power made the federal election a climate election. It was a time of celebration for nature. To keep that momentum going, the NCC is planning a state-wide picnic day to bring people together to celebrate nature, grow the movement and talk about what we need to do next.
Groups and organisations have been invited to co-host a picnic in their area, and we will be doing just that! We plan to celebrate around the Visitor Centre with:
* bush walks,
* fun activities for all ages,
* refreshments and a barbecue lunch.
The day will be about celebrating the natural beauty of our local area. And we will talk about what to do to win positive change, protect nature and take urgent action on climate change, especially coming up to the state election next March.
Children aged 5-12 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Booking is essential as numbers are limited: please phone or leave a message for Alfred on 9879 6067 or at email@example.com, mentioning your preferred departure time.
Members, with family and friends, are invited to join us from midday at the Visitor Centre, when we will light the gas for a barbecue + salad lunch and chat.
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.