If you’re lucky, you’ve spent your holidays out and about in the great outdoors, enjoying all that nature has to offer. Unfortunately, it won’t always be there for you to enjoy if we don’t look after it. There are many government programs and volunteer organisations doing great things for our environment but they could use a little help. So I’ve compiled a list of things you can do as an individual to help. There’s even some ideas for getting your kids involved! :)
#1 – Say no to toads!
Cane toads (Bufo marinus) are a menace in Australia, particularly in the northern tropics where they threaten native populations of frogs and reptiles. Cane toad populations have exploded. From the original 100 or so cane toads introduced to control the sugar cane beetle (which failed abysmally), we now have millions of cane toads on the march across Australia. They breed prolifically and can do so at any time of the year. Unfortunately, each stage in the life cycle of the cane toad is highly toxic to potential predators. By becoming a ToadBuster, you can actively contribute to halting the march of cane toad across our country. Even if you don’t live in known “toad territory”, you can help the ToadBusters by looking out for toads in your local area.
Information on obtaining a toad trap for your backyard can be found here.
#2 – Let the kids ‘Go Bush’ for the holidays
What better way for kids to learn about the environment than to immerse themselves in it during the school holidays. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has a host of activities for kids and families to enjoy while learning about different species, vulnerable habitats and conservation efforts. The ‘Go Bush’ activities are a great day out and you don’t have to be a kid to benefit from it. Although the summer program is drawing to a close, these activities run during the other school holidays of the year – keep an eye out on the EPA webpage for future activities.
For those of you living outside of Queensland wanting to participate in other nature-based activities, check the following web pages for details:
- NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
- WA Department of Environment & Conservation
- Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania
- Parks Victoria
- SA Department for Environment and Heritage
- NT Natural Resources, Environment & the Arts
#3 – Take part in Cleanup Australia Day
Join Ian Kiernan and help get rid of the trash from your local area on 2 March 2008. Most suburbs and localities have some sort of activity for Cleanup Australia Day – whether it is cleaning up the local park, removing litter from creek and river beds or making sure our beaches are as clean as a whistle. Of course, it would be fantastic if people didn’t litter in the first place and simply put their trash in the bin but unfortunately some people are still not getting the message. The organisation also has some helpful suggestions for cleaning up our climate as well.
#4 – Enter a Land for Wildlife agreement
Do you have a nice parcel of acreage with valuable wildlife habitat? Would you like to know how to manage it so that wildlife benefits as well as you? Then perhaps you would like to consider a Land for Wildlife agreement. These types of agreements between government and community/individual are not permanent – you retain control over your land and can opt out at any time.
#5 – Plant more trees
National Tree Day this year is July 27th but why wait? Pop down to your local nursery and pick up a tree. You don’t even have to have a huge backyard to plant it in. There are some beautiful dwarf native species available at the moment and others which are easily kept in pots. They are very hardy plants and miserly when it comes to water and you don’t have to spend all your spare time looking after them. I’m the worst green thumb in existence and all my native plants are thriving from whatever falls from the sky. :D
#6 – Make your problem possum a lifelong friend
Possums are one of the few marsupials who have coped well in an increasingly urban world. There are a few inhabiting trees around the carpark at work and it’s not unusual to see them scavenging half-eaten apples off the ground. They often find roof spaces an attractive place to sleep – after all it’s nice and warm, sheltered from the wind and the possibility of food is no further than the household wheelie bin. Consequently, home owners who have a resident possum often consider them a pest. But you can live in harmony with your possum without too much of a headache – just get yourself a “possum box” or, if you are reasonably handy, make one yourself following the instructions here. Once your possum has vacated your roof and settled in its new possum box, don’t forget to seal up the place where it got in to begin with! :P
#7 – Join a Landcare group
Volunteering a few hours of your time once a month with a Landcare group is a great way to meet like-minded people and give something back to your local community. Landcare groups work together to revegetate damaged areas, remove weeds and rubbish and help care for our coastline and waterways. LandcareOnline has a database of groups operating throughout Australia or you may want to start your own group. Many local councils also have organised bushcare groups to help maintain remnant bushland in their area.
#8 – Sponsor an endangered animal
Many species of Australian native animals have become endangered or locally extinct (see here for definition) since European settlement. Captive breeding programs at zoos and wildlife sanctuaries have the potential to reverse this situation. By sponsoring an endangered animal at your local zoo or wildlife sanctuary, you can help contribute to the success of such programs to bolster wild populations or re-establish populations in areas where the species has become locally extinct.
#9 – Help buy back the bush
Bush Heritage is a non-profit organisation working to reclaim the bush and maintain reserves throughout Australia. You might not be able to buy a large tract of land yourself to form a reserve but each donation helps expand their reserves. Or if the purse strings are a little tight, perhaps participating in one of their working bees would be more up your alley.
#10 – Visit a National Park
National Parks are a refuge for wildlife but they are also there for our enjoyment. Whether you want to take the kids for a bushwalk, get some exercise on a challenging hike, have a picnic, relax on the beach or spot for some wildlife, chances are there is a National Park nearby that can cater to your needs. Take the time to visit every so often and remind yourself of all the reasons why Australia is such a great place to live!