People power lends a hand in ACT parks
As a park manager, people often ask me how our Rangers manage the natural environment. When you think about it, nature has been doing a marvellous job for millenniums.
Through geological forces mountainous landscapes have been crafted, open grassy woodlands have formed on rich alluvial soils and majestic rivers meander. Through intricate ecological processes natural selection has evolved a rich tapestry of biodiversity values. Fire and floods continue to mould our ancient landscape.
At first with the arrival of humans on our continent there was natural harmony in-tune with this rhythm of life. With traditional knowledge indigenous communities lived as one with the environment.
New arrivals from a distant continent eventually set foot upon these shores, introducing feral foxes, heavy hoofed animals and a myriad of exotic plants. Over time more seemingly innocuous species would wreck havoc upon this landscape, threatening the ecological integrity of the mountains, the rivers and the grassy woodlands. Today we collectively refer to these species as exotic pests and weeds.
Perhaps then as Rangers we don’t necessarily manage the environment, moreover what we manage are the influences and impacts people have brought to bear upon the landscape.
Thankfully here in our beautiful bush capital we Rangers are not alone in taking on this rather daunting challenge.
Working hand in glove with the ACT Park Service a vast array of wonderful, passionate community volunteers come to our aid. Drawing on all walks of life, committed in their resolve to make a real difference, volunteers are united under one common cause – to make good.
Volunteers include various associations, clubs, organised groups, the National Parks Association and even many individuals who like to look after their favourite patch of bushland. Some have done so for decades.
Among our largest numbers of volunteers are the 26 Parkcare and 29 Landcare groups who work right across the ACT. Staggeringly over 23,000 passionate hours of Landcare and Parkcare volunteer time was notched up last financial year. This included an impressive 9,800 hours of weed control and over 3,400 hours of rehabilitation work.
People power is making a tangible difference to our local environment. It also provides the volunteers with a sense of purpose, a social outlet, valuable exercise and above all, a chance to be in the great outdoors.
To learn how you can play a small part in the big picture why not join a local band of volunteers and make a real difference here in our bush capital. More information at www.environment.act.gov.au.
Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service
Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful Platypus.
Article also appeared in The Chronicle